Friday, August 31, 2012

The two Xis and Tibet

This article of Reuters is interesting, though it misses several points about Xi Zhongxun.
As I mentioned in an earlier posting, Xi Jinping had a very traumatic youth. Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping's father was 'purged' by Mao in September 1962, mainly due to his closeness to Marshal Peng Dehuai who had dared criticizing Mao for his Great Leap Forward. 
The young Dalai Lama in 1954-55 was very close to Peng ('my favorite Chinese', he once told me), though at the end of the 1940s, Marshall Peng was the Commander of the First Field Army which invaded Amdo (Xi Senior was the Political Commissar of the same Army). 
Xi Zhongxun was probably closer to the late Panchen Lama than the Dalai Lama, as the First Field Army supported the Tashilhunpo monastery ('Back Tibet' in Chinese parlance).
Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao's Private Physician in its Private Life of Chairman Mao gave an  interesting account of Xi Zhongxun's fall during the 10th Plenum of the Party's 8th Central Committee of the CCP which was held in September 1962, in Beijing.  
In another posting, I mentioned the close relation of Xi Senior with Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal (Phunwang), the 'first' Tibetan Communist in the 1930’s. Phunwang was arrested and accused to be a ‘local nationalist’ in 1958 and rehabilitated at the end of the 1970’s. In 1980, he participated to the redrafting of the Chinese Constitution. Like Xi Senior, he spent 18 years in confinement. While in prison, Phuntsok Wangyal became knowledgeable about the issue of ‘Nationalities’ and suggested some amendments of the Constitution People Republic of China, favoring the status and role of 'nationalities'. Unfortunately, his report did not please everybody. He still lives in Beijing.
When the Reuters correspondent says that Xi Jinping's wife is a Buddhist, he does not mention how good (or bad) are Xi's relations with his wife. Many rumors circulated on the subject.
It is true that in the video posted in this blog, Maj. Gen. Peng Liyuan, Xi's wife is praising the beauty of Tibet.
Finally, it is not one person (the Party's Secretary-General) who can on its own, take decision on issue like Tibet. The Tibet Work Forum will continue to exist and Hu Jintao will be part of it, as a Senior Leader knowledgeable about the subject.  
A last thing, was it a Rolex or a Omega that the Dalai Lama gifted Old Xi? 
Some say it was a Rolex, another informant told me that it was an Omega. 
The make of the watch may not change the Fate of Tibet, but the promotion of Xi Jr. as Party boss may trigger some positive changes.

Does China's next leader have a soft spot for Tibet?
By Benjamin Kang Lim and Frank Jack Daniel
BEIJING/DHARAMSALA (Reuters) - For decades, Beijing has maintained that the Dalai Lama is a separatist, but Tibet's exiled spiritual leader once had a special relationship with the father of Xi Jinping, the man in line to become China's next president.
Few people know what Xi, whose ascent to the leadership is likely to be approved at a Communist Party congress later this year, thinks of Tibet or the Dalai Lama.
But his late father, Xi Zhongxun, a liberal-minded former vice premier, had a close bond with the Tibetan leader who once gave the elder Xi an expensive watch in the 1950s, a gift that the senior party official was still wearing decades later.
The Dalai Lama, 77, recalls the elder Xi as "very friendly, comparatively more open-minded, very nice" and says he only gave watches back then to those Chinese officials he felt close to.
"We Tibetans, we get these different varieties of watch easily from India. So we take advantage of that, and brought some watches to some people when we feel some sort of close feeling, as a gift like that," the Dalai Lama said in an interview in Dharamsala, a capital for Tibetan exiles in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The Dalai Lama gave the watch to the elder Xi in 1954 during an extended visit to Beijing. Xi was one of the officials who spent time with the young Dalai Lama in the capital where he spent five to six months studying Chinese and Marxism.
The Dalai Lama fled to India five years later, after a failed uprising against Communist rule, but as late as 1979, Xi senior was still wearing the watch, the make and style of which the Dalai Lama can no longer remember.
Xi senior was a dove in the party, championing the rights of Tibetans, Uighurs and other ethnic minorities. He also opposed the army crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen student protests and was alone in criticising the sacking of liberal party chief Hu Yaobang by the Old Guard in 1987. Xi senior died in 2002.
The Dalai Lama has never met Xi junior but his fondness for the father is, for some, a sign that China's next leader may adopt a more reformist approach to Tibet once he formally succeeds President Hu Jintao next March. Some expect him to be more tolerant of Muslim Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang, and also of Taiwan, the independently ruled island that China has vowed to take back, by force if necessary.
"To understand what kind of leader Xi Jinping will be, one must study his father's (policies)," said Bao Tong, one-time top aide to purged party chief Zhao Ziyang. Bao was jailed for seven years for sympathising with student-led demonstrations for democracy centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
"No (Chinese) Communist will betray his father," he added.

Xi senior is looked on favourably by China's leaders with plans already made to commemorate his 100th birth anniversary in mid-October next year with a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People and editorials and commentaries in state media eulogising him, sources with ties to the leadership said.
But even if Xi junior wants to pursue a reform agenda, he is likely to bide his time.
"The key is whether Xi Jinping feels confident of his power consolidation," said Lin Chong-Pin, a former Taiwan defence minister and China policy-maker who now teaches at Taipei's Tamkang University.
Lin added, however: "There will be a more tolerant policy not only (towards) Tibet, but also Xinjiang."
Taiwan, the democratic island Beijing claims as its own, may be the model for reconciliation with Tibet.
"Every generation of (Chinese) leaders must resolve problems left over from the previous generation," a source with leadership ties said.
"For Hu, it was Taiwan," the source added, referring to Hu mending fences with the island after his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, threatened it with war games in the run-up to its first direct presidential elections in 1996.
"For Xi, it's Tibet," the source said.
Asked if Xi might take a different tack on Tibet, a retired party official who used to work in Tibet said: "There has to be new thinking ... He (Xi) is surely aware of the problems."
"More and more government spending, more and more security, is not going to buy enduring stability in Tibet," the official said, referring to China pouring billions of yuan to develop Tibet, including opening a railway in 2006 linking it with the rest of China, and a crackdown in the wake of the unrest.
"The high-pressure policies can't continue forever," the official said, asking not to be identified and adding that these were his personal views.

Xi has played his cards close to his chest and little is publicly known about his policies. Like Hu, he will be no political strongman, and will have to rule by consensus as the first among equals.
If Hu stays on as military chief, Hu may continue to hold sway over major policies, but is unlikely to oppose detente.
"Hu will not be an obstacle to (any) reconciliation" moves, a second source with leadership ties said.
Initially, Hu sought to make up for his decision to crush riots in Tibet in 1989 by issuing a decree to "protect Tibetan culture" in the early 2000s, but was taken aback when the Dalai Lama accused China of "cultural genocide".
China has defended its iron-fisted rule in Tibet, saying the region suffered from dire poverty, brutal exploitation of serfs and economic stagnation until 1950 when Communist troops "peacefully liberated" it and introduced "democratic reforms" in 1959.
Tensions over the issue are at their highest in years after a spate of protests and self-immolations by Tibetan activists, which have led to an intensified security crackdown. Fifty-one Tibetans have set themselves alight since 2009.
In the event the Dalai Lama dies in exile, it could radicalise exiled Tibetan youth who have clamoured for independence and are frustrated with his "middle way" approach that advocates autonomy within China.
It could create a rallying point for Tibetans disgruntled with Communist rule and leave a destabilising leadership vacuum.
"They (Chinese government) hope Tibet's political problem can be basically resolved once the Dalai Lama passes away," said Wang Lixiong, an author and expert on Tibet who has met the Dalai Lama several times.
Instead, Wang added, "the Dalai Lama's death could spark massive protests and even rioting."

The outbreak of rioting in Tibet in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Olympics and a subsequent crackdown, which in turn sparked the self-immolations, may have prevented Hu from carrying out any reversal of China's hardline policy on Tibet.
At the time of the riots, Xi commented: "We should have normal hearts" - a remark that was in stark contrast to insults rained on the Dalai Lama by the region's then Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, who called the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner a "jackal in Buddhist monk's robes" with "the face of a human and the heart of a beast".
Zhang was not alone. Many Chinese party, government and military officials and many ordinary Chinese are convinced the 2008 unrest was a Western plot to demonise Beijing before the Games and try to split Tibet from China.
But tempers appear to have cooled a bit.
Hu is manoeuvring to promote one of his closest allies - Inner Mongolia party boss Hu Chunhua who speaks Tibetan, a rarity among Chinese officials - to the party's inner sanctum, two independent sources said, in a bid to retain clout after retiring. The two Hus are not related.
In a sign the party may at times be willing to reverse bad decisions or policies, it backed down recently after liberal intellectuals slammed it for forcing Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to put up portraits of Mao and other leaders. Local officials now say this is voluntary.
Xi may have more to gain than lose from resuming talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys, but this may not happen anytime soon.
"They probably will take very small, incremental steps. They cannot take big steps," said Lin, the Taiwan-based academic.
Many challenges lie ahead.
"The talks process could start again at any point, we don't know. We shouldn't rule it out even though it looks very negative at the moment," Robbie Barnett, a Tibetologist at Columbia University, said in a telephone interview.
"He may have to prove that he's very tough ... so it could make it quite difficult for Xi. He could risk heavy attack from hardliners. It's quite complicated for him."
But Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of "How China's Leaders Think", was more optimistic.
"He is a very practical, pragmatic, very down-to-earth kind of person," said Kuhn who has met Xi half a dozen times. "I don't think he has an overblown sense of his own person, which to me is very important. People could rally around him."
The Dalai Lama has said he hopes Xi will usher in a "realistic" and more open approach to Tibet, in the same way Deng Xiaoping introduced market reforms in the late 1970s that turned China into an economic powerhouse from a backwater.
After more than 50 years of confrontation with Beijing, the Dalai Lama is cautious but hopeful.
"I can't say for definite, but according to many Chinese friends, they say the new, coming leadership seems more lenient," he said in an interview in his audience room which was decorated with Bhuddist paintings and a bust of Mahatma Gandhi.
He said there had been a stream of visitors to Dharamsala from China, including people who told him they had connections with senior Communist Party leaders. "These are very, very encouraging signs," he said. "No formal talks, but there are sort of signs among the Chinese officials or top leaders."
To watch the Dalai Lama interview, click on:
Tibetan exiles see other small signs that Xi could take a softer line on Tibet - his wife is a Buddhist, and Xi went out of his way in 2006, while party boss of Zhejiang province, to host the first World Buddhist Forum in the provincial capital.
A batch of U.S. diplomatic cables obtained and published by WikiLeaks last year said the Dalai Lama had "great affection" for Xi senior, and that Xi junior was quite taken with Buddhist mysticism at one point early in his career.
In July last year, Xi visited Tibet and pledged to crack down on the separatist "Dalai clique" and "completely smash any plot to destroy stability in Tibet and jeopardise national unity".
But a Western diplomat in Beijing cautioned that this was standard language and should not be construed to be hardline. "No one wins prizes for saying the Dalai is ok," he said.
But many exiles are skeptical.
"I do not expect Xi junior to be like his father because he is facing a completely different situation, but I hope he can be different (from Hu Jintao)," said Khedroob Thondup, a nephew of the Dalai Lama who visited China more than 10 times with his father, Gyalo Thondup, as unofficial envoys of the Dalai Lama.
Another nephew, Tenzin Taklha, who is also a secretary to the Dalai Lama, said: "Even if it does happen it won't be substantial, just to show the world the door is open again."
The Dalai Lama, too, has yet to be convinced that Beijing will soften its stance on Tibet - even if Xi turns out to have the same moderate inclination as his father - and says political reformers sometimes do not last long in the Communist Party.
"These realistic people sometime live a very short life."
(Additional reporting by John Chalmers in DHARAMSALA and Chris Buckley in BEIJING; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Mark Bendeich)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Damning of rivers: alarm signals from China

My article Damning of rivers: alarm signals from China was published in the August issue of Power Politics.

Recent reports of damning of rivers by China has caused much alarm in its neighborhood, including India. What are the implications – both economic and strategic for India? China watcher Claude Arpi seeks to find out. 

Click here...

The Waters of Tibet
China is in transition; true, the state of affairs in the Middle Kingdom is rather unstable as we had seen with Bo Xilai affair. The former mayor of Chongqing who was supposed to have the widespread support of the top leadership to get a seat in the Standing Committee of the CCP Politburo, has been arrested while Zhou Yongkang China's Security Tsar and currently No 9 in the Party is said to have been divested of all his responsibility in China’s security apparatus.
This means that within the People’s Republic today, there are extremely divergent views about the direction China should take.
The same differences appear when it comes to ‘development vs. environment’ and more particularly, the damming of the rivers of China which has created a lot of tension and nervousness with China’s neighbours, whether it is in South-East Asia, in India or even in Central Asia.
To give an example, the Indian press recently reported that the Brahmaputra river had dried up in Arunachal Pradesh. The information sent waves of fear across the North-East.
The local press hysterically affirmed that the Siang, known as Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet and Brahmaputra in Assam, had almost disappeared in Pasighat in East Siang district. Tako Dabi, a political advisor to Chief Minister Nabam Tuki declared: “China could have diverted the water of the river or there could be some artificial blockade due to which this has happened”.
The information was thankfully denied by the Government of India. Obviously, the media had not done its homework: a diversion could not be done in one day, or even one year, and this, without the knowledge of the Indian satellites; but the fact remains that water has become an extremely sensitive issue which could inflame a region.

China, the Great Economic Power
There are however reasons for the present fear. China is the second economic power of the planet after the United States; to maintain a close to double-digit tempo of growth, the Communist regime in Beijing has become an ogre devouring energy world-wide. Most of the raw materials (such as oil, gas, wood, minerals, etc.) necessary to feed the economic engine can be bought from outside China, except for one: water.
Water is therefore critical to the survival of the Chinese model for two reasons: first, the energy generated by hydropower plants is badly needed for the economy. China's theoretical hydro-power resources have been estimated at 384 gigawatts. Most of this potential comes from the Tibetan plateau (the purported dam on the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra itself has a potential of 38 gigawatts).
The second reason: the leaders in Beijing need to feed more than 1.3 billion people, for which water is needed.

A Water War?
In 1995, Ismail Serageldin, then the World Bank’s Vice-President wrote: “Many of the wars this century were about oil, but those of the next century will be over water.”
It is not difficult to prophesize that if a water war was to happen in the future, it would be between China and one of its neighbours.
Why? Because most of Asia’s waters originate on the Tibetan plateau, the main watershed in Asia. Tibet’s waters flow down to eleven countries and are said to bring fresh water to over 85% of Asia’s population, approximately 50% of the world’s population.
Four of the world’s ten major rivers, the Yarlung Tsangpo, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Huang Ho (or Yellow River) have their headwaters on the Tibetan Plateau. Other major rivers such as the Salween, the Irrawaddi, the Arun, the Karnali, the Sutlej and the Indus, also have their source in Tibet.
China’s two major headaches, food and water, are closely interlinked and, if not solved, are bound to have grave social and political consequences for the country as well as its neighbours downstream.

The purported mega-damming project
The Yarlung Tsangpo or Brahmaputra, as it is known in India, has an immense bearing on the lives of hundreds of millions in the sub-continent.
One of its interesting characteristics is the sharp U turn, known as the Great Bend near Mt. Namcha Barwa (7,782 meters). The river enters India soon after in the Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, a territory today claimed by China, making any project on upper reaches of the Tsangpo vital for India’s security.
Chinese scientists have been found that the Yarlung Tsangpo gorge forms the longest and deepest canyon in the world. The Tsangpo Gorge is eight times as deep and three times as large as the Colorado’s Grand Canyon.
In the mid 1980’s, it was announced that China would build a mega-dam in the Great Bend. This pharaonic project is mind-blowing.
The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River with a 18,200 megawatts capacity would be dwarfed by a hydroelectric plant on the Yarlung Tsangpo with a planned capacity of 38,000 megawatts.
For the Chinese engineers (and leaders), it is enough to know that the Tsangpo river tumbles down over 3,000 meters in less than 200 km. This gives the gorge one of the greatest hydropower potentials available in the world. It makes the emperors of China dream.
In recent years, the Chinese have been more discreet on the project, though one of the road blocks was removed on the day Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in India in December 2010: the last tunnel linking Metok County (a few kilometers north of the McMahon Line) to the rest of Tibet was opened, eventually paving the way for a mega-project.
The mega-dam has so far been denied by Beijing, but damming on a smaller scale is going on.

The Solution
To solve its water problems, Beijing has devised one of the most gigantic projects in the world: to divert waters from the South to the North through three ‘diversions’, the Eastern, the Central and the Western.
While the Eastern and Central section of the project are under way, the western section is still at the planning stage, but it is where India comes into the picture.
The ‘official’ western route would draw water from the Tibetan plateau via the upper reaches of the Yellow River to quench the deserts of North-west China.
Another project is the diversion of the Brahmaputra waters towards China. Some ten years ago, a Chinese engineer Li Ling and his colleague, Gao Kai, a retired PLA General seriously worked on the diversion scheme. Li Ling then published a book called Tibet's Waters will Save China in which the Chinese engineer detailed the diversion scheme, also known as Shuomatan Canal (from Suma Tan in Central Tibet, near Lhasa to Tanjing in China).
Several 'experts' denounced the plans of Li Ling and Gao Kai and in November 2006, when President Hu Jintao visited India, Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng, a hydraulic engineer himself, affirmed that the proposal was “unnecessary, unfeasible and unscientific. There is no need for such dramatic and unscientific projects.”
However, rumors have continued to circulate, fuelled in June 2011, by the declarations of Wang Guangqian, a scholar of the Chinese Academy of Sciences saying: “Chinese experts have raised a new proposal to divert water from the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra River to the country’s northwestern province of Xinjiang. The water diversion route in the proposal, named the ‘Grand Western Canal’, is slightly different from the ‘Western Canal’ mentioned in China’s well-known South-North Water Diversion Project.”
The project would begin from a place south of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
Prof Wang Guangqian of the Chinese Academy of Sciences seems to say that China has no choice but to go for it when he speaks of the newly proposed route: “Brahmaputra waters are expected to be rerouted to Xinjiang along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Hexi Corridor – part of the Northern Silk Road located in Gansu Province”.
His plans too were opposed by many scientists in China and denied by the Government in Beijing.

Three important factors

Three important factors have to be understood.
One, hydropower lobbies have a financial interest in ‘concretizing’ the project as soon as possible. Dams, whether in India, Pakistan or Tibet, mean big business and the large Chinese corporations will continue to lobby hard to get the projects through.
The second crucial factor is the cost-benefit perspective. The Chinese leadership is usually very down-to-earth, rational; they will choose the easier, cheaper option.
The third factor: can China afford a conflict with India? The next leadership which will take over in November will have to answer this question.

The Solution: A Water Treaty with India
The only solution seems to lie in bringing the matter to the negotiating table and reach a bilateral water agreement. If a river-water Treaty could be signed between India and Pakistan in the early sixties, why can not a similar agreement be made between China, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh, in order to assure a decent life for all in the region?
In the meantime, the succession war is raging in Beijing.
The fruition of all these mega-projects will probably depend on who will be the new emperor(s) of China.
If wise, the emperor(s) will take into account a conflict with the neighbours in calculating the cost-benefits of the mega-projects.
Let us hope for the best, while remaining vigilant!

Thank democracy for small mercies

My article Thank democracy for small mercies appeared in today's Pioneer.

India has been hit by various scams that have rattled the people and made them question our political leadership. But at least we can heartily criticise and condemn, unlike the people in China.

Click here to read...

You can also read it below ('India and the Chinese Model').

After writing this article, I found an interesting related news item published by the BBC (Chinese language)

People's Daily Editor’s Suicide highlights the Plight of Media Personnel in China On August 22, 2012, Xu Huaiqian, the former editor-in-chief for the Dadi (Earth) supplement of People's Daily, committed suicide. Xu’s suicide elicited heated responses from Chinese netizens. Xu Huaiqian’s words were quoted in Chinese media and quickly circulated on the Internet.
Xu said: “My pain is that I dare to think but I cannot speak out; I dare to speak out but I cannot write; I dare to write but I have no place to publish.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

India and the Chinese Model

“We told you so!” is what China is now saying to India.
In an article entitled ‘Exodus result of unchecked websites’ published in The Global Times, the Party’s mouthpiece notices: “Wary of social networking sites' ability to spread rumors, New Delhi has asked websites including Facebook and Twitter to come up with IP addresses suspected of spreading rumors. Pressed by the Indian government, these websites have signaled a willingness to cooperate”.
The question is, should India walk into China’s footsteps?
It is what The Global Times suggests: “The scene is familiar to Chinese. What happened in India can help us understand more objectively whether the Internet can foment social instability and how it does so. The exodus was a result of public panic that was easily ignited by rumors.”
As the internal situation in the Middle Kingdom deteriorates day by day and repression and censure rapidly increase, common men and women have come to disbelieve the veracity of what is reported in the Chinese ‘official’ media.
It is not only true about China’s defence budget or the reliability of the bullet trains, but also of more worldly subjects.
A Chinese blog, The Anti-Social List mentions a posting by the Chinese writer Zhang Yihe about “the crippling climate of doubt and credibility created by the control of information in China”. Zhang’s statement was, of course, deleted from Sina Weibo, China’s most active microblogging site, soon after it was posted (though Zhang Yihe has more than 275,000 followers on Weibo).
Zhang had dared saying: “Was Liu Xiang’s appearance at the Olympics all just a performance? Was Ye Shiwen on steroids or not? Was that really Gu Kailai in the courtroom? Was it really Zhou Kehua who was beaten to death? …and on and on.”
Zhang recalls the ancient story of the boy who cried wolf, who lied over and over so no one believed him anymore, until he was eaten himself by the wolf. She concludes “China’s propaganda machine has cranked out lies for 60 years. Now it has come to the point that whatever they say is met with doubt.”
Liu Xiang is the hurdler, a former Olympic champion and China's idol who abandoned the race on the first hurdle in the 110 m hurdle race in London. He apparently knew that he was injured, but was 'told' to participate.
Ye Shiwen is the 16-year old swimmer and Olympic champion whose performance raised many eyebrows in London and elsewhere.
Zhou Kehua is the serial killer who would have been killed by the Chinese police in a much publicized police operation.
Gu Kailai is the wife of the former major of Chongqing who was recently given a suspended death sentence for the murder of a British businessman.
Sina Weibo, and Baidu, the largest Chinese Internet search engine, have both blocked the term tishen (literally ‘body replacement’) after tens of thousands of citizens discussed whether the woman shown standing in the courtroom was really Ms. Gu.
An article in The Epoch Times explains: “Chinese Internet users have passed around a composite photo contrasting the plump, puffy-cheeked Ms. Gu with an earlier image of her in which she appears as the poised, sharp-featured attorney referred to by some as China’s Jackie Kennedy.”
The journalist rightly concluded: "By blocking searches online, of course, China’s censors could end up just feeding the conspiracy theories further."
The most ironic part of the story is that The Global Times believes that India should follow the Chinese model, adding: "China's situation is relatively good. It is hard to imagine rumors causing an exodus.”
It might be ‘relatively’ good, but Tibetans have to immolate themselves to make the world aware of their plight.
Were India to emulate the Chinese model, it would be disastrous.
India’s great superiority over China has not been the strength of its defence forces or its road infrastructure, but in the unbelievable independence of its press and the freedom of the social networks.
You may not have heard of Li Changchun? But Mr. Li is a powerful man; he is no. 5 in the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In China, he is responsible for Propaganda. One of his objectives is to 'repopularize’ Marxism with Chinese Characteristics. As Chairman of the Party’s Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization, Mr. Li is also in charge for the Party's image.
The functions of the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department under the responsibility of Mr. Li are: directing the propaganda; guiding the public opinion; directing the production of culture products; planning overall ideological and political work; creating propaganda policies and coordinating propaganda organizations; providing public opinion intelligence to Party leadership and leading cultural system reform (an euphemism for more censure of whatever is not in line with the Party's ideology).
Mr Li’s idea is to “enhance public faith in the country’s political theory amid social conflict and to answer the public’s doubts, reach a consensus and generate strength”. He has little chance to succeed.
Take one example, you will understand why. The city of Shifang, in Sichuan Province recently witnessed serious protests. The reason? The building of a new heavy-metals refinery in town; a crowd assembled outside the gates of a municipal government building, and soon the events turned sour for the project’s promoters. Though the police had warned that anyone using the Internet, cell phones or SMSs to spread information about the protest would be 'severely' punished; microbloggers nevertheless passed the word: "The government has repeatedly squandered the people’s patience. It is time for us to be independent.” Eventually, the Government had to back out and close the factory.
It appears that the Chinese people have learned from Deng Xiaoping advised, 'Seek Truth from Facts'.
But the party does not see the situation thus, though it might be aware that lies and propaganda can’t solve problems like corruption or pollution. It is why the Internet has become the most important instrument of change in China; in fact the only opposition.
These days, the leadership has two obsessions: stability and loyalty to the Party. The fact that the leadership stresses so much on these two issues tends to prove that the Party is facing a serious problem in these domains.
The State Council (cabinet) and the Central Military Commission recently issued orders in view of the forthcoming Party’s Congress. Hundreds of thousands of military and para-military personnel have been summoned to Beijing to ‘control’ the masses during the ‘change of guard’.
Mao used to say: "Revolution is not a tea party. It is not like writing an essay, painting or embroidering flowers.” Compared to Mao’s days, China has changed for good; the advent of new information technologies has brought a new Revolution, the masses can now express themselves. This makes it all the more dangerous for a tense regime, which is not ready to change; how could India follow China’s backward steps.
In a couple of months from now, when the White Smoke appears in the polluted sky above the Great Hall of People, a new leadership will take over. Then we shall know if China can really change.
Whatever direction the smoke takes, the Indian democratic system, with all its imperfections and its different ‘gates’ (Coalgate, 2Ggate, etc.), its injustice and its big bags of ‘mining’ money, is not that bad.
Can you imagine a Propaganda Ministry in Manmohan Singh’s government? In any case, who will believe it?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It is not like embroidering flowers

"Revolution is not a tea party. It is not like writing an essay, painting or embroidering flowers,... revolution is an act of violence, it is the violent overthrow of one class by another..." said Chairman Mao.
The times may have changed and the Change of Guard in Beijing might not witness a violence similar to the Cultural Revolution, but the present 'selection process' is still not like writing an essay or embroidering flowers. 
The different orders issued by the State Council and the Central Military Commission and the summoning of hundreds of thousands of military and para-military personnel demonstrate that it is not a tea party.
Compared to Mao's days, there is however a difference, the masses can express themselves today.
They can surf the Net, get informed and twit. It makes it more dangerous for a nervous regime.
During his youth, China's future President, Xi Jinping must have himself suffered a great deal of Mao's revolutionary violent policies.
His father, Zi Zhongxun was 'purged' by Mao in September 1962, mainly due to his closeness to Marshal Peng Dehuai who had dared criticizing Mao for his Great Leap Forward. 
Have the times really changed?
The answer will come when the White Smoke appears in the sky of Zhongnanhai in a couple of months from now.
After all, the Indian electoral system, despite the big money bags (and small envelopes) around, is not that bad.

Beijing Locked Down Ahead of National Party Congress
The Epoch Times
By Sarah Le & Matthew Robertson
August 27, 2012
As the Chinese Communist Party’s largest national assembly approaches, where key personnel changes at the top of the regime will be made, security forces are being mobilized across Beijing, and a series of defense orders have been handed down to the rank and file, according to Hong Kong media.
A special security headquarters has been set up for the conference by the Beijing Public Security Bureau, according to a recent announcement on the city government website. Hundreds of thousands of personnel will be used to prevent any untoward incidents from occurring in the capital.
The security offensive is being driven forward as petitioners attempt to flood the capital before the 18th Party Congress, and the regime has yet to put to rest the political scandal related to the ousted official Bo Xilai; an economic slowdown also looms, which could bring further social discontent.

Defense Orders
Apart from the “political construction” of the police force, and strengthening the “vanguard” efforts of the Communist Party, hundreds of thousands of police, armed police, city guards, and community volunteers will be mobilized to support the security efforts, according to Hong Kong’s Trend magazine.
Trend, which regularly reports on the Party’s internal politics, referred to a series of Defense Orders issued by the State Council and the Central Military Commission—the Party organ in charge of the military, to prevent social unrest.
The Second Defense Order, for example, was implemented in Beijing on Aug. 18. Troops cannot take vacations to visit family, around the clock street patrols with armed police have been set up, and security personnel are to enforce strict traffic control and vehicle searches. Armed police are stationed at core areas around Beijing, a helicopter squad is on standby, and six specific incidents are to be guarded against: for example, mass assemblies, strikes, organized petitioning activities, or even traffic accidents. Tibet and Xinjiang will be placed under the second order.
A First Order will be implemented in Beijing at the crucial period from Sept. 22 to Nov. 25, when the Congress is expected to be held, Trend reported. That includes additional measures against four specific types of incidents (including undue media attention on contaminated food.)

Political Strife
The security mobilization comes amid a flood of protests to the capital and a series of political incidents within the regime.
The Party is still recovering from the Bo Xilai scandal, which began in February when the former high-ranking official’s deputy attempted to defect at the American Consulate in Chengdu. From then a split was revealed at the top of the regime, between loyalists to former Party leader Jiang Zemin, to whose faction Bo belonged, and Hu Jintao and his leadership.
Economic pressures are also increasing, according to many sources, including one of the regime’s own think tanks.
Wu Jinglian, senior research fellow of the Development Research Center of the State Council, the equivalent of the regime’s cabinet, said in March, “Corruption is out of control,” and economic and social conflicts have almost reached a “critical point.”
“The Chinese communist regime is embattled,” wrote Zhou Yahui, a commentator on Chinese politics, in a recent opinion article, according to New Tang Dynasty Television, a Chinese broadcaster.
The regime faces the most serious fiscal crisis so far, from the provincial level to the central level, Zhou said, with nonperforming loans accumulating in state banks, factional divisions at the heart of the regime, and a massive level of official corruption.
It is all accompanied by public discontent and open defiance of the authorities, he said, which has hardly been seen previously to such an extent.

Protests and Petitioners
Many petitioners, Chinese people who travel to the capital to gain redress for grievances that the legal system could not resolve, have been restrained from leaving their homes, according to Sun Wenguang, a former Shandong University professor, in an interview with The Epoch Times.
Others are put into custody immediately after registering with the Office of Letters and Calls in the capital, which is supposed to handle such complaints he said.
The efforts may be an attempt to stem the flow of petitioners before the Party Congress, when they may be inclined to flood into the capital to express their frustration with the regime.
A large number of retired military officials staged a protest in Beijing recently, according to retired military officer Mr. He. He is part of a group that is protesting not getting adequate retirement benefits, or not being compensated for injuries, or other causes of dissatisfaction with the military.
Over 10,000 petitioners visited the Office of Letters and Calls, and the Party’s anti-corruption bureau, on Aug. 15 alone, according to an article on the human rights website
The constant protests and discontent are a demonstration of the regime’s instability, according to Mou Chuanheng, a dissident in Qingdao, Shandong Province.
Shi Zangshan, a Washington-based commentator on contemporary Chinese affairs, said the uptick in mass incidents in China in recent years have “surged.” The term “mass incident” refers to the often violent protests of thousands of people, typically against officials.
Shi added: “Party officials are panicked about it, and feel that the Party is almost finished. They want to do something, but all they know is the Party’s ‘philosophy of struggle,’ and they enact these ridiculous defense orders in the capital.”
With reporting by Tang Ming.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The most reliable messenger, the pigeons

Ritu Sharma's article in The New Indian Express raises a very serious problem: the lack of proper infrastructure along India's border with China.
In 2007, I had written on this issue: "Another fact demonstrates the way the Chinese function: When you make an ISD call from Tawang, the person who receives the call at the other end can see Lhasa's code, and not India's (91), followed by the STD code of the Tawang district as the caller ID. Is the Government even aware of this blatant violation of India's sovereignty? Beijing clearly knows where its interests lie."
And India does not know.
In 2008, I had asked Kiren Rijiju, then MP from Arunachal about this. He explained: "It happens not only in Tawang, but also on the Bangladesh border, in Meghalaya. There you use the Bangladesh network, since BSNL is not there. The problem is that there are too many restrictions in India. It is what I call negative policies not to develop border areas. So there are no roads, no mobile phones, no televisions, no infrastructure. This is the mindset of our country."
All those living in border areas know that it is not only true for telecom towers, but for TV broadcast also. 
But there is perhaps a solution.
A Member of the French Parliament recently suggested to boost the use of military pigeons for the French Army.
In a written question, Jean-Pierre Decool, a MP from the UMP majority (from Northern France) asked for the return of the military pigeon as a weapon. 
He forcefully spoke of "the usefulness of the pigeon in the event of armed conflict. In 2011, the Chinese army has decided to 'recruit' some 10,000 pigeons, in addition to the existing 200. Indeed, if during an armed conflict, a generalized failure of communication networks may occur. Consequently, the pigeon will remain one of the only communication tools capable of transporting messages," Decool said in the Parliament.
In his response, the French Minister of Defence stated: "historically, the pigeon presented a certain interest for military communications. Safe and reliable, it has often helped to get rid of the insecurity of the other lines of communication. The French Army has the last pigeon dovecote in Europe on the site of Mont-Valerian, near Paris. In addition, France has identified nearly 20,000 pigeon lovers, who could provide valuable assistance in case of strong 'weakening' of telecommunication networks."
At Mont Valerian, the 8th Signal Regiment has kept the tradition of maintaining a military national dovecote.
Regarding China, a year ago, the Time Magazine spoke of "China's Most Secret Weapon: The Messenger Pigeon". The reporters asserted: 
Though the world's attention has recently been focused on the unveiling of China's first ever stealth fighter jet, the Chinese military has been busy investing in another type of furtive flyer: the humble messenger pigeon. According to reports in state media, late last year, the Chengdu division of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) began training 10,000 pigeons as part of a push to build a 'reserve pigeon army' that would provide support to the military's conventional communications infrastructure in the event that war rendered its plethora of modern technology unusable.
"These military pigeons will be primarily called upon to conduct special military missions between troops stationed at our land borders or ocean borders," air force military expert Chen Hong told China Central Television after the announcement. According to reports, the birds will be dispersed to communications bases across China's remote and mountainous southwestern region, particularly around the Himalayan foothills. The pigeons, flying at speeds of up to 75 miles (120 km) per hour, will be trained to carry loads of up to 3.5 oz. (100 g). (See the top 10 militant animals.)
China has the telecom towers plus the pigeons. What about India?
Will someone suggest to Mr. A.K. Antony to use some of these gentle birds, at least for the jawans to communicate with their family at Nathula, Demchok or Bumla.

The Indian jawan and the great calls from China
New Indian Express
Ritu Sharma
26th Aug 2012
Chinese mobile towers along the Indo-China border are burning holes into the pockets of Indian soldiers deployed at forward bases.
Most of the time, when Indian armymen posted at Nathu La in Sikkim dial home, the Chinese mobile towers pick up the signals, therefore turning them into international calls on roaming.
Strangely, there are no mobile towers of Indian cell phone providers along the border, though soldiers use their cell phones very frequently.
“It is a peculiar situation.
Whenever we try calling home from Nathu La, our cell phones catch signals from the nearby Chinese towers.
Many times we end up paying up to `130 for one call,” said a soldier ruing about the problem.
Earlier this year, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had brought to light the poor connectivity issue and said that jawans posted at Nathu La were even forced to borrow handsets from their Chinese counterparts on the other side of the fence to stay in touch with their families.
Even as the Indian soldiers’ attitude in this treacherous terrain is painted on the mountains with declarations like “Hum hi Jitenge! (Only we will win)”, what seems to be failing them is the lack of infrastructure development including the absence of telecom structures in the area, which was once part of the Silk Route.
The government has been aware of the problem in telecom connectivity but there has been no development on this front.
Most private telecom players are concentrated in Sikkim’s capital Gangtok and nearby areas.
The public sector BSNL, which is the major service provider near Nathu La, has not been able to install towers and telephone exchanges in the region.
“Satellite phones are available with the units but their numbers are not proportionate with the strength of the troops,” an army official said.
This has also created a piquant security situation since the phone calls of soldiers can be easily monitored by the Chinese.
At Nathu La, only a stretch of dilapidated concertina wire serves as the line of demarcation between the two countries who fought a brief but bloody war in 1962.
On September 7, 1967, Chinese troops had opened fire on Indian troops at Nathu La as they were putting up the wires, leading to a six-day border conflict.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beware the Wolf

Where is the truth?
Last month, I wrote on this blog,Will Propaganda save China?
The situation seems to deteriorate day by the day.
In China today, ordinary people can never be certain of the veracity of what is reported in the media.
Is it the sign of a healthy society?
It is not only true for new generations of missiles, or defence related information, but also for more worldly stories.
Each and every piece of news is doubted by the 'masses'. 
A Chinese blog, The Anti-Social List wrote about: The Party who cried “Wolf!”
The blog mentions the following post by Chinese writer Zhang Yihe (章诒和) about the crippling climate of doubt and credibility created by the control of information in China. The posting was deleted from Sina Weibo soon after it was posted. According to Sina Weibo, Zhang Yihe has more than 275,000 followers,
Zhang had said:
A friend of mine wrote: Was Liu Xiang’s appearance at the Olympics all just a performance? Was Ye Shiwen on steroids or not? Was that really Gu Kailai in the courtroom? Was it really Zhou Kehua (周克华) who was beaten to death? And on and on. This makes one think of the ancient story of the boy who cried wolf, who was lying over and over so no one believed him, until he was eaten himself by the wolf. China’s propaganda machine has cranked out lies for 60 years. Now it has come to the point that anything they say is met with doubt.
Liu Xiang is the hurdler, former Olympic champion and China's idol who abandoned on the first  hurdle in the 110 m hurdle race in London. He apparently knew that he was injured, but was 'told' to participate. 
Ye Shiwen is the 16- year old swimmer and Olympic champion whose performance raised many eyebrows in London and elsewhere. 
Zhou Kehua is the serial killer who would have been killed by the Chinese police in a much publicized operation.
Gu Kailai is the wife of the former major of Chongqing was has recently been given a suspended death sentence for the murder of a British businessman.
The Walls Street Journal wrote: 'Body Double’ Blocked Online Amid Speculation About Gu Kailai.
The article says:
Sina Weibo, China’s most active microblogging service, and Baidu, its largest Internet search engine, have both blocked the term tishen (替身, literally “body replacement”) after a barrage of citizens began questioning whether the woman shown standing in the courtroom during one of the most sensational trials in recent Chinese history was really Ms. Gu. ...Chinese Internet users have passed around a composite photo contrasting the plump, puffy-cheeked Ms. Gu who appeared at the Hefei Intermediate People’s Court in China’s eastern Anhui province with an earlier image of her in which she appears as the poised, sharp-featured attorney referred to by some as China’s Jackie Kennedy.
The journalist rightly concluded: "By blocking searches online, of course, China’s censors could end up just feeding the conspiracy theories further."
Can we believe what Beijing says about the 'peaceful rise of China' and new delivery systems for its missiles. Probably not!
The most comical is that The Global Times believes that India should follow the Chinese model. A comment in the Party mouthpiece says: "India exodus result of unchecked websites". It argues: 
Ethnic clashes in the Indian state of Assam have prompted panic nationwide, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee from the south of the country where they work. Wary of social networking sites' ability to spread rumors, New Delhi has asked websites including Facebook and Twitter to come up with IP addresses suspected of spreading rumors. ...The scene is familiar to Chinese. What happened in India can help us understand more objectively whether the Internet can foment social instability and how it does so. The exodus was a result of public panic that was easily ignited by rumors. It takes more than working with social networking websites to appease the agitated public and prevent this from happening again.
The Global Times adds: "China's situation is relatively good. It is hard to imagine rumors causing an exodus. The government's reaction and public's ability to discern false information are much better. But the mass of information flowing through the Internet still presents a challenge to governance. The Internet has become deeply integrated in Chinese society, but can still create a disturbance."
Will India emulate China? It would be disastrous.

China develops new generation missiles that can carry 10 nuclear warheads
Aug 25, 2012
WASHINGTON: China has developed a new generation of inter-continental and submarine launched missiles capable of carrying as many as 10 nuclear warheads, increasing its ability to reach US and to overwhelm missile defence systems.
The US military and intelligence officials say that China has developed the new long range Dongfeng-41 ICBM with mobile launching system making it harder to find and destroy the missile before it is launched, the New York Times said.
But the Global Times - a newspaper controlled by China's Communist Party - disputed Western media reports of Dongfeng-41 tests being carried out last month.
It admitted China was developing the capability to put multiple warheads on its inter-continental ballistic missiles.
The new generation Dongfeng-41 is estimated to have a strike distance of 12,000 to 14,000 kilometers and armed with single, 3, 6, or even 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) warheads.
The NYT, quoting a Congressional panel, said that US and other western powers might have underestimated the size of China's nuclear arsenal, suggesting that the new reports say that it currently had 55 to 65 ICBM.
The US experts also said that Beijing had separately tested submarine launched missiles in recent weeks, which it could use to outflank American missile defence systems.
The experts also said that China had developed the expertise to mount dummy warheads on some of its nuclear missiles and that these have heat and electromagnetic devices designed to trick defence missile system.
The NYT also said that China was preparing two submarines for deployment each with 12 missiles.
US experts said China's moves to modernise its missiles comes in the wake of it carrying out sea trials of its first aircraft carrier and flight test of its new stealth J-20 jet.
Th NYT said to counter the Chinese build up, US was considering placing additional high-tech radar systems to track Chinese ballistic missiles either in southern Japan or in south east Asia.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The importance of Tibetan Archeology

The Chinese have discovered an archeological site related to the Zhangzhung kingdom. That is good news, through it will probably be used to rewrite the history of Tibet and  show that the Tibetan plateau was already part of the Middle Kingdom more two thousand years ago.
When I wrote the history of Tibet in 25 panels (downloadable from my website), I mentioned about the importance of archeology.
"The archeology of the Tibetan plateau is a relatively new disciple. Though explorers such as Tucci, Hedin, Richardson or Roerich did the first archeological surveys at the beginning of the 20th century, their studies remained superficial.
The scenario has changed during the past 2 or 3 decades with more scientific studies being conducted by Tibetan, Western and Chinese archeologists. Their researches dwell not only upon Western Tibet, rich in ‘pre-Buddhist’ vestiges, but also on other parts of the plateau, like Amdo and Kham.

The latest archeological discoveries open new perspectives on the history of the plateau, particularly regarding the Zhangzhung kingdom. Archeologists believed today that a climate change altered the balance of power a few millennia ago. Due to the drought and subsequent increase in salinity of the areas around the large lakes of Northern Tibet, the political center may have progressively shifted to warmer and moister regions like Yarlung."
Hopefully this relation between climate change and migration will be researched further. 
It could an ideal joint Indo-Chinese project. 

Tombs bear secrets of 2,000-year old Tibetan kingdom
August 24, 2012
Tombs bear secrets of 2,000-year old Tibetan kingdom Lhasa: Four tombs unearthed in Tibet are believed to contain relics from an ancient Tibetan kingdom that thrived more than 2,000 years ago.
The tombs, found in Ngari prefecture, were found to contain wooden caskets with human remains, copperware, swords and the skeletons of cattle believed to have been buried as sacrificial items, said Tong Tao from the archeological institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"We believe the location of the tombs was central to the ancient Shangshung kingdom, a once-powerful tribe that was taken over by Songtsen Gampo to become part of Tibet in the seventh century," Xinhua quoted him as saying.
All four tombs were found near a Bon monastery in Gar county. Bon was a religion that prevailed in Tibet before Buddhism was introduced from India in the seventh century. Its followers worshipped "natural spirits" like mountains and lakes.
"The ancient kingdom of Shangshung is widely believed to be the cradle of the Bon religion and therefore a cultural and political center for the plateau," said Tong.
Most of the sacrificial items inside the tombs were apparently introduced to the plateau from India, what is known today as the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and China's interior regions, he said.
"The swords, for example, apparently came from central and northern Chinese regions, while a gold mask unearthed from one of the tombs is similar the gold masks prevalent in northern India," he said.
Tong and his colleagues believe the items indicate that the ancient Shangshung kingdom conducted diverse cultural and personnel exchanges and could be one of the earliest centres of civilization on the Tibet plateau.
None of the four tombs were newly discovered, but scientific excavation and research for conservation purposes started only in June.
In 2005, monks in Gar county unearthed combs, firewood, copper kitchen utensils, carbonized plants and pieces of silk -- some of which bore handwriting and paintings.
Jin Shubo, a senior official in Tibet who has an interest in plateau archaeology, sent the samples for carbon dating and found they dated back 1,800 to 2,200 years, putting them somewhere between the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 24) and the Wei kingdom (220 - 265), he said.
"The Book of Han, which recorded the history of the Han dynasty, said emperors of the dynasty often presented silk as gifts to maintain relations with the western kingdoms," said Jin.
The pieces of silk unearthed from the tombs, he said, were probably gifts from Chinese emperors.
A large quantity of horse, cattle and sheep skeletons indicates that the tomb's owners were rich and powerful, said Li Linhui, deputy head of Tibet's institute for heritage preservation.
One of the tombs housed the remains of four to five people, while the other three had one corpse each, he said.
Researchers have taken samples of the remains to Beijing for DNA analysis to determine whether the tomb's occupants were related.
Tong and his colleagues are planning to conduct large-scale excavation and research in the tombs next year.
"Hopefully, we'll find out more about the mysteries of the ancient Shangshung kingdom," he said.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lhaseans: the Happiest people

The Tibetans of Lhasa are the happiest people of China!
If you don't believe it, read the article of The China Daily posted below.
At the meantime, in another other corner of Tibet, one reads that on 12 August "hundreds of armed forces, particularly the People's Armed Police, were deployed at the immensely popular annual horse-racing festival at Machu county in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu Province." 
Apparently, local authorities were apprehensive of Tibetans staging protests and self-immolations at the public event. These are not signs of Happiness.
Why can't the Chinese authorities 'export' Lhasa happiness to other 'Tibetan-inhabited areas'  and stop the wave of self-immolations?
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Dharamsala reported: 
In addition to unprecedented presence of armed security personnel, the local authorities also issued a public notice containing 11 points that essentially ask Tibetans to refrain from using the annual event to express their grievances in public.
The notice, issued in both Tibetan and Chinese language, barred anyone from carrying 'flammable' and 'poisonous' objects and engaging in protest activities at the event venue, and added that violating the rules listed in the notice would attract punishment ranging from 'detention' to prosecution in the courts.
In Point no. 10 of the notice, activities such as 'demonstrations, protests, appeals, self-injury, suicide, self-immolation' and 'beating, smashing, and looting' were deemed 'illegal' and therefore banned at the event. Point no. 6 banned objects such as 'fire crackers, flammable liquids, bows and arrows, swords and other objects made of iron, as well as poisonous substances.' Point no. 5 banned anyone from carrying documents and leaflets relating to political, religious, cultural and economic matters to the venue without prior permission from the relevant authorities.
The last point listed punishment for those who violate the rules: those committing 'medium-range offense' would get 'detentions' while those engaging in bigger criminal offense be taken to court and sentenced accordingly.
This is called forced happiness!
Around that time, the 'Chinese' Panchen Lama  said the the Buddhist doctrines should be interpreted in the right way. He was talking with 50 'senior' monks from different Buddhist sects in Shigatse. He spoke of  promoting patriotism, rule of law, ethnic unity, social harmony, and environmental protection. He said: "Buddhism is a recipe for ending secular sufferings and dispelling bad Karma for the masses. It can guide people to ditch the evil for the virtue".
Well, the Communist Party seems to have lost the recipe, outside Lhasa at least!
Happy people with Party's bosses

Lhasa ranks at top of residents' happiness list
China Daily
Lhasa, the city of sunlight, topped an annual survey of residents' sense of happiness in Chinese cities.
The capital of the Tibet autonomous region has ranked at the top of the survey conducted by China Central Television for five consecutive years.
In this year’s list, Lhasa was followed by Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, Hefei, capital of Anhui province, Tianjin municipality, Changsha, capital of Hunan province, and Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
The capital cities where residents have the most leisure time include Guiyang, Haikou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Lhasa, Chengdu and Chongqing.
Around 100,000 households from 104 cities were polled for the survey.
The results showed income level most affected people’s sense of well-being (55.5 percent), followed by health (48.9 percent) and quality of marriage or love life (32 percent).
Among people with an annual income of 100,000 yuan ($15,700) or more, 6 percent of respondents said they did not have enough free time, compared with 12 percent for those earning 20,000 yuan or less a year.
People’s favorite leisure time activities are surfing the Web and watching TV. Only a small percentage of respondents said they used free time for education, training, going to the gym or social life, according to the results.
Zou Jun, director of the Jiangsu Institute of Urban Planning and Design in Nanjing, said although similar rankings have been conducted by different organizations, the effort is worthwhile because it helps city administrators create new development paths that give greater consideration to residents’ welfare.
The rankings are a reminder to city planners that they should not only address short-term problems such as creating new jobs, but also long-term ones such as providing a decent standard of living and public services for low-income and migrant households, he said.
Zou said officials like to construct landmark buildings or entertainment facilities in city centers as main attractions, but "a city exists not just for tourists. It exists, more importantly, for those who actually live there".
No cities from the Yangtze River Delta or Pearl River Delta regions appeared in the new rankings. Zou said people in these regions may have higher incomes but less leisure time for cultural and spiritual interests.
Wang Wenjie, 27, has worked as a human resources specialist at a pharmaceutical company in Shanghai for two years. She has adopted a positive mindset to deal with daily pressures.
"I have a circle of close friends. And I am surrounded by intelligent people with similar interests. Such an environment inspires me to grow and learn," Wang said.
Wang’s parents in Fuzhou, Fujian province, used to worry about her, but after visiting Shanghai they became convinced that she enjoys living there.
Wang said she enjoys helping people learn new skills and seeing a sparkle in their eyes.
"I think of five things that I am grateful for when I go to bed every night," she said, "For me, keeping a positive mindset is the key to finding happiness in life."
Wang finishes work at 5 pm and has plenty of time to do activities she enjoys, such as swimming, hanging out with friends, going to a reading group and watching theater performances.
"Living in big cities may involve pressure due to higher expenses. But they can offer a rich cultural life for people to feel more fulfilled," she said.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When the Chinese were expelled from Tibet

Chinese soldiers leaving Tibet in 1912
One is often asked, do you have any proof that Tibet was an Independent nation during the 20th century.
There are of course, many signs that Tibet was a de facto independent country when the Chinese troops entered Chamdo in October 1950. 
One of them is the expulsion of the Chinese from Lhasa, a first time in 1912 and a second time in 1949.
I quote here from my book, Tibet, the Lost Frontier.

On July 8, 1949, Chen, the acting head of the Chinese mission in Lhasa, was called by the Kashag and informed that he and his staff as well as all Chinese working in schools and hospitals had to leave Tibet. The pretext was that the Chinese Mission no longer had any relations with the Nationalist Government and was not accredited with the new government.
In fact, the Tibetan Government was afraid that some (if not all) members of the Chinese mission in Lhasa would switch over to the new Communist regime in Beijing ‘for bread and butter’, as Richardson put it. The Chinese were swiftly expelled by the Tibetan Government and their bank accounts frozen in India on the request of the Tibetan Government.
The move had been prepared for more than a year by Tsipon Namseling who had made a detailed list of Chinese agents in Lhasa. The remarkable feature was that secret had not leaked out of the Kashag Office during all that time. It was a record of sorts for a small village like Lhasa.
The Indian Mission was later informed about the fait accompli. “It was a complete surprise for the Indian Mission”, [Hugh] Richardson [the Head of the Indian Mission in Tibet] commented later.
However the Chinese were expelled with courtesy and a band accompanied them until they were outside of Lhasa.
The cable that Nehru sent to the Political Officer in Sikkim demonstrates the position of the Government of India vis-à-vis Tibet in 1949 and makes interesting reading:
2. We are concerned over the Tibetan Government's decision to turn out all Chinese officials in Lhasa.[It was reported that the Head of Tibetan State Department at Lhasa had shut off the Nationalist Radio Station in Lhasa on 8 July 1949, asked the Nationalist Government's branch office to close down and ordered all officers to leave.] These officials were appointed by the National Government of China. Their wholesale expulsion will naturally be regarded as an anti-Chinese rather than anti-Communist move. And the Government of India, by letting them into India without any travel papers in contravention of all passport regulations, will be regarded as privy to this move.
3. We can however understand the desire of the Tibetan Government to get rid of persons suspected of subversive tendencies and officials sympathizing with them. From the Tibetan Government's own point of view it would seem better for Tibetans to expel these suspects rather than all Chinese officials in Lhasa.
Nehru was ready to help to a certain extent; he informed the Political Officer in Sikkim that “there are many difficulties in the way of the Government of India receiving and looking after these suspects. Nevertheless, in view of our friendly relations with the Tibetan Government, we are considering the possibility of giving them passage. We would be gravely embarrassed if they stayed in India. We shall require advance information of the names and particulars of the persons concerned, some indication of the charges against them, and the place or places to which they will proceed.”
He concluded by suggesting:
… that unless you or Richardson have any further comments the position of the Government of India should be tactfully explained to the Tibetan Government. The Tibetan Government are the best judges of their own interests but to us it would seem unwise on their part to take any steps which in effect mean the forced discontinuance of the Chinese Mission in Lhasa. The objects of the Tibetan Government will be served by expelling the suspects and officials associated with them. If any of the Chinese, left behind, indulge in objectionable activities they can also be similarly dealt with. Such gradual and considered action will appear justified in the eyes of the world, but not the precipitate action now contemplated.
It is clear that a few months before the Fateful Year of 1950, the Government of India, “in view of [its] friendly relations with the Tibetan Government”, was ready to help Lhasa with its security concerns. Not only Delhi treated Tibet as an independent entity, but the Government of India accepted that they were the best judge of their problems.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Changes in the Chinese Military?

A series of interesting articles on the PLA recently appeared in the Chinese press.
I am posting two of them from The Epoch Times, a Falun Gong group publication.
One speaks of the attempted coup mentioned on this blog in March and the subsequent reshuffle in the PLA: "China’s military has moved around a large number of senior generals, including generals in the Navy, Air Force, Lanzhou Military Region, Guangzhou Military Region, Chengdu Military Region, Hong Kong Garrison, General Logistics Department, and Armed Police. The South China Sea and North Sea Fleets have also changed their chief commanders." 
The second article mentions the promotion of General Liu Yazhou also cited on this blog in June 2011: "In August 2010, a Chinese two-star general has warned his conservative Communist Party masters and firebrand People's Liberation Army colleagues that China must either embrace US-style democracy or accept Soviet-style collapse."
Liu Yazhou, a political commissar in the PLA National Defense Academy has now been promoted as a full General. According to The Epoch Times "he is known for promoting a Westward Strategy, or moving the nation’s development focus to Western China, partly because of his belief that U.S. influence in the Asian region is hampering China’s strategic expansion there."
It is difficult to predict how this will translate into a change of policy.
Finally, Peter Mattis, the Editor of the China Brief speaks of "Hu Jintao’s Doubtful Future on the Central Military Commission". He says: 
With the Beidaihe retreat coming to a close this week and Chinese leaders reemerging from behind closed doors, China’s leaders are in the home stretch for deciding the outcomes of the 18th Party Congress. Some of the issues at stake are the size of the Politburo, who will make it into the Politburo Standing Committee, and a miscellany of other important personnel appointments, like Shanghai’s party chief. One of the most consequential questions is whether President Hu Jintao will hold onto the chairmanship of the Central Military Commission (CMC), which oversees the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), after he resigns as general secretary this fall. Some speculation suggests Hu will follow his predecessor’s path and oversee military affairs in quasi-retirement (Ming Pao, July 22; Apple Daily, May 30). The idea of precedent looms large for a China-watching community starved of reliable, current information. President Hu, however, appears unlikely to retain the CMC chairmanship past the 18th Party Congress based on the factors that allowed Jiang Zemin to continue in that capacity after resigning as general secretary.
All this is of course speculation, because even the best informed China watcher knows very little about what is happening behind the thick walls of Zhongnanhai or Beidaihe's retreat. 
Mattis anyway tries his luck at suggesting:
The idea of President Hu staying on as chair of the Central Military Commission has precedent with both Deng Xiaoping and Jiang. There is little reason to suggest the PLA has changed its position on the perils of a divided command. Since at least March, the propaganda line has been a consistent statement about the clear relationship between the party and the army—not between a civilian leader and the PLA. The recognition of Hu Jintao’s role as leader of the party and the role of the party’s general secretary also suggests the PLA stands by Jiang’s reasoning for unity of command.
It means that the CCP's General Secretary, the PRC's President and the Chairman of the CMC should be the same person, in other words, Xi Jinping.
Interesting months ahead. 
The fate of the next ten years of China (and the world) may depend on which side the wind will blow in Beijing and Beidailhe in the weeks to come. 
Let us watch the smoke. 

With Promotion of General, Chinese Regime Tilts To West
Epoch Times
Sun Yun 
August 13, 2012
Before the real transfer of power takes place at the 18th Party Congress, supposedly this fall, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has already promoted a number of lieutenant generals to general—among them Liu Yazhou, who among other things supports an aggressive defense posture against the United States, some form of democracy in China, and closer ties with the Islamic world.
Liu is political commissar of the National Defense Academy of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and is known for promoting a Westward Strategy, or moving the nation’s development focus to Western China, partly because of his belief that U.S. influence in the Asian region is hampering China’s strategic expansion there.
He was promoted to general on July 30, in what outsiders see as a sign that his ideas are to some extent being accepted by Party leaders.
Along with the westward tilt is a plan to transform the western province of Ningxia into China’s Islamic Finance Center.
The newly promoted Gen. Liu’s idea of developing Western China would fit well with turning Ningxia into a Sino-Arab financial trade settlement center, according to Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily, in a commentary on Aug. 6.
Liu’s promotion to general shows his Westward Strategy is being accepted and supported, the Daily said.
In 2011, Sino-Arab trade totaled US$195.9 billion, making the Arab world China’s seventh largest trading partner, and making China the second largest trading partner of Arab countries.
Liu Yazhou is the son-in-law of Li Xiannian, former chairman of China (1909–1992). He is also a military commentator. It is believed that Liu is an important military ally to Xi Jinping, the presumptive next leader of the CCP. Both Liu and Xi are princelings.
Following the Wang Lijun scandal in February, Liu on April 16 wrote an article in Qiushi, a Communist Party ideological journal, saying the army must unconditionally obey the leader of the CCP, the Central Military Commission, and Party chief Hu Jintao. The article was understood as Liu showing his allegiance to Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and Xi Jinping, in the wake of reports about of a failed political coup by Bo Xilai, former Chongqing Party secretary, and security chief Zhou Yongkang,
Since 2004 Liu has strongly advocated that China strategically move West. In his article “On Advance Toward The West,” he says Western China is not a frontier but a hinterland of China’s progress—developing Xinjiang and Tibet, befriending the Middle East, and becoming economically competitive in Central Asia.

Major Reshuffle of China’s Top Military Brass
The Epoch Times
Wang Jingwen
August 16, 2012
China’s military has quietly reassigned a large number of high-ranking officers and removed most of supporters of Bo Xilai—the now deposed official who was being groomed by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) most ruthless faction to become the next Party leader—in two key regions. Within just one month, there have been 14 transfers of generals ranking at the level of Military Region.
According to several published reports collected by Southern Metropolis Daily, since July, China’s military has moved around a large number of senior generals, including generals in the Navy, Air Force, Lanzhou Military Region, Guangzhou Military Region, Chengdu Military Region, Hong Kong Garrison, General Logistics Department, and Armed Police. The South China Sea and North Sea Fleets have also changed their chief commanders. This is the largest reshuffle of top Chinese military officers since the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square student massacre.
The most notable adjustments have taken place in the Lanzhou and Chengdu Military Regions. Most generals supportive of Bo Xilai and former CCP leader Jiang Zemin have been removed from their positions since they were linked to an alleged coup plotted by Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang, both members of the Jiang Zemin faction. The three were united in a plan to seize power at the top of the Communist Party in order to cover for their crimes in persecuting Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice, according to insiders and the analysis of experts.
But according to a high ranking Beijing official, Hu Jintao, in order to remain as the Party’s Central Military Commission (CMC) chairman, and maintain some hold on power after handing over his Party leader post, doesn’t want to make too many enemies. Hu is using “soft treatment” in dealing with Bo and Zhou to leave their supporters “a way out” and to try to minimize the impact of the political tsunami brought on by the pair, the official told New Epoch magazine on condition of anonymity.
According to reports, the two vice-chairmen and the eight members of the CMC all signed a petition asking Hu to remain as chairman of the CMC. Obviously, Hu’s compromise has brought benefits to himself. Those high-ranking officials involved in the Bo and Zhou incident have already changed their stance, and Bo and Zhou have no influence now even though Zhou still remains in his current Party position.

Breaking up the PLAC
Recently an official message further confirmed Hu’s and Wen’s “outside loose and inside tight” policy towards Zhou. According to state media Xinhua News, from the beginning of August, provincial and autonomous regions’ police chief positions will be taken over by transferred officials from other provinces. This is another major initiative—following the June 26-July 31 intensive rotational training of police chiefs from more than 1,400 cities and counties—to weaken the impact of the Gestapo-like Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), and to break up and reshuffle the PLAC.
Additionally, local Party committees were due for reelection in early July. There were 23 new provincial PLAC secretaries who were not local police chiefs; instead the positions were filled by officials without any PLAC background. Previously the PLAC secretary position was always held by the local police chief, and its authority often surpassed that of other law-enforcement agencies. The PLAC thus formed a second power center in China controlled by Jiang Zemin and Zhou Yongkang.
The intention of Hu’s series of actions is to weaken the second power center and second armed forces, and to avoid the renewed possibility of a coup.

Outcome of Reshuffle
1. In order to stabilize power, anyone who publicly declared loyalty to Hu Jintao, even though he had some minor connection to Bo, would have his future secured—at least for now. As long as he has cut ties with Bo, Hu uses the policy of “ignoring the past.” Of course, the purpose of this adjustment is to eliminate members of the Jiang faction, who were removed or at least not promoted this time.
2. Although Hu is to remain as chairman of the CMC, Xi Jinping will take the top post soon, and Hu has to promote Xi’s proposed personnel. Therefore, in this top military brass reshuffle, there has been a number of positive outcomes for Xi. The most obvious being the rise of the “princelings,” which is the privileged group of descendants of past CCP leaders, including Xi himself.
3. On the surface, Hu has trivialized the Bo Xilai scandal, reducing it from a planned political coup to a criminal case in order to safeguard the Party’s rule. But in fact, Hu has been vigorously eradicating the core elements connected to Zhou Yongkang. Changes, rotational training, and promotions within the PLAC and Armed Police are all about weakening Zhou Yongkang who represents the old forces of Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong.
4. On the surface, the CCP can still maintain power for some time, and the 18th Party Congress may still be held as scheduled. But a discerning eye can see that the more the CCP shouts, “The Party has absolute leadership over the Armed Forces,” the more unstable the military is.
5. The CCP is reshuffling generals on such a large scale. It’s for protecting its own power and preventing the military from taking part in a political coup. But at the same time, the frequent relocation of army generals will also weaken the military’s fighting power.
6. From this round of reassignments, one can see that the CCP is putting hardliners in the South China Sea, thus there could be localized military conflicts there. But, the CCP doesn’t want to fight a major battle. The CCP’s national defense policy has been defensive in nature, because it knows that its military power really cannot match that of other major powers. Unless it uses atomic weapons as a last resort, China cannot win conventional weapons wars. In the South China Sea, they only talk big, but act little.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

France leaves India for good

Nehru during a visit to Pondicherry in 1955
Fifty years ago, on August 16, 1962, Pondicherry witnessed the end of the French 'colonization' in India.
It was a rather mild 'colonization', but due to other burning issues (like the Algerian conflict), the French parliament (Assemblée Nationale) did not ratify the Treaty of Cession before the end of July 1962.
Many believed that the Government of Pondicherry (now, the 'decolonized' name of the former French settlement is 'Puducherry') had forgotten about the event. 
But they seemed  to have woken up now. According to PTI: "The 50th anniversary (golden jubilee) of de jure transfer (liberation) of Puducherry will be celebrated in the union territory for a year from tomorrow, according to Chief Minister N Rangasamy. A decision in this regard was taken at a recent meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, an official release said. Lt Governor Iqbal Singh will felicitate freedom fighters at a function tomorrow synchronsing with the golden jubilee of the de jure transfer of power from France to the Indian Union."
On Aug 16 1962, the French establishments in India (Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam) become legally (de jure) part of the Union of Union through a Treaty of Cession signed by the French and Indian governments (Chandernagore in West Bengal had earlier (in 1951) joined the Union of India). 
I will not comment on the so-called 'liberation' of Pondicherry.
More interesting is an interview given by Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister to a French journalist working for Le Figaro in March 1959.
When asked if he was happy about the de facto Agreement signed between India and France on the French Establishments in India in 1954, Nehru emphatecally answered 'Yes'. 
Let us not forget that the interview was conducted three years before the final ratification by the French Parliament (see below).
When the interviewer pointed to a fear amongst the Indian intelligentsia that severing India’s ties with France could cause a rapid disappearance of French culture in India; Nehru replied “These fears belongs to the past. The Franco-Indian Agreement [the de facto transfer of November 1954] only means that a very old and difficult problem has been successfully solved. 
The Prime Minister elaborated: “More importantly, [the Treaty] helps giving birth to a new closeness between our two countries. India has indeed given the assurances that it would contribute, with all its might, to keep Pondicherry a center of French culture and French language.”
“Our interest, explained Nehru, is that, along with several centers of Anglo-Saxon culture, other Western cultures should also remain in India; this will help our fellow Indians to grow in an international milieu without having to go into exile at the other end of the world”
Nehru added: “The revolution of 1789, the French tradition of freedom and equality have been and still are an example for the Indian elite. For me, the traditional freedom of expression of the French, their artistic outpouring, their subtlety, their acute intelligence struck me very much and greatly influenced me.”
On July 29, 1962, the French National Assembly discussed the Transfer of the French Establishment in India. I am posting below extracts of the discussion of the bill (projet de loi).

For those interested, I have posted some historical documents on Pondicherry (sorry, Puducherry), India and France my website. 
Click here to read...

November 1, 1954
Assemblée nationale

Sitting: Mr. Jean MONTALAT, Vice President.

President: Today’s programme has listed a discussion on the bill authorizing the ratification of the Treaty of Transfer of the French Establishments of Pondicherry, Karikal, Mahe and Yanam, signed at New Delhi on the 28th May 1956 (No. 1660, 1880).

Mr. BOSHCER, Rapporteur of the Commission of Foreign Affairs may make a presentation. (clappings)

Mr. Michel BOSHCER, Rapporteur: Mr. Minister and my dear colleagues. We have been called upon to examine the bill of ratification of the Treaty signed by the French government with the Indian Union on the 28th of May 1956. This Treaty regularises a de-facto situation by the anterieur agreement of transfer (called de-facto) signed on 11th October 1954 and confirms the transfer by France to India of the four Establishments of Pondicherry, Karikal, Mahe and Yanam. My written report, which I think is quite comprehensive, has been distributed to you a few days back. It had been made available to you to acquire a background knowledge on the subject; this will help me in dwelling on details of various aspects of the question before us... Though politically the classical colonial structure had been modified in 1946 to take cognisance of the evolution of ways, a territorial Assembly and a  Government Council had been put in place of the earlier Conseil General, in reality very little had changed since 1871 when France had given parliamentary representation to her colonies. In 1946, the political structure of these five territories which consisted of about 500 square kilometers, was quite removed from the healthy concept of democracy. We had elected parliamentary representative from these Establishments before the War who had never set foot in the Parliament to stay it all, a great indifference had long been the characteristic of French policy with regard to these territories...I would like to add, that would reassure some of my colleagues, that as per the unanimous view of the Commissioners when they visited these Establishments, a referendum will give - 10% of votes in favour of France... Therefore I voluntarily give up the examination of this Treaty on the level of constitutional law, in explaining the reserve that I have made - I would confine myself more to examining if the ratification would in any way be prejudicial to the interest of the populations of these Establishments, and to the interest of France, because that is really the heart of the problem... One must place this affair in its proper international context ... it is not the question-one should not even think of it-of abandoning the French population to a foreign bondage, nor of leaving the populations which are fundamentally attached to French territorially. It relates to putting in their proper place 350,000 inhabitants of these colonies who are neighbours to 450 million Indians, and their 500 square kilometers is adjoining the 3,900,000 square kilometers of India. In relates to permitting the reunification of a homogenic bloc which is desired- and I stress-by 60 to 80% of the population... Let us not forget that in the Algerian conflict which has just ended India has always--God knows how praiseworthy is this when we know of the pressures she had to resist, refused to recognise the G.P.R.A. [Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (in French, Gouvernement Provisoire de la République algérienne].Indian has always considered herself to a certain neutrality, which we definitely approve of, because that was her ideal, the aspirations of independence of the Algerian people, but she never wanted to hurt her relations with France... This is the view entertained by the Commission of Foreign Affairs, which, after an extensive exchange of views has approved the bill and suggests its adoption to you today. (Clappings from the benches on the extreme left, left, center and right).

President: Mr. DRONNE is opposing the question under discussion by virtue of paragraph 3 of Article 91 of the roles.

Mr. Raymond DRONNE: Ladies and Gentleman, the Commission of Foreign Affairs has, through its Rapporteur suggested the authorization of the ratification of the Treaty of Transfer... On the other hand, some colleagues who are hostile to its ratification want 10 finish it off by a pure and simple rejection of the bill. As in between to these two solutions, I propose an intermediate solution which consists of postponing the examination, the voting on the law and thus postponing the ratification itself. The idea of postponement is to permit the French Government to enter into fresh negotiations with the Indian Government. These fresh negotiations are necessary; the Rapporteur is aware of this himself. The Treaty of 28th May 1956 is highly defective: one can say that it is a treaty "hustled into":-here is need to make it more specific and complete on a very large number of points. The de-facto transfer, which has already been made, and the de-jure transfer, which we are being asked to authorities are against the French law as well as against the International Law.
The populations concerned have never been validly consulted. One cannot consider as valid consultation the shameful drama organised on 19th October 1954 in the small locality of Kijeour situated on the outskirts of Pondicherry, where under the pressure of the Indian authorities, and after having made sure of preventing the presence of the more well known members and those members who are most attached to France, the terror stricken locals decided in favour of reunion with India. These elected representatives had absolutely no authority for deciding this problem. Besides they did not give their choice freely but did so under duress. On 27th August, 1954 the National Assembly adopted a motion referring specifically to the negotiations "engaged in respecting the constitutional principles". And the Constitution of 1946 which was then in force laid down in paragraph 2 of the Article 27: "No transfer, no exchange, no addition of territory is valid without the consent of the concerned populations." Thus in so far as the French Constitution is concerned, that of 1946 as well as that of 1958, the transfer of our Establishments to India has been done illegally. It is not only unconstitutional with regard to the internal French laws, it is also contrary to the elementary roles of International Law. The government of New Delhi, which poses to be the champion of law and morals in the International bodies, does not bother about them when her own interests are involved. This is a contradiction which: one must underline... The completeness and correctness of the bad treaty of 1956 are all the more questionable because the Indian Union has not always respected the Agreement of 1954 and the Treaty of 1956. For example, she has not hesitated to introduce Indian legislation in the area of electoral law, which is totally contrary to the Agreement of 1956.
The Indian Officials who have descended on these Establishments like a swarm of locusts on a field of honey, belong generally to North India, They speak neither French nor Tamil, the local language. They speak Hindi which is neither spoken nor understood by the local inhabitants. The Indian officials express themselves in English, whose use is at the expense of French. Thus the French cultural influence has fallen back because of these circumstances since 1954... ... In conclusion, the thesis of the Commission, which I support knowing both its lacunae and the dangers of the Treaty. However the conclusions differ: the Commission recommends immediate ratification and thereafter opening of negotiations; I propose to reverse these factors, first the negotiations and then the ratification, when the negotiations would result in desirable and concrete results. One of the grounds put forth for an immediate ratification has been the sensitivity of the Indians. We have been told that the Government of India would consider a new report as a dilatory tactic. We are minimizing the interests involved. We have been told of the "unreasonable fears arising out of a sentimental attachment to France". And lastly the recent precedent of Goa has been brandished along with the menace of use of force by the Indian Union. These are special arguments. The sensitiveness of the French-this is only more live and perhaps less justified. The apprehensions, especially those of the Pondicherians and the Karikalians are justified and therefore it is fair to take note of them. And lastly the threat of use of force on the part of the Indian Union is not serious. The Indian Union is in possession of these colonies; in fact she has annexed them; the violation [The exact word used by Mr. Dronne is “viol" which also means transgression or rape] is complete since the last eight years; there is no question of the Indian Union organising a military expedition against a territory which she is in fact occupying, even though legally she does not have full sovereignty... We have nothing to be worried about from the Government of the Indian Union in taking such a stand because the cause that we are defending is just and equitable. It also corresponds with the stand taken by the Government of New Delhi so frequently in the International forums. (Clappings from various benches on the right and in the center-right)...

President: If there is no speaker against the motion. I would give the turn to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Maurice Couve DE MURVllLE, Minister of Foreign Affairs:  Ladies and Gentlemen,... Since the last eight years a "fait accompli" and a "fait juridique" since the last six years, have been created, which, in reality have brought us in France to a tota1ly new situation on which France has in fact no control and the situation can be considered as irreversible... We are often told, and this was particularly articulated in the years 1956 and 1958 after the conc1usion of the Agreements of New Delhi-that the Constitution does not specifically lay down the method in which the interested populations should give their consent; it does not mention whether it should be by a direct suffrage or by indirect suffrage. We would not put in doubt, in so far as we are concerned, that the spirit of the Constitution even if this is not expressly the letter is that the consent of the interested population should be obtained by direct suffrage, that is to say in other terms, by a referendum. That is what has been constantly applied in the French Constitutional Practice since the end of the War, whether those were the small territories of ''Tende'' and to "La Sarre" and more recently in a case much more important which is presently in the minds of all the members of this Assembly.
The formal ratification of the Treaty of 1956 is going to deal with a fact which in reality was accomplished 8 years back and on which, as per the general opinion, there is no question of going back now. In doing so we would be acting in the interests of the concerned population as well as of the French interests themselves.” In fact the Treaty gives serious guarantees of the interests of the populations as well as to the French interests in three domains: administrative, of welfare of persons and of the French culture.

Mr. Raymond DRONNE: Once the ratification is done, there would Important Parliamentary Debates on India in French Parliament no longer be any interest to negotiate.

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Me. DRONNE, one should be logical. Since you feel that the Treaty is imperfect, there is always the interest to negotiate.

Mr. Raymond DRONNE: It is imperfect according to us but not according to the Indian Government.

Minister of Foreign Affairs: We have thus this assurance and I am happy to repeat it before the Assembly. I have taken notes of all that has been said by the rapporteur concerning the problems which need to be taken up with the Indian government after the ratification. I have noted specially, besides what I have enumerated myself, without omitting any, the question of equivalence of the degrees which appears to me to be important and at the same time difficult. It is the type of question which it is not possible to sort out and find a solution in a government to government negotiation. Most of the questions coming up, whether those were mentioned by me, by Mr. Boscher or by Mr. Dronne, are specific and it would be difficult to inc1ude them in a general treaty. Ladies and Gentleman this is all that I wanted on to say the question before us. It is taking note of these elements and of the factual position-I repeat-that I ask the Assembly not to refuse the ratification that we have asked the Assembly to authorise. On the other hand we would request the Assembly to authorise us to ratify the Treaty of 1956. This would permit us to take up negotiations with the Government of India, negotiations which would command attention and would at the same time result in, and I stress, to recognise this "fait accompli", which is irreversible, of the transfer of these Establishments of India to the Government of India. This recognition will, I sincerely believe serve the French interests; firstly in India in general, in permitting to establish a more fruitful collaboration especially in the cultural field; and then at Pondicherry itself, in permitting to consolidate that which is of permanent value and relevance and which we want to preserve. Whatever be the sorrow that we face in terms of three centuries of common history, we have the feeling that, these three centuries should leave friendly remembrances and the desire to persue, on a different basis, the pursuit of a task jointly taken up since so long (Clappings from the benches on the left and the center and from some benches on the right.)

President: It is now the turn of the rapporteur to take the floor.

Rapporteur: ... It has been argued specially whether it would be convenient to have negotiations before or after the ratification of the Treaty. The problem had been examined in all its aspects by the Commission and the idea of insisting on negotiations before the ratification had been abandoned
by the Commission.
The views of the Commission are, and I share the views of the f\.1inister of Foreign Affairs, that we are facing an irreversible situation. It is a practically impossible situation. It is practically impossible to renegotiate from the start, a new Treaty in pi ace of the existing Treaty. In so far as the arguments put forth by Mr. Dronne are concerned, I have already replied to them in my Report. It is certainly not a question of India launching a military expedition to take possession of Pondichery. That would not make sense. On the other hand a simple debate in the Indian Parliament would have the advantage of a military expedition in the present instance. In this hypothesis, the same which Mr. Dronne wants to defend by the question posed by him, we would be deprived of all practical as well legal defence because, once again, neither the Treaty with which we are dealing today, nor the predecessor Treaty of 1954-which none the less offers serious guarantees to the francophone populations would be available. In seeking to preserve all we can the risk to losing alt This is my conclusion, in opposing, on behalf of the Commission, the suggestion of Mr. Dronne. (Clappings from the benches on the left and the central benches protests from the benches on the right).

President: I now give the floor to Mr. ROCLORE for replying to the government.

Mr. Marcel ROCLORE: Being a member of the Delegation sent by the Commission of Foreign Affairs for studying the problem locally, I would like to briefly confirm the views of my colleague and friend the Rapporteur of the Commission, and to express my complete agreement on the very detailed and interesting report which he has presented to us and on which I have nothing to add.
I wanted to speak, for indicating to our colleague Dronne that at the bottom of our hearts we are in agreement on the need to take up negotiations on certain points. Mr. Boscher has already underlined them in a very precise manner. But if Mr. Dronne would like the negotiations to be taken up before the ratification of the Treaty, we are of the contrary view and feel that this is impossible. Minister of Foreign Affairs has just shown us so. In fact it is no longer possible after five years of application of this Treaty. Without divulging a secret I would like to mention that the conversations that we have had with the Head of the Indian Government have made it very c1ear that France would not have the possibility of reopening the negotiations before the ratification. What would come out of these negotiations? The French people, that Mr. Dronne and some of our colleagues want to justifiably defend, would lose the guarantees which have been accorded by this Treaty which is presently before us for ratification. These guarantees perhaps do not correspond to what we would have wished, but these are there and have been precisely enumerated. And if the Parliament refuses the ratification, all that has already been conceded in favour of our compatriots of Pondicherry would be lost. I would like to thank you Sir, Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, for having informed us that you have already contacted the Government of India for knowing if after the ratification, the conversation could be taken up on various issues to which, in the end both Mr. Boscher and Mr Dronne attach the same importance. You have obtained the assurance of the Indian Government Mr. Minister, that these issues could be re-looked into, as well as new advantages could be added to those which they have already agreed to.
Consequently, on the hand we would be making our compatriots loose all, and on the other hand not only would they retain the advantages but we would make them receive supplementary guarantees which we can hope to obtain. Thus there is really no question and it is indispensable to ratify the Treaty as rapidly as possible.

President: I now give the floor to Me. BOURGEOIS.

Mr. Pierre BOURGEOIS: Mr. Dronne has mentioned that the Constitution has been violated because the interested 'populations have been deprived of the possibility of expressing their views though a referendum. But one should not be more royalist than the King himself, and those whom we have consulted there are hostile to referendum because it would become known that they are but a small minority; what we witnessed in Chandernagar would be repeated in Pondicherry, where a referendum would reveal the numeric weakness of the francophone elements of this territory, which would not, according to me, facilitate the defence of those who were earlier under our jurisdiction. Therefore the Socialist Group will vote against the proposal (of Mr. Dronne).
President: Mr. Dronne may like to speak.

Mr. DRONNE: According to me the suggestion is not to reject the Treaty of 1956, but only to amend it and to supplement it on certain issues. It is not a question of preserving all; but between wanting to preserve all and wanting not to preserve; there always exists a middle course which consists of guarding what merits to be so guarded.
And lastly, to the referendum, the best formula, and the one which would not present the inconveniences which have just been referred to, it appears to me, would be to put to referendum, before the concerned populations the Treaty of 1956, duly amended, completed and including the specific guarantees. And in the end J feel that in order to negotiate one must have cards in hand.

Mr. Marcel ROCLORE: We don't have them!

Mr. Raymond DRONNE: And the only card that we have is the ratification. If we drop it just now, if we abandon it, we risk finding ourselves facing a partner, the government of New Delhi-who would be satisfied with the actual state of affairs and would no longer be interested in negotiating. It is because of this reason that I press that proposal. (Clappings from various benches on the right).
President: I would like to consult the Assembly on the question opposed by Mr. DRONNE.

(The Assembly is consulted and gives its opinion against the proposal of Mr. Dronne.)

President: In the general discussion Mr. CAILLMER may now take the floor. (Clappings).