Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Great Han Chauvinism

A year ago, I mentioned a debate which was raging is China: should 'nationalities' continue to enjoy the autonomy offered to them by the Constitution of the People's Republic of China?
I had written that Zhu Weiqun, Lodi Gyari's interlocutor in the Beijing-Dharamsala talks, wanted  the 'nationalities' to be divested of their special privileges to achieve 'national cohesion'.
In an earlier posting, I quoted Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek about the possibility of ‘independence' for Tibet. In 1945, Chiang announced in the Chinese Parliament that his Government desired to allow the ‘frontier racial groups’ to attain independence, if capable of doing so. He affirmed: “I solemnly declare that if the Tibetans should at this time express a wish for self-government our Government would, in conformity with our sincere traditions, accord it a very high degree of autonomy. If in the future, they fulfill economic requirement of independence, the nation’s Government will, as in the case of Outer Mongolia, help them to attain this status”. 
In the early days of the Chinese Revolution, the Communists also believed in giving a large autonomy to the 'nationalities'.
I had also quoted Tsering Woeser who wrote on her blog: "After the Red Army had firmly settled in Yan’an, Mao Zedong told the American journalist Edgar Snow: 'the Red Army’s only external debt is that it took away the food from the outer ethnic minorities and now owes them, one day, we must repay this debt.' But what does this 'external debt' mean? Does this not refer to owing a foreign country? It shows that at the time, Mao Zedong did not consider Tibet a part of China."
Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal, the 'first' Tibetan Communist in the 1940's has extensively worked (while in confinement) on the issue of nationalities, regional autonomy and Marxism in the People's Republic of China.
In 2004/2005, he wrote a series of letters to CCP's General Secretary Hu Jintao.  The first letter sent in 2004, is posted on my website. 

All this demonstrates that the Great Han Chauvinism and the racial discrimination against the non-Han 'nationalities' and the Tibetans in particular is still prevalent in China today. 
The issue of the passport raised in this article of the Radio Free Asia is another example showing that in the People's Republic of China, there are rules for Chinese and other rules for Tibetans.
The article speaks of a contradiction: "This is a contradiction of the law as the Chinese government, under national regulations, require the authorities to issue passports within 15 days after an application is made and to notify unsuccessful applicants within six days with the reasons why their applications were denied", but it is not a contradiction, it is part of a number of discriminatory policies which force young Tibetan to go for radical (and regrettable) solutions.
There are more examples
Take the posts in the defence services. A quick look at the composition of the CCP's Central Committee shows that there are 67 members with an Army background who made it as full or alternate members of the 18th Central Committee. 
Interestingly, there is only one woman, an alternate, among the 67 military CC members. All the military CC members  -- 100% of 67 -- are Han Chinese. 
Can you believe it?
In other words that are no non-Han military officers on the Central Committee. 
If one looks at the larger 18th Party Congress 300-person delegation list from the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police (paramilitary forces), it includes 21 women and 14 minority nationality officers totaling only 33 people (two were both female and Manchu), it constitutes hardly 11% of the 300. The minorities included 4 Manchus, 4 Hui, 2 Mongols, 1 Uighur, 1 Tong, 1 Zhuang and 1 Tibetan from Sichuan. 
None of these officers got promoted to the Central Committee. The one woman, a Han, who did get an alternate seat for the PLA, but she was not on the delegates' list.
A glance at the Central Committee membership (205 persons), shows that there are  9 women (all Han) and 10 non-Han male officials. Combined they total 19 or about 9%. The minority nationality males constitute a little less than 5% of 205. There are 3 Mongols, 1 Hui, 1 Korean, 1 Uighur, 1 Manchu, 1 Miao and 1 Tibetan (Pema Trinley). 

Note that out of the top Communist cadres who rule China today, there is only one Tibetan! Is it not discrimination, or Great Han Chauvinism, whatever you want to call it?
The passport is yet another pointer to this issue which will have to be tackled by General Secretary Xi Jinping, he wants to avoid an implosion of China.

Tibetans Face Passport Dilemma
January 20, 2013

Hardly any Tibetans have been issued international passports since Chinese authorities introduced tough travel rules nearly a year ago in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), according to sources.
Under the April 2012 procedures issued by the TAR authorities, prospective Tibetan travelers are subject to arduous—and what some call discriminatory—procedures in an apparent attempt by Beijing to clamp down on their travels abroad.
The procedures, contained in an official TAR document obtained by RFA's Tibetan Service, were introduced after many Tibetans attended the "Kalachakra" religious gathering in India in January 2012 presided over by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is reviled by Chinese leaders as a separatist.
The move was also part of tightened security measures following self-immolation protests by Tibetans questioning Chinese rule in the TAR and Tibetan-populated areas of neighboring Chinese provinces. 
“Since February or March of last year, there has been no issuing of new Chinese passports to Tibetans and those in the TAR were hit hard by the move," Office of Tibet in Taiwan researcher Sonam Dorjee told RFA's Tibetan service.
Another source, who has contacts in Tibet and spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was only aware of Tibetan officials being issued passports by Chinese authorities.
"No new Chinese passports have been issued to Tibetan individuals in TAR, except for a few Tibetan officials who received the passports for official purpose and which they need to hand back upon their return," the source said.
Unlike Chinese nationals, Tibetans face a "very complicated and difficult process" to obtain passports, Dorjee said. "They may have to wait for years for their applications to be processed and may have to pay bribes along the way."
"For most Tibetans with no official connections, they cannot get a passport at all," Dorjee said.

This is a contradiction of the law as the Chinese government, under national regulations, require the authorities to issue passports within 15 days after an application is made and to notify unsuccessful applicants within six days with the reasons why their applications were denied, he said.
“There should be one set of regulations and procedures for all citizens of the country but for China, it is not the case," Dorjee said.
Tibetans have to first submit their passport applications to local government offices in the areas where they reside. The documents are scrutinized at the village, district, and county levels and then finally by the TAR police bureau.
"Even after the lengthy process, the applicant is required to sign a document guaranteeing that he will not engage in any 'illegal activities' or activities that are 'harmful to the nation' while abroad," Dorjee said.
Even if Tibetans successfully obtain passports and get to travel abroad, they have to surrender the travel document to the authorities within seven days on their return home.
They also have to report to the local police and subject themselves to interrogations—requirements not imposed on Chinese nationals whose passports are usually valid for five to 10 years and not collected back on their return from abroad.
“It shows that even though all are considered Chinese citizens, TAR passport applicants do not have the same rights as guaranteed in China for other applicants," Dorjee said.


Tibetans already with passports are also in a quandary.
When the Chinese authorities began implementing a nationwide electronic passport scheme last year, Tibetans in TAR had to surrender their passports even before expiration and were subject to thorough investigation and screening procedures, according to Tibet-watcher Gonpo.
Many Tibetans with passports wanting to re-enter Tibet from Nepal were stranded in the border due to the change to electronic passports, he said.
A Tibetan businessman who arrived in the Nepali capital Kathmandu in the first week of January from Tibet said many Tibetans who had attended the Kalachakra festival in India a year ago had their passports seized by the authorities and have not got them back.
"Passports for all Kalachakra returnees are confiscated with the assurances that new passports will be issued, but to my knowledge no new passports have ever been issued to them," he said.
Tibetan businessmen shuttling between the TAR capital Lhasa and Nepal are also concerned their passports will be confiscated.
In fact, the number of Tibetans traveling to Nepal with Chinese passports is significantly reduced in recent days, impacting Tibetan businesses in Nepal, said a Tibetan resident in Nepal.
There are about 20,000 Tibetan refugees in Nepal and Beijing has urged Kathmandu to restrict their activities.
Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

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