Sunday, February 24, 2013

More on Xi Jinping in Gansu

Labrang monks enrolling a giant thanka on February 22
After posting Why Xi Jinping did not visit Tibet? I came across a communique from the Hong Kong Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy, a Hong Kong-based service which reports on dissidence in the mainland. It asserted:
It has been learned that Xi Jinping's inspection tour of Gansu from 2 to 5 February was not for 'poverty alleviation' purposes as the official media reported but for 'making arrangements to maintain stability' in Tibetan areas of Gansu. Since Xi left the province, the Gansu authorities have arrested over 100 Tibetans - who may be prosecuted for 'inciting subversion of state power' - and more mobile armed police forces have been transferred to Gansu.
The Hong Kong Center is not always accurate in his predictions.
In fact, the information that 100 Tibetans were arrested from Gansu has never been confirmed. On February 7 (a day after Xi Jinping left Gansu province), a Xinhua article mentioned some arrests in Qinghai province, not in Gansu. These arrests probably occurred a couple of days before Xi's arrival in Gansu. Xinhua says:
A total of 70 criminal suspects have been captured by police in Huangnan of northwest China's Qinghai Province in connection with a string of self-immolations that have occurred since November 2012, a senior police officer.
Lyu Benqian, deputy chief of the Qinghai Provincial Public Security Department, said 12 of the suspects were officially arrested over the self-immolation cases in the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Police will exert more efforts to thoroughly investigate the cases and seriously punish those who incite innocent people to commit self-immolation, he said.
The Dalai Lama clique masterminded and incited the self-immolations, said Lyu, who is also head of a special police team investigating the self-immolations. Personal information, such as photos of the victims, were sent overseas to promote the self-immolations, he added.
"Some of the victims were frustrated and pessimistic in life, and they wanted to earn respect by self-immolation," Lyu said when analyzing the motive for the self-immolations.
This is the usual Chinese propaganda.
What could have happened is: a large delegation of Labrang and Gannan Prefecture may have called on Xi during his stay in Gansu and briefed him about the prevalent situation. He probably wanted to be acquainted with the issue (by a large number of people, larger than if the encounter had taken place in Beijing).
He may have decided not to 'provoke' the Tibetans and take hasty decisions, without himself being fully settled in his seat. This is a speculation.
Monks carrying the thank in Labrang
Yesterday, China Tibet Online mentioned: "On February 22, 2013, Lamas unveil a gigantic Buddha tangka alongside a hillside for disciples' worship in Labrang Monastery in Xiahe [country of Gannan prefecture], northwest China's Gansu Province. The Buddha tangka display or "the basking of Buddha" is a Tibetan tradition praying for a good year. As one of the six leading monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, Labrang Monastery built in 1709 is home to more than 1,000 lamas and is another center of the Gelug Sect, also known as the Yellow Sect, of Tibetan Buddhism outside the Tibet Autonomous Region."
Interestingly, during his visit to Gansu, Xi was accompanied by Wang Huning, the new Foreign Affairs star (and member of the Politburo).
A few months back The South China Morning Post reported: "Wang Huning often goes unrecognised despite being a trusted adviser to two presidents, but his cool demeanour hides a sharp political brain."
Now, he is following the new new boss and with his seat in the powerful Politburo he will be give a greater credibility to Foreign Affairs than his predecessor.  
In November, The South China Morning Post explained:
Wang Huning behind Xi in Gansu
Whether Hu Jintao is visiting farmers in remote villages or meeting heads of state, Wang Huning is usually by the president's side.
He was usually there with Jiang Zemin, too, during the latter's decade at the helm.
In fact, Wang has probably appeared in public more often than any other top official in recent years, although he rarely speaks and often goes unrecognised.
For two decades, Wang, 57, has served as a trusted adviser and wordsmith to the country's most powerful men.
He now heads the party's Policy Research Office, where his role is like a combination of national policy adviser and chief speech writer.
After becoming the mainland's youngest university professor - he stayed on after graduating from Fudan University to teach international politics in 1981 - Wang gained respect in leadership circles for his academic depth, neutral political stance and cautious working style.
...Before entering Zhongnanhai - the party headquarters in Beijing - Wang Huning advocated continued authoritarian rule to maintain political stability while gradually introducing democracy inside the party and expanding it to the outside. Jiang, who rose to power in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, was particularly taken by Wang's book, New Authoritarianism, which contained ideas Jiang thought suited the country at the time.
...Due to his close ties to Jiang, many observers consider Wang a member of the former president's "Shanghai gang". But his political savvy and knack for negotiating internal debate have allowed him to thrive under Hu.
An interesting question remains unanswered: will Wang wears two hats after the Two Meetings: Foreign Minister in the State Council and Special Representative. It is rumoured that he could take Dai Bingguo's job with, among others, the responsibility to negotiate the border dispute with India (with the National Security Advisor Menon).
We will have to wait a couple of weeks to know for sure.

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