Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Five Guarantees?

Li Liguo, Minister of Civil Affairs
My post The Chinese who matter in Tibetan Affairs has been updated. A few words on Li Liguo, Minister of Civil Affairs has been added.
Li Liguo, who has been posted for 10 years in Tibet (1993-2003) in different capacities,  recently visited Lhasa, Nagchu and Shigatse.
According to a Xinhua article (June 9, 2013), Tibet's per capita investment in civil affairs ranks first in China
The article speaks of the Five Guarantees. It says:

At the same time, the Tibet Autonomous Region proposes that by 2016, 100 percent of support rate will be achieved, which means that all the 'people of five guarantees' (childless and infirm senior citizens who are guaranteed food, clothing, healthcare, housing and funeral expenses) with willingness will have been fed in the support institutions above the county level. [original English not very clear]
The article continues:
Civil affair capital is a special fund used for guaranteeing basic living of people who have difficulties in life in China. It is the key responsibilities of governments at all levels to provide the civil affair capital for relative recipients accurately, timely and fully.
During the eighth TAR Civil Affair Meeting on June 7, 2013, Li Liguo declared in Lhasa:
In successive years, the investment put into Tibet by central government has been increased according to the situation. Since 2008, there are altogether 4.1 billion yuan (about 6700 million US dollars) of special funds invested in Tibet, including disaster relief allowance, social assistance and social compensation. The per capita civil affair capital investment in Tibet ranks China's first.
Lozang Gyaltsen, the Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region 'frankly' commented: 
The civil administration in Tibet is still quite weak and away from the masses' expectation and the aim of building a moderately prosperous society. Therefore, we should take a path with Chinese characteristics and Tibetan national features toward modern civil administration.
The article continued: "The important measures that the government takes for developing civil administration should put more materials, financial resources and energy on the aspects of people's basic living, agricultural and pastoral areas, grass roots, the poverty-stricken population and disadvantaged groups."
Unfortunately, there another side to the coin.
A few days back, I mentioned the 'nets in the sky and traps on the ground'.  
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has come up with another report, 'They Say We Should Be Grateful - Mass Rehousing and Relocation Programs in Tibetan Areas of China'.
After reading the report, one has the feeling that the image of Tibet given by Li Liguo is propaganda. 
The reality seems vastly different. 
The HRW report explains:
Since 2006, the Chinese government has implemented large-scale programs to “rehouse”—through renovation of existing houses or construction of new ones—a majority of the rural population of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) under a policy called “Comfortable Housing.” In parallel, the government has accelerated the relocation and sedentarization of nomadic herders in the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau, mostly in Qinghai province, and laid the ground for similar policies in other parts of the plateau. Both policies are a component of the government’s effort to 'Build a New Socialist Countryside' in Tibetan areas, which the government says is designed to rapidly increase the living standards of rural Tibetans and boost the local economy.
'Housing' is one of five guarantees promised by Li Liguo, but it can't be 'forced' on the Tibetan people. They need to have a choice to refuse the 'welfare' measures from Beijing, especially when it is about their housing and traditional way of life. The report says:
The scale and speed at which the Tibetan rural population is being remodeled by these policies is unprecedented in the post-Mao era. According to official figures, under the Comfortable Housing policy, 2 million people—more than two-thirds of the entire population of the TAR—were moved into new houses or rebuilt their own houses between 2006 and 2012. Twenty percent of those rehoused between 2006 and 2010—about 280,000 people—had to be relocated, some nearby and others at a great distance. The government intends to rehouse 180,000 more by 2015.
Today, the Tibetans (especially the nomads) have to accept the Five Guarantees whether they like it or not.

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