Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Boss has come (Part II)

Yu with Dupkang Rinpoche
Today, I shall continue with the visit of Yu Zhengsheng to Lhasa and Nagchu.
It is rather surprising that this 'important' visit has been omitted by the international (and Indian) press.
Radio Free Asia reported that: "Chinese authorities in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa have deployed over 1,000 police and armed security personnel at a large monastery in the outskirts of Lhasa during the Shoton, or ‘Yogurt,’ Festival, causing hardships for Tibetans hoping to take part in the annual celebration. The security presence at the festival, traditionally held at Drepung monastery outside the city, is much heavier than in previous years, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week. They have turned the whole area into something that looks like a battle zone."
Obviously, there were security arrangements for the Shoton festival, but Yu was in town, and it could not be ignored by the local authorities.
As mentioned earlier, the visit of Lhasa and Nagchu was extensive, Yu 'inspected' numbers of 'work units' and tried to get acquainted with all the aspects of the life in Tibet (development of course, but also education, monasteries (here with Dupkang Rinpoche of the Buddhist Association of China), industries, security, environment, nomadic life, etc.).
Yu's visit is probably in relation with the forthcoming CCP's meetings in Beidaihe where he will give a report of his findings in Tibet (and in Xinjiang) to the Central Committee; domestic issues will be discussed in the sea resort, ahead of formal party meetings (Plenum) later this year .
Though Yu called on the old leaders Jampa Phuntsog, Phakpalha and Ragdi and conveyed Comrade Xi Jinping's greetings to them, he did not take the around.
While visiting a unit of the People's Armed Police, he praised the late Commander, General Guo Yili who recently passed away.
In Lhasa, he also inquired about the infamous grid management.
I shall continue to have a look at some of the members of the delegation who accompanied him from Beijing, in order to try to see which direction, China's Tibet policy could take.

Du Ying, Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
Du Ying has been associated with China’s Western Development Programme (or Open up the West Campaign), a regional development programme put in place by the State Council in 2000. Its objective is “to enhance the economy and social development level, and consolidating national defence of western regions by using the best economic development capabilities of eastern regions.”
For the purpose ‘energy’ (particularly renewable energy, i.e. solar or hydropower) is the key as “substantial resources of western China can be tapped”.
The Chinese government believes that it can “go hand in hand with economic development. Energy development in western China will also fall under national security issues.”
In January 2000, a State Council established the Western Development Program management team. Twelve regions were included: Chongqing Municipality and the provinces of Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tibet, Yunnan and Xinjiang.
It means 70% of landmass of the PRC.
From 2000 to September 2009, support from the central bank totaled to RMB 550.7 billion (US 325 billion).
Under this scheme, China has started the largest amount of projects of its investment’s history. Some can be cited: transferring western electricity to the east in three passageways, completing the highest railway in the world and the longest highland railway in China, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, massive dams in Sichuan province and over 6,500 miles of natural gas pipeline from western to eastern China.
Du Ying, who visited Tibet as part of Yu Zhengsheng’s delegation, said in 2010: "Economic growth, in sharp contrast to previous records, has reached 11.9%, year on year (in western regions). In the past 10 years [2000-2010], the main macroeconomic indicators have more than doubled, and we've seen breakthroughs in infrastructure development.”
According to a report by the Center for Studies of China Western Economic Development at Northwest University in Xi'an (Shaanxi Province), Western China's GDP per capita has increased in recent years from $ 600 to $ 1,933.
It was however admitted that the massive hydropower and infrastructure projects there have caused problems that include desertification, soil erosion and water scarcity.

Water Quality?

China will invest 175 billion yuan ($27.5 billion) before the end of 2015 to ensure safe drinking water in rural areas. During a session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, a State Council presented a five-year plan for improving rural drinking water quality.
According to the report, the central government will subsidize 68 percent, or about 118.8 billion yuan, of the total investment, while another 22 percent of the funds will be allocated by local governments and 10 percent will be assumed by rural residents.
Vice-Minister of Water Resources Li Guoying said that for less-developed western areas, like Tibet, the central government will bear all of the costs.
Du Ying participated to the discussion and stated that the number of rural residents who lacked access to safe drinking water dropped by 221 million from 2004 to 2010, however, it was admitted that improving the quality of drinking water in China has been challenging, particularly in rural areas, as many as 298 million rural residents still lack safe water.
Was he in Tibet to check the quality of the water?
Incidentally, it was recently reported that Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang has been appointed ‘commander’ of the State Council's earthquake relief and disaster control committee.
Du Ying is one of the unit's deputy commanders.

Sithar, vice-minister of the Party's United Front Work Department
In 2008, Benjamin Kang Lim described Sithar (or Sitar) in an article: “One-time Tibetan serf now frontman for China”
Lim wrote: “For many fellow Tibetans, Sitar is a Chinese government puppet, but for the Communist Party, the former serf is a model of loyalty and rising political star.”
The Reuters correspondent continues: “Sitar, who goes by one name and whose ancestors were serfs for generations until 1959, has risen to be a vice-minister of the Party's United Front Work Department and a key defender of government policy in Tibet.
Lim continued: “He has emerged as one of the most prominent ethnic Tibetans backing China's fight against Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his government-in-exile based in northern India. In that role, Sitar has come to embody the divide between a Tibetan political elite that has embraced China's programme for controlling and developing the region, and discontented Tibetans and exiles who instead see exploitation and repression.”
An official document quoted Sitar as saying (he turned down two Reuters interview requests): “China blames the Dalai Lama ‘clique’ for last month's deadly rioting in Lhasa and anti-China protests which have dogged the international torch relay for the Beijing Olympics. It was the Party who nurtured me. I'm absolutely loyal to the Party and the motherland. This is firm and unshakeable.”
The document which name Sitar as one of the Party's 50 outstanding members in 2006, said: "He has bathed in the Party's sunlight since childhood."
Lim asserted: “In launching a campaign to learn from Sitar that year, then Minister of United Front Liu Yandong [now Politburo member] praised him for rejecting overtures from the government-in-exile to defect when he was a diplomat at the Chinese consulate in Zurich in the late 1980s.”
It seems that Liu considered ‘comrade Sitar as a model ... politically firm, loyal to the Party and dares to shoulder heavy responsibilities’.

The Seventh Bureau

In 2005, the Communist Party's United Front Work Department (UFWD) established a new bureau to handle Tibetan affairs and appointed Sithar as Director. The Tibetan affairs portfolio moved from the Second Bureau, which handles ethnic and religious affairs, to the new Seventh Bureau. Sithar previously served as a deputy director of the Second Bureau.
The UFWD oversees the implementation of Party policy toward China's eight ‘democratic’ political parties, ethnic and religious groups, intellectuals, and even entrepreneurs.
The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) explained: “The UFWD hosted Special Envoy Lodi Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama's representatives, during visits to China in September 2002, May-June 2003, September 2004, and February 2006… During the visits, the envoys met with UFWD officials including Liu Yandong, Head of the UFWD, Deputy Heads Zhu Weiqun and Li Dezhu (Li Dek Su), and Sithar in an effort to engage Chinese officials in substantive dialogue about the future of Tibetans and their religion, language, and culture. After the envoys' 2006 visit, the Dalai Lama disclosed in a March 10 speech that his envoys relayed a request to Chinese leaders to permit him to visit China as a religious pilgrim.”
ICT continued: “The creation of the Seventh Bureau may signal that the Party leadership has attached increased importance to Tibetan issues.”
According to a report published in the Singtao Daily [Hong Kong's second largest Chinese language newspaper], the mission of the Seventh Bureau is to cooperate with relevant parties in struggling against secessionism by enemies, both local and foreign, such as the Dalai Lama clique, and to liaise with overseas Tibetans”.
Lately, it was rumoured that Sithar was out of favour in Beijing, but after Yu Zhengsheng’s visit to Lhasa, he seems back on the Tibetan stage.

Zhang Yijiong, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Department
Zhang Yijiong replaced Zhu Weiqun a few months ago as the Executive Vice Minister in charge of Tibet Affairs in the UFWD.
Zhang will take over Zhu’s position as the Chinese governments' representative in talks with the Tibetan government in exile, if any.
Zhang is a native of Shanghai and joined the Communist Party of China in 1976. He was Deputy Secretary of CPC Tibet Autonomous Region Committee from 2006 to 2010.
He is a member of the 18th CCP Central Committee.
During Yu’s visit, Zhang was seen with his boss almost all the pictures. A good sign …for him at least!

During his 'secret' visit, Yu stressed the need for thoroughly implementing the central spirit of the Fifth Tibet Work Forum and the spirit of the important instructions given by General Secretary Xi Jinping; to firmly grasp the two aspects of Tibet policy, namely development and stability.
Yu further said: "We must unswervingly push forward economic and social development, scientific planning development ideas; the idea is to​​ establish a long-term hard work with the goal of solidly building a moderately prosperous society." It sounds like the 'Chinese Dream'.
He also advised:
  • to use better the existing policies
  • to highlight the improvement in people's livelihood
  • to make all efforts to look after the urgent need of the people, so that the fruits of development benefit the masses in a more and more equitable manner
  • to strengthen an ecological civilization construction
  • to adhere to the economic development and ecological environment construction
  • to take the environment road of civilized development
(Sorry for the jargon, it is what he said)
Nothing very new, except that Beijing will more and more play the 'development' card to control the restive area.

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