Saturday, April 25, 2015

Guess what? The Chinese are coming...

Construction work on the new road Lhasa-Nyingtri
An article, which appeared yesterday in the Chinese ‘Tibetan’ press, put the release of the White Paper (WP) on Tibet into perspective.
I have been wondering about the WP's timing which was obviously ‘synchronized’ with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), but it was also clear that there was more behind the strong attack against the Dalai Lama (and his Group, as Beijing calls the Dharamsala Administration).
An article in China Tibet Online gives a hint of what is up Beijing’s sleeves.
The piece is titled: “Guess what? 6th Tibet Work Conference may be convened this year, netizens say.”
For China, it is new that netizens are aware of ‘State Secrets’ such as holding crucial meetings …and their timings!
But when one watches China, the first rule is not to be surprised by anything.
The announcement of the holding of a Sixth Conference (or Forum) on Tibet Work by ‘netizens’ is clearly a propaganda gimmick.
The previous Forum was held in Beijing in January 2010. Before that, five Tibet Work Conferences were organized in 1980, 1984, 1994, 2001 and 2010: “it has played a significant role in advancing the economic and social development in Tibet”, says the official media.
What is a Work Forum on Tibet?
It is the place where a new Tibet policy is decided.
It is attended by several hundreds of officials, including all the members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo.
The Chinese website says: “Now people are eagerly anticipating the Sixth Tibet Work Conference.”
Who are the ‘people’ eagerly expecting a new direction in Tibet Policy?
The ‘netizens’ (there were called the ‘masses’ under Mao), says the official media which gives a background: “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region. On March 5, during the Third Session of the 12th National People’s Congress, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang highlighted that celebrations should be organized for the 50th anniversary in the government work report.”
To prepare the ground for the TAR celebrations (and the new Forum), the State media explains that from November 2014 to March 2015, “many in the central leadership as well as various government departments went to Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces to conduct research and make inspections, including: Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Du Qinglin, Vice Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, and Sun Chunlan, minister of the United Front Work Department of CPC Central Committee as well as leaders of the Ministry of Education, the State Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Water Conservancy and Ministry of Agriculture.”
I have reported these visits from time to time on this blog.
China Tibet Online and other ‘Tibetan’ official websites quote a Communist ‘saying’: “the central leadership and relevant departments must conduct in-depth research and inspections before an important meeting is convened and important documents issued.”
Now the ‘masses’ (oops sorry, the ‘netizens’) are guessing: “the central authorities [read Beijing] may initiate a big move to aid Tibet.”
Netizen ‘Costa’ says: "After much research, I think the next conference will be held sometime between August 28 and September 1, 2015"; while Netizen ‘i3broadaxe’ believes that "the reasonable time frame (for the conference) is from June to July".
Of course, adds the Communist mouth piece, “these statements are not necessarily credible,” but, but, but...: “It might be a good news if the Sixth Tibet Work Conference could be held this year. This would comply with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s important strategic ideology.”
What does Xi says about Tibet?
The Chinese President believes that "to govern the country well, we must govern the border areas first, and to govern the border areas well, we must stabilize Tibet first".
Who is on the other side of the border? India, of course!
How does this translate on the ground?
In Tibet, the masses will have to follow Xi’s Four Comprehensives, in other words: “upholding the rule of law in governing Tibet, maintaining a long-term development of Tibet, seeking for public consent, and laying a solid foundation.”
[Officially, Xi’s theory refers to ‘comprehensively’ building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, governing the country according to rule by law, and enforcing strict party discipline.]
More Chinese tourists in perspective
But business being business, the national strategy of ‘One Belt, One Road’ should be kept in mind while 'developing' the Roof of the World.
For Tibet, it means: “the promotion of development and stability in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas in other four provinces. Furthermore, it will help achieve the goal of achieving a comprehensive moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepening the reform, and promoting the rule of law.”
‘The promotion of development and stability in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas in other four provinces’ partially answers the Dalai Lama’s demand for a common policy for the 3 traditional regions of Tibet (U-Tsang, Amdo and Kham), now administrated by Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, (apart from the Tibetan Autonomous Region).
By bringing prosperity and exchanges (with Nepal through Kyirong port, for example), Beijing believes that it can solve the Tibetan issue.
The Sixth Work Forum on Tibet will probably decide to transform the Land of Snows into an important economic (and touristic) hub for the New Silk Road project.
One of the decisions could be to immediately start the Tibet-Xinjiang railway through the disputed Askai Chin area. To complete it at the earliest (see my previous post), could be a major policy decision of the Forum.

"To govern the country well,
we must govern the border areas first", Xi Jinping
Where is India in all that?
Of course, Delhi's permission will not be taken to run the railway through what India considers her own territory.
In any case, India will be nowhere because all Himalayan landports are today closed (except on a very small restricted scale for Nathu-la in Sikkim, Shipki-la in Himachal and Lipulekh-la in Uttarakhand).
If China is truly serious about the New Silk Road, (and wants India’s participation), it should reopen the traditional Himalayan border passes/routes, such as the Karakoram pass and Demchok in Ladakh, Niti, Mana, Darma passes in Uttarakhand, Jelep-la between West Bengal and Tibet, Bumla, Kibitoo in Arunachal.
One should not forget that for millennia, the Himalaya has been a place of passage and exchanges between the Tibetan world and the subcontinent.
It is only because of the irresponsible ‘Panchsheel’ policy of Jawaharlal Nehru policy effectively closed the passes in 1954.
When the former Prime Minister realized his blunder, it was too late, the PLA soldiers were already rolling down the slopes of the Thagla ridge and marching into the high plateau of Ladakh.
For the Tibetans, a Sixth Work Forum does not augur well; it probably means the final integration (Beijing used to speak about ‘Liberation’) under millions and millions of Han tourists and traders.

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