Saturday, May 16, 2015

Beijing to offer more 'gifts' to Tibet

More tourists for Tibet
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Xi'an, capital city of Shaanxi Province, as the first leg of his high profile visit to China, analysts wonder if he would speak about Tibet with the Chinese leadership.
Apparently, he did not!
The ‘T’ word appears only once in the Joint Statement, when the Kailash yatra is mentioned:
The Indian side appreciated the support and cooperation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the local government of Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China to Indian pilgrims for the Kailash Manasarover Yatra (Gang Renpoche [sic] and Mapam Yun Tso Pilgrimage). To further promote religious exchange between the two countries and provide facilitation for Indian pilgrims, the Chinese side would launch the route for the Yatra through Nathu La Pass in 2015.
Though it is a separate issue, it is worth noting that Beijing always says, ‘Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China’.
Delhi never speaks of ‘Tamil Nadu of the Republic of India’ or ‘West Bengal of …’. It perhaps shows that Beijing is still unsure about the legal ground of its ‘presence’ in Tibet.
But apart from this reference, nothing on 'T'.
The Brahmaputra is not even mentioned, except to say:
The Indian side expressed appreciation to China for providing flood-season hydrological data and the assistance in emergency management. The two sides will further strengthen cooperation through the Expert-Level Mechanism on the provision of flood-season hydrological data and emergency management, and exchange views on other issues of mutual interest.
The names of the Yarlung Tsangpo/Siang/Brahmaputra and the Sutlej are not cited. Does it means that Delhi has got some assurance from Beijing that China will not go for mega-dams on the trans-boundary rivers? It is possible!

An unusual comment
An interesting remark during Modi’s speech at Tsinghua University: the Prime Minister said that both nations needed to ensure that their relationships with other countries did not become a concern for each other: “If we are able to deepen mutual trust and confidence, we will also be able to reinforce each other's efforts of connecting Asia with itself and the rest of the world."
The South China Morning Post quotes an analyst saying: “Modi's comment was somewhat unusual as diplomatic visitors to Beijing normally called for further consolidation of bilateral ties.”
Fang Tien-sze, a South Asia study expert and a Taiwanese former diplomat in India explains: “By asking the mainland to reconsider its approach in dealing with India, Modi meant to say there is a need for Beijing to work hard with New Delhi to really find a way to resolve their border disputes if the two sides are to closely cooperate to form the Asian Century."
It is true that Beijing needs to 'work hard' to fill up the trust deficit.

A gift for Tibet?
In the meantime, Beijing is thinking of ‘what kind of gift to give to Tibet its 50th anniversary?’ China Tibet Online elaborates:
The Year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and it is reported that the Sixth Conference on the Work of Tibet may also be convened this year. Since the central government has always presented gifts to Tibet on major celebrations, we may wonder what kind of gift it will send to Tibet this year.
Will it be the genuine autonomy demanded by the Dalai Lama?
Don't be so hopeful!
The Chinese ‘Tibetan’ website reminds us that in March 2015,
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang mentioned in the Government Work Report that China is a unified and multi-ethnic country, and it is important to uphold and improve the system of the regional ethnic autonomy. It is also important to provide more support to the development of ethnic minority areas, to protect and develop ethnic cultures and characteristic towns in order to promote exchanges among various ethnic groups.
It recalls Year 2011 which marked the 60th anniversary of the so-called peaceful liberation of Tibet (Beijing does not say that it resulted in more than 1 million casualties). At that time, a delegation from Beijing, “presented the Tibetan people with essential life products, including stainless steel pressure cookers, handheld solar-powered torches, and portable solar-powered televisions.”
The website justifies the generous ‘gifts’ thus: “Although people living in developed areas might not consider these items, for those living on the high plateau, especially rural residents in remote areas, the gifts are very practical and useful.”
It was indeed useful, especially if the Tibetans were last without pressure cookers in the Middle Kingdom.

A new gift for Tibet
I have already mentioned China's next gift to Tibet on this blog, the Roof of the World will made an integral part of the New Silk Road. 
Is it better than a stainless pressure cooker for the common man on the high plateau? Not certain!
China Tibet Online asserts: "The ‘One belt, One road’ strategy is seen as an opportunity to accelerate Tibet’s development. Gifts from the central government to Tibet also include policy support in public finance and banking.”
A Xinhua article in March had quoted Xiao Gang, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, who proposed some "policies that would support an equity shares market, a bond market, and a futures contract market in the Tibet Autonomous Region as well as efforts that would broaden financing channels for businesses, support funding for small-scale businesses, which will play a role in supporting the development of a futures contract market in Tibet.”
It further commented that to promote the development of a capital market, Tibet needs to improve its own economic capacity.
Shang Fulin, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission had proposed a solution to ‘improve’ Tibet’s economic capacity: “In order to improve the banking institution in Tibet and provide credit resources, China must focus on developing Tibet’s local tourism and culture, Tibetan medicine and pharmacology, and characteristic industries such as agriculture and animal husbandry.”
Instead of 15 million Han tourists, Tibet will then become a full-fledged tourist resort; the largest amusement park in the world.
The article says that China must further expand the ‘Horseback Bank’, the ‘Tent Bank’, and mobile servicing vehicles "according to the particular characteristics of Tibet."
In other words, Beijing will bring ‘development' to the countryside, to the farmers and nomads (and bring tourists along).
The conclusion of the apparently well-informed website is that these gifts will be beneficial “for accelerating Tibet’s leapfrog development and for promoting the building of a moderately prosperous society in Tibet.”
It even cites statistics from the TAR’s Taxation Bureau: in 2014 Tibet’s GDP reached 92 billion yuan, (15 billion US dollars), an increase of 10.8 percent over the previous year.
As Tibet prepares to ‘celebrate’ the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the so-called Autonomous Region, Xinhua admits: “Tibet is the country’s only region with vast concentrated poverty areas.”
What was the point of ‘liberating Tibet, if it so?
It reminds me of the words of the 10th Panchen Lama who, a few hours before his mysterious death in 1989, asked “what was the point of liberating Tibet 30 years ago, if Tibet remains so poor.”
Two points are clear: China will increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Roof of the World (and for the purpose will tremendous increase the construction of ‘dual-use’ infrastructure in Tibet) and then Tibet will become an integral part of the ‘One Road, One Belt’ project, so dear to President Xi Jinping.
Can all this be considered as ‘gifts’ to the Tibetan people?
To settle the border issue with India, Beijing will probably wait for Tibet to be ‘stabilized’?
Tibetans will crawling under ‘gifts’, but will they be satisfied?
After all, the 'stabilization' depends of the happiness of the 'masses', isn't it?

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