Friday, May 29, 2015

China: internal challenges are increasing

Sun Chunlan visits China Tibet Online office (Sitar on her right, Chen Xiqing on her left)
The recent White Paper (WP) on China's Military Strategy affirms that “China enjoys generally favorable environment for development, but external challenges are increasing.”
Not only external challenges, internal as well, as we shall see.
What are these multiple and complex security threats, “leaving China an arduous task to safeguard its national unification, territorial integrity and development interests?”
Of course, the main villain in Beijing’s eyes is Washington and its ‘rebalancing’ strategy’ as well as its ‘enhanced’ military presence in the region.
Then Japan, which is “sparing no effort to dodge the post-war mechanism, overhauling its military and security policies.”
Beijing believes that it now “faces a long-standing task to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.”
If other nations do not share the same perception about peace and stability in the region, it does not bother the Middle Kingdom. The White Paper says: “Some of its offshore neighbors take provocative actions and reinforce their military presence on China's reefs and islands that they have illegally occupied. Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China.”
Well, there is another side to the coin.
Then, the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia are 'shrouded in instability and uncertainty', says the WP.
And of course, the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces are still “the biggest threat to the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.”
But there is more: “Separatist forces for ‘East Turkistan independence’ [Xinjiang] and ‘Tibet independence’ have inflicted serious damage, particularly with escalating violent terrorist activities by ‘East Turkistan independence’ forces.”
This is an open admission that Beijing is less bothered by a non-violent ‘Tibet’ than a ‘terrorist' Xinjiang.
The conclusion is that “China's national security is more vulnerable to international and regional turmoil, terrorism, piracy, serious natural disasters and epidemics, and the security of overseas interests concerning energy and resources, strategic sea lines of communication.”
This translates a very serious enhancement of the capacity of the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) amongst other things.

The United Front Work Conference
The issues of Xinjiang and Tibet (and Taiwan) were also discussed during the meeting of the United Front Work Department (UFW) of the CPC Central Committee, held from May 18 to 20 in Beijing.
This conference should eventually pave the way for the 6th Tibet Work Forum, which may be held in the coming weeks.
Addressing the UFW delegates, President Xi Jinping asked the authorities to befriend and recruit more non-CPC intellectuals and representatives. He further stressed their role in economic development and ‘cleansing’ the Internet. It appears that he needs the non-Party know-how to help doing the job.
Xi invited the expertise of people like Jack Ma of Alibaba to join the collective efforts to build the Chinese Dream: “To unite the non-CPC intellectuals is basic and strategically important work under the party's efforts to unite the nation and pool strength for realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation”.
According to Xinhua, Xi vowed to “develop the widest patriotic united front” to support ‘the great Chinese renaissance’.
The president added: “Students studying abroad should also be encouraged to return home and serve the country in various ways.”
He asked communist officials to make friends with non-CPC intellectuals in ‘doing ideological work’: “Excellent non-CPC representatives should be guided to grasp the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Faster said than done!
He concluded by exhorting the cadres to be “sincere, modest and clean so that they can gain respect from non-CPC members and help them work together with the party.”
Xinhua noted that the conference came “against the backdrop of mounting challenges to the party’s agenda, including pro-democracy protests last year in Hong Kong, ethnic unrest in the far western region of Xinjiang and pushback against closer ties in Taiwan.”
Once again, Tibet seems to be a minor affair for Beijing.
Interestingly, at the time of the UFW conference, Madam Sun Chunlan, head of the UFW Department met with some Tibetan Buddhist monks, who graduated as geshe ‘Tho Ram Pa’ [Lharampa].
China Tibet Online reported that the awards ceremony was held at Tibetan Buddhism College of China in Beijing on May 20, 2015.
Regarding Madam Sun, it has to be noted that it is first time in the recent times that a member of the Politburo heads of the UFW. It shows the importance of ‘co-opting’ non-Communist forces into the Chinese Dream.
Will it work is a diffrent question.
Sun said that this Tibetan Buddhist advanced academic degree system is “an important measure in fostering Tibetan Buddhist religious believers to love their country and religion, as well as adapting religion to socialist society.”
In other words, training geshes with ‘socialist and Chinese characteristics’!
Madam Sun believed that the new geshes “would cherish and honor their award, help religious people, promote social development and the fine Tibetan Buddhism tradition of loving their country and religion,” and of course “observe and uphold the law, protect the country and its people, promote economic development and social and religious harmony.”
Xi Jinping during the UFW conference also spoke of the “the positive influence that religious people and believers have on social and economic development.”
He pleaded with the UFW officials to make ‘active efforts’ to incorporate religions in socialist society, adding that ‘religions in China must be Chinese’.
The problem is that even Tibetan religion should be ‘Chinese’!
In the meantime, another self-immolation was reported on the Tibetan plateau: a Tibetan woman set fire to herself protesting against Chinese repression in Gansu province. It is the second self-immolation this month.
The International Campaign for Tibet said Sangye Tso, a 36-year-old mother of two, staged the protest outside a Chinese government building in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. She is believed to have died.
There is still a disconnect between the official speech and the reality in Tibet and Xinjiang.

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