Saturday, August 29, 2015

More on the 6th Tibet Work Forum

Wang Yang on an 'inspection' tour in Tibet
More on the 6th Tibet Work Forum held on August 24 and 25 in Beijing.
I must say that I was mistaken by the meeting of the Politburo of the CCP’s Central Committee which on July 30, discussed Tibet.
I was then under the impression that it WAS the 6th Tibet Work Forum.
On July 30, Xinhua had announced: “Chinese leaders discuss Tibet development, stability …Chinese leaders met to discuss economic and social development in Tibet and how to ensure the autonomous region achieve prolonged stability.”
A statement issued after the Politburo meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping noted: “Safeguarding national unity and strengthening ethnic unity should be highlighted in work involving Tibet. …Efforts should be made to unswervingly carry out the anti-separatism battle, promote the region's economic and social development, safeguard and improve people's welfare, and enhance exchanges and integration of different ethnic groups.”
It was then said that the Communist leadership agreed that “strengthening Tibetan infrastructure, helping it foster competitive industries while ensuring environmental protection are the means to achieve marked improvement in living conditions and more social cohesion.”
The solution to the Tibet issue was to “maintain national religious policies and promote patriotism in Tibet.”
Easier said than done!
The leadership then promised more support “to provide assistance to Tibet by pairing its cities with flourishing coastal cities and state-owned enterprises.”
At that time, it looked like an announcement for the Tibet Work Forum.
It was not!

A Serious Issue
It however raises a serious issue.
Why did the leadership need a full meeting of the Politburo to ‘prepare’ a Tibet Work Forum to be held 4 weeks later.
It is unheard of.
Remember on August 5, Xinhua published a news item titled, “Do Not Wait Anymore; No Meetings in Beidaihe.” The official news agency then said, “sources have speculated on the themes of the Beidaihe meeting this August and whether or not one will be held.”
But Xinhua argued: “Not long ago, the CCP Central Politburo met twice, on July 20 and on July 30, which was unusual. They have already discussed ‘The Thirteenth Five-Year Plan’, the CCP Fifth Plenary Session, economic strategies, the ‘anti-tiger campaign’, and other important issues.”
The article, though it does not mention the Tibet issue, asked: "Is it meaningful, necessary, or possible to talk about these issues again in Beidaihe several days or ten days later?”
So why to have a Politburo meeting on Tibet (even presuming that ‘Tibet’ was just a topic on the agenda of the July 30 meeting) to discuss the same things 4 weeks later?
A plausible explanation could be that there was some disagreement amongst the leaders on the Tibet policy to be followed during the next 5 or 10 years.
The air had to be cleared (or the positions fine-tuned) before calling for the much larger forum which is usually attended by 200 or 300 cadres.
It is a fact that since the time of the so-called ‘liberation’ in 1950-51, the leadership has always been sharply divided on the direction to take as far as the fate of the Roof of the World is concerned.
The July 30 Meet probably decided on a middle-path approach, which translated, as mentioned on my earlier post, in a dual objective to improve the ‘local conditions’ and ‘beef up social cohesion’ and rejecting the Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way' approach.
In President Xi’s words: “Key efforts in the work for Tibet should be spent on ensuring national unity and consolidating ethnic unity, with realizing long-term and comprehensive social stability."
‘Stability is an obligatory task’ hammered Xi, who affirmed that China “should firmly take the initiative in the fight against separatism, vowing to crack down on all activities seeking to separate the country and destroy social stability.”
Between the 30-July Politburo meeting and the Forum two important visits took place in Tibet, probably to take a final decision on the directions to be taken.

Visit of Vice-Premier Wang Yang in Tibet

Apart for the meeting chaired by Sun Chunlan on August 18, to discuss the preparations for the visit of a delegation from Beijing to Tibet on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, two other members of the Politburo visited Tibet during the week preceding the Forum.
Wang Yang, Vice Premier of the State Council ‘inspected’ Lhasa and Nagchu.
The report says that he “investigated relevant work [linked to] poverty alleviation and development, animal husbandry, tourist industry and meteorological services.”
In Ngachu, Wang visited a meteorological station.
According to Xinhua, he expressed the Party’s “respect to those who work in these remote areas, high mountain regions and islands [sic] and persistently contribute to meteorological knowledge.”
The Chinese new agency commented: “The hardworking and plain-living spirit of plateau meteorological members also touched Vice Premier Wang Yang.”
The Vice-Premier declared: “Tibet can take pride in the advancements and achievements of meteorological cause; it has impressed and inspired us all.”
He spoke of the importance of meteorological observations on the plateau for weather forecasts and climate prediction for downstream regions: “to ramp up the research of meteorological science and technology along with climate change, in view of Tibet’s location, carries a significant implication.”
But Wang did not go only to study the weather patterns.
In Lhasa, he spoke of the implementation of different programs “to vigorously alleviate poverty by developing modern agriculture, animal husbandry as well as tourism development.”
This is an indicator of the direction in which the Forum would go a week later. Wang spoke again and again of “effective measures to further the implementation of poverty alleviation, remove poverty, accelerate the transformation of agricultural development, promote the construction of modern agriculture and animal husbandry, and the healthy development of tourism in Tibet”.
He added that this could help the region to find a solid foundation for the sustained and healthy economic and social development of Tibet by 2020.
Wang Yang was in Tibet between August 13 to 15.
On August 14 afternoon, Wang Yang chaired a forum and listen to the work report of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
He later stressed the need to thoroughly implement Xi Jinping’s vision for the Tibet work and ensure the timely realization/implementation of the Party’s objectives.
And of course, Wang Yang mentioned the ‘stability’ of Tibet: “the whole region of Tibet strives for national unity and oppose separatist, your efforts are commendable,” he says.
He concluded: ‘We are proud of the great achievements made for the development of Tibet, Tibet has a precious natural and cultural heritage; it should be cherished.”
This was a prelude to the 6th Tibet Work Forum.

Another important visit: CMC's Vice-Chairman Xu Qiliang
On August 13, Xinhua reported that Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), visited Tibet (and Chongqing). He urged the military forces posted for defense of the border [with India] “to make down-to-earth efforts and follow the path to building a strong army”.
Xu had a call for strengthening education and urged the army to make “efforts to thoroughly clean up the negative influence caused by corrupt former military leaders [Generals] Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou.”
He pleaded for better management and control of the borders “as well as innovation with ideological work at military forces to shore up the morale of servicemen for border defense.”
He requested senior officers and army leaders to strictly observe the political discipline and rules, adding that modern ideas and elements should also be used in the management of the military.
Xu’s exhortation will be reflected in Xi’s speech during the Forum.
Xi reiterated his theory about the ‘border areas’; he said that “a series of strategies that have been in effect during the 60-plus years of governing Tibet," he then cited the theory that "governing border areas is the key for governing a country, and stabilizing Tibet is a priority for governing border areas.”
Tibet’s border areas are India’s frontiers; let us not forget this.
And of course,  “the Central Government did not in the past, nor is now and will not in the future accept the [Dalai Lama's] Middle Way solution  to the Tibet issue,” said an article penned by an official the United Front Department after the Forum.
The hard line has prevailed once again.

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