Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tibet: cherish unity with China as if it is your own eyes, says Xi

The Sixth Tibet Work Forum was held in Beijing on August 24 and 25.
It was presided over by President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).
According to Xinhua, addressing the Forum, Xi spoke of the promotion of the economic and social development of Tibet.
Xi Jinping asked for more efforts to promote economic growth and all-round social progress in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas.
He also vowed to take sustainable measures and continue preferential policies for the region(s).
Note that the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan-inhabited areas in four provinces (Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan) have been clubbed as far as Beijing’s policies for Tibet are concerned.
Xi said that Tibet “has entered ‘a critical stage’ toward fulfilling the country's goal of building a moderately prosperous society in a comprehensive way.”
He promised that special financial, tax and investment policies will continue to be in place in the future.
The Chinese President asserted: “Development, which aims to improve living conditions for various ethnic groups and beef up social cohesion, should be advanced in a prudent and steady manner, and all measures taken should be sustainable.”
The dual objective of improving the ‘local conditions’ and ‘beefing up social cohesion’ is pervading the speech of the President who urged “bettering basic public service and adopting targeted measures to alleviate poverty, solve key problems which lead to poverty and improve living conditions for the impoverished as soon as possible.”
It is an admission that poverty among the local population in Tibet still exists, 60 years after the 'liberation'.
Xi explained further: “More active employment policies should be carried out to help residents of all ethnic groups to walk out of their farms and pastors to work in towns and companies and start businesses.”
‘All ethnic groups’ refers mainly to Tibetans.
It is clear that in the years to come, farmers and nomads will be encouraged to migrate to the city. Is it really a sustainable policy?
Xi also said that, “efforts should also be made to incorporate education on ‘socialist core values’ into courses in schools at various levels, popularize the national commonly-used language and script, and strive to foster ‘Party-loving and patriotic builders and successors of the socialist cause’.”
Will the Tibetans believe this one?
Imposition of Putonghua could have severe backlashes on the Tibetan plateau. The unrest in March/April 2008 has already been a sign of rejection of the imposition of a new culture with Chinese characteristics.
Premier Li Keqiang was also present at the Forum.
He affirmed that “it will be an arduous task for Tibet to build a ‘moderately prosperous’ society over the next five years.”
This is a component of the Chinese Dream, so dear to President Xi.
For the Chinese Premier, his government “will give top priority to improving people's livelihood, alleviating poverty and increasing employment among Tibetans.”
He urged the TAR government to make more efforts to boost education, medical care and social security in the Tibet region.
Li believes that the key for Tibet is “to sharpen its self-development capability through promoting its specialty industries, infrastructure construction, and environmental protection.”
But more infrastructure construction means more roads, airports, railway lines and dams.
For India, it is certainly a cause of worries.
Premier Li added: “Efforts should be given to the development of agriculture and animal husbandry and related processing business, making Tibet an important tourism destination in the world, and promoting commerce and trade with South Asia to boost the Tibetan economy."
Tourism is certainly the best way for China to change forever the Tibetan landscape and finish off the Tibetan cause for greater autonomy (or independence).
Li further noted: “Moreover, the building of local infrastructure should be sped up, including transportation networks, water conservation projects, power-grids, among others.”
Li pledged to increase financial aid and preferential policies to Tibet.
Once again, it is ominous for Tibet’s southern neighbour (i.e. India), which develops the borders areas at a snail speed.
The entire politburo, including the seven members’ Standing Committee were in attendance (apart from Xi and Li, Yu Zhengsheng, Zhang Dejiang, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli were present).
Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference pleaded with those who attended the Forum “to learn from the spirit of the meeting and work out effective measures to boost the development of Tibet.”
During the weeks to come, the ‘Tibetan’ leaders will return to Lhasa and speech after speech will hold fort about the ‘Spirit of the Sixth Work Forum’.
The true ‘spirit’ of the Forum was however expounded in another article published by Xinhua.

Ethnic Unity with Chinese Characteristics
The news agency released another report of the Forum entitled ‘Xi stresses unity for Tibet, vows fight against separatism’.
The entire article focuses on China’s main worry , namely ‘instability’ of the Land of Snows, or in other words, the ‘nationalist’ aspirations of the people of Tibet.
According to the official news agency, President Xi Jinping spoke of “national and ethnic unity as the key plans for Tibet, vowing a focus on long-term, comprehensive stability and an unswerving anti-separatism battle.”
It seems to be the main issue for the present Chinese leadership.
Xi stated: “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 as an obligatory task."
It shows that China is still trembling, more than 60 years after Tibet was ‘liberated’.
‘Stability’ is an obligatory task.
Xi 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.”
If China had done so much for Tibet (as Beijing always pretends), why does it remain so nervous?
Is it an admission that the policies decided during the previous 5 Tibet Work Forum have failed?
The answer is probably ‘Yes’.
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.”
Borders often come in the Chinese discourse.
Does it mean that China is afraid of India?
After all, Tibet’s main border is with India.
Or is it a pretext to bring more dual infrastructure on the Tibetan plateau?
Then comes the crux of Beijing’s’ policy towards Tibet for the next 5 to 10 years. Xi called for “a comprehensive and accurate implementation of the Party's policies concerning ethnic and religious affairs as well as efforts to increase a sense of identity for people from various ethnic groups with the motherland, Chinese nationality, Chinese culture, the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics."
It is rather frightening and it can only lead to further resentment amongst the ‘ethnics’, especially when Xi urged “the promotion of Marxist values in people's views on ethnics, religion and culture.”
Are the Tibetan traditional Buddhist values compatible with the doctrine of Karl Marx (at least the way Marx’ philosophy has been implemented in China and Soviet Union)?
President Xi added that “authorities must draft long-term plans and rely on local officials and ordinary people to ensure persistent stability for Tibet and neighboring provinces.”
For the purpose, Party’s officials should “keep pace with the CPC Central Committee in their thoughts and deeds, telling them to ‘cherish unity as if it was their eyes’.”
Will Tibetans one day cherish unity with Han Chinese as if the latter were their own eyes? It may never happen.
In the meantime, Xi exhorted: "We should help people of various ethnic groups understand, support, appreciate and study from each other.”
He called for educational campaigns to promote ethnic unity and a sense of belonging to the same Chinese nationality.
Can it work?
The Chinese President is particularly keen to apply his recipe to the monastery: “efforts should be made to promote patriotism among the Tibetan Buddhist circle and effectively manage monasteries in the long run, encouraging interpretations of religious doctrines that are compatible with a socialist society.”
Are Marxism and Buddhism compatible, is the central question?
It would have perhaps been more productive, if the Chinese leadership had taken the opposite view: “to encourage an interpretation of Marxism which is compatible with Tibetan religious doctrines.”
What about Marxism with Buddhist characteristics?
It may work in Tibet!
But can the present leadership understand this?
Probably not!
The common man in China may.

Sun Chunlan chairs meeting for ‘Tibet celebrations’
A few meetings were held to prepare for the Forum.
I mentioned a few on this blog.
According to Xinhua, on August 17, Sun Chunlan, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of the United Front Work Department (UFW), chaired another meeting to discuss the preparations for the visit of a central delegation to Tibet on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The meeting was held not only in view of the ‘celebrations’, but also to clear the way to the Sixth Tibet Work Forum.
During the meeting, Sun Chunlan gave a speech about the ‘achievements’ of the Party in Tibet and the importance of the 'celebrations'.
She said that this “grand event was expected by people of all nationalities in Tibet, and it was also very important for the national people's political life.”
Obviously, as it sealed the annexation and dismemberment of old Tibet.
The UFW minister further stated: “During the past 50 years, under Central Government's correct leadership, national people’s full support and the joint efforts of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, Tibet has undergone enormous changes. Holding the 50th anniversary celebrations of TAR is very significant to encourage the people of Tibet to closely unite around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the general secretary, boost morale and confidence together with people across the country to achieve a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and realize the long-term stability in time.”
Nobody can deny that Tibet has changed, but whether ‘ethnic’ Tibetans are convinced about Sun’s declarations is another issue.
If Sun was right, why should Xi Jinping have focused so much on ‘stability’ during the Tibet Work Forum?
The meeting chaired by Madam Sun was held in preparation of the Forum (called barely 5 days later).
Apparently, during her meeting, Sun affirmed that the celebrations “should adhere to a grand and warm, frugal and pragmatic principle so that the cadres and masses of all ethnic groups in Tibet can broadly participate and share the joy.”
It is not clear how the celebrations can be ‘grand and frugal’ at the same time, but we will not to wait long to know.
Sun’s conclusion was that the celebration will “show the great advantages of socialism and vitality of the regional ethnic autonomy, and it will also demonstrate the glorious history and great achievements of revolution, construction and reform performed by Tibetan people led by the Party.”
Once again, why this obsession about ‘stability’ is the above declarations are true?

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