|Khatas are presented to Xi by the Qinghai delegation at the NPC
Every year in March, the same rituals take place in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Deputies of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National Peoples’ Congress (NPC) assemble in Beijing to demonstrate the ‘vitality’ of China’s democratic system …with Chinese characteristics.
The High Mass is known as the 'Two Sessions'.
Deputies from far-away (and often restive) provinces land in the capital to ‘debate’ and vote the new Laws of the Land.
Incidentally this year they have to ratify a new counter-terrorism law, which may not be to welcome by the 'ethnic' masses.
Monika Chansoria wrote in The Sunday Guardian: “The anti-terrorism law’s Article 18 establishes obligations of technology companies to assist the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of National Security in investigating terrorism, including providing technical support and assistance with information encryption. This essentially implies that technology firms will be required to install ‘backdoors’ in products or hand over sensitive information including encryption keys to the Chinese government.”
A frightful program!
The Ritual Visit
An important part of the rituals is costumed parade of the ‘ethnic’ delegates wearing colourful dresses, impressive hats and shiny jewelry ...and Communist badges.
The Mass is also for the ‘regional’ delegation, the occasion to get the darshan (and sermon) of one of Magnificent Sevens (i.e. the members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo),
I had been wondering who of the Sevens, would drop by at the ‘Tibetan party’ this year.
In 2013, Xi Jinping, the Numero Uno himself appeared.
In 2014, Yu Zhengsheng, No 4 in the hierarchy, provided the annual lecture (‘follow the Party’).
Last year, Wang Qinshan, No 6 and the czar of the anti-corruption campaign, delivered the Message on behalf of the Sevens.
This year, Zhang Gaoli, No 7 and Chinese Vice Premier, attended the second session of the NPC Fourth Session and met the ‘Tibetan’ delegates.
Xinhua reported that the Vice Premier participated in the deliberations with the ‘lawmakers’ from Tibet Autonomous Region.
Zhang Gaoli took the opportunity to stress some important principles, such as governing Tibet according to the Law, striving to make people rich or working through long-term development, for the region bright future.
Zhang asked the 'Tibetans' to continue building a moderately prosperous society, for that: “Tibet needs to strengthen ethnic unity and make earnest efforts to maintain stability,” he added.
|Zhang Gaoli and the Tibet delegation
Zhang also explained that it is important to 'follow' General Secretary Xi Jinping and read the series of his important speeches, and implement his ‘Four Comprehensives’; Tibet should adhere to the directions of the Party's leadership, follow the rule of law and work for the cohesion of the people of different nationalities …by keeping in mind Chinese characteristics ...as well as the characteristics of Tibet's development path.
When the ‘Tibetan’ delegates gave their views, Zhang Gaoli listened and took notes; from time to time, he interrupted the speaker to inquire about the situation in Tibet.
The atmosphere was very warm, commented Xinhua.
It has to be!
Interestingly, among the 20 ‘Tibetan’ delegate (on a house of 2,900 members), only 15 are Tibetans or belonging to ‘border’ tribes (memba and lopa).
Apart from Chen Quanguo, the TAR Party Secretary and Wu Yingjie, his deputy, 3 Han have been nominated to keep a check on the Tibetans.
One is Wang Huning, Xi’s closest collaborator and member of the Politburo; another one is Prof Ding Zhongli from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (probably keeping an eye on the environment of the plateau).
The last ‘Tibetan’ Han delegate is (was) Chang Xiaobing, till December 2015 the Chairman of China Telecom, who is now ‘investigated’ by the sleuths of Wang Qishan. He was obviously not seen on the pictures, as he is probably in jail.
Wang Huning too did not appear during the deliberations (at least on the published pictures).
Where was Xi Jinping?
According to The China Daily, the Chinese president joined a panel discussion with the delegates from Qinghai province.
He spoke at length about the environment of the Tibetan plateau, particularly about the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve (or the Three Rivers Nature Reserve); it is where the headwaters of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, and the Mekong River are located.
Xi said that protecting the fragile ecology there is of utmost importance.
He told the local government officials that it was their duty to protect the ecological environment on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, especially in the Sanjiangyuan area: "The ecological environment has irreplaceable value. We should treat it as our lifeline and protect it like the apple of our eye.”
According to Xinhua, President Xi urged the officials to try hard to lift people out of poverty and maintain ethnic unity (Tibetans and Hui constitute at least half the population of Qinghai.
Sanjiangyuan is said to be one of the world's most biologically diverse nature reserves, the area is home to more than 2,200 types of wild plants, 85 animal species and over 230 kinds of birds, explained the Chinese news agency: “However, since the late 20th century, the source lakes have shrunk as a result of environmental damage caused by human activities and overgrazing.”
In December, the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, headed by Xi, passed a bill to launch a national park in Sanjiangyuan, highlighting the area's significance as a national focus for environmental protection.
Xi told the lawmakers that the ecological system of the plateau is fragile and glaciers, lakes, rivers and wetlands should be protected to guarantee that ‘rivers of clean water run eastward’.
Is the Chinese President really aware of the importance of the plateau for Mainland China?
Only Beijing's actions will tell!
Luo Huining, Qinghai’ Part boss and also a member of the NPC, affirmed that Sanjiangyuan is the most sensitive place for global climate change and the ecology there is related to the water safety of China and the rest of Asia.
More controversial is the decision of the Qinghai government to relocate 60,000 residents (read 'nomads') from the national park area ‘for ecological restoration’.
Luo asserted: “Our goal of establishing Sanjiangyuan national park is not to boost tourism, but to protect the ecology there."
Can he be believed?
The nomads will the first to pay the price of ‘relocation’.
On the other side of the Himalaya
India is also concerned by the new dams coming up on the Yarlung Tsangpo/Siang/Brahmaputra in Tibet (3 more like the Zangmu dam during the 13th Five-Year Plan).
Though China announced that the projects are “scientifically planned to ensure that there is no impact on water flows to downstream areas “, can Beijing be trusted in the absence of any trans-border treaty or agreement?
Beijing however affirmed that its position is ‘just and legitimate’.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei even told PTI: “There has been good cooperation between China and India on the issue of trans-border rivers for a long time. The Chinese side has overcome many difficulties and provided service such as provision of hydrological data to the Indian side thus playing a positive role".
This is a ritual declaration.
A few comments
1- Where was Gyatsen Norbu, the Chinese Panchen Lama?
He was not seen on any picture though he is a member of the CPPCC National Committee?
Was he indisposed?
2- Why are the Sikyong candidates so uninterested by what is happening in Tibet and China? They do not have anything to say on the seriousness of the situation inside Tibet?
3- Why only 20 delegates for the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
Han chauvinism probably.