Friday, July 27, 2018

Li Keqiang on The Roof of the World

Two big news today.
First, Premier Li Keqiang made an ‘inspection tour’ in Tibet.
And then Lt Gen Lui Xiaowu, a Deputy Commander of the Western Theater Command, who was recently in India, would have been put under ‘investigation’.
If confirmed, it is a serious news.

Li Keqian on The Roof of the World
China Tibet Online reported that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Southern Tibet on July 25. Apparently Li went directly to Nyingchi (Nyingtri) prefecture (City) bordering Arunachal Pradesh. He visited a village (Shiga village) in Mailing County in Nyingchi City; it is a new village inhabited by Monpas. According to the press release, the inhabitants of this ‘Monpa’ village have been relocated from 'impoverished areas'.
The ‘impoverished’ region is located next door is Metok Dzong (County).

Poverty alleviation
The Premier went to the new house of a Tibetan named Kunsang.
He sat with the ‘migrant’ family and talked to the six members of the household about their daily life.
He would have asked:
What is the main source of income?
How much could you make in a year?
What about your health care and children’s education?
What kind of difficulties do you still have now?
It is said that the Premier Li listened patiently.
Kunsang told Li that his family moved from Metok County, where “road travel is fairly difficult”.
This is rather surprising considering that since 2013, when a tunnel was opened, the Chinese propaganda has been insisting on the ‘changes’ in Metok, principally mentioning better communications. Read my post, Metok and the Tourist Boom
The question is why to move people to a nearby County, if the situation had improved so much in the first place?
Kunsang explained to the Premier that his family has now an income of 150,000 yuan a year (US $ 2,400), thanks to farming and tourism. Further, the State “ensured health care service and children’s education program.”
We are told that there are a total of 72 households in the new village and 90% of families have similar income.
Li was said to have been really pleased “to see that the villagers have cast off poverty, though the relocation program and lived a prosperous life.”
The Premier wished the family an even more prosperous life in the future.
It is difficult to understand why this family was shifted from Metok to Mainling County.
Were they creating problems for the Chinese government in Metok, near the Indian border?
It is possible.
Metok, like several other places on the border (Yumed, Tsona, Lepo, Marmang, Rima, etc) has been the focus of very generous investments from the Central Government, the local government as well as different Provincial Governments.
So, it is doubtful if ‘poverty alleviation’ is the only reason.

Li Keqiang spoke to Kunsang’s daughter, the six-year-old Yeshe Drolma, and asked her if she was going to going to school.
The answer was obvious as the Party would have not selected an 'illiterate' family to receive the Premier.
The little Yeshe Drolma, dressed in Monpa costume, said that she was in the senior class of the kindergarten.
Li asked her to write a few words (all this must have been scripted in detail before).
Yeshe wrote her name both in Chinese and Tibetan on a paper and showed it to Li who said, “Wish you could learn hard and grow to be as intelligent and beautiful as your name says”.
According to the Chinese website Yeshe Drolma means ‘Intelligent Fairy’.
In fact, Drolma is Tara, the Mother of the Tibetans.

Reallocation of restive populations
This ‘reallocation’ of population reminded me an article published on July 6 in The People's Daily.
It speaks of the situation in Xinjiang and said that Beijing has relocated “461,000 poverty-ridden residents to work in other parts of the region during the first quarter of the year.”
An ‘expert’ explained to the mouthpiece of the Party that it is a bid to ‘improve social stability and alleviate poverty’. The report asserted that the Xinjiang government planned to further transfer 100,000 residents from southern Hotan and Kashgar prefectures by 2019, to get employed somewhere else.
Yu Shaoxiang, another ‘expert’ at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, admitted to The Global Times: “poverty alleviation in Xinjiang is more difficult compared to other places because, aside from poverty, Xinjiang also faces ethnic issues.”
Yu further commented: “Organizing people to work away from home would help them better integrate with the rest of China, and take their advanced skills back to Xinjiang later. The relocation also helps maintain regional security.”
Xinhua News Agency said that in 2017, ‘occupational education programs’ covered 1.26 million people in Kashgar and Hotan, where 47,000 poor people found jobs while 317,400 individuals and 331 villages were lifted out of poverty. It is obviously a pretext in an area which is the hub the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It is clear that reallocation is linked with ‘ethnic issue’.
It is rather worrying knowing that the visit of the Premier to Tibet takes place just before the yearly summer retreat of the Party’s top bosses in Beidaihe, which is always the occasion to discuss ‘new’ policies.
Will reallocation of Tibetans withing Tibet from border areas be discussed?
A new Chen's Policy adapted to Tibet?
There is no doubt that the Mainling Country is less strategic than the Metok area, though Bayi, the PLA garrison is not located far away (it is the neighbouring County in Nyingchi).

A remark
It is usually the Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (Yu Zhengsheng and now Wang Yang) who is responsible for 'looking after' Tibet. 
The head of the United Front Work Department (Sun Chunlan for example) also regularly 'inspects' the Roof of the World.
It is usually not the job/responsibility of the Chinese Premier to look into Tibet affairs.
One more reason why this visit is very special. 

First visit of a Premier
Another consideration, Li Keqiang, No 2 in the all-powerful in the Standing Committee of the Politburo, is the seventh Premier of China.
Before him, Zhou Enlai (1949–1976), Hua Guofeng (1976–1980), Zhao Ziyang (1980–1988), Li Peng (1988–1998), Zhu Rongji (1998–2003) and Wen Jiabao (2003–2013), served as Premiers.
None of them visited Tibet.
Why to send the Premier if there was not something big cooking?
We will have to wait a few days (or months) to know more.
The other 'important' visit to Tibet were:
But relocations of recalcitrant Tibetans would be dreadful scheme and not a good signed for the health of the People’s Republic, which appears more and more nervous.

A few questions
  • Since when is the Chinese Premier looking after Tibetan affairs?
  • Will Li meet the Chinese Panchen Lama Gyatsen Norbu while in Tibet?
  • Will he visit Bayi, the Chinese garrison in Nyingchi City and meet the border troops?
  • Will he visits other Prefectures/Cities in the Autonomous Region?
(Gen Liu with the Vice-Chief of the Indian Army)
Gen Lui Xiaowu
The second news is that according to The Epoch Times, Lt Gen Lui Xiaowu, who headed a PLA delegation in India earlier this month, would be under investigation.
To be followed…

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