Friday, May 17, 2019

‘United Front Work’ is now Xi’s most potent tool

Zhang Yijiong, UFWD Executive Director, Gyaltsen Norbu, Wang Yang,
You Quan, Gyaltsen Norbu's teacher
My article ‘United Front Work’ is now Xi’s most potent tool appeared in Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle.

The consolidation of borders, the selection of the next Dalai Lama or influencing of personalities should concern India.

Here is the link...

Big changes are in offing in China; Beijing has already announced its objective to become the No 1 power in the world by 2049, when the Communist regime will celebrate its hundred years at the helm of the Middle Kingdom.
The ongoing ‘trade war’ with the United States, with President Trump not accepting to see China replacing his own country as the world leader, is a sign of it.
President Xi Jinping is aware that the Communist Party needs new tools, new organization to fulfill its ‘China Dream’; the radical reforms undertaken by the People’s Liberation Army are part of this attempt.
Another organization has recently come into preeminence to help China to attain its goal; it is the United Front Work Department, today the most potent tool in the hand of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Earlier this month, The China Brief of the Jamestown Foundation consecrated an entire issue to this organization. It explained the meaning of United Front Work as: “the process of building a ‘united front’ coalition around the CCP in order to serve the Party’s objectives, subordinating targeted groups both domestically and abroad. United front work is viewed by Party leaders as a crucial component of the CCP’s victory in the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949), and is now central to controlling and utilizing domestic groups that might threaten the CCP’s power, as well as projecting influence abroad.”
UFWD coordinates various vital activities inside the Party and at the periphery of the Party, like the relations with religious and ethnic ‘minorities’ or the overseas Chinese.
For The China Brief: “Without question, united front activities have taken on renewed importance under General Secretary Xi Jinping. …The past four years have seen united front work expand in scope, resourcing and top-level coordination.”
Some of the twelve bureaus of the Department deal with Chinese ‘democratic’ parties, ethnic affairs, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan (Bureau 3), Tibet (Bureau 7), Xinjiang (Bureau 8), overseas Chinese (Bureau 9 & 10) or religious affairs (Bureau 11 & 12). A vast encompassing program!
Note that the last three bureaus have recently been added.
It means that the Department has greatly extended its scope by adding the activities of the Chinese overseas which are now monitored and controlled; conducting external propaganda or ‘influencing’ important foreign personalities.
The Seventh Bureau, the Tibetan Affairs has for decades been one of the most central to the UFWD’s activities.
To give an example, on May 5, Wang Yan, the Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee (CPPCC) and de facto the UFWD supremo, met with Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama in Beijing. After offering a khata (ceremonial scarf), the young Lama considered as a Chinese puppet by the exiled Tibetans, (the ‘real’ Panchen Lama has been under house arrest for the past 24 years, he was kidnapped by the Chinese State at the age of 5), briefed Wang Yang about “his studies and life in recent years.” Norbu is important to China because he is the key for the recognition of a future ‘Chinese’ Dalai Lama.
Wang told the young Lama: “The Panchen Lama, as a leader of Tibetan Buddhism, shoulders a great responsibility of leading Tibetan Buddhism in the right direction, and safeguarding the unification of the motherland and the ethnic solidarity”. He added that he hoped the Panchen Lama “will take a firm political stand and lead the religious figures and believers in fighting against all separatist elements.”
The Panchen Lama was urged to take the lead in interpreting religious doctrines in order to adapt them to socialism; in other words Tibetan Buddhism with Communist characteristics.
The Panchen Lama agreed to safeguard “the unification of the motherland, ethnic solidarity, social stability, and religious harmony.” He also promised that he will always remember the CCP leaders’ instructions.
You Quan, the powerful director of the UFDW was present when Wang Yang checked on the Chinese Panchen Lama.
A couple of days later, You went on a four-day inspection cum research tour in the restive Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), which has been in the news in recent months, after the information leaked that more than one million local Uyghurs are kept in captivity …to be reeducated.
According to Xinhua news agency, You called on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) and urged the corps “to maintain stability in and garrison the country's border areas.”
Speaking highly of the achievements of the Corps, You asked the participants “to further understand and grasp the responsibilities and missions of the corps in the new era and improve their emergency system in maintaining stability.”
The XPCC is an autonomous economic and paramilitary organization with administrative authority over large areas in Xinjiang; it fulfills governmental functions such as healthcare and education, but more importantly, it looks after Xinjiang’s borders. Founded by Wang Zhen, one of the CCP’s Eight Elders in 1954, the XPCC’s goals are “to develop frontier regions, promote economic development, ensure social stability and ethnic harmony, and consolidate border defense.”
Border with whom? First and foremost India, but also the Central Asian republics whose stability will make the Belt and Road Initiative, dear to President Xi a success …or a failure.
You Quan spoke highly of the Corps’ achievements; he asked the Corps to mobilize cadres and common people “to develop, construct and stabilize southern Xinjiang;” we know what it means for the Uyghur population.
As mentioned earlier, the UFWD has recently gone through a major reorganization; three new bureaus were created: “The new bureaus reflect the UFWD’s absorption of two State Council agencies responsible for overseas Chinese and religious affairs—the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO) and the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA)”, noted The China Brief; in the meantime, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, an essential government organ, has been placed under the UFWD.
The new Tenth Bureau, known as the Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau has the responsibility for educational and cultural affairs, the media as well as the Chinese living abroad. This includes managing China’s official international media network, China News Service, which in turn, influences foreign organizations and individuals around the world, while promoting Chinese language via organizations such the Confucius Institutes.
Another important responsibility of the UFWD is to prepare the reunification with Taiwan. On May 12, Wang Yang sent a message to the fourth annual conference of media organizations from China and Taiwan, a pro-Mainland group. Wang warned Taiwan that the United States will not be able to preserve Taiwan's security and that time is on China's side: “Taiwanese authorities cannot even guarantee what will happen two years from now. Therefore, we are confident in saying that both time and momentum are on our side, the side of mainland China,” he said.
He heavily criticized those "placing their bets on the Americans" in Taiwan: “The Americans] are just using Taiwan as a pawn. Will they go to war with China for Taiwan? I'm guessing they won't. If we really go to war, will the Americans win? I'm guessing not," Wang hammered.
The UFWD is also used to ‘influence’ intellectuals, journalists, academics or deciders abroad. The consolidation of the borders, the selection of the next Dalai Lama or influencing of personalities should concern India; hopefully Delhi is carefully watching these new developments.

Wang Yang visiting an exhibition for the 60th anniversary of the so-called Democratic Reforms in Tibet.
Wu Yingjie, Gen Zhao Zongqi, Gen Xu Yong (behind), Lepchog visiting a similar exhibition in Lhasa

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