Thursday, December 31, 2020

Let the staff go along with the flag; the typewriters can follow later

KC Johorey with Prime Minister in Yatung (September 1958)
This morning, one of the pioneers of the Indian Frontier Administrative Service (IFAS) passed away.
It perhaps marks the end of an era.
KC Johorey, who later joined the IAS and became Chief Secretary in Goa, was one of the first to join the IFAS in 1954.
He started his career in the Indian Army (Corps of Engineers), but one day, he decided to jump into the newly-created IFAS. It was quite an adventure.
In an interview, he remembered that Prime Minister Nehru personally briefed the officers who had been selected to administer India’s frontiers: “The staff must go along with the flag and the typewriters can follow later on. That is it, physically and literally,” recalled Johorey, who provided some details about the first days of the Service: “We had all met in Delhi [the first batch of 14 officers] and received some training there.” 

Then, the batch proceeded to Shillong where they were briefed by the Governor, the Chief Minister of Assam and various Heads of the Department: “We learnt the law and the local trait of each tribe; not that we learnt their languages in 14 days.” And that was it. 

They were then ordered to join duty in their respective posts. Johorey and his colleagues, Captain U. Chakma and Lt Col Rashid Yusuf Ali (the senior-most of the three) had no alternative, but to take their assignment by air: “We landed at Rowria airfield in Jorhat [Assam] and we waited. We could not walk to Along [today Aalo], there were no roads. The Brahmaputra River had eroded the banks and damaged all the approaches. There was no bridge on the Brahmaputra at that time and you could not even go by ferry boat to Pasighat,” he recalled. 

He elaborated: “Along had a very small hastily levelled air-strip. So, we waited in Jorhat for 14 days. Every day we used to go to the airfield, wait for the dense clouds to disappear and come back [due to bad weather]. This happened for 14 days. One fine morning, the dashing pilot of the Indian Air Force told us: ‘Let us board and take off quickly for Along’. "

Yusuf Ali, U. Chakma and Johorey had been given the charge to ‘administrate’ the Siang Frontier Division with Along as a base. Later, a doctor was appointed and joined the 3 officers. Johorey liked to evoke his first days in Siang: there were two houses, one for the burra sahib, and behind another smaller hut: “The houses were really huts made of bamboos, palm leaves and canes. Even the tables and the beds were of bamboos. There were no mattresses, no electricity and no furniture. The houses were very clean and airy. That was all,” says Johorey. 

As for the food, they depended on the airdrop; the small airfield was used as a Dropping Zone. It is how the IFAS started. All the IFAS officers interviewed by me, like Johorey or Brigadier (Justice) DM Sen, the first Judge Advocate General of India, who lived till 100 years, had fond memories of their days in NEFA; they all had similar stories to tell. Earlier, officers had been headquartered in Dibrugarh or Pasighat and they only occasionally visited Along (not to speak of the more remote parts of the Siang Frontier Division today under Upper Siang, and West Siang districts of Arunachal).  

Pasighat was then a five-day journey by mule track: “Usually we arrived on the fifth or sixth day”, said Johorey, who added: “we kept on meeting the people to know their problems, aspirations and expectations.” After a couple of weeks, having ‘comfortably’ settled at the ‘headquarters’, they started travelling to remote villages: “Some of the villages were very new and no administration had ever gone there. They had never seen a coin. They had no medicines.”  

Indian Trade Agency in Yatung
The new administrators had a small protective escort of the Assam Rifles; in each NEFA district headquarters, the paramilitary force, then under the Ministry of External Affairs, had the responsibility to guard the government treasuries.  Johorey went on with his fascinating narration: “We continued travelling and meeting people. They used to come with their personal problems and legal cases including land disputes. [For example] somebody had violated the tribal code which had the sanctity of law or violated the rules; and there were simple cases. Then, there was the distribution of salt.” Earlier the tribal population had to walk for weeks to reach Tibet to get salt; sometimes, tribals visited plains of Assam to barter goods. Such were the early days of the IFAS. 

 At the end of the 1950s, KC Johorey was posted as Indian Trade Agent in Yatung. It had the privilege to receive the Prime Minister when the latter crossed over the Chumbi Valley on his way to Bhutan. Nehru spent two nights in the Indian Residence in Yatung.
I have earlier mentioned Nehru's visit to Tibet on this blog.

Short Biodata
Maj KC Johorey, Indian Army, IFAS and IAS, was born on 14th May, 1927.
He completed his education from Allahabad University during the year 1944-47.  On completion of  his academic education he joined Indian Army on September 12, 1948 and he served till January, 1954. During his service in Indian Army, Maj Johorey went through various Training and Courses at different institutes:
-   Indian Military Academy, Dehradun - 1947-48
-   College of Military Engineering,  Pune - 1949-52,
-   Infantry School Mhow
-   Intelligence Training School Mhow,
KC Johorey later had served Government of India in the IFAS and IAS :
He was with the Indian Frontier Administrative from Jan 1954 to 1962 as Assistant Political Officer, Sub- Divisional Magistrate, Political Officer/District Magistrate /Deputy Commissioner in Along, Pasighat, Khonsa and Bomdila.
He was later posted as India Trade Agent (ITA) in Yatung and acting ITA in Gyantse, Tibet; First Secretary, Embassy of India in Afghanistan; Counsellor (Political) & Financial Adviser, Political Officer in Sikkim & Bhutan in Gangtok.
Later, he joined the Indian Administrative Service in the AGMUT Cadre. 

He served as Director (Backward Classes  Welfare), Central Zone, Min of Planning & Social Welfare , Commissioner (Food & Civil Supplies); Secretary, Administrative Reforms, Department of Health & Family Planning. & Administration; Financial Commissioner in Delhi administration.
He retired as Chief Secretary, Goa.
His bio says: “KC Johorey served in some of the most sensitive areas in delicate and difficult assignments  at critical periods like the opening of administration in erstwhile NEFA since 1954, Chinese aggression (while he was posted at Bomdila) and Indo-Pak conflict of 1965 (during my tenure in Afghanistan). His service record during the period of emergency in India has been remarkable. During his brief tenure as Financial Commissioner of Delhi Administration he had delivered over a thousand judgments in cases arising out of appeals from various Courts of Collector.”
KC Johorey was a recipient of Padma Shri.
He has written his memoirs "India Pre and Post-Independence,: Indo-China War and Beyond" published by Pentagon Press.  

Johorey was also a great mountaineer, in 1953, he participated in the climb of the  Nun Kun. 

A book Abode of Snow - A History 0f Himalayan Exploration and Mountaineering by Kenneth Mason, 1955, says:

Nun was eventually climbed  in 1953 by a  French party led by Bernard Pierre. They travelled by Jammu and Kishtwar and pitched their base in the upper Fariabad valley. The party comprised Bernard Pierre,  Michel  Desorbay, J. Gudernin, Madame  Claude  Kogan, Pierre Vittos (a Swiss missionary working in Ladakh), and two Indian officers, Flight Lieutenant Nalni D. Jayal and Captain KC Johorey. They had with them six Sherpas, led by Ang Tharkay. Three camps at 18,000, 19,800, and 21,400 feet were placed on the west ridge of Nun. The assault party, comprising Madame Kogan and Vittos on one rope, and Bemard Pierre with the Sherpa Pemba Nurbu (No. I 50) on another left Camp 111 at 21,400 feet at 7.30 a.m. on 28 August. During the ascent Bemard Pierre had to give up, but Madame Kogan and  Pierre Vittos reached  the summit at three o'clock. The three highest summits of the massif have now all been climbed : Pinnacle Peak (22,810) by the Workmans in 1906, Kun (23,250) by Calciati in 1914, and Nun (23,410) by this party in 1953.

In homage to KC Johorey, I reproduced an article several years ago on the Indian Frontier Administrative Service.

My article Romance of Hostile Borders appeared in the Opinion Page of the The Statesman.

Here is the link...

Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said once: “Nothing is so gentle as man in his primitive state, when placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes and the fatal enlightenment of civil man.”
Jawaharlal Nehru too was a romantic; he wrote thus about the inhabitants of the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA): “I am not at all sure which is the better way of living, the tribal or our own. In some respects I am quite certain theirs is better. Therefore, it is grossly presumptuous on our part to approach them with an air of superiority, to tell them how to behave or what to do and what not to do. There is no point in trying to make of them a second-rate copy of ourselves.”
Though constitutionally a part of Assam, in the 1950s, the NEFA was administered by the Ministry of External Affairs, with the Governor of Assam, acting as agent to the President of India, seconded by a senior officer (often from the ICS), designated as Advisor to the Governor.
In 1955, Dr. Verrier Elwin, the famous British anthropologist who had just taken Indian citizenship, joined as Adviser for Tribal Affairs; Verrier’s concept of the development of these areas was expounded in his celebrated book, The Philosophy of NEFA.
In his Foreword to the book, which became the Bible of the officers serving in the NEFA, Nehru asserted that he “began to doubt how far the normal idea of progress was beneficial for these people and, indeed, whether this was progress at all in any real sense of the word.”
Sixty years later, one realizes that this romantic view of the border population amounted to the segregation of a large chunk of the Indian population.
It has been the tragedy of the North-East, particularly Arunachal Pradesh.
With the invasion of Tibet at the end of 1950, followed 9 years later by the Tibetan uprising in Lhasa and the consequent flight of the Dalai Lama to India, the relations between the border populations and Tibet were discontinued, while Delhi’s romantic policies led to their neglect.
Verrier Elwin and Nehru could only see the anthropological side of the problem, forgetting the strategic as well the economic aspects of the border development; it resulted in a huge development gap between the frontier areas and the rest of India.
The first Prime Minister took however an excellent initiative: he created a separate cadre for India’s frontiers, namely NEFA, Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan.
On April 4, 1952, Nehru wrote to Jairamdas Doulatram, the Governor of Assam, mentioning the need a ‘special’ cadre for the border areas.
A few weeks later, the Prime Minister Nehru told the Foreign Secretary: “These primitive people especially have to be dealt with care and friendliness and require expert knowledge which our average administrator does not possess. Hence the necessity for a specially trained cadre.”
The idea of a separate cadre was not appreciated by all. First the Assamese realized that the move to have a special cadre would further separate the NEFA from Assam.
Finally in 1954, the first batch of officers was posted on the frontiers and two years later, the ‘special cadre’ was officialized.
These officers were at first drawn from All-India services such as the ICS or IPS; others had served in the Army earlier.
The initial recruitment to the Indian Frontier Administrative Service (IFAS) was made by the Central Government through a Special Selection Board with representatives from the MEA, the MHA and the MoD, along with an expert in tribal affairs (often Verrier Elwin).
K.C. Johorey who later became Chief Secretary in Goa was one of the first pioneers who joined the IFAS. He still remembers what Nehru told his batch: “The staff must go along with the flag and the typewriters can follow later on.”
Johorey recalls his first posting in Along in the Siang Frontier Division: “There were two houses, one for the burra sahib [for Yusuf Ali, his boss], and behind another smaller hut. The houses were really huts made of bamboos, palm leaves and canes. Even the tables and the beds were of bamboos. There were no mattresses, no electricity and no furniture. The houses were very clean and airy. That was all,” says Johorey.
One of the most famous members of the IFAS is Maj. Ranenglao ‘Bob’ Khathing who single-handedly brought Tawang under Indian administration in February 1951.
Another officer Maj. S.M. Krishnatri has left an extraordinary account of his ‘tour’ report in what is today the Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal. Krishnatry and his wife Geeta provide a detailed description of their adventures. Krishnatry who had earlier been posted in Tibet for 7 years, explains how his expedition was different from the British’s: “Most exploratory expeditions in the tribal frontiers have been armed or armoured with heavy escorts much to the cost and suppression of human rights, occupation of their lands, burning of villages, molestation of women, looting of livestock, crops and banning of trade.”
Geeta Krishnatry religiously took notes of her encounter with the villagers on the way to the border, entering in her diary every detail of their perilous tour. It is a most remarkable anthropological and strategic document.
The former officer of the Maratha Light Infantry officer explains: “I felt that a woman was a more secure safeguard against tribal onslaught, while Geeta was firm she would rather trust peace with tribals than with armed escort in our company.”
Another remarkable IFAS officer is Col. Rashid Yusuf Ali who is today 92 year-old and lives in Shillong (Meghalaya); he has lived an extraordinary life. His father, Abdullah Yusuf Ali was a reputed Islamic scholar of Indian origin who translated the Qur'an into English. Abdullah married an English woman. Their young son studied in England, Greek and Latin amongst other subjects.
In 1941, Rashid was commissioned in the Indian Army, and fought for the British in Burma. Like several other frontier officers, he resigned from the Army to join the newly-created ‘frontier’ service. He believes that what characterized IFAS officers, was their long tours; they used to walk over long distances (sometimes for weeks) to visit remote villages near the Indo-Tibet border. Ali, a Christian, also remembers walking with his wife from the plains of Assam to Sepla (today’s Seppa, in East Kameng district).
Ali is modest when he says the IFAS officers had not much work to do; he thus explains why on their return from the annual tours, they used to write long and delightful reports, very much enjoyed by the Prime Minister.
These officers, like Brigadier (Justice) D.M. Sen, the first Judge Advocate General of India, who is now 100 years old, have still fond memories of their days in NEFA.
But when one looks at the events before the 1962 war, one realizes that ‘the philosophy of NEFA’, though based on genuine human concerns, did not take into consideration the military and strategic aspects the region.
After all, Dr. Verrier Elwin, the guru of the NEFA, was an anthropologist, and it was certainly not his task to consider other aspects of the border areas. After 1962, Nehru probably greatly regretted to have neglected the preparation of the border defence for a romantic preservation of the ‘tribal life’.
It is sad that the IFAS, an adhoc creation by the Prime Minister, was dissolved in the mid-1960s and the intrepid IFAS officers were ‘merged’ into the more boring IFS, IAS or IPS. The fact remains that these officers who decided to sacrifice their careers to join the IFAS were all remarkable personalities, and even though the cadre does not exist anymore, these individuals should be role models for young IAS/IPS officers.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

An 'Ethnic' Face in the Chinese Government

Cui Yuying: on her way to Lhasa?

The post below was written in 2015.
Since then, Cui Yuying was appointed Chairperson and Party Secretary of the Fujian Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
According to The Tibetan Journal in January 2018: "A woman politician of Tibetan origin has been appointed for the first time to the post of Secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC) for the province of Fujian [not Party Secretary of Fujian, but CPPCC's Party Secretary] , a state of economic significance for China. This appointment marked the first minority ethnic woman to be appointed to such an inner sanctum of political decision making."

It is indeed a big job, though not really a 'decision making' one but Fujian is an important province for future promotion.
If it is confirmed that Lobsang Gyatsen is out of the way, Cui could be transferred back to Tibet in   the near future; she served there till 2011.

My 2015 post
Madam Cui Yuying is one of the few ‘ethnic’ Tibetans who today serves in a high position in Communist Party of China.
Born in 1958 in Changle County of Shandong Province, she joined the Communist Party in 1980, and graduated from Tibet Agricultural and Animal Husbandry College with a Bachelor Degree in 1982.
After occupying different junior posts in Tibet (see Cui’s CV at the end of this post), she served as the Director in the Publicity Department of CPC’s Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee from 2006 to 2011.
In December 2011, she was transferred as Deputy Director of the Central Office for Overseas Publicity in Beijing; from 2012 to 2015, she became Deputy Director of the Information Office of the State Council.
In February this year, she took a new important assignment as Deputy Director of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, a ministerial level post.
Soon after getting her new job, Xinhua reported that Cui Yuying went to Mexico. 

The news agency commented: “The public has been noticing the increase in the ratio of high-level female officials in China’s central government departments.”
“With the present promotion, Cui became the sole vice minister of minority groups in her department, the Central Committee Publicity Department,” says Xinhua.
The Beijing Youth Daily noted that there were at least 15 minister-ranking female officials among the 25 ministries directly run by the State Council. The number of female ministry-level officials is the highest in the Ministry of Education and the National Health and Family Planning Commission (each has three female high-level officials).
I earlier mentioned on this blog, the name of Sun Chunlan, Tianjin's former Party Secretary and now member of the Politburo; she recently replaced the disgraced Ling Jihua, as Director of the United Front Work Department (responsible for the Tibetan affairs, amongst others things).
Cui Yuying is however in a special position, being a woman and from an 'ethnic' background.
Xinhua explains that, with the founding of the ‘New China’ in 1949, “came the proclamation that China's female populace will be given equal rights as men in all aspects -- economic, cultural, social and political -- hence, the large probabilities of such increase in the number of high-rank female government officials.”
This was never done. The 1949 resolution sounded promising, but 'ethnic' officials and female cadres rarely made it to the top in Communist China.
And as mentioned in my post on the ‘ethnic officers in the PLA’, when they made it, the Tibetans or Uyghurs never used their position to be a bridge between the ‘ethnic’ populations and the Mandarins in Beijing.
Note that a Mongol, Yang Jing is a member of the powerful Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, while Nur Bebri, a former Deputy Secretary of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is now Director of the National Energy Administration and Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission. [Bekri has since then be jailed for corruption].

Cui Yuying in action
 In May 2013, Bhuchung K. Tsering of International Campaign for Tibet mentioned that during an encounter with some visiting Indian and Nepali journalists in Lhasa, Cui told them: “Foreign media might have been spreading rumors that Tibetan people want repatriation of Dalai Lama. But this is not the situation. Our investigation has shown that Tibetans do not want to see Dalai Lama coming back.”
That is obviously why she has been posted in the Ministry of Propaganda/Information.
Beijing believes that if a ‘Tibetan face’ says this, it sounds truer.
As Bhuchung Tsering explained: “Leaving aside the issue of politics, it is not rocket science to get an idea of the aspirations of the Tibetan people vis-à-vis the Dalai Lama. The historical and spiritual bond between the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people go beyond the birth of the People’s Republic of China. …the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people are inseparable, to those who understand Tibetan culture and tradition.”
Bhuchung Tsering further argued: “Despite China’s claims that the Tibetan people enjoy religious freedom, the Chinese authorities have virtually banned the Tibetans from displaying portraits of the Dalai Lama in their houses, as is the Tibetan spiritual tradition.”
His conclusions speak of “the tunnel vision and the shortsightedness by which the Chinese authorities have framed their Tibet policy so far,” he added: “Rather than looking at this Tibetan tradition positively and finding ways to respect it, the Chinese authorities have chosen to project the Dalai Lama as an adversary.”
Last year (in 2014), Madam Cui opened the infamous ‘2014 Forum on the Development of Tibet, China’, organized in Lhasa with a few foreign fans of the Communist Party of China.
The ‘2014 Forum’ was jointly organized by the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China (The Cabinet) and the so-called People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region. The official ‘invitees’ had no choice, but to agree to the terms dictated by the Party in Beijing. One can’t bite the hand which feeds you!
Cui Yuying, while inaugurating the ‘Forum’, used the old argument that only Beijing wants modernity for Tibet. The same argument was used in the 1950s, when Mao and his colleagues pretended that the Dalai Lama did not want ‘reforms’ and therefore Tibet needed to be ‘liberated’.
Cui insisted that for 'some' (read, the Dalai Lama): “Tibet should remain primitive and any development of the region equals the annihilation of Tibetan culture and the region's environment.” She added: “To their understanding, Tibetans should always ride yaks and live in tents.”
According to Xinhua, during the two days, representatives, including scholars, journalists, politicians and entrepreneurs, “voiced their understanding of Tibet's development”.
Like for the PLA ‘ethnic’ officers, the presence of Party cadres in the State Council does not help much to find a solution to the Tibetan issue, on the contrary!
That is a pity!

Cui Yuying wearing a Tibetan dress during a visit to Germany

Here is Cui Yuying’s CV

Cui Yuying 崔 玉英
Presently: Deputy Director of the CPC Central Committee's Publicity Department
Born: 1958
Birthplace: Shandong Province, Changle County
  • 2018.01—Chairperson of the Fujian Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)  and Secretary of the Party Leadership Group
  • Representatives of the 17th and 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. 
  • On January 29, 2018, the first meeting of the 12th Fujian Provincial Committee of the CPPCC elected Cui Yuying as the chairperson of the Fujian Provincial CPPCC. 
  • 2011.12—2014.04, Deputy Director of the External Propaganda Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Deputy Director of the Information Office of the State Council 
  • 2014.04-2015.01, member of the Ministry of Propaganda Department of the CPC Central Committee, deputy director of the State Council Information Office 
  • 2015.01—2018.01, Deputy Director of the Propaganda Department of the CPC Central Committee, Deputy Director of the Information Office of the State Council 
  • 2006—2011 Director, CPC, Autonomous Regional Committee, Publicity Department Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 2002—2006 Vice-Chairman, Autonomous Region People's Government Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 2002—2004 Student, CPC, Central Committee, Central Party School (Active-on-Duty)
  • 1999—2000 Secretary, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch CPC, Party Committee Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1999—2002 General Manager, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1997—1999 Deputy Secretary, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch CPC, Party Committee Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1996—1997 Deputy Secretary, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch CPC, Leading Party Group Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1996—1999 Deputy General Manager, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1995—1996 Director, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch, Vehicle Insurance Division Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1992—1995 Assistant Director, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch, Business Division Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1987—1992 Staff Member, People's Insurance Company of China, Tibet Branch, Business Division Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1986—1987 Cadre, Economic Committee Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1982—1985 Teacher, Tibet Agricultural and Animal Husbandry College Tibet Autonomous Region
  • 1978—1982 Student, Tibet Agricultural and Animal Husbandry College Tibet Autonomous Region

Monday, December 28, 2020

Where is Lobsang Gyaltsen?

Lobsang Gyaltsen (right) with Che Dalha

The Ninth Plenary Session of the Ninth Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of the Communist Party of China and the Economic Work Conference of the District Party Committee were held in Lhasa from December 25th to 27th.
The Chinese media mentioned the importance of the conference held ‘at a historic moment’ when the 13th Five-Year Plan ended ‘successfully’ (with hundreds of new villages on India’s borders, among other achievements!!).
Xinhua added: “The building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects was achieved, and the new journey for the comprehensive construction of a socialist modern Tibet, which is about to begin, is self-evident.”
A communiqué spoke of 2020 as ‘extraordinary year’ for the TAR which made “every effort to control the epidemic and resume work and production. It is expected that the annual growth rate of regional GDP will remain the first in the country [read China]. In the post-epidemic era, [the question is] how should Tibet’s economic work will coordinate epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development?”
Some official websites recently spoke of 30 or 40 million tourists on the plateau in 2020 when the rest of the planet remains confined or semi-confined!
During the meeting, Wu Yingjie, secretary of the TAR Party Committee, said that “after careful consideration and careful research, the main expected goals for the economic and social development of the TAR in 2020 are: economic growth at more than 9%, per capita disposable income for urban and rural residents at 10% and 13% respectively. And the urban survey unemployment rate remains at 5.5%, while the consumer price rises at around 3%.”

Happiness Index?
Wu concluded that “Tibet needs to build a new development pattern and expand the industries needed in the Region, so as to provide strong support for farmers and herdsmen to continue to increase their income and improve their happiness index.”
Yes, happiness index!

Remarks of Che Dalha
Che Dalha, deputy secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of the TAR government, noted that “the expected economic growth target of 2021 is over 9%. The main consideration is the GDP growth rate of Tibet in the first four years of the 13th Five-Year Plan reached 9.3%, which is 2.6 higher than the national average.”
Che pointed out that the fixed asset investment of the entire society will increase by more than 5% while investment will be more than 60 billion yuan: “The TAR has set-up a strong epidemic prevention and control, and tourism is expected to rebound significantly in 2021; the current consumption rebound is obvious... Many factors cooperate with each other to form a strong impetus and drive at a 9% economic growth rate.”
The Head of the Government concluded that that the TAR “must do a good job in innovative development, coordinated development, green development, open development, shared development, and safe development."
He stated: "It is therefore necessary to continue building the seven major industries of plateau: biology, cultural tourism, clean energy, green industry, modern services, high-tech digital, border trade and logistics, and ensure that the output of highland barley is stable at 800,000 tons, and the output of meat, eggs, milk, and vegetables are also stable.”
Incidentally, he spoke about the upgrade the G219 highway cutting across the Aksai Chin in Northern Ladakh (of course, he did not mention this); but he said that it will be a channel to promote the development of rural tourism (in Western Tibet and Xinjiang!).
He finally mentioned the implementation of the ‘two-mountain theory’, i.e. strengthening ecological environment protection, and ensuring that the percentage of days with good ambient air quality remains above 98%. 

Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie

Incidentally, the gathering was attended by Lt gen Zhang Xuejie, the Political Commissar of the Tibet Military District (and member of the TAR Party Committee) and Lt Gen Wang Haijiang, Commander of the Tibet Military Region. 

Where was Lobsang Gyaltsen?
This was indeed an important gathering, but the real news was not about the Happiness Index, it was about the absence of Lobsang Gyaltsen, the Chairman/Director of the TAR Regional Congress and senior most Tibetan cadre (he is a full member of the all-powerful Central Committee). 

Gyasltsen was nowhere to be seen.
It is too early to speculate, but that there not many explanations as of now; either he caught a bad cold or more (the delegates were seen respecting social distancing during the Plenum, with only alternate chairs occupied by the participants) or Lobsang Gyaltsen is under ‘investigation’.
It would be the senior most Tibetan to go through this discipline process.
In 2015, it was reported that Le Dake, a former top Chinese security official in Tibet had being investigated ‘for suspected graft’. It was announced by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog, then headed by Wang Qishan. Reuters commented that it is “a rare example of corruption busters going into the restive and remote region.”

Nur Bekri, former Governor of Xinjiang
In December 2019, a Chinese court sentenced one of China’s most senior Uygur officials to life in prison for taking bribes. Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court in the northeastern province of Liaoning handed down the sentence to Nur Bekri, a former director of the National Energy Administration and ordered the confiscation of all of his personal properties. According to Xinhua, Bekri admitted accepting more than 79 million yuan (US$ 11.2 million) in bribes between 1998 and 2018. He earlier served as Governor of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 

 Who is Lobsang Gyaltsen?
Lobsang Gyaltsen is a Tibetan born in Drayab in Chamdo City in July 1957.
He joined the Communist Party of China in December 1978 and later graduated from the Central Party School.
He is currently a member of the 19th Central Committee, deputy chairman of the Nationality Committee of the 13th National People's Congress, deputy secretary of the Party Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and secretary and director of the Standing Committee of the District People's Congress.

Career resume

•    1976.02-1979.06, teacher of the Department of Medical Affairs and Marxist-Leninist Teaching and Research Section of Tibet Nationalities Institute (TNI)
•    1979.06-1984.05, Deputy Secretary of the Youth League Committee of the TNI
•    1984.05-1986.12, Secretary of the Youth League Committee of the TNI
•    1986.12-1992.11, Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Committee of the Communist Youth League
•    1992.11—1995.06, Deputy Secretary and Administrative Commissioner of the Nagchu District Committee
•    1995.06-1995.09, Deputy Secretary of the Lhasa Municipal Party Committee
•    1995.09-1996.05, Deputy Secretary and Acting Mayor of Lhasa Municipal Committee
•    1996.05-2003.01, Deputy Secretary and Mayor of Lhasa Municipal Party Committee
•    During this period: 2001.03-2002.02, followed a one-year training course for young and middle-aged cadres at the Central Party School
•    2003.01-2006.10, Vice Chairman of the TAR Government
•    2006.10-2007.01, Member of the Standing Committee of the Party Committee of TAR, Minister of the United Front Work Department, Vice Chairman of the District Government
•    2007.01—2010.05, Member of the Standing Committee of the Party Committee of the TAR and Vice Chairman of the District CPPCC Party Group
•    2010.09-2011.11, Deputy Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee of the TAR
•    2011.11—2012.04, Executive Deputy Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee
•    2013.01-2016.12, Secretary and Chairman of the Party Leadership Group of the District Government
•    2016.12—2017.01 - Chairman of the District Government
•    2017.01—2018.03 - Secretary and Director of the Standing Committee of the District People’s Congress
•    On January 30, 2018, the TAR Eleventh People's Congress elected Lobsang Gyaltsen as the chairman of the Standing Committee of the TAR People's Congress.
•    Alternate members of the 18th Central Committee, members of the Seventh Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, and member of the 19th Central Committee.
•    Member of the 11th CPPCC National Committee.


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Is China building a new front in the Himalayas?

My article Is China building a new front in the Himalayas? appeared a few days ago in The Daily Guardian

Here is the link...

China is apparently planning to build a hydropower project over the Tsangpo river in Tibet —a project which it had previously assured was unlikely to happen. Not only is it another example of the nation being untrustworthy, it is also worrying, given that the river flows into Indian territory as the mighty Brahmaputra and the planned site is a highly seismic zone.

The unthinkable has happened. The Global Times has announced: “China to build historic Yarlung Zangbo (Tsangpo) River hydropower project in Tibet.” The dam or hydropower plant (HPP) around the Great Bend of the river, known as the Siang, which in India is called the Brahmaputra, has been the object of thousands of articles. Most serious analysts concluded that it was not doable, not feasible and would never happen. It has often been associated with the diversion of the river towards the Qinghai province and mainland China as well as the revival of the Yellow river.
Now, it appears that the new emperor has decided to go for it. “China will build a hydropower project on the Yarlung Zangbo river, one of the major waters in Asia that also passes through India and Bangladesh, and the head of the involved company said that the project could serve to maintain water resources and domestic security,” wrote the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China.
The project would be part of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and China’s long-term objectives for 2035. Quoting Yan Zhiyong, chairman of the Power Construction Corp of China, or POWERCHINA, the Global Times noted: “There is no parallel in history… it will be a historic opportunity for the Chinese hydropower industry.”
The announcement has to be seen in the context of the confrontation in Ladakh. Even if the HPP does not come up immediately, it is good Information Warfare (IW) for Beijing “to scare the Indian monkey”.
It is a fact that China had always denied that they would do it. If Beijing does go for it, it would be another example showing that the present regime cannot be trusted.
In November 2006, as President Hu Jintao was leaving India after a state visit, the Chinese Minister for Water Resources, Wang Shucheng, had categorically stated that the proposal of the dam and diversion was “unnecessary, unfeasible and unscientific”. He had added that it had no government backing: “There is no need for such dramatic and unscientific projects.” However, he had admitted, “There may be some retired officials that support the plan, but they’re not the experts advising the government.” Thus, it had not been a point blank denial as the minister had admitted that the project existed on paper. Have the ‘experts’ changed their mind now?
It is necessary to look at the project in more detail.
Yan Zhiyong explained that the hydropower exploitation on the trans-boundary river could provide 300 billion kWh of clean, renewable and zero-carbon electricity annually. The project would play a significant role in realising China’s goal of reaching a carbon emissions peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060, and it could annually generate an income of 20 billion yuan ($3 billion).
Yang added that POWERCHINA already signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Tibetan Autonomous Region government after meeting Party Secretary Wu Yingjie.
The Global Times mentioned that the hydropower plant would have thrice the capacity of the Three Gorges dam (which has an installed capacity of 22,500 Mw), which would mean around 60,000 Mw or 60 Gw.
There is no doubt that China’s dam lobby is pushing hard for the mega plant, forgetting that the area is one of the most highly seismic regions of the planet.
The Times in London reported the August 15, 1950 earthquake—which had its epicentre not far away, in Rima in Tibet, just north of the McMahon Line in the Lohit Valley—saying, “Seismographs the world over one day last fortnight registered an earthquake so violent that the record of its convulsions ran off the paper… Shipping on the lower Brahmaputra River (whose source is in the Himalayas) was dislocated by a tide of tens of thousands of uprooted trees and the bodies of tigers, elephants and other wild life borne down the river from the earthquake area. The waters of the Brahmaputra, blackened with sulphur that the quake had churned up from the earth’s innards, cast up millions of dead and dying fish.”

 The purported HPP would be located in an area known as Pemaokoe, one of the last virgin areas of the world. For the Tibetans, it is as sacred as Mt Kailash and Lake Mansarowar, and Goddess Dorjee Phagmo, Tibet’s protector, is said to dwell there.
More on the project could be gathered from Chinese sources: the dam would be located at Deyang, a few kilometres upstream of Pai in Nyingchi Prefecture, and the terminal (power station) would be at Shirang, a few kilometres from the Indian border (Bishing). If completed, it will be the largest hydropower station in the world.
The retinue would not be more than 50 or 60 metres high. If higher, the reservoir could flood the military installations in Bayi, the main PLA cantonment in Southern Tibet and the urban area of Nyingchi town.
The diversion towards Shirang would use several diversion pipes and tunnels and then high-pressure pipes to divert water back in the Tsangpo, close to the McMahon Line which is the LAC.
It would be a run of the river project (which means the water just goes through the turbines after having been diverted through mega pipes or tunnels). The diversion or short-cut between the beginning and the end of the gorges (known as the Great Bend) would be between 30 and 40 km, cutting short the 260 km course of the Tsangpo.
Electricity would be produced by the huge difference of altitude between Pai Town, located at 2,930 metres above sea level (ASL) and Shirang near the Indian border at 600 metres ASL only. The drop would be between 2,200 and 2,400 metres, depending on the location of the last power station. It is said that water could flow at the rate of 3,000 cubic metres per second. As the turbines may not be able to withstand the pressure if there is only one station downstream, the Chinese engineers have apparently decided to have 6 or 9 substations (if 6, each would have 400 m altitude difference between them). Some also speak of a ‘ladder’ project. Apart from the incredibly difficult terrain, another problem lies in evacuating the power generated.
The project may be over in 2035 (the new dream date for the megalomaniac leaders in Beijing).
Many Chinese experts have suggested that the HPP project will be linked with the diversion of the Tsangpo towards the mainland. The project, called Hongqi or Red Flag, is spearheaded by Prof Wang Hua of Tsinghua University, who is also Chairman of the Expert Group on Dialogue for the ‘Red Flag River Issue’. When the university had reopened after the Cultural Revolution, on the same benches was Chen Xi, today a member of the Politburo. Wang and Chen know each other from the 1970s. Also studying in Tsinghua University at the same time was one Xi Jinping. There is no doubt that the diversion protagonists are well-connected—and that it is extremely worrying for India.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ciao Zhao: What's cooking in the WTC?

Gen Zhang Xudong, new WTC Commander
Xi Jinping, chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) promoted four military and one armed police officer to the rank of full general (Three Star) in Beijing on December 18.
The new generals were presented Certificates of the Order promoting them to the rank of general by the Chairman; Three-Star general is the highest rank in the PLA.
The promoted officers are the Political Commissar (PC) of the CMC Logistic Support Department Guo Puxiao, the Commander of the Western Theater Command (WTC) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Zhang Xudong, the Political Commissar of the PLA's Strategic Support Force Li Wei, and the new Commander of the People's Armed Police Force (PAP) Wang Chunning.
During the ceremony, Xu Qiliang, the CMC vice chairman, announced the orders of promotion signed by Xi and Xu’s colleague, Zhang Youxia presided over the ceremony. 

Ciao Zhao!

The Big News
The big news is that Gen Zhao Zongqi, who triggered the Doklam incident and probably started the present Chinese ‘misadventure’ in Ladakh seems now out of the picture.
If confirmed, this is certainly a good thing for India as Zhao has been a hardliner, wanted to teach India lessons. 

He is replaced by a rather unknown officer who has never set a foot in the WTC.
It is too early to say what it means for the future negotiations in Ladakh, but it probably indicates that Beijing will be more ‘flexible’.
Gen Zhang Xudong, who replaces Zhao has no experience of the Indian border; as a result he may follow what he will be told to do by the Central Military Commission (CMC) and his boss (Xi).
It might help Beijing to be more flexible on the border, particularly during the talks on the shores of Pangong tso; though ‘flexibility’ is not Beijing’s forte and whenever the Communist regime has been ‘flexible’ in the past, it was to better rebound.
Incidentally, it is the first time that a Commander of the WTC (and earlier the Chengdu and Lanzhou Military Regions) has no experience/knowledge of the Indian border.
It probably means that Chengdu, the WTC seat, will be sidelined and orders will come directly from the CMC and the PLA Army (Ground Force) in Beijing.

Gen Zhang Xudong, new WTC Commander
Who is Gen Zhang Xudong?
Zhang Xudong is the WTC’s 2nd Commander (in 2016, the Lanzhou and Chengdu MR were merged and became the WTC).
As mentioned, on December 18, 2020, Zhang was appointed to replace Gen Zhao Zongqi, the 'father' of Doklam episode.

Zhang’s Career
Gen Zhang is born in March 1962 in Liaoning Province.
Like all the PLA generals, he is from the Han Nationality.
He was promoted to the rank of major general in July 2012 and lieutenant general in July 2018
Zhang Xudong served in the Shenyang Military Region for a long time and was successively Commander of the 39th Group Army and the Chief of Staff of the 39th Army Group.
In early 2014, he succeeded Maj Gen Pan Liangshi and became commander of the 39th Group Army’s Ground Force.
At the time of the reforms in 2016, he was promoted deputy commander of the Central Theater Command (CTC) and later commander of the CTC’s Army (Ground Force). Subsequently, he became CTC deputy commander.
On October 1, 2019, he served as the deputy commander-in-chief of the military parade in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He may have been noticed by the Emperor at that time.
When Zhang was transferred to Chengdu as WTC commander (probably a few weeks ago), Gen Zhao Zongqi had already crossed the retirement age since April 2020, (that is perhaps the reason why he started the Ladakh operations, hoping for a promotion in the CMC).
The question is why Gen Zhang, an officer without any experience of the WTC, particularly of the border with India, where one lakh of jawans are facing each other in the harsh Himalayan winter, was selected to replace Zhao Zongqui who had 20 years of experience in the Tibet Ministry District (TMD) and had walked every inch of the frontier.
Chairman Xi wanted probably to remove a hardliner who had already created trouble for the Emperor during the Doklam confrontation. It is one possibility.
It should be noted that Gen Zhang is not a member of the Central Committee or the National People's Congress. It means that he had no 'political' exposure like his predecessor.

Gen Li Wei, PC of the PLASSF

Other Promotions
Another promoted officer has been actively associated with the WTC and the Ladakh border; it is General Li Wei who is currently the third PC of the Chinese PLA Strategic Support Force (PLASSF).
Li is born in September 1960 in Jiyuan, Henan.
He was promoted to the rank of major general in July 2008 and lieutenant general in July 2016.
He is a representative of the 13th National People's Congress.
He has been the head of the cadre department of the Political Department of the Lanzhou Military Region and later the commander of the 6th Independent Mechanized Infantry Division of the Southern Xinjiang Military District (SXMD) facing Ladakh.
Contrary to Zhang Xudong, Li knows well the border with India.
In January 2007, he served as director of the Political Department of the 47th Group Army’s Ground Force and in 2010, became deputy PC of the 47th Army.
In October 2012, he was transferred as PC of the SXMD and a year later PC of the 21st Group Army’s Ground Force.
In December 2014, Liu Lei became the PC of the Xinjiang Military Region (XMD).
From July 2015, he served in and out as a member of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Party.
As a result of his transfer to the PLASSF, the XMD has no PC. A new incumbent will probably be announced in the coming weeks. This has to be watched.

Gen Wang Chunning

Other promoted generals
General Wang Chunning has become the 9th Commander of the People's Armed Police Force (PAP).
A native of Muping, Shandong, Wang is born in March 1963 in Nanjing. 

He was promoted to the rank of major general in 2011 and lieutenant general in July 2017.
He is the son of Wang Yongming, the former deputy PC of the former Nanjing Military Region.
He is an alternate member of the 19th Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of China.
He started working in July 1985 and joined the Communist Party in April 1986. He served as chief of staff, regimental commander, division chief of staff, deputy division commander, head of the equipment department of the First Army Group, and commanded the First Division.
In 2009, he became Chief of Staff of the First Army's Ground Force.
From 2010 to 2014, he was deputy commander of the First Army's Ground Force (during which he served as deputy chief of staff of the East China Sea Fleet of the Navy).
In 2014, he became commander of the 12th Group Army and in August 2016, commander of the Beijing Garrison (a deputy theater-rank post) and deputy secretary of the party committee.
From January to May 2020, he was a member of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal Committee.
In April 2020, he was transferred as Chief of Staff of the PAP. His promotion has been rather quick.

Gen Guo Pu

General Guo Puxiao
Guo Puxiao or Guo Pu is a native of Yaoxian County, Shaanxi; he is born in 1964.
He is a general of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
He served as the PC of the Urumqi Air Force Command Post, PC of the 37th Air Division, and the director of the Political Department of the 15th Airborne Corps.
He has therefore a connection with the Ladakh border.
In 2014, he became PC of the 15th Army of the Airborne Corps and in 2017, served as deputy PC of the CTC and later PC of the CTC’s Air Force.
In July 2018, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.
In December 2019, he was transferred to the PC of the Logistics Support Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC).


Gen Xu Zhongbo
General Xu Zhongbo
The last promoted officer is Gen Xu Zhongbo
He is the second PC of the PLA Rocket Force (PLARF). He took over the post in July 2020.
He is born in October 1960 in Rushan, Shandong Province.
He was promoted to the rank of major general in 2010 and lieutenant general in 2017.
Xu Zhongbo joined the PLA in March 1978 and served as a soldier, typist, student, platoon leader, officer, deputy section chief and section chief of the brigade political organization, deputy director and section chief of the political organization of the group army, and director of the division political department.
In December 2003, he became PC of the 8th Brigade Artillery of the 26th Group Army and in September 2007, as PC of the 8th Armored Division of the Group Army.
In May 2009, he was transferred as Director of the Political Department of the Group Army and in 2013, promoted as PC of the 20th Army. In October 2014, Xu Zhongbo was transferred to the 54th Army.
In February 2016, he got a promotion and became PC of the WTC (Ground Force). 

In October 2017, he was elected as an alternate member of the 19th Central Committee.
From December 2017, he served as the PC of the Joint Logistics Support Force (JLSF) and in July 2020, became PC of the Rocket Army.

Some conclusions
Though it might be too early to draw definite conclusions, it is a fact that for the first time an officer without any first-hand knowledge of the Region/Command has taken over. It seems a deliberate choice by Chairman Xi.
With the transfer of Gen Li Wei, the XMD has no PC; further no news has come out on Gen Liu Wanglong, the XMD commander for a long time. Is he still around?

Another mystery, who is the PC of the SXMD?
Has Maj Gen Liu Lin (he should have been promoted Lt Gen since a long time to interact with the Indian Corps Commander) a counterpart PC in the SXMD?
Could the XMD and the SXMD function without PC?
All this is rather strange to say the least. 

What's cooking in the WTC? India should watch.

The Five promoted generals with the 7 CMC members


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Ghettoization of Tibet

This article appeared under the title Changing the Demography of the Border in the Indian Defence Review (Vol 35.4) Oct-Dec 2020

Here is the link...

The Sixth Tibet Work Forum (TWF), held in Beijing on August 24 and 25, 2015 was a turning point for the Tibetan plateau.
Tibet Work Forums are large meetings called every 5 to 10 years to discuss the CCP’s Tibet policies. They are attended by all the members of the powerful Politburo's Standing Committee, members of the Central Committee, senior PLA generals, United Front Work Department officials and regional leaders.
Previous Forums were held in 1980, 1984, 1994, 2001 and January 2010, all in the Chinese capital. What is of interest to India is that the TWFs usually decide the fate of Tibet for the next five to ten years …as well the development on the border with India.
One of the main decisions of the Sixth gathering, presided over by President Xi Jinping, was to develop tourism as the main activity on the plateau; Tibet soon became a large entertainment park; a thousand times larger than Disneyland.
Beijing began marketing the Land of Snows as the ultimate ‘indigenous’ tourist spot for the Chinese to spend their holidays, this became Tibet’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition). It brought nearly forty million Han tourists to the plateau in 2019.

The Next Step: Further Hanisation of the Plateau
The Seventh TWF was held in Beijing on August 28 and 29.
While the previous TWF completely escaped the Indian (and the world) media, this one got wide coverage; the Seventh TWF was a crucial event not only as far it concerns the fate of the Roof of the World, but also for the presently tense Indian frontiers, as it took place at the time India faces a precarious situation in Ladakh.
It is necessary to study the TWF’s outcome, particularly because it defines the policies for China’s western border (this explains the presence of the entire Central Military Commission, as well as the service chiefs, including the Chief of the PLA Navy), at the Forum.
The Seventh TWF was given large publicity; the main TV report lasted more than 14 minutes, mostly quoting Xi Jinping and showing the large ‘masked’ gathering; a detailed report (in Communist jargon) was immediately issued. The select attendance shows Tibet's extreme significance for the Communist Party.
Incidentally, the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan-inhabited areas of four provinces (Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan) are now clubbed together as far as Beijing’s policies for the plateau are concerned.

The Timing of the Forum
The TWF was also held at a time Xi Jinping faces more and more reprobation and condemnation from around the world, following Beijing’s reckless moves on the Indian border and elsewhere.
It also came two months before the Fifth Plenum of the Communist Party of China, which has to take difficult decisions for the Middle Kingdom's economy; in 2020, Beijing is also celebrating the 70th anniversary of the so-called Liberation (read ‘invasion’) of Tibet, as well as the 55th anniversary of the creation of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), which has never really been autonomous.
To understand the TWF’s importance for India, it is necessary to remember Xi’s well-known theory that China “must adhere to the strategic thinking that to govern the nation, we must govern our borders; to govern our borders, we must first stabilise Tibet”. Since the month of May, we understand better why China wants to stabilize and control its borders with India.
The Sixth TWF resulted in poverty alleviation schemes which saw the construction of hundreds of ‘moderately-well-off’ villages (‘ghettos’ say the Tibetans), many of them close to the border with India.
Beijing’s untold rationale is that it is easier to control the ‘masses’ when they are sedentary and settled in well-connected villages (via Wifi and surveillance cameras); it is a fact that today the whereabouts and actions of the ‘resettled’ villagers can be controlled through their mobile phones and other surveillance gadgets.
Looking at the TV report of the TWF, one was struck by the fact that no monk attended the Forum. For a society which has traditionally been based on “the Harmonious Blend of Religion and Politics,” it is strange to say the least. Even Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese selected Panchen Lama, a favorite of the Chinese media, was nowhere to be seen. He is probably too young (and unsafe) for the Communist hierarchy.
It is not only the lamas who were missing in action. As far one could recognize the masked faces, hardly any Tibetans were present, even though all the speeches (and the TWF itself) are around the welfare of the ‘masses of all ethnic groups’ in Tibet (‘all ethnic groups in Tibet’ is an euphemism to hid the large migration of Hans on the plateau).

The Ten Musts

In his speech, Xi Jinping emphasized ‘The Ten Musts’ to “fully implement the Party's strategy of governing Tibet in the New Era;” he went through ten areas or ‘musts’. The objective, he observed, was to build a new socialist modern Tibet that is “united, prosperous, civilized, harmonious and beautiful.”
The CCP’s General Secretary pointed out: “Practice has fully proved that the Party Central Committee’s policies on Tibet work are completely correct, and that Tibet’s sustained, stable and rapid development is an important contribution to the overall work of the party and the country.”
He congratulated the comrades struggling on the ‘snowy plateau’, especially the cadres who serve on the frontline, i.e. the border with India.
Although Xi loves to speak about regional autonomy, it is clear that the Tibetans do not have much say in the matter. Why, for example, seventy years after the so-called ‘liberation’ of Tibet, has no ethnic Tibetan been made Party Secretary in Tibet? Has Tibetan ever made it to the Politburo? The reason is that the Han still do not trust the Tibetans.

Poverty Alleviation Scheme
An important way to ‘govern the borders’ is the development of model villages; this has serious implications for India’s defence, as the demography of the border will slowly be changed.
On December 24, 2019, China Daily announced that in 2019 in China, more than 10 million people were expected to be lifted from poverty; some 340 counties would no longer be labeled as 'impoverished'. This was stated by Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development in Beijing.
Liu particularly mentioned the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as well as the four provinces where ethnic Tibetan people live (particularly in three prefectures of Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan), the southern part of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is clubbed with these areas.
Liu’s report added: “In the renewed effort to combat poverty, local authorities were barred from merely handing out State benefits to farmers. Instead, they were required to adopt targeted measures in developing local industries and creating jobs that would help the poor attain sustainable incomes.”
This obviously raises the question, why have these areas, 'liberated' 70 years ago, remained so poor? The Communist Party has a lot to answer.

Ghettoization of Tibet
In October 2020, Xinhua announced that China had realized a historical feat: “Tibet eliminates absolute poverty”.
Wu Yingjie, Tibet’s Communist Party Chief, called the achievement a "major victory, as by the end of 2019, Tibet had lifted 628,000 people out of poverty and delisted 74 county-level areas from the poverty list  …the average annual net income of poor people in Tibet had risen from 1,500 yuan (US$ 220) in 2015 to 9,300 yuan (US$ 1,400) in 2019.”
Wu added: “Since the beginning of this year, Tibet has shifted its focus from tackling absolute poverty to consolidating poverty alleviation achievements.” It was a major victory in poverty alleviation “attesting to the advantages of the socialist system,” he said.
A document released during Wu’s press briefing spoke of a major achievement for China's poverty alleviation campaign in the New Era: “Since 2016, Tibet has spent 74.8 billion yuan (US $ 11.25 billion) of agriculture-related fund in poverty alleviation, with an average annual increase of over 15 percent.”
Wu particularly cited relocation programs: “since 2016, a total of 39.89 billion yuan (US$ 11.25 billion) has been invested in over 2,900 poverty alleviation projects, which helped lift more than 238,000 impoverished people out of poverty and benefited more than 840,000 people.”
The main characteristic of the scheme is the ‘relocation’ of population in new ‘model’ villages known as ‘Xiaokang’ (‘moderately well-off’) villages, looking like ghettos where the populations can be better controlled and where Han colons can be brought in.
Wu affirmed: “Authorities in Tibet have made great efforts in relocating impoverished people living in severe natural conditions to areas with relatively rich production materials and better infrastructure.”

Nine Hundred Fifty Five Model Villages
The figures are mind-boggling; according to Wu: “To date, the construction of 965 relocation sites [villages] has been completed and 266,000 people have moved into new houses. The relocation programs were carried out entirely on a voluntary basis.” It is estimated that some 200 of these villages are located near the India border.
The fact that the ‘relocation’ has been voluntary is extremely difficult to believe; the pretext to transfer large populations, including nomads, is the issue of rarified oxygen on the plateau. This is a strange argument when one knows that the Tibetans have lived for centuries in these conditions and are hence well acclimatized; however, this does apply to the new Han colons ‘sharing’ these villages in what is called ‘ethnic mingling’.
The Chinese propaganda quoted one Thubten Khedrup, professor at the Tibet University in Lhasa saying that “a third-party assessment on the anti-poverty efforts in Tibet showed that the satisfaction rate among local people in the region was over 99 percent.”
In these circumstances, do the Tibetans have a choice, but to be happy?
Chinese TV daily shows videos of the new settlers arriving with forced smiles on their faces. They often travel by bus and trucks from remote places to be ‘happily’ resettled in a new environment.

Relocation of Population

On December 9, 2019, Tibet’s Poverty Alleviation Office published a notice saying that the last batch of 19 counties and county-level districts had finally shaken off poverty: “Tibet was a tough nut to crack in China’s poverty relief campaign due to its harsh natural conditions and complicated historical reasons. In 2015, the occurrence rate of poverty in Tibet was as high as 25.32%," commented a Chinese website.
The article takes the example of a Tibetan family who moved to a new house from Rongma Township in Nyima County of Nagchu Prefecture to Lhasa in 2018 (Nagchu is located at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters).
The website said that it was the first high-altitude exemplary site of ecological relocation in Tibet: “From June 10 to 18 in 2018, 571 herdsmen moved in two batches to Lhasa which is over 1,000 miles away.” This is just an example.

New Villages on the Border

More worrying for New Delhi are the relocations to Xiaokang villages located on India's borders.
On September 30, Xinhua noted that China had planned to invest 19.78 billion yuan (US$ 2.8 billion) in a relocation program to build 60,931 houses in around 970 settlements for 266,000 poverty-stricken citizens in the TAR.
It was said that by the end of August, 93.6 percent of the investment fund had been used and 56,000 houses had been completed: “Tibet seeks to lift 266,000 residents out of poverty by relocating them from harsh living conditions and ecologically fragile areas, of whom 3,359 from 939 families originally lived at an altitude of over 4,800 meters.”
Again according to Chinese news agency: “Tibet has been using relocation as a means of poverty reduction. By offering job opportunities in industrial parks and cities, the relocated residents are ensured ways to make a better living.” Though 'industrial parks and cities' are mentioned, the relocation is simply done in new villages, the industry may follow later.

Yume, Xi’s Model Village

How it started? Soon after the conclusion of the 19th Congress in October 2017, President Xi Jinping wrote a letter to two young Tibetan herders who had written to him introducing their village, Yume, north of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Xinhua then reported that Xi “encouraged the herding family in Lhuntse County, near the Himalayas in southwest China's TAR, to set down roots in the border area, safeguard the Chinese territory and develop their hometown.”
Xi acknowledged “the family's efforts to safeguard the territory and thanked them for the loyalty and contributions they have made in the border area. Without the peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful lives for the millions of families.”
The two Tibetan girls, Choekar and Yangzom had told Xi about their “experiences in safeguarding the border area and the development of their township over the years.”
It appears that many Tibetans from the nearby villages now want to move their homes to Yume. Choekar's sudden celebrity will certainly help her village to grow exponentially ...and the border to be better protected. Against who, if not India!
Today, Han tourists have already started pouring into the village.
The same article affirms that Yume, located about 200 kilometers from the county seat of Lhuntse (which will soon have an airport), is a 'happy' village: "with the development of economy and the improvement of environment of Yume Township [yes, it has become a township!!], it has built numerous new houses for local villagers." But local Tibetan villagers are clearly not in majority anymore.
There is a definitive plan to repopulate the borders with India by creating new model 'townships'. This should be a serious worry for Delhi.
Since it was adopted by President Xi Jinping, Yume had become the Model Township for the 200 or so other 'Xiaokang' villages near the Indian border.
It probably means that China will have a new population of ‘migrants’ selected for their good behaviour on the Indian border.
It is still not clear if these ‘migrants’ are Tibetans or Hans; there is probably a blend; the scheme is called “The guardians of the sacred land and the builders of happy homes”.

Infrastructure and Xiaokang Villages: the Case of Metok
Metok means ‘Flower’ in the Tibetan language; till 2013, it was the last county in China without a road. It is located in Nyingchi City (Prefecture) on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo River which becomes the Siang as it crosses the Indian border and then the Brahmaputra in Assam. A Chinese website said that Metok County “boasts of amazing natural landscapes due to its unique geographical position. Before the traffic opened, people could not reach Metok except by walking; getting in and out of Metok was a dangerous journey.”
It further adds: “The construction of roads to Metok is a tough task because of the complicated geological conditions and disastrous weather. With several attempts thwarted in the last decades, a 117-kilometer highway connecting Metok with neighboring Bomi County finally opened on October 31, 2013.”
In 2019, according to China Tibet News, the county has 46 administrative villages (including one so-called multi-ethnic inhabitation area consisting of Monpas, Lhopas, Tibetans and Hans) with a total population of 13,725.
In 2018, nearly 230,000 outsiders visited what used to be considered the last paradise on earth: “[it] created more than 160 million yuan (24 million US$) in tourism income. Nearly 9,000 acres of organic tea gardens directly provided income to nearly one-third of the total population.”
To get rich, first build the road was the motto of the Chinese Government and with the road, tourists come. And let us not forget that the infrastructure is for dual-use (civil and military).

Linking  Infrastructure Development with Border Defence

Most of the times, the Xiaokang villages are linked to infrastructure development, particularly on India’s border; hundreds of examples could be given; to cite one, the Pai-Metok (Pai-Mo) Highway linking Nyingchi to Metok, north of Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh will be opened in July 2021.
On October 12, 2020, it was reported that the Huaneng Linzhi Hydropower Project Office (ominously, a dam company) was building the road in most difficult terrain to effectively improve the current transportation facilities from Nyingchi and Metok, as well as the livelihood of the villages and towns along the route. The new Highway will be constructed with an investment of 2 billion yuan (0.3 billion US$): “The project will be fully completed by the end of September 2022. After the completion of the Highway, the length of the road from Nyingchi City to Metok County will be shortened from 346 kilometers to 180 kilometers, via Jingpai Town in Bomi County and the driving time will be shortened from 11 hours to 4.5 hours.”
The Highway starts in Pai Town in Milin County of Nyingchi and uses a long tunnel to pass through the Doshong-la Mountain, ending South of Metok town, close to the Indian border (Upper Siang district). The new highway will be 67 kilometers long. In strategic terms, it will be a game changer and greatly accelerate the developments of new model villages, and therefore relocation of populations.

Other Villages
These Xiaokang villages are located all along the Indian border from Rutok in Ngari Prefecture in the West to Rima (opposite Kibithu) in the Lohit valley in the East; a few model villages have been built on the Chinese side of Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, other north of the McMahon Line in Tsona area.
China Tibet Online reported that on July 26, 2019, Gyalsten Norbu, the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama traveled to Jaggang Village in Rutok County of Ngari Province ‘for survey and research’; he paid a visit to two Tibetan families. The Chinese website explained, “it is a typical plateau village,” though it is not an ordinary village, it is also known as Chiakang and is situated very close to the border in Ladakh, just across the Kailash range. It seems that it is the first time that such a ‘senior’ religious leader, adventures forth himself on the Indian border, which China says is ‘disputed’.
A few kilometers away, on the Chinese side of Line of Actual Control (LAC) is another just-built ‘model’ town at Demchok.
Yet another village has recently received a lot of publicity, it is Jiru, located in Kampa Dzong (county), just north of the Sikkim border.
An article in The People's Daily: “The flower of national unity blooms on the border of the motherland.” It probably means that it will inhabited by Hans settlers; Jiru “in the southwestern frontier of the motherland, with an average elevation of 5,050 meters, at a distance of 5 kilometers from the China-India border, not far from seven passes [leading to India]. It is known as ‘the first village on the Sino-Indian border’,” says the Communist publication. There are 134 households with 538 people in the village: “In 2017, the village has been successfully transformed into a ethnic unity demonstration village.”
Strangely, no oxygen issue is mentioned in Jiru.
The People’s Daily added: “Although our village is located on the border, the consciousness of ethnic unity is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. …Every year on the Army Day, the villagers will spontaneously visit the border guards and give them some mutton, potatoes and so on.”
Apart from Yume, Jiru or Metok, examples of Tsona (north of Tawang), Rima (north of Kibithu in the Lohit Valley), Tholing (in Western Tibet) often come in the news; to this should be added some more populated areas like Yatung in Chumbi Valley (near Sikkim) or Purang, close to the trijunction between Tibet, Nepal and India.
As the demography of these areas north of the Indian border is rapidly changing, Delhi should keep awake to these tremendous changes and develop its own border areas.