Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Lhasa invaded again ...by Han Chinese

 

According to China Tibet News Network, the permanent population of Lhasa is 867,891, an increase of 55.14% compared to the Sixth National Census.


It is an enormous increase, particularly because it only takes into account the ‘permanent’ settlers in the Tibetan capital.
The number of ‘migrants’ or ‘temporary settlers’ which can easily be manipulated, should ba added to these figures. It is a real invasion of the Tibetan capital.

On June 8, 2021, a communiqué released by the Office of the Leading Group for the Seventh National Census of Lhasa, announced the new figures were “in accordance with the Regulations on the National Census and the decision of the State Council.”
It was the seventh census and it was carried out on November 1, 2020.
China Tibet News says that “the national census is in accordance with the unified deployment of the State Council and the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Seventh National Census Leading Group.”
According to the same source, the staff who conducted the census was supported by “Lhasa City’s governments at all levels, census agencies and all census personnel.”
The communiqué adds: “With the hard work and selfless dedication, the majority of census subjects participated and actively cooperated, and successfully completed the tasks of the Seventh National Census in Lhasa.”

Let us remember that the data for the 'permanent' and 'temporary' populations are compulsorily contained in each individual's phone.
Even if it has probably been ‘polished’, the outcome is shocking.

1. Permanent Population
Today, the ‘permanent’ resident population of Lhasa is 867,891.
Compared with the 559,423 in the Sixth National Census in 2010, it is an increase of 308,468 or 55.14%; it means an average annual growth rate of 4.49% says the communique (arithmetically, 55% divided by ten (years) does not make 4,5%).
It must be a first time that an urban area witnesses a 55% population increase in 10 years. It is only possible, if formerly ‘migrants’ workers have been incorporated in these figures.
This raises many questions, in particular for the environment.
How much  increment of population can the Land of Snows take without choking? The natural resources are limited and the fragile ecology of the plateau has certainly limits.
Beijing has probably never taken this into account. 

The Chinese Government objective seems only to flood the local population with Han Chinese.

2. Family population

There were 292,976 households in the Seventh Census, for a population of 683,405 people. The average population of each household was 2.33 people, which was a decrease of 0.86 people from the 3.19 people in the Sixth National Census in 2010.
Only an expert in statistics could analyse this, but too me, it seems to indicate that many more single persons have settled in Lhasa during the last 10 years; It shows that tens of thousands more migrants have come to the Tibetan capital.

3. Gender composition
Among the city’s permanent population, the male population is 470,353, accounting for 54.19%; the female population is 397,538, accounting for 45.81%. 

The sex ratio of the total population (100 women, the ratio of men to women) rose from 105.68 in the Sixth National Census in 2010 to 118.32.
The gender composition also seems to indicate the massive arrival of migrant male workers.
Many of them have now be given the status of ‘permanent’ resident of the Tibetan capital and others married Tibetan girls.

4. Age composition
Among the city’s permanent population,

  • the population aged 0-14 is 143,069, accounting for 16.48%;
  • the population aged 15-59 is 651,141, accounting for 75.03%;
  • the population aged 60 and above is 73,681, accounting for 8.49%;
  • the population aged 65 and above is 48,170 people, accounting for 5.55%.

Compared with the Sixth National Census in 2010,

  • the proportion of people aged 0-14 dropped by 1.05 percentage points,
  • the proportion of people aged 15-59 dropped by 0.24%,
  • the proportion of people aged 60 and over rose by 1.29%.
  • The proportion of the population of and above increased by 0.85 percentage points.

Age-wise, if the statistics are correct, it seems a rather stable population.
These statistics should be read with Xi Jinping mega project for poverty alleviation.
On October 17, 2020, according to Xinhua: “Tibet Autonomous Region has accomplished the historical feat of eradicating absolute poverty. …By the end of 2019, Tibet had lifted 628,000 people out of poverty and delisted 74 county-level areas from the poverty list.”
Wu Yingjie, the boss of the Communist Party of China in Tibet called this achievement a "major victory." 

He said that the average annual net income of poor people in Tibet had risen from 1,499 yuan (about 220.44 U.S. dollars) in 2015 to 9,328 yuan in 2019.
Wu also mentioned that since 2016, a total of 39.89 billion yuan 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.
For this, 965 ‘relocation’ villages (known as Xiaogang villages) were built and 266,000 people were moved to new houses. "The relocation programs were carried out entirely on a voluntary basis," Wu said.
This means that if these villages have to be inhabited, from where the populations have come, especially when the population of the Tibetan capital has already increased so drastically during the same period.
The answer is probably from China.
Though we do not have the figures for the other Cities/Prefectures and the Xiaogang villages, the same pattern in population increase than in Lhasa, must have taken place, if not worse. 

It means more Hans are daily arriving in Tibet to settle.

5. Ethnic composition
Among Lhasa City’s permanent population, the Tibetan population is 608,856, the population of other ethnic minorities is 25,953, and the Han population is 233,082.
Compared with the Sixth National Census in 2010, the Tibetan population increased by 179,752, the population of other ethnic minorities increased by 16,699, and the Han population increased by 112,017.
In their own admission, the ‘permanent’ migrant population has increased nearly as much as the Tibetans.

  • Tibetan increase = 179,75
  • Other minorities increase =  16,699
  • Han increase =  112,017

What about the ethnic composition in the border villages?

6. Population with education level
Among the City’s permanent population,

  • 147,800 people have a university education (referring to a junior college or above);
  • 107,840 people have a high school (including technical secondary school) education;
  • 174,689 people have a junior high school education; and those with elementary school education.

The population is 256,544 (the above-mentioned population with various educational levels includes graduates, undergraduates and students from various schools).
Compared with the Sixth National Census in 2010, the number of persons with college education per 100,000 people rose from 12,319 to 17,030; those with high school education rose from 8,817 to 12,426; those with junior high school education rose from 19,654
The number of people rose to 20,128; the number of people with primary school education dropped from 34,105 to 29,559.
There is no doubt that the level of education has improved.

7. Urban and rural population
Among the city’s permanent population,

  • the population living in urban areas is 605,511, accounting for 69.77%;
  • the population living in rural areas is 262,380, accounting for 30.23%.

Compared with the sixth national census in 2010, the urban population increased by 364,553, the rural population decreased by 56,085, and the proportion of the urban population increased by 26.70 percentage points.
These figures are for Lhasa City (ex-Prefecture) only.
Let us hope that we can soon access the figures for the other Cities/Prefectures.

8. Regional population
The last part of the report mentions the ‘region distribution’ of Lhasa’s ‘permanent’ population.
The fact that the report speaks of ‘permanent’ population shows that a large percentage of the migrant population is not accounted. This is even more worrisome.

The following figures show that the permanent population of Lhasa is 867,891, of which:

  • the permanent population of Chenggoin (Chengguan) District is 473,586, accounting for 54.57%;
  • the permanent population of Tolung Dechen (Duilung Deqing) District is 91065, accounting for 10.49%;
  • the permanent population of Tagtse (Dazi) District is 32,318, accounting for 3.72%. The permanent population of Lhundrup (Linzhou) County is 50,596, accounting for 5.83%;
  • the permanent population of Damshung County is 47,900, accounting for 5.52%;
  • the permanent population of Nimo County is 29,989, accounting for 3.46%;
  • the permanent population of Chushul County is 41,851, accounting for 4.82%;
  • the permanent population of Medro Gonkar (Mozhugongka) County is 49,511, accounting for 5.70%;
  • the permanent population of Lhasa National Economic and Technological Development Zone is 11,804, accounting for 1.36%;
  • the permanent population of Lhasa Liuwu High-tech Zone is 34,582, accounting for 3.98%;
  • the permanent population of Tibet Cultural Tourism Creative Park is 4,689, accounting for 0.54%.

The Tibetan Autonomous Region's Figures
Last month The China Daily had announced that the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) continued “to enjoy a demographic dividend as young adults make up a relatively high proportion of its population, providing abundant labor resources.”

It is probably due to migrant workers.
The article said that despite a steadily growing aging trend nationwide, less than 9 percent of Tibet's population is aged above 60: “The number of Tibet residents aged 60 or older on November 1, 2021 was 311,000, accounting for just 8.52 percent of the region's population and up by 0.85 percentage points from a decade previously. …Across the country, the average proportion of the population aged 60 or older was 18.7 percent.”
 
According to census, the TAR's ‘permanent’ resident population on November 2020, was 3.64 million, an increase of 645,900 or 21.52 percent over a decade previously. 

Between 2000 and 2010, the region's population increased by 385,800, or by an average of 1.39 percent a year.

Therefore, there is an acceleration of the migration in Tibet in general.

Vast Sea of Chinese Migrants
Remember in 1985, the Dalai Lama wrote in The New York Times that A Vast Sea Of Chinese Threatens Tibet.
The Tibetan leader then observed: "It is now more than 30 years since China forcefully occupied Tibet. In this period, our religion and culture has been destroyed. The people of Tibet have suffered tremendous physical and economic deprivation, and at least 1.2 million have died as a direct result of the occupation. But never, even in the worst of times, did the Tibetans lose their distinct national identity. That is the threat we face today: The complete assimilation and absorption of our people by a vast sea of Chinese settlers streaming across our borders."

The Tibetan leader continued: "Early this century, the Manchus were a distinct race with their own culture and traditions. Today, only two to three million Manchurians are left in Manchuria, where 75 million Chinese have settled. In Eastern Turkestan, which the Chinese now call Sinkiang [Xinjiang], the Chinese population has grown from 200,000 in 1949 to seven million, more than half of the total population of 13 million. In the wake of the Chinese colonization of Inner Mongolia, Chinese now outnumber the Mongols by 8.5 million to 2.5 million."

On June 8, Xi Jinping visited a Tibetan village in Amdo
In 1985, the Dalai Lama mentioned his native place, Amdo, an area visited yesterday by Xi Jinping: "The area where I was born, the Kokonor region of northeastern Tibet, now already has a population of 2.5 million Chinese and only 700,000 Tibetans, according to a recent Chinese newspaper report. The Chinese claim to be giving special care and attention to the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, which comprises only the western and central parts of Tibet, but they are sending large numbers of young Chinese colonists into the eastern and northeastern parts of our country."

The situation is far more dramatic today, but nobody seems to bother.


 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Is Xi Scared of Tiananmen 1989?

They gave Death
My article Is Xi Scared of Tiananmen 1989? appeared in Rediff.com

Why omit the Tiananmen massacre from the history of China's Communist party? asks Claude Arpi.

Here is the link...

Since the beginning of the year, China has started celebrating the 100 years of the Communist Party of China.
For the occasion, Chairman Xi, the new Mao, has decided to teach the history of Modern China to everyone in China; every citizen should “learn about a century of party history and write a new great legend [for the Party].”
An article in Xinhua states: “General Secretary Xi Jinping attaches great importance to the Party history study and summarizes the main content of Party history study into 16 words, namely, "learning history to be clear [about the role of the Party], learning history to increase credit [points], learning history to respect morality, and learning history to practice [Communism].”
The ‘credit points’ refer to the way the totalitarian regime is keeping a tab on its citizens, by crediting (or debiting) each and every Chinese for his/her actions; even the most seemingly insignificant deed is recorded into the Communist Party’s mega computers’ memory.
The News Agency adds: “…The new journey of a modern socialist country has started well.”
On March 1, 2021, Xi addressed the young cadres at the Central Party School in Beijing; he told them that they were the successors of the old comrades, “the glory of the party is in your hands”, and exhorted them to be the “faithful successor of the tradition and fine work-style of the Communist Party, constantly enhancing willpower, perseverance and self-control and making contributions in the new journey of comprehensively building a modern socialist country in the New Era!” And, of course, “loyalty to the party is the primary political quality of Communists,” he added.
The words of the new Great Helmsman sound good, but there is another side to it; there are black (or ‘bloodied’ red) holes in the official history.
One of the ‘red’ holes occurred 32 years ago, on Tiananmen Square.
If Beijing has forgotten, the world has not.

The Black Book of Communism

In 1997, French scholar Stéphane Courtois, along with other European academics, published Le Livre noir du communisme which was later translated in several languages under the title The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression.
The Black Book sold tens of millions of copies; it is still considered by many as one of the most influential publications written about the history of Communism in the 20th century. The authors documented the history of political repression by Communist states, including genocides, extrajudicial executions, deportations, killing populations in labour camps as well as artificially-created famines.
In the first chapter, The Crimes of Communism, Stéphane Courtois quoting Plato’s Republic and Thomas More as Communist examples of ‘utopian philosophy’, Courtois explains, “We must make a distinction between the doctrine of communism and its practice. As a political philosophy, communism has existed for centuries, even millennia.”
Courtois gave figures, people killed by Communist governments amount to more than 94 million, including 65 million in the People’s Republic of China, 20 million in the Soviet Union, 2 million in Cambodia, 2 million in North Korea, 1.7 million in Ethiopia, 1.5 million in Afghanistan, 1 million in Vietnam.
In China alone, there is no doubt today that the Great Leap Forward resulted in 40 to 50 million deaths. According to Frank Dikötter in his masterly Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 45 million people died unnecessarily. Yang Jisheng in Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958–1962 put the tally between 43 million and 46 million.

No candle vigil any more

In the past, Hong Kong used to commemorate the Tiananmen Square events, today, the former British colony have banned to do so.
A historical event is worth recalling.
Dr Zhisui Li, Mao's private physician recorded the death of Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier and Mao Zedong’s reactions to it in 1976, Dr Li wrote: 'Beginning in mid-March, knowing that the Qing Ming festival for honoring the dead would be celebrated on April 4, the citizens of Beijing began going to the Monument to the Revolutionary Heroes in Tiananmen Square to place mourning wreaths for Zhou. The movement was spontaneous, and the crowds grew larger by the day. The country had not witnessed such an outpouring of popular sentiment since before the Communists came to power in 1949.”
As April 4 approached, Dr Li visited Tiananmen clandestinely: 'The Square was filled with tens of thousands of people singing, making speeches, and reading poems. The mourning wreaths stretched from the Monument to the Revolutionary Heroes in the centre of the square all the way to Changan Avenue just in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace. …It was impressive and moving.”
A similar event occurred in 1989, 13 years later.
Though Hu Yaobang had been sacked as the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party in January 1987, he was still a member of the Politburo and entitled to attend important meetings. On April 9, 1989, after uttering some strong words on the Communist Party's failures, the respected Hu Yaobang had a stroke. A week later he passed away (similarly, the Panchen Lama had a ‘stroke’ when he mentioned the misdeeds of the Party in January 1989 in Shigatse, Tibet).
The death of Hu Yaobang was the beginning of the largest spontaneous student revolution since 1919.
During the following days and weeks, the students demanded freedom of speech and the press, democratic elections, greater transparency in government dealings.
The students believed that Hu Yaobang had been sacked though he had followed 'correct' policies. They demanded that the government “should affirm as correct Hu Yaobang's views on democracy and freedom.”
When The People's Daily termed the first spontaneous demonstrations as 'turmoil', the events took a new turn. For the students, the word 'turmoil' (‘dongluan’) had a strong meaning in Chinese reminiscent of the black days of the Cultural Revolution.
Zhao Ziyang was then the Party’s General Secretary; having the same conviction as Hu Yaobang, he thought that a possibility of political reform existed in Communist China. During the following weeks, he constantly tried to negotiate a compromise with the students. This could have changed the Middle Kingdom's fate.
We know what followed: during the night of June 3, Premier Li Peng ordered the tanks to roll out on the Square. Several thousand students lost their lives that night. The Party was saved and the fate of China was sealed (at least for the next few decades). One of the many ironies was that Li Peng was Zhou Enlai's adopted son.
In the meantime, the history of Modern Tibet is also rewritten; forgotten are the hundreds of thousands dead or the complete destruction of innumerable monasteries; on May 23, the Communist Party celebrated the 70th anniversary of the ‘Liberation of Tibet’, when the Dalai Lama’s representatives were forced under duress to sign that Tibet had ‘returned’ to the Motherland (China).
On the occasion, the local press in Lhasa reported: “Early in the morning, in the Potala Palace Square, the golden characters of the Tibet Peaceful Liberation Monument shined brightly. As evidenced by the monument, the peaceful liberation of Tibet 70 years ago not only shattered the delusional attempts of external forces to separate Tibet from China, safeguarded national sovereignty and territorial integrity, safeguarded the unity of the motherland and ethnic unity, and opened up the liberation of millions of serfs.” The Communist newspaper added: “This is a new day, and the sun shines all over the snowy plateau.”
The Xinhua article quoted earlier, concluded: “Looking back on the party’s history …our party has always adhered to the original aspiration and mission of seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation, and it has never hesitated to advance toward this goal, thus winning the sincere and firm support of the people.”
If it was true, why omit the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution or the Tiananmen massacre from the history of the Party? It should at least have been analyzed to understand what went wrong; hiding a large portion of history does not give credibility to the Party.
Similarly, the Party is today hiding what happened in Wuhan.
It is time the world starts pressurizing Beijing to tell the truth.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

When the Chinese Glasnost died again

One the occasion of the 32th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, I re-post an article written in January 2005.
Two years ago, during the monthly briefing by senior Colonel Wu Qian, the spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, a correspondent asked if the People's Liberation Army had any comment on the suppression of students 30 years ago.
Wu Qian replied: "I don't agree with the word 'suppression' in your question." 
He added "Over the past 30 years, the process of our reform and development and our stability and achievements have already addressed your question."
Even this was deleted from the official transcript of the Press Conference...
It shows that China has not been nervous for a long time...

From Rediff.com, The Day Chinese Glasnost Died.
Did Zhao Ziyang die on January 8 or did he die on the morning of January 17? That is a million yuan question!
On the same day in 1976, another Chinese leader, its Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, passed away.
When Zhou died, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had just ended. Modern China had gone through its 10 most tormented years.
During previous months, Mao had refused to provide treatment for his premier who had cancer; the Emperor wanted Zhou to die before him.
Even in Communist China, there is protocol!
In fact, the problem was that the premier was more popular than the Great Helmsman with the masses. Zhou's death was observed by Dr Zhisui Li, Mao's private physician who commented: 'What worried me most was the power struggle to follow.'
In Beijing, memories of the Cultural Revolution purges were still fresh in the populace's psyche. Though resentment was growing, nothing could be done openly as yet.
At that time, the Chinese New Year was approaching. When Mao decided to celebrate the event with firecrackers, the crowd outside Zhongnanhai (the residential enclave where Politburo members live) thought the Chairman rejoiced over his premier's death. Anger mounted, but the people of Beijing had to wait a few more weeks to express their respect for the deceased leader.
Dr Li wrote: 'Beginning in mid-March, knowing that the Qing Ming festival for honoring the dead would be celebrated on April 4, the citizens of Beijing began going to the Monument to the Revolutionary Heroes in Tiananmen Square to place mourning wreaths for Zhou. The movement was spontaneous, and the crowds grew larger by the day. The country had not witnessed such an outpouring of popular sentiment since before the Communists came to power in 1949.'
As April 4 approached, Dr Li visited Tiananmen clandestinely: 'The Square was filled with tens of thousands of people singing, making speeches, and reading poems. The mourning wreaths stretched from the Monument to the Revolutionary Heroes in the centre of the square all the way to Changan Avenue just in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace, and thousands of banners were flapping in the breeze. It was impressive and moving.'
A similar event occurred 13 years later.
In 1989, though Hu Yaobang had been sacked as the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party in January 1987, he was still a member of the Politburo and entitled to attend important meetings. On April 9, after uttering some strong words on the Communist Party's failures, the respected Hu Yaobang had a stroke. A week later he passed away.
Zhao Zhiang, then secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party, made the customary brief assessment of Hu's life: 'Comrade Hu was a loyal, tried and tested Communist fighter, a great proletarian revolutionary and politician, an outstanding political worker for the army.'
It was agreed that Hu would have a national funeral service with the norms of standing members of the Politburo. The plan was accepted by all the party's senior leaders including Deng Xiaoping. During that meeting, Zhao requested Qiao Shi, No 3 in the party and responsible for security, to 'keep a close watch on how Comrade Yaobang's death might impact society.' Qiao Shi is said to have replied: 'At the moment, society is in pretty good shape, Things are fairly stable.'
In the afternoon of April 17, 600 students of the Chinese University of Political Science and Law marched into Tiananmen Square with mourning banners and wreaths. They were 10,000 by the evening.
The next day, students and onlookers poured in from Beijing University and other places. Wreaths accumulated in front of the Monument to the Revolutionary Heroes.
The rest is history.

It was the beginning of the largest spontaneous student revolution since 1919.
During the following days and weeks, the students demanded freedom of speech and the press, democratic elections, greater transparency in government dealings.
The pretext for the explosion of the students' ire was the fact that Hu Yaobang had been sacked though he had followed 'correct' policies. They demanded that the government 'should affirm as correct Hu Yaobang's views on democracy and freedom.' When the People's Daily termed the first spontaneous demonstrations as 'turmoil', the events took a new turn. For the students, the word 'turmoil' (dongluan) had a strong meaning in Chinese reminiscent of the black days of the Cultural Revolution.
One man played a major role in the Tiananmen events -- Zhao Ziyang. Having the same conviction as Hu Yaobang, he thought that a possibility of political reform existed in Communist China. During the following weeks, he constantly tried to negotiate a compromise with the students. This could have changed the Middle Kingdom's fate.
One of his collaborators, Wu Guoguang, remembered in Time magazine: 'In the wrong place at the wrong time, Zhao Ziyang did the right thing. It was close to midnight on the night of May 19, 1989. China's leaders were finalising their plans to declare martial law and crush the Tiananmen Square democracy protests that had, in the preceding 48 hours, swelled to include more than a million demonstrators.
Zhao, then general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, might have remained with the commissars inside Beijing's Great Hall of the People as they called in the troops. Instead, stooped with fatigue, tears in his eyes, he waded into the throngs of students and in the gathering darkness pleaded with them to abandon their vigil before it was too late.'
Three days earlier Zhau had received Mikhail Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party. Was Zhao trying to emulate his Soviet counterpart when he spoke to the students? The Chinese leader told Gorbachev, 'Some young people now had doubts about the superiority of socialism, that these doubts arose from genuine problems with the Party leadership and certain entrenched habits, and that the only way out for socialism was continued vigorous reforms.'
This view was certainly not shared by all in the standing committee of the Politburo. Just after Zhao had met Gorbachev, an important meeting was held, the verdict was split: two members were in favour of using force against the students, two were for a continuation of the dialogue and one, Qiao Shi, abstained.
The next day, the matter was referred to Deng Xiaoping. Zhao had told Gorbachev: 'Even though Deng Xiaoping had retired from his Party posts in 1987, the Party had recognised that his wisdom and experience were essential and that for the most important questions he would still be at the helm.'
Deng decided to use force. On May 20, the martial law order was signed by Prime Minister Li Peng. Two days later, Zhao Ziyang was sacked and Jiang Zemin was called from Shanghai to replace him.
During the night of June 3, Li Peng ordered the tanks to roll on the Square. Between 3,000 and 10000 students lost their lives that night. The Party was saved and the fate of China was sealed (at least for the next few decades). One of the many ironies was that Li Peng was Zhou Enlai's adopted son.
On October 17, 2004, Zhao celebrated his 75th birthday. The Human Rights in China group reported: 'In the past three days large groups of people have been gathering outside Zhao's Beijing home, requesting permission to see him. The groups, which range in size from a dozen to upwards of 100 people, seem to be made up largely of Zhao's former subordinates and his close friends and relatives.'
On the same day, a group of senior Chinese citizens and Zhao's supporters wrote to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao about Zhao's continuous detention: 'We strongly urge that you unconditionally and immediately release Mr Zhao Ziyang from house arrest, restore his freedom, and resume all his civil rights!
'No matter how the CPC (Chinese Communist Party and its government would now judge the 1989 political storm and whether Mr Zhao was right or wrong at that time, as a citizen of the People's Republic of China, his civil rights ought to be respected and protected. Without due legal procedure, his freedom and civil rights are not to be deprived. We believe that you share this common view with us, and with all those who respect the constitution and laws of China.'
On January 8, 2005, the media reported from Hong Kong that Zhao had died. This was denied by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan as totally untrue: 'Zhao Ziyang is an old man who is over 80. He fell ill, but after attentive treatment, his condition is currently stable,' he told reporters. However, one can doubt the veracity of this declaration (Zhao's daughter admitted he was in a coma).
Probably, like Yasser Arafat, the announcement of his death will be stage managed to ensure that all arrangements for his 'non-official' funeral are complete.
Already news from the BBC says, 'A thousand policemen are to be deployed every morning on Beijing's Tiananmen Square to escort visitors to the flag-raising ceremony. The new rules may be designed to prevent any dawn protests on the square, scene of a bloody pro-democracy crackdown in 1989.'
All this coincides with the publication of a Gallup report which concluded: 'The people of China may be far wealthier than they were a decade ago, but they are not very satisfied with their quality of life, a survey showed.'
In the meantime, the European Union prepares to lift the arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen events.
This will be the third time Zhao died. Politically, he died at Tiananmen Square in May 1989; he probably died in a Beijing hospital earlier this month; and the principles he fought for will be buried for the sake of selling a few weapons more.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Tibet's so-called Peaceful Liberation: 70 year ago

My article Tibet's so-called Peaceful Liberation appeared in The Daily Guardian.

Here is the link...

As China plans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 17-Point Agreement, it is important to remember that the violence and subjugation Tibet has witnessed since 1950 cannot be termed as a ‘peaceful liberation’ of the region.

The history of Mao's China is a tale of well-planned and well-executed moves. All the events from 1949 onwards have unfolded in a perfectly calculated sequence: first, the invasion of Tibet in 1950; after a vague protest by the Indian Government and the adjournment of the Tibetan Appeal to the UN (at Delhi's instance), in 1951, the 17-Point ‘Agreement’ was signed. Then, in 1954, the ‘Panchsheel’ accord (which neutralized India under the Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai bluff) was inked and soon after the first incursions started on Indian soil. It was followed by the crushing of the Tibetan uprising in 1959, and finally in October 1962, the ‘teaching of a lesson’ to India for daring to give asylum to the Dalai Lama and his followers in March 1959.
This should not be forgotten at a time China plans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the “Agreement between the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet”, also known as the 17-Point Agreement. The paramount question remains: has Tibet really been liberated?
Here too, Mao executed a meticulously planned two-pronged operation; the first part culminated in the Battle of Chamdo which saw the Tibetan forces being decimated; the Great Helmsman’s second step was ‘diplomatic’, the weak Tibetan State was forced to put its thumbprint on an agreement allowing Communist China to take over the Land of Snows.
In May 1951, the Tibetan delegates had no alternative but to accept that the “the Tibetan people shall return to the family of the Motherland of the People's Republic of China” and “drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet.” (Article I)
Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, the former governor of Kham province at that time a prisoner of war, was nominated by the Communists as ‘head of the Tibetan delegation’; with his colleagues, Ngabo had to agree that “the local government of Tibet shall actively assist the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to enter Tibet and consolidate the national defenses.” (Article II)
One can ask: against who was this ‘defence consolidation’?
Very few realized then that it could only be against India; though the Indian officials posted on the Roof of the World would soon discover the true objectives of the Communists, nobody was ready to listen in Delhi.
This period coincided with the beginning of the Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai, the honeymoon between Delhi and Beijing.
Several years ago, the Central Tibetan Administration claimed that the number of Tibetans who died of starvation, violence, or other indirect causes due to the invasion was approximately 1.2 million. Though this figure could not be confirmed, the Chinese occupation was far from ‘peaceful’.
Over the years, the age-old Indo-Tibet relations were gradually replaced by a cruder relation with the new occupiers of Tibet; the Indian kinship with Tibet progressively disappeared with the presence of the ‘Liberation Army’ (PLA) the plateau. This was witnessed with dismay by the Indian diplomats and officials posted in the Land of Snows till the 1962 War.
At the beginning, very few Tibetans had the courage to fight the ineluctable; most, whether from the aristocracy or the clergy, first collaborated with the occupying forces, but these years also witnessed the birth of a national conscience and a ‘people’s movement’, which unfortunately never got Delhi’s support.
Soon after the signature of the 17-Point Agreement, the arrival of the Chinese troops in Lhasa brought a famine in Lhasa. Delhi came to the rescue and fed rice the PLA for a couple of years via Sikkim.
The first and foremost consequence of the signature of the 17-Point Agreement was that the Land of Snows lost its sovereignty; Tibet had become a part of the ‘Great Motherland’. It was the first time in its 2,000 year-old history, that Tibet consented to be a province ‘within the boundaries’ of China in an official document.
The Tibetans were put in front of a fait accompli and the Government of India did react to the ‘Agreement’, even though some clauses were in clear contradiction with several articles of the 1914 Simla Convention, binding between India and Tibet.
Three weeks after the Agreement was inked, during a press conference, Nehru pretended that he was unaware: “I do not know much more about it than you probably know. The story about an agreement being reached between the People's Government in China and the Tibetan authorities has reached us too. That is all; no further development has taken place to our knowledge. It is not proper for me to react to something which is not complete, which is not fully known.”
Washing his hands of the tragedy, the Prime Minister remained extremely vague when asked about the status of Tibet: “Throughout this period some kind of Chinese suzerainty has been recognised in the past as well as Tibetan autonomy. We have certain interests there which are not political but which are cultural, etc, which we should like to preserve. These are our approaches and we should like to preserve our cultural and trade interests in a friendly way with the people concerned.”
The Chinese propaganda said that the Dalai Lama welcomed the Agreement, he would have sent a telegram to Mao: "the local government of Tibet as well as the Tibetan monks and laymen unanimously support this agreement, and will actively assist the PLA in Tibet to consolidate national defense, drive imperialist forces out of Tibet and safeguard the unification of the territory and the sovereignty of the motherland." The 16-year old probably never did.
Some 15 years ago, in an interview, the Tibetan leader told us: “when the Tibetan delegation was negotiating in Beijing they were reluctant to sign, but the Chinese told them clearly: ‘If you do not sign, it is very easy for us, we just have to give a signal to the army and the army will march into Tibet.’" The Tibetan leader concluded: “It is clear, there were only two choices: either to accept the agreement or to go through what they called a military 'liberation'. For some years, we derived some benefit, but later, it became plain military occupation.”
Today China has started the most wide-apread campaign since the Cultural Revolution, to teach the glorious history of the Communist Party to the Chinese people. The propaganda says: “hostile forces at home and abroad make use of the history of the Chinese revolution and the history of the new China, doing their utmost to attack, vilify and smear them, with the fundamental aim of inciting the over throw of the leadership of the Communist Party of China and our socialist system.”
But history can’t be changed. The Tibetans were not ‘peacefully liberated’ in 1951.











 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Forgotten Hero of the Indian Air Force

Chinese PLA surrounding the Bell helicopter of Sqn Ldr Vinod Sehgal

My article The Forgotten Hero of the Indian Air Force appeared today in Rediff.com

Did Vinod Sehgal die in Tsangdgar or was he taken PoW to China?
Why has the IAF kept so quiet for all these years, asks Claude Arpi.

Here is the link...

Perhaps the main unsolved mysteries of the 1962 India-China War is the fate of 35-year old Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Vinod Sehgal, (sometimes is name is written ‘Sahgal’); the Vayu Sena Medal awardee of the 105 Helicopter Unit of the Indian Air Force, went ‘missing in action’ at Tsangdhar in the Tawang sector of the then Kameng Frontier Division of the North East Frontier Agency (today Arunachal Pradesh) on October 20, 1962.
In the early hours of this fateful day, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attacked the Indian positions south of the Thag-la ridge. It soon turned into a debacle recounted by Brig John Dalvi, the Commander of the ill-fated 7 Mountain Brigade in his remarkable Himalayan Blunder; the ‘leadership’ in Delhi had insisted of defending indefensible positions on the river Namkha chu (river), with the tragic well-known outcome. 

Tsangdar Dropping Zone where Sqn Ldr Sehgal landed
What happened in the vicinity of the Thag-la ridge and the Namkha chu (river) has been the object of a number of good or less good books.
Nobody has forgotten that the foolish (not to say criminal) leadership in Delhi did not think it fit to use the services of the IAF for offensive operations; the 7 Brigade was soon decimated; Hatung-la, the ridge next to the Thag-la fell on October 21 and Brig Dalvi was taken prisoner of war (PoW) on October 22; by that time, Maj Gen Niranjan Prasad, the General Commanding Officer (GOC) of the 4 Infantry Division had trekked back to Tawang from Zimithang, his tactical headquarter.
Maj Gen KK Tewari was then a Lt Col commanding the Signal Regiment of the 4 Corps based in Tezpur; on October 18, he had flown with Vinod Sehgal to the front and landed at Tsangdhar to inspect some deficient equipment on the forward posts, particularly in the Namkha chu sector.
Tewari, like many other officers and jawans, was taken PoW on October 20 morning; not hearing from his boss, with all communication lines cut, Tewari’s second-in-command (2iC), Maj Ram Singh decided to find out the situation on the front; he flew to Tsangdhar in Vinod Sehgal’s Bell helicopter.

Gen Tewari wrote in his memoirs: “Numerous cases of men who deserved to be honoured for their outstanding examples of devotion to duty in the face of enemy were ignored because of the confusion and failure in the higher directions and conduct of war. …The case of my own 2iC, Maj Ram Singh who gave his life along with Sqn Ldr Vinod Sehgal when they had tried to land at Tsangdhar in a two seater Bell helicopter after the Chinese attack, is one such. They came to find out what had happened after my last radio transmission that morning, when we suddenly went off the air after giving news of intense shelling and they were shot down.”
The GOC of the 4 Division later remembered that Maj Ram Singh, not knowing the true situation, had suggested sending a replacement set to the front; according to Gen Prasad’s memoirs: “I decided to go with him, not only to keep an eye on the battle while 7 Brigade HQ was on the move, but because I was keen to supervise the Tsangle withdrawal ...I called out to (Sqn Ldr) Vinod Sehgal to get his helicopter ready, collected Ram Singh and set out for the helipad. When emplaning, however, Sehgal raised an objection about the load. While he had no objection to carrying an extra passenger against regulations, he said, he just could not risk taking a heavy wireless set and battery in addition. At those heights, this was asking for trouble. My first reaction was to tell Ram Singh to wait for the next sortie, but Ram Singh quite rightly argued that establishing the set on Tsangdhar was more important as I would be helpless up there without communications In any case, by then the set and the battery had already been strapped on to the outside carrier frame; Ram Singh argued that it would only take a turn-around of 20-25 minutes to drop it at Tsangdhar and return. This made sense, so I got out of the helicopter and allowed Ram Singh to proceed to Tsangdhar.” The fate of the two officers was sealed; Ram Singh and Sehgal would never return. 

The Thagla ridge in the background
Gen Prasad then sent Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) AS Williams to check what was going on: “It was not more than fifteen minutes later I received a report from Borkungthang post that they had seen a helicopter come crashing near them. The pilot appeared to be safe and even then making his way towards Zimithang. Sure enough, Williams appeared down the path in about ten minutes time, looking visibly shaken. …The loss of both my helicopters was a serious blow - apart from the fact that I was more than a little worried about the fate of Ram Singh and Vinod Sehgal."
Air Marshal Bharat Kumar, who wrote the history of the 1962 air support operations, noted: “It can be surmised that Sehgal and Ram Singh were captured after their landing - they were not aware that the post had been overrun by the Chinese. The Chinese have kept silent about the incident, as if nothing ever happened. It is probable that both of them were shot after they were captured as their names did not appear either in the list of Prisoners of War (POWs) or declared dead by the Chinese.”
In a Chinese video clip released a few years later, Sqn Ldr Williams recognized the Bell 47-G2 Helicopter piloted by Sqn Ldr Sehgal: “the helicopter was intact and apparently Sehgal and his passenger [Ram Singh] were captured by the Chinese, never to be heard or seen again.”
After another helicopter was later shot by the Chinese; the Operational Record Book of No. 105 Helicopter Unit concluded: “Zimithang was abandoned with a sad heart as three beautiful valuable aircraft were lost and one very experienced pilot (Vinod Sehgal) taken prisoner by the enemy. Zimithang detachment came to a tragic end.”
That was it!

Sqn Ldr Vinod Sehgal, VSM
Why was Vinod Sehgal’s action never rewarded?
One of the tragedies within the greater 1962 tragedy is that Sq Ldr Vinod Sehgal’s bravery has never been acknowledged by the Indian Air Force. The young pilot’s name has today been forgotten though he performed a heroic feat several hours after the war was started.
Incidentally, a few years ago, Brig Amar Jit Singh Behl who was a young Second Lieutenant of the 17 Parachute Field Regiment fighting in Tsangdhar, told me in an interview for Rediff.com that after he was made prisoner by the Chinese: “On October 21, we were kept near the helipad and I saw the two officers who had been killed near their chopper. I went to the Chinese officers who had interpreters in English and Hindi. I asked this officer, I want to bury these officers; after I insisted, he said: 'Alright'. With two of my boys, we dug a two feet trench and buried Major Ram Singh and Squadron Leader Sehgal. We saluted them.” The next day, Behl and his companions started their long walk to the PoW camp in Tibet.
The question is: was it Vinod Sehgal that they buried?

from the ICRC Archives, Geneva

The Red Cross Angle
The mystery deepened further when during a recent visit to Geneva, I had the opportunity to visit the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). I came across a cable from the Indian Red Cross (IRC) to the ICRC dated November 9, 1962 requesting the humanitarian organization in Switzerland to take up the case of Vinod Sehgal with the Chinese Red Cross: “Kindly obtain confirmation Peking [Beijing] Radio News that Brigadier Dalvi, Lt Col Tewari and Sqd Ldr Saigal [are] in Chinese hands; also news [of] their welfare.”
The cable further says: “In conformity with Third Geneva Convention, we would appreciate receiving news concerning above mentioned prisoners.”
Does it mean that Vinod Sehgal was not killed in Tsangdhar, but taken prisoner in China? Probably.
Why has the IAF been silent on this event for all these decades?
The same day, the IRC was informed by the ICRC: “We have transmitted your request to Chinese Red Cross and [other] authorities.”
In a letter to Wu Chin-Shih, the Chinese General Consul in Geneva, the ICRC enquired: “[We] would appreciate receiving news of these prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 relative to the treatment of prisoners of war (Convention No III).”
There is no answer in the file.
Does it mean that what happened to Vinod Sehgal will forever remain a mystery?
Apparently (and sadly), Sehgal’s family was never informed of the fate of the young pilot. Gen Tewari mentioned in his memoirs an incident which took place when the PoW officers arrived in Kolkata after their captivity: “At the mess, an Air Force officer had ‘sneaked’ in a lady. She approached me to ask about Sqn Ldr Vinod Sehgal. Vinod was the Bell helicopter pilot who had flown me to Tsangdhar on October 18 with that jar of electrolyte in my lap. This lady was his sister. When I told her that Vinod was not with us, she said that she had a picture from a newspaper in which he was supposed to be standing next to me. She showed me the faded picture and of course, it was not my picture, nor Vinod’s. We had also been told already by the Chinese in the PoW camp that a Bell helicopter had been shot down at Tsangdhar on 20th October. …When I told her that it was not my picture, she broke down and cried bitterly. It was so sad and upsetting. In the happiness of our home coming we had forgotten even if temporarily, the pain of others who had lost their dear ones. We were not otherwise allowed to talk to anyone. In fact, all the mess staff also were forbidden to talk to us.”
Had Vinod Sehgal’s sister been informed that he was a PoW in China? It is possible.

Confluence of the Namkha chu and the Namjiang chu

This leaves us with a host of unanswered questions:
•    Did Vinod Sehgal die in Tsangdgar?
•    What happened to the helicopter? Was it dismantled and taken to China? Why China has never acknowledge it?
•    Or was Vinod Sehgal taken PoW to Tibet or China?
•    If he was, where was he kept? Why was he not kept with other PoWs who did not know about his whereabouts?
•    How did he finally die? Was he killed? Was the Indian government informed?
•    Why has the IAF kept so quiet for all these years?
We can only hope that one day the Ministry of Defence will seriously take up these questions; it is up to the Indian Air Force to take the initiative.

Equipment used by the Signals Regiment on the front near Tsangdhar

Sketch of the battle of Namkha chu by Brig John Dalvi


The Chinese New Highway to the Indian Border


On May 16, Xinhua reported that the construction of a new highway passing “through the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, known as the world's deepest canyon with a maximum depth of 6,009 meters” was completed.
As can be seen on the map posted below, the new road does not really pass through the Grand Canyon, more correctly, it ‘cuts through the canyon’.
What the Chinese agency does not mention is that the terminus of the road reaches very close to the Indian border (the Gelling circle of Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh), posing a serious security risk to the Indian territory.
We are told that the project took almost seven years to be completed: “A 2,114-meter tunnel was dug through, [today] marking the completion of the major construction of the 67.22-km road connecting Pai Township in  Nyingchi City [prefecture] and Metok County.”
It is the second road serving Metok Country, which till 2013, was the last county in China without road access.
Xinhua gives more information: “The project was built by the China Huaneng Group Co Ltd and started in 2014, with an estimated investment of over 2 billion yuan (about 310 million U.S. dollars).”

The Doshong chu (river)

The project was concluded 228 days ahead of schedule.

According to Du Canxun, a Huaneng manager: “The company stressed green development during the construction and poured 110 million yuan into ecological and water environment protection. It was much more than the planned 75.39 million yuan.”
It has to be seen if it is true, as the area is  environmentally extremely fragile (this can be seen on the above video).
The Chinese news agency adds: “The road was built on the former hiking route between Nyingchi's Pai Township and Drepung (Chinese: Baibung) Township in Metok County, with an altitude difference of up to 2,892 meters between the highest and lowest spots of the road.”
This difference of altitude will be used for the hydropower plant mentioned on this blog a few months back. The new road is indeed the first stage to start building the giga project.

The Xinhua article concludes citing the first road access to Metok: “It is the second significant passageway to Metok, following the first one connecting the county and Chabmog Township in Bome County [29°51′33″N 95°46′14″E]. After the new highway opens to traffic, the road length connecting the city proper of Nyingchi and Metok County will be shortened to 180 km from 346 km, cutting travel time by eight hours.”
A mega strategic change in the offing for India’s defence forces.

Another Article
Another article mentions: "The climate along the Paimok [Pai-Metok] Highway is changeable and construction is extremely difficult. ...It is scheduled to be completed and opened to traffic in September 2022. It is a key Tibet aid project of China Huaneng."

It further reports that the Pai-Mo [Pai-Metok] Highway is the second highway reaching Metok County: "After the completion of the road, the length of the road from Bayi [8.1 or August 1 = PLA garrison] District to Metok County in Nyingchi City [prefecture] will be shortened from 346 kilometers through Bome County to 180 kilometers in Jingpai Town; the travel time will be shortened from 12 hours to about 4 hours with the existing Metok highway, it will form a loop in and out of Metok."

Climatic Issues
According to the Huaneng Linzhi [Nyingchi] Hydropower Project Office: "The climate along the highway is changeable, and natural disasters such as avalanches, landslides, heavy rainfall, and mudslides occur frequently. The construction environment is harsh and the construction is extremely difficult."

As mentioned earlier, this area known as Pemakoe, is also extremely sacred for the Tibetans, but this is no concern to atheist China.

It has however to be seen how the new road will sustain during the torrential monsoon rains and how the highly seismic terrain will take the new development. Serious mudslides were recently reported downstream to Pai Township (see map below).

The terminus of the road is presently the bridge near Drepung

 

The last tunnel at Lobang opened on May 16

 

Mudslides in 2018 and 2021 (north of Pai township)



Possible route (one tunnel + 9 stations) for the giga HPPs


Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Red Cross and the 1962 Sino-Indian Conflict

A letter sent by an Indian POW
(Courtesy: Col Nirmaljit Pannu)
My article The Red Cross and the 1962 Sino-Indian Conflict appeared in the USI Journal

Here is the link...


Abstract
For the Indian nation, the 1962 conflict with China has been one of the most traumatic post-independence events. For more than 3,000 prisoners of war (PoWs), the experience was particularly harrowing.
This article looks at difficult relations between the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, the Indian Red Cross (IRC) and the Chinese Red Cross (CRC) Society. The ICRC’s archives in Geneva helped to understand the role of the international organization as well as of the two national Red Crosses and their respective governments during the conflict.
China not only refused to officially acknowledge the Geneva Convention of 1949 on PoWs, but also committed several violations in respect of the treatment meted out to captured Indian military personnel.
27 Military officers taken PoWs during operations were taken on a tour of china and repatriated on 04 May 1963.
The rosy picture painted by the Chinese propaganda had actually been a traumatic experience for the Indian PoWs.

Introduction
For the Indian nation, the 1962 conflict with China has been one of the most traumatic post-independence event. For more than 3,000 PoWs, the experience was particularly harrowing.
Still today some veterans who spent several months in the PoW’s camps in Tibet, refuse to speak to their families and friends about these dark days. But according to Chinese records, never in the history of warfare have prisoners been treated so well.
Preferential treatment or propaganda?
An account recently published by China1 tells us: “During the Sino-Indian border war, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) captured more than 3,900 Indian officers and soldiers2 (including one brigadier general and 26 officers). In the long-term goal of striving for friendship between the Chinese and Indian people and in accordance with the principle of lenient treatment of prisoners, which had always been upheld by the PLA, the treatment of prisoners of war by the Chinese side had far exceeded the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and many touching deeds had taken place”.
I shall cover the Geneva Convention and the role the Red Cross played in getting the PoWs released in several batches in 1962/63 a little later. This article looks at difficult relations between the Indian Red Cross (IRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross ((ICRC) in Geneva with the Chinese authorities represented by their Red Cross Society (CRC). It is often said the winner writes the history, but it is then with a deep distortion: “China released all Indian prisoners of war in a short period of time, playing an important role in winning over rivals, turning enemies into friends and promoting the restoration of friendly relations between the Chinese and Indian peoples,” mentioned the Chinese report.
Interestingly, China terms the Sino-Indian border conflict, a ‘counter-attack’, as if it was India who attacked China in NEFA or Ladakh. “In late October 1962, the General Political Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army issued several provisions on the question of prisoners of the invading Indian Army,” further explaining that the PLA “emphasised that captive officers and soldiers should not be killed, mistreated or insulted, or tied up and their private property should not be confiscated. The injured should be treated. At the same time, it was also required to take care of the living habits of all prisoners, and to find out the names and army numbers of dead bodies on the battlefield as far as possible, to bury them properly and to set up signs. Prisoners had to fill in medical records and death certificates signed by military doctors.” These principles were hardly followed.

No Declaration of War

An important legal element needs to be noted; there was no formal declaration of war between China and India. The Chinese said that they called the captured Indian Army personnel ‘captives’ and not ‘PoWs’; the camps were ‘captive shelters’, an euphemism. This was indeed part of the Chinese propaganda.3 The Chinese account does not mention the constant indoctrination sessions to which the Indian jawans and officers were subjected; China just says that meetings were organised to discuss “according to the wishes of the Indian prisoners …on the right and wrong issues in the Sino-Indian border dispute.” One can guess who was said to be right and who was wrong.
The Chinese described thus the departure of the PoWs from Tibet: “The captured Indian officers and soldiers, carrying clothes and souvenirs from the Chinese side, reluctantly bid farewell to the Chinese personnel. …the Indian captives in farewell with the Chinese Red Cross staff cheered their arms: ‘Long live the friendship between the Chinese and Indian people!’” The facts were, however, different.

Download the rest of the article...

You can also watch this video made by the Chinese...

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Origin of our Misery: The Mystery of Wuhan’s Lab P4

Gen Chen Wei awarded by the Emperor. For what?

 My article Origin of our Misery: The Mystery of Wuhan’s Lab P4 appeared in The Daily Guardian

Here is the link...

In the wake of the deadly second wave of Covid-19, some questions need to be asked about the biosafety lab in China’s Wuhan. Why did the PLA take over the lab, why were the lab’s French collaborators silent on the issue, and did the WHO investigation hide any truths?
 

China has mastered the Art of Disinformation Warfare.
Nearly one and half years after the dreaded Covid19 emerged in Wuhan and while the COVID-19 virus is still raging all over the world, having infected some 153 million on the planet (20 million in India alone), Beijing has managed to fully cover the tracks leading to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) was supposed to shed some light on the origin of the virus; but at the end of their inspection tour in January 2021, the members slipped the vital issues under the carpet and conveniently stated that initial findings suggest the most likely pathway the virus followed was from a bat to another animal and then to humans. They dismissed outright the possibility of the virus originating from the lab.
But l’Affaire Wuhan is not closed.
On March 4, a “Call for a Full and Unrestricted International Forensic Investigation into the Origins of COVID-19”, was issued by some 28 senior world scientists; speaking of the WHO’s China tour, they asserted: “We have reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses - whether natural spillover or laboratory/research-related incident.”
The eminent scientists further observed: “With more than two million deaths, more than a hundred million infected by COVID-19 worldwide, and a massive global disruption impacting some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, we cannot afford an investigation into the origins of the pandemic that is anything less than absolutely thorough and credible. If we fail to fully and courageously examine the origins of this pandemic, we risk being unprepared for a potentially worse pandemic in the future.”
Whether China manages or not to change the narrative and blame it on ‘foreign’ hands, the tragedy is bound to have deeper implications for the future of the Middle Kingdom.
Beijing is slowly, but surely losing its credibility worldwide; further the role played by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is being speculated upon.

Already vaccinated in March 2020.
Had Gen Chen the secret of the virus?
The Role of Gen Chen
Apart from the scientific recommendations of the Group of 30, an issue which needs to be immediately enquired is the role of an enigmatic personage; Chen Wei, a fifty-three-year-old PLA major general and a leading epidemiologist at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who was said to have developed the world's first gene-based vaccine on Ebola in 2014; she was sent to take over the Wuhan Institute of Virology on January 26, 2020, immediately after Beijing admitted the existence of the virus.
The Chinese press reported: “After arriving in Wuhan, Chen's team started building a portable testing lab, which was in operation on January 30.”
The State-run CCTV noted that Chen and her colleagues worked in shifts around the clock to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.
The Global Times wrote: “People familiar with Chen Wei, all know one thing very well - she is fast. Chen walks fast, speaks fast, and works at a fast pace. Chen is now working to speed up the development of the vaccine of COVID-19 in China.”
But there is more to Gen Chen; two months later, in March 2020, the Chinese media announced: “A Chinese doctor has stunned people around the world by injecting an untested vaccine for the coronavirus.” A commentator added: “Scientists in the country have been busily trying to find a way to beat Covid-19, however vaccines can usually take many months to go through testing and animal trials.
Speaking to China's state-run TV network, Chen said: "We are doing all we can to put the recombinant vaccine that we are developing into clinical application. We must strive to bring the vaccine we are working on to clinical trial and application, providing strong technical support for winning this battle."
This raises serious questions: why did the Chinese Army need to take over the P4 lab? How did Chen manage to produce a vaccine less than two months after the virus was officially found? Did she know beforehand about the virus?
One has to know that the P4 Institute of Virology in Wuhan is a high-tech facility partially funded and built by France; China had then a strong lobby in Paris led by former French Prime Ministers.
When he launched the research facilities in February 2017, Bernard Cazeneuve, the then French Prime Minister declared: “France is proud and happy to have contributed to the construction of the first P4 high bio-safety laboratory in China. …This cutting-edge tool constitutes a central element in the achievement of the 2004 intergovernmental agreement on Franco-Chinese cooperation in the prevention and fight against emerging infectious diseases.”
According to China.org.cn: “In January 2018, on the occasion of the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China, the heads of state of the two countries signed agreements on bilateral cooperation and issued a joint statement stating: ‘China and France will conduct joint cutting-edge research on infectious and emerging diseases, relying on the P4 laboratory in Wuhan’. The medical and health field constitutes a very important part of the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.” 

French PM Bernard Cazeneuve in Wuhan (Feb 2017)
France then trusted China.
But soon after, the French disappeared from the scene; the 50 researchers supposed to work on the project never reached Wuhan. Why was nothing made public? Was the PLA behind this? Could Gen Chen have used the P4 lab as a military facility in contradiction with the civilian agreement with France?
They are many questions that the unprofessional WHO team forgot to ask.
Xi Jinping had given the PLA’s medical teams the responsibility to win the ‘War’; when on March 10, 2020, Xi visited Wuhan to announce the ‘victory’, the Chinese president took the opportunity to reaffirm the PLA’s leading role in fighting the virus.
Many more questions need to be asked today, especially after the second deadly wave in India: Why was the P4 lab, a civilian collaboration between France and China, handed over to the PLA, with Paris remaining silent? Was Gen Chen sent to clean up all the compromising evidence in January 2020? Were the French asked to leave Wuhan or did they leave on their own?
Macron’s government recently generously donated to India, 28 tons of medical equipment, included 8 high capacity oxygen generators and 200 electric syringe pushers; this was very much appreciated. But he would now do a great service to humanity, if he would tell the world about the cause of the end of the Sino-French collaboration in Wuhan and what happened in the P4 Lab between the beginning of 2018 and the end of 2019.
L’Affaire Wuhan is certainly not over.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Will Beijing return the remains of 1962 hero?

New Bumla Memorial in honour of Sub Joginder Singh, PVC

 

After publishing this article, I have found that Joginder Singh's ashes were returned to India at Bumla on May 17, 1963 (probably outside the framework of the Indian and Chinese Red Cross).
On May 20, 1963, they were sent to Delhi (Palam airport) where they were received with due honour.
Later, they were taken to the Sikh Regimental Center in Meerut. After a one night-vigil in the Center's mess, they were handed over to Joginder's widow.
Despite ten years of research, I did not find this information earlier, not even in the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, that I visited especially to research this topic. My apologies.

The lack of archival coordination in India is stark (understatement!)

 

My article Will Beijing return the remains of 1962 hero? appeared in The Asian Age and The Deccan Chronicle.

Here is the link...

It is shocking that Beijing has never returned the remains of Subedar Joginder Singh, Param Vir Chakra, who died in Tibet in November 1962
 

In recent months China has given a lot of publicity to several new war memorials which have come up in Tibet; this mushrooming is probably due the Galwan incidents in which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lost some 45 men and officers in July 2020, although this information is still a State secret in China (it took months for Beijing to finally admit that four Chinese died in the brawl with the Indian troops).
On May 6, China Tibet Net published pictures of the Lhoka (Shannan) Martyrs cemetery. This sub-district of the Tibet Military Region (TMD) faces the Northern borders of Bhutan and the western part of the McMahon line, north of the Tawang sector.
The article says: “among the green pines and cypresses is the solemn Shannan Martyrs Cemetery, where are buried [the martyrs] of the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, the Tibetan rebellion, the Sino-Indian border self-defense counterattack, and the socialist revolution and construction in Tibet.”
More than 700 soldiers are said to be buried there.
Tibet’s ‘Peaceful Liberation’ should be read as the invasion of Roof of the World; the Tibetan ‘rebellion’ is the uprising of the Tibetan masses against the occupiers in March 1959 while ‘the self-defence counter-attack’ is the treacherous attack against India in October 1962.
Along with the memorial, “sculptures, manuscripts, pictures, certificates of merit, military medals... all cultural relics, silent and sacred, telling the infinite loyalty and love of revolutionary martyrs to the motherland and people.”
Similar memorials can be found in Gar and Tsanda in Ngari Prefecture (Western Tibet), in Rima (north of Kibithu in the Lohit Valley) and of course in Lhasa and Shigatse; the most important one is Kanxiwar Memorial on the Highway 219 (Aksai Chin road) in Xinjiang, which pays homage to the hundreds of Chinese soldiers who lost their life in the battle of Rezang-la in November 1962.
While there is nothing wrong in China honouring its soldiers, it is shocking that Beijing has never returned the remains of Subedar Joginder Singh, Param Vir Chakra, who died in Tibet in November 1962.
What happened to Joginder Singh?
In the morning of October 20, 1962, a JCO of the Assam Rifles posted at Bumla, north of Tawang, noticed some 1,000 labourers, with digging implements; they came protected by Chinese soldiers. The JCO rushed to inform the nearby platoon of a possible danger.
Nothing happened till 4:30 hrs on October 23, when suddenly the Chinese started firing with mortars and anti-tank guns to destroy the Indian bunkers built south of the International border and soon, 600 Chinese attacked the Assam Rifles post, which was quickly overrun, though after inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy.
Subedar Joginder Singh of the 1 Sikh Regiment was posted a few hundred meters away. According to the Official Report of the 1962 War: “the enemy attacked the forward platoon position of ‘D’ Coy [Company] of the Sikhs at the IB [Inspection Bungalow] Ridge, at about 5:00 hrs with the objective of capturing ‘Twin Peaks’. As the climb from the bed of the Nullah to the platoon position was steep, the Sikhs were able to inflict heavy casualties to the Chinese, compelling them to retire.”
Joginder Singh immediately asked for more ammunition, but by that time the enemy had cut the communications with the Coy Headquarters (HQ). Joginder Singh fought like lion, he was badly wounded in the process and taken prisoner.
The citation for the PVC gave more details: “In this fierce action, the platoon lost half of its men but not the will to fight. Subedar Joginder Singh, despite a wound in the thigh, refused evacuation. His platoon also refused to yield any ground to the enemy. The last wave of the Chinese attack, which was more determined and more forceful followed next. Now the platoon had very few men left to fight. Subedar Joginder Singh, therefore, manned a light machine gun and killed a large number of enemies. But he could not stem the tide of the enemy advance single-handed. The Chinese continued advancing with little concern for the casualties.”
The Report concluded: “While the enemy’s custody he died because of his wound. He was awarded PVC (Posthumously) for his bravery.”
Joginder was very badly wounded. When a few days later he arrived in the PoWs camp near Chongye in Central Tibet. The Chinese doctors immediately suggested an imputation (he was also suffering of frostbites), which the brave Subedar refused; his chances of being promoted to Subedar-Major, the senior-most rank for a JCO (junior commissioned officer) would be jeopardized.
The Chinese doctors ask the Indian Commanding Officers (CO) in the camp to try to convince Joginder that it was necessary if he wanted to survive. But the Indian officers failed to do so and soon after, Joginder passed away; it was sometime in November 1962.
Ironically, it is at Bumla, the place where Joginder fought so well that the first wounded jawans were repatriated by the Indian Red Cross on December 15.
In his memoirs, one of the COs remembered that on March 23, 1963, the PoWs were informed that Major Gurdial Singh of the Rajputs who was in the camp, had been awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. At the same time, they probably heard of the PVC to Joginder Singh.
The officer noted: “On 26 March 1963, the Commandant of the camp, called us to tell us that we were going to be returned to India via the mainland;” he further recalled: “Before leaving the PoW camp, we asked the Chinese to take us to the graves of our soldiers who had died in our camp. There were seven of them including Subedar Joginder Singh, who had been awarded the highest gallantry award of PVC. We were told by the Chinese that he had refused to have his toes, which were affected by frost-bite [and bullet wounds], amputated. …He [had] died of gangrene.”
Incidentally, a war memorial has recently been constructed to honour the PVC awardee at Bum La; it was inaugurated by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Pema Khandu, Joginder’s family and army authorities; it is a first step in the right direction, but it is time for Delhi to ask the Chinese Government to repatriate to India the mortal remains of the brave Sikh soldier as well as those of his six other companions still buried in Tibet.
It would only be late justice.