Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Why did Xi meet PLA generals?

My article
Why did Xi meet PLA generals? appeared in Rediff.com

Here is the link...

Important for India was Xi's meeting with representatives of PLA officers and soldiers stationed in Tibet.
The video of the encounter was interesting to watch, especially the large number of lieutenant generals and major generals, observes Claude Arpi.

On June 22 and 23, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) visited Lhasa after a gap of ten years. A day before, the Chinese president went to Nyingchi City (previously called Prefecture), near the Indian border of Arunachal Pradesh.
The China Daily reported: “he was warmly welcomed by local people and officials of various ethnic groups. …He then visited the Nyang River Bridge, to inspect the ecological preservation in the basin of the Yarlung Tsangpo River [Brahmaputra] and its tributary Nyang River.”
This is an important part of the two-day visit (June 21 to 23) as far as India is concerned.
For China, it has to be seen in the context of the CPC’s 100th anniversary and the 70 anniversary of the so-called Liberation of Tibet (read ‘invasion’). The ‘Op Bakhor’, as we shall see, was certainly part of the ‘celebrations’, even if fully stage-managed.
Later The People’s Daily stated the objectives of the visit: “to implement the party's strategy for governing Tibet in the new era and write a new chapter in long-term stability and high-quality development of the snow-covered plateau.” This refers to the 7th Work Forum held in August 2020 which defined the development policies for Tibet for the five next years, particularly the sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism.

Visit of Comrade Hu Yaobang to Tibet
When I heard about Xi’s tour of Tibet, the ‘best’ visit of a Secretary General in Tibet immediately comes to mind.
From May 22 to May 31, 1980; Hu Yaobang went on an in-depth and honest inspection tour of Central Tibet. A Chinese report later explained: “it can be said that this event marked the beginning of a new era for the CPC’s Tibet policy. In the ten years that followed that visit history marched on with its strong steps, leaving behind impressive footprints: amongst them, indisputably, the open door, a revitalised economy, changes in the social structure and an improvement in people's lives.”
Unfortunately, it did not to last.
Wan Li, member of the Central Committee and Vice-Premier of the State Council, thus described Hu’s tour: “The choice of date pointed out that the Central Government was willing to settle matters through consultation with the local people. …it aimed to show the Central Government's wish to restore the harmonious atmosphere of cooperation which had prevailed in the early 1950s.”
On May 29, Hu Yaobang made a ‘passionate’ political speech at a gathering of 5,000 cadres in Lhasa; the slogan put forward in the speech was 'Strive to build a united, prosperous and civilised new Tibet.”
In the speech Hu listed six tasks facing Tibet, the first point was that Tibet should “exercise nationality autonomy in the region fully - that is to say, to let Tibetans really be the masters of their own lives.”
Unfortunately, this would never be followed, as the hard-liners soon prevailed.
Post-Tiananmen massacre, Jiang Zemin became the General Secretary and towards the end of July 1990, Jiang, accompanied by the PLA Chief of General Staff, Gen Chi Haotian, paid the ‘highest-level visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in a decade’ (incidentally, Gen Chi was responsible for the repression on the Tiananmen Square in June 1989).
They promised new economic incentives for Tibetans and urged continued vigilance against pro-independence activities. However, Jiang Zemin did not echo Hu Yaobang’s views in 1990: “It is necessary to strengthen education in patriotism and socialism in the light of conditions in China and Tibet, so as to make the students know from childhood that Tibet is an inalienable sacred part of the big family of the motherland, and that there will be no socialist new Tibet if there is no CCP.”
It appears that during Jiang Zemin's visit to Tibet, a close relationship was established between the general secretary and his future protégé, Hu Jintao.
From the end of the 1980s, Hu Jintao, the future General Secretary has been serving as Party boss in Lhasa, though he did not like Tibet at all.
There was a well known anecdote about Hu amongst Tibetan cadres: 'Where is Hu?' The answer was: 'Hu is in Beijing Hospital.' ‘Why?’ Because, Hu would report sick each time he had to go to Lhasa!
When he became General Secretary, Hu never visited Tibet.
Xi Jinping, who succeeded Hu (Junior) in 2012, had visited Tibet as Vice-President in 2011; the present tour was therefore his first in Central Tibet in nearly a decade.
However less than two months ago, the Chinese President went to Gangcha County in Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. The area is mainly inhabited by Tibetans and Mongols.
According to Xinhua: “Xi was briefed about the environmental protection efforts in the Qilian Mountains and Qinghai (Kokonor) Lake. At the lake, he inspected achievements made in comprehensively addressing environmental problems and protecting biodiversity.”
Later, Xi visited a Tibetan settlement in Shaliuhe Township “to learn about the lives of local Tibetan residents.” It was mainly a promotion tour for him; one could even hear Xi saying ‘Tashi Delek’ (‘namaste’ in Tibetan).

The Visit in Central Tibet
The present visit is therefore the second tour of Tibetan-inhabited area in the last two months. I list below some important implications of the Lhasa-Nyingchi visit:

  1. It comes at the end of July when routinely a member of the all-powerful Standing Committee of the politburo pays a visit to Tibet. The purpose of the ‘inspection tour’ is mainly to report to the informal conclave held yearly in Beidaihe, the sea resort where the top leadership (past and present) of the Communist Party meets and discusses threadbare the issues facing the Middle Kingdom.
    Usually, Wang Yang, the no 4 in the Communist hierarchy (in charge of ‘minorities’) goes to the Tibetan plateau. This year the New Great Helmsman himself went; this shows the importance that the Party attaches to Tibet …and the border with India.
  2. Though the visit was kept a State secret, videos started circulating on social media on July 22 in the evening. They had been shot during Xi’s tour of the Bakhor (the ‘shopping’ parikrama around the Jokhang Cathedral in Central Lhasa). The General Secretary was seen coming out of a shop and then walking between two ranges of people. Several hundred people must have been there, giving a tough time to the security personnel. Though it was certainly stage-managed and well-orchestrated to show the popularity of the Core Leader, the videos are quite impressive.
    We had to wait one more day to get the gist of the rest of the visit (which had taken place earlier), but the purpose to leak the videos of the visit which was still ‘secret’ was undoubtedly to show that the situation in Tibet is well under control. It was an indirect response to the Western attacks on China about Human Rights’ violations, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibet.
    The fact that no accident took place (the participants must have been carefully selected and screened before the event), added a feather to the Emperor’s cap (at least as far as the Party is concerned, certainly not for the Tibetans).
  3. It has to be noted that the Jokhang Cathedral was a few meters away. Xi Jinping did not go there; he probably wanted to re-state that Communist China is atheist (though later Xi visited Drepung monastery). The Jokhang Cathedral is too much historically linked with Independent Tibet (particular a stone stele which records the Treaty of 821 AD, between Tibet and China).
    The Treaty says: “Between the two countries [Tibet and China] no smoke, nor dust shall be seen. There shall be no sudden alarms and the very word 'enemy' shall not be spoken. Even the frontier guards shall have no anxiety, nor fear and shall enjoy land and bed at their ease. All shall live in peace and share the blessing of happiness for ten thousand years. …This solemn agreement has established a great epoch when Tibetans shall be happy in the land of Tibet, and Chinese in the land of China.”
  4. During the visit to the Bakhor, Xi was accompanied by Wu Yingjie, the Party Secretary of Tibet and Che Dralha, the No 3 and Governor. Lobsang Gyaltse, the senior most Tibetan was missing-in-action. Liu He, Xi’s faithful lieutenant (and member of the Politburo) was there, with Gen Zhang Youxia, one of the two vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC), Yang Xiaodu, a regular of Xi’s visits also in attendance (both are members of the Politburo) and a couple of other politburo members.
  5. According to a report issued by Xinhua, Xi arrived July 21 morning at Linzhi (Nyingchi) airport. He drove to the Niyang River Bridge to learn about the ecological environment protection; the Nyang is a tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo, which becomes the Siang in Arunachal and later the Brahmaputra. Xi wanted to learn about the river basins: “In the afternoon of the 21st, Xi Jinping came to Nyingchi City Planning Museum, Gagla (or Gala) Village and visited Gongpo Park in Bayi District, to inspect urban development planning, rural revitalization, urban park construction and other work.”
  6. ‘Other work’ certainly refers to ‘Bayi’ which means ‘8-1 or August 1’ a term usually reserved to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which was founded on August 1. Bayi is the Headquarter of the forces facing India in Arunachal Pradesh. The presence of Gen Zhang Youxia was possibly necessary at this stage, though no details have filtrated. Xi later met the PLA top brass in Lhasa.
    The Xinhua report continues: “On the morning of the 22nd, Xi Jinping came to Nyingchi Railway Station to learn about the overall planning of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway and the construction and operation of the Lhasa-Nyingchi section, and then Xi had a ride in the train to Lhasa; he is said to have inspected the construction along the Lalin (Lhasa-Linzhi) Railway.
  7. Weibo resumed the visit in short sentences: “Xi Jinping went to Tibet for investigation, this is the first time since taking office. Xi Jinping communicated with local officials. Xi Jinping inspected Tibet. Xi Jinping interacted with the people in Tibet. Xi Jinping went to Tibet for investigation, this is the first time since taking office. Xi Jinping went to Tibet for research.”
  8. A worrying aspect of Xi Jinping’s tour was the visit to Nyingchi. On November 30, 2020, The Global Times had announced China's plan to build a large hydropower project on the Yarlung Tsangpo; the Communist tabloid admitted that it could raise concerns in India “over potential political and ecological threats as the river passes through Southwest China, India and Bangladesh. [But] Chinese experts refuted the claim that Chinese hydropower project have political aims, and said the project could help alleviate power shortage problem in northern India and boost regional economy." It is obviously a non-sense. Did the President come to give his green light to the project?
    It is difficult to answer. A series of hydropower plants (thrice the capacity of the Three-Gorges Dam) could be catastrophic for India.
  9. Also important for India was Xi Jinping’s meeting with the representatives of the officers and soldiers of the PLA stationed in Tibet. According to Xinhua: “Xi Jinping extended sincere greetings to all commanders and fighters of the troops stationed in Tibet and fully affirmed the outstanding contributions made by the troops stationed in Tibet.”
    In a speech Xi stated: “Over the past 70 years, the troops of Tibet Military District have resolutely implemented the decision-making and deployment instructions of the CMC. They have successfully completed a series of heavy tasks in the snowy plateau and have withstood the test of the arduous environment and the complexity of the country, towards maintaining national security, towards unifying and promoting and development of Tibet, have made outstanding contributions to the stability and development of the People's Republic of China. Thank you all!”
    Apart from the usual jargon, the video of the encounter was interesting to watch, especially the large number of lieutenant and major generals associated with Tibet; the presence of the CMC’s Vice-Chairman has already been mentioned.
  10. Lastly, someone was missing.
    Gyaltsen Norbu, the Panchen Lama selected by Beijing (and rejected by Dharamsala) was not to be seen, though he is the Chairman of the Buddhist Association of Tibet and a member of China’s top political advisory body, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Where was he? It appears that he was preaching in Gansu province. Why was he not invited? Why did he not take the Chinese President to Drepung or other religious places in Lhasa? It appears that he may not be in the good papers of the Beijing leadership. It is worth watching. 

It was certainly an important visit, and the policies/decisions taken in August during the 7th Work Forum will be implemented with more vigor after Xi’s visit. It does not augur well for the Tibetans …and India.

Some photos of the visit...

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Xi in Central and Southern Tibet

Xi Jinping is just back from an 'inspection tour' of Central and Southern Tibet (July 21-23, 2021).
He went to Lhasa after a gap of ten years, though he had visited Amdo  in June (where the Dalai Lama and Sikyiong Pempa Tsering, though born in India, is from Amdo).

I have listed below, the member of Xi's delegation as well as given the name of his hosts in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (and the generals who came from Chengdu to attend the encounter between Chairman Xi and the Tibet Military District's officers).

Xi's Delegation from Beijing

•    Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission

  Ding Xuexiang, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Member of the Politburo and a Secretary of the Party Secretariat.

He usually accompanies Xi in his visits/inspections tours.



Liu He, member of the Politburo and Vice Premier. Liu is also the director of the Office serving the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); heads the Financial Stability and Development Committee.

A trusted lieutenant of Xi; he also usually accompanies Xi in his visits/inspections tours.

Yang Xiaodu, Director of the National Supervisory Commission and member of the Politburo. Also Deputy Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI)

Served in Tibet during his early political career (1986-1992, Deputy Commissioner, Nagchu Prefecture; 1992-1995, Deputy Secretary, Chamdo, 1998-2001, vice-chairman, TAR government)
Yang knows Tibet well, having served fifteen years, but why Hu Chunhua, also a member of the Politburo and a Vice Premier was not on board for the visit? He was TAR Party from 1983 to 2007.
Hu is the only member of the Politburo who fluently speaks Tibetan. Probably, the emperor does not like shade.

 Gen Zhang Youxia, Vice-Chairman, Central Military Commission, Member Politburo.
His presence is explained by the 'important' meeting between the CMC Chairman (Xi) and all the officers of the Tibet Military District (TMD), including the Commander and the Political Commissar of the Western Theater Command or WTC (based in Chengdu, particularly the new Commander Gen Xu Qiling).  The WTC also looks after the Ladakh front.


 Chen Xi, head of the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China. Also member of the Politburo and a Secretary in the Central Secretariat as well as President of the Central Party School. Served as a vice-minister of Education and Vice Chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology.

A graduate from Tsinghua University, like Xi Jinping (they know each other since that time).  Read my post: The Brahmaputra Diversion and the Tsinghai Clique

  He Lifeng, Minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
His presence is explained by number of large projects, including the railway line between Lhasa and Chengdu and the Giga hydropower plants on the Yarlung Tsangpo to be soon undertaken.
See my post: The Big One


Also present was Lu Dongfu, Chairman and Party Secretary of the National Railway Group and Qian Ming, the deputy general manager of China Railway Group who answered Xi Jinping's questions on the new railway line between Lhasa and Nyingchi. 

 Delegation from Western Theater Command, Chengdu 

  • Gen Xu Qiling, Commander Western Theater Command (WTC)
  • Gen Li Fengbiao, Political Commissar, WTC
  • (to be confirmed) new Commander, PLA Ground Force, WTC

PLA Tibet Military District (TMD) delegation led by:

  •  Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie, Political Commissar of TMD
  • Lt Gen Wang Kai, Commander, TMD
  • Several Lt Gens and some 25 Maj Gens from PLA and PLAAF posted in the TMD


Those who received Xi Jinping

  • Wu Yingjie, Secretary of the Party Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Member of the Central Committee
Accompanied Xi Jinping during the entire visit
  • Lobsang Gyaltsen, Deputy Secretary of the TAR and secretary and director of the Standing Committee of the District People's Congress.
Was seen only during the performance
  • Che Dalha (Zizara), Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of the TAR, Chairman (Governor) of the TAR government. Member of the Central Committee
Accompanied Xi Jinping during the entire visit
  • Zhuang Yan, Deputy Secretary of the TAR and Executive Vice Chairman of the Autonomous Region. Alternate Member of the Central Committee
He was NOT seen during the visit. Probably responsible for the organization of the visit
  • Yan Jinhai, Deputy Secretary of the TAR. Alternate Member of the Central Committee
Was seen in Bakhor, Potala Square and Drepung
  • Danko, Member of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region Party Committee and Minister of the United Front Work Department
Received Xi Jinping in Drepung Monastery

Other prominent Tibetans spotted during the visit ('The Old Red Guard')

•    Pasang 

Joined a unit of the PLA (1956); joined CCP (1959), Pasang’s rise to the top dates from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. She came into prominence in May 1966 when she wrote an article in The People's Daily praising Mao Zedong's Thought. In 1969, when the Revolutionary Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) was established to replace regional government, she was elected Vice-Chairperson. In 1971, she was made a deputy party secretary in the TAR Party Committee, a position she held until her retirement in 2002.
See my post: The Return of the Red Genes in Tibet
Attended the cultural performance with Xi Jinping

Second from left

  • Legchok

Legchog, was born in Gyantse in 1944. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1972.
He has been the Chairman of the TAR government between 1998 and 2004. From 2003 to 2010, he was the Chairman of the TAR Congress.
He is one of the members of the Old Guard with Ragdi, Pasang, Phakpalha and Jampa Phuntsok.
On July 1, he was awarded by Wu Yingjie the Commemorative Medal of the "Glorious 50 [1o0?] Years of the Party".
He attended the cultural performance.

Seating behind Xi and in front of Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie, the PC, TMD

  • Phakpalha Delek Namgyal
An incarnate Lama, popularly known as Chamdo Phakpalha. Though born in Lithang (Kham province), was recognized as the Head Lama of Galden Jampaling Monastery in Chamdo. The Rinpoche has been supporting the Communist regime for more than 65 years.
Phakphala is presently a Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and the Honorary President of the Buddhist Association of China.
He also formerly served as a Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress, Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and Vice President of the Buddhist Association of China
Head of the powerful Chamdo clique. Read my post: The Still Powerful Chamdo Clique
Was seated in the first row during the cultural performance next 

Seating next to Liu He and Gen Zhang Youxia

•    Samding Dorjee Phagmo

Born in December 1942 in Lhasa, she was (is) the highest female reincarnation in Tibet.
She is presently Deputy Director of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of the TAR and Vice Chairperson of the All-China Women’s Federation.
Read my post: The Lamas who will select the Chinese 15th Dalai Lama
Small lady in the first row

Tibetan generals serving in the PLA

  •  Maj Gen Ngawang, Deputy Chief of Staff of the TMD
    Attended the encounter between Xi Jinping and WTC/TMD
  • Maj Gen Thubten Thinley, probably responsible for the recruitment of the Tibetans in the PLA 
Attended the encounter between Xi Jinping and WTC/TMD

See my post: Tibetan Faces in the PLA

Gyaltsen Norbu, Chinese selected 11th Panchen Lama; was touring Gansu province. Was probably not welcome in Lhasa

 Lonely Gyaltsen Norbu in Gansu

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Return of Hu Yaobang ...and Xi Jinping

Yesterday, Xi Jinping visited Nyingchi near the Indian border of Arunachal Pradesh and Lhasa.
I will come back later on the visit, but this reminded me the visit of CPP's General Secretary Hu Yaobang in May 1980.
It was truly important visit to Tibet, not for the show, like yesterday.
This article in the Epoch Times (affiliated with the Falun Gong group) says that a number of Chinese publications have commemorated the death anniversary of Hu Yaobang, the former CCP's General Secretary. 
Hu has been a great reformer and it is his death which triggered the Tiananmen events in 1989.
For Tibet also, the tenure of Hu Yaobang brought positive changes on the ground, especially after his visit to Lhasa in May 1980.
I am posting here the report of his visit written by one of his close collaborator, Wang Yao.
This shows that with a more open leadership, many things could change on the Roof of the World (and in China). 

File photo dated April 14, 199
Report of the visit of Comrade Hu to Tibet
During the week from May 22 to May 31, 1980, Hu Yaobang led a Working Group of the Party Central Committee (PCC) to visit and inspect Tibet. This event was watched with great interest by those, both at home and abroad, who were concerned with Tibetan society, and it can be said that this event marked the beginning of a new era for the PCC's Tibet policy. In the ten years that followed that visit history marched on with its strong steps, leaving behind impressive footprints: amongst them, indisputably, the open door, a revitalised economy, changes in the social structure and an improvement in people's lives. As for Hu Yaobang himself, he experienced his ups and downs with officialdom and left the world with his ambitions unfulfilled on April 15, 1989. The great honours that were paid to him at his funeral could not make up for the regrets during his life. But the past has passed. According to Chinese custom, final judgment can only be passed on Hu when the lid is placed on his coffin, and this note is a reflection on the historical significance of Hu's visit to Tibet, as a mark of respect to him and as a way of cherishing the memory of a great man. 
The Composition and Timing of the Working Group The importance of the Central Committee's Working Group can be judged from Wan Li's description of it: “This is the first working group to be formed since Comrade Hu Yaobang became the General Secretary after the new secretariat was formed at the Fifth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee.” The Working Group was composed principally of five people:
Hu Yaobang, the General Secretary of the Central Committee and a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Central Committee; Wan Li, member of the Central Committee and Vice-Premier of the State Council; Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, the Vice-Chairman of the National People's Congress; Yang Jingren, member of the Central Committee and the Head of the State Commission of Nationalities Affairs, and Zhao Zhengqing, Vice-Minister of the Organisation Department of the PCC. There were several other staff members, amongst whom I was the only one who was not a government official. Edgar Snow, as an old friend of the Party leadership who knew their working style quite well, once said, 'Nothing carried out in public by the leaders of the Central Committee is ever casual or without significance.' This was true of the date chosen for the visit, and there were at least three reasons which led the Working Group to select May 22 as the date when it should arrive in Lhasa. First, the date indicated that the Central Government's policy on Tibet was based on the 'Seventeen-Point Agreement'. This was the agreement (entitled in full, 'Seventeen Points for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet') signed in the Qinzheng Hall in Zhongnanhai, Beijing, on May 23, 1951, after a long period of discussion and consultation, by the delegation of the Central People's Government, headed by its plenipotentiary Li Weihan, and the delegation of the Tibetan Regional Government, headed by plenipotentiary Ngapo. That agreement marked the first time since its victory in the domestic revolution that the Chinese Communist Party had found a point of convergence with the Tibetan regional government; it was also the first agreement, based on compromise and harmony, which was acceptable to all the political forces in Tibet. It thus became the governing principle in Tibetan work and policy for a long period. Secondly, the choice of date pointed out that the Central Government was willing to settle matters through consultation with the local people. Thirdly, it aimed to show the
Central Government's wish to restore the harmonious atmosphere of cooperation which had prevailed in the early 1950s. The Working Group arrived at Gongkar airport near Lhasa at 10 a.m. on May 22, and two hours later had reached Lhasa and begun its meetings with the Tibetan leaders. Hu Yaobang came straight to the point by asking Paba-la [Phagpa-la Gelek Namgyal] a question:”Comrade Paba-la, what is tomorrow?” This summed up the feelings and intentions of the Group. At the cocktail party held on May 23 to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the Seventeen-Point Agreement, Wan Li held the hands of Sampho Tenzin Dundhup and said: 'You have rendered an outstanding service to history! Thank you!' Apart from Ngapo, Sampho was the only surviving member of the delegation sent by the Tibetan government who had signed the Agreement. He had just been released after nearly twenty years in labour camps. 

Hu Yaobang's Speech 
On May 29 Hu Yaobang made a very sincere and passionate political speech at a gathering of 5,000 cadres in Lhasa. The slogan put forward in the speech was 'Strive to build a united, prosperous and civilised new Tibet' ('Wei jianshe tuanjie fuyu wenmingde, xin Xizang xiang nuli douzheng'). In the speech Hu listed six tasks facing Tibet:

1. To exercise nationality autonomy in the region fully - that is to say, to let Tibetans really be the masters of their own lives. 
2. A commitment by the Central Government to relieve and reduce burdens of the people, exempting the from agricultural and animal husbandry tax over the next three to five years in order to allow the Tibetan people a chance to recover.
3. To adopt a special policy to revive the Tibetan economy, including the adoption or a system of private economy in line with Tibetan circumstances. Nationwide this initiative was developed into the economic (household) responsibility system. 
4. To make great efforts to develop agriculture and animal husbandry as well as the manufacture of consumer goods, in order to promote economic prosperity and enrich people's lives. 
5. To make efforts to develop Tibetan science, culture and education, and to prepare for the establishing of the University of Tibet. 
6. To implement the policy on minority nationality cadres correctly, to strengthen the unity between the Han and Tibetan cadres, and to transfer a large quantity of Chinese cadres who had worked in Tibet for many years back to the interior. 

Naturally, these six tasks were endorsed and supported by the Tibetan people. The atmosphere was very lively both inside and outside the meeting. Hu Yaobang was an excellent orator and his address was received with waves of warm applause, especially when he admitted very frankly:  'Our present situation is less than wonderful because the Tibetan people's lives have not been much improved. There are some improvements in some parts, but in general, Tibetans still live in relative poverty. In some areas the living standards have even gone down. We comrades in the Central Committee, Chairman Hua as well as several vice-chairmen, were very upset when we heard about this situation. We feel that our party has let the Tibetan people down. We feel very bad! The sole purpose of our Communist Party is to work for the happiness of people, to do good things for them. We have worked nearly thirty years, but the life of the Tibetan people has not been notably improved. Are we not to blame? If we don't make this
clear, people won't let us oft the hook; party members won't let us get away with it!' What he said touched people's hearts. They admired him for his statesmanship and his broad-mindedness as a true Communist. It was open and honest, dared to act, dared to face reality and dared to bear responsibility. Ten years later Hu Yaobang's words still ring out forcefully. To this day, the Tibetan people still keep his likeness in their hearts, referring to him affectionately as 'sku-zhabs Hu' [Gentleman Hu].  The Two Cordial Conversations  In the first of the Two Cordial Conversations, Hu Yaobang invited three leading Tibetan cadres, Dorje Tseten, Lobsang Tsultrim, and Phuntsog Tashi, to the hotel in which he was staying in Lhasa. Hu, in his sitting room, opened his hearts to them and said: 'You are all exemplary Tibetans. You are leaders as well as communists; the Tibetan cause relies on you. I hope that you will make further contributions towards the construction of a united, prosperous and civilised new Tibet. I did not know you before, but now we have become friends. Tibetan affairs will rely on you. You can directly come to see me if there are any problems.' These three men were later appointed to important Positions. Dorje Tseten became Director of the TAR Department of Education, First Secretary of the Lhasa Party Committee, and Chairman of the TAR People's Government. Now he is the Director of the China Tibetology Center in Beijing. Lobsang Tsultrim was appointed as the Director of the TAR Party Committee's Department of Organisation, and as the vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibetan People's Congress. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack shortly afterwards. Phuntsog Tashi became at various times in his career the Director of Publications for the Tibetan
Administration, the vice-Chairman of the Tibetan People's Congress and the vice-Chairman of the Social Science Academy. Now he is the vice-Director of the China Tibetology Center. In the second of the Two Cordial Conversations, Hu invited two leading figures of the Old Tibet to talk with him. Sholkhang Thubten Nyima and Chapei Kelsang Wangdu were old acquaintances of Hu, who as members of the Chinese Youth Delegation had been to visit Moscow and Bucharest with him in the 1950s. Hu did not forget his old friends although thirty years had passed. Hu held their hands and chatted delightedly. He looked back over their past friendship and hoped that they would guide the patriotic leading figures of the old Tibet to strive together to construct a new Tibet. Before long, Sholkhang Thubten Nyima was appointed as the vice-Director of the Tibetan Cultural Department and the vice-Chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference of the TAR, and Chapei Kelsang Wangdu later became the Director of the People's Bank of the TAR.
Beijing Leadership Dares to Reawaken June 4 Memories
Hu Yaobang, leader memorialized in 1989 by the Tiananmen students, is commemorated
Epoch Times
Matthew Robertson
April 5, 2012

In a sign that Chinese Communist Party head Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are willing to inflame the Chinese people’s long-suppressed hopes for political reform, dozens of Chinese newspapers have recently run articles commemorating former Chinese leader Hu Yaobang, Wen’s mentor and the epitome of a reformist cadre.
Hu Yaobang’s death on April 15, 1989, and the commemoration of it, was the main fuse for the massive outpouring of protests that were violently suppressed in Beijing on June 4 that year. His name has always been associated with the Tiananmen Square massacre, and thus has been mostly ignored or suppressed in official media.
The occasion for the recent news is China’s Qingming festival, usually falling on April 4 or 5, a time when Chinese pay tribute to their deceased family members, including visiting and cleaning their graves.
An article in China News Service, the Communist Party’s Chinese-language mouthpiece outside China, celebrated the man.
Titled “Hu Yaobang Tomb’s During Qingming Festival: He is long dead but masses remember him,” the article appeared in other official Chinese media outlets and was forwarded widely on major news portals.
Hu was responsible for politically rehabilitating hundreds of thousands of people who had been persecuted or given class labels by Mao, and he energetically sought political and economic reforms before being ousted for “laxness” in fighting against “bourgeois” elements in 1987.
Qingming, also known as the grave sweeping festival, has serious political connotations in China. The April 5 movement of 1976, where hundreds of thousands gathered in Tiananmen Square mourning Zhou Enlai and attacking the Gang of Four, and the June 4 democracy protests, were both connected with the traditional Chinese celebration.
The article says that near to the 23rd anniversary of Hu’s death, over 80 CCP leaders and 200 provincial and ministerial-level cadres have paid respects at his tomb.
“This large-scale commemoration activity is a way for Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao to strike out at Bo Xilai’s Cultural Revolution-style politics,” said Zhang Tianliang, a commentator on Chinese politics, in an interview. Zhang said that Zhou Yongkang, the security czar and supporter of ousted Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, will also take notice.
Seen through the prism of the current political struggle, Hu Yaobang is a paragon of the reformist camp. He is also Wen Jiabao mentor, who seeks to emulate the late leader. The high-profile coverage brings to greater prominence these reformist themes—but whether it will manifest in concrete actions, like freedom of the press, the ceasing of religious persecutions, and the dismantling of labor camps, has yet to be seen, Zhang said.
“Hu and Wen’s priorities are to gain the confidence of the international community, and put pressure on the hard-line elements in the Chinese Communist Party,” says Wen Zhao, a current affairs commentator for the New York-based NTD Television. “They want to make sure that hard-liners such as Bo and Zhou Yongkang don’t act rashly,” he said.
One widely forwarded microblog post referred to the news and remarked on how widely it had been posted on the Chinese Internet. “What wind is this now blowing?”
With reporting by Xue Fei and research by Ariel Tian.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Butterfly Effect in Ladakh

 My article The Butterfly Effect in Ladakh appeared in The Daily Guardian

Here is the link...

For years, China and the US, the world’s two superpowers, have been competing to win the battle of supremacy, then the Covid-19 arrived, as insignificant as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings; it has, however, triggered immense changes in the world.

The term Butterfly Effect is usually associated with the ‘chaos theory’. Mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the metaphorical term ‘Butterfly Effect’ is derived from his research on a tornado: Tthe time of its formation and the path it takes is often influenced by “minor perturbations such as a distant butterfly flapping its wings several weeks earlier.”

Wikipedia explained that Lorenz discovered the effect “when he observed runs of his weather model with initial condition data that were rounded in a seemingly inconsequential manner… A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.”

When future scholars will write the history of modern China, a landmark will certainly be the day Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China from the rostrum on Tiananmen Square in October 1949; but perhaps an even more important event will be the appearance of the Covid-19 virus in Wuhan in December 2019.

In early 2020, Moustapha Dahleb, a Chadian doctor and poet, provided a great description of Covid-19, the pandemic that has been plaguing the planet, killing more than 4 million humans and affecting some 220 millions. He wrote, “Humanity Shaken by a Small Thing (Un Petit Machin).” He argued, “A small microscopic thing called coronavirus is upsetting the planet. Something invisible has come to make its law. It questions everything and upsets the established order. Everything is put back in place, otherwise, differently.”

For years, China and the US, the world’s two superpowers, have been competing to win the battle of supremacy, then the ‘petit machin’ arrived, as insignificant as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings; it has however triggered immense changes in the world, that we have started witnessing.

At the end of 2019, China was triumphant; Beijing could get any country (small or big) to obey its diktats— who could afford to lose the lucrative business opportunities ‘offered’ by the Middle Kingdom?

Countries like France were even ready to provide Beijing with a P4 Lab, with the most sophisticated technology (and its inherent dangers), despite wise voices to the contrary in Paris: “The future of our economy depends on the Middle Kingdom”, kept repeating the politicians, forgetting in the process that the Communist regime in Beijing was totalitarian and mistreated those who were not ready to follow the Party line.

In India too, the ‘trust’ with China reached such levels in February 2018 that Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale asked the Cabinet Secretary to issue a classified advisory note addressed to all Ministries and Departments of the Central as well as state governments not to meet the Dalai Lama.

Long ago, Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have remarked, “Let China sleep. For when she wakes, the world will tremble.”

But since one year, the planet has begun waking up to the Dragon’s belligerent behaviour and it is now the Communist regime in Beijing that has started trembling.

As often depicted in Indian epics, it is the ‘villain’ who helped Delhi to come out of its torpor; in May 2020, at a time when India was struggling with the Wuhan virus, widely acknowledged to have originated in the megacity which had ironically witnessed the ‘Consensus’ between Modi and Xi less than two years earlier, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) advanced into several areas in Ladakh. India decided to resist the Chinese bully, something which in turn upset the Dragon further (‘How could such a small ‘non-violent’ chaotic country like India resist it for a few kilometers of territory on a desolate plateau?’).

Since then, especially after the deadly clash in Galwan in June 2020, the situation has drastically changed; apart from some hardcore ‘experts’ whose business still depends on the old relation with China, the Indian nation is today aware that business cannot continue as before …Even External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar recently admitted: “…for the last one year, there has been a lot of concern about the relationship because China has not observed agreements it had signed up for when it came to our border.”

Then another flap of wing: on 6 July, the Prime Minister tweeted: “Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life.”

This simple phone call is significant for many reasons; first and foremost it shows that the Indian government is behind the Dalai Lama in his succession dispute with Beijing; it will also be noted by Beijing at a time the PLA is trying to recruit more Tibetans in its ranks, to one day raise a Tibetan unit to match the Indian Special Frontier Force (SFF), composed of Tibetan refugees in India.

It further sends a clear message to the other side of the frontier in Ladakh. Not only did the populations in Rutok county adjoining India get to know about the PM’s phone call, but this year, large crowds were allowed to celebrate the 86th anniversary of their leader in the vicinity of the LAC; some 200 Ladakhis and Tibetan refugees gathered in U Bend area of the Indus (where the river takes a turn westwards in direction of Nyoma). A car cavalcade, carrying photos of the Dalai Lama, drove around a Mani (a pile of stones with sacred mantras such as Om Mani Padme Hum), while chanting prayers for the Dalai Lama’s long and healthy life.

Obviously, the PLA ‘border guards’ posted near Dumchele, on the opposite side of the Indus, were not happy and a few soldiers in mufti displayed a red banner, protesting the event; eyewitnesses said the banner was poorly made and barely readable, showing that China had probably not anticipated the ‘special’ phone call from Delhi to Dharamsala as well as the size of the celebrations in Ladakh, which ended with a prayer and the traditional bara khana.

But that is not all, festivities also took place at Hanle, on the western side of the Ladakh range, where some 600 people assembled; it was the largest ever gathering for the Dalai Lama’s birthday; men and women dressed in their colouful attires, performed ‘happiness’ dances and played games. Similar scenes were seen near the LAC in Ladakhi villages of Koyul, Dungti, and Nyoma.

That such functions took place at a time the COVID pandemic is not fully over is a great change, especially when the border remains extremely tense, with the 12th round of talks between the 14 Corps Commander and his Chinese counterpart still to take place. The close coordination between the local sarpanchs, the civil administration, the gompas, and the defence forces made the events a great local success.

Apart from the ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ which reverberated on the banks of the Indus and Hanle rivers, the event remained apolitical, a première in Ladakh.

A few flaps of butterfly wings more and tectonic changes could happen in India’s China policy; it is certainly in India’s interests.


Friday, July 9, 2021

PM Modi's Call to Dalai Lama is a Message to China on Succession IssueImportant

Important phone call in view of the situation in Tibet
My article PM Modi's Call to Dalai Lama is a Message to China on Succession Issue appeared in The Quint

Here is the link...

A message has been sent to China through this call ahead of the 12th round of Corps Commander level talks over LAC.

Late one evening in August 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had an unheralded meeting in Delhi, with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader living in exile in India since March 1959. Apparently, the meeting did not go too well; the reason is unknown.
The fact remains that for centuries India and Tibet, have shared values, not only in the spiritual realm (Mt Kailash, the sacred mountain of the Hindus is in Tibet after all), but also political, having a peaceful common frontier (which unfortunately for India, become the Sino-Indian border in 1954), without forgetting extensive economic and trade connections with the entire Himalayan belt, from Demchok in Ladakh to Kibithu in NEFA (today Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh).
Post 2014, there was minimal institutional exchange between Dharamsala and Delhi, except for a discreet visit of the (‘Buddhist’) Foreign Secretary (Harsh Vardhan Singla) in July 2020.
It is why it came as a pleasant surprise when the Prime Minister tweeted on July 6: “Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life.”
This simple call, made public via Twitter, is significant for a number of reasons.
First, it comes after the February 2018 MEA Directive, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale asked the Cabinet Secretary to issue a “classified circular advisory advising all Ministries/Departments of Government of India as well as State Governments not to accept any invitation or to participate in [n the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's arrival in India].”
Delhi followed the old Nehruvian concept that by pleasing China, Beijing would reciprocate in kind. Remember that this was after the Doklam episode, when China tried to change the status quo at the trijunction Bhutan-Tibet-Sikkim.
Then the ‘Wuhan Consensus’ took place in April 2018; Xinhua then observed: “Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached broad consensus on the overarching, long-term and strategic issues of global and bilateral importance”.
The Modi Sarkar thought India could work with Xi Jinping.
It was followed by the ‘Chennai Connect’ in October 2019; the leaders of both countries announced that they would “prudently manage their differences and not allow differences on any issue to become dispute.”
On the final day of the two-day informal summit at the sea-side resort of Mamallapuram, it was decided to ‘consolidate strategic communication’.
Tibet and the Dalai Lama became dirty words, not to be pronounced by anybody in India.
Ironically, it is China who helped Delhi come out of its torpor; the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) advanced in several areas in Ladakh in May 2020, at a time when India was struggling with the Wuhan virus, widely acknowledged to have originated in the mega city, which had witnessed the ‘Consensus’ less than two years earlier.
It was a big shock for most of the ‘China experts’ in India, who for years banked on a great (not to say eternal) friendship with Communist China.
In a way, this phone call rebalances India’s China Policy (if there was ever one) at a time Beijing prepares for the post-Dalai Lama era by putting in place strict ‘regulations’ to be able to decide who will be the 15th Dalai Lama (preferably from a good Communist family).
Interestingly, Radio Free Asia (Chinese broadcast) recently reported: “Just as the CCP’s centennial celebration ceremony are about to start, the CCP imposed regulations on Tibetan Communist Party members for their religious behavior. [Since April] …all learning materials for Party members and cadres …need to adhere to atheist norms. …Party members and cadres should not believe in religion, to participate in religious activities, [they should] not spread or promote religion, [they should] not provide support for religious activities …without authorization [of the Party].”
Isn’t it amazing? The Party does not believe in religion, but simultaneously wants to select and impose its own Dalai Lama.
The phone call hopefully indicates that though India, a secular state will not intervene in the Dalai Lama’s succession; it will stand by the Tibetan leader’s decision.
Since China unnecessarily started a confrontation in Ladakh, one lakh Indian troops remain on vigil in the formidably harsh climate of the northern borders; the fact that the Prime Minister wished the Dalai Lama is certainly an important message across the Himalaya that the old relationship between Tibet and India is very much alive, specially before the 12th round of talks which is soon to take place between the Indian Commander of 14 Corps and his Chinese counterpart.
It is particularly significant as the PLA is trying its best to recruit more Tibetans in its ranks, to one day raise a Tibetan unit to match the Special Frontier Force (SFF), composed of Tibetan refugees in India; the SFF fought so well in August 2020, conquering the Kailash range, south of the Pangong Lake, for the Indian Army.
One can only hope that the initiative of the Prime Minister will be a first step to make the contacts between Dharamsala and Delhi more regular, in particular to jointly work for the preservation of the Buddhist tradition, another domain where atheist China is trying to lead the world.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Xi Jinping Is The New Führer

My article Xi Jinping Is The New Führer appeared in The Daily Guardian

Here is the link...

Like Hitler’s Germany, China is trying to expand its territory and influence not only in the Himalayas or in the South China Sea, but everywhere from Central Asia to Africa and South America.

“I volunteer to join the Communist Party of China, support the Party programmes, abide by the Party’s Constitution, fulfill my obligations as Party’s member, implements the Party’s decisions, strictly observe the Party’s discipline, keep the Party’s secrets, be loyal to the Party, work actively for the Party, fight for Communism during my entire life and be ready at any time to sacrifice everything for the Party and the people, and never betray the Party.”

This is the oath that tens of millions of Party cadres, soldiers and officers of the People’s Liberation Army or ordinary citizens have to take on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China.
Reading this pledge, the Nazi regime in Germany comes to mind; in 1940, Sri Aurobindo, the rishi living in Pondicherry, explained his views on the ‘inner’ war going on; he had just sent a large amount (for that time) of Rs 1,000 to the War Fund to support the British government. Many of the disciples were incredulous, why support the forces that India wanted to be liberated from.
The sage explained: “Hitler and Nazism and its push towards world domination are an assault by a formidable reactionary force, a purely Asuric force, on the highest values of civilisation and their success would mean the destruction of individual liberty, national freedom, liberty of thought, liberty of life, religious and spiritual freedom in at least three continents.”
Is it not the same with a communist China today, which is trying to expand its territory and influence not only in the Himalayas or in the South China Sea, but everywhere from Central Asia to Africa and South America, imposing its views on the world?
In 1940, Sri Aurobindo observed: “If Britain were defeated, that result would be made permanent and in Asia also all the recent development such as the rise of new or renovated Asiatic peoples would be miserably undone, and India’s hope of liberty would become a dead dream of the past or a struggling dream of a far-off future… Mankind itself as a whole would be flung back into a relapse towards barbarism, a social condition and an ethics which would admit only the brute force of the master and the docile submission of the slave.” This is what happened to the Tibetans in 1950, when their country was invaded.
The victory of the British Empire was necessary for the world to evolve towards a more human, if not enlightened, state; the freedom of India emerged from this (it did two years after the end of the War).
Sri Aurobindo spoke of “a clash between two world-forces which are contending for the control of the whole future of humanity. One force seeks to destroy the past civilisation and substitute a new one; …a reversion to the old principles of dominant Force and a rigid external order and denies the established values, social, political, ethical, spiritual, altogether.”
India should keep this in mind when it negotiates with China in Ladakh or elsewhere; the present ‘battle’ is between two opposite words, particularly since the virus, which mysteriously emerged from Wuhan. India, despite having an incredible number of weaknesses and deficiencies, represents an aspiration for freedom, peace and diversity on the planet.
Today, Xi Jinping is the new ‘Führer’ (‘guide’ in German) and all Chinese people have to swear by him… if they are attached to their lives.
It is not that China has never seen hope on the horizon in the past. Take the example of Xi Zhongxun, a very progressive Vice-Premier. In the Fall of 1962, Kang Sheng, a shady character, arrived on the Chinese political stage. During the Tenth Plenum of the 8th Party’s Congress, Mao violently attacked Xi Zhongxun, accusing him of supporting the rehabilitation of Gao Gang, a Communist Party leader who had been purged in 1949. Machiavellian Kang Sheng led the charge; he announced that Xi should be ‘investigated’ for his ‘anti-party activities’.
Dr Li Zhuixi, Mao’s personal physician later wrote: “Kang Sheng›s investigations implicated more than three hundred cadres from the party, government, and military.” Dr Li continued: “I knew Xi Zhongxun well, and the charges against him and his supporters were fabricated. But Kang Sheng’s job was to depose and destroy his fellow party members.”
Subsequently, Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping’s father, disappeared from public view for 16 years. The foundations of the Cultural Revolution were laid. On 25 June 2021, accompanied by the members of the Politburo, Xi Jr visited Mao Zedong’s residence in Zhongnanhai in the Imperial City; Xi praised the Great Helmsman, who had sent his father to jail: “We must always maintain our red blood, use the party’s struggle history and great achievements to inspire fighting spirit and guide the direction, use the party’s glorious tradition and fine style to strengthen our beliefs, gather strength, and use the party’s historical experience,” he said.
China watcher Willy Wo-Lap Lam mentioned other cases of more liberal leaders in the last China Brief of the Jamestown Foundation: “Looking Back on Short Flashes of Liberalization in the Chinese Communist Party’s 100 Years.” He cites amongst others Deng Xiaoping’s two designated successors, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang: “Deng, Hu and Zhao spearheaded the thought liberation movement, which can be summarised by the saying ‘practice is the sole criterion of truth’… This ideological reform freed the nation from unthinkingly following the dictates of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. Deng’s post-Mao political reforms included introducing village-level elections, the abolition of the personality cult, the establishment of a retirement and succession mechanism and the separation of party and government.” All these reforms have gone with the Red Wind.
In the meantime, the situation is deteriorating on India’s northern borders. Take the example of the Kyungling village, located a few kilometres north of the LAC, north of the Shi Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh; a Chinese website says: “Party Branch earnestly studied and implemented the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important reply to the masses of Yume Village [the first model village adopted by Xi on the border in 2017]. …Day after day and year after year, party members and the masses of Kyungling Village participated in the defense of the border, braved the wind and rain, over the snowy mountains, wandered into torrents, lived in rock caves, measured the country with their footsteps, and defended sovereignty with practical actions, …[people] are on duty building a ‘bronze wall and iron wall’ on the border.”
How long will the Tibetans be brainwashed thus? Let us hope it is not too long. In any case, India has no option but to fight the present regime in China at all levels, keeping in mind that perhaps one day, a more-enlightened regime will emerge. The planet will be so much better without a totalitarian ‘guide’ in Beijing, but Delhi should not bank on this presently.