Tibet's Chinese boss fights ghost of independence struggle
  • Fri, 01/28/2011 - 11:00

Jan28, 2011

Tibet Autonomous Region’s (TAR) Chinese boss Mr Zhang Qingli, who is famous for having described the Dalai Lama as a wolf in monk’s robe with the heart of a beast in 2008, has said dealing with alleged separatist forces in Tibet is more complicated than fighting the Uighurs in Xinjiang and required a different strategy. Dealing with “separatist forces in Tibet, such as the Tibetan Youth Congress, needs to be different because they’re not categorized as terrorists yet,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with China’s official English language newspaper China Daily Jul 26.

The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), whom Beijing describes as a terrorist group, has, however, no record of engagement in any violent campaign against China and neither is it known to have any presence in any part of Chinese ruled Tibet. But China is clearly very worried about it, with its non-parochial identity and clear stand for Tibet’s complete independence.

The United Nations has, under pressure from China, controversially designated The East Turkistan Islamic Movement, which fights for Xinjiang’s independence, as a terrorist group, although there have been no credible evidences whatsoever of its involvement in terrorist actions. But the move provides a convenient pretext for the Chinese to authorities to “fight them when they strike”. Zhang obviously hopes that China will also succeed in arm-twisting the UN into eventually declaring the TYC as a terrorist group.

Zhang had served in Xinjiang for six years before being posted in the TAR where he became the party general secretary in 2005.

The newspaper also quoted Zhang as saying, “Tibet’s development is constantly disrupted by foreign anti-China forces and the Dalai clique.” And the report went on to added that “the Dalai clique initiated a series of violent crimes involving beatings, smashing, looting and arson in Lhasa on Mar 14, 2008, which left 19 dead and more than 400 people injured.”

But after making a very public promise to the world to present evidences for its above claim in 2008, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao never came back to fulfil that promise. Besides, the exile Tibetan government and NGOs have said more than 200 Tibetans were confirmed to have been killed; many more others had been sentenced, including to death; and thousands of Tibetans had been arrested or disappeared in the brutal Chinese repression on the generally peaceful protests which spread to most of the Tibetan Plateau region.

Other reasons cited by Zhang for saying fighting alleged separatists in Tibet was more complicated was his claim that Tibetan make up 95 percent of the region’s population whereas Uighurs made up only 48 percent of Xinjiang’s population. He has also said that Xinjiang had more than 20,000 mosques but only 8,000 imams whereas TAR had fewer than 1,800 Tibetan Buddhist temples but had more than 46,000 monks.

This, however, ignores the fact that the TAR’s cities and towns – including capital Lhasa, Shigatse, Chamdo, Nagchu, Nyingtri – are almost totally or overwhelming dominated by Chinese immigrants and migrant workers most of whom are not included as part of the region’s population.

The interview report’s main focus was on the supposed sacrifices made by Chinese officials serving in the TAR in view of the harsh geography there and its effect on their health. However, he has ignored to mention the fact that they enjoyed much higher pay and other service privileges than in China.

“More than 4,100 officials in Tibet have passed away since 2001 at an average age of 64, which falls short of China’s average life expectancy of 72,” Zhang was quoted as saying. “Working in Tibet is a challenge.”

Tibetans will, perhaps, want to remind Zhang of what Hu Yaobang had said in 1980. The then General Secretary of the Communist Party of China had said that most of the Chinese cadres should be returned to China and replaced by Tibetans obviously because of their large scale plundering, coupled with complete lack of understanding of what Tibet really needed.

The report said Zhang had visited all the 73 counties of the TAR and had traveled more than 10,000 kilometres to remote villages in the first six months he was in the TAR. Obviously he heard only what he wanted to hear and saw only what he wanted to see in terms of his blinkered vision for the region during those visits.