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Tibet policy: Bold new proposals

posted Jun 28, 2013, 5:31 PM by The Tibetan Political Review

Excerpt from the full article published in The Economist:

 
"[Few] outside China think the Communist Party’s strategy for Tibet is working. A combination of economic development and political repression was meant to reconcile Tibetans to Chinese rule and wean them off their loyalty to the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader. Instead disaffection is still rife, especially among the young. And all across Tibetan areas of China, Tibetans still display the Dalai Lama’s portrait, sometimes openly. Since March 2011 more than 100 Tibetans—especially in Tibetan areas of provinces bordering what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)—have set themselves on fire. Most have done so in part to call for the Dalai Lama’s homecoming. An overwhelming security presence and the Dalai Lama’s commitment to non-violence mean that the unrest is easily contained. Hence little has suggested that China’s leaders are concerned about the bleak implications for the future: that their rule in Tibet can be maintained only by the indefinite deployment of massive coercive force. 

So for a Chinese scholar, Jin Wei, who is director of ethnic and religious studies at the Central Party School in Beijing, to call for a “creative” new approach is startling. For her to do so publicly, in an interview this month with a Hong Kong magazine, Asia Weekly, suggests that she has high-level backing. A report from a Beijing think-tank in 2009 challenged the official line that rioting in Tibet the year before was instigated from abroad. But Robert Barnett, a professor of Tibetan studies at Columbia University in New York, describes Ms Jin’s intervention as a sign that, after two decades, “debate has re-emerged within China about the government’s hard-line policies in Tibet”. Ms Jin even accused former party chiefs in Tibet of being “biased against the practice of religious affairs”. This, she said, “foreshadowed the accumulation of grievances today.”

One former party secretary in Tibet (from 1988-92) was Hu Jintao, who went on to head the party nationally for ten years until last November, when he gave way to Xi Jinping. Those who have forecast that Mr Xi might prove a bolder reformer than the cautious Mr Hu have so far seen little to back them up. Here, on Tibet, is at least a hint of a crack in the hardline consensus. Some have detected another in the appointment of Yu Zhengsheng to head the party’s main policy group on Tibet and Xinjiang, a Muslim-majority region in the north-west. Mr Yu is the head of an advisory body designed to promote national unity. Previous heads of the group have been security specialists."


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The full Economist article is available here



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