Sunday, January 21, 2018

Doklam crisis is not over: India and China are headed for more conflicts

Nilang (now written Nelong Valley)
My article Doklam crisis is not over: India and China are headed for more conflicts appeared in Mail Today/DailyO

Here is the link...

Beijing has not been able to digest the fact that New Delhi supported Bhutan during the standoff.

On New Year's Eve, President Xi Jinping delivered an 11-minute televised speech to extend his greetings to all Chinese and… friends all over the world. Xi said that Beijing is dedicated to safeguarding peace. "China will act as a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and an upholder of the international order."
Will this translate in peace on the border in 2018? Probably not! Rumours are circulating that troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have intruded in Gelling sector in the Siang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh.

China has not fully digested the fact that India stood up for Bhutan when the PLA was trying to build a road in June near the trijunction between Sikkim and Chumbi Valley in Tibet.
Quoting "experts", a PLA website admitted that China will be better prepared "next time": "the recent Doklam standoff had propelled China to perfect its strategy in its western part" said
Zhao Xiaozhuo, a research fellow at the Academy of Military Sciences is quoted by the same newspaper: "India never takes road construction as an opportunity… and only thinks about its own interest."
Was the road on Bhutanese territory really an opportunity for India? It makes no sense.
During a recent press conference, the spokesperson of the China's ministry of national defence said India "should strictly control its troops".
While China is getting ready for another standoff, Beijing deeply dislikes Delhi developing its side of the border.
The Global Times resented the recent visit of the Indian Union home minister Rajnath Singh to Nelong Valley in Uttarakhand; Singh spent the New Year with Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
"An Indian road construction project connecting all border posts along the China-India frontier could lead to new military standoffs between China and India," warned another Chinese expert.
China is unhappy because Rajnath Singh asserted that "a number of border posts had already been connected with roads and many would soon be linked… this would enhance the operational efficiency of the officers and reduce mountain-related sickness among them."
While Beijing is going full steam to build infrastructure on its side of the McMahon Line, it complains about Delhi building roads on India's borders; amazing double standards.
Nelong Border Outpost (BoP), located at the height of 11,700 feet, is manned by the ITBP. Accompanied by ITBP director general, RK Pachnanda, the minister later visited Pulam Sumda (14,200 feet) and interacted with jawans and officers.


The area is disputed by the Chinese only because Beijing refuses to adhere to the universally-accepted principle of "watershed" used for demarcating borders. In Nelang, the watershed in the area is located at Tsangchok pass, beyond Pulam Sumda.
At the same time, Beijing does whatever it wants on its side of the border.
The China Daily recently reported: "Investment in infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is helping to lift 628 villages along the border out of poverty."
The Chinese newspaper further asserted: "After getting access to electricity and the construction of new roads, tea farmers and herdsmen in a village some 200 kilometres southwest of Lhasa in Tsona county founded a cooperative that provides skills training and job opportunities for villagers."
Lepo, a tiny village, north of Khenzimane, the last border post on the McMahon Line is said to have received several thousands of visitors last year and adequate lodging facilities have been provided to them.
China further admitted: "Starting last year, more than 100 million yuan (Rs 99.4 crore) has been invested in infrastructure in villages of less than 100 families as a part of a broader construction project to build model villages in the border area."

The China Daily estimated that by 2020, the road access rate in the area will reach 100 per cent and the per capita disposable income will double. Last week, Xinhua reported that China's least populated township had been connected to the national grid. It is Yume (also spelt Yulmed), the first hamlet north of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.Remember, at that time of the 19th Congress, Xi Jinping had written a letter to two young Tibetan herders who had introduced their village to the Chinese president. It was the same Yume.
The Global Times commented: "A sparsely populated township has been connected to the state electricity grid, ending life without electricity for its 32 residents."
The contractor, a Xining-based electric power company who worked on the project is quoted saying: "The 15-kilometer 10-kilovolt power line, which took five months to complete, is connected via 108 electric poles over a 5,000-meter-high mountain."
There are many such examples along the Tibetan side of the McMahon Line. Year 2018 may not be serene despite the peaceful vows of President Xi.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Claude Arpi's book exposes India's ties with China and Tibet like never before

My book has been reviewed in Mail Today/DailyO by Utpal Kumar

Titles of the review is Claude Arpi's bookexposes India's ties with China and Tibet like never before

The book brings to fore how Jawaharlal Nehru deliberately kept Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel out of the discussions on Tibet.

Claude Arpi's latest book, Tibet: The Last Months of a Free Nation, is an original, one-of-its-kind account of how India lost the "Roof of the World" not because of the long-held notion of the great Chinese betrayal, but because of the monumental failure of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his ideological allies to see the writing on the wall for more than a decade. It's original because it, unlike other more celebrated books, refuses to look at the events through solely the Western lens. Rather, the author took the pain of going through desi papers to create a narrative that challenges the long-held notions of the event.

The book not just brings out the differences of opinion between Nehru and his deputy PM Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was also the home minister, on how to deal with looming communist shadow over Lhasa. In the last weeks of Patel's life, who passed away on December 15, 1950, Nehru kept him out of the Tibetan issue, citing his deteriorating health.

Nehru's differences with Patel might be a known fact, but the high point of the book is when the author exposes how several senior bureaucrats were not happy with the prime minister's handling of the Tibetan affairs, which led India to lose a peaceful northern border.

Sardar Patel had written a letter to Nehru on November 7, 1950, detailing the implications of Tibet's invasion for India. The author tells us that Patel's "prophetic" letter was actually a draft sent by Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, eminent civil servant and diplomat. A month after the entry of the Chinese forces in Tibet, Patel sent Bajpai's note under his own signature to Nehru, who chose to ignore it.

Arpi also brings out the frustration of seasoned diplomats such as Bajpai, who had to face the slight of his junior, KM Panikkar, the then Indian ambassador to China. Panikkar ceaselessly defended the Chinese interests to the extent of being detrimental to India's, and being ideologically closer to Nehru he would on several occasions bypass his immediate bosses in the department, including Bajpai. The ambassador not just failed to confirm several intelligence reports suggesting initial Chinese military aggressive moves, but also defended them by writing: "In view of frustration in regard to Formosa, Tibetan move was not unlikely."

No wonder, when things were moving at a rapid pace in communist China, the country was in a denial mode. Nehru, blinded by his ideological obsession and wrong associates like Panikkar and defence minister VK Krishna Menon, even went to the extent of questioning the efficacy of a strong army. This mindset alone explains why, at the time of the Chinese aggression, India's gun factories were believed to be producing coffee.

The book, at another level, is also a reminder of what's wrong with our academia. When Arpi writes, "with this compilation, one can read for the first time, Tibet's tragedy from the Indian viewpoint", it makes one wonder: Why did it take Indian scholars so long to look at such easily available documents in the Nehru Memorial Museum Library and National Archives of India? It definitely wasn't an accidental failure.

Tibet: The Last Months of a Free Nation is a book that should be read by everyone who cares to know where we went wrong in our ties with China and Tibet. But given the stunning silence in the academic circles, it hardly seems to be the case. Maybe it's because we are living in the era of manufactured bestsellers. Manufactured because the bestseller list can now be rigged. One just needs to know the procedure. Remember Lani Sarem, a one-time actress, who hired a company to ensure her 2017 book, Handbook for Mortals, found a place on the New York Times bestseller list? She managed to get one, albeit for a short time. And back home, it's now an old joke in the publishing circle about a noted novelist "managing" a bestseller slot for his first book by buying thousands of its copies.

Arpi's book is definitely not worth a "bestseller" slot, but it rightly deserves an intellectual buzz. Sadly, it's not the case in the country right now.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Did the Young Horse tame the Dragon?

Chinese are known for their incapacity to pronounce foreign names; however Beijing tried to turn this to its advantage when the French President recently arrived on a State visit in China. In the Chinese press, Emmanuel Macron became ‘Ma Ke Long’ or the ‘Horse taming the Dragon’.
This was bound to immensely please the French President who started his three-day state visit in Xian in Shaanxi province.
Three main issues were on his agenda. First was the trade and economic cooperation with Beijing. France, like India, has a large trade deficit with China, which needed to be rebalanced.
Paris is keen to lower imports barriers for agricultural products, such as beef and wine; further it is keen on a better access to China’s markets and on fairer investment policies for the French companies operating in China.
Climate change was another issue to be discussed, though China has been a key supporter of the Paris Accord to tackle global warming. After President Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the pact, Paris and Beijing affirmed that they would form a ‘joint leadership’ to combat climate change.
Finally, Macron came to Beijing as the ‘ambassador’ of Europe. With Angela Merkel still struggling to form a government and thus temporarily out as a European spokesperson, Macron has become the main figurehead for the EU.
Before the visit, The South China Morning Post wrote: “France may step forward to take a much more prominent role. Macron will be hoping for a constructive and supportive relationship with China as France attempts to assert itself on the global stage.”
From the Chinese side, President Xi Jinping was keen to secure France’s (and Europe’s) participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
A day before the French President arrived, AFP analyzed: “France has so far been cautious about Beijing’s plans to revive trade along ancient land and sea routes but that could change as the French president seeks to rebalance a multibillion-euro trade deficit.”
Though the ambitious initiative is to connect Europe and Asia by road, rail and sea, European nations have not so far shown much excitement for the New Silk Road.
Business was however at the heart of the visit; Macron was accompanied by some 50 French CEOs keen to work with China.
According to the French Press, the French president indeed introduced himself as the Ambassador for Europe; Le Point commented: “This state visit began ‘symbolically’ in the north of the country in Xian, ancient capital of the Chinese empire that was the starting point of the Silk Road.”
Le Parisien reported the ‘lyrical’ speech delivered by Emmanuel Macron in which he addressed the Sino-French relations, the fight against global warming and multilateralism. The French leader asserted: “The world is a fragile silk fabric.”
He spoke about "a Franco-Chinese alliance for 'the future of the world' France is changing in depth and, with it, it is Europe that is back to build a balanced cooperation with China."
Beijing must have waited for his declarations on the BRI.
In Xian, addressing an audience of academics, students and businessmen at the Daming Palace, the royal residence of the Tang dynasty for more than 220 years, Macron affirmed that China and Europe should work together on the Initiative, but it could not be a ‘one-way’ project.
He elaborated: “After all, the ancient Silk Roads were never only Chinese,” adding: "By definition, these roads can only be shared. If they are roads, they cannot be one-way. They cannot be the roads of a new hegemony that will put the countries that they traverse in a vassal state. …Multilateralism means balanced cooperation,” Macron affirmed.
This may have not pleased his hosts.
About the EU-Chinese relations, after acknowledging there had been mistrust and ‘legitimate questions’ about China, as well as fears among Europeans, Macron hoped for a new start, based on ‘balanced rules’.
He was probably referring to the issue brought up by Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU ambassador to China who said that the unity of the European Union “should be fully respected as countries from central and eastern Europe edge closer to China.”
“Responsibilities of the EU have to be fully respected,” Schweisgut asserted.
He was speaking of China-led 16+1 grouping, supposed to build ties with central and eastern European countries through investment and infrastructure deals. Since its launch in 2012, it has been extremely controversial within the EU, “amid concerns that Beijing is trying to create division by exerting its economic influence on smaller member states. Of the 16 European countries, 11 are members of the EU,” said the SCMP.
Will the Chinese leadership take into account EU’s core interests is an issue instead of trying to divide EU? This will need to be followed.
With his wife Brigitte, Macron later proceeded to Beijing where President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan hosted the French couple at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. During their first encounter, Xi affirmed said Macron's visit, as his first visit to Asia, showed that he was “paying high attention to the China-France relationship.”
Interestingly the First Ladies, Peng Liyuan and Brigitte Macron attended the meeting. It is rather unusual.
The Chinese president restated France was the first Western power to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1964: “Chairman Mao Zedong and General Charles de Gaulle made a historic decision with remarkable political foresight to forge diplomatic ties in 1964. …The decision not only changed the world pattern at that time."
Xi added: “In the new era, we should follow the spirit of being responsible for history.” He stressed that China wanted to build “a community with a shared future for mankind …France has similar views,” he said.
According to Xinhua, Macron said that “France would like to take an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative."
Xinhua quoted Xi saying that the world was facing great uncertainties and China would work closely with France on big international issues. It would also “strengthen cooperation under the framework of the belt and road.”
Macron answered that France would like to take part in China’s Belt and Road Initiative: “I came here to tell China my determination to get the Europe-China partnership into the 21st century,” but he reiterated: “I want us to define together the rules of a balanced relationship in which everyone will win. We must first decide on a frame together.”
Guess what the French President brought for his Chinese counterpart?
A horse from his elite French Republican Guard.
It does not mean that The Horse has tamed the Dragon.
One can however regret that the visit of the French President to India, scheduled in early December, was postponed. India with its affinities with France should have been the first country to receive the young dynamic French President. A missed opportunity?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Facial recognition introduced in Tibet

For the welfare of the Tibetans
What is in store for the Tibetans in 2018?
In his New Year speech, while presenting his vows to the Chinese people, President Xi Jinping admitted that “issues of public concern remained,” adding that this was why “we should strengthen our sense of responsibility and do a good job of ensuring the people’s well-being.”
As we know, 'people's well-being' has been the leitmotiv of the Chinese regime.
Xi affirmed that all rural Chinese living below the poverty line would no more be poor by 2020.
He had probably in mind the ‘minorities' areas: “It is our solemn promise …Only three years are left to 2020. Every one of us must be called to action, do our best, take targeted measures to secure victories one after another...This is a great cause, important to both the Chinese nation and humanity. Let’s do it together and make it happen.”
In the meantime in Tibet, the authorities have taken so-called ‘welfare’ measures to 'help' the common men/women.
Unfortunately these measures are often …with Chinese characteristics.

Welfare in Tibet?
A website reported: “The Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) outlets in Tibet have introduced facial recognition technology at its automatic teller machines (ATM) to provide a new choice for the masses who have the demand for cash.”
The article explained: “Cards are no longer needed to withdraw money. A quick scan of the face will do.” Already 20 ATMs with facial recognition technology have been installed, 14 in Lhasa and the others, elsewhere of Tibet. affirmed: “The ATM is installed with a camera that captures the facial images and compares them with the ID photos of users for verification. Based on big data technology, including the identification of biological characteristics, the machine will be able to identify the cardholders if their facial features have changed, and avoid thieves who attempt to trick the machine.”
Of course, it is entirely for the benefit of the ‘masses’!
The article says: “In order to provide more convenient for the local farmers and herdsmen users, the machine has also specially loaded the Tibetan voice and language.”
Migmar Thondrup, a resident in Lhasa told the reporter: “One of the best things about facial recognition technology is that you don't have to carry your cards with you for petty deposits and withdrawals. It's fast and convenient.”
It is certainly convenient for the Public Security Bureau officials to identify those who would be tempted to question the supremacy of the Party.
Already, 100 new ATMs have been tested; they will be put in service in a couple of months.

A Giant database
In the meantime, China is building a giant facial recognition database to identify any citizen within seconds.
It is said that the project can achieve an accuracy rate of 90 per cent …but it faces concerns about security.
The South China Morning Post recently reported that China was building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system “with the power to identify any one of its 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds. …The goal is for the system to able to match someone’s face to their ID photo with about 90 per cent accuracy.”
The fact that the project was launched by the Ministry of Public Security shows that it is not just for ATMs and other ‘welfare’ issues.
The Hong Kong newspaper added: “The system can be connected to surveillance camera networks and will use cloud facilities to connect with data storage and processing centres distributed across the country.”
It is also said that the promoters have been encountering difficulties partly due to the technical limits of facial recognition technology.
But there is no doubt that these difficulties will be overcome.

ATM in Lhasa using facial recognition
Database entry on the plateau
The data entry continues in the most remote parts of the Tibetan plateau.
Under the title ‘Ngari pays attention to people’s livelihood’, China Tibet News affirmed that “In recent years, the public security office of Ngari Prefecture has done a good job in improving the masses' satisfaction and safeguarding the rights and interests of citizens.”
The reporter added that “to solve the document handling problem of children in welfare homes in Ngari Prefecture, green channel is opened by the local police station of Shiquanhe [Ngari] Town with more simplified processing procedure."
The article is accompanied by a photo. The caption reads: “Workers of the local police station of Shiquanhe Town are conducting portrait and fingerprint information collection work.”
In 2018, the facial data of each and every Tibetan will be stored.
That’s not good news.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New era: Diplomacy with Chinese characteristics

My article New era: Diplomacy with Chinese characteristics appeared in Edit Page of The Pioneer.
Here is the link...

In 2018, Buddhist diplomacy Beijing-style promises to become the main weapon to upstage India, the birth place of Buddhism

On New Year’s Eve, President Xi Jinping delivered an 11-minute televised speech to extend his greetings to all Chinese and …friends all over the world.
Xi said that Beijing is dedicated to safeguarding peace. "China will act as a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and an upholder of the international order."
“Building a community with a shared future for mankind, an important concept of China's diplomacy in the new era, calls for win-win cooperation and turning planet Earth into a harmonious family,” he asserted.
This sounds good, but the ‘Chinese family’ itself is not too harmonious. The increasing repression in Tibet and Xinjiang are reminders of the sad fate of the ‘minorities’ in China.
Will the New Year bring improvements?
Some movements appeared at the end of the year.
In November, the Dalai Lama appointed Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, the former Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and Sikyong Lobsang Sangay (the present head of CTA) as his ‘personal emissary’; later in the month, the Rinpoche secretly visited China. He landed in Yunnan province (where he is born) and then proceeded to Wutaishan, a sacred Buddhist site in Shanxi Province. Mount Wutai is linked with Manjushri and is one of China's most important Buddhist pilgrimages.
For years, it has been the Dalai Lama’s dream to one day visit Wutaishan. It is rumoured that Samdhong had talks with officials of the United Front Work Department who deal with Tibet, for an eventual visit of the Tibetan leader to China (not to Tibet) in 2018.
Is it part of China's ‘diplomacy in the new era’, dear to President Xi?
We should get an answer in 2018.
In the meantime, China’s propaganda is going on full steam about Tibet and …Buddhism. Beijing has been extremely active to ‘sell’ its version of the present situation on the Roof of the World.
On December 19, Xinhua reported that a collection of thangkas, or traditional Tibetan Buddhist scroll paintings, had been put on display for the first time in Israel. The news agency quoted one Kalsang Chi, manager of a Tibetan culture company in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province (China has attached several parts of Tibet to neighbouring Chinese provinces). Kalsang told the Israeli media: “About 100 thangkas are displayed, in the city of Haifa, for three days to show the essence and style of Tibetan thangkas and culture. …It allows the Israeli public to appreciate the unique Chinese art form at close range."
Then, a cultural delegation of scholars in Tibetology as well as ‘Living Buddhas’ visited Sri Lanka from December 14 to 16. They accompanied a photo exhibition on Tibetan culture and held a seminar on Buddhism. According to Chinese sources, it was attended by officials from Sri Lanka’s Buddhism Affairs Department, Sino-Sri Lanka Buddhism Friendship Association and more than 200 local teachers and students.
Zhang Yun, head of the delegation and director of the Institute of History, China Tibetology Research Center, a Chinese himself, stated that China and Sri Lanka have long attached great importance to religious exchanges [sic].
This exchange comes after Sri Lanka signed a 99-year lease of the strategic port of Hambantota with China. The New York Times said: “Struggling to pay its debt to Chinese firms, the nation of Sri Lanka formally handed over, in a deal that government critics have said threatens the country’s sovereignty. …Sri Lankan politicians said the Hambantota deal, valued at $1.1 billion, was necessary to chip away at the debt.”
One of the characteristics of the Chinese foreign policy is that soft and hard diplomacy must go hand-in-hand.
While in the Island, the delegation met local Buddhist monks. “The two sides expected more religious and cultural exchanges,” a communiqué said. The delegation then headed for Myanmar, another strategic country for China.
The ‘Chinese’ Tibetans met with some Myanmar ministers and briefed them about China's policy on ethnic groups as well as the preservation of religion and culture in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Zhang Yun told his hosts that “ethnic groups are equal, united, helping each other and enjoying common development and Tibet's development has been supported throughout China, especially after the reform and opening-up in 1978.”
Myanmar Minister of Ethnic Affairs Nai Thet Lwin told the Chinese visitors about Myanmar's policy related to protection of its ethnic groups' rights and interests; of course, not a word about the Rohingyas. The Chinese delegation proceeded to Yangon for a ‘China Tibetan Culture Picture Exhibition’ at the Shwedagon Pagoda.
It is what President Xi calls diplomacy …with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
Two weeks earlier, a delegation of legislators from the TAR paid a four-day tour to Canada. Led by Tenzin Namgyal, vice chairman of TAR's People's Congress, they visited Montreal and Ottawa. They are said to have met Canadian members of Parliament as well as researchers, said an official Chinese communiqué: “The delegation had talks with the Canadian side on topics covering the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as Tibet's economic development, religious and cultural protection, local people's lives and China's preferential policies for Tibet's development.”
Are these delegations able to convince their interlocutors?
It might not be too difficult as most of the officials hosting the delegations belong to ‘friendship’ groups. The same pattern is used elsewhere, in Australia for example, where China has scores of sympathetic ears.
Again according to Chinese media, at a press conference held in Ottawa, the delegation answered questions about Tibet's poverty alleviation efforts, protection and development of traditional cultures and ecological protection of the plateau; all is fine on the Roof of the World!
Already in August, a Chinese Tibetan delegation of China's State Council Information Office paid a two-day visit to Sydney in Australia and later went to New Zealand. Xinhua said that it helped to erase foreign misconceptions toward the region and showcase a true Tibet to the world.
The Global Times quoted Zhaluo, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who said: “Some in the West have a biased perception of the Tibet Autonomous Region, smear government policy and question Tibet's sovereignty. …Sharing personal experiences of scholars, local officials and religious people could alter Western perception.”
He added that the delegation served as an ambassador of the true Tibet and promotes Tibetan culture: “President Xi Jinping has given high priority to Tibet's stability and development.”
No need to mention Nepal, which appears to become more and more of a Chinese colony. Also in August, an exhibition on Tibetan Embroidery Arts and Crafts “showcased dozens of magnificent art works created by the Chinese artists,” reported Beijing.
In 2018, Buddhist diplomacy with Chinese characteristics will continue to be the main weapon to out-stage India, the birth place of Buddhism.
In Canada
In Japan

In Myanmar

Thursday, January 4, 2018

China develops its border with India: Yume again in the news

Two months ago, I wrote about Yume, the hamlet north of the McMahon (Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh).
At that time,  Xi Jinping had written a letter to two young Tibetan herders who had introduced their village to the Chinese President.
It looks like it is helpful to receive a letter from the President.
The Global Times has reported yesterday: "A sparsely populated township in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has been connected to the state electricity grid, ending life without electricity for its 32 residents."
The village is Yume.
Incidentally, why do China has to always write "China's Tibet Autonomous Region". India does not write "India's Tamil Nadu" or "India's Uttarakhand" or even "India's Arunachal"?
Beijing must be feeling insecure.
To come back to The Global Times' article, it quotes the contractor, a Xining-based electric power company who worked on the project: "The 15-kilometer 10-kilovolt power line, which took five months to complete, is connected to remote Yulmed [Yume] Township in Luntse [Luntse] county, Shannan [Lhoka], via 108 electric poles over a 5,000-meter-high mountain."
According to the tabloid, Yume (also spelt Yulmed) is located "at an average elevation of 3,650 meters above sea level and its population was once just a three-member household. Currently, it has nine households."
It is further explained that in 2008, the local government built a small hydropower station, but the project failed to meet the increasing power demands of the 32 residents: "Due to improved living standards and growing need for electricity of the residents, power outages were frequent."

India's infrastructure development
While Beijing is going full steam to built infrastructure on its side of the McMahon Line, it complains about India building roads in the border area.
The same Global Times commented on the recent visit of Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Nilang: "An Indian road construction project connecting all border posts along the China-India frontier could lead to new military standoffs between China and India, Chinese experts warned."
The mouthpiece of the Communist Party quoted The Times of India: "During his New Year visit to the 'Indo-Tibet Border Police' at Nelong [Nilang] valley in Uttarkashi district bordering China, Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that a number of border posts had already been connected with roads and many would soon be linked."
China is unhappy because Singh asserted that "this would enhance the operational efficiency of the officers and reduce mountain-related sickness among them."

Chinese Double Standards
Of course, China is entitled to do whatever it wants on its side of the border.
China Daily recently reported: "Investment in infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region is helping to lift 628 villages along the border out of poverty."
It further asserted: "After getting access to electricity and the construction of new roads, tea farmers and herdsmen in a village some 200 kilometers southwest of Lhasa in Tsona county founded a cooperative that provides skills training and job opportunities for villagers."
Tsona is located north of Tawang district of Arunachal.
The area has been extensively developed. I have mentioned it earlier on this blog.
China admitted: "Starting last year, more than 100 million yuan ($15,263) has been invested in infrastructure in the village of less than 100 families as a part of a broader construction project to build model villages with moderate prosperity in the border area. The construction of well-off villages along the border is designed to advance the living and working conditions in surrounding villages."
China Daily estimated that the road access rate in the area will reach 100 percent and the per capita disposable income will double by the year of 2020.
Is it not double standard?

My November 2017 post

Soon after the conclusion of the 19th Congress, President Xi Jinping wrote a letter to two young Tibetan herders who had written to him introducing their village, Yume, north of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
According to Xinhua, Xi “encouraged a herding family in Lhunze [Lhuntse] County, near the Himalayas in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, to set down roots in the border area, safeguard the Chinese territory and develop their hometown.”
Xi acknowledged “the family's efforts to safeguard the territory, and thanked them for the loyalty and contributions they have made in the border area. Without the peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful lives for the millions of families," he wrote.
The two Tibetan girls, Choekar and Yangzom had told the CCP’s Secretary General about their “experiences in safeguarding the border area and the development of their township over the years.”
Interestingly, the girls’ village, Yume (or Yumai or Yulmed) is located a few kilometers north of the McMahon Line, not far from the remote Indian village of Takshing.
Can this letter from Xi Jinping be considered as an acknowledgment of the McMahon Line, as the Indo-Tibet border? Xi clearly thanks the two herders for 'guarding' the border?
From the reporting of Xinhua, it seems so.
Xi further hoped that the girls’ family could “motivate more herders to set down roots in the border area ‘like galsang flowers’, and become guardians of the Chinese territory and constructors of a happy hometown.”
The report also explained that Yume is China's
smallest town in terms of population.

Galsang or Kelsang Flower
Yume on this blog
I had mentioned Yume several times on this blog, mainly because Yume Gompa was the last stage of the Tsari pilgrimage (see map below).
Already in November 2016, China Tibet Online spoke of Yume ‘town’ on the southern slope of the Himalayas as the border area of China and India: "If driving, you had to go south 400 km from Lhasa to Luntse of Lhoka (Shannan) City, then there was another 200 km of muddy mountain roads before you reached Yulmed.”
The Chinese site then asserted that “It is the least populous administrative town in China. With an area of 1976 square km, Yulmed has one subsidiary village, and only nine households with a total of 32 people. Yulmed has very few residents, but it is not impoverished nor backward.”
It added: “For a long time, there was only one family in Yulmed. After the Tibet Autonomous Region government dispatched officials and doctors, built the roads, and added a power station and a medical clinic, Yulmed became more and more lively. In 2015, the annual average per capita disposable income in Yulmed was 26,000 yuan.”

Four conclusions
By Xi Jinping admitting that Yume is a 'border' village, can it be concluded that Xi has acknowledged the McMahon Line? Probably not, but he has admitted that it was the present border (Line of Actual Control).
Another issue that I already brought up earlier on this blog: why not reopen the Tsari Pilgrimage and use it as a Confidence Building Measure between India and China?
Another conclusion is that China will develop very fast the 'border' areas in the years to come, I have often mentioned Metok County, but also Lepo village, north of Khenzimane on the McMahon Line.
Finally, it looks like the Communist Party has started to more and more use Tibetans in border areas and elsewhere yo defend the Middle Kingdom’s borders.
Delhi should be worried!


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

From Kashgar to Syria

My article From Kashgar to Syria appeared in The Statesman

Here is the link...

In 1949, a few months after the new People's Republic of China was proclaimed, Mao moved to ‘liberate’ large areas at the periphery of the Middle Kingdom.
While the remnants of the Nationalist forces were slowly and systematically annihilated in the Mainland; Mao annexed Xinjiang using two tactics: a large number of troops were sent in the New Dominion and the surrender of some Nationalist leaders was induced. It was relatively easy for the Great Helmsman who had got the assurance from the Soviets that they would not interfere.
The PLA had however to cross deserts, walk over high snow-capped mountains and suffer starvation to realize this unbelievable military feat, walking some 3,000 kms in six months, to complete their mission.
Strategically, Communist China was at the Gate of Tibet …and of India; a couple of years later, the construction of a road across the Indian territory in the Aksai Chin area would start.
A recently released CIA report gives a good oversight on what happened in Kashgar in 1949/50. Although written March 1951, the note remarked: "the Chinese troops stationed in Sinkiang use systematic, disciplined violence for political reasons, …[while] rations, ammunition and military stores are received from the USSR.”
The local government officials assured the people that "the Chinese in the administrative structure were there simply to teach the natives of Sinkiang the art of governing, and that soon the full Governmental administrative responsibility would be turned over to the people of Sinkiang."
It is ironic that nearly seventy years later, Han are still struggling to manage the restive province and still use systematic violence.
Retrospectively today, one understands the importance for China of the annexation of Xinjiang with its natural resources such as oil, but also for trade routes which are now revived under schemes such as One Belt One Road initiative or the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
But Xinjiang remains far from being ‘liberated’; on the contrary, the Chinese State is slowly transforming the restive province into a nursery for terrorism.
The South China Morning Post recently explained: “For many in the Muslim ethnic group, China has become unlivable since Beijing launched a security crackdown in Xinjiang in 2009.”
The Hong Kong newspaper takes the case of one Ali, an Uygur who has been fighting in Syria. Ali had paid smugglers to get him into Turkey and then to Syria, where he was trained to use a Kalashnikov …to later return to China. After spending two-and-a-half years in Syria with him, his brother told the newspaper: “We’ll avenge our relatives being tortured in Chinese jail. …Since 2013, thousands of Uygurs, a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority from western China, have travelled to Syria to train with the Uygur militant group Turkestan Islamic Party and fight alongside al-Qaeda, playing key roles in several battles. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops are now clashing with Uygur fighters as the six-year conflict nears its endgame.”
According to Uygur exiles, more than 10,000 Uygurs fled China following the repression. The SCMP concluded: “But the end of Syria’s war may be the beginning of China’s worst fears.”
As the vicious circle continues, Debka, the Israeli Weekly reported that according intelligence sources: “2,500 Chinese elite troops are on the way to Syria to fight Chinese Uighur Islamist extremists and their Turkish-backed plan to set up an autonomous enclave in the rebel-held Idlib province of northern Syria.” Will it help?
Debka’s sources affirmed that China has secured permission from Damascus to send Chinese troops from two elite units: the ‘Siberian Tigers’, a PLA Navy Special Force from northeast China's Shenyang Military Region and the ‘Night Tigers’, a Special Forces Unit from Lanzhou.
Already two years ago, a new Chinese Counterterrorism Law made it legal for China's PLA to get involved in anti-terror operations abroad. The legislation allows the PLA and Armed Police’s forces to carry out counter-terror missions overseas with the approval of the Central Military Commission.
Xinhua affirmed: “Public security and national security authorities could also send personnel overseas for counter-terrorist missions, but these must be approved by the State Council and agreements signed with the countries concerned.”
Having borders with eight nations: Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, Xinjiang is a convenient conduit for terrorist movements towards the Middle East and the world in general.
In the meantime, repression is every day increasing in Xinjiang.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) recently reported that the authorities have earmarked a substantial amount of cash to reward the residents of Hotan prefecture (north of India’s Aksai Chin) who report ‘acts of terrorism’: “The Counter-Terrorism Reward Resolution, enacted by the government of Hotan Prefecture, set aside 100 million yuan (US $15.2 million) for information on suspicious activities, and for individuals who attack or kill terrorists,” the official Hotan Daily newspaper said in a post on its WeChat social media account.
A security guard from Aqsaray police station in Hotan’s Qaraqash county read to RFA an official notice posted in the station; it is entitled “Announcement of Payment Categories for Rewarding Members of the Public Who Provide Information on Illegal Activities Relating to Acts of Terrorism or Violence.”
The notification said: “People from all ethnic backgrounds who provide tips or clues of any illegal activities relating to acts of violence or terrorism will receive high rewards, once the information has been confirmed to be genuine after investigation.”
Also according to RFA, nearly 10 percent of the population of Bullaqsu township, a county near Kashgar, have been detained. A former resident of Bullaqsu told RFA that “a large number of people have been arrested in the county this year, leaving some townships with hardly any males to be seen.”
The person who now lives in exile asserted: “Bullaqsu was one of the townships most affected by the arrests in Kashgar …groups of people have been arrested and sent to detention centers every week.”
Most of this happened after the appointment of Chen Quanguo as Communist Party Chief in August 2016: “a series of harsh policies have been initiated targeting Uygurs in the region, where members of the mostly Muslim ethnic group complain of religious and cultural repression and harassment under Chinese rule,” says RFA.
Since then, Chen, who had earlier practiced his ‘recipe’ in Tibet for five years, has been rewarded with a seat on the Politburo.
Thousands of Uygurs, who have been accused of harboring ‘extremist and politically incorrect’ views, have been detained in re-education camps and prisons throughout Xinjiang since April.
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a ‘glossary’ of special slogans or ‘formulations’ (tifa) used by the Chinese officials in Tibet when referring to party policies. The same apply today to Xinjiang.
‘Poetic’ tifas such as Social Management, Comprehensive Rectification, Preventive Control, Eliminate-Unseen-Threats, Nets-in-the-Sky-Traps-on-the-Ground or Copper-Ramparts-Iron Walls, are regularly used. The latter one for example, translates into “an impenetrable public security defense network consisting of citizen patrols, border security posts, police checkposts, surveillance systems, internet controls, identity card monitoring, travel restrictions, informant networks, and other mechanisms.”
The implementation of these tifas, is often dreadful... but efficient for Beijing. Beijing has for example decided to collect DNA samples from all Xinjiang’s residents; the name Mohamed is banned for newborns, men can’t have beards, etc.
China is definitely breeding more terrorists.