Sunday, September 25, 2011

Changing face of the Red Army


My book review Changing Face of the Red Army appeared in today's Sunday Edition of the The Pioneer.


Monika Chansoria’s book tracks the transformation of the People’s Liberation Army from a small Chinese Communist Party organ to a guerrilla force, comprising workers and peasants, to a tri-service military force, writes Claude Arpi
 

China: Military Modernisation and Strategy
Author: Monika Chansoria
Publisher: KW Publishers
Price: 795
 

A new book on China, more particularly on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is always welcome...


Read on...

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Tragedy to Come


A tragedy has struck the Himalayan belt.
An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, centered around the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area in Sikkim, near the border of Nepal, occurred on September 18 in the late afternoon.
The tremors were felt across the entire North-East.
More than a hundred people are feared dead, mainly in the East Sikkim district, but also in Chungthang area of north Sikkim, Nepal and even Tibet (particularly in the Chumbi Valley).
Reports mentioned that heavy structural damage occurred in the bordering States of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the North-Eastern States.
The Sikkim Chief Minister, Pawan Kumar Chamling, announced that Sikkim itself has suffered a loss of more than one lakh crores rupees.
The Army which took control over the rescue operations along with the State government’s administration, slowly realizes the enormity of the damage. The first reports mention 15,000 houses being razed to the ground and more than 1 lakh partially damaged.
Eastern Army Commander, Lt Gen Bikram Singh pointed out: "The biggest challenge right now is to get the lines of communication through, to supply food to needy people."
The tragedy has a serious collateral. It has caused massive damage to the structures at two of the five sites of the 1,200-megawatt hydro-power project on the Teesta river. Some workers and officials are said to have lost their lives. This triggered a mass exodus of many employed by Teesta Urja Limited, the company constructing the Rs.10,000 crore hydro project. Though the workers left the site in a state of panic, the company affirmed that no damage was done to the structure (particularly the tunnels) of the hydro-power plant.
However, the earthquake raises serious questions.
Geologists are well aware that the Himalayan belt is one of the most seismic regions of the planet. Remember May 12, 2008, an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale occurred in Sichuan province of China which resulted in the death of some 87,000 people..
Fan Xiao, the Chief Engineer of the Regional Geology Investigation Team of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau explained that it was very unusual for this area: “The historic records show that the highest recorded earthquake in this area was magnitude 6.5, and no seismic activities of more than magnitude 7 occurred” in the region.
This reminds us of Fukushima where nobody could have thought that a tsunami of this magnitude could hit coastal Japan, but it did.
Fan Xiao further elaborated about the Sichuan tremor: “in the Longmenshan seismic belt [where the tragedy occurred], the earthquake authority conducted studies and predicted that an earthquake could occur, but not with a magnitude above 7.” Like in Fukushima, the reality was much harder than the predictions.
But more ominous, Fan said that this unusual quake was probably triggered or induced by the reservoir of the famous Zipingpu dam nearby.
The Chinese geologist explained “For earthquakes, generally speaking, there is a cycle of occurrence every 100 or 200 years. But the phenomena of RIS (reservoir-induced seismicity) is likely to change the timing, the location of the epicentre, and the seismic intensity of an earthquake.”
In another words, the catastrophe was probably a man-made disaster.
Interestingly in August 2011, a Chinese NGO Green Earth Volunteers organized a Seminar on the Diversion of the Brahmaputra. Experts in geology, meteorology and wetlands conservation met with the ‘Father’ of the diversion proposal, Guo Kai.
Without entering into the merit (or more accurately, the demerit) of the project, the ‘experts’ doubted the feasibility of the scheme for one main reason:  the high seismicity of the Tibetan Plateau,
Xu Daoyi, a former researcher at China Earthquake Administration’s Institute of Geology rejected the scheme saying the proponents have barely studied the seismic and environmental risks. He listed 10 major earthquakes that have struck the Tibetan plateau over the last 60 years.
Yang Yong, a geologist who worked on water diversion project in China pointed out there was presently in China, a “vigorous debate over the risk of triggering earthquakes and geological disasters on the Tibetan Plateau with such schemes”. Should it not be taken into account?
Yang also asked if “the project had the necessary mechanisms and systems to respond to situations such as drought, or climatic changes caused by the scheme, as well as earthquakes and mudslides.”
That is the point: it is rather easy to get a quick clearance from a usually pliable Ministry of Environment and Forests, but does it mean that ALL the factors have been taken into the account, particularly phenomena linked to the ‘development’ of the hydropower plants such as construction of roads, building new townships for workers, deforestation, etc.)
To understand the seriousness of the question, let us have a look at another event which took placeway back in 1950. In the evening of August 15, one of the most powerful earthquakes of the centuries shook Eastern Tibet. "This was no ordinary earthquake; it felt like the end of the world," wrote Robert Ford, the British Radio operator working for the Tibetan government in Eastern Tibet. “Mountains and valleys exchanged places in an instant, hundreds of villages were swallowed up, the Brahmaputra River was completely rerouted and for hours afterwards, the sky over south-eastern Tibet glowed with an infernal red light, diffused with the pungent scent of sulphur.“
A month later, Prime Minister Nehru visited Assam and made a long vivid description of the damages and sufferings of the people on All Indian Radio: “rivers were blocked up for a while, and when they broke through, they came down with a rush and a roar, a high wall of water sweeping down and flooding large areas and washing away villages and fields and gardens. These rivers have changed their colour and carried some sulphurous and other material which spread a horrible smell for some distance around them.”
This was a month after the earthquake and a few hundred kilometers south of the epicenter. One can imagine what happened in Tibet; Nehru’s broadcast gives us an idea. Today, one dare not think of what could happen to the hydro power projects presently built in the North-East would a seism of a much larger scale than the present one in Sikkim occur.
A report of an Inter-ministerial Group to study the hydropower potential of the North-East concluded that Sikkim had a capacity of more than 4,200 MWs, out of which some 2,500 are already developed or under development (while the entire North-East has a capacity of 59,000 MWs). This may bring about short time benefits for Sikkim and the Seven Sisters, but what about the dangers? The same report lists 25 hydro-electric projects allotted to Sikkim, all above 20 MWs.
While nuclear plants in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are hotly debated, projects several times more dangerous for millions downstream are not even studied in a multidisciplinary way.
During the August Seminar in China, Tao Zuyu, a retired professor from Peking University’s Department of Atmospheric Physics said that China needs to learn from international experiences. He cited the former Soviet Union which once transferred water to Kazakhstan, but ended up turning the local soil salty and also mentioned “the colonisers of America planted grain on land once used for grazing – and caused desertification”.
His conclusion was: “We must respect nature”.
His remark is valid everywhere, even in India.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Seminar on the Brahmaputra Diversion



This article in Chinadialogue.com reports  on a Water Seminar recently held in China on the Water Diversion of the Brahmaputra.
What is surprising is that Wang Guangqian, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the most 'serious', if not 'scientific', proponent of the project was not invited (did not want to participate). 
A few months ago, Wang made a new proposal to divert waters from the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra River to the northwestern province of Xinjiang. The water diversion route in his proposal, named the “Grand Western Canal,” was different from the “western canal” mentioned in China’s South-North Water Diversion Project approved by the State Council in December 2002 and slightly different than Guo Kai's proposal.
I had already mentioned about the madness of Guo Kai on this blog. It is fact that he is not taken seriously in China, though big lobbies may be supporting him.
In a way, it was easy to discredit Guo Kai, but it would have been more interesting to have a real debate on the subject with the participation of other proponents of the mega project.
One of the problems is that there are some 'experts' on India who think like Guo Kai “the Brahmaputra has plenty of water; it won’t make any difference to India.” This is sad and could have grave consequences.
Geologist Xu Daoyi has a crucial point: Tibet is a seismic area. 
Should the recent earthquake in Sikkim makes proponents of large dams or structures. on the Teesta or elsewhere, wiser. 
One can doubt it. 



Divided waters in China
Chinadialogue.com
Zhou Wei
September 20, 2011
Chinese scientists troubled by radical proposals to divert Tibet’s water are making their voices heard. Zhou Wei listened in at a seminar about the Shuotian Canal.
“Even shouting can cause an avalanche in these steep snowy valleys, said Xu, let alone the blasting, artificial landslides, dyke-building and river-blocking required by the Shuotian scheme.”
One of the boldest engineering concepts to emerge in China in recent years is a plan to “save” the country by transferring water from Tibet to the parched north. Among the schemes put forward, bringing water from Shuomatan point in Tibet to the city of Tianjin on China’s east coast – the “Shuotian Canal” – has received particular attention. It is said to have the backing of military figures and academics, but at a seminar last month scientists from a number of different disciplines were merciless in their criticism of the scheme.
The early August gathering, organised by Chinese NGO Green Earth Volunteers, brought together experts in geology, meteorology and wetlands conservation with the man behind the proposal, Guo Kai. Guo is convinced the Yarlung Zangbo River (known as the Brahmaputra once it crosses the border into India) is the solution to water shortages in some of China’s driest parts. (See chinadialogue article “Diversion debate” for more detail on proposed water transfer schemes from western China.)
Sometimes referred to as a modern day Guo Shoujing, a Yuan Dynasty water expert, Guo Kai comes from a family of hydraulic engineers and is a retired technical cadre. His business card lists a number of titles: originator and chief designer of the Shuotian Canal, author, professor, economist, vice-director and secretary of the Shuotian Canal Preparatory Committee and chairman of the Beijing Shuotian Consulting Development Company.
Guo explained that he originally planned to bring water from the Yellow River to Beijing – but then the Yellow River dried up. He also thought about the Yangtze River, but its western reaches didn’t hold enough water either. “But the Brahmaputra has plenty of water; it won’t make any difference to India,” he said.
Promotional material from the Shuotian Canal Preparatory Committee shows the canal cutting across China from west to east, crossing five different rivers on its journey from the Brahmaputra to the north-east and requiring construction of 10 separate reservoirs. Were it to go ahead, on its way to the Yellow River the canal would take water to more than 14 provinces and municipalities in the west and north of China, including Qinghai, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Beijing – and generate electricity en route. The proposal claims the canal would in one fell swoop solve China’s shortages of water, electricity, grain and oil, relieve pollution and even ease the rural-urban wealth gap. Examples of support from senior levels of government over the years are also provided.
Before the seminar, Xu Daoyi, a retired researcher from China Earthquake Administration’s Institute of Geology had scrutinised the book How China will Save the World, published this year, which sets out the case for Guo Kai’s scheme. Xu pointed out that the proposal barely touches on the seismic and environmental risks, even though the canal would cross several earthquake-prone areas. Its tunnels would also pass through the high mountains of the south west, where devastating landslides are possible. There is no way to route the project without passing through these geologically unstable areas.
Xu listed 10 major earthquakes that have struck the south-west over the last 60 years. Pointing to a table of earthquake data, he asked Guo Kai: “What impact will an earthquake have on your canal? You don’t seem to have thought about that. If one of your tunnels collapses, what then?” Xu pointed out that reconstruction following an earthquake could be more expensive than the original build.
Even shouting too loudly can cause an avalanche in these steep snowy valleys, continued Xu, let alone the blasting, artificial landslides, dyke-building and river-blocking required by the Shuotian scheme. The map of the proposed canal also indicates that Qinghai Lake will be used as a reservoir – but it is a saltwater lake. The proposal says salinity will be reduced by the water from the canal, when in fact the water of the canal will become salty, argued Xu. The proposal is poorly thought through, he concluded: if the Shuotian team really wants to do this, then they should be prepared to do the necessary scientific research.
Chen Kelin, head of Wetlands International’s Beijing office, expressed concern about protecting wetlands on the Tibetan Plateau. The Yellow River dries up almost every year now – in 1999, the dry patch continued for more than seven months – and the ground in many areas along its banks has become salty, he said. The 490,000-hectare Zoige wetland on the upper reaches of the Yellow River has plenty of capacity to store water, but is suffering from over-grazing, pest infestations and the impacts of mining, all man-made issues. “If we looked after it properly, there wouldn’t be any need for wasteful water-transfer projects,” said Chen.
In his speech, Guo Kai described the Tibetan Plateau as an area of permafrost, with huge quantities of water resources in the form of ice – as the climate warms and that ice melts, that water should be used, he said. Meanwhile, the Shuotian team’s solution to Chen Kelin’s concerns about the Zoige Wetlands was another water transfer scheme: “bringing in water from Sichuan’s Dadu River”.
But Guo Kai’s arguments received short shrift from the assembled scientists. Tao Zuyu, a retired professor from Peking University’s Department of Atmospheric Physics, was next to jump in. He started by criticising the map the Shuotian Canal team had provided to the seminar’s participants: beautifully made, with a detailed explanation of the project in the back, but lacking scale or contour lines, it looked more like a tourist map than a scientific document, making the project seem like a mere fantasy, he said.
We’re all entitled to our dreams, Tao said, but if you want to turn dreams into reality, you have to put the work in. How much water is there to transfer, and will moving it change the climate? Desert formation is linked to atmospheric circulation, which in turn is connected the layout of the land and ocean, he said – the implications need to be worked through.
Geologist Yang Yong has been researching water diversion in western China for the past four years. He had four major concerns: first, he said, there is still vigorous debate over the risk of triggering earthquakes and geological disasters on the Tibetan Plateau with such schemes. Second, the points identified for water diversion into the Shuotian Canal would not actually be able to supply the quantity of water claimed in the proposal. Third, the canal would change the entire distribution of water across China, particularly in the south-west: there are already many hydropower stations in this region, but the transfer and damming of rivers for the Shuotian Canal would result in existing dams and power stations lying idle: a massive waste.
Finally, Yang questioned whether the project had the necessary mechanisms and systems to respond to situations such as drought, or climatic changes caused by the scheme, as well as earthquakes and mudslides. He pointed out that China’s water authorities had previously proved themselves to be slow or incapable of reacting adequately to drought in the south-west.
Tao Zuyu urged the Shuotian team to take heed of international lessons: the former Soviet Union once transferred water to Kazakhstan, but ended up turning the local soil salty. The colonisers of America planted grain on land once used for grazing – and caused desertification. “We must respect nature,” Tao said.
Zhou Wei is assistant editor in chinadialogue’s Beijing office.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The dangerous game of perceptional border intrusion


My article The dangerous game of perceptional border intrusion appeared in yesterday's edition of DNA.

September 20, 2011
News agencies reported that Chinese troops recently entered into Indian territory and destroyed bunkers in Chumar division of Nyoma tashil, some 300 km south of Leh, the capital of Ladakh.
A few days later, the situation seemed rather confused: while some reports said that the Chinese troops used helicopters to intrude into Indian territory, others affirmed that the choppers landed in Chinese territory, close to the LAC and later the PLA troops walked into the ‘disputed’ area to dismantle old bunkers and remove tents belonging to the ITBP.
As usual, the Indian Army first denied that anything had happened. Col Rajesh Kalia stated that he did not have any report of helicopters landing or any destruction of bunkers (later, it was stated that Chinese troops might have penetrated 200m into India by mistake).
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu also denied the intrusions. She affirmed with a straight face that China “has never taken action that jeopardises peace and tranquility in border areas,” mentioning that Delhi and Beijing have reached ‘a principled consensus’ to set up a border affairs coordination mechanism to “handle major border affairs that have a bearing on peace and tranquility in border areas.”
Well, this does not stop incursions. Last year, PLA troops had crossed over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Demchok, in southeastern Ladakh. Motorcycle-borne PLA personnel had driven into Gombir area on the Indian side of the LAC. At that time, they had threatened an Indian contractor and ordered him to stop constructing a ‘passenger shed’.
The Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, had then declared: “the ‘so-called’ intrusions took place due to perceptional differences about the LAC between India and China, an issue which is being addressed by the two countries through discussion.”
Many commentators found it regrettable that the army chief should speak of ‘so-called intrusions’. Either the ‘intrusions’ took place or they did not. Further, ‘perceptional’ meant nothing. The Chinese ‘perceive’ the entire Arunachal Pradesh as theirs. What conclusions should the army make?
Regarding Demchog, the ‘perceptions’ of both countries had been discussed in detail during the 1960 extensive border talks. At one point during the negotiations Dr S Gopal, the head of the Historical Division, remarked that Demchog was the place where the ‘perceptions’ between the two sides were the closest. The Chinese side was not far from agreeing with the historical facts presented by India. Fifty years later, the closeness of the ‘perceptions’ seems to have gone with the wind of the high plateau. It is not a healthy situation: India has to constantly deny facts.
Remember the road cutting through Aksai Chin, also in Ladakh. Delhi started complaining to Beijing about it several years after it was constructed. In one letter to Nehru in December 1959, Zhou Enlai, then Chinese premier, pointed out that the Aksai Chin was the ‘traditional route’ through which PLA units had entered Ngari region of Tibet from Sinkiang: “In the nine years since then [1950], they have been making regular and busy use of this route to bring supplies. …so many activities were carried out by the Chinese side in this area under its jurisdiction, and yet the Indian side was utterly unaware of them. This is eloquent proof that this area has indeed always been under Chinese jurisdiction and not under Indian jurisdiction.”
In other words, if India today is unable to publicly and loudly claim what belongs to her, in a few years the Chinese will say: “but you never claimed this area.”
There is worse in the Eastern Sector: in 2007, it came out that China had moved 20 km into India and occupied areas including the Sumdorong Chu valley.
One remembers that mid-1986, the PLA had built some structure at Wandung in the Sumdorong Chu valley in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian Army reacted swiftly and in August 1986, India and China had a serious eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. After a tense week, both sides mutually agreed to withdraw their forces and create a no man’s land. Today, the Chinese seem to be back again and unfortunately India does not have the guts it had then.
Kiren Rijiju, the then MP from West Arunachal had told DNA in 2007 that the Chinese had a helipad in Sumdorong Chu Valley.
Rijiju had brandished written replies from the ministries of external affairs and defence, indicating that the government was aware of the intrusions, but was “trying to sort them out.”
The point is that China prefers to keep the LAC un-demarcated to be able harass India from time to time. Unless India put her foot down, like in 1986, the situation will continue to remain unhealthy.
The author is a French-born writer and journalist
URL of the article: http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/comment_the-dangerous-game-of-perceptional-border-intrusion_1589296-all

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shared Water Ressources


Ms. Dai Qingli, the Press Counsellor in the Chinese Embassy in London wrote to The Financial Time to object to an article by Brahma Chellaney (“Water is the new weapon in Beijing’s armoury”) published in the same newspaper.
She wrote: "Even though the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses has not come into effect, China has followed its principles of equitable and reasonable utilization." 
Well, it is not really true.
Let us remember some facts. 
On 27 May, 1997, the General Assembly adopted a Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses aimed at guiding States in negotiating agreements on specific watercourses and invited States and regional economic integration organizations to become parties to it. 
The Assembly took that action through its adoption, by 103 votes in favour to 3 against (Turkey, China, Burundi) with 27 abstentions.
China is one of the three nations which voted against the 37-article Watercourses Convention which will hopefully one day govern the non-navigational uses of international rivers.
The Convention addresses issues such as flood control, water quality, erosion, sedimentation, saltwater intrusion and living resources. 
Several statements were made by the representatives of Japan, Mexico, the United Republic of Tanzania, Turkey, Bolivia, Pakistan, Czech Republic, China, Slovakia, France, India, Ethiopia, Egypt, Israel, Spain and Rwanda.
The draft framework convention was elaborated by the Working Group of the Sixth Committee at its second session, from 24 March to 4 April. It provides general principles and rules to guide States in negotiating future agreements on specific watercourses. 

The six-part convention consists of an introduction; general principles; planned measures; protection, preservation and management; harmful conditions and emergency situations and miscellaneous provisions.
The Chinese Representative Gao Feng justified the negative vote of his country by stating: "there were obvious drawbacks in the draft convention. First, it failed to reflect general agreement among all countries, and a number of States had major reservations regarding its main provisions. Secondly, the text did not reflect the principle of the territorial sovereignty of a watercourse State. Such a State had indisputable sovereignty over a watercourse which flowed through its territory. There was also an imbalance between the rights and obligations of the upstream and downstream States".
He further said China could not support provisions on the mandatory settlement of disputes which went against the principles set out in the United Nations Charter. His Government favoured the settlement of all disputes through peaceful negotiations".

He then voted against the draft resolution.
For China, the principle of 'territorial sovereignty' seemed to prime over the concept that rivers belong to all the riparian States. 
Prakash Shah, the Indian Representative spoke more on techincial grounds, expressing his regret that the Convention had not been adopted by consensus. He said that: "while a framework convention should provide general principles, the present Convention had deviated from that approach."
Further Shah pointed out said that "Article 32 presupposed regional integration and hence did not merit inclusion". 
He went on to say and Article 33, on dispute settlement, contained an element of compulsion: "Any procedure for peaceful settlement of disputes should leave the procedure to the parties. Any mandatory third-party dispute procedure was inappropriate and should not be included in a framework convention". 
In 1997, India abstained in the voting. 
It is perhaps time to have a fresh look at the Convention and push for its final ratification. 
With climate change and extensive construction of hydropower plants on rivers originating from the Tibetan plateau, some framework to settle bilateral or multilateral water issues is today badly needed. 
The examples cited by Ms Dai Qingli are only eyewash, though interestingly, she speaks of 'our shared water resources for the benefit of our peoples'. 

Here is Ms Dai Qingli's letter to the Editor of the Financial Times:

Sir, I am writing with regard to an article by Brahma Chellaney (“Water is the new weapon in Beijing’s armoury”, August 31) to set the record straight on the assertions made in this article.
China respects the right of other littoral states to reasonable utilisation of water resources in cross-border rivers. We would never take these resources as a 'political weapon' against our neighbours. Instead, China has made a huge amount of investment to improve water quality in cross-border rivers.
The assertion that China refuses to accept water-sharing arrangements is not true. Even though the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses has not come into effect, China has followed its principles of equitable and reasonable utilisation, obligation not to cause significant harm and international co-operation in working with our neighbours on the utilisation of cross-border rivers.
China signed agreements and set up joint commissions on cross-border water resources with Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia. It has also worked with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vietnam, the Mekong River Commission and India in flood prevention and forecast, water quality monitoring, maritime management, navigation and shipping, and maritime disaster response.
According to international water law, all littoral states and peoples are entitled to equitable and reasonable utilisation of cross-border rivers. We are committed to building good-neighbourly partnership with our neighbours.
We would only continue to strengthen our dialogue and co-operation with them to ensure better utilisation and preservation of our shared water resources for the benefit of our peoples.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Office 610


This excellent article published in the China Brief of the Jamestown Foundation demonstrates the seriousness of the law and order situation in China.
Beijing is setting up more and more 'extrajudicial' structures to take care of the growing restlessness of the masses.
It was recently reported that the Chinese government was contemplating making changes in its criminal code in order to legalize detention up to six months without formal charges.
This would give the Chinese authorities a free hand to arrest and keep suspects under 'residential surveillance' in undisclosed locations for up to six months without any formal charges or notice to the family or lawyer. 
The targeted people should be involved in cases of 'terrorism, crimes endangering national security, or major corruption'; this is vague enough to detail any political dissidents.
Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based senior researcher for
Human Rights Watch explained: “If you are taking somebody elsewhere than a lawfully supervised place of detention without notice, it greatly increases the risk of torture.”
The point is: can China pretends to be a major world power while taking such backwards steps on important and universal topics?
But the leadership in Beijing seems more and more nervous to lose the control over the Middle Kingdom.  
On September 9, Huanqiu, the Chinese edition of Global Times published an article "The Loss of Media Control in the Soviet Union Accelerated the Death of the Soviet Communist Party” written by Zhu Jidong, an executive director of the World Socialism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 
Zhu blamed Mikhail Gorbachev for abolishing media censorship and inviting Western media into the Soviet Union: “As the Soviet Union's media surrendered themselves to the West, the people of the Soviet Union gradually lost both their trust in the Party and the country and their faith in socialism. In just two years, from January 1989 to January 1991, over 2.9 million Soviet Communist Party members denounced the Party. Relinquishing leadership over the media resulted in the loss of control that destroyed the foundation of Soviet ideology, did away with the Soviet Union’s core value system and idealistic beliefs, and accelerated the death of the Soviet Communist Party.”
Similarly, the leadership believe that if they lose the control over the judiciary the Heaven will fall on their heads.
It is perhaps true, but censorship and 'extrajudicial' process do not rhyme with respectable power.

The 610 Office: Policing the Chinese Spirit
China Brief Volume: 11 Issue: 17
September 16, 2011
Sarah Cook, Leeshai Lemish

Numerous official websites from the past six months—in Beijing, Qingdao, Shandong, and Jiangsu among others—mention the 610 Office, an entity engaged in efforts to “carry out comprehensive investigations,” strengthen “transformation,” and prevent unwanted incidents (Pingyin.gov.cn, September 5; Jsrm.gov.cn, August 15; Laoshan.gov.cn, April 2011). A June 2011 article in a reputable Chinese magazine briefly referenced the 610 Office as a key component of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “stability-preservation work” (Caijing, June 6). What is the 610 Office? How and why did it come to exist? Why is it carrying out measures ostensibly under the purview of the Ministry of Public Security?
The answers to these questions point to the establishment of a CCP-based, rather than a state-based, security organization, as well as a revival of the use of security agencies to enforce ideological compliance. Moreover, the 610 Office signifies a systemic arrangement by CCP leaders to avoid the reach of legal reforms when dealing with a perceived existential threat to their power. The willingness and ability of CCP leaders to take such actions has implications not only for how we understand the trajectory of rule of law development in China, but also for how we might anticipate the regime responding to present and future threats to its security.
The 610 Office’s beginnings lie partly in the CCP’s tradition of “leading groups.” Since 1958, the CCP has used leading small groups (lingdao xiaozu) to coordinate and guide action on various issue areas. They are typically secretive, arbitrarily created and dissolved, and headed by members of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee. In 2008, Alice Miller counted eight such “primary” leading groups in operation, their responsibilities ranging from foreign affairs to economics, with subsidiary entities running down the Party’s system and State Council offices to execute policy ("The CCP Central Committee's Leading Small Groups," China Leadership Monitor, September 2, 2008).
There is however another key leading group strikingly out of character with the broad focus of each of the other leading groups: “The Leading Small Group for Preventing and Handling the Problem of Heretical Organizations” (zhongyang fangfan he chuli xiejiao wenti lingdao xiaozu). Originally called “The Leading Small Group for Handling the Falun Gong Issue” (falun gong wenti lingdao xiaozu), the name change suggests its activity has expanded since 1999 (Lstdww.gov.cn, August 10, 2011; Gxbobai.gov.cn, April 2010). Though Falun Gong remains the primary focus, its targets now include house church Christians, Buddhists and other religious or spiritual groups, and it has been renamed accordingly.
The 610 Office was formed concurrently as this leading group’s implementing body and is named after the date of its creation: June 10, 1999. “Six-ten” functions outside the state system without any official standing. At its core, the 610 Office is a plainclothes CCP-based extra-ministerial security force focused on suppressing the Falun Gong spiritual group. The leading group sets the policy direction, which the 610 Office executes.
After featuring briefly in news articles in 2000, the 610 Office has since garnered only occasional international attention, leading to a common misperception that it is defunct. Recent evidence—including eyewitness accounts, official online documents, United Nations reports, and Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) analysis—however, all points to an agency that remains active nationwide at all levels of Chinese governance. It was particularly involved in crackdowns surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai (Hnebp.edu.cn, November 6, 2008; Xzqs.gov.cn, June 23, 2010). Today, based on extrapolating from district-level numbers on local government websites, we estimate it retains at least 15,000 officers.

The 610 Office is Born
This office's story begins on June 7, 1999, when then-Party Secretary General Jiang Zemin called a special Politburo meeting. Jiang was determined to resolve what he perceived as a serious challenge to the regime’s authority, “something unprecedented in the country since its founding 50 years ago” that “did not occur even during the Cultural Revolution”—a group of meditators who practice Falun Gong [1].
According to government sources, Western media reports, and Falun Gong witnesses, tens of millions of Chinese—from peasants to young professionals to military officers—were practicing the discipline at the time. With so many individuals dedicated to spiritual self-fulfillment independent of Party control or ideology, several top cadres began viewing Falun Gong as a threat (Associated Press, April 26, 1999; New York Times, April 27, 1999).
This translated into repression that showed first signs in 1996, and escalated to beatings and arrests in Tianjin in April 1999. On April 25, over 10,000 adherents of the meditative religious movement gathered outside the national petitions office in Beijing, adjacent to the Zhongnanhai government compound, asking for an end to abuses. According to the memoirs collection, Zhu Rongji in 1999, Premier Zhu took an appeasing stance toward Falun Gong and was prepared to resolve the grievances before Jiang intervened [2].
In a June 7 directive, Jiang ordered the creation of a special leading group within the Party’s Central Committee to “swiftly handle and solve the ‘Falun Gong problem’.” He ordered that the team, placed under the responsibility of Politburo Standing Committee member Li Lanqing, “should immediately organize forces” and “get fully prepared for the work of disintegrating [Falun Gong]” [3].
A few days later, the CCP also established an office to handle day-to-day operations. This office was internally named 610, or "liu yao ling" for its June 10 creation. No legislation was passed establishing it. No provisions formally outlined its mandate. This extralegal flexibility has proved critical in recent years, as its responsibilities have expanded.
Given that the CCP already had control over a range of security agencies and military forces, forming yet another entity seems unnecessary. Several factors may have contributed to Jiang’s decision:
  • Numbering in the tens of millions, Falun Gong practitioners included many individuals within the military and security establishment. This contributed to a sense that Falun Gong had quietly infiltrated the CCP and state apparatus. Jiang may have felt the need to create a trusted network of security agents to counter Falun Gong’s influence.
  • Given the task’s scale, Jiang needed an entity that would act quickly and forcefully with no holds barred. He may not have envisioned that twelve years later millions would still be practicing with new believers joining and the 610 Office seemingly permanent.
  • The creation of a new leading group quickly sent a signal down CCP ranks that countering Falun Gong was a new priority.
  • Given that the entire anti-Falun Gong campaign functioned outside Chinese law, Jiang needed a security force that could operate outside the existing legal system and its potential restrictions [4].
Over the following months, 610 Office branches were created throughout China and a chain of command emerged, closely linked to the Political-Legal Committee (PLC) structure. Hao Fengjun, a former 610 Office official selected from the Tianjin Public Security Bureau, stated that the office's orders come directly from the Party’s top echelons, then trickle down to cities and neighborhoods [5]. Much of this structure overlaps with the CCP’s Political-Legal Committee (PLC). For example, after Li Lanqing retired in 2003, Jiang’s confidant and politburo member Luo Gan took over the leading group overseeing the 610 Office, while also heading the PLC. In 2007, Zhou Yongkang replaced him as head of both the leading group and the PLC.
Hao’s description of a nationwide network of 610 Office branches closely linked to the PLC apparatus is corroborated by a range of official sources. An online search reveals scores of recent references, pointing to the existence of active branches even in small cities and districts of Jiangxi, Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Shandong. A website of the Leiyang Municipal Party Committee in Hunan Province states its local 610 branch “reports to and is under the supervision of the municipal Party Committee’s Political-Legal Committee,” and is located in the Party Committee’s office building (Leiyang.gov.cn, December 12, 2008).

Functions of the 610 Office

The 610 Office has two main functions: coordinating personnel at state institutions to assist in fulfilling the office's mandate and directly conducting operations against Falun Gong and other forbidden spiritual groups. The first coordination role can involve pressuring staff from state bodies to act according to the 610 Office’s wishes, even when these run counter to their legal authority. Several lawyers who have defended Falun Gong practitioners report 610 Office personnel subverting the ability of judges and prison wardens to carry out their duties as outlined by Chinese law. Attorney Jiang Tianyong says compromised judges decide Falun Gong cases without recourse to Chinese legal standards but, instead, based on extrajudicial intervention from the 610 Office (Radio Free Asia, April 13, 2010). Meanwhile, Gao Zhisheng, Guo Guoting, and Wang Yajun have reported 610 Office interference in their efforts to meet with clients held in labor camps, prisons and detention centers (“Lawyer Barred from Representing Client by “6-10” Agents,” Human Rights in China, September 10. 2010).
Second, the 610 Office also has an immediate role in executing the leading group's policies. In the process, the 610 Office appears largely exempt from even the basics of China's judicial and legal reforms, often employing methods that are technically illegal under Chinese law. Various credible sources describe 610 Office agents directly participating in extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual assault, and illegal confiscation of property. For example, the 2009 report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings cited 610 Office involvement in pre-Olympic cases of Falun Gong deaths in custody [6]. Other Chinese dissidents and activists have detailed extra-legal detentions and torture on a scale and severity that appear to go beyond commonly-cited abuses in the law enforcement system. [7].

Reviving Thought Reform

610 Office activities also differ from those carried out under other leading groups in that its mandate does not relate to policy areas, like foreign affairs or economic reform. Rather, it targets Chinese citizens for thought reform.
Millions of Falun Gong practitioners place their moral teachings, revolving around Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance, as their spiritual compass. CCP leaders arbitrarily deemed these beliefs “heretical” in 1999 and “transformation” quickly became a key aim of 610 Office operations. Like “patriotic education” tactics used in Tibet, the purpose of this ideological reprogramming is to break the will of subjects by coercing them—reportedly including physical and psychiatric torture, sleep deprivation and manipulation of family members—to renounce Falun Gong, profess loyalty to the CCP, and ultimately participate in the forced conversion of others (Washington Post, August 5, 2001) [8].
Today, this objective remains fundamental to 610 operations, a testament to the Party’s difficulty crushing a decentralized groups of dedicated believers. In March, an analysis of local 610 Office-related references on official websites indicated that the Central 610 Office launched a renewed campaign to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners nationwide scheduled to last from 2010 to 2012 (Congressional-Executive Commission on China, March 22).
The 610 Office’s transformation work—like other aspects of the campaign against Falun Gong, such as the extensive use of labor camps and nationwide propaganda—is a throwback to Maoist-era practices. In the 1980s, reformers pushed for entities like the Ministry of Public Security to get out of the business of “resolving ideological questions” (People's Daily, April 5, 1979). The rise of the 610 Office however suggests a retrogression of the security apparatus to address thought crimes.

Conclusion
The 610 Office’s operations long ago expanded beyond its core task of wiping out Falun Gong. Testifying before the European Parliament, Hao Fengjun said that in April 2003 Party leaders ordered the 610 Office to dispose of 28 other “heretical organizations” and “harmful qigong organizations” [9]. The broadened functions remain in effect today as local government websites detail 610 Office investigations of other spiritual groups (See, for example, Hlong.gov.cn, May 2009).
The expanded mandate points to the entrenchment of the 610 Office in the CCP apparatus. What began as a temporary leading small group and task force has become a permanent fixture. It also highlights how 610 Office’s existence undermines rule of law—whatever official state policy towards religion might be, this entity operates at the direction of a small group of CCP leaders with no official standing.
Such conclusions take on even greater significance at a time when the 610 Office may be serving as a model for new CCP initiatives. Since 2008, official reports, speeches and circulars have referenced a novel set of CCP “leading groups” maintaining stability. Reportedly, branches of the Office of Maintaining Stability “are being set up in every district and major street” in rich coastal cities. They are charged with “ferreting out ‘anti-CCP elements’" (Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2009).
Multiple official sources indicate that these new entities and the 610 Office are working closely together. In at least one district in Guangdong’s Foshan City, for example, the 610 Office and the “leading group office for maintaining stability” were listed side-by-side in an online description of the local PLC’s internal functioning and staff (Chongchuan.gov.cn, June 7, 2010). In some localities, staff and even the leadership of the two entities seem to overlap. A March 2010 notice from Zhejiang’s Pingyang County government states that the same person was appointed to direct both 610 Office and the local stability maintenance office.
The rise of the 610 Office and stability maintenance offices suggests a sense among CCP leaders that existing internal security services, like the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of State Security, are not satisfactorily effective. That these officials are increasingly relying on more arbitrary, extra-legal, and personalized security forces to protect their hold on power does not only bode badly for China’s human rights record. It also threatens the stability of internal CCP politics should 610 Office work become politicized—just as counterespionage was corrupted prior to Reform and Opening—amid the jockeying for power ahead of and beyond the upcoming 18th Party Congress.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Excavating Tibet


This article of Reuters says: "About 8 percent of the investment will be used to foster the development of indigenous industries, including tourism, mining, agriculture and stock-breeding".
Is mining really an 'indigenous industry'? 
No, it is it purely to feed the voracious economic engine of the mainland.
Gold, uranium, copper, rare earths, etc. will all be exported to China, to feed China's economy/ 
The local population will certainly not benefit from the mining industry. The Chinese leadership will then be surprised if more and more resentment is thus created.
Can the new Party boss Chen Quanguo understand this?
It is true that from the time Chen took over his new job, he has refrained from being nasty, like his predecessor Zhang Qingli, but he needs to do more to win the heart of the Tibetan masses.
Famous poetess and blogger Tsering Woeser wrote an article Songtsen Gampo’s Hometown Is About To Be Completely Excavated
I went to Gyama in the summer of 2005. I visited the temple to make offerings to the statue of Songtsen Gampo [Thirty-Third King of Tibet] and met with the elderly man who guards the temple. I also went into the nearby village and to the nunnery built on top of the mountain. Those photos were taken during the trip. Recently I heard that the elderly man who guards the temple already passed away. Because of the pollution caused by mining activities, many villagers have fallen ill and because of the 'patriotic education', which is carried out inside temples, in the nunnery, which I had visited, there are only a few nuns left, all others have been driven out…

...Only because Gyama, just like all other places in Tibet, is rich in natural resources, mining companies established at least 6 mining areas in the Gyama district alone many years ago, ruthlessly exploiting copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, gold, silver etc. This has led to the destruction of the local ecology and brought disaster to local citizens. Since 2007, a gold miner belonging to the National Enterprise and the China Gold Group with an international background has become the new owner of Gyama. They swallowed many mining areas in one go and had Huatailong Mining Development Limited company subordinating to specialise in mining, everyday exploiting an amount of up to 12,000 tons. Today, Gyama has become the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s mining pit with the highest daily output. Last month, the
Tibet Daily jubilantly praised: “the weekly sales revenue of Jiama’s copper-polymetallic ore has reached 1.1 billion Yuan.
...Songtsen Gampo's hometown has almost been completely excavated by the China Gold Group. In fact, most part of the entire Medro Gongkar County has almost been bought up; even the county government has sold their land to the above company and moved to a different area.  Many local Tibetans say that one might as well just change the name of Medro Gongkar County into Huatailong County and Gyama village into Huatailong village. In actual fact, it isn’t merely one county or one village, in Lhundrup County near Lhasa, every village has been affected by mining, even far in the west, in Ngari,  everywhere is full of mines. The mountains in Dram on the border have been excavated by gold miners; they might soon even start digging up to the side of Nepal.
...In March this year, the high official Jampa Phuntsok said to the media in Beijing: “Tibet is not only the country’s protective screen in terms of ecology and security; it is also the base where the electricity in the western region is to be transported to the eastern area, a base for mining, the centre of diverse natural life and it will even become one of the world’s main tourist destinations.” Being “a base for mining” as he says, clearly reveals that Tibet’s rivers and mountains will be a scenery of destruction in the future. 
Well, if China 'pumps' money in Tibet,it is certainly not for the sake of the Tibetans. Another aspect, not mentioned in Reuters article is that most of the infrastructure created to 'develop' Tibet can also be used by the PLA in case of conflict with its Southern neighbour.

China to pump $47 bln into Tibet to 2015
Wed, Sep 14 2011
BEIJING, Sept 14 (Reuters) - The Chinese government will pump 300 billion yuan ($47 billion) into restive Tibet over the next five years, with 90.5 billion yuan to finance roads, railways, hydropower stations and other infrastructure, state media said on Wednesday.
The 226 projects the money will support are "aimed at achieving rapid development in Tibet", the official Xinhua news agency quoted deputy governor Hao Peng as saying at an internal meeting on Tuesday.
Key transport schemes will include an extension of the railway from regional capital Lhasa to Shigatse, the traditional home of Tibetan Buddhism's second highest figure the Panchen Lama, and highways to the rest of China, the report added.
Other spending will target housing, health care and environmental protection, Xinhua said.
"About 8 percent of the investment will be used to foster the development of indigenous industries, including tourism, mining, agriculture and stockbreeding."
The billions of dollars China has spent in Tibet over the last few years are all aimed at winning hearts and minds in the unstable Himalayan region, and to better integrate it into the rest of the country.
Similar plans have been unveiled for neighbouring Xinjiang, whose Turkic-speaking and Muslim Uighur people have likewise chafed at Chinese rule.
Tibet's economy has grown more quickly than the rest of China, sped by the completion of a railway to Lhasa and large mining projects, though much of Tibet is still remote and very poor.
But those projects have also brought more Chinese migrants to Tibet, leading to many Tibetans' perceptions that they have been left out of economic growth.
Since bloody demonstrations in 2008, the government has boosted training programmes, subsidies and investment there in an implicit recognition of the economic roots to the violence.
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Communist troops marched in in 1950. It says its rule has bought much needed development to a poor and feudal region.
Exiles and rights groups accuse China of failing to respect Tibet's unique religion and culture and of suppressing its people. ($1 = 6.399 yuan) (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Peace, says the dragon



My article Peace, says the Dragon appeared in today's Edit Page of The Pioneer.

In a recent White Paper, Beijing explains its policy of development through peace even as China flaunts its military might to seize control of South China Sea!


Great news! China has confirmed that it will remain a peaceful nation! The Information Office of the State Council (Chinese Cabinet) recently published a White Paper on China’s peaceful development, detailing the measures that Beijing is taking to grow peacefully.
Affirming that China “with an ancient civilisation and a population of over 1.3 billion, is making big strides in its advance towards modernisation”, Beijing raises crucial questions: “What path of development has China chosen? What will China’s development bring to the rest of the world?” In some 9,000 words, the answer is ‘peace’.
The White Paper elucidates: “(It) is a strategic choice made by China to realise modernisation, make itself strong and prosperous, and make more contribution to the progress of human civilisation. China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development.” That is good and worth noting.
As we could have guessed, the White Paper asserts that it is the 1949 Communist takeover which changed the fate of China: “This marked the realisation of China’s independence and liberation of its people and ushered in a new epoch in China’s history.” The rosy picture of a peaceful China is described in detail, as well as Beijing’s “hard (work) to explore a path of socialist modernisation that conforms to China’s conditions and the trend of the times.”
But what is this ‘peaceful rise’? Is it a new type of ‘make love, not war’ campaign, once promoted by San Francisco’s hippies in the 1960s? Reading the White Paper one could almost imagine Mr Hu Jintao or Mr Wen Jiabao, with flowers in their hair, singing Joan Baez’s songs (although she was a true revolutionary of her times).
Beijing gives its own reading of a peaceful rise: “China should develop itself through upholding world peace and contribute to world peace through its own development. It should achieve development with its own efforts and by carrying out reform and innovation; at the same time, it should open itself to the outside and learn from other countries… It should work together with other countries to build a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity.”
These are nice words, but if one goes deeper into concrete facts, the reality is sometimes quite different. Take the South China Sea conflict: While the Chinese Government is speaking of peace, many in China are planning for war. The Qiushi Journal, a ‘theoretical’ publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, recently published a commentary affirming that “the precondition to any discussion is that China has sovereignty over the area. After that is agreed upon, there can be discussions among the countries involved on putting aside conflicts and collectively exploring resources”. In other words: “First you agree with us, we will discuss later”.
While some scholars believe that China should exercise self control, others think that Beijing should stand firm. A commentator wrote in the same journal: “China should hold a firm position and maintain its options, including war, to guard China’s rights … For China to exercise self-control does not help to solve the problem.”
The International Herald Leader, a Xinhua publication on international relations, published another commentary: “Chinese observers believe that China should consistently adhere to the principle of refusing third party (read the US) interference in the affairs of the South China Sea… Regarding waters under its jurisdiction, China must enforce its authority without mercy.”
One could ask, why publish a White Paper at this point in time? It is undoubtedly related to a Pentagon publication entitled ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China’, an annual report for the Congress, which details the preparedness of the Chinese defence forces and the challenges for the US. The report says: “China’s modernised military could be put to use in ways that increase China’s ability to gain diplomatic advantage or resolve disputes in its favour.” A ‘peaceful rise’ using military power!
Today, the main focus of the PLA remains Taiwan: “The PLA seeks the capability to deter Taiwan independence and influence Taiwan to settle the dispute on Beijing’s terms.” Speaking about the ‘robust’ investment in modern hardware and technology, the report believes that “the decade from 2011 through 2020 will prove critical to the PLA”.
At the same time, China has only made “modest, but incremental, improvements in the transparency of its military and security affairs”. But the Department of Defence believes that “uncertainty remains about how China will use its growing capabilities.” The report also speaks of the concept of Three Warfares: Psychological warfare, media warfare and legal warfare and mentions “China’s desire to effectively exploit these force enablers in the run-up to and during hostilities.” Nowhere in the White Paper is there a mention of this.
Interestingly while psychological warfare seeks to “undermine an enemy’s ability to conduct combat operations”, media warfare aims “at influencing domestic and international public opinion to build support for China’s military actions and dissuade an adversary from pursuing actions contrary to China’s interests”. The publication of the White Paper seems part of the media warfare.
An article in The China Daily explains: “In recent years, contrary to the country’s desire, the rise of China on the world stage has aroused misunderstanding and suspicion… Such sentiments are not based on facts…Chinese leaders have on many occasions reiterated the country’s strategy of development.”
Part of the Pentagon report is consecrated to the development of new Chinese missiles. The Central Military Commission’s priorities are land-based ballistic and cruise missiles: “developing and testing several new classes and variants of offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, upgrading older missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defences.”
The fact that several of these missiles are targeting India does not help to reinforce New Delhi’s trust towards Beijing. Then there is the first aircraft carrier (a renovated version of the Soviet Varyag) which will begin its trial at the end of the year. And the J-20, China’s fifth generation fighter plane. The fighter aircraft incorporating stealth characteristics was tested in January 2011, the very day Mr Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, landed in China. Was it a message of peace?
One could add a myriad of other examples to the list; one of them is cyber warfare. In an article in The China Youth Daily, “Fight A Cyber War, How?” a young Chinese explains: “Cyber warfare is different from the traditional warfare of the past, which featured gunfire and flying shells; cyber warfare is a completely silent and brand new type of warfare. It is not only active in war and all kinds of conflicts, but also flits in and out of political, economic, military, cultural, technological, and other everyday activities.”
It might be true that Beijing has lately made some efforts to bring more transparency in its international dealings and has opened up, particularly by engaging in bilateral military exchanges and participating in several UN “peace missions”, but more than a WP will be necessary to establish a sustainable and trustworthy relationship, with India in particular. The Chinese penetration in Nepal, Burma or Pakistan should remind Delhi that ‘peaceful development’ does not mean one should not be ready for any eventuality. That is what China does.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hydropower Projects on the Brahmaputra

The Yarlung Tsangpo
The Yarlung Tsangpo or Brahmaputra as it is known in India, has an immense bearing on the lives of hundreds of millions in the sub-continent.
Originating from a glacier near Mt Kailash, it is one of the longest rivers on the Tibetan plateau. It is considered to be the highest river on earth with an average altitude of 4,000 meters. It runs 2,057 kilometers in Tibet before flowing into India, where it becomes the Brahmaputra. One of its interesting characteristics is the sharp U turn (known as the Great Bend) it takes at the proximity of Mt. Namcha Barwa (7,782 meters) near the Indian border.
Like the Nile in Egypt, the Yarlung Tsangpo has fed the Tibetan civilization which flourished along its valleys, particularly in Central Tibet.
The Yarlung Tsangpo enters in India in Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. When it penetrates Assam, it is joined by two other rivers (the Dihang and Lohit).
In Assam, the Brahmaputra has always been considered as the very soul of the State by poets and ordinary folk alike. The valley has fertile farmland, with large areas covered with sal forests, a valuable tree that yields resin. Entering Bangladesh, the river unites with the Ganga and is known as the Padma, before becoming the Meghna-Brahmaputra after merging with the river Meghna. Finally it divides into hundreds of channels to form a vast delta which flows into the Bay of Bengal.

The hydro projects
One needs to understand the rationale of the Chinese government to grasp the importance of mega hydro projects on Tibetan rivers for the Chinese leadership in Beijing.
•    China needs energy. Where does one find the highest hydropower potential in the world? Answer: on the Tibetan plateau.
•    China needs water; China can’t import water, but where are the sources of the main Asian rivers? Answer: in Tibet.
A few years ago, the media reported that China was planning one of the most important components of the ‘western route’ diversion scheme at the Great Bend. This pharaonic project is to be the most mind-blowing part “of the national strategy to divert water from rivers in the south and west to drought-stricken northern areas.”
The projects of damming the Brahmaputra and diverting its waters towards the mainland are often mixed up. Though the Indian Foreign Minister affirmed in Parliament that the Zangmu dam, the first dam of a string of 6 dams being built on the Yarlong Tsangpo “is no cause of concern to India as it is a ‘run of the river’ dam”, the ‘diversion’ scheme is a serious issue, as is the purported 38 GWs power station (nearly twice the size of the Three Gorges Dam) planned at the Great Bend, close to the Indian border. But the diversion scheme and the mega dam are clearly two separate projects.

The mega hydropower plant
Let us first have a look at the mega hydropower plant.
On July 17, 2003 The People's Daily published a small item “China to Conduct Feasibility Study on Hydropower Project in Tibet” It ran thus: “China plans to conduct a feasibility study in October on the construction of a major hydropower project on the Yarlung Zangbo River, in the Tibet Autonomous Region… an expert team [was sent] to the area for preliminary work between late June and early July. The Chinese section of the river boasts a water energy reserve of about 100 gigawatts, or one sixth of the country's total, ranking second behind the Yangtze River. The location for the possible hydropower plant is the U-shaped turn of the river in the southeastern part of Tibet. The river drops by 2,755 meters in the 500 kilometer-long ‘U’ section.”
Though very few people noted it, the cat was out of the bag. Later Chinese maps showing a 38 gigawatts plant appeared on the Internet.

The Diversion Scheme: the Li Ling-Gao Kai Plan
The ‘diversion’ scheme is another story.
Some ten years ago, a Chinese engineer Li Ling and a retired PLA General Gao Kai, seriously worked on the diversion scheme. Li Ling published a book called Tibet's Waters will Save China in which he detailed the diversion scheme, also known as Shuomatan Canal (from Suma Tan in Central Tibet to Tanjing in China).
At that time, 'experts' denounced the plans of Li Ling and Gao Kai; Qin Hui, a professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University declared: “We have to take the international response into consideration. It is undoubted that the lower reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo River are within India's Assam Province, where it is a lifeline for local agriculture and backbone of the economy, just as it is further downstream in Bangladesh.”
The diversion of the Brahmaputra was again in the news in November 2006 when President Hu Jintao visited India. China had decided to assuage the legitimate worries of the Indian government.
Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng, a hydraulic engineer himself, affirmed that the proposal was "unnecessary, unfeasible and unscientific. There is no need for such dramatic and unscientific projects."
However in April 2011, the website 2point6billion.com quoted Wang Guangqian, a scholar of the Chinese Academy of Sciences saying: “Chinese experts have raised a new proposal to divert water from the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra River to the country’s northwestern province of Xinjiang. The water diversion route in the proposal, named the ‘Grand Western Canal’, is slightly different from the ‘Western Canal’ mentioned in China’s well-known South-North Water Diversion Project.”
Wang explained the Chinese rationale: “Faced with severe challenges brought by reduced water resources and a severe drought that has affected a large portion of the country, China has started to consider diverting water from the Brahmaputra River.”
Prof Wang Guangqian seems to say that China has no choice but to do it. An article by Zhang Ke, a reporter at China Business News gave more information.
Wang Guangqian’ proposal, known as the Major Western Route, has been inspired by the work of Guo Kai: “Everybody gets really excited when they hear about it”.
Today, China has less and less water and is looking at how to get it. Scientists can look to two possible directions, from the sea (Bobai Sea ) or the mountains (Tibetan plateau).
According to Li Ling, the Institute of Advanced Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences is using supercomputers and data modelling to simulate the Major Western Route and evaluate its feasibility. Li admitted that “an initial simulation of the proposal has already been produced in Shenzhen, but limitations in the data used to create it means it cannot be made public.”
This lack of data is probably one of the weaknesses of the project, though Li is convinced that it is doable.

A most seismic area
It is necessary to go back to an event in 1950. In the evening of August 15, a terrible earthquake shook Eastern Tibet. "This was no ordinary earthquake; it felt like the end of the world," wrote Robert Ford, the British Radio operator working in Eastern Tibet. “Mountains and valleys exchanged places in an instant, hundreds of villages were swallowed up, the Brahmaputra River was completely rerouted and for hours afterwards, sky over the south-eastern Tibet glowed with an infernal red light, diffused with the pungent scent of sulphur. “ It is a fact that the course of the Brahmaputra changed during those few hours. In the post-Fukushima scenario, this is a crucial factor.

Other factors
Other factors have to be taken into consideration.
One, hydropower lobbies have a financial interest in ‘concretizing’ the project(s) as soon as possible. Dams, whether in India, Africa or Tibet, mean big business and the large Chinese corporations will continue to lobby hard to get the projects through.
The second vital factor is the cost-benefit perspective. The Chinese leadership is very down-to-earth, rational. A friend who worked on the issue told me: “If the price of transferring water is cheaper than conservation or getting water from the sea, China will go ahead.”
There is no doubt that in the end it will be a political decision, but the fact remains that China today badly needs water:
  1. To stop the desertification in Xinjiang, Gansu and Inner Mongolia
  2. To have the Yellow river flowing again
  3. To feed its people
If such grandiose and seemingly unrealizable projects are even thought of, it is because the situation is quite desperate and nobody is able to foresee any ‘realizable’ solution.
But before taking a hurried decision, Beijing should look again into the disastrous performance of the Three Gorges Dam.
Another issue is that the two first sections of the 'diversion' scheme (the Eastern and Central parts in the Mainland) are running into serious technical and human difficulties. The project faces several problems: the construction has been seriously delayed (a very unusual phenomenon in China). The costs have overshot the estimates and last, but not the least, waters are reaching their destination polluted.
The problems may be different for the Great Western Diversion (or even for the 'Small' Western Diversion), but the delay and difficulties of the Eastern and Central parts is certainly an issue to be considered by the political 'deciders'.
When it makes its calculations, Beijing will also have to take into account the cost of a serious conflict with India. The price of water may then become exorbitant.

The Solution: A Water Treaty with India
The only solution seems to lie in bringing the matter to the negotiating table. If a river-water Treaty could be signed between India and Pakistan in the early sixties, why can not a similar agreement be made between China, India and Bangladesh, in order to assure a decent life for all in the region?
The Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses adopted by the UN in 1997 (though not yet an international law, because not ratified by enough nations), could serve as a model for bilateral or multilateral treaties/conventions with China.
But is Beijing interested?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mao and the Tibetan Flag

My Himachal reported that the Dalai Lama mentioned his encounter with Mao Zedong in 1954 in Beijing and the story of the Tibetan flag.
A few years back, I wrote an article, Flag and nationalities on the issue.

The recent unrest in Tibet has generated a healthy debate in India. Some sections of the Indian society like the Kashmiri Pandits now view their plight through the Tibetan prism (the bad luck of the Pandits is that they never had a charismatic leader like the Dalai Lama, though India’s ruling family belong to their community and they have remained a divided lot).
Some others say that we should give time to China to change and progressively evolve into a decent democratic system. They are probably not aware that the ‘time’ is also clocking against India’s interests. Last year alone 3.8 millions of Chinese ‘visited’ Tibet using the railway line to Lhasa; a few lakhs of them settled on the Roof of the World. Like in the Nepal case, when we will realize that the situation is irreversible, it will be too late. And it is India which will have to suffer.
More than twenty years ago, I had asked the Dalai Lama how will Tibet regain its independence (or autonomy). He had answer: “It does not depend on us Tibetans, changes will come from within China”.
It seems also clear that he was not expecting the United States or India to offer him on a platter the most cherished dream of his people. This statement may be disappointing to those who believe that he is only banking on the Great White Chief in Washington.
He repeatedly said that the people of China will bring about changes in their own country which will give a chance to the people of Tibet to fulfill their aspirations. 

 This is a far more plausible alternative than any other, including a dead-locked dialogue between Dharamsala and Beijing. In this context, three letters addressed to President Hu Jintao by the veteran Tibetan Communist leader Phuntsok Wangyal, who had led the Chinese troops into Lhasa in September 1951, could trigger a larger debate in China once the Olympics are behind us.
Wangyal (known as Phunwang by the Tibetans) told Hu several interesting things: the Dalai Lama’s demise would only radicalize young Tibetan hardliners frustrated with his ‘middle way’ approach; he reminded the Chinese President about his own objective to establish a harmonious society; and if Hu would strive for the return of hundreds of thousands of exiled Tibetans, he could turn ‘confrontation into harmony’.
The present debate veers around the place and status of the nationalities within the People’s Republic of China.
A historical incident about the Tibetan flag gives an indication of the direction in which the question could go.
In the 80’s, I had interviewed Phuntso Tashi Takla, the Dalai Lama’s brother-in-law who was in charge of the Tibetan leader’s security when the latter visited China in 1954-55. Takla recalled: “At that time [in 1954] because the Chinese occupation of Tibet was not complete, the Chinese extended full courtesy and cooperation to the Dalai Lama. On some occasions Mao Zedong came himself to the Dalai Lama’s residence [in Beijing]. During one of the several discussions that the Dalai Lama and Mao Zedong had, they were talking on some subject, when Mao [suddenly] said: “Don’t you have a flag of your own, if you have one, you can hoist it here [on the Guest House]”.
Takla was surprised to hear Mao Zedong speaking thus.
Personally I did not immediately realize the importance of Mao’s point, but when I later read Phunwang’s biography, I understood better the incalculable implications of the Chairman’s statement.
It is worth quoting Phunwang: “One day, Mao unexpectedly came to visit the Dalai Lama at his residence… During their conversation, Mao suddenly said, "I heard that you have a national flag, do you? They do not want you to carry it, isn't that right?"
Phunwang further recalled: “Since Mao asked this with no warning that the topic was to be discussed, the Dalai Lama just replied, "We have an army flag." I thought that was a shrewd answer because it didn't say whether Tibet had a national flag. Mao perceived that the Dalai Lama was concerned by his question and immediately told him, "That is no problem. You may keep your national flag." Mao definitely said ‘national’ flag [tib. rgyal dar].
The Chairman added that in the future the Communist Party could also let Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia have their own flag. He then asked the Dalai Lama if it would it be fine for him to host the national flag of the People's Republic of China in addition to the Tibetan flag. Phunwang says that the young Lama nodded his head and said ‘yes’: “This was the most important thing that Mao told the Dalai Lama, and I was amazed to hear it” later wrote Phunwang.
His mind immediately started racing. He was not sure if Mao had discussed this with other leaders in the Politburo or if it was his own idea: “As I had always paid great attention to the Soviet Union's nationality model, I was excited because I took Mao's comment that Tibet could use its own flag to mean that China was contemplating adopting the Soviet Union's ‘Republic’ model, at least for these three large minority nationalities.”
Phunwang realized that the innocuous remark of the Great Helmsman had far reaching consequences for the future of China and particularly for the Tibetans.
Unfortunately Phuwang was arrested in April 1958; he ‘needed to cleanse his thinking'. He spent the following 18 years in solitary confinement. This gave him time to ponder about Mao’s remarks on the flag and the ‘nationalities’ issue and their place in the People’s Republic of China. His studies of Marxism led him to believe that the relationship between nationalities in a multiethnic state should be one of complete equality.
He wrote: “In socialist states, the majority nationality does not (or should not) oppress the minority nationalities. All should be equal, and there should be complete unity and cooperation among nationalities.”
Most of the problems facing China today are due to the Great Han Chauvinism. The State (or Central Government) had to guarantee the equality amongst nationalities (by not imposing Chinese language over a ‘nationality language’ such as Tibetan for example).
Phunwang was finally rehabilitated at the end of the seventies.
In the early 80’s, Phunwang managed to send a 25,000 character memo to senior Party leaders such as Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang. He stressed that the outcome of a debate on the question of nationality would have a huge impact on future work in ‘minority nationality areas’ such Tibet.
After Hu Yaobang and Deng Xiaoping instructed the officials not to remove him as a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, his stand seems vindicated.
In May 1980, a delegation headed by Hu Yaobang, then General Secretary of the Communist Party of China visited Lhasa. Hu Yaobang was shocked to see the level of poverty in Tibet. During a meeting with the Party cadres, he asked “whether all the money Beijing had poured into Tibet over the previous years had been thrown into the Yarlung Tsangpo [Brahmaputra] river”. He said the situation reminded him of colonialism. Soon hundreds of Chinese Han cadres were transferred back to China and Tibetan language rehabilitated. Tibet witnessed a few years of glasnost.
The debate started by Mao’s remark more than fifty years ago and reignited by Phunwang twenty years later, is still on. Will Hu Jintao and his colleagues listen to Phunwang’s point on the issue of nationalities or will the Great Han Chauvinism prevail once again?
The fate of Tibet depends on which side the wind will blow in Beijing not on CIA operations?
In the meantime, it is not advisable to go around Lhasa with a national Tibetan flag: Mao’s Thought has not percolated that much in China.


Even Chairman Mao had no objection to displaying the Tibetan flag : Dalai Lama
My Himachal
Baldev S Chauhan
September 12 2011
Dharamsala : The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama spoke to a crowd of 30,000 Sunday in Mexico’s Mexico city on ‘Finding happiness in troubled times’.
He began his talk saying, “We’re all equal,we all want to have a happy life, and we all have a right to be happy”.
The nobel peace prize winner spoke for more than an hour standing, as the enthusiastic crowd of 30,000 people listened attentively despite the strong Mexican sun.
Later he also took questions from the audience.
Noted hollywood actor Richard Gere, a long time friend of Tibet and follower of the Dalai Lama introduced the Tibetan leader to the crowd.
When asked to comment about Mexicans carrying the Tibetan flag, he said in 1954 when he visited China and met chairman Mao Tsetung, he was told by Mao that Tibet had its own flag and Tibetans should use it.
So if people complained about displaying the Tibetan flag, the Dalai Lama said they should not since even Mao had no objection to displaying the flag.As he spoke these lines all the people carrying small Tibetan flags raised them in the air.
As he ended his talk, the crowd recited in unison in Spanish a popular longlife prayer for the Dalai Lama.
This was followed by musicians of traditional Mexican songs, ‘Mariacha’ coming up on the stage and playing an emotional farewell song along with the crowd for the Tibetan spiritual leader.
After completeing his three day visit to Mexico, the Dalai Lama leaves Monday to Buenos Aires capital of Argentina on a two day visit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The new tributary States


In my last posting, I mentioned about the Chinese inroads in Nepal.
This article of The Asia Sentinel shows that to protect the dual oil and gas pipeline (running more than 800 km in Burma and crossing the entire country),the military regime has already deployed some 6000 soldiers in 33 battalions.
The natural gas will be pumped from the offshore Shwe gas fields while the oil will be offloaded in the port of Arakan to be later pumped to Kunming, in Yunnan province.
Here like in the Kachin State (see my earlier posting in the subject), the Burmese Army will protect the Chinese interests.
Is it different from the situation in PoK?
Indian Defence Minister A K Antony told recently the Lok Sabha: "The Government is aware that China is undertaking infrastructure projects in PoK. We have conveyed our concerns to China about its activities in PoK and asked them to cease such activities."
A few months ago, an Indian Army commander had warned that India not only faced the threat from Chinese troops along the LAC, but also from POK.

Antony admitted: "China has also been carrying out rapid infrastructure development in TAR and in areas along the India-China border. It's carrying out construction of strategic roads, railway lines and airfields close to the LAC, which has improved its military capability." 
Whether it is in Nepal, in Burma or in PoK, it is clear the Middle Kingdom is extending its territory, rapidly taking control over its new tributary States.


China's Energy Grab in Burma    
Asia Sentinel
Nava Thakuria
9 September 2011
No Respite from Suffering for Burmese
Although an ostensibly civilian regime is functioning in Burma and there appear to have been elements of change taking place, with policy splits apparently developing between the top ranks of the civilian government and the hard-line military, there has been little indication yet that the lives of the common Burmese have got any better.
Most of the policy that was formulated by military rulers over the last four decades continues to dominate the government’s agenda in the capital of Naypyidaw, nearly 300 km north of Burma’s old capital city of Rangoon. Foreign direct investment, particularly in the oil and gas sector, is aimed at providing funds for the operation of the regime and the maintenance of a strong military rather than doing anything to improve lives.
A National Human Rights Commission has been established and Aung San Suu Kyi met with government leaders including President Thein Sein in August. The first article in 23 years by the Nobel Peace Prize winner was published in a domestic Burmese publication, which immediately was rapped on the knuckles by the government despite 10 months of negotiations with the government to allow its publication.
However, there is deep skepticism over the human rights commission and whether there is any real chance of reform.
“The international community might have seen an election in Burma last year to pave the way for a democratic regime, but it was simply a farce,” said Dr Tint Shwe, a Burmese political leader living in exile in New Delhi. “The election, in which authorities prevented pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and her party National League for Democracy’s participation and the junta-dictated 2008 Burma Constitution can never bring change to Burma.”
Speaking to Asia Sentinel from New Delhi, Tint Shwe argued that all policies related to foreign investment remain the same as those put in place by the former junta, the State Peace and Development Council led by Senior General Than Shwe. The present government has not formulated any policies aimed at reducing poverty and misery because their policy is directed toward such economic activities as the China-sponsored multibillion dollar oil-gas pipeline project, Dr Shwe asserted.
The project, which is expected to be completed by 2013, is designed to pump crude oil and natural gas from the Arakanese coast of Burma to China’s Yunnan Province. The dual oil and gas pipelines, nearly 1,000 km in length -- 800 km inside Burma -- will cross the entire country, passing through more than 20 Burmese townships and many villages. The natural gas is to be pumped from the offshore Shwe gas fields of Arakan (also called Rakhine), whereas the oil will be offloaded from tankers from Middle East and Africa to the port in Arakan and then pumped to a Chinese refinery at Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan.
The rich Shwe gas fields have attracted the attention of oil companies from neighboring countries as well. Taking advantage of the absence of western companies because of international sanctions, Asian corporate giants including Daewoo International (South Korea), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Videsh (India), the Gas Authority of India Limited (India) etc have their own stakes in the Shwe fields.
The project is expected to supply around 12 million metric tons of crude and 12 million cubic meters of gas annually to China. Construction started on Burma’s Maday Island in the Indian Ocean during November 2009 over the objections of various human rights and Burma solidarity groups.
The US$ 1.5 billion project, which is a joint venture of Beijing-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and Burmese regime owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, is expected to produce about US$1 billion in foreign-exchange annually to the Burmese government for the next 30 years.
“But thousands of families have been displaced due to the laying of pipelines for both oil and gas supply,” said Wong Aung, a Burmese human rights activist based in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. “The government has already confiscated huge volumes of farm lands in both the Arakan and Shan states and with the Magwe and Mandalay divisions for the project. We have reports from inside Burma that nearly 20,000 people have abandoned their places along the long pipeline route.”
Farmland and fishing grounds are being confiscated because of the project, Wong Aung said. “They are also being discriminated against in the compensation process. Workers are getting very low payment and the women are facing unequal wages and even vulnerability to the growing sex industry around the project.”
Wong Aung, the head of the Shwe Gas Movement, said the regime is keeping its governmental machinery alive through the oil and gas revenues, with most of the funds going to the defense sector, which sucks out more than 40 percent of its national budget. Shockingly only 2 percent of the budget goes to health and education of the desperately poor 50 million Burmese citizens, some 79 percent of whom live without electricity, according to Wong Aung. Thus the vast amounts of energy in the pipeline are being pumped across the entire country and the Burmese see none of it.
As the government is responsible for the pipeline safety and security, the regime has deployed over 6000 soldiers in 33 battalions along the corridor and on offshore construction facilities. The Army earlier launched series of offensives to neutralize ethnic militias in Kachin and Shan states.
The human rights commission has not brought any satisfaction to activists like Wong Aung, who said that ‘widespread land confiscation to make way for the pipeline corridor is leaving farmers jobless and fishing grounds are now off-limits, contributing to rising migration’.
“Local people are able to secure only low-wage, temporary, and unsafe jobs on the project and are not able to complain about working conditions or wages without retribution,” the young activist added.
A recent report titled Sold Out: Launch of China pipeline project unleashes abuse across Burma, which was prepared by Shwe Gas Movement and released in Bangkok on September 6, argues that the influx of male workers into the (pipeline) project area has increased the demand for sex workers. As the demand rises, the incidence of forced sex work and trafficking for sex work may also rise rapidly, stated in the report.
It also added that ‘if used domestically, the natural gas would address the chronic energy shortages and transform Burma’s failing economy’.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Chinese Project in Nepal



"West Seti was originally designed as an export-oriented with 90 percent of the power to be exported to India", says this article on the ekantipur.com website.
Will it remain so, if the project is entirely  financed by China? It is doubtful.
Before his arrival in Kathmandu, Zhou Yongkang, the Politburo Standing Committee member of Chinese Communist Party had promised a 'special gift' for Nepal.
Is the construction of the hydropower plant close to the Indian border the 'promised' gift?


$1.6b Chinese loan for West Seti Hydel Project
EKantipur.com
August 30, 2011
KATHMANDU, Aug. 30 -- China has agreed to provide loan worth $1.6 billion for the much talked about West Seti Hydropower Project. The northern neighbour is investing in Nepal's hydropower sector for the second time after Upper Trishuli 3A.
Outgoing Energy Minister Gokarna Bista said Beijing has agreed the loan for the 750 MW project. "We could have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Exim Bank for the project had our government stayed a bit longer," said Bista.
After estimating financial capabilities of interested countries, the government has concluded that only China can build this project. The Chinese government, through the China Exim Bank, has already provided loans worth around Rs 9 billion for the 60 MW Upper Trishuli 3A.
Following the annulment of West Seti's licence on July 28, the government had said that it would build the project itself. The project had acquired the licence 16 years ago.
The government had made a formal request to China for financing West Seti during the recent Nepal visit of the 60-member Chinese delegation led by Zhou Yongkang, a powerful member of the Standing Committee of Chinese Communist Party (CPC). The Chinese side had told Nepal to send the Detailed Project Report to China.
Energy Secretary Balananda Poudel said Nepal had requested China to provide the entire amount ($1.6 billion) as concessional loan. "However, China has said that the loan amount will be a combination of soft and commercial loan," said Poudel.
Earlier, the China Exim Bank had said the interest rate on commercial loan would be at seven percent. Now, Poudel says the rate will be below five percent.
Following the termination of West Seti's licence, the Ministry for Energy had suggested three options to the government for the construction of the project. "We'd asked the government either to build on its own or find a loan for the project," said Poudel. "The third option was to call a global tender."
Chinese interest in West Seti is not new. Earlier this year, China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), operator of the Three Gorges Project (21,000 MW) had written to the Prime Minister's Office expressing its interest to invest in the West Seti Project. The CTGC had also offered its help in getting funds from the Chinese government for the project.
The project located in Doti and Dadeldhura districts is seen as the key project or the industrialisation of the Far-West Region. Energy Ministry says it is yet to decide on the modality for construction of the project. "It can be built either by forming a committee or by Nepal Electricity Authority," said Bista.
West Seti was originally designed as an export-oriented with 90 percent of the power to be exported to India. However, promoter WSHPL failed to move ahead with the construction that was estimated to cost Rs 120 billion. WSHPL, after failing to manage resources, had proposed developing the project under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, in January, 2011. The company had filed an application at the Department of Electricity Development (DoED) seeking extension of the deadline for financial closure and also sought the government's involvement in the project.
WSHPL had signed an agreement with the government 16 years ago to construct the project under the Built-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model. Australia's Snowy Mountains Energy Corporation (SMEC) was the major promoter of the project. The project received a major jolt when the main promoter SMEC stopped sending funds for office operations in August 2010. SMEC's decision to stop funding was linked to the lack of interest shown by China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CMEC) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) to pour in money in the mega project. SMEC, as the major promoter, has invested over $ 31 million in the project over the last decade.
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