Tibet Insight No.4/14

                                                 TIBET INSIGHT
 New Railway line to Tibet from May
China Tibet news, Feb.18, 2014
The railway linking Shijianzhuang in northern China’s Hebei Province to Tibet will be operationalised in late May according to Lhasa Evening News. Xing, an official of Shijiazhuang Tourism Bureau said Tibet is one of the ‘hottest’ tourist destinations for the Chinese people. The new railway line will reduce  travel distance.
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau railway line will start from Shijiazhuang and reach  Lhasa directly without any intermediate stop. Xing disclosed that the new railway line will be put into preliminary operation between May 19 to 28, 2014. Fares on this train will be cheaper than the others.
Tibet's trade tops 3.3 bn dollars
Shanghai Daily, Feb.18, 2014
Data released on Feb 18, 2014 by the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Customs show that TAR’s foreign trade volume reached US$ 3.319 billion  in 2013.
Nepal, Malaysia and U.S. ranked as Tibet’s first three trading partners last year at US$ 1.942 billion, US$ 196 million and US$176 million respectively. Nepal was Tibet's largest trade partner for the eighth consecutive year.
Tibet borders Nepal, Myanmar, India and other countries and has a rapidly improving road network. In 2012, Tibet's foreign trade was over US$ 3.42 billion.
Grid inter-connection to ease Tibet’s power shortages
Global Times, Feb. 21, 2014
The Qamdo branch of the Tibet Electric Power Company Limited under the State Grid Corporation of China announced that the Sichuan-Tibet grid interconnection project, expected to be completed in 2015, will link Qamdo in TAR with the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. The 1,561 kilometers of lines will be laid at an average altitude of 3,850 meters.
Officials of the local Qamdo government said that after completion, the power grids of Qamdo in Tibet and Batang in Sichuan will be integrated into the Sichuan grid, which will greatly improve the power supply ability of the two grids and ease power shortages in the region.
Earthquake Risks Rise in Tibet
The Third Pole, Feb. 27, 2014
Reports over the past year show that the Tibetan plateau has experienced higher levels of seismic activity, raising fresh concerns about the massive dam building plans in the region. An estimated 60 dams are planned to be constructed in the region with 20 already built and 40 still in the planning stage. A 2012 Probe International report observed that “98.6 % of all of these dams and 99.7 percent of western China’s electricity generating capacity will be located in zones with a moderate to very high level of seismic hazard.”
Ignore Foreign Pressure on Tibet, says Zhu Weiqun
Tibet.cn, Feb. 19, 2014
Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC), recently stated that China should ignore foreign pressure on human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang and must, instead, win over Western opinion.
Writing on the Chinese government-run website Tibet.cn. Zhu Weiqun said: “As China becomes more involved in international affairs and as Tibet and Xinjiang further open to the world more and more Westerners will have an understanding of Tibet and Xinjiang that better accords with reality”. “Without a doubt this will need long-term, difficult and careful work, as well as much patience, but time is on China's side. We can only push the West to change its way of thinking if we let them understand that China's power cannot be avoided and that the West's interests lie in development and maintaining ties with China, not the opposite." He added that China "must totally disregard whatever the West says".
Zhu Weiqun is a former head of the CCP CC’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) with whom the representatives of the Dalai Lama met ten times between 2002 and 2010. He was elevated at the 18th Party Congress to a national position in the CPPCC.
Spanish court demands answers from Hu Jintao on Tibetan genocide allegations
 Dossier Tibet, Feb.25, 2014
Quite unexpectedly, the Spanish Courts have indicted China’s former President Hu Jintao and issued warrants of arrest against former President Jiang Zemin, former Premier Li Peng, former security czar Qiao Shi, former Tibet Party Secretary Chen Kuiyuan and Peng Peiyun, former head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission. The Spanish judge listed 48 questions for former Chinese President Hu Jintao to respond to. They relate to Hu Jintao’s tenure as TAR Party Secretary between 1988 and 1992. If the sentence is finally approved, the Chinese leaders could run the risk of arrest while travelling to countries which have extradition arrangements with Spain. Meanwhile, officials from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have visited Madrid and met Spanish officials.
The Spanish Parliament is exploring amending its laws to disallow Spain’s courts from having international jurisdiction.
 India-Tibetan uprising march: marchers reach Chandigarh
Dossier Tibet, Feb. 24, 2014
Members and supporters of the Tibet Youth Congress (TYC), who began a protest march from Dharamsala on Feb 8, 2014, reached Chandigarh on March 1. At a press conference in Chandigarh that day, TYC President Tenzin Jigme said his organization aims to highlight the current crisis inside Tibet, support the demands and aspirations of the Tibetan self-immolators, and show solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet. The ‘marchers’ took part in a candle light vigil organized by the TYC’s Chandigarh regional chapter.
Conference to maintain Stability in Tibet
Xizang.gov. Feb. 28, 2014
The TAR District Party Committees held a teleconference in Lhasa on Feb 27, to discuss maintenance of stability during the Tibetan New Year. TAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo chaired the meeting. The meeting was attended by District Party Committee Deputy Secretaries, Wu Yingjie, Deng Xiaogang, Deputy Secretary of Politics and Law Committee and Secretary General of TAR Party Committee Rui Lian, TAR  District Party Committee Standing members Qizha La, Norbu Dhondup, Dong Yunhu, Liang Tian Geng and the heads of every  county, district, township in and around Lhasa.
Wu Yingjie said that Party organizations at all levels need to “deeply understand” the spirit of central power. He talked about the importance of in-depth study and clear understanding for firmer stances, more effective measures, more strict responsibilities and discipline and the unity of the Party and military police to mobilize regional stability.
Wu Yingjie added that Central and regional Party organizations attach great importance to advancing the deployment of various departments at all levels and maintaining stability and appealed to them to continue their work.
TAR Party Deputy Secretary Deng Xiaogang applauded the hard work of the working group level members in Temples, Temple Management Committees, as well as village-based teams and police stations, party cadres and defense forces on duty for ensuring that the region made its due contribution to harmony and stability. Exhorting personnel to further deepen implementation of the instructions of the TAR Party Committee, he disclosed that the government had introduced measures to safeguard stability especially around the Tibetan New Year.
Chinese-elected Panchen Lama’s new position
Chinatibet.cn Feb. 25, 2014
The Chinese-elected Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, has been elected to the Standing Council of the China Religious and Cultural Exchanges Association (CRCEA) at a CRCEA meeting held in Beijing and where over 100 members from the PRC and other countries participated. Gyaltsen Norbu is already a Vice Chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, the CPPCC and holds several other appointments in religious and political posts.
The CRCEA is reported to be a non-profit, non-governmental national social organization and, since 2005, a registered independent legal entity.
Dalai Lama says Shugden protesters ill-informed, confused.
Tibetan Review, Feb. 25, 2014
Responding to the protests in San Francisco by a group of supporters of Shugden worship, the Dalai Lama described their protest on Feb 22 as due to ignorance and distorted information. He observed that this section of followers of Tibetan Buddhism was completely confused.
The Dalai Lama said that he had once worshipped the Shugden Deity himself, but after studying its history and  learning that the Vth Dalai Lama, in whose time the spirit emerged some 300 years ago, had referred to it as a ‘malevolent spirit’  harmful to the Dharma and sentient beings, he stopped the practice.
Adding that worship of this spirit goes hand in hand with sectarianism and restrictions on religious freedom, he said he was really able to enjoy religious freedom only after he stopped worshipping Dolgyal (another name for Shugden).
Community Punished for Self-Immolations
 Woeser, Blogger and Activist based in Beijing
Well-known Beijing-based  Tibetan blogger and activist Woeser recently publicized  a new set of regulations imposed by the Zoigê County People’s Government in Zoigê County (Tib: Dzoege), Aba (Tib:Ngaba) and in the Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan where eight people self-immolated between 2012-2013. Woeser tweeted that each of the 16 new ‘Provisional Anti-Self-Immolation Regulations’ is “absurd” and “terrifying.”
The regulations specify that villages (districts) or temples where a self-immolation occurs must make a security deposit of 10,000-500,000 Yuan into an anti-self-immolation fund and that the immediate family of self-immolators will be denied permission to leave the country (border) or travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region for three years.
Obama meets Dalai Lama amid China’s warnings
President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama in the Map Room at the White House on Feb 21, amidst warnings from Beijing that the meeting could "seriously damage" ties with Washington.
The White House side-stepped questions about the hour-long meeting and whether Obama’s third meeting with the Dalai Lama would upset the US’ relationship with China.  
Statements from Beijing and comments by Chinese academics and analysts despite, in one instance use of the pejorative term “Dalai clique”, indicate that Beijing will insulate Sino-US relations from the meeting. China’s official statements suggest also that it had been earlier advised of the meeting. The meeting occurred hours before a senior US military officer met his counterpart in Beijing. Michelle Obama is also due to visit China later this March.
Predictably reacting swiftly to the meeting, the spokeswoman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Hua Chunying, stated  that China is "deeply concerned", has “lodged solemn representations with the US side” and that Tibet-related affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs where it would  “allow no foreign interference." Niu Xinchun, a research fellow with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), described the meeting to Global Times as a "values-based approach" to pander to the domestic audience. He said that Obama is aware that such meetings contradict Sino-US interests and there was a bid to minimize its impact. He pointed out that no visits between US and Chinese leaders are scheduled in the near term which is why Obama chose to meet the Dalai Lama now.
Xinhua, also on Feb 21, stressed that the meeting will send a wrong message to Tibetan secessionists and encourage them to resort to extremist moves. US President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping are to meet on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands next month. 
(Reuters, Feb 21 and Global Times, Feb 22)

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