China announced that Lekchog (Ch: Legqog), head of the Tibet Autonomous Region Government, has succeeded Ragdi (Ch: Raidi) as the Chairman of the TAR People’s Congress and that Jampa Phuntsok (Ch: Qiangba Puncog) has replaced Lekchog as the TAR head.

Although the Xinhua report of May 16, 2003, only said Ragdi (see photo) has resigned from his post, observers say that he is leaving for Beijing to be the top Tibetan leader at the national level. In March this year, Ragdi was elected as a Vice Chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress. Henceforth, his Chinese title is Fuweiyuanzhang.

In his speech to the second session of the eighth Tibet Autonomous Region regional People’s Congress on May 16, 2003, Ragdi said that he had served the TAR for 28 years. He said the changes in his responsibility were another indication of the great concern that the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party had on the Tibetan people. He continued that this was also an indication of the great effort to promote Tibetan officials and ethnic officials.

Ragdi said the changes in his responsibility have come about not because he is personally powerful or capable but, rather, are an indication of the trust that the nation and the Party have placed on ethnic officials. Ragdi thanked the Tibetan people for their care for him during his tenure in TAR.

Ragdi said that he was born into a nomadic family and lived under the feudal serfdom system for 21 years. He also said that he experienced suffering under the old Tibetan society and that the PLA taught him about revolution and led him towards the revolutionary path. Today, he said, such an individual from a poor nomadic family has become a leader. In the old society, he said he would not have been able to even dream about such a position. Ragdi said without the Chinese Communist Party he would not have anything.

Ragdi said he was born in Tibet, grew up in Tibet and spent several decades in Tibet. He said that he was having mixed emotions now that he has to go from Tibet.

Ragdi said he believed that under the leadership of the Community Party with Comrade Hu Jintao at its core, the concern of the central government, and the tremendous assistance by the great family of the motherland, the situation and the foundation of the Tibet Autonomous Region was good. He said tomorrow’s Tibet will be a better one and that the Tibetan people will become richer.

Ragdi said that currently the Tibet Autonomous Region is experiencing the speediest economic development in its history and that its situation is among the best.

Ragdi, Lekchog and Phagpalha Gelek Namgyal have been the top three Tibetan leaders in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Phagpalha continues to head the TAR Political Consultative Conference.

Jampa Phuntsok is a deputy secretary of the TAR Communist Party and was put in charge of the campaign against SARS. He was elected as an alternate member of the 16th CPC Central Committee at the 16th National Party Congress last November.

Although there have been reports of the changes in the TAR Party Secretary position, there has not been any formal announcement from Beijing.