The London-based Tibet Information Network (TIN) has analyzed a recent series of personnel changes in the different organs of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and concluded that “the appointments reflect current preference for Chinese over Tibetan cadres.”
TIN said in its report on October 29, 2004 that the changes in the TAR were announced on September 29, 2004 at the fourth meeting of the 8th Standing Committee of the People’s Representative Congress of the TAR.
“The appointments reflect the current preference for Chinese over Tibetan cadres and illustrate Beijing’s present perception of regional autonomy as an exercise in integration rather than diversification,” TIN said.
Following is the full text of the TIN report.
TIN News Update – New appointments reflect integrative understanding of autonomy
Personnel changes in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) which were announced on 29 September 2004 at the fourth meeting of the 8th Standing Committee of the People’s Representative Congress of the TAR, have recently been made public in the official Chinese media. Apart from a few changes within the Congress itself and the People’s Government, most removals and replacements took place within the judiciary, affecting the Intermediary Courts and in particular the procuracy departments of all six prefectures of the TAR, except Lhasa, which has a special status. The appointments reflect the current preference for Chinese over Tibetan cadres and illustrate Beijing’s present perception of regional autonomy as an exercise in integration rather than diversification.
Within the Chinese judiciary system, three bodies enforce the law: the procuracy, the courts and the police force, all three of which are under the close control of the Party. Of the three, the procuracy is the most important one since it oversees the work of the police and of the courts and their implementation of the laws passed by the People’s Congress, which is itself a rubber-stamping organ under the control of the Party. Comments made to TIN by a Tibetan official confirm the role of the Party: “China says that their laws are good, India says that their laws are good, the US say that their laws are good. Whether China’s laws are good or not doesn’t really matter, because it is the Party that controls the laws. (…) In China and Tibet, what is called law is like a tool for the Party, for whatever the Party needs it.”
Out of 13 appointees in the procuracy departments of the various TAR prefectures, only two are Tibetan cadres who appear to be replacing Chinese. At TAR level, only one Tibetan out of five appointees has made his way into the procuracy, where he appears to partially replace another Tibetan. In a similar way, out of the seven new appointees to various intermediate courts, only one is Tibetan.
The ethnic imbalance reflected in these appointments stands in contradiction to the declared policies of the PRC as stated in the National Minority Regional Autonomy Law adopted in 1984 by the Second Session of the Sixth National People’s Congress. This itself drew on similar provisions in earlier laws and regulations on regional and ethnic autonomy, and was reiterated in the document ‘White Paper: Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet’ published by the Information Office of China’s State Council on 23 May 2004. The appointments also represent a failure by the Chinese government to be seen to be employing ethnic cadres, and indeed harnessing their local knowledge in order to exercise control more effectively, despite their public enthusiasm for such initiatives. In the past, for instance, a Tibetan known as Cicheng was the head of the Political and Legal Commission of TAR for many years, an organisation playing a vital role in the enforcement of public order at a grass-root level.
However, rather than any permanent removal of Tibetan cadres, the new appointments more likely reflect the current ‘Cadre Support to Tibet’ (Chin: yuanzang ganbu) policy, under which Chinese cadres from different provinces and various professional fields come to the TAR for a certain term in order to disseminate unified work practices throughout the PRC. The Chinese cadres now posted in the intermediate courts and procuracy departments are therefore probably meant to tie Tibetans into PRC-wide legal practices. This reflects how the Chinese leadership has shifted from an understanding of regional autonomy based in the 1980s on a certain tolerance for distinctiveness to today’s more integrative one which places homogenisation as a high priority. Another Tibetan cadre interviewed by TIN summarises the situation regarding the National Minority Regional Autonomy Law: “However, this law, whether it is a good law or not a good law, it is implemented only according to the needs of the Party.”