August 26, 2011

China appoints new governor for Tibet

by Jan Harris

China has appointed Chen Quanguo, an ethnic Han official, to govern Tibet.

He replaces Zhang Qingli as part of a restructuring of senior provincial leaders prior to a change in leadership next year.

Mr. Zhang oversaw the closure of monasteries in Tibet after riots in 2008, as well as the vilification of the Dalai Lama which eventually led to his exile from the country.

Many Tibetans believe that China is trying to dilute their culture by developing the region and encouraging large numbers of Han Chinese to move there.

In his first public speech since taking office, incoming governor Mr. Chen said: “The central task is economic development; the foundation is ethnic unity; the two priorities are development and stability; the focus is to improve livelihood.”

He refrained from mentioning the Dali Lama, a departure from the style of his predecessor who frequently made verbal attacks on the Buddhist leader.

“With economic development at the heart, with ethnic unity as the guarantee, with improving people’s lives as our starting point, we must grasp tightly to development and stability as the two major issues,” he said.

Despite the change in tone, there are not expected to be any significant changes in China’s policies for Tibet.

During his visit to Germany this week, the Dali Lama granted a special audience to the country’s Tibetan community.

In his address he mentioned the good Tibetan character based on compassion and human values.

“Human beings cannot continue to live under repression. This cannot be permanent,” he said.

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