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<-Back to WTN Archives Change in personnel in Beijing department dealing with Dalai Lama's Envoys
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Friday, January 30, 2004

2. Change in personnel in Beijing department dealing with Dalai Lama's Envoys

29 January 2004
By Kate Saunders,

There has been a shift in personnel at the United Front Work Department, the Party office that forms alliances with non-mainstream sectors of society such as ethnic groups, religious practitioners and intellectuals and is responsible for hosting visits of the Dalai Lama's Envoys. Knowledgeable sources view the changes favourably, as members of the new team do not have experience that predisposes them to a particularly hard line on Tibet. Work on Tibet now occupies a larger and more important part of the profile of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) since responsibility over Taiwan has shifted away from the department.

Zhu Xiaoming, who was formerly the head of the nationalities and religion bureau in the Department and had made visits to the US and Europe to promote Party policy on Tibet, has been unexpectedly sidelined with a transfer to a post at an institute in Beijing known as the 'Socialist University'. He has been replaced by Chang Rongjun, who previously headed the department of the UFWD managing Party relations with intellectuals. The female official Bihua, a deputy head of the second bureau of the UFWD who was frequently involved in the bilateral human rights dialogue with Western governments, has also been moved out of the department and is now at the Chinese Centre for Tibetan Studies in Beijing.

The changes in personnel at the department are likely to be a result of the new head of the UFWD, Liu Yandong, appointing a new team. Liu Yandong, a female administrator in her late fifties, is known to be close to China's Party Secretary and President Hu Jintao following a background in the Communist Youth League. Her appointment replacing Wang Zhaoguo as head of the department was reported by the Chinese press in December 2002. Zhu Weibi has been appointed as the new deputy head of the UFWD, a post that involves liaison with Liu Yandong on Tibet policy management. Zhu is the former personal secretary of the former senior leader Li Ruihuan, who was known as a political reformer before he was forced to retire from the Politburo prior to Hu Jintao's appointment as President and Party Secretary of the PRC.

Three of the five sub-divisions of the nationalities and religion bureau in the UFWD now headed by Chang Rongjun are now Tibet-related.

Zhu Xiaoming's new post at the Socialist University represents a promotion to the rank of Vice Minister, but means that he no longer has the same influence regarding Tibet policy. Zhu became well-known for his relatively high-profile role as a spokesperson on Tibet policy in delegations to the US and Europe. During a visit to the US in 2002, Zhu met American experts on China and attended a conference on Tibet at Harvard University. During the visit, Zhu took a standard hardline position on the issue of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Beijing, saying: 'I think the negotiation should mainly discuss such questions as how the Dalai Lama and his followers should give up their stand for independence, stop carrying out separatist activities and contribute to the reunification of the motherland and national unity and progress, but not the question related to the legal and political status of Tibet. Tibet is an inalienable part of China...What questions does the US Congress want
the Chinese government to negotiate with the Dalai Lama? The status of Tibet, a 'high-level autonomy', or other questions? All these questions are not negotiable.' (published as a dialogue with Alfred J Wilhelm Jr on the website ). In 2001, Zhu led a work team to Lhasa prior to the visit of Hu Jintao, a former Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 'liberation' of Tibet.

On a visit to London last week, the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy Lodi Gyari said he was encouraged by the 'openness and candour' they had experienced during meetings with the new leadership of the UFWD in Beijing last May, although he stressed that the process of serious discussion on the Tibet issue was at a very early stage. He said: 'We are currently in a period when there is a window of opportunity for the Tibetan people, a critical time in our history. We make a distinction between dialogue and negotiation. When I was asked by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be involved in this process I made it clear that what I could offer was to be involved in the process at an initial stage of the dialogue - the number one task is to establish a direct relationship with the Chinese government. We are at the first stage of the process of dialogue. This is not an easy or quick process.'

The Special Envoy said that he was encouraged by the emergence of the 'Fourth Generation' of leaders in China headed by Hu Jintao, and the changes in the political elite since the Tenth National People's Congress last March, saying that progress on the Tibet issue has become 'more institutionalised, less reliant on personalities...The stance for the new leadership is much more formal, it's not kitchen cabinet style - it takes a little time. My feeling is that this means it will ultimately be more stable, less at the mercy of a few individuals.'


This is one in a series of reports by Kate Saunders commissioned by the Australia Tibet Council, Free Tibet Campaign and the International Campaign for Tibet.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. China protests US State Department official's visit to Dalai Lama's base(AFP)
  2. Change in personnel in Beijing department dealing with Dalai Lama's Envoys
  3. Successful Tibetan conference on "Shaping the Future of Tibet" (WTN)
  4. Beijing helping Tibetans catch up with the west, says author (SCMP)
  5. Governor of Qinghai, the "backyard" of Tibet Autonomous Region. (TIN)
  6. Tibet an inseparable part of Chinese territory: Hu (Xinhua)

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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