China names new Communist Party chief in Tibet
Wu Yingjie gets top job in politically sensitive Himalayan region
Wu Yingjie (left), Tibet’s next Communist Party secretary, speaks to Padma Choling, chairman of the People’s Congress of Tibetan Autonomous region in Beijing. Photograph: Reuters
The Chinese Communist leadership has reshuffled senior posts in key regions after its annual closed-door meeting in the seaside town of Beidaihe, putting a new cadre in control in the politically sensitive region of Tibet, as well as Yunnan and Hunan.
Wu Yingjie has been named as Tibet’s next Communist Party secretary, the official Xinhua news agency reported, while his predecessor Chen Quanguo is reportedly on his way to the restive region of Xinjiang in the far west.
Both men belong to the majority Han Chinese ethnic group. In both Tibet and Xinjiang, members of local ethnic groups, the Tibetans and the Uighurs respectively, chafe against rule by the Han.
Mr Wu (59) has been deputy party chief in the Himalayan region since 2011, and has been based there since 1974. He worked on farms and at a power plant there before doing his university degree in the provincial capital Lhasa.
His appointment comes ahead of a key party congress next year, which takes place once every five years, during which President Xi Jinping will further cement his hold on power. It marks the end of his first five-year period in office and the retirement of some of his political rivals from the seven-man Standing Committee of the Politburo. Mr Xi is expected to put his allies into key positions on both the 25-person Politburo and the Standing Committee at the meeting.
Beijing has run Tibet with a firm hand since People’s Liberation Army troops marched into the overwhelmingly Buddhist Himalayan region in 1950.
The Chinese say they were liberating the Tibetan serfs from a theocracy until the god-king Dalai Lama fled into exile in India after a failed uprising in 1959, and they accuse the Dalai Lama of agitating for independence from there.
Tibet has seen sporadic outbreaks of violence and nearly 150 people have set themselves on fire since 2009 in acts of self-immolation to protest rule by Beijing and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama.
Beijing says it is bringing prosperity to a traditionally impoverished area and rejects claims by Tibetan exile groups of widespread repression.
State media has also been giving high profile of late to public appearances by the 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, the second most powerful figure in Tibetan Buddhism.
The Dalai Lama chose a six-year-old child, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, to be the 11th Panchen Lama, after the 10th Panchen Lama died in 1989.
However, Gyaltsen Norbu, who was also six years of age, was imposed by Beijing, and the young Gedhun disappeared and has not been seen since.
Xinhua said that Du Jiahao had replaced Xu Shousheng as secretary of the Hunan party, while Chen Hao had replaced Li Jiheng as party secretary in Yunnan, which borders Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.