The way to get ahead in Tibet is to swear unswerving loyalty to the Party and being anti-Dalai Lama for life

April 1, 2016 By Tenzin Tseten*

In a labyrinthine political system of the Chinese Communist Party, officials who falsify the birthrate are more likely to win promotion, a new research reveals. In other words, officials who claimed to suppress population growth had greater chance of being promoted. Theoretically, Chinese officials receive promotions based on their performance against a range of targets such as delivering economic performance, maintaining social stability, and connections and contact to the right leaders. However, the case is slightly different in Tibet. Over the years many observers have noted that officials who are related to Tibet had advanced their careers almost entirely on being anti-Dalai Lama and anti-splittist.

During the recently concluded National People’s Congress, we have witnessed unusual entry of the Tibetan delegates. With dazzling traditional costumes, delegates enlivened the NPC by wearing loyalty badges, one showing a picture of Xi Jinping in TAR, and another showing the bust of Xi Jinping with four other leaders of the past. This particular act draws a lot of criticism from Chinese internet users.  Some netizens even refer it to the “cult of personality” designed and used by Mao during the Cultural Revolution. Surprisingly, all of the 18 Tibetan delegates to the NPC wore uniform badges that prompted observers to interpret that as Chen Quanguo choreographed drama to express his loyalty to Xi Jinping. However, according to rumors, Xi dislike the way Chen expressed his loyalty. Only time will tell his future career.

Yet several former honchos of the TAR had been promoted to the highest level of the CPP hierarchy. At a relatively young age of 49, Hu Jintao was promoted to a member of the 14th to 17th Politburo Standing Committee and eventually succeeded Jiang Zemin to become the general secretary of the Communist party. His rapid promotions were attributed to his leadership in the TAR particularly his sharp tackling of the 1989 peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa where he declared martial law. Reportedly, many, including paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in the upper echelons of party power were impressed.

Likewise, demotions are also part of the loyalty test. A case in point is Hu Yaobang. Although he was not against party rule and but his liberal approach to Tibetan problems and a sympathetic attitude towards the 1989 democratic students’ movement culminated his downfall and eventually humiliated to death.

In a similar manner the 10th Panchen Lama paid a price for his forthright stance on speaking against China’s failed policies on Tibet.  At the tender age of 24 he submitted a critical report known as the 70000 character petition to the Chinese leadership including Mao in 1962, for which he underwent a series of struggle sessions and which even cost him a long prison sentence. His death in 1989 under mysterious circumstances is perhaps linked to his audacity.

It has been clear that the Chinese officials either working in Tibet or Beijing are being promoted through a formula which is founded on unswerving loyalty to the party and being anti-Dalai Lama for life. This formula has become a cornerstone of promotion in Tibet. Not only Chinese officials, ethnic Tibetans like Pema Thinley and Lobsang Gyaltsen in the latest line up are genuine examples who uphold this formula very well.



Tenzin Tseten is a research fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Tibet Policy Institute.

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