Tibet’s first “tiger” and China’s top spy caught under anti-corruption campaign

July 3, 2015 By Tenzin Tseten*

In the ongoing nation-wide anti-corruption campaign, Le Dake, 55, became the first “tiger” from the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to be placed under corruption investigation. Before his arrest on June 26, he held position of the vice chairman of the TAR’s People’s Congress.  He served in this position since January 2013.


Le Dake, deputy director of the people’s congress in the Tibet autonomous region.

Le started building his career in the Public Security Bureau in Jiangxi province in early 1980s. In 1994 he was assigned to oversee the National Security Department in Jiangxi province.  His first connection with Tibet started in 2004, when he was transferred to the TAR as deputy head of the Regional National Security Department that oversees the hostile foreign intelligence. Within a short time, he was promoted to the head of the same department. He has a strong educational background. He is one among very few in the high-ranking leaders who has achieved a PhD degree.

Apart from his outstanding educational qualifications, Le has more than 20 years of experience in regional and national security issues. This could be a reason behind Le’s transfer to sensitive Tibet. However, his arrest is more likely linked to factional politics.

According to Boxun, the Chinese website, which operates from the US, reveals some secret of Le’s quick promotion. The website noted that former vice president Zeng Qinghong, helped Le Dake, to get quick and high promotion. This writer thinks that Le’s downfall is not merely a case of corruption. There are several possible reasons behind this assumption. Firstly, Tibet is not materially developed like other coastal provincial cities of China, so there is very little possibility that Le had accumulated enormous wealth in Tibet by using his official position. Secondly, if Le’s promotion is linked to his connection with Zeng, the guesswork could very likely end with internal power politics.

The story becomes even more interesting after learning the covert relationship between these “tigers”. Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai, the two disgraced top leaders of the Communist Party, had strong connection with Jiang Zemin’s faction. At one point, the duo threatened Xi Jinping’s leadership.

Apparently, Xu Caiho, former vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission and Ling Jihua, former director of the United Front Work Department, were both had strong connection with Jiang and Zhou respectively.

In the process, many “flies”, lower ranking officials, were caught having connection with Zhou, when he was in Sichuan and oil sector.

To this writer, the more fundamental reason lies with Le’s involvement in security and intelligence issues. The arrest of country’s top spy chiefs, including Ma Jian, Liang Ke, Su Rong, and the latest in number Le, reflects discontentment of higher authorities in Beijing over the lack of loyalty from national security agencies. The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong based English language newspaper, reported that Beijing’s concern were further revealed when Xi summoned a meeting of several top national security chiefs in Beijing to demand unswerving loyalty from state security agencies.

The anti-graft watchdog’s decision to go after “tigers” in Tibet signals further crackdown on corruption and enlarge the scope of anti-corruption campaign to Tibet. The larger picture still remains unclear to many when it comes to Xi’s true intention behind the anti-corruption campaign.


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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