WikiLeaks: Hu Jintao Inflexible Over Tibet Issue

Hu Jintao

The Tibet Post International
Dharamshala: The WikiLeaks website has published a series of dispatches sent by the US embassy in Beijing, China, to Washington in April 2008, concerning the Chinese government's attitude towards and policies on Tibet.

The leaks show that President Hu Jintao remains inflexible in his stance on the Tibet issue and is not open to any kind of challenge from within his own government. They also suggest that the Chinese public, influenced by the state media, are growing more nationalistic and antagonist towards the West - especially over its reporting of the Olympic Games and the Tibet issue.

Below we publish summaries of the dispatches:

* President Hu Jintao remains firmly in charge of China's policy on Tibet, with the leadership unified over Beijing's current hard-line stance and buoyed by rising PRC [People's Republic of China] nationalist sentiment. Given Hu's background and experience in Tibet, as well as the "extremely sensitive" nature of the issue, no one would "dare" challenge Hu or the Party line, contacts say. While there may be differences in how various leaders publicly articulate China's Tibet policy, there are no substantive differences among the top leadership. Similarly, Embassy sources do not believe that two recent articles in Party-controlled southern newspapers signaled leadership debate or a review of policy, instead arguing the pieces perhaps reflect an adjustment in the Party's media strategy. The Party has been buoyed by rising nationalist sentiment, fueled in part by anger at the West over "biased" media reporting on Tibet and Olympic-related protests, but this nationalistic fervor also constrains future policy choices. Regardless, any modification of Tibet policy is unlikely in the short term, at least until after the Olympics, contacts say.

* President Hu Jintao is firmly in charge of the PRC's Tibet policy, with the leadership unified over Beijing's current hard-line stance, several Embassy contacts told PolOffs [note-takers]over the past week. Sources argued that given Hu Jintao's own expertise and experience regarding Tibet (Hu was provincial party secretary in Tibet in the late 1980s), as well as the "extreme" importance and sensitivity of the Tibet issue, it would be virtually "impossible" for any leader to challenge Hu on Tibet. An issue as sensitive as Tibet policy would be controlled by a small group of top leaders, limited primarily to the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC), meaning it is difficult to know precisely the content of leadership discussions on Tibet - longtime Embassy contact xxxxx. Nevertheless, "it is still quite clear," xxxxx argued, that Hu Jintao is "completely" in charge of the Tibet issue, and no other leader would "dare" confront Hu or the Party line over such a critical issue. Doing so would be "political suicide" and would make any leader vulnerable to charges of being "soft," or even being a "traitor," risking eventual removal, a la the ouster of former Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang in 1987, xxxxx averred.

* There is "absolutely no division" within the leadership on Tibet, -xxxxx. For the Chinese leadership, Tibet is even more sensitive than Taiwan. Among the nine members of the PBSC who are controlling China's Tibet policy, no one has the stature or experience to challenge Hu, xxxxx said, noting that four are brand-new members of the PBSC, and no one on the PBSC other than Hu has direct experience in Tibet. It was Hu Jintao, as then-Party Secretary in Tibet, who oversaw the "quick and effective Sipdis [SIPRNET distribution] suppression" of protests there in 1987 and 1989, which earned him "great praise" from then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and which was an important factor in his elevation to the PBSC in 1992, xxxxx recalled. Thus, Hu has "great confidence" when it comes to Tibet, putting him in a virtually unassailable position. There may be room within the leadership for expressing differences with Hu on issues such as Taiwan, economic development or political reform, but not on Tibet, xxxxx asserted.

* A range of contacts have acknowledged that there are differences of opinion within the Party and among elites regarding Tibet, though none believed this reflected any disagreement among the top leadership. For example, xxxxx acknowledged the presence of more "moderate" voices on Tibet within the Party, but he nevertheless stressed that it is Hu Jintao who is "completely" in charge of China's Tibet policy. Moreover, it is clear that those such as Hu favoring a "hard line" are calling the shots. (Note: xxxxx's view that Tibet policy is more sensitive for China's leadership than even Taiwan, noting that despite its rhetoric, Beijing has de facto accepted the involvement of the United States in Taiwan, but China can never accept the "interference" of foreign powers in Tibet.) xxxxx confessed that he "personally" favors a more "measured" approach to Tibet, to include dialogue with the Dalai Lama, given that "only the Dalai Lama" can unify the majority of the Tibetan community both within China and abroad.

* Separately, xxxxx "many elites" are advocating a reassessment of policy toward the Dalai Lama questioning the wisdom of demonizing and refusing to negotiate with him. According to xxxxx however, apart from a "minority" of "elites" and "intellectuals," the majority of the Party rank-and-file, as well as "98 percent" of the public, support the current policy. Any serious disagreement over Tibet among the Party leadership is "simply unimaginable," xxxxx stated, a view separately shared xxxxx.

* Almost all of xxxxx the Party has been buoyed by rising nationalist sentiment, fueled in part by anger at the West over "biased" media reporting on Tibet and PolOff that Chinese "anger" over the West's "bias" on Tibet is real, widespread and will have long-term effects. xxxxx them seemed themselves to be angry over Western media reporting, refusing to recognize the irony that for most Chinese, their only access to this "biased Western reporting" is through the official PRC press agency Xinhua's characterization of it. xxxxx emphasized that virtually "everyone" he knows is angry and believes that Western reporting, together with calls for boycotting the Olympic opening ceremony, implies support for Tibetan independence and makes the public feel that the West is trying to "keep China down." xxxxx, meanwhile, said nationalism is definitely surging, but he thought this sentiment is largely concentrated in the 25-35-year-old age group among both Hans and Tibetans. Olympic-related protests. xxxxx all emphasized to

* Whatever the causes of the surge in nationalism, the result has been a dramatic increase in support for the Party's policy on Tibet, contacts say. xxxxx said this outcome is partly a "natural" reaction to the fact that Chinese have in recent years become more nationalistic as a result of growing pride over China'srapid development, with the Tibet furor merely providing the most recent "spark" to inflame passions. xxxx separately acknowledged, however, that the Party's feelings in order to rally the public in support of the Center's Tibet policy, and so far, it has been very"completely unified" the people behind the Party and Government, something that had been "unthinkable" throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s,xxxxx asserted. propaganda line has also purposefully stoked nationalistic successful in doing so. The recent Tibet crisis has"completely unified" the people behind the Party and Government, something that had been "unthinkable" throughoutmost of the 1980s and 1990s, xxxxx asserted.

To read the original dispatches on WikiLeaks, click here.

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