Home Contact Us  

China - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#916, 25 November 2002
Hu Jintao’s enduring Tibet connection
Swaran Singh
Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  As China completes its first peaceful transfer of power to its fourth generation Communist leadership, with Hu Jintao at its head, attention has begun to focus on Hu’s future vision. Hu has said very little, and only exhorted party cadres to understand and implement the ‘Three Represents’ of President Jiang. Hence, these debates on Hu’s future vision continue to rely on (a) what Hu has been doing and (b) his image as China’s young leader who is seen as one who believes in doing rather than debating. Hu’s colleagues generally describe him as being highly persuasive, very firm on principles yet flexible on tactics and, above all, very good at coping with the most complicated situations without losing his nerve.

  Indeed, it is his apparently agreeable low-profile in China’s policy debates that has prompted Hu, as being the strong leader in practice. And here, among others, it is Hu’s success as Tibet’s Party Chief during Tibet’s restive period, 1988-1992, and his continued attachment to Tibet related issues that has come into focus. He was not only the youngest person to take an independent charge of this sensitive region but also the first non-military person to be trusted by the Central leaders. The fact that Hu was so successful in Gansu and Guizhou – China’s most poor and backward regions occupied by China’s minorities – is perhaps what had made him credible for taking over as Tibet Party Chief at the young age of exactly 46 years.

  It was a coincidence that Hu’s tenure in Tibet (1988-1992) happened to be eventful for Tibet and China. In Tibet, unrest began from the day after the official announcement of his appointment due to the mysterious death of the rebellious Panchen Lama. His controlling this rising tide of unrest with a heavy hand established his credentials as one who could coordinate and command men in uniform. He was also the first one in 1989 to support the Central Party’s action in clearing the Tiananmen Square in June that year. Hu was also known in Tibet for his expanding the family planning program to Tibet’s remote counties and for economic reforms that would result in unprecedented price rises a few years later.

  Hu achieved all this during his short 18-month tenure, during which President Jiang visited Tibet which demonstrated that Hu enjoyed the backing of Central Party leaders. However, his living in Tibet resulted in his developing ‘altitude sickness’, which brought him back to Beijing in October 1990, where he remained to ‘recuperate’ for the rest of his tenure as Tibet’s Party Secretary until 1992. At the end, Hu emerged as an official interlocutor on China’s Nationality policy initiatives and the Tibet question in particular. Most remarkably, Hu was successful in gaining proximity to Deng Xiaoping despite being far from Beijing politics, posted in remote and backward regions.

  Indeed, it was while ‘recuperating’ as Tibet Party Chief in Beijing during October 1990-1992 that Hu strengthened his relations with Deng Xiaoping. Later, Hu became executive director of the Party’s all-powerful Organisation Department and the man behind the paper work for organizing China’s 14th Party Congress in 1992. This is where difficult bargains were struck amongst various factions to enthrone Jiang as General Secretary of China’s Communist Party (CCP). Hu managed to become the youngest ever member of the Standing Committee of the Politbureau of the Central Committee of the CCP. He began to be projected as Jiang’s heir apparent. He then used the 50th anniversary of Tibet’s ‘liberation’ to establish himself as this region’s spokesman and of China’s other minority and backward regions.  

  Hu’s tenure as Tibet’s Party Chief did not earn him any favourable image amongst Tibet’s external sympathizers, as he is known to have adopted a tough position, although his charm offensive during recent high-profile visits have tried to convey the opposite belief. But Hu enjoys greater acceptance amongst Tibetan leaders, including His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, who see hope in him. For the record, Hu has been involved in Beijing’s parleys with representatives of the Dalai Lama and enjoyed a certain confidence amongst Tibetan leaders during the late 1990s. He is also believed to have an important say in the revival of that dialogue by China this summer.

  It is still not clearly known what is his enduring vision for Tibet’s future, although he is bound to have far greater knowledge (and possibly far greater interest) on Tibetan issues than any of his predecessors. 

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
China-India: Courting Closer Confidence

BRICS Summit: A Paradigm Shift?

BASIC Needs a New Strategy

China-India: Return to Robust Relations?

Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit: Case for Indo-US Partnership?

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.