In my last post I mentioned Tibet's Party Secretary, Zhang Qingli. I quoted his silly talk about Tibetans being children and the Central Party Committee being their Buddha (via Shanghaiist). And I called him essentially a caricature of the colonialists of old--the British, the Dutch, the Belgians, the French and the Americans.
China Vitae shows that Zhang previously held posts in Gansu (where there are large numbers of Tibetans and Hui Muslims) and "is currently a member of the standing committee of the CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee, deputy secretary of the CPC Xinjiang Production and Construction Crops Committee and commander of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Crops." Xinjiang? I didn't know you could hold two such scattered posts like that, but is this man supposed to be a sort of go-to person for "national minorities"?
Willy Lam furthermore reports in Asia Sentinel that Mr. Zhang is part of a larger "Tibet Faction" of Hu Jintao cronies from the General Secretary's own days in Lhasa in the 1980s.
Now, it may be that the ongoing Tibetan uprising will push Hu Jintao to fire some members of his "Tibet Faction." It may even be that the Central Committee will lose its faith in Hu's understanding of areas like Tibet and force a broader change in policy. But the fact that bone-headed policies like those pursued in Tibet---forced relocations, grossly uneven economic development, interference in religious traditions, violence toward dissenters, hysterical scapegoating of the Dalai Lama---have been allowed to go on for so long speaks to a bigger problem.
That problem is the belief that stupid decisions are OK because the state can always use violence to deal with any consequences of the decisions. Building a massive dam and moving people from their homes and then discovering that the dam isn’t as great as it was cracked up to be is a bummer, but ultimately OK—the PAP can deal with any unrest. Allowing multinational corporations to brutally exploit workers is not the best way of doing things (maybe things should be more "scientific" and "harmonious"), but it is, again, ultimately OK—the police and mafia can deal with any unrest. And pursuing outdated policies toward “national minorities” may be in need of review, but it’s OK—the PLA can deal with any unrest.
No End in Sight, a recent documentary on a different occupation, the American occupation of Iraq, shows that the need for violence multiplies with each stupid decision. Until, in the end, no amount of violence is enough.