In theory, the People’s Congress is the Parliament and sets the policy for the region while the PPCC is an advisory body. The People’s Congress appoints the administrative leader, who is the governor/chairman of the Region/Province. There is much fanfare about the “election”, including the usage of the “secret ballot” system, of new leadership by the two sessions. Spoiler alert: it is still the Chinese Communist Party that decides on who is elected or not, not to speak of the fact that the Party decides the overall policy in the region.
Be that as it may, the provincial level two sessions have been held, and this is an initial attempt to look at the outcome in terms of Tibetan personnel changes.
In Lhasa, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) People’s Congress took place from January 24 to 30, 2018, while the People’s Political Consultative Conference took place between January 23 and 29, 2018. In Qinghai, the People’s Congress took place from January 25 to February 1, 2018, while the People’s Political Consultative Conference took place between January 24 and 30, 2018. In Sichuan, the Provincial People’s Congress session took place from January 26 to February 1, 2018 while the People’s Political Consultative Conference took place between January 24 and 29, 2018. In Gansu, the Provincial People’s Congress session took place from January 24 to 30, 2018 while the People’s Political Consultative Conference took place from January 23 to 29, 2018.
These meetings were in advance of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, scheduled to begin in Beijing on March 5 and 3, 2018 respectively. The Beijing sessions will also lead to the formation of the Government, including reappointment of Xi Jinping as the President.
To begin with, all four Tibetan members of the 19th Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee (full and alternate) obviously find a place in the new leadership line-up. While Lobsang Gyaltsen is re-elected chair of the TAR People’s Congress, Che Dalha is re-elected chair of the TAR Government. The two Alternate Members, Norbu Thondup and Yan Jinhai have become Vice Governors, of TAR and Qinghai Province governments respectively.
In terms of ethnicity of the elected leaders, the Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region is a Tibetan and so are seven of the 14 vice chairs. The Chairman of the TAR People’s Congress is a Tibetan and so are six of the 13 vice chairs of the PC. The Chairman of the TAR People’s Political Consultative Conference is a Tibetan, as are 12 of the 15 vice chairs. In fact, Phakpalha, who has been re-elected, is the longest serving Tibetan official under the Chinese administration, having been serving as Chairman of the TAR PPCC intermittently since 1993.
In Qinghai, the Governor as well as the Chair of the People’s Congress of the Province are non-Tibetans, but one of the vice-governors and vice-chairs of the People’s Congress are Tibetan. The Chairman of the Qinghai People’s Political Consultative Conference is a Tibetan and there are three Tibetans among the nine vice chairs.
In Sichuan, one of the vice-governors is a Tibetan. It does not look like a Tibetan finds a place in the provincial PC and CPPCC standing committees.
In Gansu, two lamas have secured positions: one as a vice chair of the provincial PC and another as a vice chair of CPPCC standing committees. I am not able to see any Tibetan in the Gansu government leadership.
From the Yunnan list, it is not clear whether there are any Tibetans in the provincial leadership.
Overall, a majority of the leaders are those who have already been holding similar posts during the previous year, an indication that the Chinese authorities have stuck to the familiar and the trusted. The top three positions in the TAR (except for the Party Secretary, which is the highest) goes to the same Tibetans who were there last year. In Qinghai, Dorjee Rapten has taken over from fellow Tibetan Rinchen Gyal as the chair of the Political Consultative Conference. In Gansu, two prominent Tibetan lamas continue to maintain political positions.
It is interesting that Penpa Tashi does not seem to figure among the leadership in the Tibet Autonomous Region. He is a rising star, and was in the TAR Party Committee heading the Party Propaganda Department. He was also a vice chair of the TAR Government. I should say that his name continues to appear among “TAR leaders present” at public events even after the two sessions. In any case, it could be that he might move to a position in Beijing, a possible replacement to fellow Tibetan Sithar, who seems to have retired. Sithar was a Vice Minister in the Central United Front Works Department.
The new Leadership in the Tibetan areas
The following are the Tibetans who find a place in the government, the People’s Congress and the People’s Political Consultative Conference of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu.
Tibet Autonomous Region People’s Congress
Chairman: Lobsang Gyaltsen (Losang Jamcan)
Vice Chairmen: Dothok, (Duotuo); Tenzin Namgyal (Danzeng Langjie); Samding Dorje Phakmo Dechen Choden (Samding Dojepamo Deqenquzhen); Woeser; Chime Rigzin; and Nyima Tsering.
Chairman: Che Dalha (Qi zhala)
Vice Chairmen: Norbu Thondup; Chakra Lobsang Tenzin (Gyai’ra Losang Dainzin); Dorje Tsedup; Gyaltsen; Zhang Yanqing (former mayor of Lhasa); Luomei; and Jamphel
TAR People’s Political Consultative Conference
Chairman: Phakpalha Gelek Namgyal
Vice Chairmen: Tenkho (Danko); Drupkhang Thupten Khedup; Tsemonling Tenzin Thinley; Lobsang Gyurme; Zonglo Jampa Khedup; Salunphulak (monk); Sonam Rigzin (Suolan Reng zeng); Ngawang; Jigyon Ngapo; Sangye Dakpa; Dolker; and Tashi Dawa
Vice Chair: Yan Jinhai
Qinghai People’s Congress
Vice Chairmen: Nyima Dolma (Neima Zhuoma)
Qinghai People’s Political Consultative Conference
Chairman: Dorjee Rapten (Doje Radain)
Vice Chairmen: Rinchen Namgyal (Renqing ‘anjie), Zong Kang, Zhang Wenkui
Vice Governor: Dorjee Rapten (Yao Sidan)
Gansu People’s Congress
Vice Chair: Jamyang Shepa Lobsang Jigme Thupten Choekyi Nyima (Luosang Jiumei Tudan Queqi Nima), a high-level lama
Gansu People’s Political Consultative Conference
Vice Chair: Alak Dewatsang (Jamyang Thupten Gyatso?) Dewacang Jayangtudain Gyaincog