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Tibet’s new governor promises social stability, unity

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Tibet’s new governor pledged to make social stability and national unity the priority of his administration after the regional parliament unanimously elected him to the post on Friday.

Padma Choling, formerly vice-chairman of the regional government, was elected at the regional parliamentary session of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. He replaces Qiangba Puncog as head of the regional government, the eighth person to take up the post since the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded in 1965.

“It’s a great honour, as well as a heavy responsibility,” he said at a press conference shortly after the election. “I have the determination and confidence to live up to everyone’s expectations.” His six-minute speech to the press focused on the regional government’s adherence to the Chinese Communist Party rule, as well as its role in bolstering economic growth, improving people’s welfare, and maintaining social stability.

“Stability is of overwhelming importance,” he said. “We will firmly oppose all attempts at secession, safeguard national unification and security, and maintain unity among different ethnic groups in Tibet.” Padma Choling, born in 1951, is a native of Dengqen in Qamdo Prefecture. Padma means “lotus” in Tibetan and Choling means “immense beneficence.” He served 17 years in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from 1969 to 1986, before he became an official in Tibet’s regional government. He was elected vice-chairman of the regional government in 2003.

Earlier this month, he replaced Legqog as deputy secretary of Tibet’s regional committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). “In contrast to his predecessor, the slender, bespectacled and soft-spoken Qiangba Puncog, Padma Choling is firm and strong-willed,” a source close to the two officials said on condition of anonymity. “Many Tibetans admire Qiangba Puncog as a man of wisdom, and Padma Choling, a man of valour.”

The annual session of the regional parliament, set to conclude Friday afternoon, has focused on faster economic development in Tibet as well as better welfare for its people. In his report to the parliament session, former governor Qiangba Puncog estimated Tibet’s GDP grew by 12 percent to 43.7 billion yuan (6.4 billion U.S. dollars) last year. The net per capita income of Tibetan peasants and herders, he said, rose13 percent to 3,589 yuan last year.

He said Tibet would again target 12 percent GDP growth this year, and increase spending on sectors involving people’s livelihoods. The net per capita income of farmers and herders is expected to top 4,000 yuan.

On Thursday, an official with the regional treasury announced a 2.3 billion yuan fund to improve the quality of people’s lives this year. The amount was 38.6 percent higher than last year. The money would be spent to create jobs, increase pensions, ensure adequate medical services, build affordable homes for the poor and provide food and shelter for the homeless children and beggars, the official said.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:13:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Tibetrsquos-new-governor-promises-social-stability-unity/article16837606.ece

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