Two Faces of Hu Jintao

By Vijay Kranti

On the concluding day of his career, hu walks out with two certificates : a great hero of china and a war criminal of his colonies

Vijay Kranti
The New York Times expose on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's close relatives having amassed assets worth more than $2.7 billion could not have come at a worse time for poor Mr. Wen. In response he could only assert that he would leave office "with the courage to face history" and that "Ultimately, history will have the final say". 

This is in sharp contrast to his senior Comrade Hu Jintao, the all mighty General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the President of China and the Chairman of the supreme power house of China viz. the Central Military Commission (CMC) despite the fact that the cupboard of his virtues holds a far larger mass of skeletons - literally, than all his peer comrades put together.

Mr. Hu Jintao's political career had its real breakthrough in March 1989 when he crushed the historic uprising of Tibetans in Lhasa with a firm, decisive hand. Only four months ago he had been appointed as the Party Secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) -- a post equivalent to the Governor General of India during the British Raj .

In routine power game of PRC, this assignment is reserved for a low profile leader whose main job is to maintain China's grip on Tibet and to keep informing his Beijing bosses that things are 'under control'. Hu, an ambitious communist leader, despised this assignment from beginning. Instead of shifting to Lhasa, he governed TAR from Chengdu in nearby Chinese province Sichuan and kept his family stationed in Beijing throughout his Tibet stint. 

While any other leader in his place would have lost his head for 'misreporting' and for the surprising anti-China uprising of Tibetan youths in Lhasa, Hu converted this event into an impressive demonstration of his skills in crushing dissent. He used armoured vehicles and tanks to shoot down and crush the agitating Tibetan monks and youths; imposed Martial-Law in Tibet and; filled up all Tibetan jails beyond their capacities by arresting Tibetans by thousands. Pro-independence Tibetans and their supporters across the world held Hu responsible for killing of more than 140 Tibetan youths. But the real number of killings and arrests still remains a guess 23 years later. Since then Hu Jintao earned his nickname as the 'Buthcher of Lhasa' among Tibetan masses and their supporters abroad.

Only two months before the Lhasa uprising, Hu had attracted extraordinary international attention when Panchen Lama died in late January under mysterious circumstances following a public verbal duel with Hu in Shigatse in western Tibet. Hu's administration claimed that Panchen Lama died of some 'heart ailment'. But critics, who included some leading Chinese dissidents, alleged that he was 'killed' and that Hu was responsible for Panchen Lama's untimely death at a ripe age of 51.

However, China's helmsman Deng Xiaoping was so impressed by Hu's success in controlling the Lhasa uprising that he decided to use Hu's 'Lhasa Model' to effectively crush down the Chinese youths' democratic uprising which broke out two months later at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Deng and his hardliner colleagues emerged victorious after the PLA guns, armoured vehicles and tanks killed over two thousand Chinese youths (2500 plus as claimed by the movement leaders).

This was first time that Deng spotted a potential successor of Jiang Zemin in Hu Jintao. Hu was soon plucked out of the party crowd and was promoted to the 7th position in the all powerful Standing Committee of the CCP in October 1992. By 2002 Hu became the General Secretary of CCP, President of PRC by 2003 and finally the Chairman of CMC in 2004.

China's yet another colony Xinjiang (Nee 'Republic of East Turkistan' until 1949) had a taste of Mr. Hu Jintao and the PLA under his command in mid 2009 when anti-China riots erupted across Xinjiang. Reacting to public lynching of 18 Uighur Muslim youths 3000 km away in Guangdong on 27th June, fiery Uighurs killed more than 120 Chinese settlers and policemen within a couple of hours in Urumqui, Kashgar and Kashi across Xinjiang a week later on 5th July. Unlike their Tibetan Buddhist counterparts who believe in Dalai Lama's way of non-violence (self immolation committed by Tibetan youths crossed 75 on the day Mr. Hu Jintao's successor was formally elected) the Uighurs present a different challenge to China's rule over their Muslim majority homeland.

Once again Mr. Hu and his PLA re-established the supremacy of Beijing masters over Xinjiang by killing around 800 Uighurs in a crackdown in next two days. It was first time when crowds of recently settled Han citizens played the role of an effective ally of the PLA and Public Security Bureau (PSB) in crushing the native Uighurs. This event also proved the efficacy of Mr. Hu's campaign of reducing the ethnic people of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia into meaningless minorities in their own homelands through massive population transfer of Han Chinese.

On the colonial diplomacy front too, Hu shall be remembered by patriotic Chinese with a great awe for his skills. For, it was only Hu who could keep the Tibetan exiles and its friends engaged in an eight year long 'non-dialogue' only to win enough time to complete Chinese goals of taking railway line into Tibet, completing the enormous population transfer project in this Himalayan colony and winning laurels for a trouble free Olympics (2008) in Beijing.

It was again Mr. Hu who skilfully used Chinese muscle to make Spainish government to rewrite its laws to protect Mr. Hu and his fellow Chinese leaders from facing a public law suit of crimes against humanity in Tibet.

One more account on which a hydraulic engineer Mr. Hu is respected among the Han Chinese masses is his outstanding 'Scientific outlook on Development'. In addition to taking Chinese rail to Tibet, he also leaves behind a well oiled project of diverting Tibet's river waters to parched lads of northern and eastern China -- so what if this project has put at stake the lives of millions of people living in a dozen other countries along the flow of these rivers? 

In the case of Mr. Wen Jiabao one is not sure what history of China holds for him. But in the case of Mr. Hu Jintao it looks sure that he is destined to walk out as a great hero of present day China's history. The history of civilized world might one day put him in dock for his crimes against humanity. But who is sure if it will ever happen in history? Does anyone know? Even if the answer is 'yes', who cares?

Editor's NOTE-- Vijay Kranti is a senior Indian journalist and photographer who has close association with the Tibetan cause. 

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1 comment:

  1. Hu is responsible not only for the sudden dismiss of tenth Pancen Lama but for the jailing of eleveenth Panchen Lama .