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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibet governor tenders resignation at policy meeting

January 18, 2010

Tue Jan 12, 2010

By Lucy Hornby

BEIJING (Reuters) - The governor of Tibet has tendered his resignation,
Chinese state-owned media said on Tuesday, as Beijing convened a meeting to
spur economic growth and quell dissatisfaction in the region.

Qiangba Pingcuo, an ethnic Tibetan, was governor during demonstrations by
Tibetans in their capital, Lhasa, that turned deadly on March 14, 2008.

The report by Xinhua did not give a reason for his resignation, which can
also indicate a person is slated for another post.

"Everyone is looking to see whether an official will be made to pay for the
policy failures indicated by the events of the spring of 2008," said Robbie
Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University in New York.

The Xinhua report did not indicate whether Qiangba's resignation would be
accepted, or who his replacement would be. He is 62, three years shy of
China's mandatory retirement age.

"Qiangba was seen as one of the heavier people in the administration, but
not as someone who initiates policies," Barnett added.

His resignation came as China convened a major policy conference on Tibet,
that stressed increased industrial development and investment from Beijing
as well as continued controls on religious institutions.

The most powerful official in Tibet is party secretary Zhang Qingli, a Han
Chinese. Both Zhang and Qiangba were in Beijing when the 2008 demonstrations
broke out.

The emphasis on greater investment at the meeting implies that China is
recognising some of the economic causes of discontent by Tibetans, many of
whom feel that Chinese migrants have benefitted more from large projects,
including mining and a train line to Lhasa.

Tibetans demanded greater religious and civil freedoms during demonstrations
in March 2008 in towns across the plateau, that China officially blamed on
exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Also leaving his post is Legchok, the head of the People's Congress in
Tibet, Xinhua said. An ethnic Tibetan and former governor, Legchok turned 65
in October.

(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
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