Korea In Bid To Become Regional LNG Hub

From 2022, in a move being seen by some as an indication of Seoul admitting it has fallen behind in efforts to dominate regional energy trade, South Korea will start to offer tax rebates for shipping firms looking for an LNG bunkering base in north east Asia.

To achieve its goal, South Korea’s Democratic Party led government has already revised domestic legislation on existing tariffs according to local government officials.

At present LNG imported and earmarked for vessel use faces a surcharge of US$0.02 per kg (24.2 won) tacked on to a 3% charge imposed during the winter months and 2% through the remainder of the year.

As part of the nation’s push to establish itself in this field, Korea Gas Corp (KGC), the state owned entity, has also announced plans to construct a fifth LNG terminal on the Yellow Sea coast in the city of Dangjin.

South Korea’s position on the west coast of the Sea of Japan is paramount in its push towards making itself an LNG bunkering hub, and has been coupled to ongoing efforts at reducing the current LNG consumption tax in a bid to boost hydrogen production, whilst at the same time pushing domestic industry to reduce its coal use.

Image used for illustration purpose only – C: Belt & Road News

Uyghurs To Rally At US Immigration Office

ARLINGTON, VA: Hundreds of protestors, including victims of forced labor, will tomorrow join the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement in Arlington, Virginia, for a rally in front of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Office at 1525 Wilson Boulevard. 

The rally will take place on Friday, August 13th, from 11:00 – 12:30 PM.

Demonstrators will call on the United States Government, U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services to expedite asylum cases and grant refuge to Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic peoples fleeing China’s ongoing genocide in Occupied East Turkistan.

The rally comes after the April 13th introduction of a bipartisan bill to introduce the Uyghur Human Rights Protect act by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) to allow Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples to be eligible for priority refugee processing in the U.S. 

Thousands of Uyghurs in the U.S. have been waiting for their asylum applications to be approved for many years, some as long as a decade, most of whom are struggling to obtain work permits, access to health care, education, and other benefits, putting a strain on the diaspora community.

In all, the East Turkistan Government in Exile estimates the total Uyghur / East Turkistan population in the United States to be anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 as of 2021, while hundreds of thousands of other Uyghurs in diaspora communities in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia are growing fearful as host nations are rounding up and deporting them to China where they face torture, imprisonment, and even execution.

Sino-US War Of Words Continues Over South China Sea

At a time of heightened global interest over territorial issues in the South China Sea, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday warned the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of the bully boy tactics employed by China, saying that any conflict resulting from Chinese actions “would have serious global consequences for security and for commerce.”

Blinken’s comments soon after drew a sharp response from Beijing, with China’s deputy UN Ambassador Dai Bing saying the US was “stirring up trouble out (of) nothing, arbitrarily sending advanced military vessels and aircraft into the South China Sea as provocations and publicly trying to drive a wedge into regional countries.”

Tensions have increased in recent months as Beijing continues to stake a claim over Taiwan with Chinese naval and air forces repeatedly pushing territorial limits in the Taiwan Strait, and more recently further afield into Japanese waters off Okinawa.

As a result, in the last week, Tokyo announced the future deployment of its Self Defense Forces to Ishigaki Island in western Okinawa, just 250km east of Taiwan.

In late July China also warned the United Kingdom not to engage in any “improper acts” as its Carrier Strike Group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (pictured) passed through the South China Sea on its way to Japan.

Speaking through the Chinese government mouthpiece ‘Global Times’, Beijing said on July 30th, “(T)he People’s Liberation Army Navy is at a high state of combat readiness.”

In his speech to the UNSC, Blinken highlighted China’s repeated illegal forays into waters off the Japanese owned Senkaku Islands and further south into waters claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and other South East Asian nations – all resource rich – saying “When a state faces no consequences for ignoring these rules, it fuels greater impunity and instability everywhere” continuing “We have seen dangerous encounters between vessels at sea and provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims,” adding that the US and its allies in the region are worried about Chinese moves that “intimidate and bully other states from lawfully accessing their maritime resources.”

Dai Bing, in addition to his earlier comments meanwhile called the USA “the biggest threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Image: OGL – UK MOD

Beijing 2022 Without Fans A Possibility: IOC

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, International Olympic Committee Executive Director Christophe Dubi has said that the 2022 Winter Olympics could take place without fans present.

If confirmed closer to the date, the move would mirror what is currently happening in Tokyo at the ongoing 2020 Games, albeit with the move seen as a huge loss of face for China’s Communist Party so intent in recent months on displaying to the world a nation moving past COVID-19 as the rest of the planet continues to struggle with the pandemic.

The announcement by the IOC is based on reports indicating Chinese authorities have now severely limited travel across the country to help counter the latest outbreak of the Delta variant in the country, with Delta cases now being reported in at least 15 provinces from the extreme southwest to the northeast.

“Let’s see how the pandemic evolves around the globe and especially in China, and then let’s look at the consequence of participation for spectators,” Mr. Dubi said on Thursday, adding “(We) have heard a number of the athletes say, ‘What matters is that we can compete, and we’ve gotten used to participating even without spectators.’ But if you have the choice, you would prefer to have spectators.”

Beijing has not yet released ticketing details or initiated presales, but in response to the outbreak, Hong Kong has once again tightened its border controls against visitors from the Mainland.

The announcement will bring hope to those supporting the rights of millions of oppressed Turkic people in East Turkistan (Ch: Xinjiang) with Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in exile, Salih Hudayar, a vocal critic of Beijing having been awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics at the same time it holds millions of its ethnic Uyghur population in concentration camps in the country’s northwest.

Image: Martin Sanchez – Unsplash

Tanker Hijacked Off UAE Headed To Iran

Just days after two crew members aboard an Israeli-linked UAE-bound tanker were killed in an attack western intelligence agencies later blamed on Iran, a London based maritime security specialist has announced in the past 24 hours that another vessel might have been hijacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Maritime Trade Operations initially went with a “non-piracy” incident having taken place aboard an at-the-time unidentified vessel prior to later deeming the incident a “potential hijack” according to sources.

Meanwhile, analysts at Dryad Global and Aurora Intelligence in London have since identified the vessel in question as the 5746 ton Asphalt Princess.

The Asphalt Princess is an asphalt and bitumen tanker currently flagged in Panama thought to have been destined for Sohar in northern Oman when it was hijacked.

Subsequent reports indicate Iran to also be behind this latest incident with the ship having been put on course for Iran according to shipping industry intelligence agency Lloyd’s List.

Media reports from the region now have Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Mr. Saeed Khatibzadeh saying on Twitter that the “reported ‘incidents’ in the Persian Gulf and broader region appear utterly suspicious” but essentially denying Tehran’s involvement, continuing “reaffirming our strong commitment to regional stability and maritime security, Iran stands ready to offer assistance in case of any maritime accidents.”

The US, through White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, called the incident “deeply concerning” but for now has held off on blaming Iran outright, although State Department spokesman Ned Price did say there had been “a very disturbing pattern of belligerence from Iran.

Twitter Claims India, Japan Top Govt Led Information & Removal Requests

New Delhi, NFAPost: Earlier this month, as the tussle between India and Twitter continued, the microblogging platform site Twitter said India was the single largest source of government requests for account information received by the company – totaling 25% of global volume during the July-December 2020 period.

Twitter stated in a blog post that provided an update on its operational transparency that India also ranked second in terms of volume of legal demands for content removal after Japan.

Twitter routinely issues a biannual report in which it shares details on the number of government and legal requests, removal requests and data around accounts actioned for various violations and breach of rules.

In its latest blog post, Twitter said it produced some or all of the requested information in response to 30% of global information requests by governments in the July-December 2020 period.

It is important to note that Twitter has an estimated userbase of 1.75 crore in India.

“India is the single largest source of government information requests, accounting for 25 per cent of the global volume and 15% of the global accounts specified. The second highest volume of information requests originated from the US, comprising 22% of global information requests,” states Twitter.

Twitter said the US submitted the highest volume of global emergency requests (34%), followed by Japan (17%), and South Korea (16%).

During the same reporting period Twitter received 38,524 legal demands to remove content specifying 1,31,933 accounts.

The platform withheld or otherwise removed some or all of the reported content in response to 29% of these global legal demands.

Although there was a reported 9% decrease in the number of legal demands Twitter received, compared to the previous reporting period, these requests sought removal of content from the largest number of accounts ever in a single reporting period, Twitter added.

About 94% of the total global volume of legal demands originated from only five countries (in decreasing order) – Japan, India, Russia, Turkey, and South Korea.

The US-based company said accounts of 199 verified journalists and news outlets from around the world were subject to 361 legal demands – a 26% increase in these requests since the previous reporting period.

Twitter had come under fire over its failure to comply with IT rules in India, despite repeated reminders from the Government.

Twitter recently appointed a Resident Grievance Officer, days after it designated a Chief Compliance Officer, and also released its first India Transparency Report to comply with the new IT rules.

In a recent blog, Twitter said impressions on violative tweets accounted for less than 0.1% of all impressions for tweets globally from July-December 2020. The impressions metric captures the number of views a violative tweet received prior to removal.

During this time, Twitter removed 3.8 million tweets that violated its rules.

About 77% of these received fewer than 100 impressions prior to removal, 17% had received between 100 and 1,000 impressions and 6 per cent of the removed tweets had more than 1,000 impressions.

“Our goal is to improve these numbers over time, taking enforcement action on violative content before it’s even viewed,” Twitter said.

NFA Post

Uyghurs Urge Biden Not To Cancel ‘Captive Nations Week’

Staff: Tokyo, Bengaluru: White House Considers Dropping Annual Historic Proclamation

ETNAM protestor holds sign

East Turkistan National Awakening Movement protesters outside the White House urge the United States to take action to stop China’s oppression of the Uyghurs, Washington, DC. ETNAM Fair Use photo.

WASHINGTON: Every year since 1959 American Presidents have issued a Captive Nations proclamation condemning Soviet and Communist imperialism and repression.

The proclamation is issued shortly before the week itself and has featured robust language.

The Captive Nations Law, formally known as Public Law 86-90, includes Turkestan, Tibet, Manchuria, and Mainland China as Captive Nations.

The East Turkistan Government in Exile is urging the U.S. to designate East Turkistan as a Captive Nation in this year’s proclamation.

This year, Captive Nations Week would have been scheduled to take place from July 18-24. 

However, the White House is considering dropping this significant annual proclamation.

The East Turkistan Government in Exile posted the following statement on Twitter Wednesday: 

“We urge the White House to stand in solidarity with subjugated nations by continuing to commemorate Captive Nations Week.  We call on President Joe Biden to formally designate East Turkistan as a Captive Nation and Address China’s ongoing genocide of Uyghurs.” 

Salih Hudayar is the Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exilethe democratically elected official body representing East Turkistan and its people.

China colonized and annexed East Turkistan (Tarim Basin, Junggar Basin, and Kengsu), also known as the land of the Eastern Turks (Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Tatars), in December 1949, when the People’s Republic of China and its Communist Party took over.

The area encompasses present-day administrative areas of the renamed “Xinjiang,” Uyghur Autonomous Region, and parts of western Gansu and Qinghai Province that China invaded.

China refers to East Turkistan as  “Xinjiang (New Territory),” a highly offensive term to East Turkistanis. Throughout its unique history, East Turkistan has maintained a distinctive, sovereign, national, and religious identity separate from China’s.  Except during periods of illegal Chinese occupation, East Turkistan has also maintained a separate and sovereign political and territorial identity.

Today, over 1400 concentration camps and labor camps have been built in East Turkistan and house East Turkistanis under oppressive conditions.

The situation is so severe that the US Government, the Parliaments of Canada, the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, and the Czech Republic have officially declared China’s acts against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan as crimes against humanity and genocide.

Images: Supplied

German Industry Ever More Reliant On India

New Delhi: NFAPost: German companies in India expect 2021 to be a profitable year – this holds true despite the strong impact of the second COVID-19 wave in India during the months of April and May.

Two out of three responding companies (66%) expect increased turnover, with every sixth company expecting growth of over 20%. Half of all companies (49%) also expect higher profits than in the previous year.

In the medium-term companies are even more optimistic: for the coming five years 89% of respondents predict increased turnover and 71% expect an increase in profits.

These are key results of the “German Indian Business Outlook 2021”, jointly launched and presented by KPMG in Germany and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC).

The survey was conducted between the 25th of February and the 19th of April 2021, focusing on the business outlook of German companies in India.

Germany is India’s biggest trading partner within the EU and India’s 6th biggest trading partner globally.

For Germany, India was the 23rd most important trading partner during the past year.

The pandemic throughout 2020 has also affected trade flow between the two countries.

From 2019 to 2020 bilateral trade volume decreased by 8.5%, to 19.5 billion Euros.

Despite the fact that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic many German companies in India have reduced their vulnerability to the crisis, more than half of all companies (55%) have still reported a decline in demand.

The financial situation of many companies is equally cause for concern: 26% of companies are struggling with liquidity shortages, and 22% report bad debt losses. However, one out of six surveyed companies have reported an increase in demand.

Despite many existing challenges, India will be home to the biggest relative middle class worldwide by 2025, and offers vast opportunities for German companies.

The majority of surveyed companies count on growing domestic demand (84%) and high sales potential (81%) due to demographic change and rising income levels.

Two thirds of companies (65%) name the availability of a skilled workforce, due to the large number of university graduates, as an advantage.

KPMG Germany International Business Managing Partner, Andreas Glunz, said even though the magnitude of the second COVID-19 wave and the resulting human suffering are clearly shocking, and despite the fact that the trade volume with India is currently only at 10% of the trade volume with China, India is an increasingly important market for German companies.

“Currently India’s market potential is only marginally explored which, to some extent, explains the optimistic outlook of German companies in India. Regardless of the currently difficult and volatile economic environment, three out of four responding companies (76%) plan to increase their employment figures until 2025, 18% even plan for an increase of more than one fifth,” Mr. Glunz said.

Progress regarding key location factors and positive expectations for the future 81% of survey participants have observed progress regarding the development of India’s infrastructure, one of the key aspects of India’s overall development.

Last year the Indian government announced infrastructure investments worth 1.3 trillion Euros, allocated to the modernization of the transportation network, energy and water supply networks as well as the telecommunications infrastructure.

Three out of four survey participants (74%) also expect significant positive effects due to the increasing digitisation of the industry.

IGCC Director General Stefan Halusa said digitization in India and Germany has experienced an unprecedented push during the pandemic.

“On an almost daily basis we are receiving inquiries from German IT companies who are interested in establishing a subsidiary in India or are looking for collaboration partners in the Indian market. Especially the German SME sector should look into strengthening their presence in the Indian market,” Halusa said.

Those surveyed by KPMG and IGCC identified the reliability of their business partners as the area where the most significant improvements had been observed. Three out of four companies (76%) noted improvements here and 49% even reported significant improvements.

67% of companies consider progress to have been made on the further development of Indian democracy and the political environment.

Only one out of ten respondents see regression in this topic.

59% state that Indian bureaucracy and administrative obstacles are negatively affecting their business, a problem which is particularly prevalent outside of major business hubs.

43% mention currency risks as a major challenge and almost as many (38%) cite corruption as one of the major challenges their company is facing.

The complexity of the Indian tax system, legal uncertainties as well as a difficult regulatory framework – often in combination with insufficient or protracted law enforcement – are each perceived as a major operational challenge by about a third of the companies asked.

Almost the same number (30%) are regularly challenged by payment delays and debt defaults, and about a fifth of the companies surveyed describe protectionism – the preferential treatment of local companies -, skills shortages and rising personnel costs as “difficult”.

Andreas Glunz (KPMG) said in spite of clearly recognizable improvements in the business environment for German investors in India, one should not fail to recognize a number of persisting impediments which still need to be improved, such as governance, legal framework and reduction of bureaucracy, until India reaches China’s level of business attractiveness for German firms.

NFA Post

My Name – My Identity

Guest piece: The Supreme Court of Japan passed a shocking ruling on June 23rd – one that will affect married couple equality in Japan for years if not decades to come. 

In 2018, three pairs of newlyweds questioned domestic law that states when couples are married, they have to use the same surname, in the process filing a petition for a constitutional interpretation.

Many people in Japan, primarily women, claim they have to endure more than 100 administrative processes in the process of registering a ‘married name’, and in conservative Japanese working environments changing their surnames will also affect their reputation at work, thereby potentially influencing their jobs and future careers.

Of course, men can also change their last names to their wives’ family names as the law only states that married couples have to use the same surname. It does not differentiate between the sexes.

But according to statistics, the change was made by a least 96% of women rather than the other way round.

In the end, Japan’s top court made a decision that in effect said this law does not violate the constitution.

Following the ruling, the married couples in question, along with people promoting gender equality in Japan expressed their disappointment.

One of the married couples said to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, “For some people, marriage represents having the same surname. Nevertheless, I want society to recognize different values as well.”

This is the second time that Tokyo has come to the same conclusion since 2015, with the judgement handed down by 15 chief justices, only four of whom opposed the law.

In brief, the Supreme Court stated that it is reasonable to use only one family name.

Although there may be many inconveniences for women, there have been some relaxations under the usual naming convention.

There are also other regulations about names in Japan where children cannot be named using certain Chinese characters depicting hate, evil, the devil, etc., even though people would seldom name their children in such a manner – although this too is still a restriction on people who have different values as to how they name their children.

Additionally, and interestingly, the law on surnames after wedlock does not apply to marriage to non-Japanese, so when marrying foreigners, people can choose to keep their original surnames.   

The UN has long hoped the Japanese government would modify the law that deprives people of the right to keep their own names, and as such Japan was thought to be considering an amendment to the law as far back as 1996.

Referring to this, a former member of the Ministry of Justice said in an interview that they were really “optimistic” about letting married couples have different surnames.

Nonetheless, the conservative parties in power – namely the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) and Komeito (a conservative party with links to Buddhism) claimed that such a  law, if passed would “weaken the relationships in a family”, so by asking people who change surnames to maintain previous surnames at work, this would ‘ fix’ the problem.

No further serious efforts to alter this law have been heard of since.

In part because of the post-marital naming issue, on the list of developed countries, Japan is now considered one of the worst offenders regarding gender equality issues.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report of WEF (World Economic Forum), Japan is currently ranked 120 out of 156 countries listed.

While Japan remains socially conservative, other countries are dedicating themselves to change. But not all.

In the United Kingdom, over 90% of women are using their husband’s surnames nowadays. The statistics may seem surprising, but they do have the right to choose whether to have their surnames changed – or not.

Another study involving 1,500 British nationals indicates that only 59% of women still want to change their surnames after marriage, a significant difference when compared to those that actually do so.

In the Czech Republic, women must still change their surnames into a feminine form.

For example, they will usually add “ová” after the original surname, even for foreigners, thus former Secretary of State for the US – Hillary Clinton – becomes Hillary Clintonová.

But nowadays, former attorney general of the Czech Republic Helena Válková has requested a modification of this regulation as women demand the right to keep their original surnames instead of it being ‘feminized’ 

The proposal has passed the Czech House of Representatives, and has been sent to the national Senate for a vote.

Back in Japan, research indicates that over 70% of Japanese do not mind using different surnames after marriage.

One such person, Ida Naho says when she was dealing with administrative processes related to changing her last name, she felt as if she were losing her identity.

She hopes that people will at least have the right to decide for themselves who they are by keeping their original family names.

It is also worth mentioning that in one of Japan’s closest neighbors, Taiwan, there are problems on the issue of names as foreign residents “must have” a Chinese name.

The Chinese language name they choose will be applied to official documents like ID cards, used on bank accounts etc. This will also lead to a violation of foreigners’ own identity.

It seems that there is still a long way to go related to issues of equality in both Japan and Taiwan.

By: Kent Kuo

Image: Hannah Ku – Unsplash

Why China Wants To Choose The Next Dalai Lama

On Tuesday, 6th July, 2021, the Dalai Lama turns 86.

Tibetans in Tibet and those in exile will celebrate the occasion and wish him continued good health and long life.

Tibetans and people along the Buddhist Himalayan belt will be joined by millions across the globe whose lives have been touched and in many cases changed by the Tibetan leader’s message of strengthening our positive inner qualities.

They in turn will be joined by the people of Mongolia and those of Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmukia, the three republics within the Russian Federation, all of which constituted and still constitute the traditional parish of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet.

While celebrating the life and teachings of the present Dalai Lama, millions across the globe will look to the future with fear and foreboding. This in part arises from the fact that there have been disruptions in the Dalai Lama succession in the past.

But the main fear arises from Beijing’s assertion that government authorities would pick and appoint the 15th Dalai Lama.

As reflected in President Xi Jinping’s remarks to his colleagues that China would appoint the next Dalai Lama, the Chinese Communist Party is determined to assert its claimed sovereignty over Tibet’s spiritual space.   

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) policy of brushing aside the 14th Dalai Lama and its determination to appoint his successor flies in the face of logic, Buddhist spiritual practice and Tibet’s history.

Yet the CCP could not care less about these petty and bothersome norms and tradition. Beijing is after the glue that will hold its empire together and expand its influence.

Beijing is after the sway and sweep of Tibetan Buddhism’s spiritual influence.

If Beijing’s appointment of the next Dalai Lama succeeds, it would rope in the whole of the Buddhist Himalayan belt under its influence without firing a shot.

The present Dalai Lama on a trip to Sikkim in north-east India said the Buddhist Himalayan belt was India’s first line of defense.

China has always likened Tibet to the hand.

For the Manchus, Tibet, the highest and largest plateau in the world, ringed by the highest and longest mountain range, was the hand that protected the face.

Mao Zedong considered Tibet a launching pad for some unspecified future expansion.

He said Tibet was the palm and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh the five fingers, a clear hint of future aggression.   

The same expansion through spiritual and cultural stealth could happen to Mongolia.

The Mongols’ devotion and faith in the Dalai Lamas of Tibet is absolute. One of the Manchu emperors told his court to build a replica of Lhasa’s Potala Palace in Manchuria.

Since then the Mongols came to worship and not raid and pillage China.

Successive Manchu emperors needed the Dalai Lamas of Tibet to rein in the Mongols.

China’s plans to use the institution of the Dalai Lama as a tool in its foreign policy kit could affect Russia’s spiritual and cultural space.

Like the Mongols, the people of Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmkyia, though small in number, have placed their unswerving spiritual allegiance in successive Dalai Lamas of Tibet.

Telo Rinpoche, the highest spiritual head and a reincarnate lama of Kalmykia, studied at Drepung Monastery in south India.

A successful imposition of Beijing’s Dalai Lama on the world would cut into a unique slice of Russia’s spiritual life.

The question here is how would the Tibetan people react to a Beijing-appointed Dalai Lama.

If the history of the Party’s interference in the spiritual life of the Tibetan people is any guide their reaction would not bode well.

In May 1995, the Dalai Lama recognized a six-year old boy in Tibet as the authentic reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama who passed away in 1989.

The boy and his parents were bundled off by the authorities and never heard of again or his whereabouts known. In the following months, the Party appointed its own Panchen Lama.

Such was the hostility of the monks of the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the Panchen Lama’s main seat, the boy could not live and study in his own monastery.

The Party flew him to Beijing where he lives today.

On rare occasions the Party-appointed Panchen Lama visits Tibet under tight management.

He has never travelled abroad to spread the Buddha’s message of compassion.

He is isolated from his own people and the larger world.

One telling indication of the Tibetan people’s reverence for the Dalai Lama and their attitude to the Beijing-appointed Panchen Lama was revealed in 2006.

That year a rumour spread throughout the Tibetan Plateau that the Dalai Lama would be visiting Kumbum Monastery in north-eastern Tibet, next to Xining, the provincial capital.

Tibetans throughout the plateau flocked to Kumbum in anticipation of seeing the Dalai Lama and they camped there for days and nights.

The Xining authorities grew nervous. Their clarification that the Dalai Lama would not be visiting Kumbum couldn’t budge the crowd.

So the authorities cooked up another rumour.

They told the crowd Gyaltsen Norbu, the Party-appointed Panchen Lama, was visiting Kumbum. That did the trick.

The Tibetan crowd vanished into the thin air of the plateau.

Tibet scholars say that both the first and second rumors were an attempt by the Party to gauge the Tibetan people’s sentiments on the Dalai Lama and the Party’s own Panchen Lama.

By their boycott of the Beijing-appointed Panchen Lama, Tibetans made their feelings clear.

As for the Dalai Lama in a statement issued in September 2011, he said he alone had the spiritual authority to decide on his successor.

The Tibetan people and the whole of the Buddhist church will respect his decision.

  • Thubten Samphel is a former director of the Tibet Policy Institute, a research centre of the Central Tibetan Administration