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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07CHENGDU219 2007-08-13 05:52:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Chengdu
Cable title:  

TENSIONS SPREADING FROM TIBETAN TOWN OF LITANG?; ANOTHER

Tags:   PGOV PHUM CH 
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VZCZCXRO8387
PP RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHCN #0219/01 2250552
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 130552Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL CHENGDU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2588
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 3145
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENGDU 000219 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM, G, DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/13/2032
TAGS: PGOV PHUM CH
SUBJECT: TENSIONS SPREADING FROM TIBETAN TOWN OF LITANG?; ANOTHER
CLASH ON THE PLATEAU

REF: A) CHENGDU 210 B) CHENGDU 206 C) CHENGDU 195

CHENGDU 00000219 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: James A. Boughner, Consul General, U.S. Consulate
General, Chengdu.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)





1. (C) Summary: Although local officials may be keen for it not
to affect the tourist trade, tensions remain high in the town of
Litang in the west of China's Sichuan Province following the
arrest of Runggye Adak, a Tibetan nomad who publicly called for
the return of the Dalai Lama. Roadblocks are in place and a
curfew imposed following rioting that may have resulted in the
torching of a police station. It is also possible the incident
is rippling out into other Tibetan areas of western Sichuan
where pictures of the Dalai Lama and Gendun Choekyi Nyima -- the
Panchen Lama designated by the Dalai Lama -- are being displayed
openly. Meanwhile in southern Qinghai Province, People's Armed
Police (PAP) forces were called out on August 7 to put an end to
a violent clash that broke out between ethnic Tibetan and Muslim
Hui Chinese. End Summary.



2. (C) A foreign national contact, who just returned to Chengdu
after spending approximately one month in ethnic Tibetan areas
of western Sichuan, told CG August 10 that local security
officials have apparently still not fully brought under control
demonstrations sparked by the arrest of a Tibetan nomad who
publicly called for the return of the Dalai Lama during August 1
opening ceremonies of a traditional horse racing festival in the
town of Litang (refs a and b). According to the contact, the
"sincerity and courage" displayed by the relatively elderly man,
Runggye Adak, resonated immediately with festival attendees that
included many young Khampa -- ethnic Tibetans from the area of
Kham historically known for producing fierce nomadic warriors --
who had traveled to Litang for the racing. Our contact noted it
is unclear which specific clan Runggye Adak is from. What is
clear, however, is that his actions and subsequent arrest has
galvanized Khampa regardless of clan.



3. (C) Although not aware of any deaths or arrests of
individuals other than Runggye Adak, our contact said several
days of rioting ensued following Runggye Adak's detention. Our
contact had heard that the police station in Litang to which
Runggye Adak had been taken may have been overrun and set on
fire by an angry local crowd of over 500 people. At that point,
however, Runggye Adak had already been moved to a prison
approximately two hours west of the prefecture capital of
Kangding where he currently remains. Some shops in Litang were
also attacked.



4. (C) People's Armed Police (PAP), according to our contact,
are deployed in force throughout Litang and have established
four roadblocks to try to control access to the town. PAP
continue for some reason, however, to allow tourist buses in and
out of the area. Our contact speculated that local officials
may not want to cut off lucrative tourist revenue during what is
the peak season. While a nighttime curfew in Litang remains in
effect, the presence of tourists, both Han Chinese and
foreigners, may also be serving to restrain to a certain extent
imposition of strict security measures.



5. (C) Our contact observed that government officials may be
trying to avoid an overly strong response in Litang that could
lead to unrest spreading to other areas. The contact indicated
that pictures of the Dalai Lama and Gendun Choekyi Nyima are now
being displayed openly in western Sichuan. Before his arrest,
Runggye Adak had also called for the Chinese Government to
recognize Gendun Choekyi Nyima as the true Panchen Lama and
release him from house arrest.



--------------------------


Meanwhile in Qinghai...


--------------------------





6. (C) Other Congen contacts confirmed a violent incident
occurred August 7 between ethnic Tibetan and Muslim Hui Chinese
in Maqin (Tb: Machen) County of the Guoluo (Golog) Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province. Local Tibetans
reportedly attacked and beat Hui in the county and destroyed a
number of Hui-owned shops and restaurants following a dispute
over sanitary conditions at a Hui restaurant. (Note: our
contacts could not confirm a Radio Free Asia report that a local
mosque had also been destroyed. End note). When PAP forces
intervened, the Tibetans turned their anger on the PAP. A
number of Tibetans and at least seven Chinese police officers
were injured in the ensuing melee. PAP remain on high alert and
are out in force in Maqin. Separately in Qinghai, according to
a reliable contact, a number of monks were recently arrested in
(Gande) nearby Gapde County, possibly for involvement in the

CHENGDU 00000219 002.2 OF 002


above incident.



--------------------------


Comments


--------------------------





7. (C) If it appears that tensions from Litang might spread to
other Tibetan areas, Post assumes a more vigorous response from
local security officials would not be far away. Tibetan/Hui
clashes reflect competition over economic resources rather than
religious differences. More Muslim Hui are pushing into
traditionally Tibetan areas to take advantage of construction
and service sector jobs and Hui are viewed somewhat as "carpet
baggers" by the Tibetans. Desertification in Ningxia, Gansu,
and Xinjiang is also reportedly causing more Hui to move onto
the Plateau, as is the rising price of caterpillar fungus "chong
cao," valued as a medicinal herb. The latest export price this
week for good quality "chong cao" is RMB 280,000 a kilo (or over
USD 35,000).
BOUGHNER