November 22, 2008

Chinese "Hard Liner" Fired, Computer Seized Over Tibet

China Tibet policymaker probed for state secret leak

Sat Nov 22, 2008

By Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) - A key Chinese Communist Party policymaker for Tibet is being investigated after her computer was hacked and classified documents stolen related to Beijing's talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys, sources said on Saturday.

Bi Hua, [my bold] 53 and a Han Chinese, was asked to step down recently as director of the No. 7 bureau of the Party's United Front Work Department, two independent sources with knowledge of the case said, requesting anonymity for fear of repercussions.

"She is under investigation," one source told Reuters. "But she insists she has done nothing wrong."

Her computer was hacked by unknown individuals, and classified documents stolen, the sources said.

It enabled the Dalai Lama's representatives to have a heads-up as to Beijing's bottom line towards talks.

"It was a major leak," a second source said.

Zhu Weiqun, the vice minister of
United Front Work Department of CPC
Central Committee

The embarrassing security lapse came as Tibetan exiles gathered for a special meeting to discuss their future, a gathering that could possibly challenge the Dalai Lama's moderate line towards Beijing.

"People are very surprised. She was very hardline," the second source added, referring to her dismissal. "Even the old Communist Tibetan cadres could not stand what she was saying."

China's Communist Party and Tibet's government-in-exile could not immediately be reached for comment.

Separately, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement that dissident Chen Daojun had been sentenced to three years in jail after posting articles on the Internet supporting protesters during unrest in Tibet in March.

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Communist rule, wants genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

But China reviles him as a separatist, and officials often accuse him of secretly harbouring pro-independence sentiments that he has publicly rejected.

China's official Xinhua news agency on Friday unleashed a new attack on the Dalai Lama, taking aim at a memorandum his envoys gave their Chinese hosts at talks earlier in the year. That visit yielded no progress and Chinese officials have recently shown little taste for flexibility.

The Dalai Lama's proposals for genuine autonomy would never be acceptable to China, as they were really a demand for independence, Xinhua said in a commentary.

"Its attempt is to set up a 'half independent' or 'covertly independent' political entity controlled by the Dalai clique on soil that occupies one quarter of Chinese territory, and when conditions are ripe, they will seek to realise 'total Tibet independence'."

The piece was a reiteration of the tough line taken by Zhu Weiqun, a vice minister who handles relations with ethnic minorities and religious leaders, at a news conference two weeks ago.

Beijing's hard line has created increasing frustration among some in the Tibetan diaspora who fear the 73-year-old Dalai Lama has not been aggressive enough.

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