03/03/2009, 00.00
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Jia Qinling: Maintaining order and social stability in Tibet

by Wang Zhicheng
The Political Consultative Conference is underway, and the National People's Congress meets in two days. The Chinese leader calls for maintaining the "harmonious society," urging that workers not be fired and their pay not be withheld in the face of a deepening economic crisis. Repression of the Tibetans has been approved. Beijing is under tighter police control than it was during the Olympics.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chinese leader Jia Qinling has stressed that China's priority is maintaining social stability. He is calling on the business world not to fire workers, and not to cut or withhold salaries, in order to guarantee a "harmonious society." At the same time, he is expressing strong support for the Communist Party's policies regarding Tibet, and the way in which it is maintaining order against all attempts at revolt.

Jia Qinling's speech this afternoon opened the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a national body composed of 2,160 members, intended to offer suggestions to the leadership and to the National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese parliament, which will convene next March 5.

The opening session was attended by the highest authorities of the state and of the party: Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang, and Zhou Yongkang.

Jia Qinling highlighted the "important contributions" of the CPPCC last year. The figures released at the conference mention 5,056 proposals "on politics, economy, science, ecological conservation and other issues." 99 of these, or 3%, received due consideration from the Party.

The president of the CPPCC recalled that 2009 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, but that "maintaining steady and relatively rapid economic development, safeguarding social harmony and stability" must be given top priority.

Because of the global economic crisis, Jia said, the ideal of the "harmonious society" is undergoing a severe challenge. For this reason, he urged participants at the conference, especially those involved in the private sector, to "refrain from laying off any employees, cutting salaries or withholding wages, so as to create a harmonious labor relationship."

So far, according to figures released by the labor ministry, at least 20 million people are unemployed, because of the closing of many factories. Business owners are closing their facilities without warning, leaving their workers without jobs and often without pay dating back months or even years. This situation is creating tension and clashes with the police and authorities in many regions of China.

Jia asked representatives of the ethnic minorities and the various religions to cooperate for unity in the country and for religious harmony. He expressed unconditional support for the policies of the party and the government in controlling uprisings in Tibet and in other parts of the country. "We unequivocally support the party and government," Jia said, "in dealing with the destructive and disruptive, violent and illegal incidents in Lhasa, Tibet and other areas, in accordance with the law."

In March of 2008, thousands of Tibetans demonstrated against Chinese repression. The demonstrations led to clashes with the army that caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of arrests. Still today, Tibet and many areas of Tibetan ethnicity are being patrolled and monitored to prevent demonstrations, one year after the clashes and 50 years after the violently repressed Tibetan revolt.

The harmonious society is also crumbling in Beijing. For the occasion of the two major gatherings, of the CPPCC and the NPC, more security personnel have been deployed than during the Olympics. In addition to soldiers and police, there are 600,000 "volunteers" watching every intersection. There are three layers of security around the city to prevent the infiltration of demonstrators or of people who want to present petitions at the meetings of the leaders.

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