- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

Beijing has picked two new leaders to run the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and they could be installed at any time, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

“The change appears to be aimed at handing control to officials whom Chinese President Hu Jintao already knows and trusts,” the report by the U.S. government-run radio said Wednesday.

The secretary of the TAR Communist Party, Guo Jinlong, is to be replaced with Yang Chuantang, who is the deputy secretary. Raidi, in the No. 2 position as chairman of the standing committee of the TAR People’s Congress, is to be replaced by Jampa Phuntsok, now the vice chairman.

“According to RFA’s Tibet experts, they are not known for their openness to reform,” said Executive Editor Dan Southerland. “There is likely to be a continuation of economic development and political control.”

He said the moves are thought to have been in the works since the National People’s Congress in March and were not related to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said it could not confirm the RFA report. “I checked the Web sites and could find no change in the leadership in the government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, embassy spokesman Sun Weide said.

Also, the International Campaign for Tibet, which represents the Dalai Lama in Washington, said it could not confirm the change. “If it happened, the change in itself doesn’t mean anything,” said Bhuchung Tsering, director of the group.



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