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Heavily Catholic province gets tough new head

 HEBEI (UCAN): Zhang Qingli, who earned a reputation as a hardline Communist Party chief in Tibet, has been has been appointed the party secretary of Hebei province, which is currently the centre of contention in the struggle between the Chinese government and the Catholic Church over the appointment of bishops.
Hebei is home to roughly one quarter of the 8 to 12 million Catholics in China.
A report published by Reuters on August 29 describes Zhang as having gained a reputation as an unyielding Communist Party secretary of Tibet, a strong Buddhist enclave.
Zhang’s new post will give him an influential role in the relationship between China and the Vatican. Reuters says that the 60-year-old official is known for his tough stance against Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, a man reviled by China as a separatist.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning monk denies advocating either violence or Tibetan independence.
“Zhang was in charge of Tibet in 2008 when protests in the regional capital Lhasa gave way to deadly riots that rippled across other ethnic Tibetan areas. After the protests, he rained insults on the Dalai Lama, calling him a jackal in Buddhist a monk’s robes,” the Reuters report says.


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