China announced today that it had removed its top official in Tibet, three years after ethnic violence exploded in the restive Himalayan region.
Zhang Qingli was replaced as the Communist Party head of Tibet by Chen Quanguo, 55, until now the governor of northern China’s Hebei province, Xinhua news agency said.
No reason for the reshuffle was given, but it comes ahead of a high-level Communist Party congress next year that is expected to usher in a wide range of leadership changes.
Xinhua said Zhang would be re-appointed to another post.
Zhang, 60, was in charge of Tibet in 2008 when violence exploded in Lhasa after Buddhist monks clashed with police and spread throughout regions in China inhabited by ethnic Tibetans.
Zhang also oversaw the subsequent crackdown on ethnic unrest, although both are still continuing in the region.
His removal did not signal a policy shift on Tibet, she said.
Many Tibetans remain angry over what they view as increasing domination by China’s majority Han ethnic group, and accuse the government of trying to dilute their culture.
Both Zhang and Chen are ethnic Han Chinese.
China however says Tibetan living standards have improved markedly in recent decades.