China appoints ex-soldier as leader of Tibet region
China on Friday appointed a Tibetan who served 17 years in the People's Liberation Army as the chairman of its Tibet Autonomous Region, dpa reported.
The regional parliament approved Padma Choling's appointment after the previous chairman, Qiangba Puncog, resigned, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The agency said Padma Choling was born in 1951 in the Dengqen district of Tibet's Qamdo prefecture.
"He served 17 years in the People's Liberation Army between 1969 and 1986, before he became an official in Tibet's regional government," it said.
Padma Choling, who was elected vice-chairman of the regional government in 2003, would give a statement later on Friday, it said.
His predecessor, Qiangba Puncog, also a Tibetan, had led the Chinese government's public-relations efforts after deadly anti-Chinese rioting rocked the regional capital, Lhasa, in March 2008.
The agency said Qiangba Puncog, 62, would take over from another Tibetan official, Legqog, as head of the regional People's Congress. Like many Tibetans, Legqog, 65, goes by only one name.
Padma Choling replaced Legqog as deputy regional secretary of China's ruling Communist Party of China earlier this month.
Tibet's most powerful official is Zhang Qingli, the Han Chinese regional party secretary.
China normally requires local officials to retire once they reach the age of 65.
The March 2008 protests in Tibet's capital escalated into violence that left at least 21 people dead, the government said.
Tibetan exile groups put the death toll at more than 200 and claimed that many Tibetans were killed by Chinese paramilitary police.
The government's handling of the protests drew criticism within China and from foreign politicians and human rights groups.