After Tibet’s governor Qiangba Puncog stepped down this week China today named his replacement an ethnic Tibetan and 17-year veteran of the People’s Liberation Army. Padma Choling, aged 58, will take the helm, while Puncog has been appointed head of the regional parliament. "Stability is of overwhelming importance," Xinhua quoted Padma Choling as saying while accepting his new position. "We will firmly oppose all attempts at secession, safeguard national unification and security, and maintain unity among different ethnic groups in Tibet." Earlier this month Choling was named deputy secretary of Tibet's Communist Party which is the second-highest post in the region. "Appointing a former military officer as the figurehead leader of Tibet... suggests that China now sees Tibet as a problem of military control," Robbie Barnett, a noted Tibetan scholar at Columbia University, told AFP in an email. China said 21 people were killed by "rioters" in 2008 and that security forces killed only one "insurgent".