-by International Campaign for Tibet
The new “White Paper” on Tibet released on Nov. 10, 2023 by China’s State Council unsurprisingly presents an overwhelmingly flowery image of the situation in Tibet, while its barrage of figures and alleged achievements, along with language characteristic to the Communist Party under Xi Jinping, remain silent on core projects of the party-state in Tibet, namely the boarding school system and the massive relocation programs, both of which are having a tremendous impact on the Tibetan people and their culture.
During a recent UN review, the Chinese government had given details on both programs and stated, for example, that 260,000 Tibetans had been relocated alone in 2019, while the total figure may amount to up to 2 million relocated Tibetans over the past 20 years. At the same time, UN experts have called for an immediate end to the residential boarding school system in Tibet.
Obviously aimed at an international audience and timed to coincide with upcoming scrutiny of China at the UN level, the document and its language are also in contrast to recent speeches given by Xi Jinping at “study sessions” of the CCP Politburo, where China’s autocratic leader more bluntly talked about assimilationist policies toward Tibetans and others. The paper also aims to justify policies toward Tibetan Buddhists that have been found to be in contravention to international law many times, also by independent UN experts. Absurdly, the atheist party-state reiterates its authority over the appointment of Tibetan Buddhist leaders and teachers, such as the Dalai Lama.
Only a thin veil is laid over the massive indoctrination drives toward the Tibetan population, as they are euphemistically coined “education campaigns” and misleadingly represented as promoting the rule of law, in the absence of an independent judiciary, a free media and the separation of powers. The emphasis on such programs in the paper gives reason for concern that repressive policies will only be expanded in Tibet.
Tellingly, the paper portrays its top-down approach to “cultural undertakings” as success, when it highlights television shows, songs and performances such as “The Party Shines upon the Border,” “Affection of the Tibetans for the CPC,” “Forging Ahead in the New Era” or “Bitter Turns to Sweet when the CPC Comes.” Such alleged cultural achievements must sound offensive particularly to Tibetans who have been imprisoned for their dissenting or autonomous artistic, cultural or political expression and for those who risk their freedom for protecting the Tibetan culture.
The document is titled “CPC Policies on the Governance of Xizang in the New Era: Approach and Achievements.” Throughout, the paper imposes the Chinese term “Xizang” instead of “Tibet” as an apparent attempt to imply legitimacy of Chinese rule over the occupied country and to eradicate the global association of “Tibet” with injustice and the assault on a precious culture.
The white paper covers the period after the 18th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, when Xi Jinping assumed office. It is preceded by a white paper from 2019, when the Communist Party presented its version of 60 years of repressive and repeatedly extremely brutal rule in Tibet, while Tibetans in Tibet and across the world were commemorating the violent crackdown in 1959 and the ensuing exodus of Tibetans from Tibet, among them the 14th Dalai Lama.
The International Campaign for Tibet commented on the White Paper: “The State Council’s white paper offers insight into the Communist Party’s repressive strategies and assimilationist ideology on Tibet through what it omits, how it manipulates and reframes terminology, and what can be read between the lines. After deducting the patently absurd sugarcoating, what remains is a people who are totally subjected to a regime that does not understand the value of their culture, does not understand the Tibetan people, their religion, their traditions and their aspirations. Such paternalistic elaborations of an autocratic one-party dictatorship should be rejected by anyone who reads the white paper.”
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