By T.G. Arya*
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China has, on 22 September, issued a white paper on the progress China had made on human rights issues in the last 70 years. The white paper is titled “Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China”.1 The paper can be seen as a prelude to the grand celebration China is preparing on 1 October, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It has eight chapters, the first four devoted to the historical development in three phases, from Mao to Deng to Xi, all in rosy pictures. The 5th chapter deals mostly with the human rights situation in the minority areas including Tibet, all tall claims. The remaining three chapters are about how China has ‘responsibly’ contributed to the promotion of human rights globally.
If what China has claimed in the paper is true, the Nobel Peace Prize should go to the Chinese leadership. Unfortunately, the white paper is a total farce. One could only wish if it were all true. It describes rosy and humanly evolution of human rights in China since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The tragedies and miseries that the Chinese people and other minority nationals suffered under the Great Leap Forward movement and the famine, atrocities of Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square massacres are all missing and tucked away in a secluded corner of some ancient monuments.
In minority areas, it has boasted of full autonomy in the regions and claimed that the leaders and administrators in these autonomous regions are from the local ethic populace only. It talks of development in education and protection of minority languages.
From the Tibetan experience, in all these past 60 years of occupation, all the 14 Party secretaries were Han Chinese and the few appointed Tibetan deputies were in names only. Most of the administrative decision making power rested in the hand of Chinese cadres. It talks of protection of minority languages, but in reality, China has made Tibetan a second language in Tibet. Priority and preference are given to Chinese language in job and business avenues. Monasteries were banned from teaching Tibetan language to the children.
It says, “Religious freedoms of ethnic minority groups are protected. The living Buddha reincarnation is a succession system unique to Tibetan Buddhism, and is respected by the state and governments at different levels of the autonomous regions.”
This is, in fact, a gross violation of the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan people. Reincarnation of high Tibetan Lamas is a highly sacred and spiritual matter. Communist China, who does not believe in religion and spiritualism, has no rights to interfere in this matter. The so-called State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 on the measures on the management of the living Buddhas is a gross insult to the Tibetan religious sentiments. Chinese leadership should also refrain from interfering in the selection of 14th Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. Last month, China organized indoctrination workshop to some 100 Tibetan monks in the regions on the reincarnation issue, which in fact, intimidated the monks to follow the dictates of the party on the issue. Such interference in the Tibetan religious matter will only earn distrust and distant the Tibetans from the regime.
The last three chapters are about how China has strengthened the rule of law, how it participated in the global governance of human rights and how it advanced the international cause of human rights. Human rights watchdogs are sure to have a hearty laugh here.
Whatever the Chinese claims, the truth is there for all to see: what is happening in Hong Kong right now. People are revolting because of the regime’s repressive policy and that China did not keep the promises it made during 1997 takeover. It did the same thing with the Tibetans in 1951’s forced 17-point agreement.
While it talks of advancing the international cause of human rights, China has consistently tried to block Tibetan human rights appeal heard at the United Nation forum. In February this year, the Chinese mission in Geneva wrote to the U.N. not to allow 15 human rights activists, including the Dalai Lama, to attend the U.N. Human Rights Council’s annual session.2 It has lobbied hard with other dictators to suppress the voice of the Uyghur minority.
According to Human Rights Watchdog, “China has also pressured other members, especially those economically dependent on its Belt and Road Initiatives. During its universal periodic review – a process in which the Human Rights Council examines countries’ human rights records every five years – last year, China warned countries to submit positive reviews and threatened consequences for any that criticized Beijing. It has also blocked critical nongovernmental organization and activists from attending U.N. forums while letting representatives of government-sponsored groups participate in them and speak widely.”3
In a nutshell, Chinese communist party’s white paper on human rights progress in the last 70 years is just another disgraceful attempt to whitewash all the human rights violation it has perpetrated in China and in the occupied lands, most prominently, Tibet.
If China is really serious about its claim of “Splendid History of China’s Human Rights Protection” and “Socialist Paradise in Tibet”, then it should let the U.N. Human Rights Commission, diplomats, media and representatives of Tibetan Administration to visit Tibet and assess the situation. It is unbecoming of an aspiring superpower to issue false claims in the guise of white paper on such an important occasion as the 70th anniversary of the national founding day.
* T.G. Arya is the Information Secretary of Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), Central Tibetan Administration. Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author’s own.
1Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-09/22/c_138412720.htm
2China, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela in hot seat at U.N. rights forum, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-rights/china-saudi-arabia-venezuela-in-hot-seat-at-un-rights-forum-idUSKCN1QB1S8
3Council on Foreign Relations, Is China Undermining Human Rights at the UN? https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/china-undermining-human-rights-united-nations