Whatever one reads into China’s recent moves in Tibet, one thing is very clear: Beijing has big plans for Tibet in all fronts. These plans constitute the increasing militarization of the Tibetan Plateau in China’s push against India and securing the border, Tibet serving as a location of migrant Chinese settlers and the source of natural resources for rapidly industrializing economy. One plan includes Tibet serving China in its relentless ambition to advance its influence in South Asia through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the proposed railway link to Nepal. Above all, the driving force of all these moves is to decide the successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. These plans are comprehensive, integrated and single-minded.
The international media speculate that two extraordinary visits, in quick succession, by two top Chinese leaders and Beijing’s renewed push against ‘separatism’ might constitute China’s efforts to decide the post-Dalai Lama succession struggle in its favour.
On 11 January 2018, the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party issued a notice on launching a special struggle against the eradication of crimes committed by ‘black and evil forces’ and the campaign against corruption. In order to ensure social stability the broad masses are urged to report on the activities of the ‘black and evil forces’ and corrupt officials.
On 7 February 2018, the public security department of the ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ turned the general campaign against corruption, dissent and officially unauthorized religious groups into a struggle against the ‘Dalai clique.’ The ‘Dalai clique’ is accused of “using religion to control, incite and hold the masses against the party and the government, intervene in grassroots administration, judicial, educational and other affairs.”
The masses are urged not to accept “remote control command of the Dalai clique’ and not to “participate in the separatist activities of the evil forces.” Even discussing the pros and cons of the Middle Way Policy is considered a crime. Order number four urges the masses not to collude with “illegal organizations” which are accused of “instilling in the masses reactionary ideas like the middle way, protecting the mother tongue and the evil forces of narrow-minded nationalism.”
These “illegal organizations” in Tibet are accused of acting as the spokespersons of the Tibetan people and speaking on behalf of the protection of the people’s livelihood and the environment, folk customs and culture. In fact order number five says that these organizations are representatives of “the evil force of the Dalai clique and the spokespersons of the evil forces abroad.”
While hundreds of thousands of Chinese billionaires send their wealth, families and money offshore to safe havens in the West, order six says it is illegal for Tibetans in Tibet to make cash offerings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama or any other lamas in exile.
All together there are 22 orders. Reading these orders, it seems China has lost control of Tibet. The broad masses are urged to inform on the activities of “black village officials, village tyrants, city tyrants, king tyrants, food tyrants and meat tyrants.”
The ‘notice of the Public Security Department of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Reporting Crises of Crime Committed by Black and Evil Forces’ seems to be the stick before the Tibetan donkey.
The stick is followed by the enforcers who presented themselves in Tibet as the carrot. The two enforcers, Premier Li WanKeqiang, a first by a Chinese premier to visit Tibet, and Wang Yang, the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body which supervises the United Front that deals with Tibet affairs, came to Tibet bearing gifts. These gifts came in the form of increased financial spending in shoring up Tibet’s already advanced infrastructure, new highways, airports and a new railway line linking Lhasa to Chengdu, which all have dual- use purposes. The new railway line from Chengdu to Lhasa which will run roughly parallel along the Tibet-India border in the north-east or south-east depending on whether you are in India or in Tibet hold some of the most varied and largest mineral deposits in all China or Tibet. These new infrastructure projects will soak up investment that total $97 billion. These projects will also facilitate the travel of Chinese tourists to Tibet, which last year received an estimated 26 million visitors from the mainland.
In return for these ‘gifts’ of development, what does China want from the Tibetans? Beijing wants their hearts and minds. Beijing wants Tibetan acceptance of its rule in Tibet and the millions of Chinese tourists, many who may wish to settle on the plateau, given the level of pollution and congestion in the mainland.
The focus of Li Keqiang’s visit from 25 to 27 July 2018 was on ethnic harmony and a new push for greater assimilation of the Tibetan minority into the Chinese majority.
The focus of Wang Yang’s visit, from 24 to 26 August 2018, was on ‘sinicization’ of all religions in China, advancing the ‘anti-separatism’ struggle, alleviating poverty and integrating Tibetan Buddhism into China’s socialist society.
The Response Committee
18 September 2018