PRC’s claims of progress in Tibet mask 70 years of repression: report
Radio Free Asia
The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) claims that 70 years of Beijing’s rule have improved Tibetans’ lives and that Tibet has always belonged to China distort reality and ignore historical facts, Tibet’s India-based exile government said in a new report.
In a report released September 30, 2021, a day before the PRC’s National Day, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) refuted claims made by the PRC in a white paper, “Tibet Since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity,” released in May 2021.
“It is not 70 years of liberation but in fact 70 years of suppression and oppression,” Tibet’s exile president, Penpa Tsering, said at an event to launch the CTA report. “In the last 70 years, the Chinese government has constantly subjugated the Tibetans inside Tibet in the name of infrastructure development and evolution.”
The PRC has maintained its rule in Tibet only by establishing “an oppressive regime that uses force and the instillment of fear among the people,” the CTA said in its report, titled “Tibet: 70 Years of Occupation and Oppression.” (Pictured: An exile Tibetan Buddhist monk carries a portrait of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, during a July 2021 protest in Dharmsala, India, against the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary.)
“Today, the subjugation of Tibetans is pursued by means of increased securitization, intensified surveillance and a narrative on development, all of which are used as a political tool to integrate Tibet with China,” the exile government said.
Chinese rule in Tibet “bears all the fundamental characteristics of colonialism,” the CTA said. “It relies, as other colonial regimes have, on the narratives of superiority and virtue of Chinese culture and ideology and the ‘backwardness’ of the Tibetan ‘Other.’”
Beijing’s claims that Tibet has always been a part of China come only from relationships between the Dalai Lamas — Tibet’s national and spiritual leaders — and the rulers of Mongol and Manchu empires that had conquered China centuries before, according to the report.
“Contrary to China’s claim, Tibet was not historically a part of China, but was seized by force as the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet from 1949 to 1951. The claim that Tibet was ‘liberated’ is part of a narrative aimed at legitimizing what was and continues to be an illegal occupation of Tibet,” the CTA said.
In its white paper, Beijing claims, “People in Tibet enjoy the right to be masters of the country and the region in accordance with the law,” and that under Chinese rule Tibet has enjoyed “rapid and sustained growth thanks to social harmony and stability.”
But the PRC has long denied the Tibetan people the right and freedom to develop their country according to their vision and needs, the CTA said in its report. “Since occupation, China has been on a looting spree in Tibet: logging Tibetan timbers, mining Tibetan mineral resources, [and] damming and diverting Tibetan rivers.”
Tibetans are constantly required to show gratitude to the Chinese government as a minority population happy for Beijing’s help, the exile government said. Any perceived failure “to show subordination is seen not only as a sign of ingratitude but also as a political crime which needs to be corrected with coercion and re-education.”
Meanwhile, Beijing’s claims that it protects and promotes use of the Tibetan language are contradicted by education policies mandating classroom instruction in Chinese, with graduates who lack Chinese language skills increasingly marginalized in professional occupations.
“The education policy implemented by the Chinese government not only downgrades the use of the Tibetan language but also aims at eradicating the Tibetan identity,” Tsering said.
The PRC’s repeated assertions that it has “peacefully liberated” Tibet from feudal and backward rule are contradicted by the violence of its conquest and occupation, according to the CTA report.
“In reality, the rise of China is not peaceful at all. Rather it has been violent, with increasing repression in Tibet, East Turkestan, Southern Mongolia and now Hong Kong,” the CTA said.
IMAGE CREDIT: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS