By: VIJAY KRANTI
NEW DELHI-PARIS-LONDON-BERLIN-DHARAMSHALA, 9 March Tibet experts from a cross section of countries see signs of hope for the colonized people of Tibet and other countries, occupied by China, in the ever increasing nationalist rhetoric by the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who are now struggling to keep their hold over China’s ruling system. In an international webinar, held on the eve of 64 th anniversary of Tibetan people’s uprising against Chinese colonial rule over Tibet, they saw a big hope in the continuing expression of resistance against Chinese rule among the Tibetan population living under the Chinese rule.
The webinar was organized jointly by the Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement (CHASE) and Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and the topic of discussion was “Hopes and Possibilities for a Free Tibet in the Present International Scenario.” The expert speakers included Pierre Antoine Donnet, an internationally acclaimed China expert, author and journalist who has had a long stint in Beijing as a correspondent of French news agency AFP. He joined from Paris. Another speaker was Kai Mueller who is Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), Germany who joined in from Berlin. Ms. Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, a member of the Steering Committee of International Tibet Network (ITN) joined in from London. The fourth speaker was Ms. Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar who is an elected Member of the Tibetan Parliament in exile. Prof(Ms) Aaayushi Ketkar of the Special Centre for National Security Studies at JNU and a scholar in international relations and security matters handled the question-answer session of the webinar whereas Ms. Tenzin Lhamo, the Information Secretary of TYC presented her concluding remarks and vote of Thanks. Vijay Kranti, a veteran Tibetologist and Chairman of CHASE moderated the webinar.
The experts took note of the pan-Tibet anti-China protests of 2008; Tibetan people’s deep reverence for Dalai Lama despite his six decade long absence; unending spate of unfortunate self-immolations; and public and individual protests happening frequently across Tibet. They termed these elements as a clear indication of the spirit of freedom remaining alive among the Tibetan people despite rigid controls of China on their lives.
In her presentation, Lhagyari underlined the significance of the 10th March in the ongoing history of Tibetan freedom movement. She said, “This day is not only a day for expression of Tibetan people’s collective voice for a free and independent Tibet, it is also to draw world’s attention to the occupation of other colonies of China like East Turkistan, Southern Mongolia and Hong Kong. Our struggle is for the cause of entire humanity,” she said. She recalled how China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) has killed more than a million Tibetans to fortify its occupation of Tibet. Asserting that Tibet has been a free and independent country throughout the history she said that China is trying to manipulate and rewrite history to assert its claims over Tibet.
Referring to the unabated spirit of the Tibetan people to regain their independence from China, Lhagyari drew attention of the world community to the new campaign of President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party under which hundreds of thousands of Tibetan children are being taken away from their families to be forcibly kept in the CCP schools to brainwash them in the Communist ideology and to wean them away from their cultural identity.
Pierre Antoine Donnet, who has a long experience in watching political developments in China, said that although the CCP has achieved strong control over China and appears to remain in power for a long time, but still the Chinese communist bosses are quite nervous today because of rising opposition and resentment among the Chinese population. He said that after the historic democratic uprising of Chinese youths against the communist regime in 1989 this was the first time that the Chinese people stood up against the communist leadership and the CCP’s for their poor handling of Covid-19. “There were demonstrations in more than 20 cities in which thousands of Chinese youths openly demanded resignation of President Xi and replacing the communist rule with a democratic one. This is a very significant development,” he said.
Donnet underlined the nervousness among the Chinese communist leadership, especially President Xi. “This nervousness became evident from the sudden U- turn on Covid controls,” he said. He also referred to the speeches of President Xi and his new PM at the latest meeting of the Parliament. “Both Xi and his new Prime Minister devoted long time in criticizing and accusing America and western countries. They looked nervous because they are finding that more and more countries are joining hands against China.” He observed that the freedom movements both in Tibet and Xinjiang are gaining momentum. “The international awareness about the real situation in Tibet and Xinjiang is increasing among the world community which is a good sign for both,” he added.
Kai Mueller expressed concern over China’s role in the ongoing Ukraine war. He pointed out that more and more western countries are now realizing that China is becoming a close ally of Russia and cannot be relied upon for conducting any honest negotiations with Russia for bring truce and peace in this war. “World is now realizing China’s increasing attempts in the United Nations, especially in the UN Human Rights Council where it is continuously attempting to undermine definitions, standards and processes of acknowledged and well established UN Rights mechanisms,” he said.
Talking about the take away of the Ukraine war for the Tibetan people he said, “The issue of near total dependence on one source for energy has become quite evident among the western countries during the ongoing Ukraine war. This might now lead to decoupling and diversification of trade with China. If this happens then we can hope a lesser influence of the western corporates over the foreign policy of their respective governments about China. And this will surely lead to a better realization and understanding of western governments on the Tibetan and the Uyghur cause.”
Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, an old hand at developing strategies in the Tibetan campaign, reflected a hopeful scenario on the issue of Tibet as she finds a noticeable change and realization about China in many countries, especially in the UK. She said that the government and people of UK are waking up to theirvulnerability to Chinese spying and surveillance through China made CCTV cameras and other equipment. “Just like we have been using asbestos in our homes and buildings without realizing its dangerous impact on our health, we are now waking up to the danger posed by the Chinese CCTV cameras and other Chinese equipment….. But UK is not the only country which is becoming aware of this danger from China. There are many other countries like Australia and USA who are rising up to this challenge. And all this will lead to a better understanding of the situation of the people of Tibet, ” she added. She pointed out at the naïve belief of many countries that more trade with China will bring more democratic and political change in China.
The author is a senior journalist and a Tibetologist. He is presently the Chairman of the Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement, New Delhi. He can be contacted at email@example.com | www.vijaykranti.com. | +91 9810245674.