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The Manchu future in Tibet

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 18 February 2014

PlacardAt times the concept of cultural genocide can come across as slightly sprawling and abstract. Two years ago ICT released a report entitled “60 Years of Chinese Misrule: Arguing Cultural Genocide in Tibet” which sought to examine the impact of Chinese Communist Party rule on Tibetan culture. Available online here, it weighs in at over a hundred pages and covers a lot of ground.

At other times, though, particular facets of the cultural genocide argument can be crystal-clear. Recent news stories about the status of Manchu language and culture in China provide us with a lot of context for Tibetan concerns about the future of their people. Out of a population of more than 10 million ethnic Manchus in China today fewer than 100 can speak their own language fluently, according to a report by a quasi-official news program called China View. “This,” my colleague Todd Stein wrote, “is the future Tibetans fear.” If Manchu can disappear from Manchuria, how easily could Tibetan disappear from Tibet?


Photo credit: AFPOn November 18 Spain’s National Court ordered international arrest warrants against five former senior Chinese leaders for their suspected role in committing international crimes in Tibet. The order came on the back of the Court indicting former Chinese President Hu Jintao. The decisions were received with wild excitement by some, for the hope the court order carried. Others, however, wondered if such warrants were simply an exercise in futility because political expediency would never allow these warrants to be enforced or the Chinese leaders to be brought to court.

While these questions are certainly important, what is significant at this point is not the eventual outcome, but the message that these court cases send. Whether or not these warrants are enforced and justice is properly served, the decision sends the important message for Tibetans and supporters of the Tibet movement that a national court has accepted their claims of torture and repression. These two court cases are also significant for the larger world of international justice and human rights.


Chen Quanguo

As part of my work I look at the statements by China’s leaders to see if they reveal anything about the current state of affairs in Tibet. This was particularly so after General Secretary Xi Jinping took over the leadership and people were having expectation that he will be different.

Therefore, it was interesting to read the article by Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Chen Quanguo in the Party journal Quishi, “Ensuring the Security of Tibet’s Ideological Realm with Courage to Show One’s Sword” (Qiushi, No. 21, 2013), which has been translated into English by High Peaks Pure Earth.

It is about how the Chinese leadership should intensify the effort to control the minds of the Tibetan people through the media. People have read this essay as an indication of hardening of Chinese stand on the Tibetan people. In a way, it is, but to me the article has three other points worth noting. Let me expand.

First, the article is a concrete acknowledgement of failure of China’s Tibet policies to date. It talks about “hostile forces” that “have colluded with the clique of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and have considered Tibet as a key area for infiltration and separatist activities and as the main battlefield for sabotaging and causing disturbances. They have tried all means to contend for the battlefield, popular feeling and the common people, thus, all their efforts have made Tibet the teeth of the storm in the struggle of the ideological realm.”

The article further says, “We will thoroughly carry out the educational activities of comparing Old Tibet with the New Tibet, instructing people of various ethnic groups to be grateful to the Party, listen to the Party and follow the Party.”

China’s dilemma over the Dalai Lama

Published in Blog
Thursday, 16 May 2013

When it comes to the issue of Tibet and how much the top Chinese leaders know about the reality of the situation on the ground, one problem is that the officials serving in Tibet have not been providing accurate reports to Beijing.

Under the authoritarian system that is in China, there is a culture in which leaders only want to convey and hear good things, whether or not they are true. In the process the reality on the ground is ignored to serve a political interest, which in the course of time leads to unrealistic and misguided policies.

The latest example of this in the case of Tibet is utterances by Vice Director Cui Yuying of the State Council Information Office. In a meeting with visiting Indian and Nepali journalists recently, she told them the following: “Foreign media might have been spreading rumors that Tibetan people want repatriation of Dalai Lama. But this is not the situation,” adding, “Our investigation has shown that Tibetans do not want to see Dalai Lama coming back. ”

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