Australia Tibet Council

Enabling everyone in Australia to be part of change in Tibet

Xi Jinping’s Tibet Challenge: Global Tibet Activists Challenge Xi To Act on Tibet or Face Growing Unrest

Friday, 05 October 2012


Tibetans and Tibet campaigners on three continents launched a new report today, Xi Jinping’s Tibet Challenge’1, directed at the Chinese Communist Party’s leader-in-waiting. The report challenges Xi Jinping to acknowledge 60 years of human rights abuses and policy failures in Tibet and take immediate steps towards a just and lasting resolution to the occupation of Tibet, or face greater international condemnation and domestic instability2.

“Xi Jinping is set to inherit a wide array of challenges but the occupation of Tibet poses one of the greatest threats to China’s global standing and long-term stability,” said Tenzin Jigme of the International Tibet Network3. “Tibetans in Tibet have been challenging China’s military occupation of Tibet for more than 60 years, and today Tibetans’ nonviolent movement for freedom is more coordinated, widespread and stronger than ever before,” he added.

On Saturday, just before China’s National Day and weeks before Xi Jinping and the 5th generation of Chinese leaders inherit China's illegitimate rule over Tibet4, a Tibetan man named Yungdrung lit himself on fire in protest in eastern Tibet5. At least 52 self-immolations have taken place in Tibet since 2009; 47 in the past year alone, most with fatal consequences. The report exposes decades of China’s failed policies in Tibet as the direct cause of this unprecedented wave self-immolation protests, and through which Tibetans' human rights are routinely abused and they have become marginalised politically, socially and economically.

“Xi Jinping must own up to the reality that China’s colonial policies in Tibet have been a colossal failure, and its repression of Tibetans only serves to fuel further unrest,” said Tenzin Dorjee of Students for a Free Tibet6. “Tibet will be the litmus test that will define Xi’s legacy as a leader. The challenge before Xi is to take the path of his father, a revolutionary hero7, and bring about a peaceful resolution for Tibet, or be remembered as a failed leader like Hu Jintao.”

The report outlines how China’s rule by force approach to Tibet is failing to stop growing acts of political, cultural and economic protest by Tibetans, whether in the form of mass prayer gatherings for those who have self-immolated, more confrontational acts of protest, or Gandhian-style non-cooperation tactics.

“Tibetans are moving beyond fear, and by engaging in acts of outright defiance and embracing new forms of resistance they ultimately have the power to bring down China’s pillars of coercive control in Tibet” said Kyinzom Dhongdue of Australia Tibet Council. “Xi must resolve the Tibet issue swiftly and peacefully or risk creating an even greater crisis of geopolitical significance.”

Xi Jinping’s Tibet Challenges highlights China’s attempts to maintain the Tibetan occupation through Three Pillars of Coercive Control: Military Occupation, Colonial Rule, and Fear and Intimidation, and contextualizes the growing Tibetan resistance at this time of great political change and uncertainty in China.

Read the full report.


1. ‘Xi Jinping’s Tibet Challenge’ is co-authored by the International Tibet Network, Australia Tibet Council and Students for a Free Tibet. See The press conference can also be viewed here. Images of Xi Jinping-themed protests in India are available here.  

2. The Communist Party seized control of Tibet in 1950. Tibet is comprised of the three provinces of Amdo, Kham, and U-Tsang. Amdo is now split by China into the provinces of Qinghai and part of Gansu. Kham is largely incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, and U-Tsang, together with western Kham, is today referred to by China as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Tibet's traditional territory accounts for one quarter of the landmass of today's People's Republic of China.

3. The International Tibet Network is a global coalition of over 180 Tibet-related organisations dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and Cultural status. 

4. The 18th Communist Party Congress will open in Beijing on 8 November 2012.

5. Visit Stand Up for Tibet for more details.

6. Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is the largest global student and youth based Tibet Support Group with headquarters in New York and national offices in Dharamsala, India, Toronto and London, UK. SFT campaigns for the Tibetan people’s right to political freedom and independence. 

7. Xi Jinping’s late father, Xi Zhongxun, was a revolutionary hero who befriended the 10th Panchen Lama and spoke out against the use of force in Tiananmen Square. Read profiles of Xi Jinping here and  Xi Zhingxun here.