China has long developed an appetite for acquiring independent territories masking its intentions as noble and justified. Recently, the country has momentarily shifted its focus from Hong Kong & Taiwan to Tibet now.
China’s Party leader, President Xi Jinping, is always enthusiastic about marking and celebrating anniversaries. At an event marking the 70th anniversary of China’s takeover of Tibet, a senior Chinese Official, Wang Yang, proclaimed to Tibetans that they should now embrace & accept the communist party’s ascendancy over their territory and march along with China’s cultural image.
Wang Yang is a member of China’s most powerful political body, the politburo standing committee. He also made similar comments in 2018 when China was forcing high-pressure tactics in the region.
Tibet lost its independent status in 1950 when the People’s Liberation Army of China marched into Tibet’s territory and overpowered the Tibetan army. Then the next year in 1951, a 17-point agreement was decided and entered into between representatives of both territories affirming China’s territory over Tibet. This 17-point agreement originally provided for an independent administration of Tibet in the leadership of Dalai Lama, but in 1955 a “Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet” (PCART) was instituted to eliminate the Dalai Lama’s government. The ultimate idea was to create a system of governance along Communist lines.
Thereafter, Dalai Lama faced a serious threat on his life from Chinese forces and he eventually resorted to fleeing to India in 1959. He then renounced the previously ratified 17-point agreement. Years later, in 1965, China established the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), including Tibet as a provincial-level division of China. The Tibet Autonomous Region has been under the routine administration of the People’s Government. The topmost power rung in the area is the standing committee of the communist party. The authorities in Tibet practice the same level of a clampdown on dissent as they do in any other occupied territory of China. Monks & Nuns in the area have been beaten up and jailed for imparting political education sessions and promoting local languages among the citizens. Many monasteries, including Langdi, have been bulldozed & turned into country-level detention centres and re-education camps where nuns and monks are held captive in harsh conditions.
These monasteries & other cultural institutes are crucial for the abidance of the Buddhist religion of Tibet & cultural identification of the citizenry, especially against the imminent threat of the Chinese Communist Party eyeing their exenteration.
China has long used Tibet as a guinea pig to try out methods of complete surveillance & acculturation to produce malleable citizens & party subjects. Between 2011-2016, all Tibetan news media outlets were suppressed and the news outlet of the Communist party took their place. This was all done in the leadership of Chen Quanguo who was back then party chief of Tibet. He replaced Tibetan TV channels with CCP dedicated TV and ensured that people with satellite TVs could only get reception of CCP propaganda channels. Under his watch, Tibet silenced. A soldier turned politician Quanguo developed a strategical programme of inspection & monitoring that has since become a blueprint in the hands of China for efficient surveillance and police state.
In 2016, he was assigned to the region of Xinjiang as a party head where he replicated his tested strategies on Tibet to Xinjiang. Anyone in Tibet who sympathises with the words of the Dalai Lama or his followers is punished or imprisoned. In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, the clutches of China’s communist party have only deepened into Tibet. Amid lockdown last year, Tibetan students were forced to take lessons instilling the “love for China” and “loyalty for CCP”. In many areas, the instructions in schools were to be made compulsorily in Chinese and Tibetan was mandated to be used only in special classes where Tibetan is taught as a language.
Against all its suppressing activities, China maintains the stance that it has helped Tibet to free itself from a theocratic system of governance; Tibetans still enjoy political freedom and autonomy & the under the control of China, the Himalayan region has seen economic and social stability.
China keeps changing its view on Tibet’s border region. Sometimes it claims that Tibet became part of China in the 13th century. Before that, the authorities said it became part of China in the 17th and 18th centuries, & most recently, China claims that Tibet has been a part of it since the 7th century AD.
On 23rd May, marking the 71st anniversary of the signing of the 17-point agreement, China released another White Paper on Tibet which lays down the guidelines “for governing Tibet in the new era” – Jinping’s era.
Unsurprisingly, all China really wants to do is Sinicize territories, be it Hong Kong, Taiwan or Tibet.