The Communist Party of China (CCP), which has often sparked debates internationally due to its regressive policies in Tibet, has once again begun its crackdown on the Tibetan people’s culture. Often known as the ‘Sinicization of Tibet’, Chinese authorities have frequently sought to assimilate followers of the Tibetan culture into accepting Chinese identity. Sinicization is known as the process in which non-Chinese communities are forced under the influence of Chinese culture, specifically in the language and their cultures. This suppressive policy however is not something new, since its forceful takeover of Tibet 1951, the CCP has deployed various strategies to disrupt and irradicate Tibetan culture from the region.
A prominent strategy as part of the Party’s Sinicization process has been to encapsulate many if not all the disputed regions in Tibet under its own stronghold. Such aspirations in the view of the Party can only be achieved through Sinicizing regions that have so far been a cause of rebellion.
The CCP has been attempting to declare a successor to the Dalai Lama for years but has been unsuccessful in doing so as well. The succession plans of the 14th Dalai Lama are an integral aspect of China’s approach of integrating the Tibetan region into China. Yet, in recent times, Chinese prospects have seemed to intensify in order to capitalize on an inevitable future where a successor would have to emerge either by the CCP’s directions or through the preaching’s of the Buddhist religion itself.
Last year, two prominent internal documents recovered by Tibetan researcher revealed the extensive plans of the CCP’s to control the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama. The report published by the International Tibet Network and Tibet Justice Centre examined elaborately the Chinese preparations for a ‘Post Dalai Era’. The specific connotation of an era post the 14th Dalai Lama, the report states, is adopted in order to convey China’s plan to capitalize on the succession race.
Although the 14th Dalai Lama has made it clear very frequently that the reincarnation process would only initiate within the value systems and preaching’s of Buddhism; and any attempt to superficially name a successor by the CCP would remain discredited within Buddhist communities around the world as well as in the Tibetan region. However, China
has been reaching out to other international Buddhist communities through financial investments as well as facilitating renovation of important Buddhist sites and financing construction of monuments with Buddhist linkages. Sri Lanka and other Southeast Asian countries are prominent examples of the same. The investments in the regions, specifically in Southeast Asia, which has a majority Buddhist population, has been invariably linked to the multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
Yet, for the CCP, the plans on the succession are part of an integral resolution to their Tibetan problem once and for all. The CCP views the next selected Dalai Lama to be a part of their outreach of quenching the Tibetan question while also curbing the growing animosity within the region by installing a leader of their choice and not through the religious process of Buddhism. Ironically, a Communist Party as the CCP are dedicated to name a religious leader, going against their ideological belief itself. This strategy therefore should be a significant cause for concern for regions and countries that value human rights and have constantly voiced their worry on the same. The Chinese government in order to expediate their strategies, have also begun imposing strict controls on Tibetan Buddhists and other religious practices in Tibet. This has also been complimented with Monasteries and religious institutions being closely monitored for anti-state activities and religious leaders often being suppressed.
The Chinese government has also, as part of its larger strategy, encouraged the migration of Han Chinese people into Tibet, causing serious demographic changes and alteration ethnic compositions in Tibet. This has invariably also caused protests and violent crackdown by authorities resulting in tensions and a dilution of Tibetan cultural identity.
An important strategy of the larger Sinicization process has also been the implementation of policies that prioritize Mandarin Chinese over the Tibetan language in education and official discourses. This has not only significantly altered the coming generation’s ability to reconnect with their culture but has also caused rigorous irradiation of the indigenous language of the region.
The justification of such cruel and inhumane measures has often come in the form of claiming stability, economic development and overall progress in a volatile region. The Party’s repeated attempts of human rights violations have not only been under global limelight but has also been criticized deterring Chinese plans in Tibet. However, even after
global outcry against its policies the Chinese authorities have continued to use its iron- fisted approach in Tibet. The primary objective of reshaping the Tibetan history is of topmost priority for the CCP as noted by many scholars. The party on the other hand has described it as part of its ‘strategy to achieve long-term social stability’. Certainly, the official narrative on the ill-intended Sinicization of the Tibetan culture is veiled through the motive of achieving long-lasting peace; yet it requires no decoding that Tibet is part of a larger plan of encapsulating regions that have been disputed for decades.
The well-being of millions of Tibetan local therefore rests on disrupting and decoding Chinese strategies for what they truly stand to mean; from Xinjiang to Tibet to Taiwan, Chinese intentions are a cause for concern to the world, for the Party will not stop at Tibet if it manages to name the next Dalai Lama based on its self-interest; all the while discrediting the philosophical roots of the Buddhist culture. Hence it is important that global stakeholder view any Chinese action with caution, for the party’s plans are at the verge of causing severe instability all across the world with its expansionist approach.