Concerning US boarding school bans in Tibet, China has strongly criticized the move.

When the United States announced that it will limit the visas of high-ranking Chinese officials implicated in the “forcible assimilation” of Tibetan students at government-run boarding schools in Tibet, China strongly objected. Strong words were traded between Washington and Beijing in reaction to the US action.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the US penalties “illegal sanctions” that interfered heavily in China’s domestic affairs at a news conference on August 23. Wang stressed that the US move not only went against China’s interests but also violated fundamental principles of international relations.

Wang warned that China would retaliate with serious measures if the United States did not change its decision. Wang was cited as saying that China would strike harshly if the US continued in its attitude, according to the Chinese state-run Global Times. Wang said that the difficult climate, hilly terrain, and dispersed population of the Tibetan area forced the construction of boarding schools.

The Chinese official insisted that sending children to boarding schools was entirely up to them, and that they were free to visit their families on weekends and holidays if they so desired. In Dzatoe County, in occupied Tibet, the Chinese government has allegedly issued a notice mandating parents to send their children to Chinese-controlled residential schools under threat of legal action and loss of benefits, despite claims to the contrary from independent reports published earlier this year. According to a research published by advocacy and activist organization Tibet Action Institute, the project’s stated goal is to forcibly relocate Tibetan children away from their homes and their traditional way of life in an effort to eradicate Tibetan identity, language, and culture.

Wang countered that these boarding schools catered to the needs of the children and their families, and she criticized the United States for its position on human rights. He said the United States has no business lecturing China on such issues.

In response to what the United States claims is China’s “forcible assimilation” of over a million Tibetan students in government-operated boarding schools, Secretary of State Antony Blinken placed visa restrictions on those officials on August 22. Blinken said that China’s tactics undermine Tibetan religious and cultural practices by erasing them from the minds of the next generation. He demanded that China discontinue its “repressive assimilation policies” in Tibet and elsewhere in China, as well as end the “coercion of Tibetan children” into boarding schools. China’s reaction to these comments was immediate and severe.

The UN has voiced worry about the voluntary nature of some programs, which are considered to be utilized for political indoctrination and control, while China claims its presence has encouraged economic growth, social peace, and improved living circumstances for Tibetans. According to UN assessments, Tibetans participating in these initiatives are discouraged from speaking their own language and practicing their religion.

By Staff Writer

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