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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Undermining the Dalai Lama at Tibet’s 60th bash

August 18, 2011

Jayadeva Ranade | Monday, August 15, 2011
Source: DNA

Mystery still shrouds the high mountain fastness of Tibet where, to
this day, people who revere the Dalai Lama are engaged in a serious
tussle with cadres of the Chinese Communist Party for the loyalty of

A few weeks ago, China celebrated the 60th anniversary of the
‘peaceful liberation’ of Tibet by Chinese troops. Held on July 18,
2011, instead of May 23, the authorities imposed a month-long ban on
foreigners travelling to the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Publicity was low key for the event, where ‘social stability’ and
combating ‘Dalai Lama separatists’ were highlighted. China utilised
the celebrations to try and isolate the Dalai Lama and undermine his
influence. It additionally sought to gain legitimacy for the
Beijing-nominated Panchen Lama.

The presence of China’s Vice-President Xi Jinping at the anniversary
celebrations in Lhasa, at the head of a 59-member delegation,
underscored their importance. Generals Chen Bingde, Chief of the
People’s Liberation Army, and Wang Jianping, Commander of the People’s
Armed Police Forces were part of the entourage. China’s State Council
also announced approval of investments totalling 138.4 billion yuan
($21.38 billion) in TAR to support infrastructure projects like
railways, highways, airports and hydropower plants.

Xi Jinping’s visit also had symbolic value as his father, Xi Zhongxun,
was an interlocutor for the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy Lodi Gyari in
the 1980s and apparently carried a photo of the Dalai Lama.

Xi Jinping visited the Tibet University and later joined others to
‘Sing a folk song to the Party again’ — an old revolutionary song — at
the People’s Hall of Tibet. The following day, he asserted that Tibet
will enjoy ‘greater prosperity and progress’ so long as ‘we stick to
the CCP’s leadership, the socialist system…’ He stressed the
importance of ‘social stability’.

Later, speaking to a hand-picked audience of over 100 monks at the
well known Jokhang temple in Lhasa, which has been at the centre of
rioting in the past, he urged them to ‘stay clear’ of separatist
forces, be patriotic and ‘stay in line with the party and the

Xi Jinping emphasised the need to ‘fight against separatist activities
by the Dalai Lama group…’ and described Tibet ‘as an important
security screen for the country’ and ‘major base of strategic
resources reserves.’ He appeared to take a cue from Hu Jintao and
avoided using the pejorative term ‘Dalai clique’ while referring to
the Dalai Lama.

A researcher with Beijing’s China Tibetology Research Center,
separately observed: ‘Politically, there are separatist forces
undermining Tibet’s security; culturally, there is the conflict
between ongoing modernisation and preserving traditions.’

In an interesting choice of venue, Xi Jinping subsequently visited
Bagyi village in Nyingchi. It is the site of an underground missile
base and the recently built third, modern airport in Tibet. (China
claims Arunachal Pradesh is part of the Nyingchi prefecture. It also
plans to construct a mega dam on the Brahmaputra River there.)

China invited high-ranking Tibetan monks residing abroad to attend the
celebrations. The list was crafted to accentuate divisions within the
Tibetan community and isolate the Dalai Lama. Over 15 prominent monks
accepted Beijing’s invitation, including the Paris-based former 101st
Ganden Tripa, head of the Gelugpa sect to which the Dalai Lama

He came to meet Gyancain Norbu, the Chinese-nominated Panchen Lama,
who is not recognised by the Dalai Lama or majority of Tibetans.

The visit was intended to embarrass the Dalai Lama and bestow some
legitimacy on the Chinese appointee. Others included Gangchen Lama, a
known critic of the Dalai Lama and Scotland-based Akong Tulku, a
former close associate of Tai Situ Rimpoche with close links to the
Chinese authorities.

The celebrations were predictably used to garner legitimacy for
Gyaincain Norbu, the Chinese-nominated Panchen Lama. Plans to position
him in Labrang Tashi Khyil Monastery in Tibet’s Amdo region were
aborted due to opposition from local Tibetans.

Positioning Gyaincain Norbu here instead of Beijing would have the
objective of keeping him amidst Tibetans so that he could expand his

Beijing currently perceives an opportunity to undermine the Dalai
Lama’s position and influence. It has stepped up efforts to sow
division in the Tibetan ecclesiastical hierarchy and is attempting to
undermine the Dalai Lama’s influence.

Beijing expects that a weakened movement will compel the XIVth Dalai
Lama’s successors to find new methods at accommodation.

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