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CTA's Response IV: A Gift to the Minority Nationalities on the PRC's 60th Birthday: A white paper and two executions

November 22, 2009

Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)
November 20, 2009

The Military March and the Message

On 1 October, Beijing celebrated the People's
Republic of China's 60th anniversary. The
celebration was awe-inspiring. Military hardware
rolled past Chinese leaders, who stood tall with
pride and stiff with emotion.  This display of
China's military muscle was watched by
governments around the world with bated breath.
Salivating at this potential market were foreign
companies who do business in the weapons
industry. They were bitterly disappointed. Almost
5000 pieces of impressive range of sophisticated
weapons were on display. Every piece was made in
China. To the merchants of death, the message is
clear. There is no China market for China's
military arsenal. In this vital area, China wants
to be absolutely independent and wholly self-reliant.

A Gift from Heaven: A White Paper

A few days earlier on 27 September, Beijing gave
its 55 minorities a gift: a white paper. It is
called China's Ethnic Policy and Common
Prosperity and Development of All Ethnic Groups
released by the Information Office of the State
Council of the People's Republic of China.

Outside observers might not see a link between
these two developments. However, the minorities
would have clearly gotten the message. The white
paper on their rights is the carrot. If they are
not pleased with the carrot, they will get the
stick of the military hardware so blatantly displayed on the anniversary day.

The 3-9 October issue of The Economist magazine,
which put China on its cover, had some
perspective comments on the reasons why Beijing
put up this stupendous display. It says, "China's
leaders rightly point out that theirs is still a
poor country which will naturally give priority
to lifting its economic development. And this in
one sense answers the question about the message
conveyed by the National Day parade: its main
audience was not the outside world, but China's
own people. With no popular mandate, the
government's legitimacy relies on its record in
making China richer and stronger. The display of
strength, showing how well it has done in this,
hints at its lack of confidence. For those
worried about where China's rise might lead, that
the government is so insecure is not a comforting thought."

Willy Lam, that wiliest of China hands, comments,
"And the unprecedentedly large-scale military
parade on Oct. 1 was a show of force aimed as
much at the Party's myriad domestic enemies,
(dissidents as well as Tibetan and Uighur
splittists) as at China's foreign foes."

The 12 October issue of Newsweek agrees that the
message was for the domestic audience. But it has
a different take on it. The magazine says that
the parade was to reassure the Chinese people
that they are safe at home and abroad. This
argument does not ring true in the circumstances
created by the authorities that shrouded the
parade in secrecy and foreboding. If this was the
case, except for the hand-picked crowd, why was
the rest of China told to stay indoors and watch
the parade on TV that day? Question of safety
covers the safety of both the ruled and the
rulers. If the rulers do not feel safe from those
whom they rule, what justification is there for
the ruled to feel safe from their rulers?

The questions for both the parade and the white
paper are as follows. If the key message of the
parade is to reassure the Chinese and the
minorities that they are safe, why would the
authorities need to put up this staggering show at such astronomical expenses?

There must be other candidates for the post of
the world's safest country.  But for arguments
sake, we will consider Switzerland as one of the
most civil and peaceful countries in the world.
However, the Swiss authorities do not see the
need to put up a grand muscle-flexing parade to
reassure their people that they are safe and in safe hands.

The same question goes for the white paper. If
the minorities enjoy common prosperity and
development, there is no earthly reason to put
this on paper and in ink. The truth of this
accomplishment will be self-evident and applauded
by all, not the least the minorities who will
repay Beijing for this improbable service with their undying loyalty.

Unfortunately, common prosperity and development
for the minorities never catches up with
Beijing's claims. Issuing such a white paper and
making such tall claims against the background
reality of the eruption of the most sustained and
widespread unrest in Tibet last year and the most
violent protests in Xinjiang this July and the
brutal way both were crushed either indicates
Beijing's supreme confidence that its current
economic clout will make these claims acceptable
to the world or that it desperately wants to hide
a terrible secret in a whitewash of a white paper.

The secret is this. We have no access to all the
details on the full range of death and
devastation the authorities visited upon the
Tibetan people, following the peaceful protests
that shook Tibet and the world last year.
However, according to the information available
to us as of 27 October 2009, there have been a
total of 228 Tibetan dead since March 2008. We
have all the relevant details for 118 of them.
371 Tibetans have been sentenced. 4,657 Tibetans
have been either arrested or detained. 990
Tibetans have disappeared. 1,294 Tibetans have
been injured. These are the facts that we know.
Who knows how many more Tibetans have died and
the exact number of Tibetans who are still in prison, subjected to torture?

The Latest Gift for the Tibetans: Executions

On 20 October, the Chinese authorities in Lhasa
executed several Tibetans for their involvement
in the 2008 protests. Two have been confirmed by
the Chinese authorities. Not a word of these
executions was mentioned in the official Chinese
press. The news of these executions spread in the
Tibetan world because the bodies of the executed
were returned to their families. That was how the
world came to know about this official murder of
Tibetans who dared to speak up for the rights of
their people. The latest white paper cannot
whitewash these executions of Tibetans who
exercised their right of freedom of expression.

The Ministry of Truth

However, Beijing tries to drown all these
atrocities in the barrage of propaganda it fires,
salvo after salvo. The white paper was followed
by an extensive interview of Zhu Weiqun, the
vice-minister of the United Front Work Department
of the Communist Party of China. The interview,
11 pages, was splashed on Xinhua's web site on 16
October. This longish interview was reprinted
from the original source, a German magazine
called Focus, which published it on 22 September,
a month earlier. Perhaps the motivation behind
recycling an old interview on old and worn-out
themes was that reprinting it from a foreign
publication might make the interview seem less
Newspeak than Xinhua itself doing an original
interview of the boss of the Ministry of Truth.
And in the interview, the Zhu Weiqun, as it comes
naturally to him, said that truth is on his side
and the Tibetan side is all wrapped up in lies and sealed by a huge falsehood.

Zhu Weiqun's real message is clear. He says there
is no need to change or improve the autonomous
arrangement that is set in place for the Tibetan
people. He says, "What China's regional ethnic
autonomy should be like, to put it more simply,
is exactly what it is right now."

What Chinese Civil Society Says

China's civil society, as small and as battered
it is, bravely disagrees with this hardline
approach. In one of the most courageous acts that
came in the aftermath of the widespread and
sustained protests that engulfed Tibet in the
spring and summer of last year, the Beijing-based
Gongmeng Law Research Centre dispatched
researchers to three areas in the so-called Tibet
Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas outside of it
to find out the causes of these protests. The
researchers spent one whole month interviewing
people. Their findings were published in May as
An Investigative Report into the Social and
Economic Causes of the 3.14 Incident in Tibetan
Areas. The report says that the upsurge of
Tibetan nationalism was largely triggered by
conditions in Tibet, including the pervasive
corruption that spawns what the report calls the
"new aristocracy," which feeds on Beijing's
largess but immediately blames the "separatists"
for their own total incompetence and mis-rule.

The report lists nine recommendations to Beijing
to resolve the issue of Tibet. The first
suggestions says, "Earnestly listen to the voices
of ordinary Tibetans and on the basis of
respecting and protecting each of the Tibetan
people's rights and interests, adjust policy and
thinking in Tibetan areas to formulate
development policies which are suited to the
characteristics of Tibetan areas, and which
accord with the wishes of the Tibetan people.

The third suggestion says, "Increase effective
supervision over local structures in the
implementation of regional ethnic autonomy
policies, and speed up the process of
democraticizing power structures. End tolerance
of corruption, poor administrative abilities and
dereliction of duty which is apparent in
government in Tibetan areas, and in particular of
those officials who suppress social problems in the name of "anti-splittism."

The report also recommends Beijing to "Promote
the rule of law in governance processes in Tibetan areas."

In his lengthy interview as reprinted by Xinhua,
Zhu Weiqun is quoted as saying, "As far as
religion is concerned, we implement the same
policy of freedom of religious belief in Tibet
and the rest of the country. The freedom of
religious belief is fully respected and protected
in China, and there are no obstacles."

This is not the case is made clear by the
investigative report which urges central
authorities to "Fully respect and protect the
Tibetan people's freedom of religious belief,
resuming and supporting normal religious lives
and activities. Fully recognize the important
significance of religion and a religious life to
Tibetan areas and the Tibetan people."

Domestic Angle of China's Propaganda

On China's propaganda, the same issue of The
Economist has this to say. "But the image that it
would like to cultivate, as a responsible,
un-threatening, emergent superpower, is
constantly being undercut by two of its leaders'
habits. One is the knee-jerk resort to hysterical
propaganda and reprisals when a foreign country
displeases it by criticising its appalling
treatment of political dissidents, or accepts a
visit from the Dalai Lama or other objects of the Communist Party's venom."

The Communist Party considers its image
important, not because of the foreigners but
because of its own people. With the rest of the
world, Beijing can buy, bribe and bully.
According to Beijing's recent experience, this
tactic seems to be working. However, the same
tactic, long tried on its own people, now seems
to be wearing thin. Take the case of the Gongmeng
Law Research Centre, which despite all odds
stacked against it courageously challenged
Beijing's assumptions and propaganda on Tibet.
For its pains, the law firm was closed and its
director detained, although he was released sometime later.

These Chinese voices of sanity and common sense
are growing. From 6 to 8 August this year, a
conference was held in Geneva between Chinese
scholars and human rights advocates and Tibetan
exiles. The Finding Common Ground conference
produced a document, which says, "The root cause
of the Tibetan issue is not a conflict between
the Chinese people and the Tibetan people, but
rather the autocratic rule of the People's
Republic of China in Tibet and its cultural
genocide. The Beijing government's claim that
'Tibet has always been a part of China' is factually incorrect."

The conference determined that "Tibetan culture
is a precious treasure among the many cultures of
humanity. Without freedom for Tibet, there will be no freedom for China."

No amount of white papers will be able to stem
the growing tide of public opinion in China. And
the public opinion in China demands that the
Chinese government becomes more transparent and
responsive to the needs and aspirations of the
Chinese people themselves and the minorities
whose capacity to live with dignity and freedom
will constitute a solid foundation for a stable and prosperous China.

This is what the government in Beijing should be
working on. Issuing white papers and, on the
other hand, executing people is not the way to go
about in providing good governance. To paraphrase
Abraham Lincoln, you can buy, bribe and bully
some people all the time but you cannot buy,
bribe and bully all the people all the time.

Using a 'Separatist' to Oppose a 'Separatist'

Beijing realises that it cannot buy, bribe and
bully its way to stability and legitimacy.
Because of this realisation and in calculated
frustration, Beijing is increasing the volume of
its shrill diatribe on His Holiness the Dalai
Lama. At the moment, its pet pique is the
democratic system the Tibetans have established
in exile. Beijing says this form of Tibetan
democracy is a sham. It argues that His Holiness
the Dalai Lama is still the real power.

The latest Chinese government blast at Tibetan
democracy was carried in the CCP's newspaper,
People's Daily on 28 October 2009. The article is
titled Dalai's Democracy Practices are Laughing
Stock. All the proceedings of the Tibetan
parliament are broadcast live and the reporter of
the People's Daily for this particular news item
would not have much of a problem in knowing what
was going on and the context in which the walk-out took place.

However, to feign surprise and shock at the
parliamentarians' walk-out is, at best, being
disingenuous, but at worst,  an exposure of the
reporter's total ignorance of the basis of
democracy, which is having the freedom to choose.
However, to argue that the walk-out indicates the
hollowness of Tibetan democracy is an outright
distortion of democracy as practised by Tibetan
exiles. This walk-out, after a frank and heated
discussion, reinforces the vitality of Tibetan
democracy, something which every Tibetan is proud of.

No reporter from the People's Daily came to
Dharamsala to cover the session of the Tibetan
Parliament, as testified by the parliamentary
secretariat, which registers all reporters who
wish to cover the proceedings. In fact, we learn
that China-Tibet Information Centre contributed
the laughing stock article. This piece of
reporting is a case of arm-chair journalism, and
the source of this piece of creative writing is
Chinese. For example, the name of the speaker of
the Tibetan parliament Penpa Tsering is spelled
as Bianba Cering. Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche
is rendered as Sangdong. The Tibetan writer
Jamyang Norbu is transformed into Jia Yangnuobu.
Flinging accuracy and fact-checking out of the
propaganda door, the People's Daily refers to
Voice of Tibet as Tibetan Sound in Norway. As a
matter of curiosity, we would like to know what
is the Tibetan Sound doing in Norway and whose sound is it?

In view of such flagrant carelessness and
irresponsible reporting, it is no  wonder when
the Chinese people are asked whether anything in
the People's Daily is true, they reply, "just the dates."

There is another article called Tibetan
Separatist Exposes Dalai Lama's 'democracy myth'.
This is available on The
article uses extensive quotes from a lengthy
essay by Jamyang Norbu entitled Waiting for
Mangtso. This essay is available  on

What is surprising is the tactic of quoting one
'separatist' to oppose another 'separatist.'
During the Cultural Revolution some Chinese were
accused of carrying the red flag to oppose the
red flag. This meant that one faction was using
the name of Mao to oppose Mao himself. That
China, a fast-rising great power, resorts to
using quotes from Jamyang Norbu, who along with
the Tibetan Youth Congress had been earlier
contemptuously dismissed by Beijing as 'a fly
flapping its wings against the king of
mountains,' is a sure sign of desperation.
Jamyang Norbu is an advocate of Tibetan
independence and is loudly proud of it. To use
his article to condemn and belittle the enormous
achievements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in
democratising his administration and his
community means that Beijing is losing the battle
to win the hearts and minds of people in Tibet and China.

Democracy and the right to choose is His Holiness
the Dalai Lama's gift to the Tibetan people. This
gift has empowered the Tibetan refugees and has
fundamentally changed the nature of the community
and has given it enormous vitality. It has
unleashed the talent and energy of the young to
pursue their dreams and fulfill their potential
and in the process contribute to the cohesion of
the community in exile. This freedom is actively
denied to the Chinese people by their leaders who
see democracy as a menace. This explains
Beijing's tireless barking at this stranger called democracy.
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