Join our Mailing List

"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Endorsing China's lies cannot change the truth

November 27, 2009

Endorsing China's lies cannot change the fact that Tibet is not part of China
By Jigme Ugen
Tibet Truth Blog
November 26, 2009

During his maiden visit to China, President
Barack Obama became the first American President
in history to publicly make an acknowledgement
that “we recognize that Tibet is part of the
People’s Republic of China”. This recognition of
Communist China’s spurious claims of sovereignty
over occupied Tibet, drawn from a cynical
cauldron of economic interest and geo-political
considerations, has generated a sense of profound
disappointment across the broader Tibetan
community and also among those who cherish values of justice and democracy.

There was a genuine sense of belief that the
President would transfer his message of change,
hope and integrity to America’s somewhat tainted
foreign policy. In the weeks prior to President
Obama’s trip to China, Tibetans dared to hope
that at last their struggle for freedom and human
rights was strengthened by a statesman whose
commitment to democratic principles and justice
would mean that the rights of the Tibetan people
are not ignored or marginalized. Hand-written
letters and artwork from Tibetan children, poured
into the White House imploring Obama to speak-out
against the oppression and injustice inside
Tibet. As Air-Force-One departed optimism
prevailed that on this occasion China’s global
economic influence would not censor any criticism
of its illegal occupation and violent repression of Tibet.

Such expectancy proved to be cruelly misplaced,
as evidenced from the moment the President
addressed Chinese students at a carefully staged
event in Shanghai, in which he significantly
avoided any reference to Tibet. The portents were
ominous and given Beijing’s previous public
demands, that Obama issue an acknowledgement that
Tibet was part of China, it was clear that such
an arrangement had already been agreed between
the two sides. Such knowledge did not however
lessen the distasteful impact and disillusionment
at seeing the President next to Hu Jintao, a man
whose has the blood of countless Tibetans and
Uyghurs upon his hands, as he delivered the
carefully scripted recognition that China had
demanded, an acknowledgement that the United
States considers Tibet part of China. Although
President Obama was simply re-stating what has
been a longstanding official US policy towards
Tibet, his words trampled over the hopeful
expectations of Tibetans across the United States and the rest of the world.

Missed Opportunities
An opportunity to advocate the Tibetan people’s
rights, as contained in three United Nations
Resolutions, (No’s 1353, 1723 and 2079) was
cold-heartedly spurned. Within a building, under
the shadow of which the massacre of Tiananmen
Square was conducted, there was no room for the
political and legal rights of people to determine
their own future Nor could that atmosphere
sustain any spoken reference to the destruction
of Tibetan culture or support for Tibet’s
freedom. Such ideals were abandoned in exchange
for appeasing Chinese sensitivities on Tibet.
President Obama and his colleagues at the State
Department dismissed the 1991 determination of
the US Congress, which asserted that “Whereas the
United States should not condone aggression by
accepting China’s claim to sovereignty over
Tibet; Now, therefore, be it: Resolved…..that
Tibet, including those areas incorporated into
the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu,
and Quinghai, is an occupied country under the
established principles of international law….”

Historical Outline
An ancient country with a rich cultural
tradition, Tibet enjoyed the rights and
privileges of a political and territorial
sovereign state until its invasion in 1949 by
China. Religion was a unifying force among
Tibetans; as was their language, music,
literature, and art. For centuries Tibet
displayed all the characteristics of a fully
operating independent nation, minimal Chinese
influence came only at times when China itself
was under foreign occupation during the 14th and
18th centuries (Mongolian and Manchu Dynasties).
Following the expulsion of Chinese forces, from
Tibetan territory in 1911, the 13th Dalai Lama
reasserted Tibet’s full independence by using a
binding declaration and engaged in international
diplomatic relations by signing independent
treaties with Mongolia, Nepal and the then British India.

Betraying Tibetan Aspirations
Such facts and China’s illegal occupation of
Tibet has been cast aside and replaced by the
convincing realities of trade with China and its
growing influence upon the world stage. Which
have bewitched successive Presidential
administrations, that have largely remained
silent, as Tibetans inside Tibet faced machine
guns and tanks to demand their independence. Barack Obama’s is no different.

The ultimate aspiration of the Tibetan people for
complete independence has been expressed by
Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. The recent
historic and peaceful protests of 2008 in Tibet
which resulted in the murder, imprisonment and
disappearance of thousands of innocent Tibetans
is a livid reminder of the genuine aspiration of the Tibetans inside Tibet.

The participation of Tibetans in determining the
future status of their country was formerly
recognized as vital by His Holiness the Dalai
Lama: “I have always stated that the central
issue is that the Tibetan people must ultimately
choose their own destiny. It is not for the Dalai
Lama, and certainly not for the Chinese to make
that decision. It should ultimately be the wishes
of the Tibetan people that should prevail”.

In legitimizing Chinese rule over Tibet, the
Obama Administration is denying Tibetans of their
birth-right of self-determination and their
inherent freedom of deciding their own future.
Moreover by acknowledging Chinese sovereignty
over Tibet, President Obama has abandoned the
‘Tibetan dream’ of a free nation, a goal which
His Holiness recognized, is shared by a vast
majority of his people, “I also know that every
Tibetan hopes and prays for the full restoration
of our nation’s independence” (HH The Dalai Lama March 10-1994).

Abandoning Tibet -A Dangerous Precedent
In agreeing that Tibet is Chinese territory Obama
consigns the Tibetan people to a dangerous and
uncertain fate as a so-called ethnic minority
under the mercy of a totalitarian regime’s bloody
maw. The much cherished tradition of the United
States in upholding the political and fundamental
human rights of peoples facing oppression is in
the jeopardy of being shamefully broken.

Such an act of betrayal by the United States,
widely respected as the ‘champion for freedom and
democracy’ in the world, has perhaps set into
motion a dangerous trend which could witness the
further erosion of existing international support
for Tibet. This although not entirely emphatic,
is arguably an important leverage upon the
communist Chinese regime. Observing the President
of the world’s most influential and powerful
nation agreeing to Chinese demands on its
supposed sovereignty over Tibet could result in
other heads-of-state following suit with similar
acts of appeasement. This would be very welcome
progress indeed for Beijing which has been
seeking international support for its bogus claims over Tibet.

It would also assist China’s determination to
eliminate Tibetan national identity, and invest a
troubling legitimacy to the lie that China was
politically and legally justified in its
annexation of Tibet. Although meeting present
political and commercial needs regarding
US-Chinese relations in acknowledging Chinese
authority over Tibet, President Obama’s comments
could also seriously undermine future options in
terms of any human rights dialogue with China.
Future US concerns and criticisms on the human
rights situations inside Tibet and China can now
be more effectively and authoritatively dismissed
and evaded by Beijing as a domestic concern of
China. US has given Beijing the leverage to argue
even more forcefully, any criticisms concerning
the issue of Tibet as an infringement of China’s
national sovereignty, which the Presidential
Administration has publicly recognized.

By complying with, and endorsing, Beijing’s lies
on Tibet, the United States has been left in a
more exposed and vulnerable position in its
ability to champion human and cultural rights.
Formidable, though such implications are for
Tibet, the articulation that the United States
recognizes Chinese rule over Tibet, was a public
affirmation of a policy on Tibet which has
defined and sustained political relations between
Washington and Beijing. While there was an
understandable sense of disillusionment, and
feeling of abandonment, the potential isolation
and erosion of the Tibetan cause as a political
issue the future status is not dependent upon the
utterances of the American President, no matter
how influential or significant the position of the United States.

The Illusions of Autonomy
Tibet’s future though hostage to political and
economic developments inside Communist China also
remains in the courageous and determined will of
the Tibetan people. After fifty-nine years of
suffering under the most violent and oppressive
regime and bearing the direct brunt of cultural
assault and aggressive colonization, Tibetans
inside Tibet robustly maintain an inspiring resistance to Chinese occupation.

Their loyalty and devotion to His Holiness the
Dalai Lama is inspirational, as is their
sacrifice and patriotism in challenging the
military-might of Communist China. It is
important to understand that the political
aspirations of the Tibetan people is not for any
form of autonomy, which after decades of Chinese
rule Tibetans know provides no protection of
their political, civil and religious freedom.

As a proposed solution for the question of Tibet
autonomy offers no conclusive or succinct legal
definition, as it describes a number of political
structure and arrangements. However its various
forms do share one troubling feature. Any
’rights’, granted to a minority group by the
dominant power, are dictated by that authority;
and more worryingly, in terms of guaranteeing and
protecting Tibetan culture, can be removed by
that same power. Tibetans sorely recall that
Communist China has extended so-called autonomy
to Tibet previously in 1951, at the time of the
so-called 17 Point Peace Agreement which was signed under duress.

Almost six decades of brutal suppression inside
Tibet have given Tibetans enough reasons to
believe that any form of meaningful autonomy
cannot be practiced and is not achievable under Communist China.

Yet despite the forced labor camps, systemic
torture, corrosive colonization, forced
settlements of nomads, coercive birth control,
the spirit of Tibetan resistance is burning
stronger than ever. As witnessed during the mass
demonstrations of 2008 the demand for Tibet’s
just and historic independence has not been
crushed, Tibetans are engaged in a struggle not
for autonomy, or for improved economic or
religious freedoms only, none of which will
extend any protection of Tibet’s culture of
national identity, but for national liberation.

Tibetans understand all too well that China’s
objectives are more ominous - a ‘Final Solution’
to assimilate Tibet and remove any inkling of
Tibetan national identity. In the face of a ‘life
and death’ situation, the just struggles of the
Tibetans for an Independent Tibet deserve
concrete support of world leaders and freedom loving people across the globe.

It is a great sadness that President Barack Obama
could not, even in some small way, have voiced
his support for that rightful endeavor.

I personally urge President Barack Obama to
seriously reconsider his diplomacy on Tibet and
lend his over powering message of hope and change to the Tibetan struggle.

The author is the President of Regional Tibetan
Youth Congress of Minnesota and the first Tibetan
elected as US Labor leader. He can be reached at: jigme10@yahoo.com

* Acknowledgement: appreciation to Tibettruth
(http://tibettruth.wordpress.com) for the advice and support
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank