News and Views on Tibet

China’s repression is transnational: Freedom House

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Image representational (Illustration/NPR)

By Tenzin Lekhden

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 30: With the recent slew of campaigns against the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics highlighting the human rights violations inside the colonised regions, a recent case study from Freedom House highlights China’s execution of “the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world.”

The democracy and political freedom advocacy organisation identifies three distinctive characteristics of this global-scale operation to intimidate and control the overseas population of Chinese and minority communities. The report lists them as, “first, the campaign targets many groups, including multiple ethnic and religious minorities, human rights activists, journalists, and former insiders accused of corruption. Second, it spans the full spectrum of tactics: from direct attacks like renditions to co-opting other countries to detain and render exiles, to mobility controls, to threats from a distance like digital threats, spyware, and coercion by proxy. Third, the sheer breadth and global scale of the campaign is unparalleled.”

Ethnic minorities such as Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Falun Gong practitioners, which number in hundreds and thousands, as well as Hong Kongers and Inner Mongolians are targeted over the past year. The report says the tactics deployed affect millions of Chinese and minority populations from China in at least 36 host countries across every inhabited continent. With 18 countries where China was the origin country for physical incidents of transnational repression. 

The Guardian recently published a story connecting Freedom House’s report to the arrest of a Tibetan New Yorker cop on spying charges, allegedly for the CCP. The story “We are so divided now” suggests the CCP’s use of one of many tactics to create disarray and arouse distrust within diaspora communities.

The report also highlights China’s use of its technological prowess through cyber attacks, hacking, and monitoring individuals on social media platforms such as WeChat, an app that offers a plethora of services that are used by millions outside China to communicate with family and relatives. The Guardian story cites an incident where families are threatened and made to ask their kin abroad to stop protesting against the CCP.

The CCP not only targets Chinese and ethnic minorities but also non-Chinese, Taiwanese, or other foreigners, who are critical of CCP influence and human rights abuses. Such campaigns, many say, undermines the rights and freedoms granted to minorities and citizens of other countries. CCP’s repression thus, Freedom Hosue says, “poses a long-term threat to rule of law systems in other countries.” 

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