By Tenzin Tsetan
A Chinese Tourism Ad depicts 'Old culture' and 'New Tibet' on board the Toronto transit vehicles. Photo-SFT Canada
DHARAMSHALA, DEC. 08: Students for a Free Tibet, Canada, has demanded immediate removal of a Chinese tourism Ad on Toronto public vehicles which it called “offensive and disreputable”.
The students group based in Toronto said this advertisement showing the Tibetan landscape in black and white and a modern Tibet glorifying Chinese government’s economic policies. This Ad sends “problematic messages” and offends Tibetans on their daily travels, said the group.
A letter has been sent to the CEO, TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) asking for these posters to be pulled off. “This Ad in question is a propaganda Ad sponsored by the Chinese govt. to China National tourist office that reads ‘Old Culture’ and ‘New Tibet’, said the letter by Sonam Chokey, national director of SFT Canada.
“This racist Ad violates the Ontario Human Rights Code because it paints Tibetan as backwards and underdeveloped, and disregards the military invasion that resulted in decades of violent crackdowns and oppression of my people.”
Choekyi also added, “All this is extremely offensive to Tibetans such as myself, as I am a former refugee whose father had to flee Tibet during China’s invasion.”
The Transit commission said that merely not liking an Ad message or being offended is not enough to reject it and that a review can be done after five complaints. In an email by the TTC spokesman Brad Ross, “The supreme court of Canada, in fact, has ruled that transit systems must accept advertising that some may deem controversial in an open and democratic society.”
China has often said that tourism is the best hope for Tibet. There are heavy investments in the tourism and development sectors in the Tibetan regions, which will turn Tibet into “world class tourist destination”.
Foreign tourists are less welcome and have to obtain special permit for visits with Chinese government minders tailing them. They make just over 1 percent of arrivals while majority are Chinese visitors. Critics have said Chinese strategic plan of domestic tourism is used to “bind Tibet more into China’s embrace”.