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Chinese state media lauds Swiss government’s policy shift on Tibetan refugees
[Monday, February 20, 2017 18:07]
By Tenzin Dharpo

Swiss police cracking down on Tibetan protestors during the visit og Chinese President Xi Jining in Geneva in January 2017. file photo.
Swiss police cracking down on Tibetan protestors during the visit og Chinese President Xi Jining in Geneva in January 2017. file photo.
DHARAMSHALA, FEB. 20: The Chinese state mouthpiece Global Times in an article published today lauded the Swiss government policy to change its position on immigration of Tibetan refugees. The policy change enacted mandated Tibetans to change their nationality to ‘Chinese’ instead of ‘Tibetan’ or ‘stateless’ as was previously recognized before July 2016.

The article coaxed along the lines of the official narrative of the Beijing government that Tibet has always been a part of China and that separatist groups led by the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama have been carrying out divisive activities in exile.

The Global Times report extolled on the Swiss government finally “reviewing their alleged role” and regarded the move to be inevitable due to the changing winds of “divergent policies on the refugee crisis” around the world.

The report stated, “As the international order changes, it seems inevitable for Berne to review and adjust its policies. In the short term, the EU would be more inclined to adhere to more conservative policies by sticking to political correctness and be the defender of traditional values against the political changes in the US and Britain.Berne’s denial of recognizing the “Tibet” nationality has no doubt dealt a blow to Tibetan separatists, as well as the so-called “government-in-exile” led by the 14th Dalai Lama. Since the influence of the separatists is declining, some Western countries will have to rethink how they would play the Tibet card to pressure Beijing once the Buddhist monk is gone.”

The Swiss government was widely criticized for detaining peaceful Tibetan protestors earlier in January ahead of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s address at the UN office in Geneva. The change in immigration policy is labeled an ‘act to appease Chinese government’ by observers.

“Berne refusing labeling the “Tibetan-in-exile” as from “Tibet” or as refugees is a result of the positive Sino-Swiss diplomatic cooperation. Berne must have realized it has more to gain from a strong bilateral relationship with Beijing rather than supporting the Tibetan separatists. Western politicians used to play the Dalai Lama card to show off their ideological superiority. But, nowadays, the issue could be used to offset China’s clout in the international community. Apart from toning down the Dalai Lama issues, Beijing should work on finding other solutions while making efforts to better integrate China’s minority groups as the Tibet question wouldn’t vanish upon Dalai Lama’s demise.” the report further stated.

Under the approval of the Swiss federal government, a Tibetan Bureau office has been operational since 1964 in Geneva, although first Tibetan refugees were welcomed back in 1960 by the Swiss government. Currently there are close to 4000 Tibetans living in Switzerland, one of the largest concentrations of Tibetan community in Europe.

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