By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 24: Tibetan President Dr. Lobsang Sangay on Thursday in an interview with the BBC said that while China’s economic prowess grows, nations in the free world should not side-step fundamental issues for trade commitments.
“Human rights, democracy, environmental rights, all these discourse are diminished or diluted in all the countries where they have free trade agreement. I have been to Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Norway just recently and they all don’t want to talk much about Tibet, human right, democracy. This is you know quiet scary because there is lot of self censorship going on,” the head of the Tibetan polity told noted TV journalist Yalda Hakim on her program 'The Impact'.
The Harvard educated statesman also questioned, “the issue is should we transform China and make them look more like us, liberal democracy, or should we transform to look more like China. Thats the choice. So hence we have to take a principle stand. Of course you must have free trade, you must engage with China, but don’t give free-pass.”
President Sangay also said that China’s way of harnessing power via economic lure is not new. “One Belt One Road 60 some countries have subscribed to it. It’s okay. But as far as Tibet is concerned, we lost our country after one road. Chinese promised us that this road will lead to prosperity and peace, and we helped them build that road. And Chinese paid us silver coins, in fact they build a silver coin factory in Chengdu. And after the road was completed, trucks came, tanks came, guns came and that’s how our country was occupied. So, One Belt One Road is good, but I think there should be quid pro quo and principled trade based on human rights,” he said.
Many nations including developed ones have increasingly censored issues relating to violation of basic rights in Tibet and even shunned away from meeting the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama in fears of China backlash.
In November 2016, following the visit of the Dalai Lama to Mongolia, China hiked tariffs on Mongolian trucks passing through Chinese territory significantly cutting off a main supply line for the country. The act was later rescinded when the Mongolian leader pledged to not invite the Tibetan leader to the country.