By Tenzin Sangmo
DHARAMSHALA, March 28: The white paper on Tibet “Democratic Reform in Tibet – Sixty Year On” released yesterday by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) apparently has nothing that’s not claimed in the series of other white papers published in the past.
At the moment, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) deems it unnecessary to respond especially since it just published a comprehensive report in November 2018 titled, “Tibet was never a part of China but Middle Way remains a viable solution,” that addresses all the wide-ranging claims.
CTA, in its news report today, called this white paper, “Another Attempt to Whitewash 60 Years of Undemocratic Rule.”
To the repeated claim that pre-1959 Tibet was a feudal state and the statement “such a system was a stain on civilization and was destined to be eradicated by history,” the CTA spokesperson and Secretary of Information and International Relations, Sonam Norbu Dagpo remarked, “Tibet was occupied, not liberated. Although we were backward and in need of reforms, we were comparatively better off than many other countries in the world at the time and calling it feudal is not the case.”
The first four chapters of the ten dwelled on how the system was changed by China’s occupation featuring quotes from individual Tibetans from all walks of life hailing China’s intervention.
The claim that Lhasa has been ranked as the city with the highest happiness quotient for the last five years contradicts the Freedom House 2018 report that Tibet remains the least free region in the world, only after Syria based on aggregate scores of political rights and civil liberties.
A claim that significant progress had been made in protecting cultural relics, referring to the recently publicized 10-year project of the translating Tibetan Buddhist canon into Chinese, was construed as mutually incompatible. Dagpo said, “Although Buddhism first reached China, the Tibetan Buddhist canon remains unique to Tibet. So it's antithetical that they would preserve it while at the same time barring Tibetans from practising their religion heavily based on the same scriptures.”
Nevertheless, Dagpo added, ‘if it is really the case, we can only hope that it is translated accurately.”
In September 2018, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance ranked China amongst the worst violators with the lowest respect for Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The claim in chapter seventh that “Currently all the major rivers and lakes in Tibet remain in their natural state and the air quality in the Qomolangma region are being maintained at either “excellent” or “good”, with Grade I air quality” was equally disproved by Zamlha Tempa Gyaltsen, a researcher at the Environment and Development at Tibet Policy Institute who said data in China’s white paper is not credible and is generally not believed by many.
The CTA’s response to the PRC’s White Paper on Tibet’s Ecology, published last year and overseen by Gyaltsen, specified that the release of toxic mine wastes into a Lichu river in Minyak Lhaganang in eastern Tibet by the lithium mining company called Ronda Lithium Co Ltd has caused serious water pollution and mass death of fish, among other examples of ecological destruction.
A section on reincarnation in chapter eighth said, “By 2018, 91 incarnated Living Buddhas had been confirmed through traditional religious rituals and historical conventions.”
The CTA in its comprehensive report had said this in response - “As an atheistic and anti-religious regime, the Chinese Communist government has no justifiable reason to interfere with Tibetan Buddhism’s tulku system. Equally preposterous is the Chinese government’s insistence that the 14th Dalai Lama must reincarnate according to their terms.”
Dagpo said the Tibetan race is clearly discriminated against, and people are manipulated by offers of money, rewards, and childcare subsidies into marrying Hans in order to eradicate the Tibetan race.
The CTA report today cited the 2018 report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for concerns it expressed about the discrimination faced by Tibetans, including racially discriminatory practices in employment and recruitment processes.
The paper's conclusion blames the Tibetan government-in-exile and His Holiness the Dalai Lama for refusing to see the developments and democratic reforms in Tibet for the sake of their political interest and longing for the old system.
CTA continues to maintain that the Middle Way policy remains the most viable solution and has been advocating for fact-finding delegations and journalists to be allowed into Tibet to ascertain the situation for themselves.
However, as enumerated in the report by the US State Department to the Congress yesterday, China continues to restrict international journalists from visiting or reporting in Tibet by denying visas, continuous monitoring and threats of eviction.