What happens between China and Tibet?

Disputes over Tibet Autonomous Region have been ongoing for several decades. International observers note repeated violations of human rights in Tibet and China, while China denies all the allegations, saying that they are nurturing indigenous autonomy. Who is right in this situation?

Western media has repeatedly raised the issue of infringement of the rights of indigenous people of Tibet, and not that long ago, the Chinese government protested by saying that Western news agencies publish information that is not true. According to the Deputy Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region, many Western media outlets simply distort the information about the situation in the region.

According to the official, European news agencies have repeatedly accused the government of China of infringing the rights of indigenous Tibetans, especially monks, who are allegedly persecuted because of their religious practices. Some EU officials called on China to respect human rights and stop interfering with the Tibetans' right to speak their own language.

Tibet is a region located in the mountainous area of ​​China that is difficult to access. Interestingly, the region went to China in the 19th century under pressure from Russia and the UK, as these two countries were not able to control the area. However, 40 years later, the newly established Chinese Communist Party developed a serious interest in the area, which resulted in the signing of the treaty on "Peaceful Liberation of Tibet" defining China's rights for this region.

In 1959, the Chinese government carried out a serious "democratic reform" in Tibet, which resulted in an uprising of indigenous people of Tibet headed by the Dalai Lama. The rebellion was quickly suppressed by the army of China. The Tibetan government was forced to flee to India and lead the region from there. Currently, the Chinese government is developing the infrastructure in the region, but many foreign media accuse the government of China of infringement of the rights of indigenous Tibetans.

Obviously, this attitude of foreign media towards the situation in Tibet seriously undermines the international image of the country. Therefore, the Chinese government from time to time tries to refute the allegations of foreign news agencies. The Deputy Chairman noted in his speech that the European media was trying to help the Dalai Lama who discredited the Chinese government in the eyes of the public.

The official said that China had been closely monitoring the situation in the region for over 30 years, developing the infrastructure in Tibet and improving socio-economic conditions of the region. Half a century ago, only two percent of Tibetan children were taught in schools, while now 99 percent of children attend free schools.

In addition, the entire local government of Tibet is elected only from the locals, so there is no violation of the rights of the local population in this area, the official said. In addition, he denied rumors of the persecution of monks because of their religion. As he said in his speech, the PRC government actively supported the restoration of temples in the autonomy, as well as their activities. Now the region has approximately 1,700 churches and over forty thousand monks.

This information was confirmed by the head of the press service of the government of Tibet Autonomous Region, who noted that over the past thirty years the Chinese authorities have allocated 1 billion 14 million Yuan for the restoration of monasteries. He said that the measures taken by the Government of China for the development of Tibetan autonomy were starting to bring results. In the last 50 years, life expectancy of indigenous people of Tibet increased nearly two-fold, from 35 to 69 years. This was made possible because of the modern medicine whose services are now available to nearly all residents of the autonomy.

Incidentally, the Deputy Chairman of the government of Tibet Autonomous Region Jiarui Losandan also noted that the information on the targeted migration of ethnic Han Chinese to the territory of the autonomy in order to dilute the native population is another invention of foreign media. According to him, currently 91 percent of the residents of the region are indigenous population.

It would seem that the Western media outlets are wrongly accusing the Chinese government of misusing the autonomy. However, some facts about the Tibetan autonomy make one think. Over the past twenty years popular uprisings repeatedly occurred in the region and were mercilessly suppressed by China. Indigenous people of Tibet do not have it easy, despite the attempts of the Chinese officials to prove otherwise. For example, not that long ago, the Chinese authorities resorted to a violation of the Constitution and limited all citizens of the autonomy in their movement.

Under the new law, all Tibetans have to live only where they are registered, and are not allowed to move to other areas of the autonomy without a special permit that is difficult to obtain. There were frequent cases when the Tibetans were forced by the government to move back to the villages where they were registered.

In 1990, in a resettlement dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the takeover of Tibet, many residents were returned to their villages. In 1989, 40,000 residents were also forcibly resettled into their villages during the uprising on March 5-7. Despite the active development of infrastructure in the region, getting to Tibet is difficult because travelers not only need to obtain a visa to China, but also a special permit for a tourist trip to autonomy.

In addition, the Chinese government often restricts the entry of tourists into Tibet, as it did in July of this year. The Chinese government banned tourists from visiting Tibet as there were serious concerns about a possible unrest during the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of the country.

The issue of human rights abuses in Tibet has long worried human rights organizations. In 1960, the International Commission of Jurists stated in its report that China's statement that it "came to free Tibet" were not grounded. According to the experts of the organization, the Chinese government was guilty of abusing the rights of indigenous autonomy. Incidentally, the UN in 1961 demanded that the Chinese authorities respect human rights in addressing "the issue of Tibet."

Later, the United Nations were joined by some world powers who also demanded respect for the rights of indigenous peoples of the region. In any case, at the moment, despite the reassuring statements by Chinese officials that there are no infringements, Tibetan officials cannot resolve any issue without the consent of a representative of China. Incidentally, all candidates for the leaders of the autonomy are chosen by the authorities of the PRC, although selected from the indigenous population. The free elections in the region are just for a show and do not mean much.

Sergei Vasilenkov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov