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Chinese propaganda and the Tibetan self-immolations

posted Jan 14, 2012, 3:07 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Jan 14, 2012, 3:53 PM ]
By Bhuchung K. Tsering (International Campaign for Tibet, January 12, 2012)

When a dog is cornered it tends to bark ridiculously. I was reminded of this when reading the Global Times editorial of January 11, 2012 concerning another three Tibetans who have committed self-immolations in recent days. How else can we interpret its effort to blatantly ignore the real cause of the self-immolations by Tibetans by questioning their power of judgment and virtually calling them tools of the West?

Global Times, which “dares to touch the sensitive issues,” is surpassing the official Chinese propaganda in its effort to divert blames for the Tibetan self immolations being put rightly on the policies of the Chinese authorities. I would have thought Global Times would have shown its daringness by going deeper and objectively into the causes leading to the Tibetan self-immolations, something like those Chinese Lawyers who did a report about the 2008 Tibet-wide protests. Even a person with little or no education would know that no one commits such extreme actions for the pleasure of it. Blaming outside forces for interfering in China’s “domestic affairs” is just an easy excuse and merely sweeps the problem under the carpet without addressing it.

On November 30, 2011, Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong, made a statement at the 66th Session of the General Assembly on Review of the Middle East Situation and Palestinian Issue” saying, “China has all along supported the Palestinian people in their just cause to restore the lawful rights of the nation.” China did not think it was interfering in the domestic affairs of others here. However, if Global Times does not want outsiders raising questions about developments in Tibet, why is it not using its daringness to look at the concerns of the Tibetan people? I know what the answer would be, but I wanted to say this to keep up with the pretense that the Global Times is different from the People’s Daily.

Here I am reminded about how Global Times covered the Chinese police action against Uyghurs on December 28, 2011 leading to the death of some and the detention of five children. Amnesty International, in a statement on January 6, challenges the version published by Global Times and the Chinese Government. “The official explanation that people were killed because they ‘resisted arrest’ doesn’t answer how seven people ended up being shot dead, and a number of others injured,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Director for the Asia-Pacific. Amnesty has said that “The Chinese authorities must reveal the whereabouts of up to five Uighur children reportedly detained” and Global Times should use its daringness to question the Chinese Government on this.

Coming back to the Tibetan issue, I do not think Global Times has to go far in searching for topics if it has the courage to address the sensitive Tibetan issue. It could look at its own editorial, referred to above, and I can find at least two points that could be addressed.

Global Times said, “It is cruel to put political pressure on young Tibetan monks.” While it mentions this in the context of the “Dalai group” (whatever this may mean), I challenge it to look at the Chinese Government’s policies over Tibetan monasteries, from the most recent regulations on recognition of reincarnations to the denial of freedom to undertake daily and traditional religious activities, both the ritual and the philosophy aspect of it, that are putting not just political, but emotional, physical and even social pressures on Tibetan monks, both young and old. That will be something writing to the Party about.

Similarly, the Global Times concludes, “As time goes by, the believers of Tibetan Buddhism will finally know the Dalai Lama’s true intentions.” I wish they really mean this in its true sense and followed up with articles that will enlighten the Chinese minds. This is because the H.H. the Dalai Lama’s “true intentions” have been known to Tibetans throughout Tibetan history and it is this that has resulted in the special bond between him and the Tibetan people. It is this knowledge that is also leading to increasing admiration and reverence for him by people throughout the world. The Dalai Lama has gotten these not from spending millions of dollars in soft power diplomacy, as some countries do, but through the simple and positive messages that he conveys.

To conclude, While I would concur with Global Times that “China’s Tibetan region has been affected by outrageous political influences,” I do not think it is happening “under the name of religion.” Rather, it comes from a Chinese leadership that is giving the Tibetan people an outrageous choice of choosing between the Communist Party and the Dalai Lama (in the process not being able to face with the Tibetan people’s choice).
Republished with author's permission.  Originally published at:

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