On 24th March, the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) released a logo (image below) celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation. However, Tibetan refugees like me who have been the victims of the CCP for generations find it hard to find much worth celebrating. The latest Freedom House report marked Tibet as the least free country in the world. On this account alone, the CCP’s 100th anniversary is nothing more than a matter of immense pain for Tibetans. Indeed, the CCP’s history and present trajectory make one realize why its existence poses a huge threat to the world at large.
CCP’s Annexation of Tibet
On 23rd May 1951, the CCP forged the so-called 17 Point Agreement and forced the Tibetan delegates led by Ngapo Ngawang Jigme to sign it under duress in Peking (now Beijing). The CCP has claimed that Tibet is an inalienable part of China ever since. The CCP’s latest White Paper titled ‘Tibet since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity’ is widely seen as a major attempt to distort Tibet’s historical status and legalize the so-called “17 Point Agreement” — which I attempted to debunk in ‘China’s White Paper on Tibet: A Black Lie’. Following the contrived agreement, the CCP unleashed its brutal forces on peaceful demonstrators who were trying to protect His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama from a Chinese plot to kidnap him. This led to the massacre of thousands of innocent Tibetans. Following the uprising on 10th March 1959, His Holiness, along with 80,000 Tibetans, fled Tibet and sought political asylum in India. It is believed that the CCP has killed more than 1.2 million Tibetans and destroyed 6000 Tibetan monasteries since 1940s and still continuing cultural pogrom. Today, Tibetans within Tibet are living under fear and the anxieties of losing their lives as well as their identity.
On a personal note, I left Tibet in 1999 at the age of 8 and my journey into exile took months of hard travel on foot. During the day time, we had to sleep so that we could walk through the night which helped us escape the attention of Chinese soldiers at the borders. Many Tibetans faced frostbite and snow-blindness due to extensive walking on snow, and many others died during the long journey. This painful state of affairs continues as even in 2006, Chinese soldiers shot a Tibetan nun while she was attempting to cross the Himalayas. This is only a glimpse of the hardship many Tibetans have faced whilst fleeing Tibet — their homeland under foreign occupation.
Even after these tumultuous years, Tibetans in Exile in India, under the leadership of His Holiness, remain intact and have become a strong voice for Tibetans in the world. But in Tibet, 155 Tibetans in Tibet have resorted to self-immolation as an act of protest against the CCP’s harsh policies and atrocities. Last year, a Tibetan woman named Lhamo — a mother of three — succumbed to brutal torture in a Chinese prison. There are thousands of Tibetans in Tibet who have faced a similar fate, yet their status and whereabouts are unknown and suppressed by the brutal regime. Despite the gravity of the situation, Chinese Foreign Spokesperson Hua Chunying proudly tweets: “China is a country that always upholds and promotes people’s democracy.” Such a lie is quite simply unraveled by the 155 Tibetans who lost their lives through self-immolation, demanding freedom; the freedom to learn their mother-tongue, to openly practice their religion and customs and to witness the return of His Holiness to his homeland.
Today, the CCP is implementing a “Labour Transfer Policy” in Tibet. China expert and anthropologist, Adrian Zenz writes that under this law, Tibetan pastoralists and farmers are subjected to centralized “military-style” vocational training with the aim to reform their “backward thinking”. It is through such means that Tibetans are forcefully indoctrinated. Such coercion proves that the CCP, even after 70 years of occupation, could not win the allegiance of Tibetans in Tibet.
The CCP’s Notorious History of Human Rights Violations
On 4th June 1989, the leaders of the CCP ordered the killing of thousands of pro-democracy college students — holding peaceful demonstrations in Beijing — asking for greater democracy. This incident became an indelible addition to the CCP’s list of Human Rights violations. In the words of a survivor, today “Tiananmen Square is a tourist attraction under 24/7 surveillance. Clusters of cameras, for example, are disguised as lamp posts. And the square has been completely scrubbed of anything that might recall the events of 1989”. Last year, Zoom — an online video chatting service founded by Chinese-American billionaire Eric Yuan— suspended an account used by some US-based Chinese activists for holding a meeting to commemorate the Tiananmen Square tragedy. On 4th June, the 32nd a commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre is to be held in Hong Kong, but the Hong Kong Security Bureau issued a strong warning that Hongkongers participating in a Tiananmen Square vigil may face up to 5 years in prison and 1 year in prison if someone even dares promote the vigil. The situation will be worse in mainland China if pro-democracy crusaders organize a Tiananmen Square vigil. We can easily guess where they might land up later. Nations around the world fear discussing the 3 Ts publicly, viz: Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen, lest they invite the ire of the Asian dragon. Such is the face of the CCP when it comes to censoring the inconvenient truth of their murderous century of existence.
The CCP’s grip on East Turkistan (Xinjiang) and Hong Kong
The CCP’s extensive labour training (read: genocide) in East Turkistan is attracting the world’s attention. For instance, a leaked Chinese state document mentions that detention camps in Xinjiang hold 892,000 individuals in 68 Xinjiang counties as of Spring 2018. Adrian Zenz estimates that Xinjiang’s total re-education internment figure may be estimated at just over one million. A few months ago, Chinese netizens were furiously calling for boycotting H&M — a Swedish fashion retailer which made a comment that “it was deeply concerned about reports of accusations of forced labour in Xinjiang, and that it did not source products from the Chinese region.” It proves that whatever is happening in Xinjiang is a secret to the rest of the world.
With the same coercive approach, the CCP implicitly cracked down on the ‘Umbrella Movement’ in Hong Kong. Many pro-democracy protesters like Joshua Wong were detained recently. These atrocities are out of the same playbook that was used by the CCP in Tibet. Simon Shen’s piece ‘Hong Kong’s present is Tibet’s past’ is a gentle reminder to the rest of the world which turned away from Tibet’s cry for help in the 1950s.
The CCP’s Hold is Extending
With Xi Jinping’s reassertion of Mao’s five-finger strategy, the CCP’s expansionist design is evident across the Himalayas. Starting from Doklam to Ladakh, the CCP is leaving no stone unturned to prove its regional hegemony. Under the disguise of the Belt and Road initiative, the CCP is in effect, colonizing many countries around the world. It is high time that we realize what happened to Tibet wasn’t an exception, it was a template. President Dr Lobsang Sangay once said that either we transform China or China transforms us. To realize this message, Tibet’s narrative matters the most, because the very blueprint the CCP used to conquer Tibet is being implemented on several other frontiers.
The CCP’s 100th anniversary is, thus, nothing but a culmination of blood, tears, and atrocities.
*Yeshi Dawa is currently an Affiliated Fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute and Anchor at Tibet TV. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Tibet Policy Institute. This article was originally published in Global order on 4 June 2021