Tibet Will Die if China is Not Made to Reverse its Policies: Penpa Tsering Tells US Congress

Tibet and Tibetans are headed for a “slow death” if China is not made to reverse its current policy, Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the head of the Central Tibetan Administration, told American lawmakers on Tuesday.

As part of the 50-year China’s Western Development Programme started at the beginning of this millennium, unscrupulous use of natural resources and reckless construction of dams, railway and road network, airports and other infrastructure in Tibet threatens irreversible damage to Tibet’s fragile environment, Tsering said.

Testifying before a Congressional Committee on “Preserving Tibet: Combating Cultural Erasure, Forced Assimilation, and Transnational Repression”, Tsering said that Tibet is known as Asia’s Water Tower and the Third Pole because of the number of glaciers and permafrost that feeds all the major rivers of Asia.

“Therefore, it concerns not only Tibet and the Tibetan people but has serious implications on the food, economic, and water security of a population of about 2 billion people living in the downstream countries that depend on rivers originating from the Tibetan plateau,” he told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China during the hearing.

“If PRC (People’s Republic of China) is not made to reverse or change its current policies, Tibet and Tibetans will definitely die a slow death,” Tsering said in his testimony.

Tsering told the US lawmakers that as the democratically elected leader of the Tibetan people, he is fully committed to following the Middle Way Policy: the way forward shown by the Dalai Lama and adopted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

“This policy is aimed at finding a non-violent, mutually beneficial, negotiated and lasting solution to the Sino-Tibet conflict that can set an example to this violence-ridden world. Resolution to the Sino-Tibet conflict can have profound geo-political implications for a more peaceful and secure region and the world,” he said.

“The absence of traction on dialogue since 2010 sounds ominous, but we remain positive about finding a peaceful solution that avoids extreme polarities,” he said.

Richard Gere, Chair of the International Campaign for Tibet, said that for decades the Chinese Communist Party’s ethnic policies have been largely predicated on containment, denial, destruction, and assimilation.

Repression has been most severe in Tibet – and in East Turkestan it should be noted as well – where Communist Party policies have included the separation of families, the prohibition of language, the destruction of religious sites and institutions, the collection of DNA and a pervasive surveillance system through which the denial of information or movement is implemented, Gere alleged.

Gere urged the lawmakers that the Congress should pass and President Joe Biden sign the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act which clarifies that America will back the Tibetan people until negotiations are settled, whether it is with the 14th Dalai Lama or a future Tibetan leader.

This is essential to providing the Tibetan people with the long-term support needed in their quest for dignity and self-determination. The legislation also empowers the Special Coordinator for Tibet to directly counter China’s relentless propaganda machine aimed at Tibet, he said.

Urging the US to fully and forcefully implement the Tibetan Policy and Support Act and the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, Gere recommended the US to undertake and present publicly a comprehensive report on the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to manipulate global perceptions of Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

During the hearing, the Commission examined growing restrictions on linguistic and cultural rights in Tibet and transnational repression faced by Tibetans abroad. The goal is to explore the diplomatic and policy options for the United States and other like-minded countries to help preserve Tibetan cultural heritage and to defend against threats and intimidation targeting Tibetans in the United States and around the world.

The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a Chinese crackdown on an uprising by the local population in Tibet. India granted him political asylum and the Tibetan government-in-exile has been based in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then.

Beijing has in the past accused the 87-year-old Dalai Lama of indulging in “separatist” activities and trying to split Tibet and considers him a divisive figure.

However, the Tibetan spiritual leader has insisted that he is not seeking independence but “genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet” under the “Middle-Way approach”.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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