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Statement of Special Representative Mr Kelsang Gyaltsen at Panel on China’s New Law on Counter-Terrorism and Its Impacts on Minorities

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PostPosted: Tue 14 Jun - 11:48 (2016)    Post subject: Statement of Special Representative Mr Kelsang Gyaltsen at Panel on China’s New Law on Counter-Terrorism and Its Impacts on Minorities Reply with quote

Below is the full statement of Mr Kelsang Gyaltsen, Special Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Europe at the panel discussion on “China’s New Law on Counter-Terrorism and its impacts on Minorities”.

The panel discussion is hosted by International Campaign for Tibet at Clingendael – the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, The Hague, on 7 June 2016.

Thank you, Tsering Jampa-la, for the kind invitation.

I take this opportunity to thank you and all the members of the ICT family for the wonderful great work you are doing in support of the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan people are presently undergoing the most difficult and challenging time of their history. In fact, the struggle of the Tibetan people is not just a struggle for human rights and basic freedoms but it is a struggle for the very survival as a people with its own distinct culture, language, religion and its own distinct civilisation and identity. We Tibetans are, therefore, deeply grateful to you all for your enduring support, solidarity and friendship in the times of our greatest need and challenge.

I also wish to thank our host the Clingendael Institute for facilitating this discussion. It has been my impression and experience that nowadays it is getting more difficult to find hosts for such discussions in Europe. Tibetans, and I am sure our Uighur brothers and sisters, too, have been feeling increasingly the long reach of Beijing’s strong arm even here in Europe. It is, therefore, very encouraging that this event is taking place at such a prestigious institute. Thank you very much for your hospitality.

Ladies and gentlemen, coming back to the topic of our discussion and its impact on minorities in China, I believe it is important at the outset to differentiate how Beijing views dissent and protests in Tibet or in Eastern Turkestan and dissent and protests in other parts of China. Protests by Tibetans and Uighurs are officially characterized as “antagonistic” and a threat to national security. This policy effectively de-legitimizes any form of dissent and protest. Moreover, the Chinese government conflates legitimate protests in these areas with separatism or terrorism.

In this environment dissent and grievances are not seen simply as expressions of discontents with local or state policies that might be redressed. They are seen rather as threats to the stability of the regime and the nation.

This development is well documented in the recent report by Human Rights Watch highlighting the diminishing tolerance by authorities for forms of expressions and assembly protected under international law. The report further points out an increase in state control over daily life, increasing criminalization of non-violent forms of protests, and disproportionate responses to local protests as well as the growing number of activities and issues targeted for repression in Tibetan areas.

Against this background I have difficulties to imagine how the new law on counter-terrorism can further deteriorate an already alarming situation in Tibet.

I, therefore, believe the question how members of the international community should react to China’s apparent willingness to talk about terrorism is of great importance. This opens also a general discussion about the best or most appropriate ways and means of dealing with China.

If we look at the past decades of China we can see clearly that there has been an oscillating pattern of political opening and tightening. This pattern reveals that there have long been two contending schools of thought within the CCP and its leadership: those that favour measured political liberalization managed by the Party versus those who staunchly resist it and seek to maintain a wide variety of repressive controls over society.

It is, therefore, obvious that the aim of Western governments’ policy should be to encourage the reform-minded Chinese leaders and to strengthen their position. In the l980s and 90s His Holiness the Dalai Lama often counselled Western politicians and parliamentarians “not to isolate China but to engage her”. But he also warned them at the same time “not to spoil the Chinese leaders and government” in the course of engagement. In the field of economy China herself would wish to join the mainstream of the world economy and you should welcome her. But as a member of the world democracy it would be your responsibility to see that China eventually joins also the mainstream world democracy. On this you must be principled, firm and consistent.

In this spirit on international initiatives on counter-terrorism the international community should make the observance of international human rights standard a requirement for Beijing’s collaboration. As Human Rights Watch had recommended no government should agree to increase information sharing, training, or other cooperation with China until China commits to international standards.

With regard to policy vis-à-vis China in general within the Western world there has been a dominant school of thought led by Henry Kissinger & Co. on dealing with China. This school of thought stipulates as a principle that no “loss of face” of the Chinese leaders or government should be risked in interacting with China. Most Western governments so far have followed the doctrine of this school. Consequently, today’s China is to a considerable degree the result of this international policy towards China over the past decades. The result is that today’s China is more authoritarian than she has ever been since the times of the Cultural Revolution (maybe with the exception of the brief period between 1989–1992 after the Tiananmen Square massacre).

It is, therefore, time to have a hard and critical look at the China policy of the past decades. China seems to be once again at a crossroad. There are a number of respected China scholars who are of the view that the present hard-line policy under Xi is just simply unsustainable. They see the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2017 as of crucial importance for the future course of China. In this context, I strongly believe that the attitude of the international community can impact significantly in which direction the pendulum of political shift in China will swing.

These China scholars also conclude that among the most acute challenges for the Chinese government to manage over the coming decade are the increasingly unstable border regions of Tibet, Eastern Turkestan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Tibet and Eastern Turkestan they consider as highly unstable. Hong Kong and Taiwan less so, but all have real potential for major confrontation with Beijing.

Against this background it is my belief that the Chinese government cannot continue for long to evade seeking a negotiated resolution to the issue of Tibet. The spirit of resistance in Tibet has never been stronger. In the forefront of this resistance are Tibetans who are under the age of 30. This is a clear indication that this resistance is going to stay for a long time to come until and unless it is resolved peacefully through dialogue.

It is, therefore, not an impossible task to forecast what the future may hold for Tibet. It seems there are only two likely and possible scenarios.

The positive scenario is there is the resumption of direct contact and dialogue between the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership and an honest and robust effort in finding common ground in resolving the issue.

The other scenario is tragic and unfortunate and consists of yet another cycle of ruthless repression on the one hand and more radicalised resistance on the other hand.

In this context I have no doubt that the attitude of the international community has a bearing on which scenario eventually will play out.

As a Tibetan, who has been living in Europe for decades and who has come to greatly value and cherish the culture and ideals of Europe, I continue to entertain great hopes that European governments in general and the European Union in particular will play an important role in encouraging and facilitating a process by which Tibet and China move towards dialogue and reconciliation. This will set a timely and much needed example in these times of violence that non-violent movements can succeed and be successful. This signal will go a long way in encouraging and promoting a global culture based on non-violence, dialogue and reconciliation.

Thank you.
Dans la plupart des pays, les citoyens possèdent la liberté de parole. Mais dans une démocratie, ils possèdent encore la liberté après avoir parlé.
André Guillois


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