News / Asia

Mixed Signals On China's Policies in Tibet

A child gestures at the feet of protesters holding a sign commemorating victims of self-immolation during a solidarity march to the United Nations Headquarters in support of Tibet, New York, December 10, 2012.
A child gestures at the feet of protesters holding a sign commemorating victims of self-immolation during a solidarity march to the United Nations Headquarters in support of Tibet, New York, December 10, 2012.
VOA News
Worshipping the Dalai Lama remains illegal in Tibetan areas of China, despite earlier reports of changes in China's policies in Lhasa and in some parts of neighboring Qinghai province. 

Free Tibet, a London-based advocacy group, said in a report Tuesday authorities in Qinghai province sent text messages to Tibetan residents, notifying them the ban on images of the Tibetan spiritual leader remains in effect.

“We've had confirmed from several sources that this text message has been sent from the propaganda department in Qinghai in Tibetan language to Tibetans,” says Alistair Currie Free Tibet's media officer.

Free Tibet reproduced the message's text in its report: “In recent days some people have spread rumors online ... saying a new policy has been introduced in the Tibetan Area.  We clearly announce that there is no change in the policy of CCP and the government towards the 14th Dalai Lama.”

China's State Bureau of Religious Affairs also denied any change in policy in a statement to the BBC.

Since 1996, the central government has enforced a policy that forbids temples as well as hotels and restaurant from displaying photographs of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.  

Last week, there were reports some monasteries were allowed to show the photographs or had held meetings to discuss lifting the ban.  The reports prompted the State Bureau's response there has been no policy change.

Chinese media outlets have been silent about the issue.  Discussion of the issue was partly censored online Tuesday.  

Zhang Haiyang, director of the Ethnic Minority Study Center of China and the Minzu University in Beijing, says a colleague had sent him some information about the reports by text.  He says that although he does not have any direct knowledge of the policy discussions among authorities in Tibetan regions, there is bound to be some divergence of views as to how to deal with Tibet.

“I think that there are definitely different opinions, and there are definitely people who believe other things should be done in Tibet,” he says.  “But education has been the same for so long, and people are not used to bringing forth new ideas or reconciling when it comes to minorities and religion.”

Monks, nuns and lay people have taken extreme measures to protest what they believe is China's oppressive rule on the region.  Since 2009 at least 120 people have self-immolated, an act that authorities in Beijing believe as being inspired by the Dalai Lama and his “clique” in an attempt to split the region from China.  
   
Last month, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party publicly broke away from the party orthodoxy on Tibet.

Professor Jin Wei told a Hong Kong magazine that Beijing's attitudes towards the Dalai Lama - who is still highly revered inside Tibet - has an impact on how Tibetans respond to Chinese rule.

“We cannot just simply treat and regard him as an enemy,” she told Asia Weekly.  She also suggested that if negotiation goes well, the Dalai Lama might be allowed to move to Hong Kong, and even make trips back to Tibet.

Scholars outside China have speculated whether there is support among the Chinese leadership for loosening Beijing’s hard line against the Dalai Lama.

Thubten Sampel, the director of Tibet Policy Institute, a think tank of the Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamshala, says that Jin's comments suggest an underlying dialogue on Tibet among senior Chinese leaders.

“There might be some degree of discussion on how best China should resolve the issue of Tibet,” he says.  “Any change in direction towards resolving the issue of Tibet is considered risky,” he says, “and until now there has been no leader who had the guts to take the risk.”

At the same time, Thubten says that leaving things as they are - with unaddressed grievances prone to turn into unrest - is risky as well.  

“Our hope is that Chinese leaders will adopt a more lenient, a more tolerant policy towards the people of Tibet.”

Xi Jinping, who became China's president in March, has in the past made critical statements about “separatist activities” in Tibet, and analysts say he is unlikely to substantially veer from the hard-line policies of his predecessors.

You May Like

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs