Video: Courtesy Of @AnonymousTibet
Video: Courtesy Of @AnonymousTibet
As China’s regime intensifies its efforts to suppress Tibet, once again monasteries are being targeted for particularly aggressive attention. Seen by an ever paranoid and distrustful China as hothouses for resistance and dissent towards Chinese rule, monks and nuns continue to face highly coercive propaganda drives (so-called Patriot Re-Education). Meanwhile, Chinese paramilitary troops are becoming a permanent presence at monasteries, which have effectively become prisons, with an ever tightening set of regulations imposed. Recent cases of self-immolations have lead to further repression, no longer allowed the freedom to practice their Buddhist traditions independently China’s occupying forces are imposing draconian demands.
An official dictate, currently being enforced across Tibet, demands that monasteries should:
Be committed and determined to maintain the management responsibility for the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
Operate according to County documents provided for the implementation of religious management.
Restrict themselves to learning about religious knowledge.
Safeguard national unity (sic) against the infiltration of the Dalai clique.
Prevent and oppose the displaying of images of the Dalai Lama
To comply with relevant regulations and strengthen the internal management of the monastery.
Ensure and refuse the admission of ‘underage children’ as monks or nuns
Just how desperate China is to convince itself and no doubt the world of the supposed legitimacy of its claims over Tibet is revealed by its recent announcement to invest some 4.7 billion dollars into a theme park, to be constructed outside Lhasa, that will feature the story of a Chinese Princess who married the 7th Century Tibetan king, Songsten Gampo. An ancient alliance which Beijing’s propaganda machine has for years insisted is ‘proof’ of Chinese rule over Tibet and exploits to claim a supposed ‘ethnic’ unity between Tibetans and their Chinese neighbors.. Apart from serving as gut-wrenching theater to peddle its re-write of Tibet’s actual history it will satisfy that other key feature of China’s occupation of Tibet, profiting from tourism, which the Chinese leadership has recognized as providing not only an economic opportunity to exploit foreign tourists, but as a political tool to support its ideological war concerning Tibet. We can expect a grotesque parade of costumed lies, an ersatz version of Tibetan culture, thoroughly sterilized and approved by China’s occupying regime. Meanwhile beyond the security barriers of the park Tibet’s authentic culture will continue to be eroded and assimilated by the onslaught of Chinese colonization, a sort of ‘final solution’ that has as a goal the eradication of Tibetan national identity. Imagine the Khymer Rouge engaged in the wholesale destruction of Cambodian society, announcing to the world’s media the building of a tourist attraction celebrating Cambodia’s Buddhist culture and we can begin to approach the imperialist insanity that lies behind China’s intentions.
However let us return to the central feature of this macabre perversion, Princess Wencheng and China’s assertion that due to her marriage with a Tibetan king a legitimacy was established regarding Chinese claims on Tibet. To do so however we may benefit from beginning not in 7th Century Tibet but medieval France and its rival England, and a time equally marked by power politics and alliances. It is around the year 1122 and Éléonore de Guyenne was born, she was to become one of the most powerful and richest women in Europe, receiving the title Duchess of Aquitaine and was to be queen consort of France (1137–1152) and of England (1154–1189). Eleanor of Aquitane, as English historians recorded her name, married on May 18 1152 her cousin, Henry Plantagent, who was to become two years later the King of England. The marriage lasted some thirteen years during which she bore Henry eight children: five sons, three of whom would become kings, and three daughters. Clearly a dynastic alliance and important to note one involving family members, all of whom were French, including England’s ruler!
If we apply China’s distorted reasoning that asserts legitimacy over Tibet, on the basis of ancient allegiances and marriage, then we must now consider that France could lay claim to the United Kingdom due to the historical truth of Eleanor’s marriage to Henry II of England! Perhaps Britain could insist that it occupied Ireland on the grounds of supposed treaties reached with Irish Kings over 800 years ago, or maybe attempt to re-colonize the United States by arguing that it was once part of (as China describes its Empire) the ‘one big Motherland’! Such claims are a nonsense and would leave international opinion entirely dumbfounded, yet the world sadly remains largely silent on equally absurd assertions made by China concerning Tibet. Indeed the media has been a willing conduit in reporting China’s distortions and recently widely reported China’s announcement to build this propaganda park, minus any critique.
Had any correspondent of worth bothered to investigate they would soon have discovered that aside from cashing in on tourism, this venue has clear political objectives in enforcing a propaganda illusion of Tibet, its culture and history, hence the prominence being given to Princess Wencheng. Let’s take a closer look at her appearance in Tibetan history. It is little known that in the 7th Century ACE, a period when Islam arises in Arabia, the Tang Dynasty rules in China and Anglo-Saxon kings rule in England, Tibet possessed a huge Empire under the reign of the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It’s territory stretched northwards towards East Turkestan (now under Chinese occupation and renamed Xinjiang) and Westwards into Central Asia and to the East in regions of China itself. The Tibetan ruler is credited with assisting the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet, although the Chinese often assert that it reached Tibet from China, citing the fact Songsten Gampo’s wife, Princess Wencheng brought with her a Buddha which is till today venerated by Tibetans. What China’s propagandists fail to mention however is that this Chinese princess was presented to the Tibetan King as a tribute following a number of Tibetan conquests against China. Nor do they mention that Songsten Gampo had a number of other wives, including a wife from Nepal, who had arrived some years before Princess Wencheng and who had also brought an image of the Buddha. The famous Jo-Khang temple in Lhasa was constructed by Nepali princes Brikuti Devi, another fact China’s theme park will be keen to ignore, along with the great debate that took place in around 792 in which Indian Buddhist masters defeated Chinese teachers, confirming the India basis of Tibetan Buddhism. Once again if we apply the fact-free thinking that China uses to support its claims over Tibet, by re-writing he facts surrounding Princess Wencheng, then surely Nepal, whose Princess had been married to the Tibetan King for some years before China dispatched its ‘tribute’, can now claim that Tibet is part of Nepal!
We can be sure that historical truth will play little part in the grotesque displays that will feature at the planned theme park, its purpose is about illusion, deception and asserting as truth what in reality is a cynical fabrication that Tibet is a part of China and that Tibetan culture is thriving under Chinese rule. Such disinformation is already being uncritically consumed by foreign tourists and an international media whose reportage bears a troubling similarity to China’s official propaganda. This recent announcement looks set to continue that trend and will be a gross distortion of Tibet, its people, history and culture, but then we have to ask ourselves how many tourists give a damn? A reaction China is un-sleeping in its efforts to manipulate.
A recent exchange with one of our @tibettruth Twitter colleagues and fellow supporter of Tibet has raised an issue which we feel it important to outline our position on. It relates to the subject of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that run projects inside occupied Tibet, some of which extend limited medical or other support to remote Tibetan communities. We can entirely understand how anyone seeing images of such work would consider those actions as a valuable humanitarian service. We also respect the motivation of individuals who provide relief to Tibetans, yet in addition to acknowledging such positive support we have questions, based upon ethics and the political reality of China’s tyrannical occupation of Tibet. Our concerns are founded upon the following points:
1). It is well known that the virtual majority of Tibetans live under a genocidal occupation, violently denied political, cultural or religious freedoms, against this background what projects that do operate benefit a relative handful of Tibetans, who receive limited ‘support’. We consider genuine development should be for the advantage of all Tibetans, funded, organized and enjoyed by Tibetans themselves, in which Tibet’s people have the political and economic independence to determine the nature and administration of aid projects. Unfortunately the reality is that under China’s totalitarian occupation of Tibet that’s not likely to happen, while it is for political and propaganda purposes tolerant of isolated foreign NGO projects over which China exerts a stranglehold.
2) Apart from such considerations there are questions relating to how China manipulates and controls such NGO’s for the purposes of dis-information. This can be seen via the propaganda illusion such projects present upon their websites, it is sadly all too common to see organizations filling their commentary, with terminology that meets the dictatorial approval of China’s regime. So it is that we find NGOs describing what are in truth Tibetan regions, as Chinese provinces, or avoiding any political reference by using the term ‘plateau’, a loaded term much favored by China’s propagandists. These distortions are subsequently consumed across the Internet by many who have no knowledge of Tibet or its condition and so China’s cynical deceit is promulgated and many seriously misinformed.
3) There is also the subject of omission by such NGOs, who through having to collaborate with China’s regime, find themselves imprisoned by a self-inflicted censorship, they dare not touch upon any issues of sensitivity to China, which include human rights and the thorny issue of Tibetan independence and resistance to China’s rule. The result is somewhat sanitized accounts, that carefully avoid any reference to the odious realities of life for Tibetans under China’s tyranny, supported by images of Tibetans that perpetrate the illusion of a contented people whose culture appears to be thriving. What the overwhelming majority of people do not realize is that such photos are taken under tightly controlled and monitored circumstances, designed to conform to the approval of Chinese authorities. These photographs are made available to people on the Internet, who for the most part have no knowledge of the appalling situation inside Tibet, now confronted with a sterilized and flawed report on Tibet, accompanied by pictures of smiling Tibetans in colorful traditional costume. An image that serves entirely the objectives of China’s Ministry of Propaganda.
4) Lastly from an ethical perspective alone we are deeply concerned at any organization that is prepared to abandon principles which oppose injustice, tyranny and oppression, on the questionable reasoning that it can offer geographically (and resource-wise) limited support to a few individuals. That such groups can collaborate with a regime that is so violently terrorizing a people, while cynically exploiting such organizations, is also troubling and raises a number of difficult questions in terms of moral integrity. Would for example such bodies have cooperated with Pol Pot’s regime, ignoring his genocide against Buddhist Cambodians on the justification that their presence was aiding a few hundred, while beyond the village, the rest of the population were tortured, killed and subjected to a range of atrocities? Similar concerns apply in the case of occupied Tibet and while we can applaud the individual motives and selfless dedication of those feeling compassion for Tibetans it is our position to ask what are difficult questions concerning such collaborations.