Appeasing China, News Item, Tibet

High In Tibet The New York Times Promotes China’s Lie That Buddhism Is Flourishing


As newspapers go the New York Times (NYT) is right up there. A major media voice, respected  across the industry and a  trusted news source. Unless that is its reportage concerns Tibet, for then its strident and independent journalism gives way to an uneasy accommodation. Critical and objective reporting is replaced by credulity. Readers are exposed to an editorial take on Tibet that has a worrying similarity to the official propaganda generated by the Chinese regime. Headlines and article content are saturated with terminology that may as well have been crafted by China’s ministry of disinformation. The purpose of which is to promote the deception that Tibet is an inalienable part of China or that Tibetans and their culture are thriving under the tender mercies of the Chinese authorities.

Image:print-screen from NYT online article 11/8/16

Take the November 8 2016 NYT piece from  Mr Edward Wong, its bold headline; that element of a newspaper story most often consumed and remembered, suggesting that Tibetan Buddhism is flourishing. The article features a number of glossy images showing seemingly contented Tibetan monks and nuns, a gleaming Buddhist monastery and views of an expansive community. What more proof is needed that Tibetans are enjoying their Buddhist traditions, after all seeing-is-believing, right? Well so the propagandists of China’s regime would insist, and after all they have a long record of peddling such imagery. Smiling and prosperous Tibetans may be found all over Chinese websites and news agencies such as the regime’s official mouthpiece, Xinhua.

The reality of course, as well documented and reported by less gullible media agencies is that Tibetan Buddhism is being virtually exterminated, its monasteries placed under paramilitary control, regular indoctrination programs, charmingly concealed as ‘Patriotic Education’ are forced upon Buddhist Tibetans. Even the ancient tradition of reincarnate Buddhist teachers has been placed under the control and approval of the Chinese State! Meanwhile across Tibet as this post is being written Tibetan monks and nuns are suffering unimaginable misery in forced labor camps, or tortured in one of the innumerable prisons and torture centers. Such vicious oppression and the assault upon the Buddhist culture of Tibet is a matter of record and has attracted the concern of leading human rights organizations, the United Nations and governments.

Another Tibetan monastery placed under military siege by China's regime
Another Tibetan monastery placed under military siege by China’s regime


Now Edward Wong (who presumably ironically, describes himself on Twitter as ‘comrade’) and the New York Times will be very aware of this harrowing truth, yet have chosen to promote a distortion that no doubt meets the approval of the Chinese regime. Taking a closer look at the wording used we can see the fingerprints of China’s propagandists all over this piece. See for example how Comrade Wong references the recent widely reported destruction of Larung Gar. Another Buddhist center, that was recently bulldozed into oblivion with monks and nuns forced weeping onto convoys of coaches, under the merciless eyes of machine-gun carrying paramilitary:

“The largest, Larung Gar, in a valley to the northeast, has more monks than nuns. Workers there are now demolishing individual homes, on the orders of Chinese officials. Some clergy members are being forced to leave.” (Emphasis Added)

What a masterclass in  dilution that comment is, the grim reality of what actually happened and the extent of oppression and destruction diminished under the cover of supposedly neutral reportage. Indeed, anyone reading those words could be forgiven for concluding that regular demolition workers are pulling down a few houses and that a handful of Tibetans have been forced to relocate.The facts though are very different, in magnitude, suffering and oppression, as hinted at in the image below.

Just one area of Chinese ordered destruction at Larung Gar. a major center of Tibetan Buddhist study.
Just one area of Chinese ordered destruction at Larung Gar. a major center of Tibetan Buddhist study.

Further indications of just how slanted this article is appears in its headline, the deliberate and carefully applied use of the term ‘Tibetan Plateau’. A geographic, nonaligned description greatly favored by the Chinese authorities, as it avoids entirely any political association regarding Tibet, or the implied questions of its actual status.

What may we justly question is the objective of this particular NYT article? Whose interests are being most served? Is it a fair and balanced appraisal of the condition of Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese rule? Or are we witnessing a leading media publisher serving as a conduit for China’s propaganda distortions on the subject of Tibet?




Appeasing China, News Item, Tibet

Independence! A Dirty Word For Lobsang Sangay



It’s official! The exiled Tibetan Administration does not equate ‘freedom’ with independence. So dear Tibetan brothers and sisters when in future you hear either Doctor Lobsang Sangay or any other exiled Tibetan official refer to Tibetan freedom be warned that what they mean is not Tibet’s independence but something far less, the subservient condition of autonomy!

We have been trying to inform people of the distinction between the meaning and application of the terms independence and freedom for some time Article HERE and so are most grateful to Doctor Lobsang Sangay for his authoratitive recent confirmation that the two terms are indeed distinct, with ‘freedom’ covering a range of interpretations that are less emphatic or singular than ‘independence’.

In a recent New York Times interview in which Doctor Sangay appeared, the journalist Gardiner Harris, originally made the following opening comments:

“The cause of INDEPENDENCE is not hopeless, Lobsang Sangay, leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile, said in an interview on Thursday” (Emphasis Added)

Now firstly you should be aware that these words were comments not attributed in quotation to Lobsang Sangay, so could be open to interpretation and uncertainty as to whether they are an interpretation of the reporter, or a remark made by Doctor Sangay but not formally quoted. However that literary confusion apart the main controversy here is reference to  ‘independence’ a word which is taboo to the exiled Tibetan Administration and one which anyone familiar with the Tibetan cause would never associate with Lobsang Sangay or his colleagues who consistently avoid any mention of it. They have no such reservations however with employing the term ‘freedom’, reason being that it is open to a varierty of interpretations, less emphatic and can of course describe a condition of ‘autonomy’, which by coincidence happens to be the objective sought for Tibetans by Lobsang Sangay and the CTA!

The degree of appeasement towards the Chinese regime by Doctor Sangay is such that the mere association of Tibet with independence sets in motion various levers of denial, censorship and evasion, while always carefully reassuring China that ‘we are not seeking independence’. So what does the Harvard trained lawyer do on realizing that he has been attributed as affirming Tibet’s cause for independence is not without hope? Why he calls upon the New York Times to immediately issue an amended, restrospectively edited version, expunging any reference to ‘independence’!

“The cause of Tibetan FREEDOM is not hopeless, Lobsang Sangay, leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said in an interview Thursday.” (Emphasis Added) SOURCE

Not only that but any former trace of the original version of the story vanishes from the internet! Just to make sure that his good friends in Beijing are not unduly upset Lobsang Sangay arranges the revised version of the NYT interview to feature on the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration.

So desperate is Lobsang Sangay and his colleagues to convince China that the exiled Tibetan Administration in no way endorses independence that they attach to the revised interview the following addendum:

Correction: December 1, 2012

The first sentence of this post originally read: “The cause of Tibetan independence is not hopeless…”Tibetans are fighting for an autonomous state, not independence.”

So there we have it! In a panic to ensure that China’s pathological sensitivities concerning Tibetan independence were appeased  Lobsang Sangay has the word ‘independence’ removed and replaced with ‘freedom’ from comments attributed to him by a reporter. Remember dear Tibetans that if he and his fellows in the Central Tibetan Administration regarded the two words as having the same meaning, in terms of politics and international law, then he would have felt no need to insist on the New York Times issuing an emergency revision! Truth is that he felt compelled to arrange the substitution, because he and the exiled Tibetan Administration know very well that ‘freedom’ is not equivalent to ‘independence’ and were desperate too that China be offered an immediate reassurance that Lobsang Sangay had not been supportive of Tibetan independence.

The next occasion Lobsang Sangay appears on Al Jazeera and talks of ‘freedom’ remember carefully this latest episode and know that while he sits and offers what on the surface seem words of support for Tibetans in Tibet  he is hiding behind a phrase that is a smokescreen, concealing the reality that he is not committed  to the cause that Tibetans are sacrificing so much for, but to securing a condition of autonomy under Chinese rule. That is what the Central Tibetan Administration means when it says ‘freedom for Tibetans’!