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Thursday, December 1, 2022

China’s national day, a bitter pill for Tibet and XinJiang

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On the 1st of October a flag was hoisted in every major city in the People’s Republic of China(PRC) to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of foundation of the People’s republic. It is 73 years that the Chinese people live in fear and without basic freedoms and human rights, which have progressively worsened since the current President (or Chairman) Xi Jinping took over in 2013. The flag hoisting was especially bitter in Lhasa and Urumqui, capitals of Tibet and Xinxiang autonomous provinces respectively. Both people, the Tibetans and Uyghurs have suffered physical and cultural genocide at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) for the past decades. Under Xi Jinping the atrocities have only gotten worse. For the Tibetan people, the 6th of October is the anniversary of annexation by the PRC as it was on this day in 1950 when the PRC started its violent campaign to occupy Tibet eventually ending with the exile of the Tibetan spiritual and political leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to India in 1959.

The 1st of October therefore is a stark demonstration of Chinese Han supremacy for most Tibetans and Uyghurs. This year’s celebrations at Potala Palace square and the Xinjiang International Convention and Exhibition Center was just a reminder of this bitter reality that these populations and their diaspora have to live with; the occupation of their land and the destruction of their way of life.

Minister of Information of the Tibetan Central Administration, Kungo Kalon Norzin Dolma who is in Milan to hold discussions with the Tibetan community said, “The 1st of October is not a celebratory day for Chinese minorities like Tibetans. The day is synonymous with existing draconian laws against Tibetans used for suppressing their freedom and rights. The international community must stand in solidarity with the plight of Tibetans and Uyghurs to end the despotic regime in China.”

During her visit to Italy Dolma also inaugurated a photography exhibition in Perugia entitled “Tibet, the heart of Asia” which displays photographs dedicated to the Tibetan people by photographer, RAI journalist and President of the Italy-Tibet Association, Claudio Cardelli.

Earlier on the 29th of September in Rome, the Tibetan delegation led by Dolma with the Dalai Lama’s representative in South Eastern Europe, Ms. Thinley Chukky, accompanied by the President of the Tibetan Community in Italy Tseten Longhini and secretary Tashi Samdup conducted several important discussions. The first part of the event was attended by Hon. Luciano Nobili (President of the Parliamentary Intergroup for Tibet, Italia Viva), members of the outgoing legislature, Antonella Incerti (PD) and Matteo Luigi Bianchi (Lega), Matteo Angioli (Secretary of the Global Committee for the state of law Marco Pannella – GCRL) and Laura Harth (Coordinator of the Scientific Council GCRL). Many issues were addressed during the meeting which saw a long, interesting and fruitful exchange between the Tibetan delegation and Italian political representatives. Subsequently, the discussion continued with the representatives of various Tibet Support Groups who shared their areas of specific activity and expertise.

The occupation of Tibet by the Chinese regime and the decades of horrors that have been unleashed upon them have now again come into the spotlight with the risk that China may forcibly attempt to annex Taiwan. With autocracies worldwide uniting to exert their might, as in the case of Russia with Ukraine, the Tibetan question is regaining its focus and global attention.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is widely expected to receive his third mandate shortly at the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Congress in October. In 2018, the mandatory two terms for the Chairman were removed with a modification of the constitution allowing Xi to contest, almost unopposed, for a third term. With this absolute power, Chairman Xi’s rule is expected to be more repressive that ever, as China finds itself in a dramatic banking and real estate crisis, climate crisis and repeated lockdowns given his zero COVID tolerance policy.

Premier Li Keqiang, premier of the Chinese government and the country’s second-most powerful man, is expected to quit politics after 10 years of ruling China with Xi.

While Li, 67, will have to wait until March 2023 to end his role, his name will likely be excluded from the list when Congress announces the new group of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders in October consolidating absolute power in Xi’s hands.

Recent Italian elections have brought to power Fratelli d’Italia and possibly Italy’s first female Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni. Meloni is a staunch opponent of China and a strong supporter of Taiwan and hopefully the new government is expected to provide more support to the Tibetan cause. The visit of the Tibetan delegation was also in part to discuss and gather support for the  10th March 2023 commemoration, the anniversary of the 63rd Tibetan National Uprising Day which will take place for the first time in Rome.

Tibet, under Xi, has undergone and is undergoing rapid changes. Unchecked infrastructure development to force Nepal to open the Mustang road for trade traffic, mining, deforestation and environmental destruction, mass collection of DNA from ethnic Tibetans and further economic destruction due to inhumane lockdowns are quickly leading to the end of the Tibetan way of life. The international community must rally behind the Tibetan diaspora before its too late.

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