Monday 21 October 2019

China defends policies as marches mark 60 years after Dalai Lama fled Tibet

The Dalai Lama has been living in a northern Indian town since he fled from Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

An exiled Tibetan takes part in a march in New Delhi, India (Manish Swarup/AP)
An exiled Tibetan takes part in a march in New Delhi, India (Manish Swarup/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

China has defended its often-criticised rule in Tibet 60 years after the Dalai Lama fled into exile, saying those who question its policies are merely showing their anti-Chinese bias.

The statements in official media came as Tibetans and their supporters marked the anniversary and called for greater international support.

Despite decades of such calls, however, the Himalayan region appears no closer to gaining greater autonomy, particularly as China’s global influence grows.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency said in an editorial that economic growth, increases in lifespan and better education in the region refute the claims of critics that Tibetans suffer oppression from Beijing.

Another editorial, in the Communist Party-run Tibet Daily, attacked the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s traditional Buddhist leader, for what it said are his efforts to “sow chaos in Tibet”.

His “separatist plots are doomed to total failure,” the paper said.

The Dalai Lama has been living in a northern Indian town since he fled from Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Beijing accuses him of seeking to separate Tibet from China, which he denies.

Tibet is enveloped in smothering layers of Chinese security and many Tibetans abroad say the Himalayan region’s resources are being exploited for Beijing’s benefit while Tibet’s language and unique Buddhist culture is gradually being destroyed.

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An exiled Tibetan breaks down during a march in New Delhi, India (Manish Swarup/AP)

In India’s capital, New Delhi, at least 3,000 Tibetans marched about two miles through the centre of the city carrying Tibetan and Indian flags.

Invoking India’s concerns over China’s expansive power in Asia and beyond, the marchers shouted slogans including “Tibet’s freedom is India’s security” and “India-China friendship is a sham”.

They also carried a portrait of the Dalai Lama while occasionally chanting slogans wishing him a long life and calling for freedom for Tibet.

Hundreds of Tibetans and Taiwanese rallied in Taipei, the capital of the self-governing island democracy that China also claims as its territory.

Tashi Tsering, chair of the Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, recalled what he called China’s history of reneging on agreements to Tibetans and others.

“We should not trust the Communist Party of China whatever it says,” he said.

China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time. Communist troops took control of the region in 1950 after a brief military struggle.

Conditions in the region are difficult to independently ascertain because foreign travellers must get special permission to enter the region.

Access is rarely given to foreign journalists, and the region is closed to foreigners entirely during sensitive anniversaries.

The Xinhua editorial did not directly mention the uprising anniversary, referring to the events of 1959 instead as the inauguration of “democratic reform” that saw the dismantlement of the Buddhist hierarchy and feudal structures.

PA Media

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