Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the democratically elected leader of Tibetans in exile, delivered a thought-provoking speech on “China’s Tibet Policy Under Xi Jinping” at a seminar organized by the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy in Delhi. During the hour-long session, he emphasized the vision of Xi Jinping to establish a unified nation, culture, and language at the expense of Tibet’s nationalities. Tsering highlighted the importance of recognizing Tibet’s historical status as an independent state to gain leverage for the Middle Way Approach (MWA) proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Addressing the conference, which included sessions on “China’s Recent Activities in Tibet” and “Religion, Ethnic, and Environment Policy in Tibet,” Tsering stated that finding a solution to the Sino-Tibet conflict through the MWA would have significant implications for Southeast Asia, considering Tibet’s borders with many countries in the region.
Tsering expressed his view that China’s current insecurity is evident despite its vast power. He noted that China spends more on internal security than any other nation, driven by its relentless pursuit to gain international recognition for its illegal occupation of Tibet. Tsering argued that the international community cannot support Sino-Tibet negotiations as long as they legitimize Tibet being part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He asserted that the history of Tibet should not be defined by the whims and fancies of the international community but should instead belong to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.
Highlighting China’s deliberate efforts to erode Tibet’s national identity, Tsering mentioned the cultural impact on Tibetans, particularly the threat to the Tibetan language. China’s attempts to sinicize the Tibetan language contribute to the slow death of Tibetan culture. Tsering pointed out the tragic 157 self-immolations within Tibet as a desperate plea for attention from the international community and their hope for intervention.
Tsering shed light on China’s atrocities in Tibet and its systematic denial of access to journalists, diplomats, and human rights activists, effectively blocking Tibet from international scrutiny. He attributed China’s actions to its primary concern for the sustainability and survival of the Communist Party. Tsering further connected China’s belligerence on the Indian border and its assertiveness in the South China Sea and Taiwan to its deep-seated insecurity regarding threats to the CCP’s survival.
In his concluding remarks, Tsering urged the global community to view Tibet as a partner rather than a victim in countering China’s escalating aggression. He called on governments and policymakers to refrain from referring to Tibet as part of the PRC, thereby legitimizing China’s occupation. Tsering emphasized the need for the international community and the free world to stand up for their values and support Tibet in its struggle against China’s policies.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering’s impassioned speech served as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule and called for increased awareness, solidarity, and action to address the issues affecting Tibet and its people.