BEIJING (AP) – A senior Chinese official said on Thursday that “all-round efforts” are needed to ensure that Tibetans speak fluent spoken and written Chinese and share the “cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation.”
Wang Yang made the remarks to a hand-picked audience outside the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the home of traditional Buddhist leaders in Tibet, in a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese invasion of the vast Himalayan region.
The ruling Communist Party in China claims to have “peacefully liberated” Tibetan peasants from an oppressive theocracy and restored Chinese rule over a region threatened by outside powers.
Critics say that such moves towards cultural assimilation spell the end of traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture and that Tibet was effectively independent for most of its history.
China highlighted its efforts to boost the region’s economy and condemned the exiled Dalai Lama as a separatist.
Wang, who is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee – the party’s powerhouse – and which oversees policy towards ethnic minorities, said that “the separatist and sabotage activities by the Dalai (Lama) group and outside forces hostiles were crushed ”.
Since 1951, Tibet “has been on the road from darkness to clarity, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to prosperity, from autocracy to democracy and from closeness to openness,” said Wang.
Wang said Tibetans have been included in representative bodies. The region received nearly 160 million tourists last year, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, China restricted foreigners from entering Tibet.
“Only by following the leadership of the CCP and pursuing the path of socialism can Tibet achieve development and prosperity,” Wang said, quoted by Xinhua.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising against the Chinese regime, and his supporters have documented human rights violations in Tibet linked to an ongoing security crackdown.
“Judging by the developments in Tibet over the past 70 years, the Tibetan people have no reason to rejoice, as Chinese policy has turned Tibet itself into an open-air prison with restrictions on all. aspects of Tibetan life, ”the US-based international campaign said. for Tibet said in a statement.
“After 70 years of oppression, the only thing the Tibetan people need ‘peaceful liberation’ from today is brutality from China,” the group said.
As China strengthens its grip on Tibet, questions arise about the future of its diasporic community. China has refused all contact with the self-proclaimed Tibetan government in exile, and the Dalai Lama has long separated himself from politics.