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Sinicization of Tibet; The plight of Tibet

By DawaTsering

Tibet for couple of millennium has been an independent ethnicity adorned with it’s own culture, tradition, history and linguistic along with the adoption of Buddhism lately from India.

Apart from minor differences in terms of above aspects amongst the regions within Tibet, the foundation has been solely similar for all. And, with, such unique identity of Tibet has been always a challenge for communist China to rule the invaded Tibet, especially with Tibetan wanting to be free as it has always been. Hence, Chinese government always put efforts in removing enormous differences existed between the majority Han ethnic and submissive minorities like Tibetan and Uighur.

Since from the birth of communist regime in China, it has been always their strategy to forcefully homogenizing peoples under it’s territories by erasing the differences even when it truly was a diverse rather than preserving the diversity.   In their vulnerability of disintegration like Soviet, communist party of China dodge this familiar repercussion by assimilating the diverse minorities under it’s control into the characteristic of dominant Han tradition like they did to their economic structure by capitalizing with the expectations of success in former akin to later.

After complete occupation of Tibet in 1959. The nation wide cultural revolution by Chairman Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, became the first major step in sinicization of Tibet leaving huge impacts even after the withdrawal of this mean policy by critics within the Chinese Communist Party.  This movement, though didn’t sinofied most of Tibetans, sawn the seed for necessity of future policy on assimilation to achieve CCP’s homogenization objective.

 Yet, majority of Tibetans after nine year long cultural revolution still communicate in their mother tongue, visit their local monasteries to seek blessing, and educate young ones via traditional style of education which consist of learning; Tibetan, history, religion, astronomy, and arts etcetera  from local monastery that helps in inheriting the ancestral identity to the new generations, even when many of temples and monasteries were destroyed along with demolition of sacred Buddhist statues. Such practices were later eradicated and even forcibly removed young monk from monasteries and put them in government-run schools quoting they are underage for monastic education.

Eventually, when China emerged as an economically vital actor in the international community around mid 1970s, restrictions were enhanced and new policies were proposed inside Tibet in order to avoid seeming defects in it’s image as an emerging power of the world.

New policies were implemented and modified new strategies for sinofication of Tibet by introducing new educational model, emphasizing more in Mandarin and Chinese culture, politicizing Tibetan Buddhism by intervention, opening the Tibetan plateau for main land Chinese, and assimilating Tibetan and Chinese aiming for cultural changes.

After Cultural Revolution, China’s National Strategic Project to Develop the West was introduced which encourages the migration of mainland Chinese to Tibet.

Majority of these immigrants were manned to serve in administration, security force, teacher, doctor and business man which indeed were the key role players in shaping a society into the intentions of communist party while most of Tibetans engaged in farming, nomadic and monks.

This slow social transition was later successfully accelerated with multiplied immigrants pouring into the land of Tibetans.

During 2001, the ambitious project worth 3.68 billion dollar for construction of railway connecting Lhasa with Qinghai was initiated that ultimately saw an increase in Chinese moving into Tibet. The goal was not simply connecting Tibet with rest of China rather it was a long term objective of homogenizing Tibetans into the Han Chinese.

Since then, the demographic of Tibet have dramatically changed. Chinese government baited Tibetans  with lucrative explanation of economic development inside Tibet where in reality, the important posts were manned by mainland Chinese such as Wu Yingjie, the current head of TAR region preceded by Chen Quanguo, as well as the upper class of Tibetan society was occupied by mainland Chinese putting most of Tibetans into poverty. Such society ultimately led Tibetans, native peoples, to do things in Chinese style lest if they don’t want to sustain their lives. Those desperate situations fulfilled communist party’s objectives of eradicating Tibetan’s identity in terms of social life where many of Tibetans must need to sink into Chinese style and tradition if wanted to engage in unprecedented new social structure.

In order to enhance this promotion of sinicization in Tibetan society, the government also introduced the policy of intervention in educational and religious atmosphere.

In order to extend Communist Party’s influence over Tibet and building patriotic emotions among Tibetans towards the authoritarian government, the Party targeted new generation of Tibetans whose parents were already dissolved into new society where Chinese and Tibetans coexist.

Those older generations who experienced the violation of their culture and traditions were severely penalized if tend to educate their offspring about these incidents. The responsibility of educating younger generations were completely lies on the schooling system which of course was structured with propaganda and infilling sense of nationalism as well as patriotism toward Communist China. Inside the schools and universities, the subject were Chinese oriented history and politics which was taught in Mandarin.

According to reports of central Tibetan Administration “two models of education system were introduced in schools in Tibet. In the first model, all major subjects are taught in the Tibetan language and not Chinese.

When this model was introduced in Sichuan province, attendance at the primary level was high. But the numbers dropped considerably at the middle-school level for a practical reason: Employment opportunities required good command of the Chinese language.

In the second model, all subjects are taught in the Chinese language and not Tibetan. In this case, 95% of books and reading materials are in Chinese and just 5% are in Tibetan.

The shortage of literature in Tibetan is a clear sign of discriminatory policy of the PRC toward the Tibetans.”

It was made mandatory to teach lessons in Chinese medium all over the China especially the regions like Tibet, Uighur and Inner Mongol to genocide their original language and traditions.

In order to create uniformity for avoiding differences which Party looked as a threat to it’s power and integrity, the regional and local identities were dismissed into extinction. As for Tibetans, Buddhism plays a vital role in the society since from the 7-8 century.

The priest were highly respected and often took advices from monks in dealing with any sorts of difficulty by lay persons. Common joes and janes always follow after the monastic community in every turns throughout the history since from it’s introduction in Tibet. Hence, the tricky part is if you diverge this monastic community towards east, the common peoples will turn to east or if you diverge them to west, the common peoples will turn to west.

Thus, directing this monastic community is crucial in terms of changing the mindset of peoples which often headed by Lamas or head priest. In terms of recognizing reincarnations of head Tibetan Buddhist’s Lamas like the Dalai Lama, important chiefs from the respective monasteries tours across Tibet in search for next Lama.

The process through which reincarnated Buddhist masters, known as “tulkus,” are discovered is not though uniform among the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

But generally, through dreams, signals, and other clues, senior monks identify candidates from a pool of boys born around the time the previous incarnation died.

After 2000s, Chinese government begins to intervene in this process of choosing reincarnation as for their tools to access control over Tibet’s monastic community when they saw their previous efforts of eradicating religion from the surface of religious Tibet as a fruitless attempt.

Though, intervention inside religious affair wasn’t a new method for Chinese government as they notoriously appointed their own Panchen Lama by abducting the real one chosen by the Dalai Lama.

Yet, since from early twenty first century, they rather decided to position officials inside the monasteries to peek on and monitor their activities unprecedently. Religious centers were politicized as a tool to draw Tibetans towards government’s intended direction.

Personally, I am much surprised to see a priest eating meat or drinking liquor anywhere. But I will never be surprised if even a head priest of a monastery inside somewhere in Tibet told me to kill a so called separatist if it benefits the Chinese administration.

Such is the level of extreme brainwash and politicization of religions inside Tibet. The Dalai Lama, famously known as the Tibetan spiritual leader as well as respectfully considered a widely known representative of Buddhist around the globe holds an immense respect and devotions from the Tibetans both inside and outside the Tibet. For that, an atheist China saw an opportunity what if they appoints the very next Dalai Lama like they did to Panchen Lama.

If such appointment happens, communist regime holds a wheel of the bus and can drive whichever direction it wanted to. This could enable them to not just a sinofication of Tibet, but also a sinofication of global Buddhism. Thus, who holds the power of selecting reincarnation of current Dalai Lama became a heated topic.

In nut shell, penetration of large Han population inside Tibetan territory, infiltration inside monastic life, and intervention in educational system could led to the assimilation of Tibetan into communist people of Han ethnic resulting a complete sinicization of Tibet as per the wills of Chinese Communist Party.

Either these attempt be policy or be intentional cultural genocide, the truth reality of current atmosphere in Tibet wasn’t the same as that of few decades ago in past. The consequences of such brutal policy is vividly visible inside Tibet at current situation. According to Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) on 2018, there were almost 7.5 million Chinese residing in whole of Tibet’s area which is one and half million more than the actual native Tibetan population inside the Tibet. Moreover, 45 percent of Tibetan population alone from TAR region dwell in the mainland China, thanks to the easier movement enabled by highest altitude railway of the world and other means of transportation.

Let alone the exchange of population movements and changes in demographic, because of government’s sinocentric guidelines in educational sector, almost every schools and colleges in the cities of Tibet were Mandarin in medium except for the Tibetan language class. From 2010s, even elementary and kindergartens are now teaching in Mandarin due to the educational policies of regional government as per the Human Rights Watch research. Such drastic change occurred a dramatic change in the choice of young Tibetans linguistic option. Presently, new generations of younger Tibetan prefer more in Mandarin as it provides better scopes in their livelihood.

There is great concern amongst elderly Tibetans inside Tibet as their children’s utility of Mandarin day in day out. Many of younger generation indeed don’t see any occupational opportunities if only relied on Tibetan at current scenario of Tibet. Hence, the adoption of Mandarin also prevailed inside the schools of countryside which left many of Tibetans in anxious around the globe.

In case of religious sphere, independent philosophies of Tibetan Buddhism was also begins to mixed with State’s ideology. Currently, the representatives of Tibetan Buddhists in the National Bureau of Religion in China were all Communist Party’s member which gives the Party a direct control over the appointments and regulations of Tibetan Buddhism affairs.

Though, involvement of State in religion sphere is yet not completely effective as it has been on demographic and educational sphere, recently, it was persistently given significance as a State’s objective to be accomplished in a near future by Xi’s government.

In gist, the massacre of Tibetan culture, linguistic and religion are all partially conducted and soon it will be extinct in a near future.

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