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a Culture at the Edge of Extinction
modern history with China offers insight to the future leadership
Tibetan's experience offers insight into the nature of future leadership
Mr. Hu Jintao, former Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region
(TAR), was installed as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist
Party (CCP) at the 16th National Congress of the CCP held in Beijing
November 8-15, 2002. He replaced Jiang Zemin as Chairman of the
Party, and assumed Jiang's position as State President at the National
People's Congress (NPC) in March, 2003.
Mr. Jintao made much of his political reputation during his
four-year tenure as China's Party Secretary of The Tibet Autonomous
Region where he oversaw a brutal crackdown on the Tibetans and the
imposition of martial law in 1989.
An example of China's rising power on the world stage was
demonstrated when the Nobel Peace Prize winning Dalai Lama, Tibet's
spiritual leader in exile, visited Australia in May 2002. For fear
of upsetting deals with the Chinese, prominent Australian leaders
refused to meet with one of the world's great spiritual leaders.
China has had its impact on American freedoms. At the end of President
Clinton's final term, a photographic book documenting the presidency
was contracted for printing in Hong Kong. The Chinese government
confiscated thousands of copies of the book because it contained
a photograph of President Clinton's meeting with the Dalai Lama.
Time magazine was tossed out of China for stories that China viewed
as negative towards the government. This had a chilling effect on
the parent companies, of media organizations, that are trying to
do business in China. For example, when Disney wants to distribute
a movie in China or build an amusement park in Hong Kong, for success
its news holdings carry very little in depth or negative material
For a look at the reality of what relations with China will
amount to it would be wise to talk to a Tibetan. Chinese President
Hu Jintao is the apparent to the seat of power in China. He built
his political career and hard-line reputation as China's man in
Tibet where he enforced a brutal crackdown followed by imposing
martial law against the Tibetan people. In Hu's speeches to business
audiences in the US in June Mr. Jintao's biggest pitch was not the
value of the Chinese market as much as it was China's huge, unprotected
and underpaid and non-benefited work force.
A Brief History Beginning in 1949 and in a violent and escalated
invasion in 1956, the Communist China created by Mao Zedong invaded
and subsequently occupied the country of Tibet. For China this was
the gain of land mass roughly equal to the size of Europe.
its continued occupation of Tibet, Communist China works to wipe
out the culture of Tibet. Communist Chinese have destroyed all but
13 of the 6000 monasteries that made up the higher education and
university system of Tibet. In the process, China took centuries
old artifacts from the monasteries and placed many of them for sale
on the lucrative international art market. Thousands of Tibetans
die while performing forced labor.
to the modern day invasion of Tibet by the Communist Chinese, Tibet
had spent centuries emerging from a feudal history to become highly
developed spiritually and peaceful Buddhist society. The Dalai Lama
is considered by the Tibetan people to be both the secular and spiritual
leader of Tibet. Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama has lived
in India since 1959 where he has formed a government and community
a very elaborate process In the Tibetan Buddhist religion, the current
Dalai Lama was located in the-remote Tibetan village, Takster, at
the age of 4. As a result of an extensive testing and investigation
process, he was recognized by Tibetans as the important reincarnation
in a long series of Tibetan Leaders and thus his title, Fourteenth
In 1989, The Dalai Lama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf
of the Tibetan people for their attempts to find a peaceful resolution
to the conflict with China. For years the Dalai Lama has presented
a peace plan designed to maintain the integrity and autonomy of
Tibetans and their culture while allowing for coexistence with the
Chinese inside Tibet. The government of China has refused to consider
Today Communist China continues to occupy Tibet and nearly 1/5th
or 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed or died from Communist
Chinese policies of imprisonment, torture, starvation and forced
An extensive report on human rights issued by the US government,
in early 2000, reported that human rights in both China and Tibet
have deteriorated further in recent years. Dissidents inside China
report abuses and atrocities that echo reports that have been confirmed
and documented among the Tibetan refugee population.
Torture and sodomy by prison guards with electric prods, handcuffs
that self tighten when prisoners move, food depravation that leaves
prisoners looking for food in their own feces are standard practices
towards Chinese and Tibetan prisoners. Often, prisoners that are
executed by a single bullet to the back of the head. The person
being executed is often strangled with wire and there are reports
that some have had their tongues pulled out with meat hooks to insure
against a final word of defiance. The executed are also reported
to be butchered for organ sales on the lucrative transplant markets.
Equal Opportunity oppressor
Forty years after invading Tibet, the Communist government of China
remains consistent in its repression both in China and in Tibet.
1999, the government began a major crack down on a meditation group
inside China known as Falun Gong. Thirty-five-thousand members were
rounded up in a single sweep and as prisoners were released, familiar
stories of torture (termed "reeducation" in China) emerged.
Also in 1999, China refused to let the Pope appoint Catholic Bishops
and Cardinals. One 80 year old Bishop who disagreed with the government
policy of state appointed clergy simply disappeared. In December
1999 there was word that 11 Tibetans died in a single Chinese prison,
5 of those killed, were Buddhist nuns. In the year 2000, China increased
its efforts to silence, control and shut down religion.
In Dec. 2001, the government began a program of bulldozing churches.
In the first half of 2002, an estimated 19,000 Buddhist practitioners
have been displaced when remote religious enclaves were torn down
and the leaders arrested.
In November 2002, a monk was reported to have died in a Chinese
prison from the results of injuries suffered during years of torture.
In Dec. 2002, two popular monks who advocated a free Tibet were
sentenced to death on terrorist charges. Capitalizing on the events
of 9-11, China has adopted the terrorist label for charging minorities
and dissidents with crimes.
Interviews with refugees in India has revealed that Chinese police
have tortured Tibetan Children as young as 6 years old. A new report
created from these interviews entitled "The
Fabric of Fear" was scheduled for release in December 2000
with release to the UN in 2001 view at http://www.tibetjustice.org .
the complex line of succession of the Dalai Lama, a young boy recognized
as the Panchen Lama may hold the key to locating the next Dalai
Lama. The boy, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, has been detained by the Chinese
since 1996. The Chinese have named their own choice as Panchen Lama.
The boy who was six years old when he was abducted by the Chinese
has not been seen since.
Annually, approximately 1500 - 3000 Tibetans still make a dangerous
journey through the Himalayas to seek asylum in Nepal and India.
Natural elements and the risk of imprisonment if caught by the Chinese
military make escape extremely hazardous. The extreme cold often
leads to severe frostbite and lost limbs.
July 2000, under pressure from the United States the World Bank
denied China $60 million dollars for a resettlement project that
would take China further in its efforts to overrun the Tibetan population
with more Chinese settlers. China is funding the project and has
said it will not be deterred by the West.
China has killed 1/5th of the Tibetan population, many see this
current effort by the Communist Chinese to flood Tibet with Chinese
while adding programs of forced sterilization of Tibetan women as
a continued effort to dilute the native makeup and culture of Tibet
towards complete extinction.
is said to have one of the worst environmental records on the planet
and during the occupation of Tibet, China has extended these very
damaging practices into the landscape of Tibet in the forms of mining,
deforestation, disposal of nuclear waste, water pollution and destruction
of native animal species. It is estimated that 4,000 drowned in
a single flood in 2001 due to the deforestation projects in Tibet.
On the World front, the growth of ChinaÕs economy is fueling a rapid
demand for oil on the world market and increasing investment in
world leaders, including American Presidents, speaking on behalf
of Tibet and the plan put forth by the Dalai Lama have asked Chinese
leaders to open talks directly with the Dalai Lama. While seeking
trade agreements, Chinese leaders have made several promises to
leaders around the world to hold direct talks, but, they have yet
to keep any of these promises.
leaders use the same negotiation techniques and promises to get
favorable headlines when they discuss currency valuation, trade,
labor standards and other human rights issues.
July 2, 2000, the Dalai Lama spoke to an audience on the Washington
Mall estimated at 50,000. For years, he has traveled the world to
raise awareness and financial support in an effort to maintain the
rich culture of Tibet that is often described as the most advanced
spiritual cultural on earth. In Exile, this culture has taken great
steps to outgrow the historic feudal systems.
The Tibetan heritage is being kept alive among the 150,000 refugees
that followed the Dalai Lama to India. A much smaller number of
Tibetans are living in exile through out the world and many work
to help coordinate both political and cultural activities and awareness
efforts on behalf of the Tibetan government and citizens in exile.
At the urging of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile
has been converted to democratically elected leadership.
2000, the United States has voted to normalize trade relations with
China. The debate appears to be split, 50/50, that more trade with
China will either cause China to open itself to more democratic
thinking and freedom or trade will finance more tyranny by the ruling
Communist government against citizens of China and the people of
Government of China has had to face many formal condemnations from
world governments, including the United States, of its occupation
and treatment of Tibet. At the same time the international community
has been short on sanctions or concrete action against China. The
withdrawal of $60 million by the World Bank is much more the exception
than the rule when it comes to the international community standing
behind its words of concern for human rights for Tibetans and Chinese
its advantage, China has made a series of empty gestures toward
any real efforts to float their currency and therefore maintains
an unfair advantage in developing cheap labor. Further, China only
pays lip service to many of the other promises it made to join the
WTO. Meanwhile, through its rapid economic growth, China has risen
to second place behind the US in oil consumption including a 40
percent increase in demand in the last year that has helped drive
the price of oil in the international market.
of Tibetan Lamas and monks are on extended tours and give performances
of Tibetan Culture as it developed and existed for centuries prior
to the occupation of China.
to one tour director, Tenzin Norbu, the intention is to introduce
and preserve original Tibetan Culture that is not allowed to grow
or freely function in occupied Tibet, The tour also openly operates
as a political tool for the Tibetan Government in exile. At the
end of each performance, Norbu presents a brief history and update
on conditions of Tibetans in Tibet and he urges the audience to
take citizen action that will prompt the United States Congress
and the President to apply pressure on China to create more freedom
Norbu pointed out that when the tours started in 1988, few people
attended. Today, several teams of Tibetan Buddhist monks and Lamas
regularly perform to audiences in venues that fill at between 1200
and 2500 seats.
all the Tibetan efforts effective? During the congressional debates
to normalize trade relations with China it was important for congressional
representatives on both sides of the issue to put into the record
that they had the support of the Tibetan Dalai Lama. This was done
in the usual political fashion of neglecting to quote statements
by the Dalai Lama to back their claims of support.
cultural tours and a the work of a tireless but aging leader, Tibet
has the support of human rights organizations. Tibetans present
much of their political case through the "International Campaign
For Tibet". Tibet also has a great deal of celebrity support,
most notably Actor Richard Gere. An annual rock concert created
by the Beastie Boys provides a high profile among a younger set.
has made major motion pictures including "Seven Years in Tibet"
with Brad Pitt, "Kun Dun" by Martin Scorsese. Other movies
that are worth a look include "Windhorse" and the Tibetan produced
gem, "The Cup."
in exile have created several humanitarian, religious, educational
and political support organizations. The best link to Tibet's efforts
on the web can be found at www.tibet.com,
the official Web site of the Tibetan Government in exile. www.savetibet.org is the link to the International Campaign for Tibet which maintains
a very useful link for contacting representatives in the Congress,
Senate and the President. For a concise history on Tibet, readers
can check out "In Exile From the Land of Snows" by John Avedon or
"Tears of Blood" by Mary Craig. In Video, the "A&E Biography" series
offers a video on the Life of the Dalai Lama.
your representatives and the President about your concerns for Tibet
and on trade with China at http://www.congress.org This site offers both free and paid-for services. Most find what
they need for free by clicking "Write Elected Officials" at the
top of the site's home page.
information: Research was conducted from a wide range of sources:
Major news network web sites included but were not limited to: CNN,
ABC, CBS, NBC, C-Span. Special programs included the Congressional
debate on normalizing trade with China, PBS documentary on Nixon
in China and Senate hearings on military security in Asia-Pacific.
A&E Biography of the Dalai Lama. Resources in the web included but
not limited to: The South China/Hong Kong Daily News, www.tibet.com,
www.tibeticlt.org, www.savetibet.org and the Tibet Information Network.
A hard-copy file dating back to April 1999 of approximately 3000
news paper and magazine articles from several publications including
(but not limited to): The New York Times, The Washington Post, The
Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times,
Associated Press Reports, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Snow Lion
Press, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The San Francisco Examiner,
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat and several other publications. Books
included, but not limited to "In Exile From The Land Of Snows" by
John Avedon, "Tears Of Blood" By Mary Craig, and "Whispered Prayers"
by Steven Harrison and "Ethics for the New Millennium" by the Dalai
endorsements or associations are made or implied. Research all organizations
before donating or supporting)