At the foot of the Potala Palace, a sacred place of Tibetan Buddhism and former residence of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa, around 10,000 people gathered last Thursday (19) in front of a poster by Chinese leader Xi Jinping to commemorate the 1970s of the reorganization of China – annexation of Tibet. Or what Beijing’s official speech calls liberation.
Liberation “from darkness to light, from retardation to progress, from poverty to prosperity, from autocracy to democracy and closure to openness,” said Wang Yang, senior official of the Chinese Communist Party, in a speech to the crowd that accompanied the event. .
The only mention of the region’s most famous representative, the Dalai Lama, was “ethnic discrimination” and “separatist and sabotage activities committed by the Dalai group”.
Long before China came under international pressure over the way it manages the Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan regions, Tibet has been one of Beijing’s diplomatic headaches for decades.
This given the international reach of the voice of Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama (name of the politico-religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism), who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has lived in exile since 1959, date he left China. under pressure, after eight years of communist occupation of the region.
Tibet gained autonomy in 1912, in the midst of the turbulent period of the end of the Qing Empire and the proclamation of the Republic in China, until its reconquest in 1951. It was never a fully state. independent. have a seat at the UN within six years between the creation of the body and re-annexation, “said Ambassador Luiz Augusto de Castro Neves, vice-president emeritus of Cebri (Brazilian Center for International Relations).
With the international debate over Tibet’s independence having been dormant since at least 2008, when activists used the Beijing Olympics to stage mass protests, the Chinese government is now pushing for greater communist assimilation of the region.
“Efforts from all sides must continue to teach the standard forms of the spoken and written Chinese language. We must promote and share the symbols and images of the Chinese nation among all ethnic groups and thus create a source of inspiration for the whole nation. ” Wang said.
The official speech builds on Tibet’s progress over the past seven decades, and the Chinese government has some relevant numbers to present. Data Wang announced in his speech asserts that the region’s life expectancy has increased from 35.5 years in 1951 to 70.1 years today (in China it is 76.9) and that the GDP during the same period rose from 130 million to 190 billion yuan (equivalent to $ 29 billion; China’s GDP is $ 14.3 trillion).
The propaganda clings to the Tibetan past, a theocracy that the government accuses of being “reactionary and barbaric feudal servitude” – in the words of the Chinese politician – which has divided its citizens into classes, the most subordinate n ‘ having no human rights.
On social media, supporters of the regime insist on sharing images of mutilation and corporal punishment promoted by monks at the turn of the last century. Visitors to the Potala Palace, for example, walk around the dungeons where prisoners were tortured by Buddhist leaders.
This past is not denied by the Tibetan authorities in exile, and the Dalai Lama himself, a peace leader, responded to Wang’s speech. “So much distorted information about the past. Of course, no one has argued that the past in Tibet is perfect, no one is saying so. Everywhere there are backward systems,” he said on Thursday as well.
If he has had separatist ambitions in the past, the Dalai Lama has been preaching for years what he calls the middle way, de facto autonomy from Tibet, although under the domination of Beijing. For Alexandre Uehara, professor of international relations at the University of São Paulo, “autonomy is a prospect that is not possible. Independence, in this scenario, is impossible”.
According to the professor, there could have been questions in the past, but today China has the military, economic and political power to impose its interests. “The country has been trying for a long time to avoid separatist and independence movements. Besides Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong too, and he does it firmly, because if he gives up and makes concessions, he signals weakness to others. parts of the territory. “
At the end of July, the current head of the Chinese regime, Xi Jinping, landed in Tibet, during the country’s head of state’s first visit in 31 years, to reaffirm his authority over the region.
Ambassador Castro Neves commanded the Brazilian diplomatic post in Beijing between 2004 and 2008 and was present when the Chinese government, atheist by definition, issued the decree “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism”.
The decree says that all reincarnations of “tulkus”, or Buddhist masters, must be approved by the Communist Party – which came to power as an atheist state and persecuting religions.
The problem is that the Dalai Lama’s succession has become a matter of government.
In 1995, he named a 6-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, number two in the political-religious hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism. Three days later, the boy was arrested by the Chinese government and has never been seen again, being considered the youngest political prisoner in the world.
In his place, the Communist Party named another name, Gyancain Norbu, as the 11th Panchen Lama – then 5 years old, he is now 31.
Now, doubt falls on the religion’s own leader, the current Dalai Lama, who is now 86 years old. “This is the big problem we will have in the Tibet region,” says Neves.
It is not only territorial integrity that is China’s interest in Tibet. Known as the “top of the world” for its extreme altitudes, the region is home to the source of the main rivers of Asia or of its most important tributaries: the Indo, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Irrawaddy, the Salween and the Mekong. According to researchers, they supply 46% of the world’s population in China, India and Southeast Asia.