Oct 08, 2020

Tibet: President of CTA Recalls Quest for Autonomy on Anniversary of Annexation

On the 70th anniversary of the the annexation of Tibet by China, Lobsang Sangay - the head of the Tibetan Government in exile - highlighted that, seven decades later, Tibet is still fighting for autonomy. In an interview to DW, Lobsang Sangay reminded that despite human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party, Tibet has never renounced its commitment to nonviolence principles. " [...] for the last 60 years, we are still standing on our feet and we are still pursuing non-violence as our principle and genuine autonomy as our goal. So we are still here", he said.


Sangay said the anniversary of the annexation means "the destruction, the illegal occupation and the violent take-over of the Tibetan people". China started annexing then-de facto autonomous Tibet in October 1950, when the People's Liberation Army captured the border city of Chamdo. The 14th Dalai Lama formally accepted the so-called 17 Point Agreement in October 1951, which promised regional autonomy.

The Tibetan government in exile, called the Central Tibetan Administration, was formed in 1959. Based in India, it is elected by the Tibetan diaspora and refugees. It rejects the 17 Point Agreement and maintains that Tibet should be an autonomous nation, and seeks what it calls "the middle way"

In light of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the strategic importance of Tibet to China has gained more attention over the last years. China is reportedly planning to spend more than 1 trillion yuan ($147 billion / €125 billion) on infrastructure in the region, including major rail and road projects. "The railway line brings more Chinese to Tibet and takes more natural resources from Tibet to China. Similarly, the roads mostly connect to our natural resources. The airport also brings more troops, more Chinese."

"This is an assimilation drive. So, yes, they talk about development. The question is, who benefits? And primarily Chinese people benefit from development projects in Tibet."

In addition to domestic persecution of minorities, the Chinese Communist Party is also exporting repressive policies beyond its borders, leading client states such as Pakistan and Laos to undertake extreme repression against their national minorities as an indirect result of massive Chinese investment as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. In this context, the UNPO XV General Assembly has adopted a resolution supporting these peoples fundamental rights and freedom of speech, conscience and religion. The extreme use of force against these communities, which in a number of cases has involved imprisoning large numbers of people, is a trend that has been accelerated in recent years.