20TH NATIONAL PARTY CONGRESS OF CHINA AND TIBET
Apart from President Xi's unprecedented third term, the session was highlighted by the unceremonious removal of former President Hu Jintao from the dais in front of the world media.
In the run-up to the 20th National Party Congress, there were rumblings about a coup in the People's Republic of China, with the PLA overthrowing the current Xi-led regime. All of this, however, was for naught, as the latter was revealed to be a hoax. The 20th National Party Congress, which took place from the 16th to the 22nd of October, clearly stated that President Xi Jinping is the president of China for an unprecedented third term.
Apart from President Xi's unprecedented third term, the session was highlighted by the unceremonious removal of former President Hu Jintao from the dais in front of the world media. What implications does President Xi's statement have not only for China as a whole, but also for the already oppressed Tibetans in their occupied territory of Tibet?
Prior to the 20th National Party Congress, Tibet, like other occupied territories such as East Turkestan and Southern Mongolia, experienced and continues to experience an unprecedented number of crackdowns. Many experts have pointed out how China and its leadership in Beijing wanted to suppress all humane activities leading up to the Congress through their so-called dynamic zero covid policy.
Tibetans were pushed to commit suicide by self-immolation in Tibet. Even a promising young Tibetan (Tsewang Norbu) in the entertainment industry was forced down this unjustified path. Furthermore, several Tibetans have been persecuted and continue to be suppressed, and the destruction and attack on Buddhism practised in Tibet has reached unprecedented heights, comparable to the dark years of the Cultural Revolution. The use of a bio-security apparatus, which includes the mass collection of DNAs, is now being implemented in Tibet alongside the well-known Skynet-like technological surveillance.
Furthermore, the continued assimilation of Tibetans through the denuding of Tibetan language and the imposition of colonial boarding schools all point to a total disintegration of Tibetan identity in Tibet. Is it possible that Tibetans in Tibet will face a Cultural Revolution-like scenario in which advanced technology, including biological means, will usher in an unanticipated dystopian environment?
Tibet, the 20th National Party Congress and its aftermath:
Since 1959, when Tibetan leader HH the 14th Dalai Lama and several Tibetans were forced to flee Tibet and become refugees, China has held 12 such National Party Congresses. All of this became an arena for undermining, destroying, and nullifying the threat of Tibet separating from China's motherland narrative and becoming legally independent as it once was.
In all of these National Party Congresses, no Tibetan has ever come close to becoming a Polit Bureau member. It is an astonishing fact because, despite accounting for more than a quarter of China's current landmass in terms of territory, their delegation in the party congress, out of a total of 2,296 only accounts for 1.65%, demonstrating Beijing's blatant disregard for the Tibetans.
This year's 20th National Party Congress coincided with Tibet, particularly the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa, being locked down for more than 60 days under the dynamic zero-covid policy. The procedures, manoeuvres, and mode of operation used in Tibet were completely different from those used in the rest of China. The situation in Tibet was so bad that Tibetans risked their lives to share the truth in Lhasa. Tibetans demonstrated how they were denied adequate healthcare, food, and lodging, and instead, videos circulated depicting Tibetans being forced to thank the Chinese Communist Party in cramped quarantine centres.
Even the Chinese stranded in Lhasa began to relent, and they were brave enough to record their thoughts. A video posted by a Chinese resident of Lhasa stated that if the government did not resolve the situation in Lhasa, he would commit suicide. All of this prompted Lhasa vice-mayor Damdul to apologise to the public at first. However, it had little effect on calming things down.
The straw that broke the camel's back was when Chinese migrant workers, along with Tibetans, decided to take the lead in protesting the government. This was the first time in Lhasa since 2008 that such a large-scale protest had taken place publicly. Two things can be analysed here.
The Chinese government's treatment of Tibetans goes beyond apartheid; a new term, if necessary, must be coined to define Beijing's level of marginalisation and discrimination against Tibetans in Tibet. During the 2008 Lhasa riots, guns and other harsh measures were used to quell and suppress the protests led by Tibetans, but now that such protests are led by Chinese, there is clearly a huge difference in terms of handling and dismissing the protesters. As Sakar Tashi points out, if it had been Tibetans, there would have been bloody suppressions long ago.
The Chinese communist government is facing a backlash from their own people. The Hong Kongers appear to be leading this movement, but what is more inspiring is how Chinese on the mainland have begun to realise and have now taken matters into their own hands. The recent protest by a lone man passing through Beijing's Haidan district as a construction worker on October 13th, where protest banners against President Xi Jinping and his zero-Covid policy were unfurled at a bridge, has gripped the nation and its people. "We want food, not PCR tests," says the banner. We want liberty, not restrictions and controls. We want truth, not lies." The incognito protestor has been dubbed "Bridge Man," and he has inspired many Chinese around the world to protest against the Chinese Communist Government.
President Xi Jinping has won an unprecedented third term, but in the process, he has created and engulfed himself in a veil of insecurity, as his speech at the 20th National Party Congress clearly demonstrates. In addition, he has eliminated China's factional politics and is now regarded as the sole decision-making entity. Tenzin Lekshey, the CTA's official spokesperson, stated in his personal capacity during "China 2.0: Under Chairman Xi" that "China's rise emboldened further by Xi Jinping securing an unprecedented third term would in some ways benefit the Tibetans as China, being seen as a responsible nation and leader, would have to abide by international norms." And doing so would contribute to a meaningful resolution of the Tibet-China conflict based on international norms."
However, repression and duress remain at an all-time high in China-occupied Tibet, but the rising tide of protest and unity among Tibetans and Chinese against China's communist party is a hopeful sign that will likely be the key that unlocks liberal changes in China. Eventually, this will lead to the resolution of the Tibet-China conflict, which every Tibetan hopes for.
(Source: Tibet Press)