On 26 July, The Telegraph published an article entitled “Tibet is a better place than it used to be” written by China’s Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming. (Click here to read the article via The Telegraph‘s website).
Those who know about the Chinese government’s continued repression in Tibet would not be surprised that a diplomat representing the Chinese Communist Party would write such a blatant piece of propaganda, criticising the Dalai Lama and claiming Tibetans are “masters” of their own land. However, many people are not aware of the current crisis in Tibet.
That The Telegraph published such outrageous misinformation gives credibility to what is effectively Chinese government propaganda under another guise. Without being contested, such “journalism” sets a dangerous precedent. The Telegraph, and all media outlets in the free world, need to be aware of the insidious nature of the Chinese government’s propaganda machine, especially when it comes to Tibet. If they want to publish such material it should only be done if counter-balanced with the views of the bona-fide representatives of the Tibetan people, such as the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. or indeed the Tibetan people themselves
Given that The Telegraph was unable to verify any of the ‘facts’ in the article, as China has banned all foreign journalists from visiting Tibet, ultimately, the article should not have been published.
Two weeks after publishing the article, and after a series of letters by Tibet support groups, The Telegraph published a letter by Thubten Samdup, the Dalai Lama’s UK representative, which is copied below in full (click here to view on The Telegraph‘s website).
As Thubten Samdup rightly points out, if Tibet is such a wonderful place to visit and Tibetans are living harmoniously under Chinese rule, why is Tibet currently closed to tourists and journalists? Why have humanitarian agencies been refused access? And why are Tibetans continuing to protest in the streets, and some even taking the drastic step of self-immolating? These are questions the British government needs to be asking of Liu Xiaoming and his employers in Beijing.
You can question the Chinese Ambassador. Ask him why China proclaims peace and harmony but keeps Tibet under wraps?
Address: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Embassy, 49-51 Portland Place, London W1B 1JL.
Note: The Embassy occasionally disables this email address (and your email is returned). If that is the case please try firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.
Tibet should be opened to humanitarian groups
(The Telegarph, 9 August 2012)
SIR – I was perplexed to read the vivid travelogue (telegraph.co.uk, July 26) by Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to Britain, on Tibet, which is a region currently closed to both tourists and humanitarian agencies. As a Tibetan living in exile from my homeland, the irony of this piece is especially bitter.
The ambassador’s descriptive account of the region’s many historical sites, standing in evidence of the centuries-old inter-cultural exchanges between Han Chinese and Tibetans, is indeed true and owing to a shared Buddhist faith.
However, the bold statement that life in Tibet is better than ever for Tibetans glaringly omits mention of a strident Tibetan struggle, and its recent response to a bolstered Chinese military presence in the region.
This idealised account comes on the heels of a 17-month-long upsurge of intense protest inside Tibet. In addition to ongoing street demonstrations, the region has witnessed a massive wave of tragic self-immolations, carried out predominantly by Tibetan youths – 40 deaths at last count. These upheavals are reportedly in protest against the Chinese government’s repression of religious freedom, cultural and human rights. Amnesty International has called on the Chinese government to end these repressive practices immediately and respect the right of Tibetans to practise their culture and religion.
The actual situation clearly belies Mr Liu’s idyllic account. If Tibetans inside Tibet are much happier and fare better, and would voluntarily choose to live under the current Chinese system, what then should we make of the extreme tension in the region?
If closed to tourists, at the very least shouldn’t Tibet be open to international non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International and Doctors without Borders? Why aren’t these humanitarian agencies allowed to travel freely and witness the situation first-hand?
Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama