ICT’s Tibet Roundup—2023 Issue 17 (Oct. 1-15)

ICT’s Tibet Roundup is a twice-monthly compilation of curated news from various sources, including Chinese state media, official Chinese documents, briefings, information reported by Tibetans in Tibet and international commentary on Tibet. The roundup is organized in categories, including law, politics, culture, economics, climate and commentary. The focus is on presenting news and reports with limited analysis and editorializing.


1. Chinese foreign minister’s speech uses ‘Xizang’ for the country name of Tibet

China held its third “Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation” in Tibet with the participation of officials from over a dozen countries, including several sharing borders with Tibet.

Following its strategy of gradual and incremental usage of the Chinese term “Xizang” to replace the internationally recognized country name “Tibet,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his opening speech at the forum on Oct. 5 referred to Tibet as “Xizang” throughout his speech, including replacing the apolitical term Qinghai-Tibet plateau with “Qinghai-Xizang plateau.”

While the Chinese strategy to replace the country name Tibet gradually and incrementally to Xizang has been in implementation since fall 2021, Wang Yi’s speech in his capacity as the Foreign Minister of China should be underlined for the external orientation of the Chinese propaganda work to Sinify Tibet globally.

2. Another propaganda tour for foreign media from the Global South

China International Press Exchange Center took a delegation of around 30 media personnel from 20 countries to Nyingtri and Lhasa in Tibet from Oct. 3 to 8 to “tell the real story of Tibet.” Chinese state media specified media personnel from Pakistan, Nepal, Belarus, Ethiopia, Chile, Vanuatu, Timor-Leste, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia.

Although the remaining countries were not specified, based on precedence, it is most likely that they are politically like-minded and China-aid and loan recipient countries. As part of its foreign policy, China has been attempting for many years to drive countries from the Global South to adopt its model of “people-centered” development and “harmonious development between human beings and nature.”

3. Chinese ethnic affairs meeting signals utilizing literature and art for propaganda and ideology work

China’s State Ethnic Affairs Commission held a party group meeting on Oct. 9 to mobilize and deploy the establishment of “special literary and art classes” toward the goal of building a “strong sense of the Chinese nation’s community, build a shared spiritual home for the Chinese nation” and lay the ideological foundation in society. With the party’s campaign for building a “strong sense of the Chinese nation’s community” in full swing across the whole of Tibet, the Commission’s meeting will almost certainly result in upscaling the propaganda and ideological work on the ground distorting historical, literary, artistic and other cultural works towards the party’s goal of imposing a unified Chinese national identity across Tibet and beyond.

Pan Yue, secretary and director of the Party Leadership Group of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, presided over the meeting where implementation measures were discussed, emphasizing the in-depth study of Xi Jinping’s cultural thoughts embedded in the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The party expressed its commitment to thoroughly studying Xi Jinping’s cultural thoughts and implementing them to guide ideological and cultural propaganda work in ethnic work.

4. Tibetan language classes banned in Kardze

In early September 2023, the Bureau of Education of Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture issued a notification forbidding Tibetan language classes from primary to high secondary schools in the prefecture, according to a report by Tibet Watch on Oct. 10. This follows a notice issued earlier in March, which banned Tibetan language classes from all middle schools in Kardze.

Tibet Watch reported that the ban has had a significant impact on Tibetan teachers in the region. Tibetan teachers proficient in Mandarin have been assigned to teach classes in Chinese, while those without the Chinese language skills have been marginalized into unemployment. Some teachers have been forced to search for teaching jobs in neighboring Ngaba (Aba) County, while others have considered starting small businesses.

Students graduating from high school in Kardze this school year will be the last graduates to have ever studied the Tibetan language in school. They will take their final examinations at Ngaba Nationality Senior High School in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.

The ban on Tibetan language classes in Kardze is a major setback for the preservation of Tibetan culture and language. It is also a violation of the rights of Tibetan people to learn and use their own language.

5. Indoctrination campaign for ‘Three Consciousness’ in full steam

The indoctrination campaign for the “Three Consciousness” is being carried out in-depth and in full swing across Tibet, and the phased results have been achieved, according to a Chinese state media report. The party defines the “three consciousness” as “national awareness, citizen awareness, and rule of law awareness.” State media reported that the Party Committee of the Autonomous Region attaches great importance to the indoctrination of Tibetans and has promoted the work at a high level, making all relevant departments at all levels act quickly and systematically and carry out in-depth propaganda across the society to achieve the objectives.

While the state media reported on the various forms of the indoctrination campaign being carried out across Tibet with examples from Lhasa and Nagchu, the “education” campaign in Ngari (Ali) is quantified as 651 indoctrination sessions for “people of all ethnic groups, reaching an audience of 40,959.”

6. National defense propaganda work in frontier region

Chinese state media on propaganda activities on national defense and patriotism in Nyingtri, the frontier region between India and China that is a long-standing border dispute, reported that the Zayul Rongmed (Xiachayu) town government in Zayul (Chayu) County in Nyingtri (Linzi), along with the central primary schools and the garrison troops, jointly launched national defense propaganda in the schools in the town. The propaganda exercise included indoctrinating the children about the “heroic deeds of the ancestors who were not afraid of sacrifice and tenacity in the War of Walong” in reference to the Indo-China battle at Walong in 1962. According to the state media report, the young people were guided to “inherit and carry forward the fine tradition of ‘carrying guns and hoeing to guard the border, defending the plow and sword, and revitalizing the border.’”

Although it did not carry martial tones in its propaganda, large propaganda activities were also carried out in Medog County, another sensitive area in Indo-China relations, on the theme to “work hard to strengthen national defense and move forward courageously towards rejuvenation.”

7. Making rural Tibetans adopt Chinese language

Implementing the policy of “building a strong sense of the Chinese nation’s community,” a village work team stationed in Choechok Village in Nagchu organized a series of activities to propagate “Regulations on the establishment of the model district for national unity and progress in the Tibet Autonomous Region,” aimed to force the villagers to adopt the Chinese language among the herders.

Similarly, village work teams of Gertse (Gaize) town in Ngari (Ali) organized a “little hand holding big hand” approach to organize Chinese classic recitation for teenagers and parents, and a “Sing a Red Song for the Party” singing competition for the Tibetan villagers to “inherit China’s excellent traditional culture and promoting the red spirit.”

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