A 30-year campaign by the Chinese government has sought to erase Tibet and discredit the Dalai Lama through massive propaganda spending, social media influencers, border controls and more, says a new report from the International Campaign for Tibet.
“China’s external propaganda on Tibet: Erasing Tibet to ‘tell a good Chinese story’” is available to read now.
The report details China’s ongoing campaign to reshape the global narrative on Tibet in response to intense criticism of China’s human rights abuses, as well as worldwide support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause.
According to the report, China’s propaganda efforts include:
- Attempting to erase the name Tibet and replace it with the Chinese word “Xizang” to imply that Tibet—a neighboring country that China has brutally occupied for 65 years—is a legitimate part of China
- Taking journalists and diplomats from friendly countries in the Global South on propaganda tours of Tibet while blocking access for Western diplomats and journalists
- Recruiting foreign influencers to spread China’s propaganda on social media while posing as neutral observers or independent “journalists”
- Severely cutting down on the number of Tibetans who escape as refugees to prevent the world from hearing the true story of what China is doing in Tibet
ICT’s report also highlights China’s efforts to undermine the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace laureate and renowned spiritual leader who serves as the public face of the Tibet movement.
These efforts include a smear campaign aimed at falsely portraying the Dalai Lama as a pedophile by spreading a distorted, highly edited video clip of an innocent interaction between him and an Indian boy.
The report traces China’s aggressive propaganda against the Dalai Lama to 1994, when documents at the Chinese Communist Party’s Third National Forum on Work in Tibet crudely referred to attacking the Dalai Lama as cutting the head off the snake of the Tibet movement.
One year earlier, a secret two-day “Conference on the Work of the External Propaganda on the Question of Tibet” recommended “[m]ulti-level and different forms of vivid and lively propaganda” to “eliminate the impact created by the Dalai Clique and the international enemy forces through their distortions and attacks against us … and to win the support and sympathy of the overseas people for us.”
According to the report, after 30 years, that propaganda is only likely to increase in 2024 and beyond.
“China’s external propaganda on Tibet appears set to intensify in the coming years as part of its long-term plan to erase Tibet’s identity and discredit the Dalai Lama globally,” the report says. “With no end in sight to [Chinese President] Xi Jinping’s rule and his directive to ‘tell a good Chinese story,’ China’s external propaganda on Tibet is expected to continue incrementally.”