by Sonia Morland
China’s vice-president Xi Jinping declared in a speech in Tibet on 19th July that he would persist with the “fight against separatist activities”. Visiting Tibet to mark the sixtieth anniversary of Tibet’s communist takeover, Xi explained that he would ensure soldiers and law enforcement departments continued to crack down on separatists.
This announcement was, in part, a response to the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the US, where he had been welcomed by President Obama. Speaking in Lhasa, in front of the Dalai Lama’s traditional seat, Xi called on Tibetans of all ethnic groups to work together for a better future. In his speech, Xi claimed, “The people of all ethnic groups in Tibet are chanting merrily to express their happiness and joy.” This comes in contrast to the events of 2008, in which Tibetan demonstrations, commemorating the failed 1959 rebellion against Chinese forces, turned violent, and the Tibetan government’s (currently in exile) accusation that the Chinese government encourages migration to Tibet in order to reduce the percentage of ethnic Tibetans. China denies this, maintaining that a mere 3% of permanent residents in Tibet are ethnically Chinese.
Xi credited China with bringing “economic and social development” to Tibet and made repeated references to Tibet’s “ethnic unity”. In saying that ethnic minorities and Han Chinese “cannot live without each other”, Xi emphasised the Chinese government’s continued opposition to separatism in Tibet.
Sonia Morland is an intern at the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism
‘Visiting VP warns Tibet’s Monks Against Separatism’ (Tibetan Review, July 25, 2011)
‘Tibet to Embrace Brighter Future Under Leadership by the CPC’ (China Daily, July, 18, 2011)
‘Dalai Lama and Obama Meet to Talk about Tibet’ (July 16, 2011)
‘China Bans Foreigners from Tibet Regions’ (Huffington Post, April 22, 2011)