The Chinese Ambassador to Norway, Zhao Jun, had an article published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on 17 December on Tibet and His Holiness.
Below are two replies to Zhao Jun’s article which was published in the same newspaper on 20 December. The first is my reply and the second is from the Norwegian Tibet Committee’s Acting Chair Grzegorz Odor.
Chungdak Koren, European representative of the Tibetan parliament in exile
18 December 2012
If the Chinese Ambassador to Norway Zhao Jun’s reports on Tibet in his article on 17 December are true, then why is Tibet closed to foreign journalists? Journalists are not allowed to go to Tibet. There are even strong restrictions on foreign tourists. It’s quite strange if the Ambassador believes that Tibetan people are satisfied and happy in Tibet.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama handed over political power to a democratically elected political leader in 2011 and is now only a religious leader of the Tibetan people. The Ambassador’s one sided focus on His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an unsuccessful attack in terms of the political situation in Tibet. In our eyes, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has not done any of the things the Chinese authorities believe he has done, such as a desire for war and the division of China. The exile government wants greater autonomy within China’s territorial boundaries and the Dalai Lama has said he would like to visit China on pilgrimage if the Chinese authorities will accept this. The answer, however, has been negative to his request. What His Holiness the Dalai Lama wishes is peace between the Tibetan and Chinese people and basic human rights. This is what he believes is the basis for stability in the future.
Over 90 Tibetans since 2009 have self-immolated to death as a protest against Beijing, the biggest wave of political self-immolations in modern history. The demand of the self-immolators is more freedom for Tibetans, for the Chinese authorities to respect Tibetan religion, culture and language and His Holiness the Dalai Lama must return to Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a religious leader and has a moderate and pragmatic attitude toward China. He is a key person for a peaceful solution for Tibet. Given the situation, it is a pity that the Ambassador continues to accuse the Dalai Lama for China’s own failed policies in Tibet since the occupation in 1950. It is both unproductive and extremely regrettable.
Seeing is Better than Hearing
Board Chairman, Norwegian Tibet Committee
The Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jun (article of 17 December) must be familiar with the Chinese proverb “Seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times.” It would have had a greater positive effect on China’s reputation if China allowed foreign and Norwegian journalists to travel to Tibet under the Ambassador’s own initiative and recommend the same to the “Norwegian friends.”
Since we are on the reading material we would recommend to the Ambassador the “Tibet report” by Gongmeng Institute from 2009, a progressive think tank founded by Chinese lawyers from Beijing University. They concluded that the cause of the protests in Tibet is China’s failed policies, and that it is inappropriate to continue to blame “foreign powers”.
Unfortunately, Tibet has been totally closed to foreign journalists. Tibetans who have sent pictures of protests abroad have been punished with long prison sentences.