The Guardian, 21 August 2021
All Tibetans should embrace Communist party rule and share the “cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation”, a senior Chinese official has said at an event celebrating 70 years since the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet.
Wang Yang, a member of the politburo standing committee, China’s most powerful political body, made the remarks during a lavish ceremony in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the sacred home of Tibet’s traditional Buddhist leaders.
It comes amid a crackdown on border regions home to ethnic minorities, such as Tibet, and the practice of non-Han cultures and religions.
According to the official state media outlet, the Xinhua news agency, Wang called for increased efforts to ensure all religions in China were “Chinese in orientation”, and said Tibetan Buddhism needed guidance in adapting to socialist society. He said Chinese culture was a bond that fostered togetherness.
“Only by following the [Chinese Communist party] leadership and pursuing the path of socialism, can Tibet achieve development and prosperity,” said Wang, according to Xinhua.
Wang’s comments mirror those he made in 2018 and align with ongoing Chinese government policies of assimilation in ethnic minority regions including Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, where punitive measures have sought to reduce the presence of local languages and cultures often dovetailing with crackdowns on alleged separatist activity.
In Tibet, authorities have jailed and allegedly beaten monks and nuns, subjected villages to political education sessions, jailed people who promoted local languages, enacted mass surveillance, restrictions on daily life and education, and labour programmes.
Authorities have promoted Mandarin in Tibet in what critics say is an attempt to erase culture. Mandarin is used in most Tibetan schools while the Tibetan language is taught as a subject. Similar efforts are under way in Inner Mongolia.
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