China’s effort to annihilate Tibetan Culture and Identity


The efforts of forced assimilation of Tibetans have escalated to a much grimmer level now as China has begun targeting children of early age to replace the centuries-old local culture, values and teachings with the communist ideology. Parents are forced neither to make their children believe in religion nor engage in religious activities   Also, school-going children are forced to stay in state-run boarding schools, where only curriculum is taught only in Mandarin while the study of Tibetan language, history and culture is withdrawn. All this has led to condemnation from the international community.

In a recent move, Chinese authorities have sent parents a letter asking them not to teach children not to believe in religion. The letter directed them to adhere to the ruling China Communist Party’s (CCP) principle of separation of education and religion. “No one, especially children under the age of 18, should be submitted to religious education… Educating minors not to believe in religion is an obligation for both schools and parents,” reads the letter received by parents in Yushu City of Tibet. 

It even demanded that parents should educate their children not to enter places of religious activities for the healthy and better future of the children. Schools in Tibet are already holding indoctrination camps to inculcate CCP’s ideology among students. China’s endeavour of forced assimilation has separated over a million Tibetan children from their parents. The US has announced new visa restrictions against Chinese officials who are behind the forced assimilation of Tibetans.  

Beijing government attempted to send Tibetan students into state-run boarding schools, far away from their homes. So Tibetan culture and language can be erased from their lives and further indoctrinated with the CCP ideology.    Tibet Action Institute said even children of 4- and 5-year-olds are forced to the boarding schools, which Beijing was using as an “insidious tool” to drive Tibetans to adopt a homogenous, patriotic Chinese identity in order to eliminate challenges to the communist regime. 

In 2018, the Beijing government tried to impose a ban on Tibetan students indulging in religious activities. However, it did not bear the sought result, as per the Central Tibet Administration, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.  So, China has been resorting to different policies to achieve the goal of exterminating Tibetan ethnicity or culture. China uses the phrase “Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” to garner support for its ethnic assimilation activities.

United Nations (UN) has slammed China for trying to undermine Tibetan religious, linguistic and cultural identity.  UN’s special rapporteurs said China barring students from religious activities contributed to their assimilation and erosion of their identity. “We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards,” they said.    

China is forcing existing Tibetan schools to change the medium of instruction to only Chinese, failing to which they face a shutdown.  Tsering Passang, a Tibetan parent who lives in London, said the separation of children from their parents was a violation of Article 9 of the UN Declaration. “The forced residential schooling of Tibetan children in Tibet is a deeply personal tragedy for parents who witness their families torn apart and their cultural heritage systematically erased,” he said. 

Tibetan educational sociologist Gyal Lo said “The Chinese government is tearing families apart and forcing these vulnerable children to become strangers to their own Tibetan culture.”  US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged China to “end the coercion of Tibetan children into government-run boarding schools and to cease repressive assimilation policies in Tibet.” The Czech Republic too has opposed the ongoing indoctrination of Tibetan children at early ages and attempts to enforce allegiance to the rule and the ideology of the CCP.

Beijing government’s efforts to build a single Chinese national identity by eradicating Tibetan and other ethnic identities are going to have far-reaching consequences. “It is relatively easier to brainwash school students and minors as their religious perception is in the naive stage. However, once it is achieved, it will create a pro-CCP and anti-religious generation and will last forever,” said a person close to the developments.

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