Chinese government treats diplomats to Tibet tour in run-up to rights review


Visit aimed to portray Tibetans enjoying human rights and freedom, expert says.

Chinese government treats diplomats to Tibet tour in run-up to rights review

Diplomats from authoritarian countries that are China’s closest allies visited the Potala Palace (shown) in Lhasa, capital of Chiuna’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

The Chinese government hosted a group of U.N. ambassadors who visited Tibet on an arranged tour before the international body conducts a review of Beijing’s human rights record in 2024, Tibetan experts on the region said.

Diplomats from authoritarian countries that are China’s closest allies – Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Belarus and Pakistan – visited the far-western region on Aug. 28-30, photos posted on the social media platform X, formerly called Twitter, show. 

“All members in the group visiting Tibet belong to an authoritarian nation that is economically dependent on China to a large extent,” saidTenzin Dawa, director of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

“And since the U.N. member states are set to publicly examine China’s human rights record in early 2024 as part of a review process at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, this visit arranged by the Chinese government is clearly aimed at portraying a Tibet where China believes Tibetans enjoy human rights and freedom,” she said.

The trip came amid growing criticism of China’s policies in Tibet, where authorities restrict Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity. Tibetans frequently complain of discrimination and human rights abuses by Chinese authorities and policies they say are aimed at eradicating their national and cultural identity.

The diplomats visited the Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and a secondary school in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

“We appreciate the visit to the secondary school no. 8 in Lhasa, Tibet, #China,” tweeted Juan Antonio Quintanilla Roman, permanent representative of Cuba in Geneva, after the visit. “We confirm that education is a priority for the government There, more than a 1,000 students receive quality preparation in subjects such as science, art, language, while preserving Tibetan culture.”

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council will scrutinize China’s human rights records during the body’s fourth Universal Periodic Review of China in Geneva, Switzerland, in early 2024.

Cuba and Pakistan are current members of the 47-member council, but their terms expire at the end of this year. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Belarus are not members. Nevertheless, as close allies, Beijing expects the countries to support it in the face of likely accusations.

Tenzin Lekshey, spokesman for Central Tibetan Administration said the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, has repeatedly urged U.N. representatives and foreign journalists to visit Tibet on their own terms to see China’s repression firsthand.

“But the Chinese government organizes these carefully choreographed visits aimed at hiding repression in Tibet, so it has become very difficult to learn about the actual reality,” he told Radio Free Asia. 

In May, U.N. human rights experts expressed concern that allegations of mandatory vocational training programs and labor transfer in the Tibet Autonomous Region could affect the human rights of Tibetans, similar to the situation with Uyghurs in Xinjiang, RFA reported.

The United States in August said it would impose visa sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the forced assimilation of more than 1 million young Tibetan children into state-run boarding schools. 

The coercive policies aimed to eliminate Tibet’s distinct linguistic, cultural, and religious traditions among younger generations of Tibetans, the U.S. said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin rejected the move and said the sanctions were based on “fabricated lies on Tibet in disregard of the facts.”

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

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