The Chinese government has expressed concern about the Central Tibetan Administration’s visit to Canada’s House of Commons. An embassy spokesperson referred to the delegation as a Tibetan “government-in-exile” – a separatist group.
“China requires Canada to immediately stop interfering in China’s domestic affairs over Xizang (Tibet)-related issues, while damaging the stability in Xizang, and to stop providing support and a platform for separatists on which to carry out their anti-China separatist activities,” said the spokesperson for the embassy — “or China will be compelled to respond accordingly.”
On May 5, led by Penpa Tsering, the Tibetan administration appeared in front of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to discuss political and human rights issues in the China-controlled autonomous region.
“As the leader of the organization, Tsering is a downright anti-China separatist whose purpose of visiting is to sell the idea of Tibet independence and advance the internationalization of Tibet-related issues,” the spokesperson said. “In essence, he is engaged in anti-China separatist activities.”
The issues discussed by the CTA were more deeply rooted than separation. It reiterated that its fight was for freedom of language and the salvation of the Tibetan culture.
“When Xi Jinping came into power, the little freedom for language enjoyed by the Tibetans was demolished as he imposed One China Policy under which there was no room for the practice of language and culture other than the Chinese language and culture,” Tsering said in a statement.
Along with a request for the protection of its language and culture, the Tibetan administration also appealed to the committee about the long-standing case of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet who has been missing for 27 years. The Panchen Lama is the second highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism and was appointed to the position at 6-years-old.
He has since been held prisoner, although the Chinese government insists that he is in protective custody.
“The Chinese government always says that he is healthy and hearty and he doesn’t want to be disturbed,” Tsering said. “So at least if there is some evidence of whether he’s alive or not, that would be soothing for the Tibetans.”
The Central Tibetan Administration requested that Canada’s ambassador to China should meet with the Panchen Lama in order to guarantee his well being. They also want the Panchen Lama to be recognized as a victim of enforced disappearance and as someone who has been denied human rights.
The Panchen Lama has been described as the world’s youngest political prisoner, but the embassy spokesperson dismissed this claim, stating that the 11th Penchan Lama, who is now in his 30s, is just a regular Chinese citizen living an average life.
“Xizang’s (Tibet’s) affairs are purely China’s domestic affairs that allow for no interference from the outside,” the spokesperson said.
This wouldn’t be the first time Canada has intervened in China-related issues.
Canada-China relations have been turbulent for a few years now due to issues surrounding the imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The Canadians were taken prisoner in China in retaliation to Canada’s part in the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to the United States.