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Erasing Tibet From the World Map: China's Nomenclature Aggression

Beijing is seeking to erase Tibet from the global stage under the guise of academia, using cherry-picked scholars to promote the renaming of Tibet as "Xizang."



The 7th Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies organized by Beijing. (CGTN Screenshot)

The Chinese Communist Party leadership has acquired a new vile passion to wipe off Tibet from the people's memory and the world map. To this effect, in order not to invite the international community's ire, it used the Chinese and foreign academicians' shoulders to shoot the gun. 

China organized the 7th Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies in August. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) notes that the official China News Service reports that the "seminar was attended by more than 320 scholars, including over 40 from outside mainland China." 

Whatever the outcome, the fact is that the Chinese academicians' discussions on how the word "Tibet" is "misleading" and how it should be replaced by "Xizang" are widely circulated in China. Their so-called justifications of the Chinese boarding schools for Tibetan children are also being reported throughout the country.

This paper will examine why the CCP is after this renaming game to eliminate Tibetan identity. It will also explain how continued international silence will embolden China's wolf warrior diplomacy to jeopardize peace and stability around the world with impunity.

First of three parts

Second part: What is Tibet?
Third part: Remember Tibet and Make China See that Democracy Is Inevitable

Why 'Tibet' to 'Xizang'?

Even after more than seventy years of brutal occupation and forced indoctrination, Tibetans have remained resilient. The Tibet issue is still alive and robust in international forums. 

China recognized the strong Tibetan identity rooted in language and religious culture. It also realized how Tibet's status as a distinct land serves as a unifying force challenging China's efforts to gain full control over Tibet through its Sinicization policy. 

The past few years, global commotion and instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic followed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine have kept the world preoccupied. China took full advantage of this opportunity and unleashed cultural revolution-like repression in Tibet and other occupied regions. 


Trail of Destruction

Beijing has destroyed Tibetan monasteries, religious statues, prayer wheels, and flags. It has closed down Tibetan schools and forced Tibetan children into communist boarding schools. The Chinese authorities have taken DNA samples of Tibetans without their consent. These atrocities have happened and are still happening even now. 

China has gained full control over Tibet and the Tibetans physically through its ignominious brutal measures. But the Tibetan spirit of freedom has not been vanquished.

China's fierce propaganda portrays old Tibet as a cruel feudal polity and His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a demon. However, Beijing has not won the moral authority and trust of the Tibetans, which it needs to rule Tibet. China has now adopted cartographic and nomenclature aggressions to distort and rewrite history to go along with its false narrative and assertions.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, India on March 26, 2023. (©The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by Tenzin Jamphel)

Erasing Tibetan Identity and Culture 

Wang Junzheng is popularly known as "the butcher of Xinjiang Uyghurs" for his brutality in the region. He is among the party leaders pushing the policy to replace "Tibet" with "Xizang" in all official documents. Wang became the Party Secretary of the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region in October 2021. Since then, he has unleashed the policy to eradicate Tibetan identity and culture, even banning the usage of the word "Tibet." 

Wang ordered the government offices and media to use "Xizang" instead of "Tibet" in all official documents and communications. The aim of this is to confound the international community and the younger generation about the existence of Tibet as a nation. Wang is among the top individuals on the list of United States' sanctions against Chinese authorities responsible for human rights violations in the Chinese-occupied territories.

Wang Junzheng, the Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region. (CGTN Screenshot)

A Closed Symposium

Judging from the proceeding of the 7th Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies held on August 14-16, it was a closed symposium. The purpose of the symposium was to further the policy to erase Tibet from the world. It was also to extol developments in the region to legitimize the communist occupation of Tibet. 

The policy was presented as if the inspiration for it came from the academicians and scholars attending the seminar. Foreign scholars on China's white list were invited and made accomplices to this heinous conspiracy to virtually abduct Tibet from the world scene. However, Tibetan scholars from India and abroad did not receive any notice or invitations to attend the symposium.    

In the 108th issue of his video news, China analyst Mr Kunga Tashi, based in the United States, said that the Beijing International Seminar on Tibet was first held in September 1991. In the video, he explains that the purpose of the symposium as per its official document was "to expose the true face of the Dalai clique and their dark feudal society and to inform the international community of the CCP's glorious contribution in liberating Tibet and introducing democracy." 

Propaganda Gimmick

Therefore, it wasn't difficult to surmise what the seminar would be about. But how such a purpose or theme is appropriate for an international seminar on Tibetan studies is anyone's guess. Clearly, it is just another propaganda gimmick aimed to mislead and confuse the international community. No wonder the United Front Work Department (UFWD) is frantically publicizing the seminar's outcome through its official WeChat account.

This "Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies" should not be confused with the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) which was first held in 1979 in England. The latest 16th conference was held in 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic. 

Unlike Beijing's symposium, the IATS is an independent body where scholars are free to present their papers and express their opinions. In fact, many say that China instituted the Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies only to challenge the International Association of Tibetan Studies and to circulate its propaganda through pretentious academic and scholarly meetings. 

Continues in part 2: What is Tibet?



Author: Dr Arya Tsewang Gyalpo

Dr Arya Tsewang Gyalpo is the former Secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) and former Director of the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI). He is currently the Representative of the Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia. The view expressed above is the author's own.

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