Tibetans inside Tibet were reportedly forced to watch Xi Jinping’s three-hour speech, which railed against separatism
The most important political event in China has concluded with an emboldened President Xi Jinping issuing veiled threats against Tibetans and other nationalities who seek to “separate” from China.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Beijing between 18 and 24 October. According to many China analysts, the National Congress has left Chinese President with more power than any Chinese Communist Party leader since Mao Zedong after his name and political ideology were incorporated into the constitution of the Chinese Communist Party.
From a Tibetan perspective, a notable aspect of the National Congress was Xi Jinping’s opening speech, in which the President and CCP General repeatedly emphasised “security and stability”. According to one count, Xi used variations of this phrase 56 times.
He also warned against what he called “separatism”. In one section of the speech he stated:
We will never allow anyone, any organisation, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China.
In another he added:
We will resolutely safeguard the national sovereignty and territorial integrity and will absolutely not tolerate the tragedy of the country’s split.
A blueprint for the future
The speech, which lasted for over three hours, was entitled “Secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era”. Among its many themes, the speech outlined how the CCP would guide China’s economy, culture and morality.
In remarks likely to have a direct effect on Tibetans, Xi stated that Chinese culture must be revitalised, with “erroneous” ideology opposed and religion that is “Chinese in orientation” promoted and guided by the CCP.
Religion in Tibet is already tightly regulated, with monks and nuns required to practice their faith within set boundaries and religious institutions subject to regular state interference to ensure their loyalty to the CCP.
As part of the security measures around the National Congress, the Tibet Autonomous Region was closed to outsiders on 18 October, a measure that will continue until the 28th.
Tibetans inside Tibet have noticed an increased military presence across the country, along with added restrictions on the internet including social media.
Local sources have added that students, including children in kindergarten, were forced to watch Xi Jinping’s lengthy address. Patients in hospital and prisoners were also required to watch the speech. Although online comments were banned during the address, an online “clap” was created to allow online viewers to applaud during the speech, should they feel the urge to do so.
The National Congress of the Communist Party of China takes place every five years. During each National Congress, CCP members are selected for China’s most powerful decision-making bodies, the Central Committee and the Politburo Standing Committee. It is also the forum to review the CCP’s Party Constitution.
The 19th National Congress has been seen as particularly significant. Over 2,000 delegates were present in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People where they unanimously passed an amendment enshrining "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" in the party constitution. The resolution stated that these thoughts must be adhered to as part of China’s future development.
The National Congress also saw Xi consolidate his power by elevating his allies to the Politburo Standing Committee.
These developments have significantly strengthened Xi Jinping’s position since 2012, when he became the CCP General Secretary and leader of China. He has since gone on to become one of the most dominant rulers in post-war Chinese history.
Among Tibetans he is associated with a range of human rights abuses, including the brutal crackdown of protests and intensified interference with Tibet's religion and culture.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch
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