17-year old Tibetan monk arrested after calling for freedom in Tibet

17-year old Tibetan monk arrested after calling for freedom in Tibet
December 21, 2018

CTA, December 15, 2018- A 17-year old monk named Sangay Gyatso was detained by local Chinese authorities on 10 December this year for staging a peaceful protest calling for ‘Freedom in Tibet.’ The protest took place on the main street of Ngaba County town in Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in the Tibetan province of Amdo (Incorporated into China’s Sichuan Province).

10 December is a significant date as it marks the World Human Rights Day and the 29th anniversary of the conferment of Nobel Peace Prize upon His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

According to our sources at Kirti Jeypa monastery based in Dharamshala, Sangay Gyatso carried out the protest shouting slogans calling for “Freedom for Tibet”. The local Chinese police immediately arrived at the protest site, manhandled him and took him away to an undisclosed location. Sangay was severely beaten up before he was detained. Sources said the incident was witnessed by local passersby. His current whereabouts is unknown.

Sangay Gyatso hails from a nomadic family in Soruma village in Choejema Township of Ngaba County. His father’s name is Jekar Soepa and mother’s Wangkho. Sangay is a monk at the local Kirti Monastery and a 9th-grade student of elementary Buddhist studies in the monastery.

The news of two self-immolations in Amdo Ngaba doing rounds cannot be confirmed as of now.

Elderly Tibetans go back to school to learn to read and write

Elderly Tibetans go back to school to learn to read and write
December 21, 2018

Radio Free Asia, December 18, 2018- In a move aimed at improving their command of the Tibetan language, elderly residents of a Tibetan-populated county in Qinghai have launched a series of classes to learn basic skills, a source living in the area says.

The Tibetans, ranging in age from 50 to 80 years old, gather each week in Gatoe town in the Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Tridu (in Chinese, Chenduo) county for classes where they are taught writing and reading.

“There, they start by learning the Tibetan alphabet, beginning their education even at such an advanced age,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Though they all grew up speaking Tibetan, and are strongly familiar with their culture, they had been deprived of a basic education in the language since there were no schools, either state-run or private, in that area to cater to their needs in childhood,” the source said.

That so many residents are taking an interest in mastering the Tibetan language even in their older years is much appreciated by the Tibetan community, the source said.

Tridu county’s Zilkar monastery has now taken the lead in providing resources to support the classes, with senior monks showing “particular interest in promoting Tibetan literacy among the elderly Tibetans,” RFA’s source said.

“The promotion and preservation of Tibetan language and culture is being emphasized in all Tibetan communities, but in reality Tibetans now depend on [Chinese] culture and language for their own survival,” he said.

Writers, singers, and educators promoting Tibetan national identity and culture have frequently been detained by Chinese authorities, with many handed long jail terms, following region-wide protests against Chinese rule that swept Tibetan areas of China in 2008.

Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses often deemed “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, sources say.

On May 22, 2018, a Qinghai court sentenced Tibetan shopkeeper and language activist Tashi Wangchuk, 33, to a five-year prison term for promoting “separatism” following his efforts to preserve and promote the use of his native language in Tibetan-populated regions of China.

The US State Dept. supports reciprocal access to Tibet, and Congress rejects China’s authority to choose new Dalai Lama

The US State Dept. supports reciprocal access to Tibet, and Congress rejects China’s authority to choose new Dalai Lama
December 11, 2018

International Campaign for Tibet, December 4, 2018- The US Department of State supports the goals of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and will take steps to implement the bill if it becomes law, a department official said at a hearing today.

During the same hearing, a US Senator stated that Congress would reject a Chinese-appointed reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.

“I think it’s clear that this Congress would not recognize a Chinese imposition” of a new Dalai Lama, said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who presided today, Dec. 4, 2018, over the hearing titled “The China Challenge, Part 3: Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.”

The hearing brought together members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, as well as representatives from the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mentioning the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, which requires American officials to visit Tibet on a regular basis, Gardner said very few American diplomats have been able to enter Tibet—a historically independent country that China has occupied for almost 70 years—because the Chinese government refuses to give them access, just as it also denies access to Tibet for American journalists and tourists, as well as citizens from around the world.

Gardner asked Laura Stone, acting deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department, what level of access to Tibet her agency has received over the past three years.

While Stone said she would have to look into that and get back to him, she told Gardner that: “I do want to state very clearly that I do understand the Senate is considering the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act. We do want to continue to work very closely with Congress and with your staff with the goal of seeing that Americans do have access to Tibet.”

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act—which takes aim at China’s unfair policy of banning Americans from Tibet, even though Chinese officials travel freely throughout the US—was unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. It now needs to pass the full Senate and be signed into law by President Trump.

The bill requires the State Department to identify the Chinese officials responsible for keeping Americans out of Tibet. The Secretary of State will then ban those officials from receiving visas to enter the US.

Gardner, one of 14 Senate cosponsors of the bill, noted that “Chinese officials who purport to represent Tibet have been freely coming to the United States.”

He asked Stone if the State Department shares the goals of the legislation. She said yes, and when Gardner asked if the department would work to implement the bill, she replied, “Of course.”

According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, when the current Dalai Lama passes away, he will reincarnate as another person.

In a gross subversion of religious freedom, the Chinese government has claimed that it alone has the right to decide who the reincarnated Dalai Lama is.

Along with saying that Congress would reject China’s choice, Gardner asked Stone how the US government would respond.

Stone said the US has a clear position that religious decisions should be made by religious organizations, not by political regimes. She added that there is wide support for that position among the US public.

Stone told Gardner: “The fact that you’re asking that question is an important signal in itself to the Chinese government that this is the kind of issue that we are watching very closely and at very senior levels.”

In addition to Gardner, Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.) all spoke at the meeting in support of the Tibetan people and their struggle for democracy and human rights.

Gloria Steele, acting assistant administrator in the Bureau for Asia at USAID, told the hearing that her agency partners with Tibetans to help them preserve their culture, sustain their livelihoods and conserve their environments.

USAID has helped preserve nearly 7 million Tibetan cultural heritage items; trained teachers in modern methods, benefiting more than 21,000 students at 75 Tibetan schools in India and Nepal; and bolstered the public leadership skills of more than 330 Central Tibetan Administration staff, Steele said.

USAID has also launched a pilot program to help government vendors sustain or grow their businesses through small, low-interest loans.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the program helped more than 800 microenterprises with a 100 percent on-time repayment rate, Steele said.

Tibet youth self-immolates over China’s Tibet policies

Tibet youth self-immolates over China’s Tibet policies
December 11, 2018

Voice of America, December 10, 2018- A young Tibetan man set himself on fire outside a district security office in China’s Sichuan province earlier this month, chanting, “Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama! Free Tibet!”

Tibetan sources say the man, Drugkho, is about 22 years old, and is believed to still be alive, but his whereabouts and his condition remain unclear. He is the latest Tibetan to attempt to self-immolate over repressive Chinese policies in Tibet. Local sources said the incident occurred last Saturday near the Ngaba District security office, but details were scarce.

Whenever there is a self-immolation protest, China typically beefs up its security to try to prevent the news from spreading.
“There has been an immediate lockdown in the area, with internet communications blocked. A Tibetan youth self-immolated on December 8 in the afternoon in Ngaba county, and it is true that it happened, but after the incident any discussion of this is very inconvenient,” RFA Tibetan service and The Tibet Post International reported, quoting sources in Tibet.

Dharamsala-based Kirti Monastery’s spokesman Lobsang Yeshi says no further details were known because of strict restrictions on information flow in the area and dangers to the Tibetans speaking to the outside world.

The protester was a former monk at Kirti Monastery. He was formerly known as Chokyi Gyaltsen, but after he disrobed in 2017, he took the name of Drugkho, according to Tibetan sources.

Ngaba’s main town and nearby Kirti Monastery have been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests in recent years by monks, former monks, and other Tibetans calling for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet. Drugkho’s self-immolation protest is the 42nd such confirmed incident in Ngaba.

Drugkho’s protest brings the total number of self-immolations to roughly 155 in Tibet since February 2009. The majority of those self-immolators have died.

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet receives unanimous support from the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet receives unanimous support from the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee
November 29, 2018

International Campaign for Tibet, November 28, 2019- The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act passed another milestone today, Nov. 28, 2018, when it was unanimously approved by the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Act, which the House of Representatives passed in September, aims to end China’s isolation of Tibet and the Tibetan people from the outside world by calling on the Chinese government to allow American journalists, diplomats and tourists into Tibet, just as their Chinese counterparts are able to travel in the US.

“The unanimous support expressed today by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) once again reflects the widespread concern of the American people for the situation inside Tibet and for the lack of access for US citizens,” said Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet. “We wish to thank in particular the main sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Sen. Rubio, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the SFRC, Sen. Corker and Sen. Menendez, for their steadfast and principled stance in support of reciprocity in US-China relations.”

The Act also highlights the discriminatory process that Tibetan-Americans have to go through at the Chinese Embassy and consulates whey they apply for visas to visit Tibet on pilgrimage or to meet their relatives.

Currently, China heavily restricts Americans (as well as all foreigners) from entering Tibet—a historically independent country that China has occupied for nearly 70 years—even though Chinese citizens are free to travel throughout the US and other democratic countries.

Under the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, the Secretary of State will have to send a report to Congress identifying the Chinese officials responsible for these unfair policies. Those officials will then be denied visas to enter the US until China’s policies change.

In recent years, politicians from both parties have become increasingly outraged at China’s unfair treatment of the US and have demanded that China’s government reciprocate on issues of trade as well as freedom of access for American journalists, diplomats and citizens.

Over the past year, Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters throughout the US have been reaching out to their Members of Congress to ask them to raise the issue of access to Tibet and to support the bill.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and has 13 cosponsors as of Nov. 28, with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently adding their names to the list.

The Senate is now expected to take up the bill.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama stresses the importance of realistic approach for China in dealing with Tibet issue.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama stresses the importance of realistic approach for China in dealing with Tibet issue.
November 29, 2018

Kyodo News, November 21, 2018 – The Dalai Lama urged the Chinese government to take a realistic approach toward Tibet during a speech in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“The Chinese government is starting to recognize that using pressure against Tibetans to deter separation (from China) is useless,” the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said at an event organized by a bipartisan group of parliamentarians. “An approach that corresponds to reality is necessary.”

As he advocated for Tibetan cultural and religious rights, the 83-year-old emphasized that he was not seeking independence for Tibet. His continuous call to give Tibet a high level of autonomy has made China consider him a separatist.

“Tibetans can receive economic benefits by staying in China, and the Han Chinese can receive spiritual benefits through Tibetan Buddhism,” he said, adding that Buddhist teachings have become increasingly popular among the Chinese in recent years.

The event was held in a House of Representative’s office building and attended by around 160 people.

The Dalai Lama will perform a religious ceremony Thursday in the southwestern Japan city of Fukuoka for the victims of a deadly earthquake that hit Kumamoto in 2016 and this year’s series of deadly natural disasters in western and northern Japan.

His last visit to Japan came two years ago. His planned trip to the country last year was canceled on his doctor’s advice.

The current Dalai Lama is considered the 14th incarnation of the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against China’s rule in 1959 and set up a government-in-exile in Dharamsala, northern India.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets All Party Japanese Parliamentary Group for Tibet

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets All Party Japanese Parliamentary Group for Tibet
November 21, 2018

Published By Tenzin Saldon

Tokyo: Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is currently on a ten-day visit to Japan, met Members of the All Party Japanese Parliamentary Group for Tibet at the Japanese Parliamentary Complex on Tuesday. This is the fourth time that His Holiness is being hosted at the Japanese parliament.

His Holiness last visited the Japanese Parliament on 16 November 2016 during which he interacted with 229 parliamentarians from different political parties. The All Party Japanese Parliamentary Group for Tibet is the largest parliamentary group for Tibet in the world.

The Chairperson, Hakubun Shimomura, a Member of the House of Representatives from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party welcomed His Holiness to the Japanese parliamentary complex.

“The world looks up to you Your Holiness for leadership; you are someone we deeply admire. Your advice is for us like the sunshine dispelling darkness. I’d like you to know that we are also working closely with NGOs who support the cause of Tibet. On behalf of us all, I’d like to thank you for coming to our Parliament,” he said, in his welcome remarks.

Vice-Chairperson of the APJPGT, Shu Watanabe, of the People’s Democratic Party, said, “Although he is the leader of the Tibetan people, His Holiness emphasises the importance of considering the welfare of all 7 billion human beings alive today. He stresses the need for greater compassion. He voices a special appreciation of Japan as a technologically highly developed country that has kept its traditional culture and values intact.”

During the meeting, the Parliamentarians voiced strong support for the Tibetan cause and reiterated their commitment towards protecting Tibetan culture, religion, language and Tibet’s ecology. They also expressed enthusiasm in supporting economic and educational development inside Tibet. They stated that they have appealed for the release of Tibetan prisoners of conscience. They urged all nations across the world to defend and support the rights of Tibetans.

The MPs informed His Holiness of the passage of a resolution with regard to Tibet. The resolution of the All Party Japanese Parliamentary Group for Tibet was formally read out in Japanese.

“I appreciate your resolution about Tibet. Over the last 70 years since they occupied the country Chinese hardliners have tried different methods, the use of force, brainwashing and bribery to diminish the Tibetan spirit. But the greater the suppression, the stronger the Tibetan spirit grows,” His Holiness said, addressing the MPs.

“There were all kinds of problems in Tibet before 1959, but there was no intrinsic conflict between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. However, Chinese behaviour has created a rift between the two. Discrimination exists in the administration, schools and even in prisons. The Chinese government proclaims harmony and stability, but their policies completely undermine these goals. They need to be more realistic.

He continued, “On our part, since 1974 we have not sought independence. We are prepared to stay with the PRC, provided we have all the rights we are entitled to. A few years ago, we noticed the existence of a thousand or so articles in Chinese supporting our Middle Way Approach (MWA) and critical of Chinese government policy. Today, there are at least 300 million Chinese Buddhists, many of them educated people with an appreciation of the value of the Nalanda Tradition.

“I tell parliamentary groups who support Tibet in Europe that the more they are able to express concern from their own side about the situation in Tibet, the more it helps Tibetans and raises their morale. It encourages them to know there is support elsewhere in the world. It would be helpful if you were able to go into Tibet on an environmental fact-finding mission, accompanied by ecologists, to see for yourselves how things are. As you know, as the source of great rivers, Tibet’s ecology is crucial to Asian well-being.

Concluding his remarks, His Holiness said, “In India these days I am encouraging young people in particular to revive interest in ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions. It may be ancient, but I believe this knowledge remains essentially relevant today. Japan is a Buddhist country and I’m convinced that if they took more interest in this inner knowledge people here too could cultivate a firm peace of mind.”

Erico Yamatani of the Liberal Democratic Party expressed gratitude to His Holiness for coming to the Parliament. “If we were to heed what His Holiness advises we might be able to achieve peace in the world. I also offer the thought that we must do more research into ways to reverse climate change, keeping in mind the important role of the Tibetan Plateau as the Third Pole.”

General Secretary of the APJPGT, Nobuyuki Baba, of the Japan Innovation Party also addressed the meeting.

China trains carefully chosen Tibetan monks to represent the views of the Chinese Communist Party

China trains carefully chosen Tibetan monks to represent the views of the Chinese Communist Party
November 7, 2018

Radio Free Asia, November 1, 2018- In a new move aimed at bringing Tibetan Buddhist monasteries more closely under the control of the Chinese state, authorities are now grooming carefully chosen monks to learn and represent the views of the ruling Communist Party, a rights group said this week.

The program is part of a campaign of “Sinicization of religion” launched during the first term of Chinese president Xi Jinping, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in an Oct. 30 news release.

Under a “Four Standards” policy introduced this year in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, monks and nuns must demonstrate not only religious learning, but also “political reliability,” “moral integrity,” and a readiness to play “an active role” in blocking Tibetan protests against Chinese state policy, HRW said.

Speaking to RFA’s Tibetan Service, Sophie Richardson—China director at Human Rights Watch—called the new policy an attempt to turn Tibetan Buddhist practitioners into propagandists and “cheerleaders for the regime, which is deeply problematic.”

“I think that if these kinds of policies continue unabated, or if they accelerate, you will see in Tibet what’s already happened in Xinjiang, which is that the practice of [religion] as its adherents understand it and want to practice it will effectively become illegal,” Richardson said.

“I think that Xi Jinping’s goal is to refashion beliefs and institutions and policies and practices in ways that ensure that the Communist Party remains in power, and that he in particular remains in the leadership,” she said.

A new approach

The Four Standards policy follows earlier attempts, deemed largely unsuccessful, to reshape monastic life in Tibet by introducing work teams into the monasteries to conduct political training and by requiring monks and nuns to denounce exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, HRW said.

And later efforts brought in thousands of party cadres to manage the monasteries themselves, the rights group said.

Tibetans attending teachings by the Dalai Lama in India have since been detained for re-education on their return to Tibetan areas of China, and senior monks trained in Indian monasteries have been banned by Chinese authorities from teaching.

“Politics, law and history” are now a required part of the training for senior religious teachers, called Geshes, seeking qualification under Chinese law, HRW said, citing Chinese media reports.

Now, the use of specially trained monastics to promote the views of the party and state may prove more effective than earlier campaigns, China’s Global Times newspaper said in a recent report cited by Human Rights Watch.

“They have a better understanding of the thoughts and habits of their group,” the state-linked paper said.

Canada prepared to stall trade deal with China until its behaviour is ‘more reasonable’

Canada prepared to stall trade deal with China until its behaviour is ‘more reasonable’
October 30, 2018

CBC, October 26, 2019- Canada’s ambassador to China says a trade pact with Canada likely won’t be reached until China shows flexibility on certain controversial policies.

John McCallum says most of the work he is doing in Beijing right now is focused on bridging policy gaps between Canada and China on agricultural market access, wages and gender equity, and on addressing issues with the Asian nation’s human rights record.

“We are doing our best to persuade China to behave in what we would regard as the more reasonable way,” McCallum told Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio’s The House, on Thursday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet spent time in China in December working toward a free trade agreement, but left empty-handed.

Renewed efforts are now underway. Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr will be attending high-level business meetings in Beijing next month with Chinese political and business leaders.

But those efforts alone won’t be enough to make a deal, McCallum said.

The meetings next month should be treated as “building blocks,” he said, because even though Canada wants an agreement, it needs to see improvements in China’s human rights record before signing any papers.

McCallum added there’s potential in the future for China to join the soon-to-be-ratified Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP) trade deal.

McCallum said he’s had conversations with other ambassadors in recent days about the challenges posed by China’s approach to human rights and other issues.

This fall, the UN blasted China over “deeply disturbing” allegations of large-scale re-education camps in Xinjiang province, where up to a million ethnic Uighurs have been detained, and a Human Rights Watch report that shed light on the Chinese suppression of Turkic Muslims in that same province.

However upsetting China’s actions are, McCallum acknowledged that “at the end of the day, China will do what China wants to do.

“China has to be a very important part of our strategy because China is so huge.”

In the absence of a formal free trade deal, McCallum said, the government is touching base with Chinese officials to talk about how Canadian companies can get involved in infrastructure projects in their nation.

After the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was announced, China criticized a clause in the trade deal limiting the leeway given to USMCA nations to negotiate trade deals with China, calling it a political dominance move by the U.S.

Section 32.10 of the USMCA requires the signatory countries to notify each other if they enter into trade talks with a “non-market” economy. Some experts argue the clause gives the Americans veto power to stop Canada from signing a free trade deal with China.

Trudeau has said Canada is open to doing more business with China now that a trade agreement with the United States and Mexico has been finalized.

Tibet at the centre of environmental and geopolitical tensions between the most populated regions in the world

The Interpreter, October 23, 2018- In the last few decades, state-making projects have transformed life in the Himalaya. Infrastructure development intended for troop deployment along disputed borders has, more recently, enabled large-scale transport and extraction projects and a tourist rush in this globally influential region.

Geopolitical analyses of China-India-Pakistan tensions have focused on the likelihood of violent conflict. Yet this is only one of the region’s many problems. It is home to a mosaic of ethnic groups. Its ice-deposits (the world’s third largest) feed most of Asia’s large rivers. Militarisationand unchecked development threaten these vulnerable communities and fragile ecologies. To make matters worse, the Himalaya is experiencing climate change at twice the global average.

The Himalaya’s precarious geopolitics are transforming the region politically, culturally, linguistically, and environmentally.

An Indian Army convoy envelopes their own anti-litter sign in diesel fumes in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir (Photo: Ruth Gamble)

The 2,400 kilometres of the Himalaya range marks several state borders. It begins on the disputed Pakistan-India border in Kashmir, curls southeast through the disputed China-India border, the undisputed China-Nepal border, the disputed China-Bhutan border, and finally the Eastern section of the China-India border dispute.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir. The region remains restive. Aksai Chin, a large high-altitude desert between Ladakh (India), the Tibetan Autonomous Region (China), and Xinjiang (China), is administered by China, and claimed by India. In the East, Arunachal Pradeshis administered by India and claimed by China, appearing on Chinese maps as Nan Tsang (Southern Tibet).

Since the contemporary Indian and Chinese states emerged in the 1940s, they have struggled to solidify control over the Himalaya. China-India cooperation was shattered by a 1962 border war. Although the war was short, tensions have remained. China (1964), India (1998), and Pakistan (1998) have all become nuclear-armed states. This has enabled a seemingly permanent state of low-level but persistent tension.

This normalised state of border scuffles escalated last year in the Doklam standoff when China tried to wrest a piece of high-ground on the China-Bhutan border from Indian troops. Both Bhutan and Nepal have been placed in difficult positions by India-China tensions. India incorporated a third small Himalayan kingdom, Sikkim, into its territory in 1975, which China only recognised in 2003. There are still skirmishes along the nominally resolved China-Sikkim border. China’s Belt and Road development plans in Nepal and Pakistan have exacerbated regional tensions.

This friction has led to both the militarisation and competitive development of the region. Hundreds of thousands of troops are stationed across the mountains and all Himalayan states are engaged in competitive, un-checked development projects aimed at least in part at solidifying territorial control.

This situation is not socially, culturally, or environmentally sustainable.

The Himalaya’s difficult terrain has helped to maintain a rich diversity of languages and cultures. However, the borders’ militarisation and competitive developments are threatening local cultures and exacerbating tensions among the region’s ethnic groups.

The minority languages of the Himalaya are threatened. Unless carefully managed, state-sponsored militarisation, nationalisation, urbanisation, and development projects will jeopardise their existence. Loss of linguistic diversity disrupts cultural transmission, erases traditional ecological knowledge, and often leads to minority disenfranchisement. All of which spells more potential strife.

The region’s religious and cultural balance is also under threat. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and local traditions are all practised in the Himalaya, and many people combine traditions and beliefs from various religions. Religious groups often have uneasy relationships with each other and nation-states. There are, furthermore, complex relationships between languages and religions in the region that defy easy governmental categories.

In northern Pakistan, Kashmir, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region there are many Muslims who speak Tibetan languages, usually associated with Buddhism. Darjeeling is home to a large community of Hindi-speaking Buddhists. In cosmopolitan cities like Kathmandu, Lhasa, and Srinagar many people combine languages and religious practices in their daily routines.

Environmental degradation poses an even greater threat to the region’s geopolitical status-quo. The whole region is considered to be a biodiversity hotspot. It constitutes the headwaters of most of Asia’s major rivers, including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze. The ice-pack that clings to this “third pole” not only feeds these and other rivers but also moderates the monsoon rains that provide the other primary source of freshwater for drinking, agriculture, and manufacturing to South, East, and Southeast Asia. The mountains, rivers, and the rains work together to deposit silt and moisture on the fertile river plains of lowland Asia, which are home to approximately 40% of the global population.

Even slight changes in water flow will have dramatic impacts on regional (and global) economy and security. The presence of armies, tourists, and accelerated and unsustainable development are effecting this change, and contributing to the region’s higher than average rates of global warming. Glaciers are melting and rain patterns are shifting, increasing the likelihood of flash floods and landslides that are killing soldiers as well as civilians.

International cooperation is needed to mitigate the effects of climate-change on both local environments and the greater Himalayan watershed. Instead, geopolitical tensions have fed into, and been exaggerated by, water crises in Pakistan, India, and China. Rather than co-operating to ensure river flow is stabilised, Himalayan states are involved in competitive and controversial, large-scale hydro-power schemes and water-transfer projects. After Doklam, China even refused to grant India the water flow data it needed to prepare for monsoon floods.

Regardless of the likelihood for conflict, the militarisation of the Himalaya is already creating disastrous results. Any analysis of India-China-Pakistan tensions that does not take these circumstances into account distorts its realities.

Temperatures significantly rise on the Tibetan plateau

Temperatures significantly rise on the Tibetan plateau
October 30, 2018

Reuters, October 27, 2018- Temperatures in the northeastern part of China’s vast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, often dubbed the Roof of the World, have risen more than three times faster than the global average, Chinese data shows.

The plateau, which spans more than 1,000 km (620 miles) north to south and over 2,000 km east to west, is the source of many of the world’s longest rivers including the Yangtze. It also houses a fragile ecosystem sensitive to global warming.

The average temperature in the Qinghai section of the plateau has climbed 0.43 degree Celsius per decade, compared with the global average of 0.12C per decade, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported, citing monitoring data from Qinghai province.

The statistics reveal that the area has also become wetter between 1961 and 2017, with the average annual precipitation rate increasing 8.0 mm per decade.

At the present rate of warming, the world’s temperatures would likely reach 1.5C between 2030 and 2052 after an increase of 1C above pre-industrial levels since the mid-1800s, according to a United Nations report earlier this month.

The report said society would have to enact “unprecedented” changes to how it consumes energy, travels and builds. [nL8N1WO02N]

Glaciers on the entire Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and neighboring regions have shrunk 15 percent in the past half a century, state media cited scientists as saying last month.

The melting glaciers, as a result of rising temperatures, have expanded lakes and increased water flows in rivers originating from the area.

Thawing permafrost on the plateau, which accounts for up to a quarter of China’s land carbon sinks, could release earlier trapped carbon and further hasten the warming in temperatures.

Qinghai Lake, China’s largest, has expanded to 4,400 sq km, its biggest surface area in almost two decades, according to provincial monitoring data published in 2017.