British government pledges to curb overseas influence, Chinese infiltration

The British government is planning a slew of measures aimed at curbing infiltration and influence operations by foreign governments, including probing recent attacks inside the Chinese consulate on a Hong Kong protester and the possible closure of the Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes in universities.

Home Office minister for security Tom Tugendhat said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had pledged during his bid for leadership of the ruling Conservative Party that “Confucius Institutes pose a threat to civil liberties in many universities in the United Kingdom and he will be looking to close them.”

He said the government is assessing how to respond to the beating of Hong Kong protester Bob Chan by Chinese consular staff on Oct. 16.

 “There is no place for those who abuse their diplomatic privilege or the liberties of this country in order to oppress citizens here,” he told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“The assessment will be coming forward urgently,” Tugendhat said of the probe into the Manchester attack, and promised a coordinated response.

Speaking amid a global investigation into Chinese police-run “overseas service centers,” some of which have been ordered to shut down by foreign governments for operating outside of diplomatic channels, Tugendhat said a forthcoming national security bill would strengthen the government’s legal powers to deal with agents of foreign governments operating on British soil.

“Coercion, harassment or intimidation linked to a foreign power that interferes with the freedoms of individuals will be criminalized under the new foreign interference offense in the bill,” he said. “Existing criminal offenses against a person, such as assault, may also have sentences increased using the state threats aggravating factor in the Bill where they are undertaken for, on behalf of or with the intention to benefit a foreign power.”

He said the bill would also include a foreign influence registration scheme, in which organizations with close ties to overseas governments would be required to register as agents of a foreign power. Similar measures are already in place in Australia and the United States.

British media have reported the existence of three undeclared “service centers” in the United Kingdom, including Hendon, Croydon and Glasgow.

Chinese dissidents in exile and the Spanish-based rights group Safeguard Defenders have reported that dozens of such “service centers” operate outside of China, and that people associated with them have targeted dissidents for harassment and threats, including coerced repatriations.

Newcastle cuts ties

Meanwhile, councilors in the northeastern city of Newcastle on Wednesday voted unanimously to end the city’s “twinned sister” status with the northern Chinese mining city of Taiyuan.

Moving the motion, Liberal Democrat Cllr. Wendy Taylor said the Chinese government under Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping had ignored international norms and showed scant concern for universal values ​​like human rights, freedom and democracy, according to an account of the meeting on the Newcastle Stands With Hong Kong Facebook page.

Cllr Jane Byrne cited a recent Amnesty International report detailing a deterioration in China’s human rights record, including unfair trials, intimidation and torture, saying she would stand with those fighting for freedom and democracy, the report said.

A Newcastle Stands with Hong Kong spokesperson, who gave the pseudonym K for fear of reprisals targeting loved ones back home, said many British officials are aware of the seriousness of the threat posed by Chinese infiltration.

“Everyone is very concerned right now about infiltration via Confucius Institutes and overseas law enforcement, but they have yet to act on that,” K said.

K said part of the issue was that many countries feel economically dependent on China.

“The fundamental issue is whether other countries are so economically dependent on China that China feels it can ignore international law and human rights law,” K said. “Continuing to allow slow infiltration by China will only expand its ambitions, and sooner or later lead to the same situation as we have seen with Russia.”

“The international community, while reducing Chinese infiltration, must also reduce its dependence on China,” they said.

International Threat

British-based scholar Wang Jianhong said such infiltration is a threat to the international order.

“The United Kingdom was relatively slow to recognize and act on that threat,” Wang said. “But the fall of Hong Kong and the beginnings of the pandemic in Wuhan as well as the human rights crisis in Xinjiang have all prompted the British government to change policy.”

“I hope they actually follow through with shutting down the Confucius Institutes, expelling the Chinese Consul-General in Manchester and thoroughly investigating the Chinese Communist Party’s secret police stations,” Wang said.

Analysts have told RFA they expect China’s “wolf-warrior” diplomacy to become more entrenched now that Xi Jinping has begun an indefinite third term in office, amid growing reports of bullying and physical violence by Chinese diplomats overseas.

Britain’s foreign secretary urgently summoned a top Chinese diplomat in response to the assault on Chan, who was dragged into the Chinese Consulate in Manchester and beaten by a group of unidentified men during an altercation over a ripped protest banner on Oct. 16. 

But protesters and MPs have said the response hasn’t gone far enough, calling for the expulsion of those involved, including Consul General Zheng Xiyuan, who admitted to pulling Chan’s hair

200 detained in Tibet’s capital Lhasa over COVID protest


From Radio Free Asia

Around 200 residents of Tibet’s capital Lhasa were detained in the wake of massive protests in the city last week against COVID lockdowns that left many restricted to their homes without adequate food or medical care, RFA has learned.  The Oct. 26 protest included both Han Chinese and Tibetans living in the city, and was Lhasa’s largest since a 2008 uprising, later crushed by Chinese security forces by Tibetans calling for greater freedoms under Chinese rule.

Chinese authorities have now detained around 200 Lhasa residents in the wake of last week’s protest, RFA learned from Tibetan sources speaking on condition of anonymity to protect their safety. “Though many of these detainees are of Chinese origin, there are also a number of Tibetans coming from other parts of Tibet and from Chengdu,” one RFA source said, referring to the capital city of western China’s Sichuan province. “They are currently being held inside buildings owned by development companies inside the Tibet Autonomous Region,” or TAR, the source added.

Also speaking to RFA, a second person said that it has been difficult so far for outside sources to identify the Tibetans currently being held. “But the main allegations against them appear to be that they took a lead role in organizing the protests. Most of them appear to be working-class residents of the city.” “One of my friends is among those who were detained, and I have no information about what conditions are like for them now or even if they have adequate food,” the source said.

Most of the Han Chinese detained in the protest were later freed and allowed to return home, and though Tibetan detainees were told they would be freed by Oct. 29, there is no evidence that any have been released, he added. China’s lockdown in Lhasa began in early August as COVID numbers there and throughout China began to climb. Lhasa residents have said on social media that the lockdown order came without leaving them time to prepare, with many left short of food or cut off from medical care.

As of Thursday, 18,667 Tibetans in the TAR have tested positive for COVID according to official Chinese records. Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force more than 70 years ago. Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity.

Videos emerge of rare protests in Tibet

Footage has emerged showing what appear to be rare large-scale protests against strict Covid-19 measures in the Tibetan regional capital, Lhasa. 

Multiple videos on social media show hundreds demonstrating and clashing with police. They are said to be mostly ethnic Han Chinese migrant workers.

The city has been under lockdown for nearly three months as it battles a wave of infections.

Tibet is one of the most tightly guarded regions in China.

The protests are said to have taken place on Wednesday afternoon and stretched on till the night.

One video shows hundreds of people gathered on the streets, with officials blocking them at one end. A message calling for calm can be heard on a loudspeaker, with an official asking for people to “please be understanding and to go back”. 

Another video shows scores of people on the streets at night, and a man can be heard commenting on the scene.

“[They] have been locked up for too long. And a lot of people in this community are people who have just come to work and earn money. If they could get that in mainland China, they wouldn’t have come here,” he says in Mandarin.

Yet another video showed people marching in the streets with the caption “We just want to go home”.

The BBC was unable to independently verify the videos, which have been removed on Chinese social media but reposted on Twitter.

Tibetan sources have told news outlet Radio Free Asia (RFA) that protesters warned they would “set off a fire” if restrictions were not lifted – though it is not clear what this meant.

Another source said there were fears that scuffles between civilians and police officers could turn violent.

One Lhasa resident told the BBC that she didn’t see the protests as she was still under lockdown, but had seen numerous videos circulating in chat groups.

“People are locked at home everyday and life is so hard. Prices in Lhasa now are so high and landlords are chasing people for rent. The workers also aren’t allowed to go back to their hometown. They have no other way out,” said the resident, who only wanted to be identified by her surname, Han.

“People were asking for a solution – if they might be able to leave.”

Ms Han said she had been in lockdown for almost 80 days, adding that people were allowed to roam inside the compound for several hours a day – but couldn’t go beyond that. 

“Who knows what the real number [of Covid cases] are now? Every day we can hear that people need oxygen. The government can report whatever numbers they want.”

The BBC has seen multiple posts on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, from people who said they were trapped in Lhasa as a result of Covid measures.

“Today is the 77th day of the lockdown in Lhasa. I don’t know how long it will continue to be like this. I [cant find] hope. Can you understand… how hard it is for migrant workers?” the post said.

“We haven’t had any income for three months – but expenses have not been reduced even by a penny. My friends in Lhasa – how long can you go on like this?” said another post. 

There has been no official comment or state media reports on the protests, although local officials on Thursday said eight new Covid cases had been reported in Lhasa.

On Chinese social media platforms, all footage of the incident has been scrubbed, although checks on Douyin found that many were searching for terms related to the protest, such as “what happened in Lhasa tonight”.

Lhasa has been in lockdown since late August. Rights groups have claimed that several Tibetans have killed themselves since it began.

China’s zero-Covid policy has saved lives, but also exacted a punishing toll on the Chinese people and economy, with increasing public fatigue over lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Wednesday’s protest is said to be the biggest the city has seen since an uprising in 2008, which saw at least 19 people killed.

Chinese security forces were accused of using both brutal beatings and lethal force against protesters back then. In the wake of that incident, Tibet was closed to foreigners and tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers were sent to the region. 

Tibet is governed as an autonomous region of China, and Beijing says it has developed considerably under its rule. 

But rights groups say China continues to violate human rights, accusing Beijing of political and religious repression. Beijing denies any abuses.

UN Human Rights Council – 51st session

An oral statement that was delivered on 27th September by FIDH at the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The Chinese delegation raised a point of order against it (saying the speaker “abused the platform of the Council to attack the leader of the Chinese people in violation of the rules of procedure of the Council”), but the President let the speaker continue.

Forwarded by International Campaign for Tibet Brussels

UN Human Rights Council – 51st session

Item 4: General Debate – Oral statement on thehuman rights situation in China

27 September 2022

Mr. Vice-President,

FIDH and its member organization International Campaign for Tibet condemn Beijing’s relentless repression and forced assimilation of communities in Tibet and Xinjiang through the implementation of laws, policies, and actions that are grossly inconsistent with international human rights law, including treaties to which China is a state party.

We welcome the OHCHR’s recent report on the human rights situation in Xinjiang, which confirms that serious human rights violations have been committed against Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim communities, and that some of these violations may amount to crimes against humanity. We call on the Human Rights Council to convene a formal discussion on the findings and recommendations of the report at the next session.

In Tibet, the Chinese authorities continue to systematically apply policies that violate the fundamental rights of Tibetans, in particular under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. It is deeply disturbing that Chinese authorities have significantly increased policing, including arbitrary collection of DNA from residents (including from children) in many towns and villages throughout the Tibet Autonomous Region. This further strengthens Beijing’s surveillance capabilities over the Tibetan people and represents a serious intrusion on the right to privacy.

Mister President, within the UN system there’s an abundant body of evidence that points to a consistent and broad range of abuses in China, which in many cases amount to the most serious international crimes.

We urge the Council to establish an impartial and independent mechanism to collect and analyze evidence of such abuses with a view to contribute to the promotion of accountability for perpetrators and redress for the victims.

Thank you.

Tibet Lobby Day returns in person, promotes Resolve Tibet Act

By International Campaign for Tibet | September 27, 2022

Tibet supporters met with members of Congress and Congressional staff last week at the first in-person Tibet Lobby Day in years, building crucial support for a new Tibet bill and sharpening Tibetan Americans’ advocacy skills.

Tibet Lobby Day 2022 brought over 100 Tibetan Americans and Tibet supporters to Washington, DC on Sept. 22-23 for more than 80 meetings with Congressional offices.

This year’s participants—who included Thondup Tsering of Amherst, Massachusetts, who is a member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile—came from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington, DC.

Traveling all over Capitol Hill and opening up about how China’s illegal occupation of Tibet has harmed them and their families, the Lobby Day participants made one main request of their members of Congress: Support the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in July by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

Known as the Resolve Tibet Act, the bill will push the Chinese government to resume negotiations on Tibet’s future with the Dalai Lama’s envoys for the first time since 2010. The legislation will also support the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination.

“Several Congressional offices we met were excited about the bill. We look forward to more members of Congress cosponsoring the legislation as a result of the Tibet Lobby Day participants,” said Franz Matzner, government relations director of the International Campaign for Tibet, which organized the Lobby Day alongside other groups including Students for a Free Tibet and Tibetan associations around the country.

Matzner added, “It also was thrilling to witness so many Tibetan Americans, especially young people, speak up about their personal experiences and call on their elected leaders to take action. The Chinese government has hidden a great deal of its oppression in Tibet from the outside world, so we at ICT are committed to empowering Tibetan Americans to raise their voices and shine the light of truth on Tibet.

“That’s exactly what this Tibet Lobby Day helped do.”

Lobbying on Capitol Hill

This year marked the first time Tibet Lobby Day—an annual event since 2009—took place in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The return of face-to-face lobbying allowed Tibetan Americans and Tibet supporters from around the United States to meet with their legislators on Capitol Hill.

One of the highlights of the event was the meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy, the retiring Vermont Democrat, who took time out of his busy final months on the Hill to greet Sonam Lhakhang, President of the Tibetan Association of Vermont, Namgyal Choedup, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration to North America, Tencho Gyatso, ICT’s Interim Vice President, and others.

The meeting turned emotional as Leahy, the longest-serving member of the Senate, spoke movingly and tearfully about his and his wife’s many years of friendship with the Dalai Lama.

Leahy showed the lobbyists a photo he took in the 1980s of a man in Tibet hugging his baby son while holding a picture of the Dalai Lama. Although Chinese police arrest Tibetans for owning photos of the Buddhist leader, the man wanted Leahy to photograph him with it.

To thank Leahy for his incredible support of Tibet, Representative Choedup presented him with a “thangka” (a Tibetan traditional painting) and a “khata” (a Tibetan greeting scarf).

Celebrating 20 years of US Tibet policy

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., another longtime presence in the Senate, also met with constituents from her home state during Tibet Lobby Day.

In addition, Feinstein provided a video message for Lobby Day about the 20th anniversary of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, a law she introduced alongside Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., and Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. Feinstein is the only member of that quartet who is still in Congress.

Feinstein’s video played during the reception for Tibet Lobby Day at ICT’s office on the evening of Sept. 22. At the reception, Choedup addressed the participants and gave a brief overview of the Central Tibetan Administration’s approach to the United States.

The reception also featured a five-and-a-half-minute video on the TPA’s 20th anniversary, showing how the bill codified support for Tibet in US law for the first time and set the stage for two decades of American political and programmatic initiatives on Tibet.

The next step, ICT leaders said, is to pass the Resolve Tibet Act, which can carry Tibet policy forward to a long-awaited peaceful resolution of China’s occupation of Tibet.

But Lobby Day, they added, is not all serious.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Gyatso, ICT’s Interim Vice President, said. “We have people who got married after coming here,” she added to laughter before inviting the participants to a dinner featuring authentic Tibetan cuisine.

Lhakhang, the Tibetan Association of Vermont President, said he was asked by the community members to participate in this year’s Tibet Lobby Day so that he can offer their gratitude to retiring Senator Leahy and also to urge their members of congress to support the Resolve Tibet Act.

“It was a successful event,” he said.

Watch the celebration of the Tibetan Policy Act at the Tibet Lobby Day reception.

See highlights from Tibet Lobby Day 2022.

Representative Bawa Raises Tibet’s Issue at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Meeting with Human Rights and Pro-democracy Activists.

Taiwan: Despite drawing much criticism and threat from Beijing, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi-led delegation of five Democratic lawmakers visited Taiwan on Tuesday, 2 August becoming the highest ranking US official to visit the country since 1997.

On the eve of her departure from Taiwan on August 3, Speaker Pelosi met with seven human rights activists at the National Museum of Human Rights in Taiwan, including pro-democracy activist Wuer Kaixi, Taiwanese human rights activist Mr. Li Mingzhe, who has been persecuted by China, Mr. Lin Rongji of Causeway Bay Bookstore in Hong Kong, and Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, Representative of Office of Tibet in Taiwan where they engaged in an hour-long roundtable discussion on varying subjects involving democracy and human rights.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the gathered human rights defenders to make Taiwanese aware of the Chinese dictatorship and defend Taiwan’s democracy.

Representative Kelsang Gyaltsen addressed Speaker Pelosi on the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet and the increasingly extreme policy of ethnic, religious and cultural genocide in Tibet by the CCP. He also apprised her of CCP’s so-called boarding schools technique as bait to coerce Tibetan children to study in boarding schools away from their parents, thus achieving the assimilation of Tibetan culture and religion, among other issues. He also called on joint organisers of global democracy meeting to be held in October to invite H.H. the Dalai Lama to the conference, stating it would send a clear and strong message to the CCP of the global solidarity to Tibet.

“Current CCP’s chairperson Xi Jinping’s approach to Tibet, the so-called “The Party’s New Generation Policy on the Governance of Tibet” focuses on the annihilation and assimilation of the Tibetan people, as well as eliminating the Dalai Lama’s influence in Tibet. These measures have stirred up even stronger resistance from the Tibetans,” said the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Taiwan remarking that Tibet has now become a ‘giant prison’.

He further attested that the decades-long genocide in Tibet should continue to receive much attention and support even though the world now is gripped by the Ukraine crisis. Lamenting the initial lack of support and attention from the international community when Tibet was being occupied, Representative mentioned things could have been different had China received the same pressure as Russia does now from the international community. As much criticism as Russia received for its presence in the UN’s Human Rights Council, Representative added China also deserves to be ridiculed and criticised for its presence in the UN and other international organisations considering its depreciating record of human rights violations. 

“No one can be certain that the tragedy that befallen Ukraine would not happen to Taiwan, a free, democratic, and robust country. Only when China transforms itself into a full-fledged democracy, can we truly eliminate the CCP’s destruction and threat to Taiwan and to the rest of the world?” he added.

In his concluding address, Representative Bawa thanked the continuous support of countries such as India, US, European countries and Taiwan, and requested Speaker Pelosi and the US government to pressure CCP into a dialogue with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). 

China Lashes Out at Dalai Lama's Visit to Mongolia

China Lashes Out at Dalai Lama’s Visit to Mongolia

VOA Tibetan

China says it has lodged a strong protest with neighboring Mongolia over a visit this week by the Dalai Lama.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei announced the protest at a briefing in Beijing Tuesday.

“We have always opposed any country providing a platform for the Dalai Lama to engage in activities to split China in any form. China has lodged a strong protest to Mongolia.”

He said China has always opposed any country providing the exiled spiritual leader with a platform to advocate independence from China for his native Tibet.

The Dalai Lama began a series of lectures and prayer sessions in Mongolia Tuesday after arriving from Japan, where he blamed Chinese policies for the self-immolations of 11 Buddhist monks and nuns in ethnic Tibetan areas of China.

The Dalai Lama has long insisted he seeks only a degree of autonomy for Tibet, along with better protections for the region’s traditional culture.

But the Chinese spokesman charged that he uses every opportunity to advocate for Tibetan independence.

“The Dalai Lama always uses the opportunity of furtive visits to publicize Tibetan independence, smear the Chinese government and play up issues related to Tibet.”

He said the spiritual leader also uses his travels to smear the Chinese government.

Tibetan-style Buddhism is widely practiced in Mongolia, whose political survival has long depended on a delicate balancing act between its two giant neighbors, China and Russia.

Senior Mongolian religious leaders have stressed the purely spiritual nature of the Dalai Lama’s visit.