China’s anniversary gifts for Tibetans: portraits of Mao and Xi, electric teapots and the love of the Party

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Chinese government has announced that it will distribute gifts to Tibetans to mark the 50th anniversary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, which was celebrated with lavish festivities and a military parade in Lhasa on 8 September. The Tibetan-language news website of the Communist Party of China has reported that the gifts will include:

- for officials, scrolls and traditional Tibetan scarves bearing a handwritten message from President Xi Jinping: “To reinforce national unity, to create a beautiful Tibet”
- a portrait of Chairman Mao, President Xi jinping and the other former leaders of the People’s Republic of China
- electric tea makers for nomads and farming communities
- the most “priceless gift”: “given out of the love and compassion of the leaders of the Party Central Committee is their responsibility towards all the people of the nation and this is a gift to all.”

Monasteries which have “helped to maintain peace” and been “models for others to look up to” will also be rewarded with large, decorative vases (full list of gifts below, 1).

The gifts were announced as senior Communist Party politician Yu Zhengsheng told the rally gathered in front of Lhasa’s Potala Palace on Tuesday that the people of China were “steadfastly engaged in a struggle against separatism” (2).

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“While there is something deeply absurd about Beijing offering Tibetans a mixture of consumer goods, inspirational memorabilia and portraits of the leaders who have brutalised their country, the comedy is pretty dark. Xi’s words about ‘reinforcing national unity’ are a permanent reminder to his officials in Tibet of the message of Yu Zhensheng in Lhasa: no mercy for Tibetans who oppose Chinese rule. Tibetans may well take the TVs and tea-makers but their loyalty won’t be won with bribery or threats.”

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Notes to editors

(1) Full list (translated from Tibetan by Tibet Watch)

Greeting Scroll: A greeting scroll with President Xi Jinping's handwritten words printed on it, which says “To reinforce national unity, to create a beautiful Tibet” was gifted to the offices of Party committees, Military, government and Liaison Offices of Tibet Autonomous Region.
An Auspicious Tibetan Silk Hanging: An auspicious Tibetan silk hanging with President Xi Jinping's handwritten words printed on it, saying, 'To reinforce National Unity, To create a Beautiful Tibet' was gifted to the offices of Party Committees, Military, Government and Loading offices of Tibet Autonomous Region.
Free distribution of Portraits of Mao, and former Presidents and Xi Jinping of Communist China for monasteries, offices and for people.
To provide solar power TVs for all remote places where electricity is not available.
Provide electric butter tea makers for nomadic and farming communities.
Give away tea cups for nomadic and farming communities.
Give away commemorative souvenirs in the form of drinking glasses to government employees, officials, initiators, military heads and officials.
Colourful vase to be gifted to those monastic institutions which have helped in maintaining peace and are a model for others to look up to.
Priceless jewels; considered the most precious gift of them all, given out of the love and compassion of the leaders of the Party Central Committee is their responsibility towards all the people of the nation and this is a gift to all, the government offices, temples and monasteries, towns, nomadic settlements, businesses and shops.

Source (including picture of gifts): News of the Communist Party of China (online, Tibetan) http://tibet.cpc.people.com.cn/15534980.html . A similar article appears in Chinese at China Tibet Online 7 September 2015 http://www.tibet.cn/news/focus/1441543348640.shtml (Chinese)

(2) Reuters 8 September 2015 http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/china-marks-tibet-anniversary-condemns-dalai-lama-150908041048779.html The anniversary of the founding of the TAR was on 1 September but official celebration took place on 8 September.