Chinese Ambassador tells UK audience Tibet cause “is doomed to failure” (video)

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Free Tibet press release

Chinese Ambassador tells UK audience Tibet cause “is doomed to failure” (video)

Outburst follows demand for audience members at public talk to hide Tibetan symbols

In a rare direct exchange between representatives of the Chinese government and Tibetan exiles, the Chinese ambassador to the UK told Tibetan activists at a public talk in Bath, UK, last night (17 May) that “your cause is doomed to failure… you will never succeed. Period.”  The ambassador’s exchanges with activists were caught on camera and video is available from Free Tibet (1). Before the talk, at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (2), organisers requested members of the audience to remove or hide Tibetan symbols such as scarves, t-shirts and other clothing, apparently at the ambassador’s request (3).

Following a peaceful demonstration outside the venue (pictures, 4), a number of Tibetans and Tibet campaigners were among the audience for the talk. In answer to a question from a Chinese audience member about China’s reputation abroad, the ambassador spoke at length about the happiness of people in Tibet. He was then challenged by Tibetans and Tibet campaigners and the following exchanges are all seen on video:

  • Tibetan Sherab Gyaltsen challenges the ambassador on its occupation, Tibetan self-immolations and the six-year-old Tibetan boy abducted by the Chinese authorities on 17 May 1995 (exactly 21 years before the ambassador’s talk) after being identified as the Panchen Lama, one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most senior figures. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has not been seen in public since the abduction and no verified information about him has ever been released (5).
  • Responding to the question from Tibetan Sherab Gyaltsen, Ambassador Liu says “There are 3 million Tibetans: everyone would agree they are much happier, live longer and are much freer”. Mr Gyaltsen replies “not according to my family in Tibet”.
  • In response to persistent questioning he tells Tibet campaigners “you are violating [the] human rights of the majority audience in this meeting”. When a campaigner responds “that’s nothing compared to torture”, he angrily replies “that’s absolute lies from you”. In December 2015, the United Nations Committee on Torture found that “The practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the [Chinese] criminal justice system.” (6)
  • Audience members press the ambassador on the case of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima,. Mr Liu replies “that has never been recognised, so-called – he is just [an] ordinary boy”.

Sherab Gyaltsen says

“I’ve heard Chinese propaganda all my life but it is still shocking to hear someone telling lies in person about your country and the experiences of your own people. I know Tibetans in Tibet are not happy as the ambassador claimed, because Tibetans in Tibet tell us of the oppression they endure. Tibetans want freedom and no one has the right to tell them they cannot have it. Tibet will be free.”

Free Tibet campaigns manager Alistair Currie, who attended the meeting, said

“The ambassador let the mask slip after being rattled by activists challenging him. After lengthy propagandising he found himself dealing with persistent and unapologetic campaigners holding him accountable for his government’s actions. He’d already shown the limits of China’s current charm offensive by trying to purge the room of any sign of Tibetan identity or support for Tibet. Tibetans inside Tibet are denied the right to show their flag on pain of imprisonment. As we saw during the State Visit of Xi Jinping, the Chinese government wants to do the same in our free and democratic country.

“The Chinese ambassador is a representative of a human rights abusing regime, responsible for the occupation of Tibet and the brutal repression of the Tibetan people. While he tours the country spreading China’s lies and showing a friendly face, no one must forget that.”

-ends-

Contact: Alistair Currie, Free Tibet campaigns and media manager

E: Alistair@freetibet.org

T: +44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes for editors

(1) Video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDpeQxIoR6c

(2) The event was entitled “World Affairs through our eyes – China” http://www.brlsi.org/node/65449. Activists joined the audience having bought tickets.

(3) The request from organisers was not filmed. The beginning of the talk was delayed by 15 minutes and an organiser for the BRLS told the audience that they were in “an unprecedented situation”, having potential demonstrators in the room. He politely requested audience members remove items of clothing bearing Tibetan freedom or other Tibetan symbols so as not to “embarrass” the ambassador. Shortly afterwards, representatives of the event asked individuals to remove specific items of clothing, such as scarves carrying the Tibetan flag. After they had done so, the talk began.

(4) Photographs of demonstration available from Rex Features http://www.rexfeatures.com/livefeed/2016/05/17/free_tibet_protest,_bath?

(5) Free Tibet http://freetibet.org/about/human-rights/case-studies/panchen-lama

(6) Committee Against Torture  Concluding observations of the fifth periodic report of China, December 2015 http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT%2fC%2fCHN%2fCO%2f5&Lang=en