Representative Meeting and International Diplomatic Advocacy Training Underway (Updated)

DHARAMSHALA: The annual meeting of Representatives cum International Diplomatic Advocacy Training, organised by the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) is underway at the Lhakpa Tsering memorial hall here.

The meeting will be presided over by Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Kalon Dicki Chhoyang and the two Secretaries, Mr Tashi Phuntsok and Mr. Ngodup Dorjee, of Department of Information and International Relations.

Representatives participating in the training include Mr. Kalsang Gyaltsen, Special Representative to EU, Kasur Tempa Tsering (New Delhi), Mr. Kaydor Aukatsang (US), Mr. Tamdin Dorjee (Nepal), Mr. Tseten Samdup (Swiss), Mr. Lhakpa Tshoko (Japan), Mr. Thubten Samdup (England), Dagpo Sonam Norbu (Australia), Mr. Ngodup Dorjee (Brussels), Mr. Ngawang Rabgyal (Russia), Mr. Dawa Tsering (Taiwan), Mr. Tsewang Phuntso (Liaison Officer for Latin America) and Joint Secretary Tsering Dhondup , Secretary of Bureau Du Tibet.

Mr. Lungtok and Ms. Nangsa Choedon, who are slated to take charge as the new Representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Japan and South Africa respectively, are also taking part in the meeting.

The four-day meeting will conclude on 25 April 2014.

Chinese spies keep eye on leading universities

April 21, 2014 10:24 am

The Sydney Morning Herald, April 21, 2014

John Garnaut, Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media

China is building large covert spy networks inside Australia’s leading universities, prompting Australia to strengthen its counter-intelligence capabilities.

Chinese intelligence officials have confirmed to Fairfax Media that they are building informant networks to monitor Australia’s ethnic Chinese community to protect Beijing’s ”core interests”.

Much of the monitoring work takes place in higher education institutions (including Melbourne University and Sydney University), where more than 90,000 students from mainland China are potentially exposed to ideas and activities not readily available at home.

”I was interrogated four times in China,” said a senior lecturer at a high-ranking Australian university. He said he was questioned by China’s main spy agency over comments he made at a seminar about democracy at the University of NSW.

”They showed me the report,” he said. ”I can even name the lady who sent the report.”

Such networks are driving the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to build significant new counter-intelligence capabilities.

”They have more resources in Sydney University than we do,” an Australian official said.

The shift under way in Australian counter-intelligence priorities potentially heralds the end of an era that has been overwhelmingly dominated by counter-terrorism.

It illustrates the complexities of a rising China, whose leaders have recently recommitted to economic reforms while also inoculating their Leninist political system against change and Western influence.

China’s electronic espionage capabilities are broadly known, with Chinese servers being used to penetrate Australia’s largest companies, most senior politicians and even ASIO’s new high-tech headquarters in Canberra, which remains unopened as a result. But China’s human intelligence and ”influence” networks have proven more difficult to identify and respond to.

At the overt level, education counsellors in diplomatic missions organise Chinese-born students into associations through which they can provide support services.

In part, they were providing assistance and a sense of community that many Australian universities were failing to deliver, said John Fitzgerald, of Swinburne University.

”Australian universities don’t know what it means to host international students properly,” said Professor Fitzgerald, an expert on Chinese communities in Australia. ”It means that students from China feel they are being hosted by the Chinese government in Australia.”

The Chinese government-led student associations are also used to gather intelligence and promote core political objectives in parallel with other informant networks handled through the political sections of diplomatic missions, according to Chinese officials, Australian officials and members of Australia’s Chinese community. Chen Yonglin, a Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia in 2005, said on Sunday that students were an important part of embassy and consular work.

Mr Chen, now a businessman in Sydney, confirmed that Chinese diplomats set up Chinese student associations at each university, appointed their leaders, and ensured they were well funded.

”The students are useful for welcoming leaders at airports and blocking protest groups from sight, and also collecting information.”

Separately, he said, Chinese state security officials in and outside diplomatic missions ran student agents ”to infiltrate dissident groups especially [relating to] Tibet and Falun Gong”.

Jocelyn Chey, a former senior diplomat in Beijing and Hong Kong who is a fellow at the Institute of International Affairs and visiting professor at the University of Sydney, said: ”It’s quite clear that a large part of the business of Chinese diplomatic missions here is just keeping tabs on their citizens.”

Dr Chey said she had watched the networks become ”increasingly complex” since the Chinese embassy opened its doors in Canberra in 1973.

The on-campus informant networks are constraining the conversations and actions of Chinese-born students, who constitute the largest international market for Australian universities.

In one case, security officials told parents in China to constrain the activities of their son, after informants reported he had seen the Dalai Lama in Australia.

His Holiness brings message of hope and confidence to Japan’s tsunami survivors

SENDAI, Japan: Praising the Japanese people’s spirit and strength to recover in the face of immense suffering and destruction, His Holiness the Dalai Lama encouraged victims of the devastating natural disaster which hit Japan in 2011 to look to future with optimism and determination.

A Society for Prayers – 2014 invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to give emotional support and zest for living for people in Sendai, one of worst regions during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Before addressing the gathering on “Finding Wisdom and Confidence in the Face of Terrible Loss”, His Holiness the Dalai Lama joined Shinto priests for a special prayer service for the disaster victims.

“I am really happy to meet you once again in this time of tragedy and honoured to take part in many Shinto traditional prayer services. I want to especially express my solidarity with those of you who have suffered immense loss during the tragedy,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama told a packed auditorium.

His Holiness advised them not to remain disheartened and hopeless because doing so will not reduce the suffering. “It is important to develop self-confidence to transform tragedy into self-determination and optimism to build a better future,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said.

His Holiness reiterated that Japan and Germany serve an example of resilience in the face of immense tragedy. “These two nations suffered immense suffering and destruction during the second world war, but showed great determination to rebuild a very stable and strong nation from the ashes of war destruction.”

“All these were achieved through self-confidence, transforming the tragedy into determination and will power based on optimism to rebuild a better future,” he added.

His Holiness further said: “It is a matter of great sadness that many people lost their loved ones in the natural disaster. But remaining worried and sad would not end your suffering. It will instead bring more suffering upon yourself and sadness to the departed souls.”

“In spite of the tragedy, if you work hard with determination and optimism to lead a more truthful, honest and compassionate life, then the departed souls of your loved ones would be very happy. So think that way,” he added.

To inspire them to look forward with hope and courage, His Holiness recounted his own life story and the upheavals that he and the Tibetan people have undergone.

“I lost my freedom at the age of 16 and lost my country at 24. We Tibetans have faced problems and challenges in exile for the last past more than 55 years. But we never gave up hope and determination.  At the initial stage of our exile life, many Tibetans complaint to me that the jungle that the Indian government provided us for rehabilitation are inhospitable and they might die of the extreme hot climate. To beat the heat, I advised them to work at night and rest at day time to prepare the base for the settlement. After one year, I visited the settlement and told them that they were not dead. I visited that settlement in January this year and it has become a very successful and thriving one. So everything depends on how our mind reacts and will power when faced with difficulties in life. Always look in a more holistic way during such time.”

His Holiness also responded to numerous questions from the audience.

Ms Kawakami Hiroko, head of the organising committee, said: “It is our earnest hope that, through this kind of prayer and, especially, through the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, those who are suffering may regain strength, optimism and confidence.”

Tomorrow, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will visit Seifu Gaken Boys High School and give a talk to students on “What one would hope for the young people to do”.

Top EU official calls for China-Tibet talks

DHARAMSHALA: A top official of the European Union has reiterated call for dialogue to resolve the issue of Tibet as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Sunday in Belgium on his first day.

Mr Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee, also stressed the importance of raising the issue of human rights in China during Xi Jinping’s visit.

“President Xi Jinping paid a visit yesterday to the pandas in Belgium, but there is something much more important – human rights in China – who suffer from lack of basic human rights,” said Malosse while addressing a demonstration for human rights in China in Brussels on Monday. Representatives of the Uyghur and Tibetan communities as well as Chinese activists took part in the event. Many Tibetans took the initiative to shave their hair as a sign protest against Chinese oppression in Tibet.

Mr Malosse once again emphasised on dialogue concerning Tibet.

During his visit to the Tibetan community in Dharamshala in India in March, he expressed strong support for Middle Way Approach to resolve the Tibet issue through dialogue between the Chinese government and the Tibetan leadership.

“The Tibet question is universal”, said Mr Henri Malosse in his address at the Tibetan National Uprising Day in Dharamshala on 10 March. “It is a question of liberty, democracy and solidarity, which are the values at the foundation of the European Union. As such, Europe has these values as a legacy and must defend them everywhere they are in danger in order to find a sustainable solution. Thus, support must be brought to the Middle Way Approach of Tibetans – Umaylam – and to the dialogue with China. It is the same approach that claims for a European involvement in the recent events in Crimea, not by following the other actors such as Russians or Americans, but by being more coherent and imposing dialogue between all the stakeholders,” he said.

“It is Europe’s duty to direct efforts towards setting up dialogue between the Tibetan people and the People’s Republic of China without pre-conditions. I thus firmly believe that civil society – in Tibet, China and Europe – has the potential to facilitate a peaceful way out of the crisis, as it has demonstrated in other conflicts in the past,” he said.

Human Rights Watch documents repression of Tibetans in Nepal

DHARAMSHALA: Human Rights Watch today released a 100-page report titled ‘Under China’s Shadow: Mistreatment of Tibetans in Nepal’ outlining the increasing restrictions imposed on Tibetans in Nepal as a result of strong pressure from China.

“The situation for the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal has markedly deteriorated since China’s violent crackdown on protests in Tibet in 2008,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a press release issued today to mark the launch of the report.

Human Rights Watch urged the Nepal government to uphold its legal obligation towards Tibetans, under the terms of the “Gentleman’s Agreement” signed between the government of Nepal and the office of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Under the terms of the agreement,  Nepal guarantees Tibetans who reach its territory safe passage to India, where they can obtain refugee status. International law prohibits Nepal from forcibly repatriating Tibetan refugees because they would be at risk of torture or persecution in China.

“As a result of a massive security presence in Tibetan areas of China and increased cooperation between Nepalese and Chinese security forces in recent years, China has been able to stem the flow of Tibetan refugees escaping to Nepal. In 2013, fewer than 200 Tibetans were recorded as having fled China, as compared to a pre-2008 annual average of more than 2,000,” he said.

The consequences of Nepal’s hardening stance are being felt across the Tibetan community. Nepal continues to deny at least half the Tibetans in Nepal proper identity documents, making Tibetans more vulnerable to increased surveillance, monitoring, and abuse by police or the criminal justice system, regardless of whether they are politically active. It is harder for Tibetans to obtain documentation that would allow them to go to school, seek employment, run businesses, travel abroad, or engage in other activities, the report said.

“Nepal continues to deny thousands of Tibetans, most of them born in Nepal, any legal existence by refusing to issue them any form of official identification,” said Adams. “This fuels a pattern of marginalization and abuse of the Tibetan community at large.” He called on Nepal government to take specific measures to guarantee the basic rights of Tibetans in the country, including providing all eligible Tibetans with refugee identification certificates and strictly upholding international law prohibiting deportation of Tibetan refugees.

The report explains that Tibetan refugee communities in Nepal are now facing a de facto ban on political protests, sharp restrictions on public activities promoting Tibetan culture and religion, and routine abuses by Nepali security forces.

Click here to read the full report