CTA President’s keynote address at Geneva Forum 2018: Full Transcript

Geneva Human Rights Forum 2018-CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay addressing the opening session Photo © Niels Ackermann / Lundi13 / DIIR/CTA/Geneva

Four days ahead of China’s third cycle of Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and Office of Tibet Geneva jointly organized a Forum titled “Geneva Forum-2018: Forum on Human Rights Situation in Regions under the PRC.”

Below is the full transcript of President Dr Lobsang Sangay’s key address at the Forum.

“Good morning everyone. For the past 60 years, Tibetans have been saying that what happened to Tibet can happen to you. What the Chinese Communist Party did to Tibetans, it will do to you and your people. But no one listened to us. Everybody thought what happened to Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Mongolians at the hands of the CCP were sad, but it’s not going to happen to them.

For so long, countries around the world tried to convince themselves that by engaging with China, it will gradually transform and ultimately become a democratic country. However, after 20 years of engagement, it’s not China that is transforming, China is actually transforming everybody else.

I am just coming from Madrid and our friends at the Chinese embassy there were pretty angry. I was invited to speak at the Madrid trade fair or the IFEMA by the Mayor of Madrid, but the Chinese embassy called the organizers and threatened that the Chinese President’s due visit in a month will be cancelled if I was given a platform to speak on.

Fortunately, this time my talk went ahead as planned. Normally, my events and meetings get cancelled after Chinese pressure. However, it shows that the Chinese embassy acts with impunity.

Other examples:

  • Marriot hotel
  • Mercedez Benz

These are the results of a failed strategy toward China.

Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue Failure

Many countries thought by engaging with China through business, a middle class will grow in China which will assert freedom and democratic rights in the country. But it did not happen.

Some advocated that by rewarding China, Chinese leaders will behave according to international norms.

  • Granted MFN status
  • The Olympics was hosted in China on the condition that the CCP will improve human rights

But it did not happen. 20 years later, all these theories have been proven wrong.

Even on human rights, many experts advocated that naming and shaming will not improve China’s behavior. Rather, quite diplomacy will help save China’s face and actually improve the country’s human rights. And so many countries fell into China’s bi-lateral human rights dialogue trap.

I have talked to many diplomats who engage in such bi-lateral dialogues with China and they all say it is useless. Forget about trying to bring substantive changes to human rights in China, these days even getting a date to have bilateral dialogues is a challenge. It would be fair to say that these bi-lateral initiatives have exacerbated the human rights situation in China. 

Country Specific Examples

Today, countries around the world are finally beginning to feel China’s draconian reach into their internal affairs and trampling upon universal principles of human rights.

  • Norway after Liu Xiabao
  • Australia

o   Bob Carr, trade minister

o   Four corners documentary

o   When a professor at the Australian University mentioned Taiwan in his classroom, Chinese students complained and the professor was fired. What happened to academic freedom?

o   Buyers remorse

o   Bill in the Parliament by ruling party of Australia.

  • Swiss parliament
  • Now, interfering in US election

o   Now even the US govt is saying, China is interfering in the mid-term elections, which is in 4 days time—the day of the UPR.

o   Buyers remorse going on and VP Mike Pence gave the most powerful speech on China ever by a US leader. Not only he condemned the human rights violations and lack of religious freedom in China, but he mentioned the cases of Tibet, Taiwan, Inner Mongolia, Xinzang, and Hong Kong.

Xi Jinping Thought

China is determined to bring a new world order with the CCP on top of the pyramid. It is rigorously promoting its agenda on the international stage. “Socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era” is Xi Jinping’s mantra. Socialism with Chinese characteristics means no democracy, one party dictatorship, and no human rights. The new era means China’s rising power on the international forum.

8) Conclusion

The Chinese Communist Party is already here at the UN, in Europe, and in fact, all around the world. Either we change them or they will change you.

In four days, through the UPR mechanism, UN Member States will have an opportunity to assess and do a real review of China’s action on human rights. The least the Member States of the UPR could do is speak out the truth and make China accountable.

If the UN Human Rights Council cannot make China accountable on human rights violations, then who will? That is why the upcoming UPR is so important where China’s human rights record should be forth rightly discussed.

Irrespective of the outcome of the UPR, we want to make sure that we hold China publicly accountable through this Forum. We have speakers on Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, respectable academics, and human rights specialists on China. I leave it to experts to masked recommendations on how to make Chinese government accountable.

We must act together because the Communist Party of China is here in Geneva, at the UN. Unless we transform China, China will transform us.”