THE PROBLEMS IN TIBET
Tibet is an occupied country.
This situation has had numerous consequences for the Tibetan people:
Tibet has been removed from the maps. Its status as an independent nation under Chinese occupation is silenced by other governments and the UN.
Tibet's legitimate government in exile in India can therefore not take its rightful place in the international community and is excluded from important fora such as the UN.
Tibetans can no longer decide their own future, which is decided on in Beijing. This denies the Tibetans the right to economic, social and cultural development on their own terms.
Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans lost their lives between 1949 to 1980 as a result of the occupation. In the 1980s, several hundred demonstrators were killed. In the 1990s up to 50 political prisoners were killed under torture and people who protest are still subject to harsh treatment which occasionally results in deaths.
Freedom of expression, assembly and press in Tibet is severely limited. All media are state controlled and all publications are subject to censorship.
The monitoring of the Tibetans is intense and is accompanied by "patriotic education" at all levels of society.
There are currently (2011) more than 600 known political prisoners in Tibet.
The legal system works entirely on the government’s premises. Less than 1% of all defendants are acquitted.
Torture and abuse is used systematically in prisons.
There has been massive Chinese immigration into many cities and colonization of the parts of Tibet bordering on China. In these parts of Tibet, where Tibetans were the majority before 1950, Chinese people now outnumber and dominate them.
China's development in Tibet favors the Chinese immigrants and the Tibetan elite. China invests heavily in prestigious infrastructure projects, while education and health have low priority. As a result about 40 % of all Tibetans are still illiterate.
Educational systems have an assimilating function. Although Tibetan language is used at primary level in Central Tibet, its has been downgraded in other areas.
Several hundred thousand Tibetans live at subsistence level and malnutrition is widespread.
China has in recent years intensified its birth control in Tibet, which includes the use of forced abortions and sterilizations.
Much of Tibet's rich cultural heritage is destroyed. In 1954-1971, 6259 monasteries were completely or partially destroyed and most of Tibet's literary and art heritage disapeared.
Tibetans have rebuilt many monasteries, yet religious freedom is limited. There is a cap on the number of monks and nuns and permitted into monasteries, the functions of the monasteries are controlled and monks and nuns are required to participate in "patriotic re-education campaigns". Several hundred monks and nuns who participated in peaceful demonstrations were banned from returning to their monasteries. Officials and students are not allowed to practice religion.
Tibet's natural environment has been damaged in several ways such as deforestation and the hunting to extinction of wild animals.
About 150,000 Tibetans live in exile. Several hundreds flee annually from Tibet to India or Nepal.
WHAT IS DENMARK'S ROLE?
Denmark conducts a so-called "critical dialogue" with China on human rights issues and Tibet. Tibet is addressed as a separate item in talks with Chinese leaders, yet the country is treated as a part of China. This critical dialogue approach is also used by the EU and Denmark is an active participant in the EU "critical dialogue" with China.
Denmark supports self-rule in Tibet based on the points given by the Dalai Lama. Denmark regularly encourages China to engage in a dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama and the exile community.
It is a Danish political objective to guide China towards a society based on rule of law. It is hoped that technological development and trade relations with the outside world will give the Chinese people better opportunities to gain freedom and democratic ideals. This strategy also benefits Denmark's own commercial interests in China.
Denmark provides assistance to the Tibetan exile community through Tibet's government in exile. In 2000, the Danish government decided to provide assistance to Tibet within the "Human Rights and Democracy Framework". Assistance is provided through Danish NGOs and is currently targeted at education.
WHAT SHOULD DENMARK DO?
The Danish government's position on Tibet is similar to that of other Western countries. It is in some cases for positive and on others negative for Tibet. It can be positive because a unified international pressure on China works stronger. On the other had it can be negative when the government uses this as an excuse for not going ahead or taking independent initiatives.
China has largely succeeded in playing Western countries against each other by threatening to trade contracts for the countries who follow the line. At the same time there are several areas of disagreement amongst EU countries as to what policy EU countries should conduct with China. This often leads to the lowest common denominator politics. But it also shows that Denmark is actually a band, although we want to coordinate our Tibet policy with other nations.
All in all, it means two things:
First Denmark's trade interests must be subordinated to our political objectives and the public and human rights principles that we also advocate.
Second There is no valid argument that Denmark should not work to formulate and lead the way with new initiatives that support Tibet.
More specifically, there are several areas where Denmark can lead a more consistent Tibet policy:
Denmark recognized in 1961 the Tibetan people's right to self determination. Yet the government often refers to the Tibetans as a "minority" in China, although minorities under international law have fewer rights than people.
There is no justifiable reasons to ignore the historical fact that Tibet until 1951 was an independent country and that China invaded and occupied the country.
Denmark (and all other countries except Mongolia) never formally officially recognized Tibet, when it functioned as an independent state. Denmark has also never taken a position on Tibet's status under international law. That Denmark in practice treats Tibet as a part of China should not lead us to ignore their people’s rights (as an independent state).
Denmark's invitation to China to negotiate with the Tibetans are half-hearted and ineffective as long as Denmark does not clearly designate the Dalai Lama and his government as the Tibetan people's correct representatives at these negotiations, and as long as the Tibetan government in exile and the Dalai Lama's status as a political leaders are suppressed.
The UN Human Rights Commission is the appropriate forum to address questions about human rights abuses, and it is a forum where issues of law and not to other interests should prevail. While the individual EU countries' commercial interests are to blame for the EU’s inability to collectively make a resolution on China at this forum, Denmark should attempt to make a resolution anyway..
The aid to Tibet from Denmark comes with more limiting terms than aid to China because it has not yet been possible to initiate a dialogue on democratization or human rights with the authorities in Tibet. This is despite the fact that both aid packages are from the same budget. The aid development cooperation with the authorities of the Autonomous Region of Tibet must be accompanied by diplomatic pressure to circumvent China's double standards in this area and be accompanied by such a dialogue.