China’s unwarranted gloating over Swiss refusal to recognize ‘Tibetan’ nationality

Tibetan and Swiss nationals gathered to protest the arrival of China’s Xi Jinping. (Photo courtesy: Anthony Anex/AP)
Tibetan and Swiss nationals gathered to protest the arrival of China’s Xi Jinping. (Photo courtesy: Anthony Anex/AP)

(, Feb21, 2017) – China on Feb 19 gloated with satisfaction over the fact that Switzerland had, in Jul 2016, “revised” its immigration policy for Tibetan refugees, requiring them to change their nationality to “Chinese”. The country had, for a long time, allowed Tibetans to identify themselves as citizens of “Tibet” or “Stateless,” said an Op-Ed commentary carried by China’s official mouthpiece Global Times.

However, according to the Tibet Bureau at Geneva, which represents the exiled Tibetan Administration at Dharamshala, India, China is simply making a propaganda exploitation of the issue. It appears that Switzerland requires Tibetans to be recorded as “Chinese” simply to take cognizance of the fact that Tibet, irrespective of its historical status, is presently under Chinese rule, thereby effectively rendering its people Chinese citizens. Besides, Switzerland only gives asylum to Tibetasn who had come directly from Chinese ruled Tibet, which is why the use of the term “stateless” is dispensed with in their case.

The Op-Ed, by one Cui Hongjian, described as director of the Department of European Studies under the China Institute of International Studies, has called Switzerland, with more than 4,000 Tibetans, a major base for Tibetan separatists on the continent.

The Op-Ed also cited Swiss media as saying “recently” that the approval rate for “Tibetan-in-exile” asylum seekers had fallen to 50.2 percent at the end of Nov 2016 while the rate in 2015 ranged from 65 to 85 percent. Of course the fact that Tibetans are being given asylum, whatever the numbers may be, obviously shows that the Swiss government does recognize the fact that human rights remain a serious problem in Chinese ruled Tibet.

Still, the Op-Ed said Berne’s denial of recognizing the “Tibet” nationality had dealt a blow to “Tibetan separatists”, as well as the “so-called ‘government-in-exile’ led by the 14th Dalai Lama”. It called Switzerland’s refusal to label the “Tibetan-in-exile” as from “Tibet” or as refugees “a result of the positive Sino-Swiss diplomatic cooperation”.

“Berne must have realized it has more to gain from a strong bilateral relationship with Beijing rather than supporting the Tibetan separatists,” the Op-Ed continued.

Apart from forcing Western countries to tone down on the Dalai Lama issues, the Op-Ed called on Beijing to “work on finding other solutions while making efforts to better integrate China’s minority groups as the Tibet question wouldn’t vanish upon Dalai Lama’s demise.”


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