(TibetanReview.net, Oct12’23) – While no effect has been seen so far in many of its news reporting on Tibet, China has begun referring to Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), the western half of Tibet proper, by its own linguistic name “Xizang” in official diplomatic documents, following suggestions from its academics during an Aug14-16 conference in Beijing.
This is because to the Chinese government, the territory that historically encompasses “Tibet” no longer exists after its armed invasion and illegal annexation of the nation following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on Oct 1, 1949 while “China’s Tibet” only refers to TAR.
And so, Beijing has replaced the use of the term “Tibet” with “Xizang” as the romanized Chinese name on official diplomatic documents, reported the Cantonese service of rfa.org Oct 12, citing a recent speech by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The change is supposed to prevent the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) at Dharamshala, India, from re-establishing the right to speak about Tibet and to promote the legitimacy of Chinese occupation and rule over the region.
The report noted that on Oct 10, the Chinese media and the official account of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China United Front News touted that “there is no more Tibet in the official documents of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
The report noted that in the English transcript of Wang’s speech at the opening ceremony of the Third Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation on Oct 5, “Xizang” was used throughout the copy.
“Tibet” commonly refers not only to TAR but also includes Qinghai Province and other Tibetan territories annexed by China to its Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces as well. China, however, uses “Tibet” as a short form for TAR.
Chinese media outlets quoted Chinese official experts as saying that the name “Tibet” has been geographically misleading to the international community, and rectifying it “will help enhance China’s international voice on Tibet,” the report said.
Exile Tibetans have condemned China’s move.
“It’s a terribly bad political manoeuvre by the CCP. Concepts that have existed in history express historical facts. That ‘Tibet’ refers to the entire Greater Tibet or the entire area where Tibetans live,” Dawa Tsering, director of the Tibet Policy Institute of the CTA has said.
“By imposing its Chinese concept on the English one, it wants to secretly change the concept. It wants to tell others that Tibet is just the ‘Tibet autonomous region.’ Apart from expressing its sovereignty it is adopting a divide-and-rule policy for Tibet.”