The Tibetan Cause and Beyond: In Conversation with MP Michael Brand

In an exclusive interview conducted by The Kootneeti Team at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung office in New Delhi, MP Michael Brand shares profound insights into his advocacy for Tibetan rights and the nuances of global diplomacy. Amidst discussions on China’s policies in Tibet and Xinjiang, Brand emphasizes the importance of tangible actions over mere rhetoric, highlighting recent shifts such as the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics. With a focus on fostering alliances among free nations and confronting authoritarian regimes, Brand articulates a vision for a more cohesive and principled global order.

Here are the excerpts:

Answer: During our discussions, the primary focus was on the current situation in Tibet and the future prospects for its people amidst ongoing repression by the Chinese regime. We addressed concerns regarding China’s authoritarian policies, including the presence of hundreds of thousands of troops in the region and the establishment of a brutal boarding school system. Criticism from international entities, including the UN and countries like Germany, has been directed towards these human rights violations, urging China to cease these actions immediately.

Furthermore, our talks centred on strategies to preserve Tibetan identity and culture in the face of attempts by China to suppress this ancient heritage. The Tibetan people, with their rich history spanning over 3000 years, are an invaluable part of the global community. Therefore, safeguarding their traditions and way of life is paramount. We also deliberated on the challenges faced by Tibetan refugees, both in India and elsewhere, and explored ways to support and empower them through effective administration.

Answer: Absolutely. Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge the remarkable work carried out by the administration, which serves as a cornerstone of the global Tibetan presence. Despite being a small nation situated far from the epicentre of global politics, Tibet has remarkably maintained its relevance and significance over many decades—a testament to its resilience and perseverance.

In Germany and across other European nations, there is a strong network of individuals, initiatives, municipalities, and institutions dedicated to supporting the cause of Tibet and advocating for its freedom and dignity. Within the German parliament, as well as in other legislative bodies, we have established the Tibet Interest Group, showcasing our commitment to this important issue.

During our discussions in Dharamsala, we explored various avenues for collaboration and support, involving parliamentarians from different countries, both in government and opposition roles. This collective engagement signals a sustained and enduring commitment to the Tibetan cause, underscoring our solidarity with the Tibetan people in their pursuit of freedom and cultural preservation.

Answer: The issue of Tibet’s autonomy has a complex history, dating back to 1951 when China made promises regarding autonomy for Tibet, which were ultimately not fulfilled. Germany acknowledges and respects the middle-way approach adopted by the Central Tibetan Administration, which aims for genuine autonomy while advocating for Tibetan rights.

As parliamentarians and concerned citizens, we urge our government to take a more assertive stance in addressing China’s treatment of Tibetans. Recent actions, such as raising concerns at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, demonstrate our commitment to advocating for the Tibetan cause. However, we believe that more can be done, and we encourage our government to be more vocal in condemning human rights violations and pressing for a just resolution for Tibet.

The Tibetan issue is not solely about the Tibetan people; it’s about fundamental freedoms and values in the free world. China’s aggressive actions not only impact Tibet but also extend to other countries, including Germany, where there are concerns about transnational repression of dissidents and supporters. It’s imperative that we take a stand against such aggression to prevent its spread.

Regarding economic ties with China, while they are significant, we must prioritize human rights and dialogue. The situation in Tibet is a matter of global concern, and Germany, along with other nations, must use diplomatic channels to encourage dialogue and advocate for the rights of the Tibetan people.

Michael Brand MP with Dr Adrian Haack, Director – KAS India

Answer: It’s not my place, as a German member of Parliament, to dictate advice to the Indian government. However, there are ongoing informal and formal dialogues between friendly nations like Germany and India on various issues, including economic cooperation and geopolitics. It’s evident that China’s aggressive stance extends not only towards its internal minorities but also towards neighbouring countries like India.

The question of how to respond to this growing threat is being deliberated among Asian nations, with India being a significant player. India’s role in balancing the interests of various nations in response to the Chinese threat, including that of the Tibetan people, is crucial and will be respected.

India’s decision to provide refuge to the Central Tibetan Administration and His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1959 reflects its recognition of the threat posed by China. The Tibetan issue is not just about Tibet but also about the broader threat that China’s actions pose to India and the entire Asian region.

In this context, India’s stance is driven by its own national interests in safeguarding security and stability in Asia. The support extended by the Indian government to Tibetans and the Tibetan cause is a testament to its commitment to addressing the threat posed by China.

Answer: Germany, as a significant member of the EU, has a crucial role in taking substantial legal measures to demonstrate to Beijing that we do not condone the actions of a communist regime, despite its position as a major market for European and German exports. It’s essential to recognize that China is more economically dependent on the EU than vice versa.

It’s time for us to assertively stand up for human rights and condemn any inhumane actions against innocent people. Failure to send a clear message to China against its aggressive actions may embolden further escalation. History has shown us that peaceful approaches alone do not guarantee freedom and stability, as seen in cases like Russia.

Therefore, it’s in our best interest, as well as that of global peace, to signal to leaders like Xi Jinping that we refuse to remain silent in the face of such actions. Taking decisive action is not only a moral imperative but also crucial for maintaining peace and stability in the world.

Answer: I had the privilege of meeting His Holiness once again recently and witnessing firsthand his remarkable spirit and wisdom. It’s evident that His Holiness continues to be a beacon of hope, not just for the Tibetan people but for the entire world. Germany, along with many other nations, stands firmly against any Communist interference or attempts to disrupt the centuries-old tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, including the selection of the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese regime’s efforts to undermine this tradition are seen as both weak and futile. His Holiness has provided clear guidance on how to proceed in such circumstances, emphasizing that the issue of the Dalai Lama rests solely with the Tibetan people, not with China. Despite the challenges, His Holiness remains in good health and spirits, with hopes for a long life ahead.

It’s important to note that while China holds considerable economic influence on the world stage, major countries, including Germany, recognize the importance of upholding principles and values, even in the face of economic dependencies.

Answer: Indeed, there’s a growing global resentment towards China, not just in the West but across the world, including Asia. China’s rise on the international stage, facilitated by its policy of opening up and partial softening of suppression, has brought to light the true nature of the brutal regime. It’s essential to recognize that China’s economic growth, including the so-called miracle in Tibet, wouldn’t have been possible without significant support from Western governments, businesses, and technology.

The tide is turning, and it’s becoming evident that China is heavily dependent on trade with major countries and economies, contrary to what Communist propaganda may suggest. The Communist regime’s decline is increasingly apparent to all observers.

Recent shifts in the stances of the EU, the United States, and major Asian countries towards China reflect this changing dynamic. When trust in China as a reliable and constructive actor diminishes, recalibration becomes necessary.

You’re correct that action speaks louder than words. It’s time for policymakers in Germany, Europe, the United States, India, and elsewhere to respond to this new reality with concrete measures. Advocates like myself have long called for such action, and it’s becoming an integral part of Western and Asian countries’ strategies towards China.

Germany, for instance, has developed a new strategy concerning China, reflecting the evolving sensitivities and realities of the current geopolitical landscape. The time for action is now.

Answer: The key lies in taking action rather than just engaging in dialogue. The diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics was a significant step, but it’s crucial to recognize that economic leverage plays a pivotal role. Germany, with its robust economy, should collaborate with other free nations, including the United States, European countries, India, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Indo-Pacific nations like Taiwan, to formulate cohesive economic policies and work together more effectively.

The diplomatic boycott sends a clear message from the free world that it does not condone aggressive policies that trample on fundamental rights. It’s essential to draw clear lines and demonstrate that such behaviour is unacceptable, not just in the context of the Olympic Games but also in dealings with countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

However, the economy remains the linchpin. Dependence on countries like Russia, as seen in the conflict with Ukraine, comes at a high economic and human cost. Democracies are under threat, and it’s imperative to defend our values and common interests. Germany and India share common values and must collaborate effectively to address these challenges.

It’s crucial to mainstream the concept of the free world and foster global unity against authoritarian regimes. These regimes pose a dual threat to human rights, dignity, stability, security, and prosperity. We must assertively draw red lines and refuse to accept behaviour that violates these principles.

Additionally, we must address issues within organizations like FIFA and the Olympic Committee, where corruption is rampant. People demand transparency, fairness, and participation, and it’s incumbent upon us to ensure that these organizations reflect these values.

In summary, while actions like diplomatic boycotts send important signals, addressing the root causes of such issues and fostering global cooperation are essential for meaningful change.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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The Kootneeti Team

This report has been written by The Kootneeti Team. For any feedbacks/query reach || Twitter: @TheKootneeti

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