An appeal to take part in information war sensibly

Dear Kashag, Ministers, MPs, Activists, and Torch-bearers of Truth,

As you are well aware, the recent unfolding of two events related with His Holiness has taken the social media by storm. One is the distorted headline by Times-of-India stating “Tibet wants to stay with China.” and another is a misunderstanding of His Holiness’ statement regarding the birthplace of the Buddha.

We are normally very patriotic people and end up blaming China for anything undesirable. Yet there is lack of effective strategy to counter the opposing narrative by China.

It is an open secret that China is spending a huge amount to take control of the information world. In fact their official strategy is based on the concept of “Three Warfares”: 1) Building up psychological pressure; (2) Overt and covert media manipulation; and (3) Legal warfare designed to manipulate strategies, defence policies, and perceptions of target audiences abroad.

We have seen how China used these strategies in a very coordinated manner during the Doklam stand-off with India. The way the Modi government calmly yet persistently dealt with this issue should teach us some lessons in the years and decades to come.

The statements made by His Holiness are nothing new. Yet, they created a storm this time resulting friction and undermining the trust between the Tibetan, Indian, and Nepali people. Historically we three nations were closely connected and bonded by faith and respect for each other. Therefore, it is important not to fall in the trap of Chinese cunning policy when dealing with these issues. Using abusive and harsh language on social media will only make the matter worst for us. In the last 60 years, His Holiness single-handedly managed to garner huge support for our cause with his truth and simplicity. Therefore, we should never lose our core values and strategies when emotions are running high.

The rise of right-wing politics in India, with the government at centre, is a huge political shift in our favour. This may be driven by strong anti-China sentiments. However, with the Middle-way Policy at the core of our freedom struggle, we can be easily misunderstood by the same people who support us. Therefore it is a double-edged sword situation which we need to deal with very sensibly. No wonder this distorted headline saying “Tibet wants to stay with China” earned us huge bashing by the same right-wingers who normally are sympathetic towards us.

In the information war, we may not have the same leverage and money that China has. But with the rise of social media, we can take them on, and win, by using it effectively.

There is no lack of people with a high level of proficiency in different languages. All we need is a studio and the content. Besides individual video bloggers, why can not CTA or DIIR come up with a short clip giving explicit clarification on each matter from time to time. In this age of digital democracy, public sentiment is far more important than meeting with few leaders.

Tenzin Lobsang
Zurich, Switzerland

28 November 2017

Copyright © 2018 Tenzin Lobsang

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily that of Tibet Sun