CHENNAI, India, 11 June 2017
While it has been more than six decades since China forcibly occupied Tibet, the Tibetans living around the world as refugees have not lost their hopes of regaining their motherland.
With its huge economic and military power, China has so far succeeded in silencing world opinion about its misdeeds in Tibet and its unethical act in driving many thousands of Tibetans out of their own country. Not wanting to lose the trading and investment opportunities in China, almost all countries around the world have chosen to ignore the plight of Tibetans and the gross injustice done to their cause. However, while governments around the world remain unconcerned about China’s forcible occupation and violations of human rights in Tibet, many people worldwide are aware that injustice has been done by China, and there is desire that the cause of Tibetans should win ultimately.
People everywhere, particularly the younger generations who may not know the history of Tibet and how Tibet’s spirit and culture have been violated by China, should be told about this clearly.
While there is no way that Tibetans can get back their motherland and freedom by appealing to China to see reason and observe fair play, Tibetans still have enormous moral force at their command that can impel China to see reason and vacate Tibet — if this moral force can be applied in an appropriate manner. There are elegant, peaceful, and civilized ways of doing this.
China’s economy is almost totally dependent on its capability to trade its products across the world. China makes a variety of products, from toys and play books for children, zip fasteners for garments, and hundreds of similar items that are used by individuals in day-to-day life. In most shops in many countries, such Chinese goods are exhibited prominently and sold in huge quantity.
Tibetans and their sympathisers around the world need a way to register their protest against the injustice done to Tibetans by China. The best way to enable them to register their protest is by starting a worldwide campaign to boycott the products and goods sold across the world under the name “Made in China”.
Such a soft campaign of boycotting Chinese goods would immediately spread far and wide if it could be launched effectively, as the cause is genuine and the objective is right.
Everyone knows that China is a dictatorial country and that there is a deep communication gap between Chinese citizens and the Chinese government. People just obey the dictates of the government unquestioningly, and in most cases they may not be aware of the particular reason behind any action of the government. It is quite possible that Chinese citizens themselves may not be aware of the harm done to Tibet by China.
The campaign to boycott Chinese goods and services around the world will send a clear message not only to the Chinese government but also to the citizens in China who sell their products in thousands of shops, about the prevalent hard feelings towards the present Tibet scenario. This will bring worldwide focus on the plight of Tibetans and the injustice done to them by China.
While such a boycott will certainly not result in an immediate change in the attitude and approach of the Chinese government to the Tibetan issue, the moral force that such a boycott would unleash on China would remain conspicuous, which the government in China and Chinese citizens cannot ignore.
Such a soft campaign would reflect the spirit that Mahatma Gandhi introduced during the freedom movement in India, when the mighty British empire could not face the protest by millions of impoverished Indians. Such a campaign, non-violent and peaceful, would also be in tune with the philosophy that Lord Buddha espoused and gave to the world.
The ball is clearly in the court of Tibetans and their sympathisers, and they should launch this soft campaign to boycott Chinese products, to achieve their target of liberating Tibet, by conducting the campaign in a sustained way through media, forum discussions, and lecture programmes all over the world.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.