China’s ‘sharp power’ obscures ‘cultural genocide’ in Tibet


China’s growing power projection in the fields of media, education, and political values and ideas is sometimes called soft-power. But a study of rising authoritarian influence, released today by the National Endowment for Democracy, says that it is more properly called “sharp power” since its goal is to pierce and penetrate targeted populations by manipulating and distorting the information that reaches them, NED President Carl Gershman told the Committee on House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. China spends an estimated $10-15 billion on such sharp-power efforts, he added:

The United States and many other countries have tended to take a benign view of China’s policies because Xi Jinping tries to present himself to the world as a global citizen, and he does not indulge in the brazen behavior of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. In addition, the illusion still persists that the integration of China into the global economy and political order will moderate its behavior and encourage its internal liberalization. In fact, the threat posed by China to the world order has increased with its growing economic power, and repression is worse today than at any time since the death of Mao Zedong four decades ago. Nowhere is this repression more cruel than in Tibet, where the Chinese government is pursuing a policy that the Dalai Lama has called “cultural genocide.”

The committee also heard testimony from American actor Richard Gere (right), the Chairperson of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), and from Tenzin Tethong, Director of the Tibetan Service, Radio Free Asia (RFA).

“In addition to the systematic effort to destroy the Tibetan religion, language, culture, and distinct national identity, China has flooded Tibet with Han Chinese settlers, placed monasteries under direct government control, arrested and tortured writers, and forcibly resettled more than two million nomads in urban areas, destroying their traditional way of life and disrupting the fragile ecosystem of the Tibet Plateau,” said Gershman (left), addressing a hearing on U.S. Policy Toward Tibet: Access, Religious Freedom, and Human Rights.


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