The news report by China Tibet Network News highlights the 10th National Coordination Meeting of Tibetan Journals, emphasizing the Chinese government's efforts to promote the standardized construction and high-quality development of Tibetan-related academic journals. However, several aspects of the report warrant scrutiny and raise concerns about the Chinese government's intentions behind this initiative.
The 10th National Coordination Meeting of Tibetan Journals, held in Beijing from November 20 to 21, 2023, was a gathering of nearly 60 heads of Tibetan-related journals and experts and scholars from more than 30 Tibetan-related journals from Beijing, Nanjing, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, Yunnan and Tibet. The meeting was intended to promote the standardized construction and high-quality development of China's Tibet-related academic journals.
While the meeting was ostensibly focused on promoting academic discourse and collaboration, there are several reasons to be concerned about its underlying agenda.
The meeting was heavily controlled by the Chinese government. The opening ceremony was presided over by Wang Weiqiang, editor-in-chief of China Tibetology Publishing House and editor-in-chief of China Tibetology. Chen Zongrong, Secretary of the Party Group of the China Tibetology Research Center, and Zheng Dui, Director-General, delivered speeches one after another. Li Decheng, Director of the Organization and Coordination Office of the Social Science Work Office of the Central Propaganda Department, Wang Wenjun, director of the China Social Science Research Evaluation Center of Nanjing University, and Laba Tsren, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Tibet University, attended the meeting.
This heavy-handed government presence suggests that the meeting was not intended to promote open and honest academic discourse, but rather to advance the Chinese government's own political agenda.
The meeting focused on promoting Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. This is the official ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, and it is used to justify the Party's authoritarian rule. By promoting this ideology, the Chinese government is seeking to legitimize its own grip on power and to suppress dissent.
The meeting was held in Beijing, the capital of China. This is a symbolic choice that suggests that the Chinese government is trying to assert its dominance over Tibet.
The report provides limited details about the meeting's agenda, discussions, and outcomes. The focus on the Chinese government's directives and the absence of dissenting voices suggest a lack of transparency and openness in the process. This raises questions about the true purpose of the meeting and whether it serves as a genuine platform for academic exchange or rather a means to control and shape the narrative surrounding Tibetan studies.
The report repeatedly emphasizes the need to align Tibetan journals with Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the Party's strategy for governing Tibet. This suggests a priority placed on political ideology over academic rigor and raises concerns about the potential for suppression of dissenting views and critical scholarship.
The report mentions the participation of experts from institutions closely affiliated with the Chinese government, such as the China Social Science Research Evaluation Center of Nanjing University and the China Tibetology Research Center. This raises concerns about the objectivity of these participants and their potential bias in favor of the Chinese government's agenda.
The report fails to mention the participation of exiled Tibetan scholars or representatives from independent Tibetan research institutions. This exclusion of Tibetan voices suggests a lack of genuine effort to incorporate diverse perspectives into the discussion on Tibetan studies.
The Chinese government's emphasis on standardized construction and high-quality development raises concerns about potential efforts to stifle critical discourse and limit the scope of Tibetan studies. This could lead to the suppression of important research and a narrowing of the field's intellectual diversity.
While the Chinese government's efforts to promote Tibetan studies are commendable, the lack of transparency, emphasis on political ideology, and limited representation of Tibetan voices raise concerns about these initiatives to undermine academic freedom and stifle critical scholarship. The field of Tibetan studies would benefit more from genuine open dialogue, inclusivity, and a commitment to academic rigor rather than government-imposed directives and ideological constraints.
Edited and collated by Team TRC