Thank you very much, Honourable Chair Geoff Regan, vice-chairs and members of the committee. Here in Dharamsala it is 1 a.m. Given the importance of the committee, I thought I should deprive myself of sleep and talk about China and Tibet.
[Witness spoke in Tibetan]
I just said in Tibetan what I said in English.
It's odd now that, because of COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, instead of meeting in person we have to conduct such hearings online. It's an inconvenience caused to all of us, I think partly due to the Chinese government's irresponsible act of not letting us know that the coronavirus does transfer from human to human. Several thousands were infected, but they did not inform the world. That has led us to this very precarious situation.
I just want to say what I said in 2018, which is similar to what the U.S. government and others have been saying. The challenge posed by the Communist Party of China, or the Chinese government, is very serious. Either we transform China or China will transform us. Liberal values are at stake. Democracy is at stake. Human rights are at stake. Environmental issues are at stake.
Being the second-largest donor to the United Nations, China is trying to restructure the United Nations by putting in key personnel who support them and who compromise democratic values and human rights values. They are trying to redefine human rights. They have already passed two resolutions redefining human rights. If that is to continue, then the human rights we know, where freedom of speech and political rights are considered key, will be diluted. Then all over the world will be what happened in Tibet in the 1950s—elite co-optation of influencing politicians, influencing business people, intellectuals, the media.
All these things are taking place. Having travelled from Ottawa to Norway to Sweden to Australia, I've seen this over and over again. Because of this elite co-optation, the Chinese government is trying to get many people in your own countries favouring or supporting the Chinese version of events. This is what they are trying to do.
We see it in Canada with the issue of Michael and Michael. Obviously, my solidarity is with the family members of Michael and Michael, but it is a choice between morals and money. If the Canadian government submits to the Chinese government's demand to exchange Ms. Meng Wanzhou for Michael and Michael, that will lead to other cases where more Canadians could be arrested and used as hostages to put pressure on the Canadian government to give them concessions. I think the Canadian government has taken the right stand—not to succumb to the pressure from this Chinese government.
On the issue of Taiwan being a member of the WHO, I have been in favour of Taiwan's status being restored to pre-2016, when they were a member of the WHO. The coronavirus is simply a health issue, and Taiwan has performed brilliantly in dealing with the coronavirus. Their expertise and their experience could be invaluable in handling this coronavirus. Their role should be provided for and accommodated at the WHO, but because of Chinese government pressure they are not allowed in.
Then there's the security laws in Hong Kong. This is what we saw in Tibet with the unity laws in Tibet. Similar security laws were passed in Tibet, and these laws are simply to undermine democratic values, undermine freedom of speech and allow political oppression of the Tibetan people, environmental destruction of the Tibetan Plateau and the economic marginalization of the Tibetan people. All this is taking place primarily because the Chinese government has imposed, like Hong Kong, security laws, unity laws. These are used to undermine the freedom of the Tibetan people.
Hence, what we have been saying is that what happened to Tibet could happen to you. From Taiwan to Hong Kong, to East Turkestan, with a million or so people detained, including a Canadian citizen, a Uighur Canadian, Huseyin Celil, who has been detained in China, all this clearly shows that what happened in Tibet 60 years ago is happening all over the world. There are a lot of lessons you can learn from Tibet.
With this, I want to recommend that the Canadian government, especially the committee, pass a motion and support a middle-way approach as a policy which seeks genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the framework of the Chinese constitution. For that to happen, there ought to be a dialogue between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and the representatives of the Chinese government. This is, in fact, a win-win proposition for the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. I hope the committee will consider supporting a middle-way approach.
Religious freedom is vital. This year marks the 30th birthday of Panchen Lama and the 25th anniversary of his disappearance. We don't know where he is. He has disappeared for 25 years, and Panchen Lama's case reflects the tragedy of the situation for religious leaders and religious freedom in Tibet. The Chinese government is trying to interfere in the selection of reincarnated Lamas. The reincarnation is strictly a spiritual business that the Communist Party of China is politicizing. They are saying they will interfere and they will select the reincarnated Lama, and the Tibetan people should follow those religious leaders. This is in clear violation of basic human rights and basic spiritual traditions.
Also, I would urge the Canadian government to join alliances of democracies or like-minded countries that support and uphold liberal values, to be together, so open coordination with other countries to press on the Chinese government that they ought to be a responsible member of the international community, and international norms and regulations ought to be followed. If they don't do it, they will not get the respect they want as an upcoming superpower.
The Chinese government ought to respect human rights and liberal values of the Tibetan people and Uighurs, Hong Kong, and the people in Taiwan as well. These are the issues, which are very important.
Finally, Tibet is very important from the environmental point of view. Ten major rivers of Asia flow from Tibet. Tibet is called the “water tower of Asia”. More than a billion people depend on water flowing from Tibet. Climate change is all over the world, including whether the winter will be cold or warm in Ottawa, or the summer will be too hot or not. It's partly dependent on jet streams from the Tibetan Plateau, so that's also a very important matter. The Chinese government does talk about providing leadership in climate change, but their actions and their record in Tibet are abysmal, a very poor record, so the Chinese government should be held accountable as far as the environmental destruction of the Tibetan Plateau is concerned.
These points were also raised by a Tibetan-Canadian called Sangyal Kyab, who walked all the way from Toronto to Ottawa and visited Parliament, asking parliamentarians to support dialogue between the Chinese government and the envoys of the Dalai Lama to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue, and the whereabouts of Panchen Lama, and religious freedom.
I would like to end here, because my time is up, and thank the committee members for inviting me. Even though it is past midnight, past 1 a.m. here, I am here to represent the Tibetan people and to emphasize how important the Tibet issue is. With that, I want to thank the chair, the clerk and all the members of the committee.