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All Starts at School: Dr. Gyal Lo Denounces the CCP Genocidal Policy in Tibet

“If the violent educational policy that the CCP is imposing on Tibetan children will continue for 15 or 20 years, it will utterly end the 4700-years old history of Tibetan civilization.”

by Marco Respinti

July 14, 2023

Dr. Gyal Lo in the Italian Senate, July 4, 2023.

Dr. Gyal Lo is a renowned Tibetan scholar, an educational sociologist turned activist who puts his knowledge and expertise at the service of his own threatened people. He was the author of “Social Structuration in Tibetan Society: Education, Society, and Spirituality” in 2016, and is a leading expert on the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s creeping policy of assimilation aimed at annihilating Tibetans as a people. Thanks to International Campaign for Tibet he is presently touring many different capitals and cities of the world to denounce the newest forms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s persistent strategy. As he told “Bitter Winter,” he is basically trying to prevent China to cancel an entire culture and people from the face of the earth.

-Dr. Gyal Lo, please introduce yourself to “Bitter Winter” readers.

“Born in Amdo, Tibet, or what China calls Gansu Province, I attended school in my home region and then received a Master’s Degree from the Tibetan Language and Culture Department of the Northwestern University for Nationalities in Lanzhou, China. In 1995, I was appointed Assistant Professor in the same department, where I taught for the next decade and undertook extensive research into Tibetan education. After leaving to obtain a PhD in Educational Sociology at the University of Toronto, Canada, I returned to China but was refused employment at my former department due to political sensitivities over my time studying in the West. I was then appointed a full professor at the Yunnan Normal University, in Kunming, China, from 2017 to 2020. In 2020, as the political climate changed, my 5-year contract at Yunnan Normal University was terminated on the grounds that I was a foreign Tibetan with a western background and thus a potential political liability in an increasingly authoritarian China. I then left China on December 31, 2020, and decided not to return. It had become too risky to make a meaningful contribution in the field of Tibetan education. Also, I wanted to alert the international community to the dire threats posed to the collective well-being of the Tibetan people and society, and to the survival of Tibet’s language, religion, and culture.”

-Totalitarian regimes know all too well that education is the key to control societies and exert full political power in a country. Obviously, the CCP has devised a system to control Tibetan people through education. When did this start, how is it organized and implemented, and what is it all about?

“Since 1980, the Chinese government established a colonial boarding school system in Tibet as a major tool to fundamentally weaken us as a nation. As a result of 40 years of colonial boarding schools in Tibet, China minimized the total capacity of Tibet, producing four generations of cheap workers to be easily employed in Chinese cities. Then, since 2018, China shifted the role that the Tibetan school education played for Tibetans in Tibet to a newly imposed Chinese school system of a colonial kind. Previously, in 2016, China had already been implementing boarding preschools as part of a compulsory education policy imposed across the entire Tibet.”

-The CCP is practicing cultural genocide against Tibetans. Why and how the new educational system devised by the CCP for Tibet is specifically dangerous for the future of Tibetans?

“Since 2016, China has started keeping age 4 to 6 Tibetan kids in boarding preschools by teaching them only Chinese language and culture. Also, the contents of reading materials kids are exposed to are extremely violent. The Chinese boarding preschools in Tibet have been carrying out a psychological revolution toward a complete eradication of Tibetan culture and identity. If this policy continues for 15, 20 years, it will utterly end the 4700-years-old history of Tibetan civilization. Furthermore, the Tibetan people will be having no capacity to enjoy the result of any possible reconciliation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.”

Dr. Gyal Lo at the Nyen Mountain of Deity, Labrang, Gansu, June 2020.

-We all know that denounces are not enough. What governments of the world and international institutions can really do, at a very practical level, to stop the CCP, at least on this policy towards the rising Tibetan generation?

“At this moment, international organizations or institutions need more stronger solidarities to increase pressure on China and sanction its genocidal policy-makers. This is urgently needed if we want to completely stop the cultural and racial genocidal policy of the CCP. Otherwise, it will spread to other communities, if international institutions let China continue doing what it has been doing to ethnicities.”

-The CCP claims that “Sinicization” is the harmonization of the different cultures that today live within the borders of the PRC to build a common motherland for all. What do you think of this?

“The CCP has been repetitively lying to the whole world for decades, but its lies became the truth for many international organization and institutions. The CCP’s idea of harmonizing different cultures is only a form of pretext to obtain a way to eliminate the cultures of different ethnicities. Indeed, the term ‘Sinicization’ means the contrary: destroying cultural diversity and imposing Han Chinese culture on others. Only by means of this destruction the PRC, in the project of the CCP, will become a ‘one nation, one language, one culture’ country.”

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