Although 90 percent of China’s population is ethnic Han, the ruling communist party also represents 55 minority groups. Their delegates were present at this year’s National People’s Congress, the government’s biggest press conference. For your convenience, questions by the press are vetted beforehand.
Even though the regions housing these minorities face serious issues and ethnic tensions threaten to cripple stability, these delegates had mostly good news to report.
The Tibet region’s chairman announced a new high-altitude railway that would bring “even more prosperity to the region.” Little mention was made of the tension permeating the region, where more than 140 people have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest the government’s rampant suppression of Tibetan culture.
Many Tibetans risk imprisonment while secretly worshiping the spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in secret. Padma Choling, head of Tibet’s People’s Congress, criticized the exiled spiritual leader at the conference.
“He betrayed our country, betrayed our people, betrayed his hometown,” said Padma. “So far, most activities he has conducted are splitting Tibet from China.”
The Dalai Lama has actually been calling for the government to defend cultural and religious freedom in the autonomous region rather than grant independence.
Losang Danba, the head of the municipal people’s congress in Lhasa, went as far as to say Tibetans glorify the communist party, when asked why Tibetan NPC delegates were wearing pins featuring the face of President Xi Jinping.
“[Under communist rule] Tibet was transformed from a slave and feudalist society, we were liberated, we got freedom, and became the host of our own house, so Tibetan people have a strong feeling for Chinese Communist Party leaders,” Losang said.
“Tibetan people are good at expressing their feelings, through singing about the party leaders, or from Mao Zedong’s times, by wearing the leaders’ badges.”
Some delegates also painted rosy pictures of Xinjiang, where Muslim Uighurs have launched waves of viscous attacks including random stabbings at a train station and a market.
“The people are in good spirits,” said Xinjiang party Chief Zhang Chunxian.
He also announced the government was making great strides in combating poverty in the region, while enhancing education.
To add to the illusion, several delegates also dressed in ethnic attire. The scene was characterized by a colorful wave of people. Some wore silvery headdresses, cowboy hats, and even golden antlers atop furry caps.
Delegates are not allowed to wear these in their daily lives.