གཟའ་སྤེན་པ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༣/༠༢

China’s Plan to Standardize Tibetan Terminologies is to Counter Exile Influence, says Dharamsala

(Photo Source: China Tibet Online: Chinatibet.people.com.cn)
(Photo Source: China Tibet Online: Chinatibet.people.com.cn)

Dharamsala officials said they welcome the establishment of a new committee in Beijing to standardize Tibetan “translational norms” and new terminologies in Tibetan language, as reported recently by official Chinese news. They believe China has been “pushed” to strengthen its Tibetan language terminologies in order to compete with the exiled Tibetan government based in Dharamsala, North India.

On April 28, China established a committee led by Ragdi, Vice Chairman of the 10th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China and a native Tibetan, to standardize new Tibetan terminologies.

About 50 experts from five ministries and commissions of Chinese government as well as from Tibetan areas, including TAR, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces gathered in Beijing, where they appointed 41 experts to oversee the project. “To unify terminology is firstly for the purpose of propagating the policies of the party and government,” Damdul, Vice Director of China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing, told Chinese state-run Kham TV.

According to Lhasa TV, the committee also stressed that standardizing terminologies is an important task to fight against the “Dalai Clique” and stability in Tibetan areas. Such comments questioned Dharamsala about China’s motivation. “If their goal and focus are what they’ve said in the meeting, then perhaps their intention to create new terminologies is to counter what we’ve created here,” Karma Monlam, the head of Tibetan Terminology Project of Department of Education, Dharamsala, told VOA Tibetan Service, speaking in Tibetan.

Since 2008, the Department of Education of the Central Tibetan Administration has published six Tibetan language terminology books. Kalsang Gyaltsen Baba, a MP and prominent China analyst in Dharamsala who had worked for China’s United Front Work before he left for India, said that Chinese authorities are aware of the new Tibetan terminology books published in exile. Nevertheless, both Mr. Gyaltsen and Mr. Molam consider that it is generally a positive move for Beijing to launch such project that concerns Tibetan language. Mr. Monlam said his group will treat new terminologies that China will have created as material for analysis and use any politically agreeable terms they find from it.

It is unclear whether China has ever adopted any new Tibetan terms created by the exile government apart from “tashi delek,” a greeting word developed in exile. On the other hand, through Western media and publications of some Tibet supporter western groups, certain China’s political terminologies in Tibetan, such as “Tibetan nationality,” “Han Chinese,” “Middle Kingdom” and so on are today becoming vocabularies of exiled community. ​

The newly established committee in Beijing said it will produce a "new Tibetan terminology vocabulary" book, but “controversial terms” will be excluded for further discussion in the next meeting.