Chinese Students Protest Dalai Lama Speech by Annexing Tibetan Student Association

Chris Jin, Assistant Content Editor

Volume 23 Issue 7 - June 7, 2017

Article Graphic

Photo by: Jessica Ma

"Let's settle this once and for all, like two proper orgs," said one student, pulling out the cornhole.

The Chinese Student and Scholars Association has stepped up its recent protests against the 14th Dalai Lama being named the keynote speaker at this year’s Commencement is part of a continuing campaign by the CSSA against a figure that they regard as “a threat to Chinese territorial integrity.” In what has been the Association’s boldest act of opposition yet, the CSSA has announced their occupation and annexation of UCSD’s nascent Tibetan Student Association, claiming to have “liberated the Tibetan Student Association from the imperialist influence of Western student organizations” in their conquest.

The occupation began shortly after the TSA formally rejected the CSSA’s demands for the TSA to “voluntarily liberate” their meeting space and for the TSA to replace their “Dolly Llama” mascot with a considerably less fluffy “Poncho Llama” mascot. A routine weekly meeting of the TSA following the official repudiation was suddenly interrupted by a large group of CSSA members, armed with water pistols and Nerf guns and threatened to “unify their fists” with the faces of uncooperative TSA members.

Under threat of force from the advancing CSSA officers, the TSA leadership reluctantly signed a prepared document in which, among other things, the TSA would recognize the CSSA as its sovereign and begin “expelling imperialist influences” such as pizza parties “with wholly non-Chinese toppings” and sloshball events with Christian student organizations. The CSSA then proceeded to subsume all standard operations of the TSA, and the TSA leadership was forced to relocate to the back corner of the Indian Student Association’s general body meetings.

The annexation has been met with significant outcry, with many student organizations on campus denouncing the CSSA’s actions and pledging support for the TSA’s executive-board-in-exile. However, CSSA president Peng Wen maintains that the CSSA’s actions were legitimate.

“China and Tibet have been one ever since the Yuan Dynasty, and as we know, the international community has an unwritten rule of ‘no takebacksies,’” stated Wen. “Besides, we have freed the Tibetan students from the shackles of Western colonialism by conquering them in the name of establishing civilization in the Chinese sense of the word. I don’t see what the fuss is about. We, as Chinese, have self-determined that the Tibetans should self-determine themselves to be Chinese.”

Various members of the university’s history department and political science department have argued against the official CSSA justification. Professor Po Lisai notes that Chinese claims to Tibet are historically dubious to a degree.

“They say that Tibet has been an integral part of China since the Yuan Dynasty, but Tibet was independent of China throughout the Ming Dynasty and the ROC Eras,” explains Lisai. “Plus, the Yuan and Qing dynasties, which were the only Imperial dynasties to also claim sovereignty over Tibet, were both established by non-Han Chinese invaders. The current claim to Tibet is basically based on the geopolitical equivalent of licking something to claim it as your own, except that thing was licked by someone else who happened to lick you first, which apparently gives you permission to just stuff the whole goddamn thing in your mouth.”

Due to the “fait accompli” nature of the takeover, little tangible action has been taken to help restore the TSA leadership to power. However, the TSA leaders remain undaunted. “We will follow the example of the Dalai Lama,” read a joint statement by the TSA executive-board-in-exile. “We will bide our time, and patiently wear down the CSSA through peaceful protest and civil resistance. And, maybe, in 50 years, we will be invited to give a speech at another university and be protested by a Chinese student association.”