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Drive To Boycott Chinese Goods Being Re-Launched
by Pawan Sharma Hindustan Times, December 13, 2002

Despite a ban called by the Tibetan Government in exile on Chinese goods for the past 20 years, the Tibetan community continues to patronise Chinese business in open defiance of the boycott.

Alarmed by this cold response of the Tibetan business community, the campaign is being re-launched from January 1 with renewed hope of better response. This time the spirit behind the campaign, which will be launched simultaneously in 10 major cities and states in India are some other countries across the world, is Friends of Tibet INDIA (FoT). The movement has the support of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan NGOs and Tibet Support Groups.

"While we accuse China of illegal occupation of our country and the suffering of our people, we continue to patronise their business and keep our shops and homes full of Chinese products. Boycotting goods 'Made in China' is the first and the foremost expression of non-cooperation with China. However small our buying power may be, we must refuse to be a party to their corrupt and colonial regime," said Tenzin Tsundue, general secretary of FoT, while talking to HT.

The campaign against Chinese products, launched in 1982, had suffered a serious setback during the Kalachakra celebrations in Bodh Gaya in 1985 as Tibetans, especially newly arrived refugees, indulged in buying and selling of Chinese products. Despite appeals by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans and the international community to boycott Chinese products, the campaign never picked up momentum, concedes Tibetan here.

About 1,500 volunteers of Friends of Tibet have fanned out in Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Delhi, Kerala, Sikkim, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Baroda for the re-launch of the boycott of Chinese products. The campaign is not confined to India alone; Tibet support groups in different countries will participate in it with renews zeal, said Tenzin.

Tibet Support Groups and individuals working for the Tibetan cause all over the world are working on the boycott campaign. Networks are being built with many countries that suffered setbacks because of the invasion of the Chinese products. In fact, Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche's statement on December 10, reiterating support to boycott Chinese products, has come as a short in the arm for the Friends of Tibet.

"The indigenous lock factories in Aligarh and toy factories of Meerut had to be shut down because of the invasion of Chinese goods. Tibetans must realise that Chinese products we trade in are illegally acquired and smuggled goods," said Tenzin.

The Tibetan shops lining the narrow lanes of either McLeod Ganj, Dalhousie or any other Tibetan market across the country have become a hub of Chinese goods.

Tibetan officials admit that people of the exiled community have been unable to resist the temptation of selling Chinese goods, which sell like hot cakes.

What remains to be seen if the FoT's campaign and renewed appeal of the Tibetan government in exile to boycott Chinese products will have any impact on the Tibetan business community, which is being accused by its own people of harming the cause of Tibet.