After investigation by Tibetan organizations, it was uncovered that the event is being directly sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, Confucius Institute, Chinese Consulate of San Francisco, and the Chinese controlled local government in Tibet.
Activists say this is a publicity campaign to distract Americans from the current military crackdown in Tibet following a Self-Immolation against Chinese rule this past Thursday. The Festival also coincides with the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Bay Area that same weekend. A large public protest has been planned on Stanford's campus the day of the Festival with Tibetans and supporters living in the Bay Area expected to join in the hundreds.
"Tibetans become exoticised and portrayed as the 'noble savage'. This event is nothing more than a Chinese government 'soft power' tactic to influence American opinion on Tibet and the Chinese Communist dictatorship," said Michael Chen, spokesperson for Stanford Friends of Tibet. "Stanford would be allowing people to be brainwashed on its campus with no regard to the plight of Tibetan and Chinese refugees escaping persecution from China. We call on the school administration to do the right thing and cancel the event."
Many academic professionals in the US are concerned that the Chinese government is using American schools for propaganda campaigns and slowly pressuring educators into changing their curriculum to portray China from an official point of view. There have been many documented cases of Confucius Institutes pressuring Stanford to self-censor and not mention sensitive political topics, including Human Rights, Chinese dissent and Tibetan protests.
The NYTimes also recently reported on a scandal where Chinese professor Xia Yeliang, a former visiting teacher at Stanford, was fired from Beijing University for his political activities in the United States. As concerns about academic freedom in the US grow ,the Canadian Association of University Teachers has called on Universities and Colleges to sever their ties with the Confucius Institutes, because it 'subsidized' and 'supervised' by the authoritarian government of China.
Tibetans are also worried about the vetting process for the Tibetan Dance Troupe coming to Stanford for the event. Jingdong Cai, the acting director of the Pan Asian Festival spoke on this vetting process in the San Francisco Classical Voice. After traveling to Tibet, he selected Tibetan dancers that were only "permitted by the Chinese government to leave the country."
Most Tibetans cannot leave Tibet unless they are able to vouch for their political loyalty to the CCP and agree to not to engage in political dissent or defect. "We are incredibly worried about the oversight of Chinese consular officials in San Francisco and the Tibetan dancers. It is incredibly dangerous for these dancers to have any contact with exile Tibetans in America or be seen to be sympathetic to His Holiness the Dalai Lama," said Tibetan National Congress spokesperson, Gabriel Feinstein. "Stanford has become the litmus test for academic freedom and our exchanges with China, and right now this exchange is becoming poisonous."
In the past, Stanford has also been the subject of intense scrutiny by the Federal government over industrial espionage and Chinese intelligence activities on its campus. Dr.James Mulvenon (Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis) testified before Congress' US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in 2009 about Chinese students at Stanford acquiring American military technology for NORINCO, a Chinese arms manufacturer with ties to the CCP. In one particular case, a Chinese student was able to acquire 15,000 artillery blade fuse cutters during an official delegation visit to the school.
Organized by Tibetan National Congress, Students for a Free Tibet- West, San Francisco- Tibetan Youth Congress, Stanford Friends of Tibet