Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), wrapped up his three-day official visit to New Zealand, a Pacific Island nation, on June 14, 2023. During his visit, he engaged with various political figures, community groups, and media agencies, leaving a lasting impact.
Sikyong Tsering received a warm welcome upon his arrival at Auckland International Airport, where Representative Karma Singey of the Tibet Information Office-Canberra, President Wangdue Tsering, and other executive members of the New Zealand Tibetan Association, members of the Chinese-Tibetan Friendship Association, and local Tibetans were present to greet him. The visit garnered substantial attention, both in terms of media coverage and public interest, reported by the CTA official media.
Throughout his stay, Sikyong held meetings with the Tibetan community and Tibet Support Groups, amplifying his message of solidarity and garnering further support for the Tibetan cause. He also made appearances on prominent media outlets, such as Radio New Zealand, the country's public broadcaster, as well as newspapers like the New Zealand Herald and the Post, according to CTA official media. By doing so, he effectively communicated the pressing concerns regarding the lack of freedom and the escalating surveillance state in Tibet. Notably, Tsering emphasized the Chinese government's suppression of the Tibetan language and their control over monasteries through extensive CCTV surveillance. This candid dialogue shed light on the challenges faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule.
Sikyong's visit also included meetings with notable political figures, including MP Simon O'Connor, National Party Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Co-Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, and MP James McDowall of the ACT political party. Despite being physically present at the Parliament of New Zealand, MP Helen White from the Labour Party and MP Golriz Ghahraman from the Green Party joined the discussions virtually. These meetings allowed for a comprehensive exchange of ideas and insights into the Tibet issue, as well as the implications of aligning with the Chinese government. Sikyong Tsering warned against succumbing to Chinese pressure, illustrating the potential consequences of becoming subservient and compromising national interests.
The culmination of the Sikyong's official engagements took place on June 15, as he met with Friends of Tibet, the Nyingjey Charitable Trust, and Dharma students at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington. During this gathering, Tsering addressed critical issues surrounding Tibet, including the erosion of Tibetan identity, the importance of preserving Tibetan religion and culture, and the need to safeguard the environment. He expressed heartfelt gratitude for the longstanding support received from these organizations, further solidifying the bonds between the Tibetan movement and its dedicated allies.
Accompanied by OOT Canberra Representative Karma Singey, Sikyong Tsering concluded his fruitful visit to New Zealand and proceeded to Sydney, Australia the following day. The impact of his visit, characterized by high levels of perplexity and bustiness, bolstered support for the Tibet cause while raising international awareness about the critical situation faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule.