I’ve been resisting writing anything on Tibet recently because I think we’ve had more than our shares. But I think the time may be right on this board for one small, limited discussion.
In case you have missed it, the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama met last week for a ninth round of talks since 2002.
The Dalai Lama made some news in the week leading up to the meeting making statements such as he has “given up” on the talks.
The response from the Chinese government last week confirmed the Dalai Lama’s prognosis of the negotiations. In a report from Xin Hua, Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, stated that “[t]he unification of the motherland, territorial integrity and the national dignity are the greatest interests of the Chinese people. We will never make a concession.”
“The Dalai Lama said on many occasions that when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet, Tibet was an independent country and now Tibet is still an independent country, which was illegally occupied. But by denying China’s sovereignty over Tibet, the Dalai Lama is seeking a legal basis for his activities of ‘Tibet independence’, ‘semi-independence and ‘independence in a disguised form’,” Zhu stated.
I personally am relieved about the impasse. I always knew the calls for continued “talks” earlier this year was more theatrics than anything substantive. The exiles lobbied Western governments to pressure the Chinese government to agree to continue negotiate against all reasons, hoping the limelight of the Olympics would give them one last leverage.
Now that the Olympics spotlight is over, even the Dalai Lama concedes there is not much more point in continuing.
Given the clarification now that, barring an about-face in political stance by the Dalai Lama, the current Dalai Lama will not play any role in the further development of Tibet, how will the hand of the current secular government in Tibet be freed in its governance of Tibet? How might the hand of the current government be constrained?
On the flipside, the Dalai Lama has called for a meeting next week for exiles to congregate to discuss the future of Tibet – where all options allegedly will be on the table. What should the exiles do? Prepare to settle in the West and/or India for the long term? Call for full independence? Form a terrorist organization? Form a “democractically elected” exile government?