Even more reader questions on Tibet
I give an attempt at addressing these questions below. I hope others will contribute their thoughts as well.
Gentlemen, I still think you’re personalising this too much. As a politician, the Dalai Lama’s job is to find a deal that is beneficial to himself or whatever it is that he represents. A deal can get done between him and the government when they find a deal that is mutually beneficial. Compare to the example of Anwar Sadat of Egypt. Sadat had never been a pro-Israeli politician — like virtually everyone else in Egypt, he was against Israel. The time came, however, when he and the Israeli leadership realised that they would both be better off making peace. It would have been completely irrelevant at that point for the Israeli government to wonder whether he had had a genuine change of heart on the subject of Israel — perhaps by reading a book describing the achievements of Israel and the Jewish people. That’s not the point. They had a deal that was mutually beneficial. Nor did this mean that Sadat was a windsock, taking whichever side was most convenient at any given moment. On the contrary, he decided that it was to his benefit to commit long-term to a peaceful relationship with Israel.
Well, certainly, like I said, I believe a peace deal is possible between the Dalai Lama and China. You don’t see anyone here saying that the Dalai Lama can *never* be trusted.
But I don’t believe the Sadat example is the right one, if only because we already know the conclusion of that story. A closer analogue might be equivalent to Iran and Israel. Can Iran and Israel make a deal and become partners in peace? Perhaps, but I don’t blame Israelis for being concerned about Iranian comments that Israel is an “illegal state” that should be erased.
I’m sure any peace deal Israel signs with Iran (or the Palestinian Authority) will make it very, very clear that Israel is absolutely a legal state with the same sovereign rights as any other country under international law. And any peace deal China signs with the Dalai Lama will also make it very, very clear that Tibet is and will be a sovereign part of China.
In the mean time, many of the Dalai Lama’s on-going actions and comments make us question his true motives.. just as many Israelis probably question Ahmadinejad’s true motives.
I agree, buxi, that the tactics the Dalai Lama has been using are deeply flawed, for the reasons you mention. The question is, what strategy are you recommending that would have been more effective? … Where I think the exile Tibetan movement has failed is that this internationalisation has to be part of a two-pronged strategy, and they have failed to effectively reach out to the Chinese people or government. As this blog has pointed out previously, there are plenty of non-PRC-government-controlled Chinese media outlets available in Taiwan, HK, Singapore, etc. The Dalai Lama should be making statements there, rather than in English.
Yes, you answered your own question. If the Dalai Lama was to come to me for advice, this is what I’d tell him:
- even though you tore up the 17-point agreement 40 years ago, try to go back to it. The monks who support you with religious fervor should be waving copies of this in China, not the “International Jurist” judgment that Tibet should be independent.
- instead of waving the snow-lion flag, tell your supporters to wave the Chinese national flag. (I’m very serious.) If monks in Lhasa were marching with the Chinese flag, even if they were chanting “Free Tibet”, it would change the tone of the protest immediately.
- stop talking to European parliaments, and talk to the Chinese people. China is an increasingly open country, and there are numerous channels for getting his points across. Retire his “Washington DC” and “European” envoys, and appoint a Hong Kong envoy.
You ask about his threats of impending violence. I don’t have a problem with him making the statements as a negotiation position, I’m just saying that it’s a weak argument because it doesn’t work.
China’s not unwilling to talk to the Dalai Lama, and it’s shown that again this year. China’s just unwilling to compromise on the terms he’s insisted on, and every time he fails to follow the steps I mentioned above (while ignoring the questions posed in this thread), he just makes it less likely China will compromise.. not more.
Can you give some more details on the Dalai Lama renouncing the Strasbourg proposal in 1992 and seeking full independence? I don’t recall hearing about this before.
chorasmian provided this link on the previous thread: http://www.tibet.com/dl/10mar92.html
I will give you another even more direct to the point link: http://www.tibet.com/proposal/invalid.html
“Under these circumstances His Holiness the Dalai Lama no longer feels obligated or bound to pursue the Strasbourg proposal as a basis for finding a peaceful solution to the Tibetan problem.”
Lastly, the question has been raised of how the PRC can trust the Dalai Lama to keep his word at this point. Allow me to ask, additionally, how can the Dalai Lama trust the PRC government? If he returns to Tibet, what stops them from simply detaining him the next time they feel like it?
Just to emphasize, the question isn’t “how” can the PRC trust the Dalai Lama… but why is the Dalai Lama taking steps that make us trust him even less? Why isn’t he doing more to address the questions that we have about his motives and actions? As far as whether the Dalai Lamas’ concerns about being detained… I don’t see why the PRC would let him back in just to arrest him. What purpose could that possibly serve? It would raise huge international (and domestic) uproar for zero gain.
If we assume the Dalai Lama’s motives in returning are “pure”, then what he fundamentally wants in his remaining years is the preservation of Tibetan culture, greater religious freedom in Tibet, and presumably a stronger voice for Tibetans in managing their own affairs. And why wouldn’t Beijing agree to that, what motives could lead Beijing to retract any concessions on this point?
As President Hu Jintao has said, there isn’t a cultural or religious problem in Tibet, only a separatism problem. How many people in China want to see Tibetan culture and religion wiped out? How many people in China want to see Tibetan Buddhist monks subjected to political study sessions? Why would any of us Chinese be in favor of this?
If he returns and the independence movement dissipates, why wouldn’t we want to give our Tibetan brothers/sisters the same rights that we all aspire to? Things were different in the 1950s, when we honestly believed that we were about to build an utopian society, even if it came at great cost. We’re more practical now, as the last 30 years have proven. I believe the vast majority of Chinese only want to build a modern society, and we respect minority cultures and religious practice (within political limits).
Welcomed or not, tens of thousands of Chinese have spent years in hopes of “building” Tibet. Billions of RMB have been spent on constructing the physical infrastructure of a new Tibet. I realize that in the eyes of many this might have been misguided, but the point remains the same: we want to help Tibet and Tibetans.
If the Dalai Lama returned and the independence movement dissipates, and if he along with Beijing is able to negotiate a system so that our help is directed in a channel that Tibetans can support, then I think we will have achieved a double-win that no one would want to change.
Frankly, I believe Chinese policies in Tibet (and other minority areas) needs change. Race relations are hard in any country, and China is finally getting to the point where with growing wealth + technology we’re becoming more integrated. More Han Chinese are traveling to Tibet and Xinjiang, and vice versa. It’s time we figured out a way to better live together side by side, and the Dalai Lama could play a constructive role there… but he has to discard his political background and everything associated with it.
UPDATE: AC posts an excellent link on minority relations in China, complete with some advice for Beijing.
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