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Dalai Lama's envoy laments courage deficit in China to resolve Tibet

September 15, 2010

Tibetan Review
September 14, 2010

As Sino-Tibetan dialogue hangs in a limbo,
without it ever having really taken off, the
Dalai Lama’s special envoy Mr Lodi Gyari has
lamented the "institutional constraints and lack
of assertiveness" that he feels define the
leadership in China today. Writing in the South
China Morning Post (Hong Kong) Sep 12, Gyari has
praised what he considers the “sweeping boldness
of the Deng Xiaoping era” and the “statesmanship
and broad-mindedness of Hu Yaobang” which he felt
enabled China “to take steps that helped preserve
the unity and integrity of the country, promoting
the interests of all its citizens and creating a positive international image."

He has postulated three possible reasons, or
mindsets, that underlie the current Chinese
leadership’s hardline position on the Tibet
issue, including the refusal to begin earnest
negotiations for the resolution of the Tibet issue.

The first one, he says, might be that a rising
China sees no reason to acquiesce to the
aspirations of ethnic minorities to preserve
their identity; rather, it requires the
minorities to "fit in" with this "new identity."
In this context, he calls the current stability
in Tibet “artificial” and says China should not
mistake it for Tibetan acquiescence. He calls
this apparent acquiescence “the silence of
growing desperation and bitterness” which only
“multiplies under repressive conditions”.

The second mindset, Gyari feels, is the Chinese
leadership’s belief that success in improving
economic conditions in the Tibetan areas would
make the Tibet issue disappear. But, he says,
"the economic marginalisation of the Tibetan
people is a reality that the Chinese leadership
needs to address, given that official statistics
place the Tibetans at the low end of the scale of
economic development.” Besides, he asserts,
“economic integration without any respect and
sensitivity for their culture will lead to more
resentment by the Tibetan people," as was made
clear by the 2008 protests across the Tibetan Plateau.

Mr Gyari dismisses the third mindset in the
Chinese leadership that the eventual passing away
of the Dalai Lama will make the Tibetan movement
"leaderless and disoriented" and therefore
naturally disappear. He asserts that the reality
is that the "Tibetan political movement will
reinvent itself in the absence of the current,
Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and become something far
more complex and unmanageable in the process.”

Gyari is disheartened to see "just how far
China's leaders have drifted from the early days
of bold reform." He wants them to seize the
opportunity offered by the Dalai Lama today and
have the courage to confront the difficult truths
of contemporary Tibet, "reflecting the kind of
boldness of vision shown by Deng and Hu.”

He says the Tibetan side has made it abundantly
clear that "we will respect the People's Republic
of China's core interest of sovereignty and
territorial integrity, including respecting the
authority of the central government and adhering
to the regional, national autonomy system.” And
he wants the “the central government” to
reciprocate by fully respecting “the legitimate
rights of the Tibetan people to maintain our
distinctive and unique identity, as this is our core interest.”

In his view, the choice before China today is
whether to resolve the issue today through
negotiation and or keep sowing the seeds of
alienation, which will have negative consequences in the distant future.
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