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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

An illusive olive branch from the Dalai Lama

August 22, 2008

By Jin Canrong
China Daily (People's Republic of China)
August 21, 2008

Just one day ahead of the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, The
New York Times published an editorial by its commentator and former
correspondent in China, Nicholas D. Kristof, introducing the
so-called Dalai Lama's new ideas on the Tibet issue.

In the commentary titled "An olive branch from the Dalai Lama,"
Kristof also gave his opinions about the Tibet issue with his
incomplete knowledge of Beijing's policy on Tibet.

It is inexplicable that the Dalai Lama publicized his requests
through a Western journalist, instead of raising them directly to the
Central Government, since Beijing has spoken out repeatedly the door
to dialogues is open. Talking through an American journalist's mouth
reduces the creditability of his message, and makes people wonder if
the Dalai really desired to solve the problems or is it another PR
smoking campaign on behalf of the West.

 From 2002 to early this year, the Central Government had six
contacts with Dalai's envoys, and although the March 14 violent riot
in Lhasa enraged the Chinese people, the Communist Party's United
Front Work Department still managed to arrange two dialogues with his
envoys. So, whom the Dalai Lama should talk to is the Central
Government in Beijing, not some Western individuals.

In his latest messages, relayed through Kristof, the Dalai Lama
requested not to talk to the United Front Work Department of China
any more, but with top state leaders, such as the president or the
premier, and even asked for the removal of the Communist Party chief
in charge of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. These wonton requests are
totally unreasonable which could only set new barriers to future
dialogue. The requests also make people suspect of the Dalai Lama's
credibility to seek genuine solutions.

The Dalai Lama said, via Kristof's writings, that it is his utmost
concession to accept the socialist society in Tibet led by the
Chinese Communist Party, and in return he demand the the Central
Government make compromises. This is nothing but his negotiation skills.

In fact, it is what the Dalai Lama must recognize, and it is also an
unchangeable fact that socialism led by CCP has been the basic social
system in Tibet ever since the launching of the Tibetan Autonomous
Region in 1965. The region has made great progress in modernization
under this social system. To change the basic system will cause
unimaginable disasters to Tibet. It is also futile for a few planning
to revise the basic system.

The Dalai Lama also talked about the so-called "all Tibetan areas,"
asking to expand the territorial and political boundaries of the
Tibetan Autonomous Region to encompass about one-fourth of China's
land mass, merging parts of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan
provinces. He also demanded that the Central Government physically
block people from migrating into the Tibetan region. This ill-willed
suggestion ignores the Constitutional rights of other ethnic groups
to move freely and do businesses freely in China. And, a bigger and
"all Tibetans' Area", as suggested by the Dalai Lama, will lead to an
ethnic cleansing that all non-Tibetan residents will have to be moved out.

Kristof, in his article, put forward some specific requirements for
the Dalai Lama after he highlighted Dalai's "new ideas". Kristof
suggested that Dalai could enter and leave Tibet freely, restrict
immigration to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, allow pre-school
children to enter monasteries, strengthen Tibetan language promotion
and phase in more Tibetan officials and so on. Sure, it is Dalai's
right to bring suggestions but the suggestions should be reasonable and sound.

The freedom of migration is privileged by China's Constitution and
any prohibition of this right is against modern law and individual
citizens' basic human right. Children of all ethnic groups have right
to receive nine-year basic education and both their parents and our
government have obligation to do so. Religious freedom is protected
after the children are grown up to make decisions for themselves.

In the process of modernization, The Tibet Autonomous Region, like
other Chinese provinces and regions, faces the dilemma between
modernization and traditional culture protection. The fact is that
China has done lots of fruitful work to widen and spread Tibetan
language teaching and usage and to protect Tibetan ethnic culture.

"The point is our culture not politics," as Dalai Lama was quoted by
Kristof in the article. However readers can only smell the heavy
scent of politics in the requirements made by the Dalai Lama. Culture
protection is made use of by the lama.
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