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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."

Middle Way Metamorphosis

November 14, 2008

Jamyang Norbu
Shadow Tibet Blog
November 13th, 2008

The Chinese Communist Party has a fondness for colourful and
sometimes bizarre labels for their campaigns and policies. In the
past we had "The Great Leap Forward," "The Hundred Flowers,"
"Three-Anti/Five-Anti," and the "Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius"
campaign which in Tibet was recast as "Criticize Dalai, Criticize
Panchen". More recently we have had to chew over such profundities as
Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents" and Hu Jintao's "Eight Honors and
Eight Disgraces."

In Tibet it has been less esoteric and more brutally straightforward
with such policies as "Strikehard" and "Merciless Repression". Right
now the murderous crackdown throughout Tibet appears to be referred
to as Da Za Qiang Shao (????) "Beat Smash Loot Burn". I suppose this
is intended to refer to the actions of the Tibetan protesters and not
to the official reprisals, though the latter might be a better fit. I
understand that this was one of the many slogans used during the
Cultural Revolution and might not be an official label.

All this made me wonder if Beijing had a designated term for their
policy in response to the Dalai Lama's Middle Way Approach. I
contacted a friend of mine who has fairly good guanxi or access to
local officialdom inside Tibet, and he told me that yes, there was a
specific term being used by Chinese officials at the United Front and
it was tuõ yán zhèng cè (????) — time wasting policy, or literally
"prolonging" policy. Tibetan cadres referred to it as dhu gyang kyi
sichue or time stretching, or time wasting policy.

But yesterday Beijing finally decided (for reasons I will discuss in
a future discussion) to pull the plug on this "prolonging" policy,
and in the most unmistakable of terms declare that negotiations about
any kind of autonomy for Tibet was not going to happen. A press
conference was held on Monday 10th by the United Front Work Committee
where it was announced that no progress was made at the recent talks
with representatives of the Dalai Lama, and the Chinese officials
blamed the exiled Tibetan leader as being responsible for the failure
to make any progress. They further accused the Dalai Lama of trying
to seek a "legal basis" to claim "independence or semi-independence
over Tibet", and insisted China would never accept the Tibetan
leader's demands for greater autonomy for the occupied Himalayan
region. An AFP report quoted the Chinese spokesman as saying that
"Our contacts and talks failed to make progress and they (the Dalai
Lama's representatives) should assume full responsibility for it."

Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun, the deputy head of the United Front Work
Department  said "why are you (the Dalai Lama) asking Chinese people
to accept the so called "middle way approach -- which is clearly
design to split the country."

On being asked by a journalist about Tibetan claims that Deng
Xiaoping had given an assurance that other than the issue of
independence every thing could be discussed, Zhu Weiqun made a
categorical rejection of this claim. He said that even Lodi Gyari had
raised this claim on a few occasions but "…actually Mr. Deng Xiaoping
never said this and this is a distortion of Deng Xiaoping's remark."
With a dismissive little laugh and a smile he continued "I think it
would be foolish for anyone to try to find something that they can
use from the great patriotic Deng Xiaoping. Everything we do today is
based on the guiding principles set forth by Mr. Deng Xiaoping."

The entire press conference can be seen on YouTube. Someone
(Agusangpo) posted these on my website. There is a running
translation in English:

I have put in this reference to the YouTube videos since some more
fearful and naïve souls in our community are now arguing that the
cunning Chinese are actually setting a trap with their rejection of
dialogue. That if Tibetans now declare for independence, they argue,
the Chinese will announce to the world that the splittist Dalai Lama
has always had this secret agenda for independence. Of course the
cunning Chinese will have first wiped out everyone's memories of the
Monday 10th televised press conference from their brains, and the
three YouTube videos will somehow be made to disappear completely
from the digital world.

Although this humiliating smackdown from Beijing should convince
anyone but the congenitally delusional that our policy of seeking
"meaningful autonomy" through negotiations is truly over, yet I keep
getting reports from Dharamshala indicating otherwise.  The
proponents of Middle Way now seem to be trying to spread a new
message to the Tibetan public, that even if the Chinese have
completely rejected dialogue, we must hang on to the Middle Way policy because:

1. Most nations in the world, including India support the Middle Way,
and not independence

2. If we gave up the Middle Way and declared our objective as
independence, the government of India would not allow us to stay in
India and we would be deported.

The first argument is, of course, absolutely mistaken. No country in
the world has come out and said that it supports the unification of
the three provinces of Tibet: U Tsang, Kham and Amdo; then into a
democratic entity which would be granted "genuine" or meaningful
autonomy within the People's Republic of China. All that the heads of
states and leaders of many countries have said is that they support
negotiations and they "urge" China's leaders to talk to the Dalai
Lama. Most leaders are aware that China won't make any meaningful
concession, but the gesture of supporting dialogue makes these
leaders look good to their constituencies, while not forcing them
into a position where they might have to take a real position that
might benefit the Tibetans, but that might anger China and adversely
affect trade.

And this is not a special consideration that we Tibetans are being
given by world leaders. In nearly every crisis or conflict in the
world, it is standard practice for world bodies and leaders to call
for negotiations and an end to conflict and confrontation — unless of
course they are benefiting from the conflict. Tibetans are not
receiving any special favours here.

The second argument that if we give up the Middle Way Approach and go
for independence, we will all be deported from India, is demonstrably
ridiculous. I think such a statement is also insulting to the Indian
people and government and harmful to our relationship with this great
democracy that has given us refuge and help for all these many years.
I would urge the Prime Minister Samdong Rimpoche to stop the Middle
Way proponents from spreading such rumours among the simple and
uneducated Tibetan people, which is causing unnecessary fear and
alarm in our society and adding to the problems and misunderstandings
between the Tibetan and Indian communities.

Right at this very moment the government of India is in engaged in a
heated slanging match with China about the status of Arunachal
Pradesh. India and China have held twelve rounds of talks to find a
solution to disputed border regions, and those negotiations appear to
have had about the same degree of success that our dialogue with
Beijing has had.

There has recently been reports that the insurgencies in North East
India and terrorist groups in Assam are receiving arms and supplies
from China. With Nepal now in the hands of Maoists, and India's own
Maoists, the Naxalites, becoming increasingly more violent and
effective, and with China extending its naval power in the Indian
Ocean, there are probably many Indians throughout the Indian
political spectrum, who are probably not only hoping that Tibetans
declare their independence from China, but also do something about it.

After His Holiness received the Congressional Gold Medal, there was
concern among some Tibetans that that the government of India had not
bothered to congratulate to the Dalai Lama. But this year when the
uprisings took place in Tibet and Tibetans-in-exile started their
Peace March to Tibet, and organized major demonstrations in Delhi,
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement that the Dalai Lama
was respected in India as "the greatest living Gandhian". He also
stated that India was a democracy and that Tibetans living in India
had the right to political expression, as long as they did it in a
peaceful and law-abiding manner.

In the final analysis I think the proponents of the Middle Way are
looking at developments in a glass half-empty and not in a glass
half-full sort of way. They are making a big mistake by emphasizing
only the "negotiation" and the "autonomy" component of the Middle Way
Policy and overlooking the "doctrine of "non-violence" that His
Holiness has made the foundation of this policy. It is the untiring
effort of the Dalai Lama to struggle for the freedom of his people
through non-violence that has earned him the respect not only of
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but other world leaders and people as
well. I want to quote this passage from His Nobel Peace Prize
citation: "The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai
Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet (my italics)
consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead
advocated peaceful solutions … The Dalai Lama has developed his
philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and
upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as
well as nature." It might be noted that His Holiness received the
Nobel Prize a year or so after His Strasburg Statement.

I am certain that most world leaders and governments have by now
realized that the failure of the negotiations were entirely due to
Chinese intransigence and deviousness, as His Holiness himself has
reluctantly pointed out. If His Holiness now modifies the Middle Way
Approach whereby the fundamental principal of non-violence is
maintained but the goal changed to one of national independence, no
person, no leader and no country would loose respect for the Dalai
Lama's moral integrity. In fact this decision might enhance it,
especially among in India. After all Gandhi fought for India's
independence, and not for some dominion (read autonomous) status under Britain.

And yes, a practical action-based rangzen strategy structured around
the non-violent philosophy of the Dalai Lama is certainly feasible. I
have put together a preliminary proposal that I hope to discuss at
the Emergency Meeting.

Expect it on this website soon. Stay tuned.
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