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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Time for China to Hold Out Olive Branch

May 29, 2008

by Lobsang Choedak
Tibet News
May 24, 2008

Longstanding grievances and aspirations of the Tibetan people under
nearly five decades of China's flawed policies and repressive rule
took the form of protests, which engulfed Lhasa on the 49th national
uprising day, 10 March 2008. It gradually spilled across large
swathes of the Tibetan plateau.

Premier Wen Jiabao blamed His Holiness the Dalai Lama for
masterminding the protests in Tibet and sabotaging China Olympics.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration
received a barrage of accusations from the Chinese communists
government for fomenting riots, which started in the Tibetan capital
of Lhasa and spilled across other parts of Tibet.

These accusations remained empty words - as Chinese authorities have
been adamant not to allow independent inquiry into the causes of
riots. It thus reinforced the fact that blames put on His Holiness
the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration were absolutely
baseless. On the contrary, it showed that something is seriously
wrong with China's approach towards Tibet.

CHINA'S TIBET BLUNDER

March 10 events in Tibet put China's violations of basic human rights
in Tibet on the spotlight. There was fire on the roof of the world.
How can the world remain calm the roof of world is burning? The
official response to the protests by the Chinese authorities received
a flurry of condemnation from the international community. But, the
Chinese government looked more adamant to crush the people's voice
with violent means, which resulted in hundreds of innocent Tibetans
killed, thousands wounded are without medical care and thousands
languishing in prisons. Despite repeated appeals from His Holiness
the Dalai Lama, China virtually sealed off Tibet and denied appeals
to unfettered media access and medical assistance to injured Tibetans.

The unprecedented upsurge of Tibetan people's pent up frustrations is
the manifestation of China's wrong policies on Tibet. China's policy
of "Charm Offensive" of pumping millions of Yuan into Tibet on the
one hand and marginalisation of every aspects of Tibetan identity on
the other has failed to cover up the issue of Tibet. Tibetans in
their own land have been subjected to inequality and injustice in
economic, political or social aspects.

Willy Lam, a Hong Kong based China scholar attributed the cause of
escalation of protests in Tibet to the TAR Party Secretary Zhang
Qingli, who characterized Beijing's battle with the "Dalai Lama
clique" as a "life-and-death struggle between ourselves and the enemies."

During the recent crisis, far from addressing the problem in a
conciliatory way, the Chinese authorities acted more belligerent and
under the garb of "work teams" stepped up "education campaigns"
particularly targeting Tibetan monasteries. The most provoking
tactics employed by Chinese authorities is in hurting the sentiments
of Tibetans by forcing them to vilify their supreme leader, His
Holiness the Dalai Lama. The position of His Holiness in hearts of
the Tibetan people's is akin to the love and respect offered to
parents by their children. It is highly unlikely to get a favourable
response in asking children to denounce their parents.

The Chinese government's using force and intimidation in handling the
recent protests in Tibet are solely responsible for aggravating the situation.

This time, the Chinese government went to the extreme misstep of
whipping up Chinese nationalist sentiment to create a rift between
Chinese and Tibetan people and hatred against His Holiness the Dalai
Lama. China's state controlled propaganda machinery called the events
in Lhasa as "3.14".

Furthermore, it is extremely disingenuous on the part of Chinese
journalists and writers working in the official media to link Tibetan
non-governmental organisations to terrorists outfits. Tibetan NGOs
have never taken to violent means and work within the confines of the
"Middle-Way Approach" endorsed by majority of Tibetans - including
Tibetans living in and outside Tibet - as proposed by His Holiness
the Dalai Lama. Protests, which marred Olympics torch relay, should
not be seen as acts of saboteurs but as an appeal to the government
of People's Republic of China to review its hard line policy on Tibet.

TIBETAN EFFORTS TO BRING PEACE AND PROGRESS

Kasur Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, special envoy of His Holiness the Dalai
Lama, forewarned that Chinese policies - such as authorizing the
Communist Party to recognize reincarnate lamas -- or by u actions
Beijing has taken -- such as the abduction of the young Panchen Lama,
would trigger crisis in Tibet.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai
Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration have tried to reach out
to Tibetans in and outside Tibet to not to resort to violence. In
desperation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama even threatened to resign
from leading the Tibetan people. On March 19, with deep concern, His
Holiness himself sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao to
begin a discussion on a peaceful way forward. His Holiness also
proposed to send a delegation to Tibet that he believed could ease
anxiety among Tibetans and contributes to the restoration of calm.

To ease the communal hatred whipped up by the Chinese authorities,
His Holiness the Dalai Lama made appeals to Chinese people that he is
committed to find a genuine solution to the problem of Tibet,
ensuring the long-term interests of both Chinese and Tibetans. His
Holiness appealed to the Chinese leadership to make sincere efforts
to contribute to the stability and harmony of the PRC and avoid
creating rifts between the nationalities.

WAY FORWARD TO PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

The Chinese leadership must follow late Deng Xiao Ping's aphorism of
"seek truthing from facts" to resolve the issue of Tibet. They must
develop the courage and wisdom to prove their emphasis of "great
patience and sincerity" in conducting talks. The talks can succeed if
China fulfills its promise. They must address the genuine grievances
and deep resentments of the Tibetan people inside Tibet,
realistically in the spirit of reconciliation.

The Chinese and the Tibetan people share common spiritual heritage in
Mahayana Buddhism, since Buddhism flourished in China before it came
to Tibet from India. People's Republic of China has everything to
gain in finding a mutually beneficial solution to the issue of Tibet.
The rich Tibetan Buddhist culture is part of the larger cultural
heritage of the People's Republic of China and it will add richness
to the nation's economic boom. An open-minded approach by the
concerned authorities of PRC government in holding meaningful
negotiations on equal footing with the Tibetans will help to
materialise this objective.

Encouraging signs came with some suggestions from the mainstream
Chinese intellectuals that they felt concerned over the one-sided
propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the effect of
stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and aggravating the tense
situation in Tibet. They suggested that Chinese government to allow
Tibetan people's freedom of religious beliefs and the freedom of
speech explicitly enshrined in the Chinese Constitution. They opined
that Tibetan people should be allowed to express their grievances and
hopes and permit citizens of other nationalities freely to criticise
and make suggestions regarding the government's nationality policy.
They believed in eliminating animosity and bring about national
reconciliation, not to increase divisions between nationalities.

Grace Wang, a Chinese student studying at the Duke University set an
example of bridging the understanding between Chinese and Tibetans,
which is the need of hour. She had courage to mediate between Chinese
and Tibetan protesters, caught up in unnecessary emotion and anger,
at her university campus. Her audacity to foster goodwill and
understanding between the Chinese and Tibetan people should be
encouraged, instead of threatening her life for doing so.

It was equally inspiring that Chinese lawyers based in Mainland China
offered their legal assistance to Tibetans arbitrarily arrested and
imprisoned by Chinese authorities following the peaceful protests
starting March 10, 2008 in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas. The lawyers
expressed their serious concern for the well being of the arrested
Tibetans, have called upon the concerned Chinese authorities to
respect the independent legal system and conduct fair trials of the cases.

The Chinese leadership must view these small developments as an eye
opener and take them into consideration for a policy review in
building a harmonious and peaceful China.

On his part, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been very sincere and
conciliatory in giving up the demand of complete independence for
Tibet and instead, on umpteenth occasion, called for a meaningful
autonomy within the People's Republic of China. His Holiness the
Dalai Lama believed the future of Tibet and China will move beyond
mistrust to a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and
recognition of common interests.

The recent overtures from the Central People's Government of China to
conduct talks in a spirit of "great sincerity and patience" with
representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama may augur well to the
success of future talks in resolving the core issues concerning Tibet.

(Views expressed in this column are those of the writer, not
necessarily those of the Central Tibetan Administration. The writer
can be reached at lchoedak@gmail.com)
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