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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

No easy solution in Tibet

July 27, 2008

Panel outlines history, future and possibilities
By Charles Agar, cagar@aspentimes.com
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
July 25, 2008

ASPEN -- Finding a "middle way" solution to problems in Tibet is not
going to be easy.

That's the conclusion a panel of experts reached Thursday evening as
part of a symposium celebrating Tibetan culture at the Aspen
Institute. The three-day event culminates with an appearance by the
Dalai Lama on Saturday.

The panel, comprising two Americans, a Tibetan and a professor from
China, was cautiously optimistic.

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, a Tibetan envoy of the Dalai Lama, joined Shi
Yinhong, a professor from China, on the dais with two Westerners:
Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the
Asia Society in New York, and Richard Blum, husband of Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, investor and expert on China.

Shi opened the discussion from the Chinese perspective, telling the
history of Tibet as a feudal nation in the 1950s, a place that
benefited from Chinese aid and where serfdom and religion ruled --
far from the "Shangri La" of Western idealization.

The Dalai Lama is a wily political leader and strategist who adapts
his ideas to Western sentiments, Shi said.

And Shi argued that Westerners should not dwell on troubles in Tibet
and spoil a healthy relationship growing between China and the West.

"Tibet will always be Chinese," Shi said.

Next, Gyari, who has a long record of negotiating with Chinese
leaders, said that there will never be a resolution by debating
Tibetan history.

Gyari said the future of Tibet will be under the Chinese
constitution, but it must protect and make room for Tibetan people and culture.

"The survival of this civilization is important not only to us, but
to all of you, especially the Chinese," Gyari said.

It was a point driven home earlier in the day when Robert Thurman, a
Buddhist scholar and father of actress Uma Thurman, joined Buddhist
teacher Sogyal Rinpoche in extolling the virtues of Tibetan Buddhism,
which aims to the possibilities of true happiness, not in the
material, but in the true understanding of reality.

The theme is a symposium undercurrent: that Tibetan spiritual ideals,
sharpened in mountain isolation while Westerners were spinning toward
modernity, can benefit everyone.

Gyari said it was up to Tibet and China to hash out their
differences, but that no Chinese leader has been willing to sit down
at the table with the Dalai Lama. However, he's seen a "sea change"
in recent Chinese regimes, which are more willing to talk.

The two Westerners on the panel offered more pessimistic views.

Schell said the 50 years of unresolved Tibetan sovereignty was a
result of a "confusing, curious, triangular relationship" between the
West, Tibet and China.

Westerners have long projected their ideals on the enigmatic land of
Tibet and have long championed Tibetans in exile.

Coming on a long history of gunboat diplomacy, Westerners championing
the Tibetan cause is a threat to the Chinese.

The key is in breaking the old "misperceptions" and in finding a
solution that is not belittling to the Chinese, Schell said.

"It's going to be tremendously difficult," he added.

"You can't make deals unless you've got both sides willing to take
one," said Blum, who has a long history of traveling in China.

That the Chinese aren't willing to sit down with Tibetans, Blum said,
is "inexcusable."

And he painted a bleak portrait of life on the ground for ordinary
Tibetans denied education and civil rights, as once-cherished city
parks become red light districts of Han Chinese coming to Tibet in
greater numbers.

"[The Chinese] need to understand that His Holiness is not the
problem but the solution," Blum said.

Young Tibetans, seeing no way out, are turning to violence, as they
did in mass protests around the country in March. Blum said that
solutions will come only when the Chinese include Tibetans in social
progress and acknowledge problems of race and ethnic tensions.

"Ultimately, the solution will be found between Chinese and
Tibetans," Gyari said. "Chinese must be able to make Tibetans feel
that it is their home."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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