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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

A Strategy of Denial and Evasion

April 1, 2009

Jeff Bowe
Tibet Truth
Mach 31, 2009

In a futile effort to appease Communist China the
Tibetan Administration continues its petrified
strategy of compromise in the hope of encouraging
negotiations. Having unilaterally jettisoned
Tibetan independence as a political goal, a
concession that has singularly failed to impress
the Chinese, and invited a deepening sense of
frustration within the exiled Tibetan community,
Dharamsala's insistence of "unconditional talks"
leading to a "certain degree of freedom," a
language of dangerous surrender, concedes
complete political and territorial control to
China. Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry
continues its uncompromising demands

The momentum of this capitulation has been
growing for some time, encouraged by remarks made
by the exiled Tibetan Prime Minister, and
promoted by the Dalai Lama in his annual March 10
statements. In a filmed interview during March
2009 Samdhong Rinpoche plumbed new depths of
appeasement when, responding to accusations made
by China's Wen Jiabao that the West exploited the Dalai Lama, replied:

"If there is any truth, they should establish
with evidences. As far as the Tibet issue is
concerned, we have nothing to do with Western
countries. We consider this is an internal matter
of the People's Republic of China,and if the
People's Republic of China is willing to deal
with us as an internal matter, we are absolutely ready" (emphasis added)

This alarming concession, that Tibet is part of
China, which has been greeted with dismay and
anger from Tibetans around the world, has
interesting beginnings. The Tibetan
Administration flew this controversial kite via a
report featured March 14, 2005 in the South China
Morning Post (SCMP). It is worth examining that
article, which was later challenged in a
communication from the Office of Information and International Relations (OIIR)

"The article is being interpreted in some
quarters that there is a change in His Holiness
the Dalai Lama's stand. This is to clarify that
the position of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on
autonomy for Tibet has remained the same since
the 1980s as was explained in his 10 March
statement on the anniversary of Tibetan National
Uprising Day which the South China Morning Post
failed to cover" (communication from Thubten
Samphel Office of Information and International
Relations to The Editor of the SCMP-Dated March 29, 2005)

It should be noted that no formal and public
denial was at the time issued by the Tibetan
Government, or more importantly from the Office
of the Dalai Lama. An act one would have
expected, if Tibet's political leader had not
made these comments. Here is the key quotation from the SCMP

"This is the message I wish to deliver to China.
I am not in favour of separation," he said.
"Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of
China. It is an autonomous region of the People's
Republic of China".... "Tibetan culture and
Buddhism are part of Chinese culture "

This quotation was either a gross error of
communication or more ominously was designed to
signal to Beijing a willingness to negotiate a
settlement, which surrenders the prospect of Kham
and Amdo as an integral part of a unified and
free Tibetan polity. Given the placatory nature
of the remarks it's difficult to avoid such a
conclusion, particular when one considers former
commitments made by the Tibetan Administration
concerning the territorial and political status
of the three traditional Tibetan regions. During
his acceptance address (5th September 2001)
Samdhong Rinpoche assured Tibetans that the Tibetan leader:

"In his proposals for negotiations with China, he
has put the condition that the three provinces of
Tibet should remain as one entity. Unification of
the three provinces of Tibet is indeed one of the
most important reasons for his proposal to give
up the idea of independence in favour of self-rule".

Interesting words, particularly as they fail to
clarify to whom the condition has been presented,
to the Chinese leadership? If so when and was it
formal? Such points notwithstanding they at odds
with the remarks featured in the SCMP (and
certainly conflict with Samdhong's most recent
public assertion that the Tibet issue "is an
internal matter of the People's Republic of
China") which, in accepting Tibet as being
synonymous, were hardly a robust or reassuring defence of Chol-kha-Sum.

And what does Samdhong say to Tibetans who are
rightly opposed to sacrificing Tibet's
independence and territorial integrity as a price
for negotiations. "If some people are angry at
our policy, it doesn't bother us." (Outlook India 19th March 2005).

Samdhong Rinpoche's disturbing concessions
(reflected to a worrying degree in the quotation
in the SCMP) raises serious questions not only on
the political wisdom of Dharamsala's current
policy of appeasing China, but also regarding the
future status of Tibet, as envisaged by the
exiled Administration. While we can indulge in a
murky relativism as to the
"meaning-of-the-meaning" it looks like a pretty
emphatic and uncomplicated acknowledgement.

In the singular absence of a formal statement
from the Tibetan Administration, publicly
clarifying or rejecting Samdhong's (or those
featured in the SCMP article) remarks, the lines
of evidence converge to reveal a willingness to
offer ill-conceived compromises in a perilous
attempt to entice China into negotiations. If
such posturing is part of a sophisticated game of
diplomacy it has proved a failure and one which
is sliding, at a worrying rate, towards a
complete and formal acceptance of all Chinese
demands. Now whether this is strategic word-play,
or not, what sort of message is that for Tibetans
inside Tibet and the Tibetan Diaspora? How do
they benefit from such sophistry? How does it advance the Tibetan cause?

The comments quoted in the SCMP shared a
strikingly similar syntax with key points in
recent 10th March statements, which supports the
observation they may well be attributed to the
Tibetan leader. References to 'ethnic equality',
'remaining in China', 'not wishing independence'
and "ertain degree of freedom" were all reflected
in the concessionary item in the SCMP.

They have since become firmly established in
Dharamsala's lexicon of appeasing China.

Are we witnessing disingenuous practice by the
Tibetan Government, saying one thing to the
Chinese in private, another to the Tibetan
public, releasing statements, then denying
responsibility. Giving interviews to papers then
retracting or denying the contents. There is a
long history of selective confusion and denial.
Former Kalon Tashi Wangdi had a similar
experience in 1991 with an Indian paper in which
he 'said' that independence was not the goal of
the Tibetan Government, there was a tremendous
reaction against this and he later claimed to
have been misrepresented. Yet, how prophetic he
was all those years ago, as we now know that
indeed the Tibetan Government is NOT seeking
independence! Was he privy to a decision kept all
along from the Tibetan people?

Some may recall the strange goings-on surrounding
the official Tibetan "response" to the Chinese
White Paper on Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet
released on 23rd May 2004 (see "Papering the
Sino-Tibetan Cracks" Tibetan Review January 2005)
. Released as an email it was subsequently
dismissed as a fake, although curiously aspects
of that incident suggested it may well have been
released by the Tibetan Administration. Whatever
the facts-of-the matter that rejoinder failed in
any genuine way to address the central issue of
Tibet's status, or address the cold-fact that
China had formally rejected the notion of
"autonomy" for Tibet, and seriously undermined
any credibility in pursuing the "Middle-Way
Approach." Instead of issuing a swift,
intelligent and politically informed response the
Tibetan Administration continued with a policy
which had been emphatically and rejected, by a
regime psychotically opposed to reason or
compromise,. Faced with that humiliating
rejection it offered no condemnation of China's
"White-Paper" and on July 6 2006 issued a
statement that it had decided not to respond
publicly. Leaving the Tibetan people entirely in-the-dark once more.

Then we had the puzzling rewording of the agreed
Action Plan of the 3rd International Tibet
Supporters meeting in Berlin (Tibetan Review
October 2001) which differed in key sections from
that democratically agreed by delegates. Further
back there was the infamous 1990 International
Consultation on Tibet in London in which the
phrase "statehood independence" were
retrospectively removed from the final
declaration (Tibetan Review March/May 1991). The
gremlins are always active whenever the issue of
Tibetan independence is raised.

Of course communist China is adept at such
nefarious activity and unsleeping in its
determination to cause confusion and disruption
within Tibetan politics. However, it would be
naive in the extreme to refuse to accept that the
Tibetan Government is not engaged in similar
political games. This is itself a tragedy as they
should be harmonizing their efforts in unity and
co-operation with the political will of ordinary
Tibetans, working with one voice towards
independence, the same goal Tibetans inside Tibet are fighting and dying for.

Instead the Tibetan Administration is now
embarked upon a course of strategic suicide,
while contemptuously dismissive of the genuine
concern from within its own community, which is
rightly questioning the nature and direction of
the Tibetan cause. Is it sound strategic thinking
to abandon previous commitments to
self-determination and genuine political, civil
and religious freedom in the pursuit of a failed
policy which is diametrically, though silently,
opposed by the majority of its own people? What
political wisdom lies in announcing, prior to the
actual commencement of negotiations, a
willingness to accept a "solution" which, in the
main, is to the exclusive benefit of the other
side? What damage is caused to the morale of the
wider Tibetan community by such messages of
capitulation? Is the Tibetan Administration
foolishly naïve in expecting reason and flexibility from communist China?

These doubts are of course washed-away by those
supportive of the exiled government, and
inconvenient facts are shunted into some obscure
and distant siding, safely away from the
troublesome attention of logic or political
criticism. Such individuals specialise in
silence, lethargy and conformity, which is why
Tibetans who do care passionately about their
county's legitimate right to independence are
required to be particularly active and assertive
in their efforts, if only to overcome the
deafening silence and hindering inertia from
those who take pleasure in putting the status in
Dharamsala's quo. It may be a difficult reality
to accept but despite the Dalai Lama's wisdom,
intelligence and enlightenment his policy of
appeasing Beijing has produced nothing in terms
of progressing negotiations, or advancing the
common aspiration for complete independence. Only
by submitting to the dictates of Beijing will any
movement take place in terms of talks. For their
own manipulative purposes China insists on
personalising this issue by focussing upon the
position of the Dalai Lama, as this avoids any
entanglement in the thorny issue of Tibet's
political status, either now or in the future.
This explains why it’s always 'private
individuals' or 'envoys of the Dalai Lama' who
are engaged in efforts to initiate talks, as
China refuses to recognise or give legitimacy to
the Exiled Tibetan Government. Thus, the dice are
already loaded and in agreeing to Beijing's rules
the Tibetan Administration is falling into a very
dangerous trap with a predictable and worrying
outcome. Yet this does not appear to worry Dharamsala.

Despite the brutal lessons of history, the
countless deaths, torture, rapes, broken
treaties, mass campaigns of forced
sterilizations, slave labor camps, environmental
destruction, and Beijing's expansionist policies,
Tibetans are now asked by their leadership to
accept that meaningful negotiation with China is
not only possible but will yield a positive
outcome of "genuine autonomy" (whatever that
nebulous term means!). Not too long ago the cry
was for "negotiations without conditions" that
now appears to have been replaced by 'talks at
any price and on your terms'! Incredible as it
seems the Tibetan Administration, having formally
renounced the terms and legality of the so-called
17 Point Peace Agreement, appears to be working
towards a "solution" which would not be very
different from that notorious "treaty." Such a
monumental step backwards, to accept formalized
occupation and slavery, would make a cruel
mockery of decades of sacrifice and suffering on
the part of Tibetans, whose efforts for freedom
would become a tragic, catastrophic and needless waste.

That does not trouble those content to follow the
official ideology, whatever the cost to Tibet.
More concerned with cultural survival than
regaining Tibet's rightful freedom, such thinking
regards the sacrifice of Chushi Gangdruk and the
continuing suffering of political prisoners
inside Tibet for Rangzen as a vain and tragic
demonstration of patriotism. Far better to accept
political reality "Tibet's independence is
history', "concentrate upon preserving Tibet's
religion" and "accept autonomy within China"
These arguments echo the treacherous reasoning of
Ngapo Jigme and Phuntsok Wangyal, who also urged
Tibetans to seek the best arrangement possible as
an ethnic-minority member of the so-called "Great
Motherland".. In advocating the abandonment of
Tibet's rightful struggle for national liberation
and legitimate claim to independence the history
of Tibet is being rewritten and the tragic errors
of negotiating with China look set to be
repeated. How then do we regard the decades of
bloodshed and suffering of Tibetans, which sprang
in part from the justified rejection of the so-called 17 Point Peace Treaty?

Whatever the tortuous meanderings of efforts to
engage in talks with the Chinese it is the
birth-right of Tibetans to enjoy a free and
independent nation, a fact which cannot be signed
away by either the Dalai Lama or the Kashag,
without the collective authority of the Tibetan
people. Such action would be an undemocratic
betrayal of the will of the six million Tibetans
who dream, not of remaining part of communist
China, for a "certain degree of freedom" or
so-called "genuine autonomy" but for nothing less
than Rangzen. If the Tibetan leadership is
genuinely committed to an open, democratic and
accountable system of governance then it must
recognize and honour the common political
aspiration of its own people. It must also have
the intelligence and honesty to acknowledge that
its barren policy of compromise with China has
lead the Tibetan cause into a very hazardous
game. Yet despite being aware of that Dharamsala,
like a drunken man who insists on driving home,
"knows best" and is prepared to trample over the
wishes of its own people in a desperate effort to
achieve what exactly? An opportunity for the
Dalai Lama to return to the 'Tibet Autonomous
Region', as a puppet of the Chinese? For a
truncated region of Tibet, and the abandonment of
Kham and Amdo? History is politically valuable if
lessons are learned, a fact ignored by the
Tibetan Administration as it begs China to be allowed back inside the prison.
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