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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."

Tibetan leader appeals to Bay Area Asian community for support

May 30, 2010

By Doug Oakley Berkeley Voice

Updated: 05/27/2010 12:56:01 PM PDT

El Cerrito City Councilwoman Ann Cheng is just the kind of local
Chinese-American politician the Dalai Lama wants to win over in his
struggle for an autonomous Tibetan region within China.

That's according to the prime minister and speaker of the Tibetan
parliament in exile who gave a wide ranging talk about Tibet issues in a
city of Berkeley conference room on Tuesday.

In addition to continuing dialogue with the Chinese government, Tibetan
officials are turning to Chinese people inside and outside of China to
press their case, the two leaders said.

Cheng, who attended the meeting with a number of city, state and federal
politicians or their representatives and members of Amnesty
International from San Francisco, said she is open to that idea.

"As a Chinese American, I'm very sensitive to the struggles of the
Tibetan people," she said. "At the end of the day, it's all about
bringing people together."

Tibet was invaded by the Chinese army in 1950.

After the Tibetan army was defeated, both sides signed a 17-point
agreement in 1951 recognizing China's sovereignty over Tibet.

The Dalai Lama fled the county in 1959 and established up the Tibetan
government in exile at Dharamsala India.

Since 2002, the Tibetan government in exile has had nine rounds of talks
with China seeking a "middle way" of autonomy within the Chinese system
with constitutional safeguards, said Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche,
who was elected by

Tibetans outside China in 2001 and 2006.

Those talks have largely failed, but through the Internet, the Tibetans
have discovered that "Chinese in China are supportive of the Tibetan
cause," Rinpoche said.

"That's why we are trying to reach out to the Chinese in Diaspora as
well." An official at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco did not
return calls seeking comment for this article

Penpa Tsering, the speaker of the Tibetan parliament who appeared with
Rinpoche, said the strategy of winning over ordinary Chinese around the
world may be easier than getting governments to back the Tibetan cause.

"Sometimes when leaders meet with the Dalai Lama, it backfires on them
and they end up bending over backward to please China," he said. "For
many politicians it's difficult to support Tibet politically,

but not culturally."

Rinpoche said the Dalai Lama is "now seeing Chinese visitors" and
earlier in the week he met with Chinese students in New York.

The two men are in the U.S. as part of a trip to reach out to both
Tibetan and Chinese communities here, they said.

Tiering said Chinese from China are now coming to Dharamsala "for
Tibetan teachings, so there are rays of hope." Rinpoche said after nine
trips to meet Chinese officials in the last eight years, with each
fruitless meeting lasting about 13 hours, the only thing he can surmise
is that Chinese leaders are afraid.

"We feel the present leadership is lacking courage," Rinpoche said.
"They suffer from the fear that they might lose power (if they offer
concessions)."
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