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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."

Jailed Tibetan Made Donations

August 20, 2010

Chinese authorities move against a businessman who worked 'within the system.'
Radio Free Asia (RFA)
August 13, 2010

A Tibetan businessman recently handed a life term
in prison may have been sentenced for making
donations to religious figures in exile, according to sources in the region.

Dorjee Tashi, 37 and proprietor of Lhasa's famous
Yak Hotel, was reportedly convicted June 26 in a
secret trial on unspecified charges.  A Communist
Party member since 2003, he was formerly named
one of Tibet’s “Ten Excellent Youth” by Tibet’s Chinese rulers.

Allegations that he had sent funds outside Tibet
into India may have resulted in his arrest,
though, said a friend in Tibet, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"In my view, he did not fund any political activities," said the friend.

"He is a true Buddhist, and he might have sent
money as offerings -- too different monasteries in India.”

Letter of thanks

Separately, another source confirmed that Chinese
authorities had searched Dorjee Tashi’s house
and found a letter from the office of exiled
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, thanking
Dorjee Tashi for a donation of 20 million yuan (U.S. $2.94 million).

He had kept the letter in a flower pot or a vase,
where he hid it, the source said, also asking not to be named.

"If he had kept the letter, this would suggest
that it was a religious transaction,” said
Robbie Barnett, a Tibetan scholar at Columbia University.

"If you send a religious donation to the Dalai
Lama, then you would of course, as a religious
devotee, want to keep that letter, which would be from him.”

"But of course, it hasn't been looked at in that way in China," he added.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 in the
wake of a failed national uprising against
Chinese rule, is regularly vilified by Chinese
leaders as a “splittist” seeking Tibetan
independence, though he says he seeks only
“meaningful autonomy” for Tibetans inside China.

An 'outstanding Tibetan'

A 2008 profile by state-run China Ethnic Press
lists Dorjee Tashi as chairman of the Tibet
Shenhu Group, which operates an array of
businesses focused mostly on real estate and
tourism. His company had assets worth 280 million
yuan (U.S. $41.3 million), according to the article.

Dorjee Tashi met Chinese president Hu Jintao and
Premier Wen Jiabao at a meeting of the National
Youth Federation in 2005, and is listed as a
delegate to the Chinese People's Consultative Conference.

One Tibetan source suggested that Dorjee Tashi's
success inside Tibet may have figured in his
arrest and prosecution, adding that “Chinese
cannot tolerate outstanding Tibetans.”

"Initially, he started a small restaurant with
about 10,000 or 20,000 yuan (U.S. $1,470 or
$2,940). Gradually, he got a job in the Lhasa
City Tourism Department, and then he expanded his
business activities, which brought him great
success and achievements in his business ventures,” the source said.

"He hired only Tibetans in his hotels and other
business establishments. He helped many Tibetan children.”

"He is someone who can help and work for Tibetan nationals," he said.
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