News

    Dalai Lama Seen as Instigator and Solution in China-Tibet Struggle

    The Dalai Lama gestures as he arrives to give a religious talk at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamsala, India,  Oct. 23, 2011.
    The Dalai Lama gestures as he arrives to give a religious talk at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamsala, India, Oct. 23, 2011.

    One of the key demands Tibetan self-immolation protesters have been calling for as they set themselves on fire is for China to allow the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet.   Some Tibet analysts say Beijing is missing a crucial opportunity by not engaging the Dalai Lama to find a compromise to the situation.  But, from China’s perspective, increasingly so, it is Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader that is the problem, not the solution.  

    It is no secret that China distrusts the Dalai Lama.   He is routinely blamed as being the source of unrest in Tibetan parts of China and is the frequent target of scathing attacks in China’s state media and in Internet chat rooms.

    Late last week, the state-run Chinese website China Tibet Online carried a commentary that not only accused the religious leader of instigating the self-immolations, but of advocating what it said was “Nazi-style” racial segregation. The official Xinhua news agency also published the commentary.

    View an interactive timeline of the Tibetan self-immolations from Radio Free Asia

    Tibet specialists in China say that while those who self-immolate may be calling out for the exiled spiritual leader’s return, the Dalai Lama’s influence is waning in Tibetan parts of the country.  Chinese authorities have branded the acts as terrorism and say those who have participated in the flaming protests are largely individuals who are social outcasts and criminals.

    Tanzen Lhundup, with the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing, said “When talking about a historical solution, we should first note that the Dalai Lama chose to flee to India in 1959, no one sent him to India. It is not the central government that sent him there. He chose to go there himself. And now, over 50 years have passed. Tibet has become a historical issue.”

    He added, “We note that the people who set themselves alight make the request that the Dalai Lama come back form India to China. The fact is that the central government has never stopped him from coming back. We have all along hoped that he would come back, but he chose not to.”

    Chinese academics also argue that the Tibet of today, is not the same place the Dalai Lama left over five decades ago. Instead, they say, it is a place in transition.

    However, what Tibetan parts of China are transitioning to is unclear.

    Some Western Tibet experts believe that time is running out for any type of negotiations between the Dalai Lama and Chinese authorities.  Tibet's exiled spiritual leader is getting older and the last time representatives from the two sides met, was in 2008.

    Robert Barnett, a Tibet specialist at Columbia University, said, “At the same time the Tibet issue inside Tibet is shifting very fast from an issue that is about discontent with the Chinese government … to a real desperation, a real sense among many Tibetans that China cannot be trusted at all, that there is no way you can make a deal with China.”

    The Dalai Lama says that what he is seeking is greater autonomy for the Tibetan people in China and guarantees that their identity, language, religion, and culture be preserved.  But China believes the Dalai Lama’s ultimate goal is independence for Tibet.

    Thupten Jinpa is the Dalai Lama’s English translator. He says that while the Dalai Lama has formally stated that Tibetans are willing to let go of their demand for independence and seek some kind of accommodation within the larger family of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing appears to lack the political will to reach any kind of a solution. “From a cynical point of view, one could say that their strategy may be to simply wait out the present Dalai Lama, and their calculation is that once he’s gone, then there will be no energy left in the freedom movement, the international community will no longer pay any attention and then gradually the issue will disappear. But I think this is quite a big gamble," he said.

    He says Tibetans are seeking something similar to what China has set up in Hong Kong. “Culturally speaking, Hong Kong people are much closer to mainland China, but because of its history and economic importance, China has been able to create a particular model of governance at the local level in Hong Kong.  From the Tibetan perspective, when we look at this, we know that the Chinese can do this, but at the same time, when it comes to Tibet, they seem to be completely paralyzed," he said.

    Yet, while China’s leaders may appear paralyzed when it comes to Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, they have recently expressed some sympathy for the protestors - albeit while condemning their actions.

    And one possible sign that China may be trying to get a different perspective on the situation came in a recent report published in the state-run Global Times newspaper.  According to the report, Chinese authorities recently dispatched more than 20,000 officials to visit some 5,000 plus villages in Tibet.  The purpose of the visits, the report says, was for officials from government bodies and institutes to live and eat with villagers, understand their demands and help them solve their problems promptly.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.