News / Asia

Tibetans Pessimistic on New China Leader; See Time Running Out

Tibetans Pessimistic on New China Leader, See Time Running Outi
X
March 06, 2013 1:52 AM
As China’s National People’s Congress gathers this week to formally confirm Xi Jinping as the new president, Tibetan activists are doubtful that the transition will mean any substantive change for Beijing’s Tibet policies. Ivan Broadhead reports for VOA from India.
Ivan Broadhead
As China’s National People’s Congress gathers this week to formally confirm Xi Jinping as the new president, Tibetan activists in exile are doubtful that the transition will mean any substantive change for Beijing’s Tibet policies.

Speaking to VOA during a rally for Tibetan rights in New Delhi prior to China's National People’s Congress, Lobsang Sangay, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, made this request of the new Chinese president:

“We hope Xi Jinping will review the hardline policies in Tibet, realize these policies have failed and introduce reforms to meet the aspirations of Tibetan people," Lobsang Sangay says. "Then there will be peace and harmony in Tibet. But if you look at the past 50 years, it is not that optimistic.”

Other Priorities

Professor Michael Davis, a China constitutional law expert at Hong Kong University, says Xi’s priorities are likely to include managing the economy, fighting corruption and negotiating the U.S. pivot to Asia - not re-evaluating Tibet policies.

“Tibet to the leadership in Beijing is a security problem," David said. "You would like to think they could connect the dots; that if you have a lot of dissent within Tibetan society, maybe more repression is not the answer; that a more generous, accommodating approach that respects Tibetan autonomy and culture might be more constructive.”

Beijing still fails to grasp how completely Tibetans reject the language, economic and religious policies that marginalize Tibetans in their own country, says Tsering Tsomo, director of the Tibet Center of Human Rights and Democracy.

“These policies are a guise for changing the identity of the Tibetans and turning them into what the Chinese government calls, ‘The New Socialist Man,’ he said. "That is their goal, and has been since Mao. It is really regressive of the Chinese to continue these policies, even now.”

The View From Dharamsala

In Dharamsala, Tibetan students are holding an anti-China hunger strike at the Dalai Lama’s temple. Although he gave up his political authority two years ago, the Dalai Lama remains a symbol of exile and the focus of Beijing’s criticism.
The spiritual leader will turn 80 well before the end of Xi Jinping’s first five-year term, notes Tibet analyst Caroline Coutinhall.

“The political bureau of the Chinese government is changing. Of course it is important. But it is not as important as the transition in power when the Dalai Lama passes away,” Coutinhall said.  

From his office near the University of Hong Kong memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre, Professor Davis suggets that President Xi might want to act sooner rather than later if he has any intention of engaging the Tibetan people through dialogue.

“I think the Chinese will find a less accommodating community if the Dalai Lama wasn't there. China will also have a vacuum as to who they can deal with; who can deliver the support of the Tibetan community," he said.

An Eventual Return Home?

Pursued by Chinese security forces for her role in the 2008 Lhasa uprising, Pema - not her real name - fled Tibet after being in hiding for five months. The young woman longs to return to her family, and has not seen her mother for over two years.

“Self-immolation shows how bad things are in Tibet. [It] is the final resort," she said. "When the Dalai Lama dies, it is possible Tibetans will take up arms: change from peaceful protest to non-peaceful protest.”

Decades of living in exile have not tempered the desire of Tibetans to return to their homeland. Despite the lack of progress on political talks with China, time remains on their side, asserts Lobsang Sangay.

“Buddhism has existed for some 2,600 years. Communism is 100 and something years old. So there is no competition. I really believe we will see basic freedom for Tibetan people and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet,” the prime-minister-in-exile said.

Tibetans and Chinese are waging a political campaign that is in the process of being handed on from one generation to the next.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs