News / Asia

Tibetans Pessimistic on New China Leader; See Time Running Out

Tibetans Pessimistic on New China Leader, See Time Running Outi
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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs