News / Asia

Tibetans Hope China's New Leaders Bring New Policies

Exile Tibetan women sit on a bench after praying at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, September 26, 2012.
Exile Tibetan women sit on a bench after praying at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, September 26, 2012.
VOA News
Tibetan exiles from around the world are meeting this week in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala to discuss the plight of Tibetan people under Chinese rule of their homeland.

The four-day meeting comes just weeks before China holds a once-a-decade transfer of power. And some wonder if the man slated to become China's next leader may have a soft spot for Tibet.

Not much is known about how Xi Jinping, currently China's vice president, feels about China's Tibet policies, though he has expressed Beijing's routine disdain for its exiled leader, the Dalai Lama.

But some point out that Xi's later father and former vice premiere, Xi Zhongxun, had a close relationship with the Dalai Lama in the 1950s, before the spiritual leader left for exile in India.

The elder Xi became known as a leader who was sympathetic towards minorities, including Tibetans. And some speculate that the younger Xi's respect for his father could lead him to more reformist views on Tibet.

Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile, says he is always optimistic that change can come to Tibet. But he does not expect much from China's leadership transition.

"On the one hand, even after 50 years of experience we are not that optimistic because the Chinese government has continued to maintain hard-line policies on Tibet, except for a brief period in the early 80s being good," said Lobsang Sangay. "But as human beings, one should remain hopeful and with new personnel hopefully there will be a new perspective and policies on Tibet, as well."

Since March 2009, 51 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, most if not all to protest what they see as China's campaign of religious and political persecution in their homeland.

China, which calls the self-immolations acts of terrorism meant to incite separatism, has cracked down even harder as a result of the protests, a policy that seems to be provoking only more anger in Tibet.

Robert Barnett, the director of Columbia University's Modern Tibet Studies program, tells VOA it is impossible to know whether the unrest will prompt China's secretive Communist Party leadership to change course on its Tibet policies.

"I don't think it can be ruled out," he said. "I think the way the Chinese leadership makes decisions is probably not the purely logical way we think of when we think of more transparent systems. They bargain off different issues.

"If you're a hardline leader, and you have to placate somebody of another faction in order to get your son a job or an appointment in America or something, you might move on some smaller issue like Tibet and allow them to change policy there because they say it's going to improve China's foreign image," continued Barnett. "Something quite unrelated might ease up a stalemate in China over Tibet policy."

Barnett says the Dalai Lama's willingness to remain open for negotiations may someday pay off. And even though there are no signs that Beijing is currently willing to make concessions, he says that "having the door open is a good idea."

But leaders meeting in Dharamsala this week are likely to feel increasing pressure by some Tibetans to abandon the Dalai Lama's so-called "Middle Way" approach to handling the situation. Many say the policy has only resulted in a tougher response from China.

Barnett says the only way to convince some Tibetan factions of the success of the Dalai Lama's policy may be to argue that the arrival of new leadership in China will also bring about new, more peaceful ways of dealing with Tibet.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs