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

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

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