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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid