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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora