At the end of the first day of the Sino-Tibetan Conference in Geneva the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s political and spiritual leader, has issued further conciliatory remarks aimed at encouraging negotiations between his appointed representatives and the Communist Chinese government. Touching upon recent events inside East Turkestan, he noted that the situation was a result of China’s failed policies towards so-called ‘ethnic minorities’. This assertion, which implies that with corrected amd moderated policy Beijing’s control in East Turkestan would be tolerated, overlooks entirely the political hopes and determination of Uyghurs, who like Tibetans, for decades have resisted Chinese rule in the hopes of securing an independent nation.
As anticipated by this Blog this conference is little more than a gathering to promote policies which would surrender Tibet’s rights to self-determination and independence, as evidenced by the Tibetan leader’s insistence today that his position is to secure so-called autonomy for Tibet, as part of the Peoples’ Republic Of China and not to seek separation.
The official line on the conference states that Dalai Lama is seeking to take advantage of this event, which has convened Tibetan and Chinese intellectuals, by working towards a more secure and stable future for Tibetans. He did not detail how such an objective would protected and maintained under the political and military control of communist China, instead the Tibetan leader stressed his determination to seek peace and reconciliation with China’s regime. Such predictably compromising language will generate considerable confusion and disappointment from within the Tibetan community, particularly inside Tibet, where his people continue to struggle for nothing less than independence.
Although acknowledging that thus far efforts at negotiations have proved a failure the Dalai Lama insisted that he is not abandoning his strategy, which is being seen increasingly as a capitulation to Chinese demands, one he cautioned which could alleviate potential frustrations felt by Tibetans towards China.
“Unless this crisis is dealt with realistically, properly, this resentment will grow generation and generation… So, therefore, there is crisis. It is in everybody’s interest to find a realistic solution,” he said.
His remarks were saturated with references to ‘ethnic minorities’ and other phrases, all highly acceptable to communist China, in a drive to convince Beijing of his sincerity in seeking acceptance of Chinese rule in Tibet. Outlining envisaged areas of governmental responsibility under so-called ‘meaningful autonomy’, the Dalai Lama repeated that he is not seeking seperation for Tibet, stating that:
“Foreign affairs, defense should be handled by the central government. Education, environment, religious matter-these the Tibetans themselves know better. So, therefore, they should have final authority there,”
Throughout his plactory appeal the Dalai Lama seems to have overlooked one basic yet essential fact, his own people already have experience of autonomy as understood and exercised by communist China, they do not yearn for a continuation or cosmetic improvement of that imprisonment and suppression, but for a free and independent Tibet. Perhaps some of those learned Tibetan scholars may care to remind the Tibetan leader of that reality, before another stake is driven into the heart of Tibetan aspirations.