Image: Tibetan Review
We are hearing that the head of the exiled Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Mr Penpa Tsering has recently been publicly acknowledging a long known reality. That the dangerous concessions put forward by the CTA, to secure a negotiation with the Chinese regime, have failed. No news there then! Having made such a declaration, many Tibetans would naturally be asking ‘OK, we hear you on that, so what is the response to the ongoing rejection from China?’.
Unsurprisingly there was no follow-up from Mr Tsering. The door to negotiation, having been repeatedly and consistently slammed shut in the face of the CTA has not resulted in any political awakening. Instead a repeat cycle of delusion seems to be the default reaction. After all this failed strategy of seeking talks and understanding; from the regime which is eradicating Tibetan cultural and national identity, has been operating for decades. With essentially the same outcome. Clearly the CTA places no value on that definition of insanity as ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”.
So what can the exiled Tibetan Administration do differently that would produce a more positive result for its people?
To address that we first need to take account of a disturbing, cold and hard fact. That China’s asphyxiating grip, over every aspect of life in occupied Tibet, is of such a supreme and suffocating nature that it’s virtually impossible for Tibetans to dissent against the tyranny. The mass-protests and popular resistance, which rocked Tibet in the 1980/90s and during 2008, has little chance of returning.
This situation places upon exiled Tibetans an even greater responsibility to articulate, champion and campaign for the just cause of Tibet’s rightful national freedom. To do that effectively however requires a singularity of purpose. Equally importantly, a collective sense of unity and determination is essential. The role and resources of the Tibetan Administration, and it’s current leader, Penpa Tsering, is critical in creating, supporting, and encouraging such cohesion.
But that is not achieved by blindly applying an approach which clearly has proven to be unsuccessful. If anything, that course increases a sense of frustration and division within the wider Tibetan community, fostering disillusionment and a weary cynicism.
So with this latest silence, and emphatic indifference from China towards the appeals from the CTA ringing loudly, what alternative response should Penpa Tsering and the Kashag (governing cabinet) put into action?
Firstly the exiled Tibetan Administration could issue a statement to the effect that; in light of China’s consistent refusal to enter into meaningful negotiations without preconditions, it is abandoning its policy of seeking talks. Until such time as there is a genuine demonstration by China of a willingness to enter discussions; in a neutral country with an independent third party as chair of such contact.
Additionally the CTA should make it known that, mindful of years of rejection from the Chinese regime, it is withdrawing the objective of seeking genuine autonomy. Replacing that with the goal of national freedom for Tibetans in all three traditional regions that constitute historic, cultural and geographic Tibet.
The application of such an alternative direction would send a clear message across the Tibetan Diaspora, while providing a central and unifying ambition, around which it would be possible to reinvigorate the Tibetan cause. Enabling a sharper and more concentrated focus, eliminating the disabling discord which erodes, stagnates and distracts efforts to operate a concerted campaign to represent forcefully, and with one voice, the condition and hopes-for-freedom of Tibetans suffering under Chinese occupation.
It would also serve as a beacon of hope for Tibetans inside Tibet, seeing their exiled brothers and sisters firmly aligned with their secreted hopes for an independent Tibet, free at last from Chinese terrorism.
With Tibetan New Year (Losar) looming, a time to cast off negativity and drive away the ills of the previous year what more auspicious time is there for a direction that would attract hope and positivity?
If the core function and dedication of the Central Tibetan Administration is to stand in solidarity with and represent a future dreamed of by Tibet’s people, and their compatriots in exile, then it must awaken from its delusion that appeasing China will open the door to negotiations and instead choose a way which brings together all Tibetans, resolved and clear in their intention.