China should allow UN team into Tibet: Lobsang Sangay (Interview)
By Prashant Sood, New Delhi, Feb 3 : China's "hardline policies" in Tibet have failed and the international community ought to do more to press the country to allow a UN delegation there in the wake of rising self-immolations by Tibetans, Tibetan political leader Lobsang Sangay says.
The international community should tell China that Tibet was a test of its policies of peaceful development and harmony, Sangay, the democratically elected prime minister of the Tibetan people in exile, told IANS in an interview during a visit to New Delhi.
Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping, who is to take over as president next month, should make an "informed judgment of his government's policies towards Tibet", the Harvard-educated scholar said.
"They (new leadership) should form a committee to review policies inside Tibet and then make an informed judgment of policies towards Tibetan people... They should restart the dialogue to find a solution to the long-standing issue," Sangay contended.
He said Tibetans were stronger in their struggle as the new leadership was better educated.
"We are stronger because the new leadership (in exile) is better educated, better exposed and is trying to continue the legacy of earlier generation who were determined, who had integrity and commitment...We are a lot stronger than before... The younger generation is more focussed on Tibetan cause than career aspects of life."
Sangay, who was elected in 2011 after the Dalai Lama surrendered his political responsibilities to focus solely on religious duties, voiced his unhappiness over the rising self-immolations in Tibet.
Nearly 100 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet since 2009 to protest against the Chinese government's "repressive policies". Sangay called upon Tibetans not to celebrate the Tibetan new year on Feb 11 as a mark of condolence and expression of solidarity.
The new leadership of the Tibetan government-in-exile, that operates from Dharamsala, a north Indian hill town, will be "more active on the international front to make sure that the pains and sufferings of Tibetans are magnified and heard throughout the world so that the international community, including the UN, can press the Chinese government to enter into a dialogue to resolve the issue," Sangay said.
Sangay, who was born and grew up in a Tibetan settlement near Darjeeling in eastern India, said if China really wants the respect of the international community and seeks to be a responsible global player, it should "solve the issue of Tibet in a reasonable way".
Asked if countries would forcefully raise the issue of Tibet with China given its growing economic clout, Sangay said it was for the international community to decide if they wanted to "see a moderate China or a China that does not respect human rights".
"They can really press the Chinese government that peaceful rise is your foreign policy and harmony is your domestic policy. They have to show it happening in Tibet. They have to say Tibet is a test for the Chinese government," Sangay said.
He said Tibetans were ready for talks with China "anytime, anywhere".
"The situation is grim at the moment, very grave, and there has been a tragic turn to the protest as well," he said.
Sangay said there had been nine rounds of formal talks during 2002-2010 between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and China.
"From our side, we put on the table the memorandum of genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution - clearly enunciating what is genuine autonomy within the People's Republic of China. But the Chinese government has not reciprocated."
"Their response has been that (in) this genuine autonomy, there is hidden independence."
The memorandum had quoted provisions of the Chinese constitution and China should implement them, Sangay stressed.
"Rationally, logically, what we have put on the table is as moderate as one can be...That's a win-win proposition. Tibetans can have genuine autonomy; China can have sovereignty. And the Chinese government should realise that hardline policies have failed and will continue to fail," Sangay explained to IANS.
He said Tibetans were committed to non-violence and remained hopeful about the future.
He noted that China holds Tibet to be a "core issue" and India should also treat it the same way due to its strategic concerns.
Referring to Chinese plans to construct dams on the Brahmaputra river, he said this will impact people living downstream.
"Once you build a dam, you control the flow of a river.
Sangay said he had been "spiritually blessed" by the Dalai Lama, who had delegated his political authority to him.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)