Dharamshala — On Wednesday, April 15th, China released the latest of a total 13 white papers since 1990 regarding Tibet. White papers are meant to address complex issues and act as an authoritative guide to a comprehensive solution. While the white paper addressed many facets of the state of Tibet, its clear that the greatest aim was to discredit His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his Middle Way Approach.
The white paper denounces the plan, summarily stating that, "Under the 'middle way,' the Dalai group feigns acceptance of China's sovereignty in Tibet to seize the reins of power and set up a semi-independent political regime under the control of the 'Tibetan independence' forces, and ultimately seek full sovereignty and achieve 'Tibetan independence' when its governing power is consolidated."
Justifying this point, the white paper lays out five essential wrong doings of the Middle Way. "First, it denies the fact that Tibet has been an integral part of China since ancient times; instead it claims that Tibet was 'an independent state' which was 'occupied by China in 1951,' and that 'Tibetans have the right to independence from a historic perspective.'"
"Second, it seeks to establish a 'Greater Tibet' that has never existed at any time in history, claiming that the 'Tibet issue' concerns 6 million Tibetans and that Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai and other areas that Tibetans and people of other ethnic minorities inhabit in compact communities should be incorporated into a unified administrative region."
"Third, it demands 'a high degree of autonomy' that is not subject to any constraint whatsoever from the central government, denies the leadership of the central government and Tibet's present social and political systems, and proposes to establish an 'autonomous government' under which 'Tibetans' (in truth the Dalai party) take full charge of all affairs other than diplomacy and national defense."
"Fourth, it opposes the central government to garrison troops in Tibet and, despite its superficial agreement that the central government holds the authority over national defense, it demands that the central government 'withdraws all Chinese troops' to turn Tibet into an 'international zone of peace.'
"And fifth, in total disregard of the fact that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has been a multi-ethnic region since ancient times, it denies the access of other ethnic groups to 'Greater Tibet' and drives them out of regions where they have lived for generations."
Of the five points, genuine autonomy in particular, China clearly takes issue with, as the white paper claimed that it "is a mask that conceals the true aim of realizing complete independence; and its purpose is to deny China's sovereignty over Tibet and establish a "Greater Tibet" beyond the jurisdiction of the central government."
In contrast, the Middle Way approach, as His Holiness has defined it, "safeguards the vital interests of all concerned parties... [F]or Tibetans: the protection and preservation of their culture, religion and national identity; for the Chinese: the security and territorial integrity of the motherland; and for neighbors and other third parties: peaceful borders and international relations."
The Central Tibetan Administration clearly laid out the intended meaning of a 'high degree of autonomy' in a recent statement regarding the issue. The statement read, "as a part of the multi-national state of the PRC, Tibetans can benefit greatly from the rapid economic and scientific development the country is experiencing. While wanting to actively participate and contribute to this development, we want to ensure that this happens without the people losing their Tibetan identity, culture and core values and without putting the distinct and fragile environment of the Tibetan plateau, to which Tibetans are indigenous, at risk."
While China continues to claim that Tibetans are "masters of their own fate," the demand for genuine autonomy comes from the 66 years of imprisonment for Tibetans possessing images or teachings of the Dalai Lama, the destruction of more than 6,000 monasteries and other religious symbols across Tibet, and the killing of over 1.2 million out of a total 6 Tibetans, all of which suggest the immediate and desperate need for China's dreaded 'genuine autonomy.'