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Tibet-China-Middle-Way-2015Dharamshala — China claims of not only "territorial sovereignty" over Tibet but also claims of "sovereignty over the soul of the Tibetan people," the political leader of Tibetan people Dr Lobsang Sangay said at a press briefing in Dharamshala, India, while releasing a document in response to the China's White Paper on Tibet.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Tuesday sent out a strong message to China as its observing 50th anniversary of establishment of the 'Tibet Autonomous Region.' Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay said that the CTA's "response also argues that there is a way to resolve the issue" of Tibet.

The 21-page document: "Tibet was not part of China but Middle Way Remains a Viable Solution," was released by Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, accompanied by DIIR Secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo, DIIR Secretary Tashi Phuntsok and Tibet Policy director Thubten Samphel.

The reaction of the CTA has come in response to the Chinese white paper that preceded the two-day meeting of the 6th Tibet Work Forum held in Beijing on August 24-25 and attended by President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders, officials of the military and the government.

"One striking feature of China's latest white paper on Tibet is its attempt to distort the Middle Way Approach. The white paper gives the usual Chinese official argument that the Middle Way Approach is to "split" China and is a "disguised" form of Tibetan independence," the CTA said.

In stark contrast to the allegations leveled by the white paper, the CTA said "the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy neither seeks independence nor "a state within a state... [with] the ultimate goal of full independence".

"The white paper's attempt at sullying the stature of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will fail to convince the international community and more importantly the Chinese people," the CTA responded, saying "This is because His Holiness the Dalai Lama remains a true friend of the Chinese people and the best hope for a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet."

"The Middle Way Approach aspires for meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people to live under a single administration within the scope of the constitution of PRC," it added, saying that "This is the aspiration of the Tibetan people and one which they deserve."

"The new argument the white paper now gives is that the aim of the Middle Way Approach is to create "a state within a state. In the rest of the world this form of governance is called a federal system. India and the United States are good examples."

It said: "To borrow the white paper's terminology, these two countries could be defined as "many states within a state. This federal system is practiced by China with Hong Kong in the form of "one country, two systems."

"The federal form of governance is working well in these two countries because they give the states within their national boundaries much leeway in terms of making laws, allocating resources, developing a liberal education system and a host of other rights that do not conflict with the central governments' core responsibility of defending national interests.

However, if wiser Chinese heads look into the Tibetan proposal of not seeking "Independence" but "Meaningful Autonomy" for all the Tibetan people under a single administration, they will find in the proposal a solution that respects Tibet's distinct cultural and national identity and preserves the territorial integrity of the People's Republic of China.

Increasing number of Chinese intellectuals within and outside China support this peace initiative, including Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate. Their support, Twelve Suggestions for Dealing With the Tibetan Situation, is published as an open letter to the Chinese authorities.

Any move by China to meet the concerns of the Tibetan people along the lines of the Middle Way Approach will pave the way for the restoration of strategic trust between India and China. This will open the borders between the two and free their militaries from entanglements. This in turn will improve the economic and cultural development of the Himalayan region and contribute to lasting peace in Asia.

In such a political atmosphere, Tibet could resume its traditional role of being the centre of Buddhist learning for the whole of the Buddhist Himalayas which will greatly boost the spiritual richness and facilitate economic and cultural interaction of the peoples of the Himalayas.

An approach based on the Chinese constitution to the Tibetan people could send a positive message to the people of Hong Kong that their concerns will be respected by Beijing. Chinese authorities giving "Meaningful Autonomy" to the Tibetan people will serve in restoring the confidence of the people of Hong Kong.

This will give real meat to the bone of President Xi Jinping's China Dream. When China starts respecting Tibet as a global commons which has immense environmental and development importance to the rest of Asia rather than a colony to be exploited, the people of Hong Kong will no longer be fearful of a common future.

"Recognising the just aspirations of the Tibetan people can greatly enhance China's soft power around the world. China does not need to spend millions of dollars in the form of Confucius Institutes across the globe to expand its influence," the document said, adding: "Millions who have benefitted from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings will come to Tibet to deepen their knowledge and bringing with them international goodwill and laying the groundwork for China's moral ascendency. "

"More than flexing any military or economic muscle, a just settlement will assure China the international respect it wants. This will be the start of China's new Long March to global leadership."

"In recent years, the Dalai Lama 'group' has actively campaigned for the Middle Way internationally, said Zhu Weiqun, Chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, on 16 April 2015, saying, "Even though we (Chinese government) have criticised it, there are those who support it. Some international forces claim the Middle Way is a win-win situation for China and Tibetans."

In response to the comments made by Zhu Weiqun, the CTA said: "Instead of addressing the contents of the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, the white paper distorts facts and manufactures quotes in an attempt to denounce the Middle Way Approach."

"Instead of issuing white papers, there is an urgent need for China to withdraw its failed Tibet policy and replace it with a new policy based on the reasonable aspirations of the Tibetan people," the document stressed.

"The widespread protests throughout the Tibetan plateau in 2008, the security force's disproportionate use of force, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions of scores of Tibetans has left a deep political scar on the minds of the Tibetans," it further added.

"Coupled with this, decades of economic marginalisation, cultural assimilation, and other policies aimed at identity erosion have contributed to deepening the Tibetan people's resentment," the document said, "142 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to his homeland and freedom for the Tibetan people."

However, the document said the CTA "firmly believes that dialogue is the only way forward to resolve the issue of Tibet. Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay has reiterated the Tibetan leadership's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet through dialogue between envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Chinese leadership."

The CTA said that "the Middle Way Approach, which seeks to accommodate China's core interests while protecting those of the Tibetans, has evolved since it was first enunciated."

"A quick review of the history of the evolution of the Chinese constitution and the Party's policy on Tibet reveals the steady dilution of rights of minorities from the right of secession to self- determination in the 1930's and to a limited and even restrictive autonomy under a unitary state today. While in principle, the constitution of the PRC makes provisions on autonomy for broad decision-making authority at the provincial level, this provision is missing in autonomous regions such as Tibet. "

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