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Washington: - On April 23, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Executive Chairman of the Board of the International Campaign for Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's chief interlocutor in talks with the Chinese leadership, addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC, United States. Below, TPI summarises the key points of his speech.

 

 

China-Tibet Dialogue

· Lodi Gyaltsens Gyari's last meeting with his counterparts in Beijing was in January 2010 and he does not see any prospect for an early resumption.
· Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay, the democratically-elected Tibetan leader has expressed a strong continuing commitment to pursue the Middle-Way approach initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Misapplication of the ‘One-China' Policy

· In the 1972 Shanghai Communique, in deference to Beijing's ‘One-China' policy, the US acknowledged that "all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait claim that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China and the United States does not challenge that position."
· Adherence to the ‘One-China' policy has been reiterated by successive American administrations. Beijing increasingly demands that other governments with whom it has relations also endorse it.
· China invokes the ‘One-China' policy to prevent legitimate inquiry or engagement by members of the international community on the Tibet issue.
· No Tibetan government has ever claimed to be the government of China, so the application of the ‘One-China' policy is irrelevant.
· His Holiness the Dalai Lama's proposals and statements concerning ways to resolve the Tibet question call for the exercise by Tibetans of genuine autonomy within the People's Republic of China (PRC), not for independence.
· The PRC has misled a number of governments into believing that the ‘One-China' policy applies to Tibet, and that it restricts the extent to which their government officials can interact with Tibetan leaders in exile, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
· By accepting the applicability of ‘One-China' to Tibet, governments are subtly aligning themselves with the Chinese position that the Dalai Lama is trying to ‘split' China.
· Since the ‘One-China policy was developed to make it possible for the US to continue to conduct relations with Taiwan, while recognizing the PRC government as the sole government of China, if the policy were at all relevant to Tibet, it should enable governments to conduct relations with the Tibetan exile leadership without incurring Beijing's displeasure.
· Every government has the duty to promote a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue by engaging with both sides in the conflict.

Moderation and Dialogue

· His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism have been moderating factors against the destabilizing and potentially dangerous effects of hate propaganda, increasing tensions and economic inequalities between Tibetans and Chinese, and other risk factors in Tibet.
· Governments and world leaders seen to engage with Tibetans, especially with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, endorse the message that dialogue and non-violence is a laudable path to follow to bring about change.
· Fear and even refusal to meet with Tibetan leaders sends the opposite signal to those around the world who stand before the choice of whether to pursue their objectives through dialogue and democratic means or through the use of violence.

Autonomy

· A prominent member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently published an article advocating the scrapping of the Chinese constitutional provisions on autonomy as they apply to the Tibetans and other nationality minorities within the PRC. For several years, a certain academician with strong ties to the CCP leadership has also been advocating this view in various forums.
· His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile administration propose that the situation in Tibet should be resolved by transforming what is now a nominal autonomy for Tibetans into a genuine and effective autonomy.
· The international community is increasingly aware of the benefits of decentralization of power and the contribution of autonomy arrangements in the resolution and prevention of conflicts, especially in multi-ethnic states.
· The autonomy Tibetans are asking for, as set out in the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, respects the Chinese constitutional framework and is in line with the best practice of states in the area of autonomy.
· Those advocates of the elimination of ethnicity and minority status for Tibetans, coupled with assimilationist policies, are negating the distinctiveness of Tibetans and other non-Chinese and seek to hasten the serious cultural destruction already underway in Tibet.
· If the Chinese National People's Congress were to take up these suggested changes in the autonomy laws, there would be serious ramifications, because it is on the basis on a genuinely autonomous Tibet that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been able to build a consensus among Tibetans for a future of coexistence with the Chinese.
· Further, the recognition by certain governments of China's claim to Tibet was on the understanding that Tibet's distinctive identity would be respected as an autonomous area within the People's Republic of China. Perhaps most important in this regard was India's demand and China's explicit assurance, given by Prime Minister Chou Enlai to Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956.
· Joint communiques between India and China make the important distinction of referring to the autonomous status of the Tibetan region. A revocation of Tibet's autonomy by China or a further dilution of its meaning could have serious consequences for China and the region.
· If the constitutional basis for autonomy were to be removed from the Chinese constitution and a Middle-Way approach could no longer be accommodated within the PRC constitution, Tibetans would be compelled to look for a totally different approach.

The Future

· The wave of self-immolations in Tibet is the direct result of Tibetans living under daily oppression. The Chinese government's failure to grasp this situation and to act responsibly is of serious concern to many governments.
· Prospects for deepening religious repression in Tibet, continuing attacks against His Holiness the Dalai Lama, constraints on culture, and escalating economic disparities between Tibetans and Chinese all forecast an intensification and broadening of the protest movement in Tibet.
· A continuation or worsening of the current level of repression in Tibet will increase Tibetan resistance, as people feel they have little left to lose.
· In circumstances of intense government repression against its own citizens, or of open conflict, the international community has coalesced around the Responsibility to Protect or ‘R2P' principle, which has been invoked in UN debates on Darfur, Burma, Libya and elsewhere.
· In the case of mass atrocities, the international community has a responsibility to intervene to assist the people and protect them from intolerable harm.
· The PRC is not immune to the will of the people it governs or to the condemnation of the international community when it violates international norms of behavior.
· Tibetans will continue to appeal to the international community, despite the major obstacles they may encounter.
· Unless China's leaders change their course, the international community must be increasingly vigilant and prepared to act in a qualitatively different manner to help save Tibet.

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