DHARAMSHALA: Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden visit to India next week, Tibetan political leader Dr. Lobsang Sangay has said Tibet should a core issue for India and China and the resolution of Tibet issue is ‘win-win’ solution for the world’s two most populous nations.
Top Indian and Chinese officials finalised President Xi Jinping’s visit, including the programme and key issues to be discussed, amid indications that he may begin his tour in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat on 16 September. The final touches to next week’s visit, the schedule of which was kept under wraps, were given by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who met Mr Xi and handed over a personal letter from Mr Modi, according to the Times of India.
On being asked what the Tibetan administration hopes from the new India government during a recent interview with a national Indian daily, The Hindu, Tibetan political leader Dr. Lobsang Sangay said: “China says Tibet is a core issue, and for India and South Asia as a whole, Tibet should be a core issue, and the recognition of that is important.”
“Our hope has always been that any Indian government should press on the Chinese government to resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue. Our stand has been the Middle Away approach, to seek autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution and within China,” he added.
Responding to a question on the possibility of the Tibet issue being shelved in view of the importance PM Modi attaches on China, Sikyong said: “As far as Tibetans are concerned, we welcome any positive contact between India and China, and for India to have good relations with all countries, so in that sense, we don’t want to be an obstacle in those relations. What Tibetans propose is a ‘win-win’ solution for China and India.
“The Middle Way is that, and it should in no way offend the Chinese government. We are not challenging the sovereignty or integrity of China, which they say is of paramount importance. We have implemented their concerns, and all we ask is that they implement their own laws. This is as moderate as we can get. We want to end the repression of Tibetans and give them autonomy, and we will not seek separation from China,” Sikyong said.
Sikyong said the Tibetan leadership is not asking the Chinese government for a re-drawing of borders, but an administrative mechanism to bring all the Tibetan-inhabited areas under one single administration. Bringing all the Tibetans currently living in designated Tibetan autonomous areas within a single autonomous administrative unit is entirely in accordance with the Article 4 of the Chinese constitution and the Law on Regional National Autonomy. (Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People)
“Also under Chinese law it says Tibetan language should be encouraged, both as an official language and as a medium of instruction. But even Tibet University, schools are all in Chinese,” he said.
“If you look at the administration, of the 15 members of the party politburo, 9 are Chinese, 2 more are half-Chinese. Party secretary has never been a Tibetan. As per 2002 survey in China, in the communist party of the TAR, 49% were Chinese. Since then that number has increased. 70% of restaurants, shops, taxi licenses are given to Chinese in Lhasa, 50% of the party membership, 40% of high school graduates are unemployed. This isn’t autonomy,” Sikyong added.
On being asked about hopes for future dialogue with the Chinese government, Sikyong said: “One should always be hopeful. Hope based on our own commitment, and I am sure the younger generation of Tibetans… will carry that commitment.”
“Also the new generation of Chinese leaders…President Xi Jinping especially may decide to take another look at Tibet, since their policies don’t seem to have resolved the issue. President Xi’s father Xi Zhongxun in particular had a relationship and understanding of the Tibet issue. He has met with the Dalai Lama, and was very close to the Panchen Lama, and he wrote his biography. Hope that had some influence on his son. Xi Zhongxun was one of the most liberal leaders, and we have hopes from the son, Xi Jinping. It is still to seen if the son will have learned from the father. Hopefully he will review. He has shown boldness on corruption, in politics, hope he shows boldness on Tibet too,” the Tibetan political leader said.
Responding to a question on the future of the Tibetan movement in India, Sikyong said: “Non-violence is an uncompromising part of our way. This will always be our official policy.”
“Tibetans in India have always been law-abiding and peaceful. Because India has done the most for Tibetans, so we are eternally grateful. We must remember we are guests, and behave as honourable guests. In China, Tibetans are less than half a percent of the Chinese population….so non-violence isn’t just wise, it is the most logical policy to have. Even when you speak of the self-immolations, not a single Chinese person or property has been harmed. These Tibetans are dying violent deaths, but it is not a violent act, as no one else is hurt,” he said.