Tribune NEws Service
News Delhi, December 16
In an exclusive interview to The Tribune today, Lobsang Sangay, the Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile, made an ‘appeal and a request’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to raise the Tibet issue in a manner similar to the one in which he has raised the Baluchistan issue.
He clarified that this is not a demand but then ‘India is one of the critical components when it comes to the Tibet issue’. “India is already doing the most for the Tibetan people,” he said and added that he wants the Indian government to speak quite strongly on the issue of Tibet because ‘India has the legitimacy, the privilege, the ability to really speak on the issue because the largest number of Tibetans are in India’.
He pointed to the fact that President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday hosted the Dalai Lama in a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan is an example of India’s support. China today reacted angrily to this and even threatened that the India-China ties could be damaged because of the presence of the Dalai Lama at the President’s event. With regards to the recent spat between Mongolia and China following the visit of the Dalai Lama to Mongolia, Sangay said that, “Mongolia is very bold and they are taking a principled stand. The largest percentage of people in Mongolia is Buddhist who are followers of the His Holiness”. But Sangay was also a tad dismissive of the Chinese reaction saying that the Chinese retaliations are always temporary.
“The Chinese make noise but it’s always temporary since China needs coal and the raw materials from Mongolia as much as Mongolia needs Chinese investments”, he said. Sangay, who was elected earlier this year as the head of the Tibetan administration in a democratic manner, admitted that at the moment talks with China look difficult ‘because the last meeting between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese was in 2010’ but he expressed the hope that Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, will ‘focus on some legacy items in 2018, his second term’. He explained that Tibet was a low hanging fruit for Xi since “We are not seeking independence from China, we are seeking genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution”. This is today being referred to as ‘The Middle Way’ Policy, and has the support of the Dalai Lama.
Sangay said, “We will succeed, sooner or later. We don’t fear the Chinese, we know how to deal with them. We have lived with them.”