AMHERST — Penpa Tsering, leader of the Tibetan “government in exile,” recently traveled to the University of Massachusetts to discuss how China is attempting to eradicate Tibet’s unique cultural identity, urging listeners to be wary of “the dragon” — his nickname for the East Asian superpower.
Tsering is the elected political leader or “sikyong” of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala, India, representing more than 140,000 Tibetan people living outside of Tibet. He spoke with dozens of students, faculty and local residents last month in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall to raise awareness of the landlocked region and its quest for peaceful coexistence with China, not independence.
“There is no possibility for us to win,” Tsering said, describing a scenario in which Tibet could go to war with China to become a sovereign nation. “It’s not the question of who rules, it’s the question of the quality of who rules.”
Listeners rose from their seats when Tsering entered the room, accompanied by members of the local Tibetan community. He launched into a presentation on Tibet’s geography, describing the region as the “roof of the world,” “third pole” and “water tower of Asia” because of its high altitude and many glaciers. Tibet was not easy to invade because of the region’s unusual geography, Tsering said, illustrating his argument that Tibet was historically separate from China.
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