LinkedIn – By Greg C. Bruno
Tibetan political leader Penpa Tsering visited Prague during the Forum 2000 conference to advocate for a more coordinated European response to China. Unlike previous Tibetan leaders who have tended to stay close to the Dalai Lama’s approach – advocating co-existence with Beijing – the new Tibetan “Sikyong” is championing a more aggressive course of action: encouraging the end of communism in China.
I interviewed Tsering during his visit. Below is an edited excerpt of that conversation, first published by Sinopsis.cz.
You’re in Europe asking European leaders for support. What more can the EU do to help Tibetans?
We’re asking them to think about the prospects for China after the fall of communism. Does Europe or America want anarchy in China? I don’t think anybody would want that; that would be very consequential.
Right now, what we see is a very, very insecure China. I think they are very vulnerable, despite the show of force that they project.
There are many indicators of this. For instance, no more than three Politburo members can meet without the express permission of the president. This is not something new, but it was reinforced about three years ago. That suggests they are afraid of an internal coup.
Then of course there are many statements coming out that China is spending more money on internal security than external security, which is symbolic of the deep distrust between the rulers and the ruled. There are also many economic problems, political problems, issues with foreign relations, and trade. People’s expression of disenchantment with the government is becoming more pronounced.
Finally, China is increasingly making trouble around Taiwan or in the South China Sea. The only reason I can see that they keep these flashpoints burning is because of a threat to the survival of the Communist Party. They will do something, creating external enemies, so communism can survive.
If communism falls, what would be the alternative? A military takeover or democratization. There are only two options.
Now, if China were to democratize, it would need both internal forces and external forces. The internal forces are the pro-democracy activists, the people who were part of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, those who want freedom. The external forces, meanwhile, would come from the West. And the West can start preparing now.
Europe, America, and other democratic countries should come together and work with Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols, Hong Kongers, and Taiwanese in bringing about change. These elements can play a positive role in bringing about change in China.
So, you’re asking for European support to promote regime change in China?
We’re not talking about pushing China over the edge, or the Chinese people over the edge. We’re talking about the Chinese leadership, the Communist Party.
What would that support look like?
Just like the United States, the European Union should appoint a special coordinator for China. This would help coordinate policy so that Uyghurs, Mongols, Tibetans and others can all reach out to one office, which can frame a policy about China in a coordinated manner.
In Europe everybody sees Russia as the immediate threat because of Ukraine, but the long-term threat is China. That realization is sinking in now. This is the right time for the Transatlantic to come together. The U.S. already has a special representative for Tibetan issues.
To face the China challenge there must be a concerted effort. It cannot be done by Uyghurs or Hong Kongers or even America alone.
The Dalai Lama has said he plans to live for another 10 to 15 years. But everyone dies, even Dalai Lamas. What’s your prediction for the day after he’s gone?
It’s very difficult to say what will happen, but I’m more fearful of the consequences of how the Tibetans in Tibet will feel if His Holiness dies in exile. That will leave a scar that would be difficult to remove. So far, Tibetans have restrained themselves from taking up any other way than non-violence, because of His Holiness. If people become more troubled by emotions, then anything can happen. And that’s dangerous, both for the Tibetan struggle and for the Chinese government, despite all the open surveillance they have.
The Central Tibetan Administration, Tibetans’ government in exile, may be the only institution capable of stepping into the leadership void after the 14th Dalai Lama passes. Is CTA ready for that responsibility?
How effective CTA will or will not be depends on the elected leadership. We need to be not only mentally prepared but also prepared for the political consequences.
Click here to read the original report.