Chris Cheng (China, AC 08-10)
First I would like to claim that as a Chinese national; I insist there should be ‘One China’ and do not support any political ideas of separating Tibet. Yet it is always my pleasure to discuss the Tibetan issue with Tenzin, my Tibetan second year student at Atlantic College. Discussions usually focus on the main barriers blocking communication between ‘Student for a Free Tibet’(SFT), an Atlantic College Organization, and Chinese people.
Let me illustrate one of the main contributors to differences between the groups, misleading and misconception, by means of an example. To attract the attention of Atlantic College students, SFT had placed posters outside the dining hall, the 1st sentence on which said ‘Tibet is not a part of China’. They demanded for ‘independence’ in another poster. Note that even the Dalai Lama acknowledged in an interview with the South China Morning Post (A Hong Kong based newspaper) in 2005 that “We are willing to be part of the People’s Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment.”
No doubt people may have different opinions about notions of autonomy and degrees of self-rule in regard to the preservation of culture, environment etc. Yet just looking at the SFT sentences, we note that they clash fundamentally with the Dalai Lama’s words. ‘Autonomy’ is in fact completely different from the concept of ‘independence’. Self-rule is carried out within a nation while independence is breaking a region apart from the state to become a separate one. The statement saying that Tibet is not a part of China is misleading to both the Chinese and the Tibetans and thereby possibly indicating that the actions of SFT hinder the progress of the two sides to build mutual trust.
Reading through the interview of Mr. Sonam Dagpo, general secretary of the Department of International Relations of CTA (Central Tibetan Administration based in India), published on November 10, 2008 on United Words, I appreciated his effort to make dialogue with the Chinese Government and to respect China’s unity and stability. In contradiction with the media’s tendency to encourage acts of separatism, neither side is actually seeking to create a new nation. Without such common ground, it is almost impossible to establish any useful conversations.
To conclude, I would like to point out that if SFT and any other people supporting Tibet aimed to begin constructive dialogue with the Chinese and tried to reach mutual consensus, they should change several directions and policies.
– United World College Student Magazine –