Genuine Autonomy: A response to Chris Cheng

Dear Chris Cheng,

It is always a pleasure to read rational and sensible comments from a Chinese on the Sino-Tibetan problem. Otherwise, most of the time, one gets to read only polemics, mud slinging and blaming from netizens from either side of the debate.
There is one important issue that needs clarification however.

Since you might be studying outside China for quite some time now, for good or for bad, democratisation of societies and polities in some of the countries in Asia has accompanied with it the right for its citizens to hold different opinions, even those that may differ from that of the state. Similarly, the Students for a Free Tibet is a civil society organisation that has its own views for a future Tibet which does not necessarily seem to coincide with the views of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan exile government which is based in Dharamsala. Therefore, if the SFT feels that Tibet is not a part of China, the Dalai Lama does not have the jurisdiction to impose his views on the grouping.
Leaving this issue aside, I would instead like to draw your attention to this interesting anomaly/irony arising out of your response to Tenzin Sewo. Perhaps you are not aware that, even though the Dalai Lama has been extending his hands for dialogue with the Chinese leaders since so many years, the Chinese government always blames him for being insincere and a ‘splittist’. Whereas, the Dalai Lama has consistently reiterated publicly that he is only seeking ‘genuine autonomy’ within the People’s Republic of China. And mind you, this is something that is permissible by the Chinese government’s constitution and autonomy law. So here we have a case of him wanting to admit and even announcing that Tibet is a part of China, and still there is no reciprocity from the Chinese side; only further addition of preconditions to negotiations. So it sends a wrong message to the common Tibetan people.

Rightly, they begin to wonder: “when we say we are a part of China, the Chinese are not happy. Now when we say we are not part of China, even then they are not happy. What do they actually want from us?” Tibetans definitely are not happy living in exile. Having to live as ‘refugees’ is not a happy existence for any ordinary being. Most Tibetans would likewise want to be back in Tibet and hence, have a place to call home.

Why prolong the issue unnecessarily then? The Chinese citizens like you may not have a say in government functioning in China given the one party system and lack of voting rights but you can use the internet etc to make your voice heard and make your Tibetan brothers and sisters feel that they are a part of the Chinese motherland, by uniting with them in their demand for a right kind of autonomous status within the great Chinese nation. Otherwise, the problem will never get solved and nobody will be happy if you continue seeking out culprits. I am sure it is a great source of embarrassment for you and many Chinese like you who have to bear the ire of the Tibetan people like Tenzin your classmate for no reason but bad decision by your
leaders. You have to understand that people like Tenzin are equal victims like you and have no say in decisionmaking. So do not get angry at them, try to dialogue with them at your own level and platform. I am sure it will be an enriching experience to understand the true feelings of Tenzin and likewise, she can trust you and understand you. That I am sure would be the ethos of your College.
Most recently, more than hundreds of Chinese intellectuals, lawyers and some government officials signed a ‘Charter 2008’ and stood in protest before the Chinese foreign Ministry’s office in Beijing. This event more than anything reflects that the Chinese people too want change without necessarily having to come in conflict with the party state.
We, the children of the world today, are the leaders of tomorrow. National boundaries were created by our great great ancestors. Let us not let ourselves be divided by these religious, national, cultural boundaries. Let us work together to create a peaceful, better and environmentally safe world for us and for our future generations because our current leaders do not seem to be bothered.

Peace and best wishes,
Tshering (India).

– United World College Student Magazine –


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