The Tibetan Struggle: The Dalai Lama’s View

In the post “The Tibetan Struggle: The Balance Between Protest and Compliance?” a few of the commentators brought up their own views on which method is actually the most effective in engaging the Chinese in an order to obtain either any sort of progress, true autonomy, or independence

From the statement of the Dalai Lama on the March 10th, 2007 Tibetan National Uprising day:

“In order to provide real benefits for both the majority and minority nationalities as well as the central and local governments, a meaningful autonomy should be put into place. Since this particular autonomy is for the minority nationalities, the demand for a single administration of the Tibetan nationality is sincere, just and transparent. It is clear to the world that we have no hidden agenda. As such it is the sacred duty of all Tibetans to continue our struggle towards fulfilling this reasonable demand. No matter how long it takes, our courage and determination shall remain unchanged until we fulfill our aspirations. The struggle of the Tibetan people is not about the struggle for the status of a few Tibetan individuals; it is the struggle of a people. We have already transformed the exile Tibetan administration and community into a genuine democratic system, with a succession of leaders elected for the people by the people themselves. We have thus set up a deeply-rooted, vibrant social and political institution that will carry forward our struggle from generation to generation. In the end, the ultimate decisions will be made democratically by the people themselves.

Since the resumption of direct contacts between the Tibetans and Chinese in 2002, my representatives have conducted five rounds of comprehensive discussion with concerned officials of the People’s Republic of China. In these discussions, both sides were able to express in clear terms the suspicions, doubts and real difficulties that exist between the two sides. These rounds of discussion have thus helped in creating a channel of communication between the two sides. The Tibetan delegation stands ready to continue the dialogue anytime, anywhere. The Kashag will provide the details in its statement.”

Here is some excerpts from the Dalai Lama’s autobiography Freedom in Exile and other sources which help understand his perceptions on: how we should engage the Chinese, and the effectiveness of obtaining progress through the discussion and negotiation advocated within the Middle Path.

“Many and more ordinary Chinese people are showing their sympathy and concern regarding the Tibetan issue. Indeed, it seems there is a growing sense of solidarity between politically aware Chinese and the oppressed people of Tibet. This is a development which encourages me greatly, especially as I have has personal experience of this sentiment on a number of occasions now.”

“This personal experience of goodwill amongst ordinary Chinese towards Tibetans is corroborated by other reports I have received.”

“I therefore believe that, though [the Chinese] attitude towards freedom for Tibetans may be privately held, [discussions with Chinese] will have an important effect in the long run.”

“On top of all this is also the fact that increasing numbers of Chinese are taking an interest in Buddhism in general and in Tibetan Buddhism in particular.”

“Many Chinese intellectuals with whom I have spoken also agree that such a course would be in the best interests of China and the Chinese people.”

What do you think of these views? Are they unrealistic? Too optimistic?

What about the Dalai Lama’s view on how we should engage the Chinese? Is it too reliant on the Chinese to change their perceptions? Will it lead to progress with


5 thoughts on “The Tibetan Struggle: The Dalai Lama’s View

  1. Anonymous

    I don’t quite see his opinions on this book relating to what was being discussed. As a clever politician, perhaps an insider’s honest strategy/opinion might differ than whats was put on these books.

  2. Dava

    There is a whole lot of talk these days in the Dharamsala TGIE about how very soon there is going to be some kind of huge movement toward Tibetan Buddhism among the Chinese. The truth is there have been Chinese followers of Tibetan Buddhism since the Yuan Dynasty. They have always been (and still are, especially diaspora Chinese and Taiwanese) the most devoted and generous patrons of Tibetan Buddhism. Still, I see terrible irony in the fact that so many exile Tibetans today would seem to be seeking patrons (in Tibetan, jindag) for their independence from among the Chinese in China proper (if I can use that word, and why not?). The very people whose rulers took that independence away. (And, to point out the obvious, to be reliant on patrons is to be, to that degree, lacking in independence. Tibetans have to stick their own heads out.) Perhaps there is some esoteric strategy at work here. But I have to confess to being mystified. But hey, I’ve been getting that feeling a lot lately.

  3. Jigme32

    “I don’t quite see his opinions on this book relating to what was being discussed. As a clever politician, perhaps an insider’s honest strategy/opinion might differ than whats was put on these books.”

    Well we know what the Dalai Lama advocates when dealing with the Chinese but I wanted to try and show his mindset of why he thinks his way will work in relation to how the Chinese will react and how the general Chinese people. I introduced the quotes wrong though so that might have made some confusion.

    Edit: I made a few changes to the post.

  4. Rich

    I tend to agree with what dava said. When I was in Tibet, the Chinese Buddhists were the ones I found the most offensive in Tibet. They were the ones who seemed to consider themselves as one people with Tibetans as though Tibetan Buddhism were a part of Chinese cultural heritage.

    One thing that particularly bothered me was seeing how the Chinese would “donate” to monasteries. A common “gift” from these wealthy Chinese Buddhists would be electric ‘fake candle’ bulbs (the flickering orange ones) to put in the temples, replacing many or all of the butter lamps. But what one has to ask is, where does the electricity to power them come from? These type of bulbs are super-energy-inefficient. Tibetan pilgrims coming to monastaries traditionally make offerings of butter, supporting both the monastery and a Tibetan “industry” (herding). But how does a pilgrim donate electricity?!? Even if they could, it would be supporting an offensive Chinese industry destroying Tibet’s environment and holy sites, rather than supporting Tibetans.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the offensive colonizer behaviors of Chinese Buddhists in Tibet. The few I met and spoke to in person disgusted me too. They would act like they love everything Tibetan and claim they were trying to learn Tibetan language, but they would give up finding it too hard and just impose their own language and customs on Tibetans instead.

    At least the Hui (Chinese Muslims) stay to themselves and don’t interfere with Tibetan culture. Chinese Buddhists do everything they can to colonize Tibetan culture and transform it into their likeness. If anything, Chinese fandom for Tibetan culture is more of a threat to Tibet than a sign of hope.

  5. tenzin palden

    this is a very good site and it really helps people to know or further their knowledge on tibetan keep going..though im smalll i really appreciate urs work

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