Cablegate and Tibet

The on-going release of U.S. diplomatic cables has included several which relate to Tibet. One describes how the Chinese government has been paying Nepalese officials to apprehend Tibetan refugees, which is a fact that should be more embarrassing to Nepal, but apparently no one cares very much. Another shows the Dalai Lama suggesting to American officials that the focus should be on environmental problems in Tibet rather than on politics. The most detailed cable summarises several conversations with exile government officials. I found it very interesting that the (unnamed) author observes, “Although Western journalists often ask who the face of the Tibetan movement would be after the Dalai Lama passes away, Tibetans seemed remarkably unconcerned because they see a clear succession path.” This is one advantage of having public elections for the kalön tripa: it raises his profile, which will be important in the future when a kalön tripa has to serve at a time when there is no Dalai Lama.

Not much that’s mentioned in these cables is very surprising, but it’s interesting to see what gets emphasised, i.e. what an American diplomat thought was interesting to talk about. It’s important to note that the Wikileaks cables are marked with the lowest level of secrecy in the U.S. system. Presumably, any really shocking news that diplomats wanted kept secret would be available only at higher security clearance levels.

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