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Middle Way Metamorphosis:Jamyang Norbu
Phayul[Friday, November 14, 2008 10:51]
The Chinese Communist Party has a fondness for colourful and sometimes bizarre labels for their campaigns and policies. In the past we had “The Great Leap Forward”, “The Hundred Flowers”, “Three-Anti/Five-Anti”, and the “Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius” campaign which in Tibet was recast as “Criticize Dalai, Criticize Panchen”. More recently we have had to chew over such profundities as Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents” and Hu Jintao’s “Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces”.

In Tibet it has been less esoteric and more brutally straightforward with such policies as “Strikehard” and “Merciless Repression”. Right now the murderous crackdown throughout Tibet appears to be referred to as Da Za Qiang Shao (打砸抢杀) “Beat Smash Loot Burn”. I suppose this is intended to refer to the actions of the Tibetan protesters and not to the official reprisals, though the latter might be a better fit. I understand that this was one of the many slogans used during the Cultural Revolution and might not be an official label.

All this made me wonder if Beijing had a designated term for their policy in response to the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach. I contacted a friend of mine who has fairly good guanxi or access to local officialdom inside Tibet, and he told me that yes, there was a specific term being used by Chinese officials at the United Front and it was tuõ yán zhèng cè (拖延政策) — time wasting policy, or literally “prolonging” policy. Tibetan cadres referred to it as dhu gyang kyi sichue or time stretching, or time wasting policy.

But yesterday Beijing finally decided (for reasons I will discuss in a future discussion) to pull the plug on this “prolonging” policy, and in the most unmistakable of terms declare that negotiations about any kind of autonomy for Tibet was not going to happen. A press conference was held on Monday 10th by the United Front Work Committee where it was announced that no progress was made at the recent talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama, and the Chinese officials blamed the exiled Tibetan leader as being responsible for the failure to make any progress. They further accused the Dalai Lama of trying to seek a “legal basis” to claim “independence or semi-independence over Tibet”, and insisted China would never accept the Tibetan leader’s demands for greater autonomy for the occupied Himalayan region. An AFP report quoted the Chinese spokesman as saying that “Our contacts and talks failed to make progress and they (the Dalai Lama’s representatives) should assume full responsibility for it”.

Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun, the deputy head of the United Front Work Department  said ”why are you (the Dalai Lama) asking Chinese people to accept the so called “middle way approach ” which is clearly design to split the country”.

On being asked by a journalist about Tibetan claims that Deng Xiaoping had given an assurance that other than the issue of independence every thing could be discussed, Zhu Weiqun made a categorical rejection of this claim. He said that even Lodi Gyari had raised this claim on a few occasions but “…actually Mr. Deng Xiaoping never said this and this is a distortion of Deng Xiaoping’s remark.” With a dismissive little laugh and a smile he continued “I think it would be foolish for anyone to try to find something that they can use from the great patriotic Deng Xiaoping. Everything we do today is based on the guiding principles set forth by Mr. Deng Xiaoping”.

The entire press conference can be seen on YouTube. Someone (Agusangpo) posted these on my website. There is a running translation in English:

I have put in this reference to the YouTube videos since some more fearful and naïve souls in our community are now arguing that the cunning Chinese are actually setting a trap with their rejection of dialogue. That if Tibetans now declare for independence, they argue, the Chinese will announce to the world that the splittist Dalai Lama has always had this secret agenda for independence. Of course the cunning Chinese will have first wiped out everyone’s memories of the Monday 10th televised press conference from their brains, and the three YouTube videos will somehow be made to disappear completely from the digital world.


Although this humiliating smackdown from Beijing should convince anyone but the congenitally delusional that our policy of seeking “meaningful autonomy” through negotiations is truly over, yet I keep getting reports from Dharamshala indicating otherwise.  The proponents of Middle Way now seem to be trying to spread a new message to the Tibetan public, that even if the Chinese have completely rejected dialogue, we must hang on to the Middle Way policy because:

1. Most nations in the world, including India support the Middle Way, and not independence

2. If we gave up the Middle Way and declared our objective as independence, the government of India would not allow us to stay in India and we would be deported.

The first argument is, of course, absolutely mistaken. No country in the world has come out and said that it supports the unification of the three provinces of Tibet: U Tsang, Kham and Amdo; then into a democratic entity which would be granted “genuine” or meaningful autonomy within the People’s Republic of China. All that the heads of states and leaders of many countries have said is that they support negotiations and they “urge” China’s leaders to talk to the Dalai Lama. Most leaders are aware that China won’t make any meaningful concession, but the gesture of supporting dialogue makes these leaders look good to their constituencies, while not forcing them into a position where they might have to take a real position that might benefit the Tibetans, but that might anger China and adversely affect trade.

And this is not a special consideration that we Tibetans are being given by world leaders. In nearly every crisis or conflict in the world, it is standard practice for world bodies and leaders to call for negotiations and an end to conflict and confrontation — unless of course they are benefiting from the conflict. Tibetans are not receiving any special favours here.

The second argument that if we give up the Middle Way Approach and go for independence, we will all be deported from India, is demonstrably ridiculous. I think such a statement is also insulting to the Indian people and government and harmful to our relationship with this great democracy that has given us refuge and help for all these many years. I would urge the Prime Minister Samdong Rimpoche to stop the Middle Way proponents from spreading such rumours among the simple and uneducated Tibetan people, which is causing unnecessary fear and alarm in our society and adding to the problems and misunderstandings between the Tibetan and Indian communities.

Right at this very moment the government of India is in engaged in a heated slanging match with China about the status of Arunachal Pradesh. India and China have held twelve rounds of talks to find a solution to disputed border regions, and those negotiations appear to have had about the same degree of success that our dialogue with Beijing has had.

There has recently been reports that the insurgencies in North East India and terrorist groups in Assam are receiving arms and supplies from China. With Nepal now in the hands of Maoists, and India’s own Maoists, the Naxalites, becoming increasingly more violent and effective, and with China extending its naval power in the Indian Ocean, there are probably many Indians throughout the Indian political spectrum, who are probably not only hoping that Tibetans declare their independence from China, but also do something about it.

After His Holiness received the Congressional Gold Medal, there was concern among some Tibetans that that the government of India had not bothered to congratulate to the Dalai Lama. But this year when the uprisings took place in Tibet and Tibetans-in-exile started their Peace March to Tibet, and organized major demonstrations in Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement that the Dalai Lama was respected in India as “the greatest living Gandhian”. He also stated that India was a democracy and that Tibetans living in India had the right to political expression, as long as they did it in a peaceful and law-abiding manner.

In the final analysis I think the proponents of the Middle Way are looking at developments in a glass half-empty and not in a glass half-full sort of way. They are making a big mistake by emphasizing only the “negotiation” and the “autonomy” component of the Middle Way Policy and overlooking the “doctrine of “non-violence” that His Holiness has made the foundation of this policy. It is the untiring effort of the Dalai Lama to struggle for the freedom of his people through non-violence that has earned him the respect not only of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but other world leaders and people as well. I want to quote this passage from His Nobel Peace Prize citation: “The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet (my italics) consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions … The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature.” It might be noted that His Holiness received the Nobel Prize a year or so after His Strasburg Statement.

I am certain that most world leaders and governments have by now realized that the failure of the negotiations were entirely due to Chinese intransigence and deviousness, as His Holiness himself has reluctantly pointed out. If His Holiness now modifies the Middle Way Approach whereby the fundamental principal of non-violence is maintained but the goal changed to one of national independence, no person, no leader and no country would loose respect for the Dalai Lama’s moral integrity. In fact this decision might enhance it, especially among in India. After all Gandhi fought for India’s independence, and not for some dominion (read autonomous) status under Britain.

And yes, a practical action-based rangzen strategy structured around the non-violent philosophy of the Dalai Lama is certainly feasible. I have put together a preliminary proposal that I hope to discuss at the Emergency Meeting.

Expect it on this website soon. Stay tuned.

The views expressed in this piece are that of the author and the publication of the piece on this website does not necessarily reflect their endorsement by the website.
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Non-violence and independence (asmindia)
Special meeting (Vestige)
Waist no time on Middle Way or Ranzen (Sumtsul)
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