I have recently read on the Internet criticisms from Tibetans of the negotiations of the Dalai Lama's representatives with Beijing in unprecedentedly fierce language. For instance, the Dalai Lama's representative was condemned as solely seeking profit like a typical Western politician, and it was said he receives China's hospitality, goes on tours and travels and then says China has goodwill, and it was further expressed to the Dalai Lama that 'You have chosen the wrong people. There is no point in sending them to negotiate because there will never be an outcome'.
Even though I have said from the very beginning that the negotiations were not likely to have any outcome, I do not think that they have no role. Criticizing the representative in the negotiations for accepting China's hospitality is obviously over-critical. If one wants talks, extending hospitality is a basic courtesy. The reason that ultimately there has been no outcome from the negotiations is not the fault of the Dalai Lama's choice of person, but because no matter who went, there would be no outcome to negotiations.
And so what is the role for negotiations I have mentioned? One, I feel that as far as the Dalai Lama is concerned, the interlocutors in dialogue should not just be limited to the government in Beijing, but should be broadened to include China's future and all Chinese people.
History has developed, and governments are not permanent, and this government will not rule China for ever. The present failure of negotiations does not mean negotiations will fail in future. Therefore, current discussions should include preparations on how to proceed in future. Speaking of the long term, it is only if China can understand the 'Middle Way' and agree to genuine autonomy that the Tibet Question can be fully resolved. And it is only through such talks that the meaning of the Middle Way and the sincerity of the Tibetan side can be conveyed to the Chinese masses and elites.
Another role for the negotiations is to make people finally realize that even with many years of negotiation without any outcome, there is no hope of reaching a resolution to the Tibet Question with a despotic China.
Although it has long been said that Tibetans are destroyed by hope, by destroying unrealistic hopes the role is to avert the Tibetan people from such destruction and is this not a greater role? The negotiation process will always continue, and if the weaker party does not try every single opportunity of finding a resolution, and as they take their sacrifices and hardships they will always regret the missed chances at reconciliation. There are many people who blame the Dalai Lama for missing the opportunity for a resolution to the Tibet Question, that was the Panchen Lama's funeral. This six-year long dialogue with no outcome has made the Tibetan people realize, in reality, no such opportunity will ever exist.
And therefore when Tibetans resolve to cast aside illusions and prepare to fight, it is on the premise that their illusions have been shattered. At such a time, the former envoys should not be blamed; they should in fact be thanked. It is their endurance of humiliations and resolve against setbacks which ultimately will have cast aside the Tibetan peoples illusions and united them in struggle.
December 16, 2008