By Kalsang Rinchen
Mao Zedong greets Ngabo/Ngapoi (file photo) a day after signing the seventeen point agreement in 1951
Dharamsala, December 25 – The difference in Beijing and Dharamsala’s reaction to the death of a former Tibetan minister was visible only in the spelling of the name of the deceased person. Both the sides who are at loggerheads over stalled talks after eight round of meetings and occasional war of words appeared to have been saddened by the passing away of the man that signed the infamous seventeen point agreement on May 23, 1951.
The exile Tibetan government said it mourned the demise of the former Tibetan minister Ngabo
Ngawang Jigme while the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee called Ngapoi
Ngawang Jigme "a great patriot, renowned social activist, good son of Tibetan people, outstanding leader of China's ethnic work and close friend of the CPC."
The exile Tibetan government’s cabinet headed by Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche called him “honest and patriotic” saying that he made great efforts along with Panchen Lama, to preserve and promote Tibetan language. “In short, he was someone who upheld the spirit of the Tibetan people,” the Kashag said in the statement which also carried a disclaimer saying that the Tibetan version should be deemed “authoritative and final” in case of discrepancies in interpretation.
The Kashag also said it remembered Ngabo’s life-long contributions. Chinese state run news agency Xinhua
hailed him for ushering in “major milestones in Tibet, such as the democratic reforms and the founding of the Autonomous Regional Government,” while the exile Tibetan government remembered him for calling on the Central Government in 1991 “to implement articles of the 17-point Agreement in general and specifically those articles which state that Tibet's political status will not be changed.”