By Tenzin Gyaltsen
The year 2020 saw an unprecedented change of climate in global politics. The People’s Republic of China was at the center of attention due to its role in the initial cover-up of COVID-19 pandemic, and already deteriorating human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong, East Turkestan, and Inner Mongolia. The 116th Congress of the United States overwhelmingly passed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 in an Omnibus bill which was later signed by President Trump. It reaffirmed its official US policy on Tibet and endorsed the Middle Way approach which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet “within the framework of the constitution of PRC.”
Middle Way Approach, an approach crafted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama was endorsed by the Tibetan Parliament and referendum of the Tibetan People in exile. This became the official policy of the Tibetan government in exile. The current Kashag also supports the policy to achieve a middle ground negotiated policy on Tibet with Beijing’s government. Interestingly, current Sikyong of CTA, Dr. Lobsang Sangay once during a meeting at Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in the US said “if the Chinese government implements their own laws, we could take that as genuine autonomy, and we won’t challenge or ask for an overthrow of the Communist Party.
So we don’t question or challenge the present structure of the ruling party.” This caused a shockwave into what the middle way approach under Dr. Sangay’s Administration meant. During a discussion at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC, President Sangay stood to his previous remarks and clarified that his position is consistent with the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy of Tibet.
In the PRC’s constitutional law on regional autonomy law, it does not specify Chinese Communist party’s role in the autonomous government but rather describes its role in the National People’s Congress which is the “national legislative body of PRC.” Should the Tibetan government in exile give further concessions in the bid to return to the table with Beijing’s representative? Tibetan people enjoy and want democracy in Tibet as we have in exile. Therefore, the envoys of the Dalai Lama and the CTA should not concede to allow the role of the CCP in Tibet’s affairs and instead should strive to build a “constitutional consensus and modifying the regional autonomy law of PRC” to achieve the interest of both sides.
The next Sikyong should learn from the legacy of the current Sikyong who achieved significant international recognitions and diplomatic victories but faced challenges to resume dialogues with the representative of the PRC. Candidates for the Sikyong in 2021 should be pressed to specify their goal in the middle way policy while Kasur Gyari Dolma called for a memorandum on genuine autonomy to be nulled such as positions of other Sikyong candidates should be clear to the Tibetan in exile. The current geopolitics, and the world’s deteriorating relations with PRC is “the opportunity” for Tibetan to reclaim our rights in Tibet.
(Views expressed are his own)
The author is born and brought up in India. He studied in TCV campuses in Suja and Selakui and later at UWC-USA. He has engaged in numerous Sino-Tibet dialogue in college and high school campuses in the US and has undertaken various research papers on Sino-Tibetan politics. He currently studies Computer Science and International Politics with concentration to Chinese Politics at Macalester College, United States.