News and Views on Tibet

Opinion: What should be the middle way approach strategy for our next Sikyong?

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President of the Central Tibetan Adminsitration Dr. Lobsang Sangay ( photo)
President of the Central Tibetan Adminsitration Dr. Lobsang Sangay ( photo)

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. 

3 Responses

  1. 🌈Be the + change 🕊💚🧘‍♂️🌴that you want to see in the World , Mahatma Gandhi🌈

    🌈 Om Mani Padme Hung 🌈 Long Live His Holiness The Dalai Lama 💚🙏🌈

  2. I have reiterated on Middleway Approach for Tibet a few times. Definitely it is beginning to end Tibet as a country, its culture, language and religion. We are destroying our own identification for a petty political gain under China. CCP, under the leadership of Mao, had given us MWA in 1951 drafted 17 point agreement accord but our leaders have declined to accept it. Now, look at Hong Kong situation at this juncture.
    We have started independence movement right after CCP invaded our country in 1959. Countless Tibetans have sacrificed their precious live, time, resources. Moreover hundreds have immolated themselves for their country and their country fellow. Perhaps 2008 Olympic game in Beijing was last freedom movement in Tibet and around the world. There were calls for boycotts of the opening ceremony by many international actors, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and an assortment of political figures. Institutions such as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom argued that boycotting the games would bring critical attention to China’s troubled human rights record, which would ultimately provoke Beijing to alter its controversial policies. More and more people began taking to the streets—not only in Tibet, but everywhere where Tibetans live. CCP seemed to be losing control of the Tibetan plateau. Brave journalists produced media reports that flickered across screens all over the world. Sympathies were distributed unilaterally: They supported Tibetans and Tibet many years.
    In a nutshell, the legacy of current Sikyong on Middleway Path is end of Tibet. Whether it is in the West or East, Tibetan language learning interest among Tibetan is declining every year because the younger generations do not see light of Tibet independence at the end of tunnel.

  3. I have nothing personal against outgoing Sikyong Dr. Sangay la, and I wish him the best for the remaining period of his tenure. But I disagree with Tenzin la, for giving entire credit to one person for whatever international recognition and support that we have achieved during his two terms in office. I think the history of Tibetan freedom movement begins from the day His Holiness the Dalai lama set his foot on Indian soil in 1959. How can we forget the selfless services of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other people who have worked tirelessly for the cause of Tibet, for over six decades.
    Let’s also not forget them as some of them may not be with us here today to share/witness these victories, but their past effort and hard work had sown the seeds of diplomacy which bore fruits now.
    The politics are a changing subject and the future Sikyong will go with the flows and adjust to the evolving situation.

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