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Middle-Way policy destined to fail, says China Watcher

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Dr. Jubin during his lecture at DIIR, CTA in Dharamshala on May 22, 2023 (Photo/CTA)

By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA, May 22: A keen China watcher and academician Dr. Jabin Thomas Jacob during a CTA-organised lecture series titled “China’s International and Domestic Affairs” at Lhakpa Tsering Memorial Hall on Monday said that the official stance of the exile Tibetan government, the ‘Middle Way Approach’, is destined to fail given its ask and relevance today against Xi Jinping’s China

While dissecting the policy, he described it as a sharp document and how it is uncompromising in many ways, especially on the matter of history. “It is destined to failure and I say this very bluntly because the Chinese will not accept the document. You can’t put conditions on Communist Party, Communist Party sees accepting conditions from the Tibetans or anybody else as a weakness. Those conditions are acceptable only if the Chinese were to propose them,” he said. 

He said that the Middle-Way Approach isn’t treading a middle path or a moderate position rather it is extreme as the conditions laid in the policy are benefiting the Tibetans only and not China. “The party state sees it as a zero-sum and no win which is why China has an uncompromising clamp-ton on anything,” he added.

He also highlighted the stagnation of the proposal since its formulation and how it has not been reviewed with the CTA’s changing leadership over the years and remained constant over a period of time. He also emphasised the need to upgrade the Middle-Way Policy in Xi’s era rather than doing the same thing again and again in an expectation of a different result. He further elucidated the intimate linkage between Chinese domestic politics with its foreign policy, China as a party state and its different objectives from a regular state, and the need to challenge the very notion of China as a ‘civilisational state’. 

Dr. Jabin Thomas Jacob is an Associate Professor at the International Relations and Governance Studies and the director of the Centre of Excellence for Himalayan Studies under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shivnadir University, India and Adjunct Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. He was formerly a Fellow and Assistant Director at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi and Associate Editor of the journal, China Report.

The Middle-Way Policy is a democratically adopted policy by the Tibetan government-in-exile, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration. A total of nine rounds of Sino-Tibetan dialogue has taken place between 2002 to 2010.  

6 Responses

  1. yes middle way is bound to fail as it depends on chinese goodwill and trusting the chinese govt. what if china gives middle way immediately, and then reinvade Tibet like russian is doing to ukraine after 10 years?

    Getting middle way is not the end of the story. what was given can be taken back as well. but nobody talks about it. chinese did that with hong kong as well. after giving them autonomy in 1997, they took back autonomy that was given using military force.

  2. Poor journalism from Phayul this time. I was one of the participants. This is rather a poor and reductionist reporting of the talk. He spoke in detail on the motives and psychology of Xi’s China, the political tactics of today’s China, and its implication for the Tibetan movement and the rest of the world. He also traced the history of India’s China policy and criticized it while commenting on India’s evolving stance regarding Tibet. Rather they chose to oversimplify an already-complex issue, Middle Way Approach that the professor commented on, in rather a nuanced way into this oversimplified misinformation piece. The title is very misleading. Anybody who has not attended the talk will misinterpret the whole thing through this misinterpreted piece. Why blame Indian and Western media when Tibetan media also can’t cover events with a little bit of sensitivity and context!? This will surely become fodder for Chinese state media and their propaganda.

    1. Wow, you agree that what ever the article stated is factually correct since you were there, but you say that you don’t like what was reported. Even though you say there should be sensitivity and context, what you fail to mention is that you can’t handle the truth. In fact, you are wearing a cap of censorship, and you are suggesting journalists should wear the same cap of self censorship. We are in a democracy, and pointing fingers to policies, leadership and laws is permitted.

      That aside, the point made by the china watcher is valid, Umaylam is not accepted by China for decades now. And it has no leverage, so let’s make some moves to device a new way, a way forward. We can’t afford to be complacent and think everything is okay. Hundreds and thousands of Tibetans are struggling inside Tibet while we argue and bicker. Let there be transperency, let there be discussion and discourse, let there be a way forward.

      Don’t shoot the messenger.

      1. Thank you for the special attention to my comment. It is funny and ironic to bring up “censorship” to deflect criticism of one’s own flawed reporting. While you talk about fostering discussion and discourse, it is perplexing and incongruous that there is a noticeable lack of tolerance when it comes to receiving feedback from the readers. Let me clarify: I am in no way shooting the messenger. I really do enjoy and appreciate good journalism. As an exile community, we are one that is most in need of good journalism.

        However, isn’t it the right and freedom of the public to raise concerns when the messenger is resorting to irresponsible journalism?

        Concerned Reader

  3. 🤔 Middle-way all the way. I have a feeling the professor said some good things about middle-way approach too but i think its a good report though. Non-violence takes time but its the only realistic way to solve any problem.

  4. I would request Dr. Jacob, if the Middle Way Path is bound to fail as per his observation, then what is the alternate way for us to go ahead with our fight against the CCP.

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