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Grunfeld, A. Tom. "Toward a New Foreign Policy. " Foreign Policy in Focus. 5.

9 (April
3, 2000): 3. Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. SAN JOSE PUBLIC LIBRARY
SYSTEM. 26 Nov. 2007

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 2000 Interhemispheric Resource Center

The departure of the Karmapa Lama should spur Washington to reevaluate the failures of
its ambiguous policy approach. It is time--after a long history of CIA betrayal,
congressional grandstanding, and White House pandering to China bashers--for the U.S.
to implement policies that truly help resident Tibetans.

Sadly, the spiraling success of the international campaign for Tibet has led to a
proportional deterioration in cultural conditions for the people of the TAR, since Tibet's
high profile has bolstered the authority of the Chinese hard-liners. Moreover, publicity
from outside Tibet (especially Tibetan RFA broadcasts) persuades some Tibetans that the
U.S. supports their cause and encourages them to continue their brave but futile struggles
against Chinese rule.

Time is short. The Dalai Lama is 65; his death would rob Tibetans of the only person with
sufficient authority to negotiate a deal with Beijing. In the absence of a negotiated
solution, current Chinese policies are allowing a mass migration of sojourners into the
TAR to the point where they may already outnumber the indigenous population in the
urban areas, where they congregate. The Dalai Lama, like his predecessor, is willing, as
he declared in April 1999, to "use my moral authority with the Tibetan people so they
renounce their separatist ambitions." He feels that autonomy would be the "best guarantee
that Tibet's culture will be preserved."

China, including the TAR, has undergone dramatic changes. Tibet has roads, schools,
hospitals, a burgeoning middle class, internet cafes, karaoke bars, discos, and some
100,000 tourists annually. Religion is widely practiced. There are thousands of Tibetan
officials, CCP members, and military recruits in Tibet. Indeed, many of the most ardently
anti-Dalai Lama officials are Tibetan. To be sure, restrictions on religious practice
continue, institutional religion has eroded badly, the average income and literacy rate are
the lowest in China, and animosity between ethnic groups is growing. There are as many
as a thousand political prisoners, mostly clearly who peacefully demonstrated against
Chinese rule. Clearly, the political conjuncture in Tibet is far more complex than either
the Tibet Lobby or Chinese propaganda portrays.

Although it is important to condemn human rights abuses, Washington must also

acknowledge the significant gains in personal freedoms for the vast majority of China's
citizens. The Dalai Lama's public pronouncements have become more conciliatory
recently; an indication that he is reaching out to moderate officials, who while apparently
not directing policy regarding Tibet, are still in the government. The U.S. must do the
same: support the moderate elements in the Chinese government by portraying Tibet in a
more realistic fashion, by inviting Tibetan officials to visit Washington, and by not
pandering to the Tibet Lobby.
The events of the past decade have demonstrated that public diplomacy, international
hoopla, and the involvement of the world's governments, especially the United States,
have worsened conditions for resident Tibetans. More realistic policies can help bring
about a peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue, which is in the interests, and to the benefit,
of Tibetans, Chinese, and, ultimately, the whole world.

Key Recommendations

* The U.S. must recognize and acknowledge the major advances in personal freedoms
that the vast majority of Chinese citizens now enjoy and must place human rights
complaints in the larger context of current Chinese society.

* Washington, and especially Congress, must end its knee-jerk China bashing and
portrayal of China as a major threat to the U.S.

* The U.S. must support and encourage those officials in China who recognize the
problems that China has had with some of its ethnic minorities and are willing to work
cooperatively to maintain the cultural integrity of the Tibetan people.

RELATED ARTICLE: Tibetan Buddhism

There are four religious teachings in Tibetan Buddhism, and the distinctions between
them can sometimes be confusing. The largest, and most recent, is the Gelug (Yellow
Hat), of which the Dalai Lama is the leader. The others (sometimes referred to
collectively as Red Hat), in order of their membership, are the Nyingma (the oldest),
Kagyu (the order with the Karmapa Lama, also known as the Black Hat Lama, and the
Sharmapa Lama, also known as the Red Hat Lama), and Sakya. There are also numerous
suborders. Their theological similarities are greater than their differences.

There is no official hierarchy of lamas. The Dalai Lama is the head of only one school,
but he is considered by almost all Tibetans to be their foremost spiritual leader, although
that does not mean they will all automatically obey every one of his instructions.
Moreover, until 1959, he was also the theocratic head of the Tibetan government.

The Panchen Lama heads a Gelug Monastery (Tashilhumpo) in Tibet's second largest
city, Shigatse, and is generally considered the second most important Tibetan cleric. The
Karmapa Lama is often considered the third most influential lama.

* A shorter and somewhat different version of this article appeared in Current History,
September 1999.

A. Tom Grunfeld is a professor of history at SUNY/Empire State College. He is the

author of The Making of Modern Tibet (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe Inc., 1996).
Mazumdar, Sudip. "Dalai Lama: A Truly 'Far-Sighted' Person. " Newsweek
International. (Dec 27, 2004): 102. Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. SAN JOSE

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 2004 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reuse,
distribution or alteration without express written permission of Newsweek is prohibited.
For permission:

Byline: Sudip Mazumdar

The story of the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso--whom followers believe to be the
reincarnation of a Tibetan deity--has not always been the most cheerful one. He fled to
exile in India in 1959 after a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, and for years
has battled for the right to return to his homeland. But the passage of time and rapid
change in China have introduced a newfound optimism. In the past four years, the Dalai
Lama has sent three delegations to Beijing, in the hope that such confidence-building
measures will pave the way for his eventual return, as well as guarantees for Tibet's
autonomy and the protection of its culture and environment. NEWSWEEK's Melinda Liu
and Sudip Mazumdar recently discussed the progress made--and the road ahead--with the
69-year-old Dalai Lama in Mumbai. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You've said that the younger generation of Chinese leaders now in power
in Beijing might be more willing to seek resolution of the Tibetan issue. What makes you
think President Hu Jintao is easier to work with than his predecessor? After all, he was
Communist Party secretary in Tibet back in the 1980s, presiding over one of the most
repressive crackdowns in contemporary times.

Dalai Lama: Things were beyond his authority at the time. Hu Jintao seems to be
cautious, that's understandable. The new leadership has very delicate responsibilities.
[But one] opinion is that among the top leadership, he's the only one who knows firsthand
about the Tibetan situation. As to Hu's real thinking? No one knows.

The ethnic Han Chinese in Lhasa already outnumber the Tibetans. Do you worry about

I'm concerned about this Chinese population transfer into Tibet. It will be very difficult to
preserve our culture, and also our environment.

You say you seek autonomy for Tibet, not independence, and that this will help protect
your culture. What's your thinking?

Among other things, I learned from Chairman Mao and some of my Chinese friends in
the '50s about the international movement of working-class people whose natural
boundaries were not important. It was guoji zhuyi , or internationalism. Many European
friends said that in Europe during the previous century and the earlier part of the 20th
century, each individual nation felt the sovereign state was so sacred they were willing to
sacrifice their own lives. So wars were fought. Now, it's not so sacred. What's important
is economic prosperity. That's the new reality.

Now picture Tibet as independent, isolated and cold [pretends to shiver ], without
material facilities [laughs ]. Provided the Chinese government gives us some guarantee
without damaging Tibetan environment and Tibetan culture, then I think it's of mutual
benefit. China gets national integration and we get more prosperity, with the preservation
of our own culture and environment. One Indian friend had the idea that Afghanistan,
Burma, Ceylon [Sri Lanka], India and Pakistan should all be in some kind of federation.
That was really far-sighted. I want to be a far-sighted person. Whether this is achievable
is entirely in Chinese hands. I'm really trying to create that possibility.... The Chinese can
provide us good food for our physical side, and we can provide spiritual food for the

The Tibetan diaspora is changing, as young people are being drawn to Western
consumerism and India's Bollywood. There's even a Miss Tibet contest. As a religious
leader, how do you view these developments?

These are minor things. More than 20 years ago, one young Tibetan who lived in
Switzerland came to see me in Dharam-sala [the seat of the Tibetan government in exile].
When he entered my room, I saw a hippielike young man. His hair style and clothes were
very strange. Then as he sat down in front me and started narrating his life, he began to
cry. He had such a strong Tibetan spirit. The important thing is the inner spirit. External
appearances don't matter.

You counseled U.S. President George W. Bush not to seek violent confrontation in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Were you disappointed at the way things turned out?

At that time the president felt [that] once American soldiers reached Iraq, the majority of
Iraqis would welcome them and consider them true liberators. That didn't happen. The
case of Afghanistan seemed to have some justification. The Taliban was very rigid and
very narrow-minded. People suffered. So when force was used, there seemed to be some
justification. But the nature of violence is unpredictable, it can easily spin out of control.
It's much better to avoid it right from the beginning. Also, whether that violence brings
positive results or not often can't be judged at that moment. The Korean War brought
immense destruction, a lot of suffering and casualties. Now time has passed and [we see]
it had some very positive results. It saved South Korea and there is more prosperity,
democracy, freedom. [But] North Korea lacks individual freedoms and is very poor. With
the Iraq crisis, it's too early to say.
Sautman, Barry. "The Tibet issue in post-summit Sino-American relations. " Pacific
Affairs. 72.1 (Spring 1999): 7(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. SAN JOSE

Improved Sino-American relations following the summit meeting between Jiang Zemin
and Bill Clinton has led to a softening of China's practice of rejecting any foreign
involvement in the Tibet issue. At the same time, the Clinton administration has sent
signals that it may be willing to adopt a more balanced approach to Tibet. Despite
pressures from the pro-independence Tibet lobby, the US seems inclined to work for
negotiations that would eventually allow the Dalai Lama to return to a more autonomous
Tibet, a development that may cause deep divisions in the Tibetan exile community.

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 1999 University of British Columbia


At the end of a press conference held by Presidents Clinton and Jiang during their 1998
Beijing summit, Jiang asked for an extra five minutes to discuss Tibet and stated, "[A]s
long as the Dalai Lama can publicly make a statement and a commitment that Tibet is an
inalienable part of China and that he must [sic] also recognize Taiwan as a province of
China, then the door to dialogue and negotiation is open."(1)

These brief remarks surprised U.S. officials. Jiang had breached a taboo by broaching the
Tibet Question with a foreigner - and live on PRC national television. His statement has
since provided a basis for U.S. officials to press the Tibet issue with PRC leaders. It also
caused a sensation among Tibetans in Beijing and Tibet, who began to speak more
optimistically about the possibility of a breakthrough in the dispute between the PRC and
the Tibetan exile administration in Dharamsala, India.(2)

Jiang Zemin had said nothing new. The tone and setting of his remarks, however,
markedly departed from recent practice. Just a day earlier, Ye Xiaowen, China's top
official in charge of religion, had attacked the Dalai Lama as a duplicitous apostate bent
on restoring feudalism in Tibet and had criticized U.S. officials as irresponsible for
raising the Tibet Question. In contrast, Jiang did not denounce the Dalai Lama and
directly responded to President Clinton's raising of the Tibet issue. Jiang did not require
the Dalai Lama to state that Tibet had been part of China since the thirteenth century, as
the PRC asserts. Observers, including the Dalai Lama's representatives, viewed Jiang's
remarks as "startling" and a sign of "positive movement in Beijing," attributable in part to
U.S. efforts. Rumors quickly surfaced that the exiles would send a delegation to China to
set the stage for negotiations.(3)

This paper examines U.S. interest in the Tibet Question and the Chinese response.
Official U.S. involvement reflects a popular American interest in Tibet's religion and
culture that has become politicized through exile efforts to internationalize the Tibet
Question. Domestic pressures emanating from this single-issue constituency and
antagonism toward the last major Communist state have produced one-sided U.S. support
for the Tibetan exile cause, despite the Dalai Lama's vacillation on whether to seek
independence or greater autonomy for Tibet. The PRC response to U.S. interest in the
issue has been concomitantly hostile. There are, however, recent indications of changes
on both sides. With Sino-American relations now central to U.S. foreign policy, the U.S.
has begun to shift to a more balanced stance, which is also a precondition for it having
any role in facilitating negotiations on the Tibet Question. China also seems to have
opened a window of opportunity for third parties to participate indirectly in forging a
compromise solution to the Tibet Question.

The Tibet Question in the United States

A "Tibet fever," spurred by films, appeared in the U.S. in the late 1990s. "Seven Years in
Tibet," starting Brad Pitt, depicts the friendship of a very young Dalai Lama and an
Austrian Nazi mountain climber who became the boy's tutor. The film's adviser was
Tenzin Tethong, long the Dalai Lama's representative in international fora and ex-head of
the exile Kashag (cabinet). "Kundun," by U.S. director Martin Scorcese, is an authorized
biography of the young Dalai Lama; screenplay writer Melissa Mathison met several
times with the Dalai Lama to receive his advice. These films portray the PRC government
as villainous and are seen by it as separatist propaganda. U.S. studios, however, have
scheduled five more films about Tibet, so the Tibet Question will literally be before the
public eye well into the next century.(4)

The films are emblematic of growing U.S. popular support for Buddhism and the Dalai
Lama's cause. Internationally, Buddhist leaders bemoan the waning of faith of a quarter
billion followers; in the U.S., Buddhism is the fastest growing religion, with 500,000
U.S.-born converts and 1.5 million Asian Buddhist immigrants. In 1989-97, Buddhist
teaching centers in the U.S. more than doubled from 429 to 1,062. Many converts follow
Tibetan Buddhism, among them film, music and fashion stars. Huge "Concerts for a Free
Tibet" were staged in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Leading fashion designers contribute
creations to fund-raising for Tibetan exile causes. A cottage industry of popular books on
Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism has emerged.(5)

The leap of interest in all things Tibetan has had a political effect. Membership in the
International Campaign for Tibet, the main organization coordinating support for the
Dalai Lama's program,jumped from 2,000 in early 1997 to 25,000 in mid-1998. Its
website went from 500 to 60,000 hits a week during the peak run of "Seven Years in
Tibet." Students for a Free Tibet grew from a dozen chapters in 1993 to 400 in 1997. The
Committee of 100 for Tibet now assembles Nobel Prize winners and notables from across
the political spectrum. Demonstrations demanding that China withdraw from Tibet are
prominently covered in the U.S. media. Pro-exile polemicists have a lockhold on
discussion of the Tibet Question in key U.S. newspapers.(6)

Effective lobbying has allowed the Dalai Lama's supporters to gain the ears of many
public figures. During his first twenty years in exile (1959-79), the Dalai Lama was not
allowed to enter the U.S. Now he meets with the U.S. President every year. Scores of
members of Congress participate in a Tibet caucus led by Benjamin Gilman (R-NY),
chair of the House International Relations Committee, and Jesse Helms (R-NC), chair of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The caucus includes liberals as well, such as
Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Daniel Moynihan (D-NY), and is part of a larger
group that has produced a blizzard of anti-PRC legislation. Few members avoid this
trend. For example, in 1998 the House voted 397-0 to call upon the president to introduce
a resolution before the U.N. Commission on Human Rights condemning PRC human
rights practices (H Res 364). The Senate passed a similar measure (S Res 187), knowing
that the president had concluded that a U.N. resolution had no chance of success and
would harm U.S.-China relations. A month later, the Dalai Lama endorsed the president's
decision and even stated that China should not be publicly condemned.(7)

China's sole responsibility for the Tibet conflict is an article of faith among U.S.
politicians. Congressional hearings have no witnesses who diverge from Tibetan exile
positions, a situation acknowledged by the head of one such committee. In contrast to the
1980s, when the executive branch at times took issue with Congress's assertions about
Tibet, U.S. administrations in the 1990s have seldom objected to even the most fanciful
Congressional claims. From 1991, when Congress declared Tibet to be "an occupied
country," it has passed resolutions that demand that the U.S. establish diplomatic ties with
the Tibetan government-in-exile. After a three-year effort, U.S. lawmakers succeeded in
1997 in forcing the appointment of a special coordinator for Tibet whose duties include
liaising with Dharamsala. Congress supports the uniformly pro-Dalai Lama broadcasts of
Voice of America and Radio Free Asia provides scholarships to bring Tibetans vetted by
the exile administration to U.S. universities, and gives $2 million a year to exile

As one U.S. official has noted, "Tibet is an issue of rising salience and prominent
visibility on the [U.S.-China] agenda." U.S. Secretary of State Albright had lengthy
discussions on Tibet with PRC leaders in 1998. Just before his trip to China, Clinton
described the Tibet Question as "a big thing" for the U.S. and promised to seek
"autonomy with integrity" for Tibet. The rise to prominence of Tibet as a question in
U.S.-China relations contrasts with the earlier on-again-off-again nature of the issue.
From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, the U.S. trained and armed Tibetan rebels. From
the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, Tibet largely faded from the U.S. agenda during a
period of U.S.-China quasi-alliance against the former USSR. By the mid-1980s,
however, U.S.-China amity had begun to erode with Congress's excoriation of China on
issues such as abortion, arms proliferation and the trade balance. Tibetan exile hopes that
China would negotiate independence were dashed, but at the same time loosened controls
over religion in Tibet and travel to the region gave nationalist monks and nuns and exiles
more opportunity for political organization.(9)

Tibetan exiles and Western supporters devised a strategy to boost separatism in Tibet by
showing that it had worldwide support. The strategy involved encouraging civil
disobedience in Tibet and a stepped-up travel schedule for the Dalai Lama, who would
seek talks with China on "reasonable" terms and build support/lobby groups and
parliamentary Tibet caucuses. Internationalization coincided with increased interest in
developed countries in human rights in the developing world. With the fall of
communism in Europe, the Dalai Lama became convinced that China was the next
domino to fall.(10) Fierce repression against protests in Tibet in the late 1980s boosted
internationalization. "Tibet Fever" is thus not only the culmination of Western interest in
Buddhism and Tibetan culture, but also a fruit of the internationalization strategy.

The Intractable Tibet Question

The Tibet Question is a difficult issue in U.S.-China relations because it is one of the
world's most intractable conflicts. There are a number of reasons for this. First, it is a
long-running ethnic dispute that has persisted into the post-Cold War era of rising
nationalism. Neither China's rulers nor the Tibetan exiles have escaped the nationalist
trend. Under the most favorable circumstances, ethnic conflicts are hard to resolve
because they are subject to "ethnic outbidding" in which leaders seek to steal a march on
rivals through nationalist one-upmanship. Outbidding escalated the post-communist
world's ethnic conflicts and makes it difficult for ethnic leaders locked in potentially
secessionist conflicts to advance compromise proposals.(11)

Second, the Tibet Question has religious overtones that draw in seekers of religious merit
through struggle. Some 70 percent of those imprisoned in Tibet for separatism are monks
and nuns. Disputes continue about the permissible number of monks (now 2 percent of
the Tibet population), the control of lamasery management, and whether the Dalai Lama
or the PRC had the right in 1995 to recognize the reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhism's
second highest figure, the Panchen Lama. The religious and ethnic aspects of the conflict
overlap because chauvinistic Han Chinese regard traditional Tibetan culture as
"primitive."(12) Third, the Tibet Question is a sovereignty dispute. Despite the historical
ambiguities of the Sino-Tibetan relationship, each side claims the exclusive right to rule
the ethnic Tibetan areas. The exiles assert that Tibetans are a nationality wholly apart
from the Chinese, that Tibet is only part of China "because of the use of force by the
Chinese communists, not because of history," as the Dalai Lama puts it, and has a right to
independence supported by international law. The PRC argues that Tibetans are part of
the Chinese people (zhonghua minzu), that Tibet has been linked to China since the Tang
Dynasty (618-906) and has been part of the country from the Yuan Dynasty (1234-1368).
China points out that international law does not sanction secession.(13)

For internal political reasons, neither side has openly considered trading away any
"ownership" rights that it claims. The exiles have stated a willingness to cede to the PRC
only the rights to represent Tibet in the U.N. and temporarily station troops on Tibet's
borders, although the Dalai Lama has indicated that he may be willing to leave "law and
order" functions to the PRC. The only PRC "concessions" offered are the Dalai Lama's
return to Tibet and a sinecure as one of sixteen PRC National People's Congress
vicechairmen. The parties, moreover, do not agree on what is Tibet. China limits it to the
area controlled by the Dalai Lama prior to 1950 ("political Tibet," where 45 percent of all
ethnic Tibetans live). The exiles argue that Tibet includes all areas in which ethnic
Tibetans once formed a majority ("ethnographic Tibet"), including places that now have
few Tibetans. They seek, moreover, to have any agreement with China guaranteed by
India and have upheld India's acquisition of nuclear weapons to prod India to play an
"influential role" in a settlement.(14)

Fourth, the Chinese government fears that concessions offered to the Tibetan exiles will
create opportunities for separatists in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. The Dalai Lama's
camp gives the PRC no peace of mind on that score. It participates in an Allied
Committee of Uygur, Mongol and Manchu separatists whose aim is to alienate the bulk
of PRC territory. The Dalai Lama's 1997 visit to Taiwan was warmly welcomed by
Taiwan independence groups and Jiang Zemin has made the Dalai Lama's abstinence
from visits to Taiwan a precondition to negotiations. Despite evidence to the contrary,
moreover, Tibetan exiles charge that China commits genocide and plunders natural
resources. The Dalai Lama terms the mainly ethnic Tibetan leadership in Tibet "local
authorities [who] are very narrow-minded, very ignorant and ruthless." Officials in Tibet
respond in kind, calling the Dalai Lama an "arch-criminal" and "faithful tool of the
international anti-China forces." Both sides find it difficult to conceive of working
together in Tibet and each envisages the surrender of the other. Thus, the Dalai Lama has
spoken of "the withdrawal of the Chinese regime" following negotiations, while the PRC,
in an approach harking back to imperial policies, offers the Dalai Lama titles and
emoluments, but no power.(15)

Tibet as a Refractory Issue in U.S.-China Relations

The Tibet Question has been a hard nut to crack in U.S.-China relations. In contrast to its
approach to Taiwan, the PRC has rejected foreign involvement in solving the Tibet
problem. When it first began to negotiate with Taiwan's leaders, the PRC made use of
Japanese intermediaries. It publicized the positive attitude of Japanese officials toward
the PRC's Nine-Point reunification proposal of 1981 and invited pro-Taiwan Japanese
politicians to the mainland for talks. More recently, Beijing has sought help from
Singapore and the U.S. in persuading Taiwan's leaders to deepen negotiations.(16) China
thus does not entirely rule out foreign participation in advancing talks over territorial
issues. Why then has it spurned third party efforts regarding Tibet?

One reason lies with the PRC exercise of power in Tibet, but not in Taiwan. Taiwan has
to be wooed, regardless of how onerous that is for PRC leaders. Taiwan's Lee Teng-hui
spurns the "one country, two systems" idea and demands "one China, two sovereign
entities," an approach unacceptable to the PRC. He conditions reunification on the
adoption of liberal democracy in the mainland and a rise in its living standards to those of
Taiwan. Lee refuses direct air and sea links and seeks to curb Taiwan investments in the
mainland. Forces that stress a distinct Taiwan identity are increasingly popular and may
win the Taiwan presidency in 2000.(17) The PRC thus has scant leverage over its errant
province. The U.S., however, is Taiwan's only major ally. Its Congress will not pressure
Taiwan, but PRC leaders believe that something may be gained by asking the U.S.
executive branch to do so.

In contrast, the PRC has great leverage in Tibet. While the exiles in the mid-to-late 1990s
capitalized on earlier gains in the West from internationalization, visible separatism in
Tibet abated. There were "riots" in Lhasa during the first half-dozen years of
internationalization, but no major demonstrations since 1993. Repression, political
persuasion, acculturation and social mobility contributed to the remission of separatist
activity. The Dalai Lama estimates that he has twenty more active years. Many PRC
officials argue that economic and cultural change in Tibet will ameliorate separatism and
that the Dalai Lama's passing will end the Tibet Question. Some pro-Dalai Lama figures
agree: Lord Ennals, late head of the Tibet Society in Britain, remarked that "without the
Dalai Lama, it would be very difficult for the pro-Tibet organizations to keep going."(18)
PRC leaders believe time to be on their side with regard to Tibet, while the opposite is
true about Taiwan. China has thus been less inclined to seek the aid of foreigners on the
Tibet Question.

PRC unwillingness to accept the existence of a Tibet Question with international

implications has also stemmed from its leaders having carried over a distinction between
Tibet and Taiwan first made in the early 1980s. Tibet, they have said, has been
"liberated," while Taiwan has yet to be. The Dalai Lama's proposal that a "one country,
two systems" solution be applied to Tibet would thus be a social evolutionary step
backward, while application of the same concept would be a step forward for Taiwan.(19)
PRC social evolutionists have expected that Taiwan, being at a lower stage of political
development because of its detachment from the motherland, would be politically
involved with foreign states. They have deemed it unnatural for Tibet, as a region at the
higher "historical stage" of attachment to the motherland, to have foreigners play a role in
determining its political future.

U.S. Reluctance to Play a Role

While the Taiwan issue was formalized in three U.S.-PRC communiques of the 1970s and
early 1980s that prescribe how the U.S. is to interact with Taiwan, the PRC has not
acknowledged a Tibet Question in U.S.-China relations. Even had the PRC done so,
conflicts over other issues after 1989 precluded it from regarding foreign states as levers
for realizing negotiations over Tibet. This has been especially true as to the U.S., which
officially recognizes Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, but has been a bulwark of the
Tibetan exiles. At the same time, because of the "Tibet Lobby," the U.S. has been
reluctant to play a role in the prenegotiations process. Officially, it feigns ignorance as to
why no negotiations have taken place and leaves it to the parties to solve their problems.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has facilitated negotiations over a number of longstanding ethnic
conflicts, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Palestine. The U.S. role in Northern
Ireland is instructive. Until recently Britain complained that pro-Irish nationalist U.S.
interventions, made in response to the Irish-American Lobby, interfered in U.K. internal
affairs. As a U.K. newspaper observed about the crucial role that was to be played by the
U.S. in the Northern Ireland peace process, "the real transformation was when
Washington grasped that there were two sides to the Ulster argument" and began to give
equal treatment to the Ulster Unionists. Britain could then recognize that the U.S. had
"assumed the mantle of honest broker."(20)

While the U.S. has facilitated peace accords in and around Europe, it has been more
circumspect about taking on disputes in Asia, where U.S. interests seem more attenuated.
Changes in the political balance, however, can alter U.S. willingness to become involved.
In 1997, Secretary Albright ruled out U.S. mediation between India and Pakistan to
resolve the Kashmir dispute, despite being pressed by longtime ally Pakistan. After the
"Hindu nationalist" BJP came to power in India, however, the U.S. Ambassador to the
U.N. stated that, while the U.S. has no wish to volunteer as mediator, it would consider
ways to help if asked by India and Pakistan. In the case of Tibet, there are no strategic
U.S. interests involved. Senate Asia-Pacific Subcommittee chair, Craig Thomas (R-WY),
has stated, however, that concern among Americans about human rights in Tibet is
sufficient to generate continuous official interest in the situation there. The senator
implicitly acknowledged that Tibet Lobby influence impels the U.S. to adopt a less-than-
balanced approach that has inhibited it from playing a greater role in the search for
answers to the Tibet Question.(21)

The Tibet Lobby and U.S. Policy

The U.S. Buddhist community is the base of the Tibet Lobby. U.S. Buddhists are more
educated than the average American; many are highly articulate and inclined to political
participation. They often bring to the Tibetan exile cause a convert's zeal and are affected
by Tibetan exile internal politics. The public mainstream position among exiles is to
support negotiations to achieve "genuine autonomy" for Tibet, with independence
possible only if China breaks apart or becomes a liberal democracy. The exile
administration, however, also includes pro-independence leaders, who are treated as a
"loyal opposition." Exile leaders assert that most Tibetans favor independence, although
this cannot be verified.(22) In short, the exile administration undercuts its own
"moderate" position by representing it as a minority view.

The politics that the exile administration presents to the world moreover diverge from the
reality of barely concealed support for independence among exile leaders. In the 1988
Strasbourg Proposal, the Dalai Lama stated that "the whole of Tibet... should become a
self-governing democratic political entity founded on law... in association with the
People's Republic of China." After he abandoned the Strasbourg Proposal in 1990, the
Dalai Lama refused to say whether he was reverting to support for independence. The
exile parliament, however, endorsed "complete independence" as the official goal in
1992. Many of the Dalai Lama's subsequent statements indicate that he has not wholly
abandoned a pro-independence stance. In the mid-1990s, he stated that "our stand is still
for independence," "Tibet is not part of China," "Tibet is independent in cultural,
geographical, linguistic and racial terms," "experience shows that independence is the
only real answer" and "independence remains our goal."(23) He also put it that "Tibet is
not part of China," "the entire international community should speak out in support of
Tibet's independence" and "of course we have the right to regain our independence." In
the late 1990s, the Dalai Lama speaks of "genuine autonomy," but has also stated that
"we Tibetans have every right to independence" and "independence is our historic right."
These pronouncements might be interpreted as mere assertions that, although Tibetan
independence has been usurped, the exiles are willing under the proper conditions to
waive their right to reestablish it.(24) Other actions, however, belie this interpretation.

The Dalai Lama has been quoted as telling a Barcelona audience that "he would be
willing to renounce in the short-term the cause of Tibetan independence, if Beijing would
guarantee the establishment of an autonomous Tibetan government." This approach
recalls the statement of the Dalai Lama's younger brother Tenzin Chogyal: "Let us first of
all achieve autonomy. Then we can throw out the Chinese!" In 1997, the Dalai Lama
received participants on a "March for Tibet's Independence" in New York State. The
march was sponsored by the International Tibet Independence Movement (ITIM), an
organization led by two Indiana University professors, one of whom is Thubten Jigme
Norbu, the Dalai Lama's eldest brother. An internationally publicized ITIM report quotes
the Dalai Lama as telling the marchers, "People must talk about independence. That is
good. We have the right to ask for independence, but we need to think of our methods to
struggle for independence. Only prayers will not get independence, and only slogans will
not get independence." The marchers' report added "His Holiness stressed that Tibetans
must carefully and systematically construct and implement a method to pursue

In 1998, the Dalai Lama visited Tibetan Youth Congress hunger strikers in New Delhi.
The TYC seeks "complete independence." Its leaders advocated terrorism in the 1980s
and endorse "the use of force" today. As with earlier TYC hunger strikes, the Dalai Lama
asked for an end to the fast. On this occasion he added that he is "confused" and cannot
suggest an alternative. He also praised the hunger strikers' motivation. Western media
appraised his tacit acceptance of the hunger strikers' tactic and motives - one of which is
to pressure the Dalai Lama to again endorse "complete independence" as a boost to pro-
independence forces.(26) It is unlikely that the Dalai Lama saw it in any other light. The
ostensible division between "complete independence" forces and formal advocates of a
"middle way" is thus unclear. Not surprisingly, PRC spokesmen contend that "the high
degree of autonomy advocated by the Dalai Lama is in essence a two-step strategy for
Tibetan independence." Former U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibet Gregory Craig put it
diplomatically in stating that the Dalai Lama sends "mixed signals" to the PRC. A leading
U.S. "complete independence" supporter recognizes this, observing that many exile
leaders "privately support independence but publicly maintain a covenant of silence or
send out mixed messages." This ambiguity makes it difficult for the PRC to agree to
negotiations. Its longstanding position is that there can be negotiations over all issues
other than independence, but only if the Dalai Lama accepts that Tibet is part of China.
PRC officials express exasperation that the world, convinced that the Dalai Lama
eschews independence, places the onus on China for not holding negotiations.(27)
Without an unambiguous exile commitment to the proclaimed goal of "genuine
autonomy," the Dalai Lama's U.S. representatives have had no incentive to discourage
pro-independence activism among their American supporters. Some representatives hold
that international support would erode were the Dalai Lama to renounce independence.
They encourage members of Congress who are plus royaliste que le roi in insisting that
China grant Tibet independence. The idea of "complete independence" has thus carried
the day within U.S. Tibet lobby organizations. Among the many U.S. politicians who
want nothing short of a "Free Tibet," a PRC/exile "peace process" involving a new
compromise approach would seem otiose. For its part, the executive branch has to
consider whether any idea that it takes up may alienate Congress. The former special
coordinator has nonetheless indicated that, if it would help pave the way to negotiations,
the administration would pressure not only China, but also the exiles.(28) China would
have to be pressed to grant concessions and the Dalai Lama would have to break with the
extremist forces, as every leader who has ever made a breakthrough to negotiations
anywhere in the world has done.

It is only recently that steps toward U.S. even-handedness have been taken. That is
precisely what is required for a third party to play a bridging role in an ethnic conflict.
Norway has offered to mediate the Tibet Question, but has been one of the Dalai Lama's
most explicit supporters; for example, in the award of his 1989 Nobel Prize and in
sponsoring Tibetan exile radio broadcasts. The PRC rejected Norway's offer.(29)

The Role of the U.S. in the Search for Negotiations

Recent signs of a change in attitude toward foreign concern may presage a greater
pragmatism by PRC leaders in dealing with the Tibet Question. To many exiles, efforts at
conciliation are necessarily unavailing because there are no "moderate" Chinese leaders
on the question of Tibet. The Dalai Lama, however, has periodically singled out certain
Chinese leaders as "moderates," including former CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang
and ex-United Front Work Department head Yen Mingfu. He has referred to the "open-
mindedness"of Premier Zhu Rongji. Western media have identified other leaders as Tibet
Question "moderates."(30)

Internal PRC politics and more moderate stances taken by the Dalai Lama have also
produced periods of lessened Chinese antagonism toward the exiles. For example, in
1978 the Dalai Lama stated that the welfare of Tibetans should be the main consideration
in negotiations, signaling a deemphasis of independence. Deng Xiaoping responded by
inviting the Dalai Lama's delegates to visit Tibet. In contrast, the Dalai Lama's references
at Strasbourg to Tibet's "right to independence" were seen as an encoded demand for
independence. Internal Chinese politics and the attitudes of the Dalai Lama will influence
the degree of any new PRC opening on Tibet. In mid-1998 there was more latitude for
Chinese to discuss politics than at any time since 1989, a liberalization perhaps connected
with Jiang Zemin's defeat of political rivals Chen Xitong and Qiao Shi. There is greater
scope now for discussion of even a subject as sensitive as Tibet, assuming an agreement
among the discussants that the Dalai Lama must acknowledge that Tibet is an inalienable
part of China.(31)
The PRC also seems more willing than before to permit Westerners to investigate the
human rights situation in Tibet. In February 1908, three American clergymen visited
Tibet to enquire into religious freedom, a trip facilitated by the U.S. government. The
American chairman of the U.S.China Foundation for Aiding Impoverished Areas in Tibet
was received by a large number of high Tibetan regional officials in April. The European
Union sent a human rights delegation to Tibet in May. A group of Danish politicians
critical of China's human rights records visited Beijing and Tibet in August and found
that Tibet and the Dalai Lama are no longer "taboo" topics. Chinese leaders answered
their questions "in a remarkably open and frank manner." Mary Robinson, U.N. High
Commissioner for Human Rights, visited Tibet in September 1998. In 1998, also, the
Beijing journal China's Tibet published a piece by a Chinese American that was expressly
devoted to the "Tibetan Issue," whose existence the PRC previously denied.(32)


Jiang Zemin's June 1998 summit press conference statement about Tibet is one indication
of greater PRC receptivity to foreign involvement in the Tibet Question. Another
indication is that although the PRC publicly denounced the U.S. Special Coordinator
before Jiang's statement, officials in Tibet began soon thereafter to privately praise his
efforts. These officials appreciate that the U.S. Administration, in its diplomatic efforts
concerning Tibet at least, is more even-handed than in the past. The former Special
Coordinator, for example, has concluded that the exile demand for Hong Kong-style
autonomy is not realistic. President Clinton stated in Beijing that he could understand
why the PRC has made acknowledgement by the Dalai Lama that Tibet is part of China a
precondition to negotiations.(33)

Whether the U.S. administration still regards itself as too politically constrained to play a
constructive role, if called upon to do so, remains to be seen, however. Officials realize
the profound effect that a Tibet settlement would have on U.S.-China relations, but
perhaps underestimate the degree to which a settlement that returns the Dalai Lama to
Tibet would be popular among his supporters, even if it falls short of fully realizing his
political goals. Whatever Tibet lobbyists may say about the need for a "Free Tibet,"
Tibetans would greet with acclaim any settlement that allows the Dalai Lama to return to
a more autonomous Tibet. The U.S. could convince the Dalai Lama to break with those
exile forces whose actions obstruct the road to negotiations. He is uniquely positioned
among world leaders to do so, enjoying as he does a religious-based prestige that
insulates him from ethnic outbidding.

U.S. pressure would in any case inevitably cut both ways. It can gain cooperation from
the Dalai Lama only if the PRC offers concessions that make his compromises politically
palatable. The U.S. can thus assist both sides by suggesting an acceptable exchange of
concessions. PRC concessions need to address the Dalai Lama's greatest concern, the
shifting population balance in Tibet and its effect on the survival of Tibetan culture. The
exiles' concessions would involve assurances to the PRC that they would no longer seek
to detach Tibet from China.(34) The substantive negotiations that would follow would
focus on the scope of autonomy for Tibet, particularly on those aspects most relevant to
demographic, religious and cultural issues.

"Tibet consciousness" in the U.S. has pushed the Tibet Question to the top of the U.S.
agenda of China human rights issues. For the U.S. to reach a stage where it can approach
the parties with proposals for compromise, however, conditions still need to be fulfilled
by China and the U.S., PRC leaders will first have to conclude that the Tibet Question is
not self-liquidating, that it will not simply dissolve with the passage of time - as few, if
any, ethnic conflicts have done. The PRC government is increasingly image
conscious.(35) It also understands the need to reduce potential areas of political
instability during its reform-induced period of social instability. One promising path for
the PRC to achieve a respite from the need constantly to defend its record and to reduce
its political risk is to "mobilize all forces that can be mobilized" on the diplomatic front to
bring about successful negotiations over the Tibet Question.

U.S. policy makers will have to grasp the possibilities created by a stabilized leadership
in China and by the improvement in U.S.-China relations generated by the summits.
Periods of relative domestic political stability in China and periods of relatively amicable
relations between the U.S. and China have moved in cycles and the positive phases of the
two cycles have not always coincided. If the first years of the new millennium prove to
be an era of good feeling between the U.S. and China, they will present an unprecedented
opportunity for cooperation in solving the Tibet Question.

Goldstein, Melvyn C. "The Dalai Lama's dilemma. " Foreign Affairs. 77.n1 (Jan-Feb
1998): 83(15). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. SAN JOSE PUBLIC LIBRARY
SYSTEM. 26 Nov. 2007

China will not permit Tibet autonomy, and China's policy has been to modernize Tibet in
recent years. The Dalai Lama will attempt to preserve Tibet's culture and language and
will try to find more administrative jobs for Tibetans, but he will not make great
compromises or take military action. The US can act as a negotiator and mediator in
Tibetan-Chinese talks.

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 1998 Council on Foreign Relations Inc.


The conflict over the political status of Tibet vis-a-vis China has reached a critical
juncture in its long history. The exiled Dalai Lama finds himself standing on the sidelines
unable to impede or reverse changes in his country that he deplores, and the frustration
engendered by this impotence has seriously heightened the danger of violence.

As a classic nationalistic dispute, the Tibet question pits the right of a people, Tibetans, to
self-determination and independence against the right of a multiethnic state, the People's
Republic of China, to maintain what it sees as its historical territorial integrity. Such
disputes are difficult to resolve because there is no clear international consensus about the
respective rights of nationalities and states. The U.N. Charter, for example, states that the
purpose of the world body is to ensure friendly relations among nations based on respect
for the principle of equal rights and self-determination, but it also states that nothing
contained in the charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters that are
essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state. The ambiguity about when
entities have the right to seek self-determination has made international opinion an
important dimension of such disputes, and the struggle to control representations of
history and current events is often as intense as the struggle to control territory. In the
case of Tibet, both sides have selectively patched bits and pieces of the historical record
together to support their viewpoints. The ensuing avalanche of charges and counter-
charges is difficult to assess, even for specialists.


Sino-Tibetan relations can be traced back almost 1,500 years, but the contemporary
conflict is rooted in the chaotic religious and political disputes of the late seventeenth and
early eighteenth centuries. During this period Tibet became a protectorate of Manchu-
ruled China, although Tibet maintained its own language, officials, legal system, and
army, and paid no taxes to China. China's loose control over Tibet weakened during the
nineteenth century as China itself encountered more and more external and internal
assaults, and by the turn of the century its protectorate was largely symbolic.

The overthrow in 1912 of the Qing Dynasty gave Tibetans the opportunity to expel all
Chinese troops and officials. From then until 1951, Tibet functioned as a de facto
independent nation, conducting all governmental functions without interference from
China or any other country. Nevertheless, its international status remained unsettled.
China continued to claim Tibet as part of its territory, and Western countries, including
Britain and the United States, validated that viewpoint by refusing to recognize Tibetan

The founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 quickly ended Tibet's de facto
independence. The communists, like the previous Chinese government of Chiang Kai-
shek, claimed Tibet as part of China, but unlike that government they had the military
power to impose their views. Nevertheless, China wanted more than the simple conquest
of Tibet -- it sought to secure the formal agreement of the Dalai Lama and his
government to reunification. Tibet, however, refused, and China invaded Tibet's eastern
province in October 1950 to force the Tibetan government to negotiate. After Tibet's
army was quickly vanquished, the Chinese forces stopped their advance and again called
for talks. When neither the Western democracies, neighboring India, nor the United
Nations responded positively to Tibet's pleas for help, the Dalai Lama sent a negotiating
team to Beijing. It reluctantly signed the 17-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation
of Tibet in May of 1951. This agreement granted Tibetan recognition of Chinese
sovereignty over Tibet for the first time in history. It also recognized the right of the Dalai
Lama's government to continue to administer Tibet, at least until the Tibetan people and
leaders wanted reforms.

The 17-Point Agreement, however, proved difficult to implement, and after an eight-year
period of coexistence, there was an uprising in Tibet. Despite CIA assistance, it was
quickly quelled, and the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, followed by about 80,000
Tibetans. China then abolished feudalism and serfdom and instituted communes in
agricultural and pastoral areas. The vast monastic system was also dismantled, and during
the Cultural Revolution, all religious activities were prohibited.


DENG XIAOPING'S rise to power in 1978 produced a new initiative to resolve the Tibet
question. Deng invited the Dalai Lama to send fact-finding delegations to Tibet and said
that apart from the question of total independence all other issues could be discussed and
settled. The Dalai Lama responded by sending three fact-finding delegations to Tibet in
1979-80, but contrary to what the Chinese had expected, these visits revealed
impoverished conditions and strong feelings of Tibetan nationalism that bolstered the
confidence of the exiles at a difficult time in their history.

Beijing's external strategy of trying to persuade the Dalai Lama to return was paralleled
by a new internal conciliatory policy in Tibet. It had two main components. The first was
an ethnic dimension -- making the Tibet Autonomous Region (formally inaugurated in
196S) more Tibetan in overall character by fostering a revitalization of Tibetan culture
and religion including reopening Buddhist monasteries, allowing recruitment of new
monks, permitting more extensive use of written Tibetan, and replacing large numbers of
Chinese cadre with Tibetans. Second was an economic dimension -- rapidly improving
the standard of living of individual Tibetans by temporarily eliminating taxes and below-
market-price sales quotas and developing infrastructure to allow Tibet to grow.

While all this was was taking place, the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama held
secret talks in Beijing, once in 1982 and again in 1984- However, these proved fruitless.
The exiles were unwilling to accept a solution that did not allow Tibet to operate
internally under a political system different from the rest of China, that is, under a
Western-style democracy, and notwithstanding Deng's earlier comment, the Chinese were
categorically unwilling to consider permitting any entity other than the Communist Party
to run Tibet. Complicating matters was the exiles' demand for the creation of a Greater
Tibet that would include not only the territory that had been political Tibet in modern
times, but also ethnic Tibetan areas in western China, most of which Tibet had lost in the
eighteenth century.

THE DALAI Lama responded to the collapse of these negotiations by launching an

international campaign in 1987 tO secure increased political support and leverage in the
United States and Europe. A key element in this new strategy was that the Dalai Lama for
the first time traveled to the West as a political leader previous visits had been as a
religious leader). In speeches in the United States in 1987 and at Strasbourg in 1988, he
argued that Tibet was illegally occupied by China and asserted that a Greater Tibet should
become a self-governing democratic entity under a constitution that granted Western-style
democratic rights. This enlarged political Tibet would have the right to decide on all
affairs relating to Tibet and Tibetans. China would remain responsible for Tibet's foreign
policy, although Tibet would maintain and develop relations through its own Foreign
Affairs Office in nonpolitical fields like commerce, sports, and education. Although the
proposal did not seek independence, it far exceeded the limited autonomy that could be
observed within the Chinese political system, and it had already been rejected by China
in the 1984 talks.

While the Dalai Lama was still in the United States in i987, monks in the Tibetan capital,
Lhasa, demonstrated in support of his efforts there and in opposition to China's presence
in Tibet. After the police made arrests of the protesting monks, a full-scale riot ensued in
Lhasa. Although Beijing initially blamed the demonstration solely on the Dalai Lama, it
soon moderated its rhetoric in an attempt to salvage its internal conciliation policy in
Tibet. In a surprising turnaround, Beijing openly criticized the excessively "leftist"
activities of its cadre in Tibet, publicly admitting that one cause of the riot was the failure
of its own officials to implement the reform program correctly. Nevertheless, the months
after the Lhasa riot saw more demonstrations by monks and nuns and a steady stream of
antigovernment posters.

In the United States, more support for the Dalai Lama emerged when Congress added a
"sense of the Congress" amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act that was
signed into law in December 1987- It stated that the United States should make the
treatment of the Tibetan people an important factor in its relations with China, that China
should respect internationally recognized human rights and end violations against
Tibetans, and that the United States should urge China to release all poetical prisoners in
Tibet and reciprocate the Dalai Lama's efforts to establish a constructive dialogue on
Tibet's future.

Many Tibetans in Lhasa took the Dalai Lama's warm welcome and acts such as this
legislation as evidence that America was now committed to helping the Dalai Lama
against China. Not surprisingly there were more monk-led protests in 1988, two of which
led to serious riots. A fresh initiative to rekindle talks by inviting the Dalai Lama to visit
China to participate in a religious ceremony in 1989 failed when the Tibetan exile
leadership persuaded the Dalai Lama to decline because events were going well in their
view. In retrospect, they lost a major opportunity to open a new dialogue. The situation in
Tibet, meanwhile, unraveled further when a fourth riot broke out in Lhasa on March 5,
1989. At this juncture Beijing decided Tibet was out of control and declared martial law.

By 1989, therefore, Beijing's internal and external strategies for Tibet were in shambles.
Unless China was willing to relinquish direct control in Tibet and accept the dominion
status outlined in the Dalai Lama's 1998 Strasbourg speech, the exiles appeared bent on
continuing their international campaign. The campaign was likely to encourage more
demonstrations in Tibet and new accusations internationally. The Dalai Lama's
international initiative had turned the tables on China, placing Beijing on the defensive
both internationally and within Tibet.

In Beijing, it was hard for moderates to refute the contention that China had to stop
coddling Tibetans before matters got completely out of hand. Many officials had always
believed that liberalizing policy on religion and monasticism in Tibet would only increase
nationalist and separatist sentiment, and their view now prevailed. Beijing's new hard-line
policy developed more effective security measures and began limiting further religious
and cultural liberalization. At the same time, it accelerated a program of rapid economic

One of the most important components of Beijing's rapid economic development strategy
in Tibet was opening the door to the rest of China. That policy has resulted in a much-
resented influx into Tibet of non-Tibetan Chinese entrepreneurs and laborers eager to get
a share of the massive funds being poured into Tibet, and fostered a much closer
economic integration of Tibet with the rest of China. And while these non-Tibetans are
not colonists in the normal sense of the term, since their official place of residence is not
Tibet and they are expected eventually to return home, at any given time their numbers
are unprecedented. At least half of the several hundred thousand residents of Lhasa now
appear to be non-Tibetan.

For well over a thousand years of recorded history, through wars, conquest, and external
domination, Tibet remained the exclusive home of a people. Now Tibetans in Tibet and in
exile see this condition being lost and are unable to stop it. Beijing has, in a sense, turned
the tables back on the Dalai Lama, and the triumphs of the Dalai Lama's international
campaign look more and more like Pyrrhic victories. The international initiative won
significant symbolic gains for the exiles in the West and spurred Tibetans in Tibet to
demonstrate their support for the Dalai Lama, but it did not compel China to yield and
played a major role in precipitating the new hard-line policy that is changing the nature of

Beijing now has little interest in discussions with the Dalai Lama. lt feels he is not serious
about making the kind of political compromises they could agree to and resents his
supporters' anti-Chinese rhetoric and activities. Moreover, China believes that its policy
of rapidly modernizing Tibet will solidify its position there regardless of what the Dalai
Lama or nationalistic Tibetans think or do. Beijing's hope is that ultimately a new
generation of Tibetans will emerge that will be less influenced by religion and that will
consider Tibet being part of China to be in their interest. Moreover, even if such an
orientation does not develop, the new policy will so radically change the demoographic
composition of Tibet and the nature of its economy that Beijing's control over Tibet will
not be weakened. Beijing's integrationist policy is working well, their trust of the Dalai
Lama is at an all-time low, and the absence of a credible U.S.-Europe-Japan threat of
sanctions allows them to refuse talks with impunity.


THE DALAI Lama and his top officials, contending that Tibetan culture, religion, and
language are endangered, are anxious to stop the influx of non-Tibetans into Tibet. The
Dalai Lama is encouraging supporters in the West to urge Beijing to resume talks and has
recently written President Jiang Zemin expressing a wish to make a religious visit to a
Buddhist shrine in China, presumably to initiate a new round of discussions. China,
however, has not agreed to a visit by the Dalai Lama, even one disguised as a religious
pilgrimage. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since Beijing asked the Dalai
Lama to visit Beijing on a religious mission in 1989. Beijing does not believe that a new
round of talks would be fruitful since the Dalai Lama continues to insist on his
Strasbourg proposal's real political autonomy for Tibet and shows no sign of ceasing his
attacks on China.

Nevertheless, not only is achieving a permanent solution in Tibet clearly in China's

national interest, but the solidification of power by Jiang Zemin means there is now a
leader in Beijing with the authority and stature to change direction on this issue. Many
Chinese experts and moderates question whether the current policy win produce the long-
term stability that China wants in Tibet because it is exacerbating the alienation of
Tibetans, even young ones, intensifying their feelings of ethnic hatred and political
hopelessness, and inculcating the idea that Tibetans' nationalistic aspirations cannot be
met so long as Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China. Right now the hard-liners
in China dominate, and they will continue to do so unless something intervenes to give
more moderate elements new leverage. That something l have to be provided by the Dalai
Lama. Calling off the proTibet demonstrations in the United States during Jiang's recent
visit there would have been the kind of signal that is needed.

Thus the question facing the Dalai Lama and his circle of leaders is similar to the one
they confronted in 1982 when their first delegation went to Beijing -- how much less than
Tibetan independence are they willing to accept? What is new, however, is the
tremendous pressure China's hard-line policy is exerting on the Dalai Lama either to
resolve the conflict quickly or to develop effective countermeasures that will prevent
China from changing the ethnic and economic character of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama has several options. He can continue his current international campaign,
keeping China on the defensive in the international arena while trying to persuade
Washington and Europe to use their power to pressure China for concessions, all the
while hoping that the flow of history win provide the victory he desires -- that is, that
communist China will soon disintegrate like the Qing Dynasty in 1912 and the Soviet
Union more recently. Such a policy would generate sympathy and funds for Tibetan
exiles in the West and make Tibetans and their supporters feel good. However, Tibet is
being transformed in a manner the Dalai Lama and his followers abhor, and if that
continues for any length of time, the transformation will likely be difficult to reverse.
Consequently there is enormous pressure on the Dalai Lama to move in one of two

The first is serious compromise -- sending Beijing a clear and dramatic message that he is
willing to accept less than political autonomy and cease attacking China internationally.
Such a step, however, will be excruciatingly difficult since it will likely split the fragile
unity of the exile community and discourage supporters and donors in the West. If such
an initiative ultimately failed, the Dalai Lama could find himself left with political and
financial chaos. Given his deep distrust of China and the lack of external guarantees, this
option will be difficult for the Dalai Lama to choose.

An alternative direction is escalation -- encouraging (or even organizing) violent

opposition in Tibet as a means of exerting new leverage on China. Throughout the 1980s
both sides have adjusted tactics to counter their opponent's initiatives, and a campaign of
terrorist violence would be consistent with this pattern in that it would prevent China
from pursuing business as usual in Tibet. Such a strategy would not seek to drive China
out of Tibet but rather to pressure Beijing to adopt a more conciliatory line. If such a
strategy was successful, it could help destabilize, China but even if only partially
successful, it could curtail tourism, impede the growth of overseas investment, threaten
the security of all non-Tibetans, and heighten international awareness of the seriousness
of the problem. It would, in essence, seek to demonstrate to China the futility of the hard-
line policy by showing that the ethnic sensibilities of Tibetans cannot be discounted. Even
if China again resorted to martial law in Tibet, Tibetan militants could easily respond by
shifting their attention to targets in neighboring provinces.

This option would also be extremely difficult for the Dalai Lama to sanction given his
commitment to nonviolence, but it may be difficult for him to prevent, even if he
personally opposed it. His own failure to force China to moderate its policies when the
character of Tibet is so obviously being altered could lead more militant Tibetans to
declare his civil disobedience approach a failure and turn to more violent approaches on
their own. The crux of the matter is that Tibetans are unlikely to sit by for much longer
watching Beijing transform their homeland with impunity. Nationalistic sentiment
combined with desperation and anger make a powerful brew, and there are Tibetans,
inside and outside Tibet, who favor a campaign of focused violence. There were three
bombings in Lhasa in 1996, the last a large blast that damaged a government office
building and neighboring hotels and shook buildings half a mile away.


Tibet remained an obscure topic in U.S. foreign policy until the 1980s, when the Dalai
Lama's international initiative began to garner strong popular sympathy as well as
congressional support. Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993 initially appeared to extend
this momentum to the White House. As part of his policy of giving high priority to
human rights issues in foreign affairs, President Clinton openly criticized China's actions
in Tibet. When he announced on May 28, 1993, that the secretary of state would not
recommend most favored nation trade status for China unless Beijing made significant
progress on a series of human rights problems, he listed "protecting Tibet's distinctive
religious and cultural heritage" as one of these areas. The United States for the first time
appeared willing to use its muscle to try to force changes in Chinese policy toward Tibet.
If MFN was denied China in part because of its policies in Tibet, Tibetan exiles would
have attained precisely the kind of leverage they had been seeking. However, that did not
come to pass. The United States' China policy shifted radically in 1994 when President
Clinton announced he would not use economic sanctions to try to induce political
changes in China, let alone Tibet. Tibetan exiles were thrust back to square one. It was a
painful lesson.

U.S. China policy has once again placed political and economic interests ahead of human
rights and democracy, carefully steering away from a public, confrontational style. In the
1994 State Department report on Tibet, Washington unambiguously reassured China that
the United States accepts Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. The report stated that since at
least 1966, U.S. policy has explicitly recognized the Tibet Autonomous Region as part of
the People's Republic of China, and that this policy is consistent with the view of the
international community, including all of China's neighbors. It also stated that because the
United States does not recognize Tibet as an independent state, it does not have
diplomatic relations with the self-styled Tibetan government-in-exile.

The dominant viewpoint in the U.S. foreign policy establishment is that the United States
has no strategic interest in Tibet and should do nothing more than deplore human rights
violations and privately suggest that Beijing open new talks with the Dalai Lama. The
problem with this policy is that it is implicitly premised on the Sino-Tibetan relationship
remaining as it now stands. However, if the conflict degenerates into serious bloodshed,
U.S. national interests would be severely harmed. China would respond to violence in
Tibet in a heavy-handed way that would create powerful domestic pressures in the United
States to support the Tibetans. In turn, Beijing would perceive any such steps as a threat
to its core strategic interests, and that would worsen the already fragile relations between
China and the United States, potentially complicating the United States' entire Asia

The United States, therefore, has a major strategic interest in Tibet -- that of preventing
the conflict from turning violent. The current U.S. policy, however, is not moving to
bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict, nor can it prevent the exiles or Tibetans
in Tibet from turning violent. In fact, if we take into account the vocal support of
Congress and others, the sum total of American involvement may actually be
encouraging Tibet to reject compromise and oppose China. Of course, it can be argued
that the Tibetans will not be able to organize and sustain a program of targeted violence
against China, but it seems shortsighted for the United States to allow the situation to
deteriorate to a state where that hypothesis will be tested. A more prudent strategy would
commit the United States to facilitate a speedy resolution of the conflict. Such a policy
would not only meet strategic concerns in America's Asia policy but would also fulfill
core American humanitarian values on cultural survival and religious freedom.

The key to resolving the dispute is crafting a compromise that will ensure the
preservation of a Tibetan homeland where ethnic Tibetans predominate and Tibetan
language, culture, and religion flourish. Such a compromise is possible within the current
political structure of China if both sides agree to a number of important concessions and
work to set aside past hatred and distrust.

In the political sphere, the Tibet Autonomous Region would retain its current political
system, but Beijing would move in stages to appoint reform-minded Tibetans to head all
its and government offices. After 10 years, the percentage of Tibetan officials would
increase substantially from its current 60 to 70 percent to as high as 85 to 90 percent.

In the cultural sphere, a variety of measures would have to be implemented to enhance

the degree to which Tibetan culture predominates. One of the most critical of these would
be to shift the bilingual emphasis from Chinese to Tibetan and restore written Tibetan as
the main language of the government of Tibet. A detailed plan for this reform was drawn
up by a committee of Tibetan and Chinese reformers in 1987 and could readily be
enacted. Other cultural measures such as eliminating restrictions on the number of monks
in monasteries could be worked out by the parties and gradually phased in.

In the critical demographic and economic spheres, Beijing would have to take measures
that would decrease substantially the number of non-Tibetans living in Tibet and reduce
outside economic competition so that Tibetans become the main beneficiaries of
economic development in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The current program of
economic development would continue, but if need be at a slower rate and with prime
consideration being given to the direct welfare of Tibetans. Since the overwhelming
majority of non-Tibetans in Tibet are not legal residents, Beijing has no responsibility for
their resettlement and reemployment and could accomplish this shift in priorities,
although not without difficulty.

The end result of such a process would be a Tibet that was predominantly Tibetan in
culture, language, and demographic composition. It would continue to modernize but
would be run by Tibetans, albeit communist Tibetans. This kind of Tibet would probably
meet with the approval of the overwhelming majority of Tibetans in Tibet if they felt
external support for something more was not forthcoming. If China in time follows the
path of Taiwan and evolves more democratic institutions such as multiple political
parties, the political leadership in Tibet would similarly broaden its base. Transforming
Tibet into a modern society is perfectly compatible with preserving its rich language,
culture, and religion. It is in the interests of both sides to facilitate the preservation of
such a Tibet as the homeland of a people.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to achieving such a solution is the exiles' demand
for the re-creation of a Greater Tibet. Such a formation would be extremely difficult for
Beijing to accept, but could be handled by implementing parallel reforms in the ethnic
Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region and by waiting to address the
unification issue until the new program has been in operation for five or ten years -- that
is, until new relations of trust and respect are established. Beijing, however, with
considerable justification, now considers that even an "ethnic" solution to the Tibet
question would be a potential threat to its position given the strong anti-Chinese and
separatist feelings of Tibetans. Consequently, to receive favorable consideration in China,
a compromise plan would have to include components that clearly enhanced Beijing's
sovereignty and control over Tibet.

Only the Dalai Lama can make such moves for Beijing, so he, rather than the exile
government, is the key element in validating such a compromise. To win the above
concessions from China, the Dalai Lama would have to return to China and Tibet,
publicly accept Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, and work actively to create cooperative
and harmonious relations between Tibetans and non-Tibetans. In particular, he would
have to end international attacks on China and persuade Tibetans in Lhasa to stop
disturbances -- in essence to accept that a truly Tibetan Tibet is not incompatible with
being part of China. He would have to use his enormous prestige and charisma to change
the attitude of Tibetans toward being part of China. Once begun, it should be possible for
such a process to be implemented over the course of a decade, even if most Tibetans in
exile do not return. For China, this acceptance would resolve the Tibet issue since support
for Tibetan independence in the West would end if the Dalai Lama accepted such a
solution. For the Dalai Lama, it would preserve Tibet as a distinct homeland for his
people and culture.

However, this kind of compromise is unlikely to occur without external assistance. There
is no consensus in the exile community about the advantages of such a political
compromise, let alone about the exclusion of the ethnic Tibetan areas outside the Tibet
Autonomous Region, so the Dalai Lama would very likely have to decide to pursue this
course without the unified support of his government-in-exile. It would not be an easy
decision, and his tendency will be to resist compromise. Consequently, if China and the
Dalai Lama are left to their own devices, a negotiated resolution of the conflict along the
above lines is unlikely. There simply is too little trust and too many powerful reasons for
not taking a risk.

If progress is to be made, therefore, a catalyst or facilitator is needed, and that is how the
United States could play a constructive role, either through direct private diplomacy or
through a proxy country. Given the deep distrust, the Dalai Lama would need strong
reassurances from the United States that should China renege on its commitments once
he returned to China, the United States would take strong action to protect him. On the
other hand, the United States would certainly also want to assure Beijing privately that it
will support the new arrangement vociferously regardless of what hard-line critics in
Congress or elsewhere in the West may say. Moving in that direction would entail some
risk for the United States given China's extreme sensitivity to intervention in its internal
affairs and because congressional critics might well accuse the administration of selling
out the Dalai Lama to the communists. But if done discreetly, and with the agreement of
the Dalai Lama, these risks would be minimal. The death of Deng Xiaoping, the
solidification of the position of Jiang Zemin, and the appointment of a special coordinator
for Tibetan affairs in the United States offers an unusual concatenation for moving in this

The Dalai Lama will be central to any compromise. At 63, he must be thinking about how
best to preserve his people and their way of life in his remaining years. He may decide to
continue to stand on the sidelines, hoping that external forces will destroy his enemy, but
it is more likely that he will soon feel compelled to adopt an active approach, moving to
preserve Tibet either by accepting a major compromise, or more likely by tacitly and
reluctantly accepting a new tactic of countering Chinese policies in Tibet through
organized violence. It seems clearly in the interests of the United States and Tibetans to
develop a strategy that will ensure that he and his leaders choose the former over the

Melvyn C. Goldstein is John Reynolds Harkness Professor of Anthropology and Director

of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case Western Reserve University. His most recent
book is The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama, from which
this essay is adapted.

Gale Document Number:A20116361

Davis, Michael C. "The Future of Tibet: A Chinese Dilemma. " Human Rights
Review. 2.2 (Jan 2001): 7. Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. SAN JOSE PUBLIC
LIBRARY SYSTEM. 26 Nov. 2007

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 2001 Transaction Publishers, Inc.

Recent commentary and books on Tibet have emphasized the serious dilemma facing the
Dalai Lama. [1] Well-meaning accounts have noted the reality that China's policies in
Tibet have not only denied Tibetan self-rule but may eventually result in the displacement
of the Tibetan people, as China provides economic incentives for increasing numbers of
Han Chinese to move to Tibet. Exiled Tibetans are sometimes advised that, given China's
unbending position, they should return as soon as possible, even if substantially on
China's terms, or they will become a minority in their own homeland. According to this
view, while principled resistance may be satisfying, it is viewed as futile. Under Chinese
terms, described as the best they are likely to get, local control would remain with the
Chinese Communist Party (CCP), though Tibetans loyal to the Chinese government
would be allowed a role in governance. The only suggested gain for this surrender to the
inevitable is that China may be persuaded to cut off and reverse th e flow of Chinese

While analysts often pose these issues as a dilemma for the Dalai Lama, they fail to
appreciate the dilemmas both he and the present circumstances have created for China.
The Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile have been extremely effective in
highlighting the imperialist and oppressive quality of China's occupation of Tibet. This
has brought forth protest and embarrassment in nearly every diplomatic outing of Chinese
leaders. The situation in Tibet has troubled China's international partners deeply, and
foreign leaders have been pressed to urge Beijing to come up with a more satisfactory
solution. The Tibet issue often overshadows others that the Chinese leaders would like to
address. It provides justification for advocates of hard-line policies toward China. As a
consequence, diplomacy for China is made more difficult. While China has tended to
look at its Tibetan policy through rose-colored glasses made of reconstructed history, 2 it
should be able to understand the international sympathy for Tibet. Ch ina, a country that
has sometimes led the Third World's struggle against imperialism, finds itself accused of
committing the same colonial excesses that previously visited its own shores. This leaves
China's assertions of an improving human rights record in shambles. If China ever does
fully accede to the international human rights covenants it has already signed it will
surely be confronted with its policies in Tibet in response to the human rights reports it
will be required to file. But far short of this still remote possibility, the Tibet situation
poses an immediate dilemma for China as to whether to soften its Tibet policy or to
continue to incur global wrath.

While Tibet presents a dilemma for the Chinese government, it is doubtful whether the
Dalai Lama really faces a dilemma over submission versus violence. Although he faces
issues as to what baseline for autonomy might be acceptable and strategic questions as to
how to get there and beyond, neither submission nor extreme violence is a realistic
option. The structure of autonomy is discussed in the following sections of this essay.
Strategically, Tibetans have been quite effective in creating a dilemma for China. To
heighten international pressure on Beijing they may want to better appeal to China's own
commitments made to Tibet. Tibetans can highlight the fact that it is the Beijing
government which uses the word "autonomy" in describing its rule of Tibet and which
has publicly stated that it will discuss anything except independence.

No one can doubt the resolve of the current Chinese leaders to hold on to power and not
relinquish any territory. But even for these leaders the use of sheer coercive power to
subjugate the Tibetan people is not without difficulty. Forcing Tibetans to accept arduous
terms will likely reverberate back to China's long-term disadvantage. As recent internal
territorial conflicts in such places as Chechnya, Kosovo and East Timor amply
demonstrate, the dominant parties in seemingly one-sided conflicts often face more
profound issues than are initially evident. A more far-sighted view is required. Pressing
the Dalai Lama to accept terms whereby the CCP continues to control every aspect of
Tibetan public life, as a price of cutting off the flow of outsiders, will produce a feeling of
hopelessness in the Tibetan community. In the long term, this will breed resentment. In
the face of continued subjugation, Tibetans are more likely, either now or in the future, to
choose intensified resistance and ultimately rebellion.

No matter what argument China makes to paper over the situation in Tibet, it is apparent
to the world that China has essentially subjugated an ethnically and territorially distinct
community. It does no good to note, as China does in its 1999 White Paper on National
Minority Policy and Practice, that China has generously set up numerous autonomous
regions for 55 recognized" national minorities." If there is no meaningful self-rule at the
bottom, then this system of top-down rule through local party secretaries becomes merely
an efficient system of control and a denial of autonomy. To highlight the special
privileges of Tibetans and claim that they are better off under Chinese rule also fails.
Such was one of the primary claims of European colonialism, to spread an allegedly
superior civilization. It likewise does no good to draw analogy to the overseas territorial
possessions of other countries. Colonialism is no longer acceptable wherever it takes
place. There has been no plebiscite on self-rule in Tibet. C hina has not been politically
able to offer true autonomy, and the result of its Tibet policy has been a giant black spot
in China's international reputation.

While the immediate concern is to work out an acceptable baseline for Tibetan autonomy,
in doing so it is important to bear in mind that China's own political reform process is
likely to shape and be shaped by any sensible long-term solution to the Tibetan problem.
China's own reform process has increasingly become a hostage to its harsh policies in
respect of its peripheral communities. For China, the bogeyman in recent years has been
the Soviet Union and it ignominious disintegration. China is, nevertheless, pursuing
exactly the same kind of harsh policies towards its peripheral communities that the
Soviets pursued for seven decades. This is a breeding ground for the same types of
resentments that emerged. China's harsh policies toward its peripheral communities not
only have held China's own reform processes hostage but also have shaped China's global
role and have thus become a global concern. Reasonable opinion holds that China's
reluctance, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to support
humanitarian intervention in places where serious humanitarian disasters have occurred is
substantially shaped by the fear that such intervention will someday be directed at its own
peripheral communities, especially Taiwan and Tibet. One can only hope that the
circumstances of these communities need not become as dire before appropriate policies
alleviate the situation.

China is called upon to step back and consider both a sensible short-term policy that will
treat the Tibetan people with the dignity and respect they deserve and a long-term policy
that will address the centrifugal tensions likely to emerge in China, as its reform process
unfolds. Both the structure of a meaningful autonomy and a long-term federal solution
are addressed below. The next section discusses the prospects for any autonomy model
under China's existing political system. This raises difficult questions that the Tibetan
people will have to consider with great care. The federalism proposal, discussed in the
succeeding section, provides a more visionary view of a truly autonomous Tibet as part of
China's long term democratization prospects. The present discussion sets aside the
difficult question concerning the appropriate territorial boundaries for a future Tibet. [3]

The Structure of Autonomy

Establishing autonomy under China's current top-down authoritarian system is at best a

difficult proposition. It is important to consider the proposals that have been made and
evaluate their ingredients. In considering the factors that appear important to currently
functioning autonomy models, the recent study by the International Committee of
Lawyers for Tibet offers an excellent starting point. [4] The Committee Report studies 34
cases of autonomy and self-government worldwide to identify the standard indicia of
autonomy. Analysis of these indicia reveals that China's existing policy of autonomy in
Tibet offers autonomy in name only. Moreover, China's negotiating position with the
representatives of the Dalai Lama has revealed little interest in moving beyond this

At one point in the late 1970s Deng Xiaoping indicated that anything was negotiable
except independence, but this policy has not been carried out. The Dalai Lama put forth
his most accommodating position, which included local associated self-rule and Chinese
control over foreign affairs and defense, in a June 1988 speech to the European
Parliament in Strasbourg. [5] In the face of his proposals for local democratic self-rule
with guarantees of human rights, the rule of law and modern constitutional government,
the Chinese government refused to change its position, insisting upon its current form of
one-party CCP rule in Tibet. Under its proposals, Beijing at first insisted that the Dalai
Lama would not reside in Tibet, living presumably in Beijing or elsewhere, and in its
most liberal offer eventually, without altering the political formula, accepted that he could
reside in Tibet. It is difficult under the circumstances to conclude that Beijing officials
have been serious about autonomy negotiations. This le d the Dalai Lama in 1991 to
withdraw his Strasbourg offer, though various statements appear to reflect continued
commitment to this proposal. In a 1997 visit to Taiwan the Dalai Lama expressed some
appreciation of the "one country, two systems" model then being extended to Hong Kong,
but the Chinese government has continued to offer no serious response to these overtures.

An overview of the usual indicia of autonomy, as practiced around the world, reveals the
severe lack of genuine autonomy in the existing system advanced by the Chinese
government. Several areas which are usually deemed to fall fully within the scope of
autonomy in various autonomy arrangements around the world include: cultural affairs,
education, health and social services, taxation, the economy, natural resources,
environmental policy, the postal system and telecommunications, transportation and law
and order. These areas also fall within the scope of local autonomy in China's own
policies in respect of Hong Kong and Macau and those promised to Taiwan. In all of
these areas, the current Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) government is subordinated
to the central government. In respect of autonomy, one might be especially concerned
about ways that centrally controlled public security and military personal participate in
local law and order. In several of the usual areas of autonomy, including the economy,
natu ral resources, environmental policy, the postal system and telecommunications, the
Chinese government controls substantial policy and implementation. In the important
economic area, central control of economic policy making, central policies to relax
restrictions on non-residents setting up local businesses (encouraging immigration of Han
Chinese) and grand central strategies for rapid development (with the hope of reducing
Tibetan opposition) combine to overwhelm any formal local power. China likewise
imposes its own national symbols, banning the Tibetan flag.
Autonomy practices around the world also reveal areas where a degree of central
participation and a correspondent diminution of autonomy are frequently evident. These
include currency and monetary policy, citizenship, customs, immigration, border control,
defense, military affairs, and final adjudication in respect of the administration of justice.
It is noteworthy that Hong Kong and Macau have even been granted full autonomy in
respect of all of these areas except citizenship, foreign affairs and defense. They issue
local travel documents even in respect of citizenship. While not having any defense role,
both are responsible for local policing and border (both internal and external) control.
And while not having power over foreign affairs they both have the right to conduct their
own external affairs in respect to religion, culture, sports, commerce and similar areas.
The most striking quality is their possession of their own liberal rights guarantees. This is
reflected in Hong Kong's Basic Law and in the l ocal bill of rights ordinance, both of
which uphold the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and are
enforceable in the courts. Hong Kong and Macau have also been promised full control
over the administration of justice, including independence and finality in the local courts.
This latter promise was recently called into question, when the National People's
Congress (NPC), at the request of a local Hong Kong government that is generally
solicitous of Beijing, overturned a final decision of the Hong Kong Court of Final
Appeal. In spite of a tendency to chisel away at such autonomy, Hong Kong does offer a
telling example of substantial autonomy under Chinese rule. These broad guarantees were
thought necessary to preserve autonomy in the face of the Marxist top-down system on
the mainland. The striking comparison is that the TAR is neither given nor promised
autonomy in any of these areas.

The most telling distinction in respect of the TAR is the lack of local democratic
institutions. In the absence of local institutions for the exercise of control over the local
government, including especially multi-party elections and protection of the basic
freedoms of association and the press, there is little likelihood the community will be able
to exercise true autonomy. Without meaningful democratic institutions, even the conduct
of "autonomous" administration by the local government becomes an exercise of central
control. The TAR government is ultimately appointed by and under the supervision of
China's central government. Under the Chinese system, it is further supervised by the
CCP in a very top-down system of control, where a centrally appointed party secretary
holds supervisory power over local officials. While locals constitute the local People's
Congress, their power is also subject to central control and CCP discipline. This system
contrasts with protection of basic freedoms and multi-party el ections for the legislature
in Hong Kong and Macau. The democratic deficit would appear to be the most serious
deficiency in respect to Tibetan autonomy.

As was long ago recognized in respect of Hong Kong, promises of autonomy under
China's top-down unitary system of one-party rule are really not reliable without
substantial institutions to secure genuine local control. In addition to local democratic
institutions with multi-party competition and basic freedoms, this requires systems of
justice and human rights that are free of central government interference. In democratic
federal systems, national bills of rights often provide protection against local abuse of
power. But in China's current system, in the absence of democratic institutions and solid
national human rights protections, affording these institutions at the local level is
essential to any success at providing autonomy. An autonomous Tibet without these
institutions will be unlikely to be able to protect its autonomy from central encroachment.
Such institutions are generally thought to have implications for the economy, as well. The
long-term development of Tibet depends on reliable political and legal institutions.

The Hong Kong example illustrates that even if the Chinese government decides to afford
Tibet genuine autonomy the road to success will be a difficult one. The Chinese
government, coming from a substantially different political culture, has demonstrated a
reluctance to carry out its commitments in respect of Hong Kong. There have especially
been persistent attempts to control political outcomes. The parties to any autonomy plan
for Tibet should be aware of these difficulties. While committing to a "high degree of
autonomy" for Hong Kong, the Chinese government has persisted in its habits of control,
using so-called united front policies to select its favored supporters for the various
transition committees to establish the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. These
same appointees were then used to select Hong Kong's Chief Executive and a majority of
the provisional Legislative Council. That Legislative Council then enacted electoral laws
for the Legislative Council that kept many of the same people in p lace. With their own
people in charge, Chinese officials responsible for Hong Kong have been able to reduce
the degree of direct interference, in that local "pro-China" officials are usually quite
accommodating. When the more liberal institutions, such as the courts or the local public
broadcaster, get out of hand, Chinese officials or their local supporters have made public
their dissatisfaction. This has resulted in the kind of direct interference that was evident in
the recent NPC overturning of the Court of Final Appeal judgment. Even though Hong
Kong is certainly better equipped, with a well-established tradition of a free press, human
rights protection and the rule of law, it has had a difficult time resisting encroachment on
its autonomy. Tibetan planners would certainly be well advised to prepare for any future
autonomy by educating sufficient numbers of lawyers and other potential servants of
Tibetan society. The Tibetan community in exile has tried to develop public institutions,
but these efforts a re hampered by resources and population size. A lot will remain to be
done if any autonomy arrangement is agreed upon.

All of this demonstrates that, while a Hong Kong style of local autonomy is preferable to
the top-down non-autonomous model Chinese officials have traditionally imposed on
Tibet, such an autonomy model is still less than optimal. Substantially reliable local
autonomy is simply not fully achievable under a non-democratic and unitary national
system such as that in China today. This situation has stimulated Taiwan to reject China's
offer of its" one country, two systems" formula and push for more substantial Chinese
national political reforms, as a condition of some form of unification. Such reforms are
increasingly called for under the pressures generated by China's own current economic
reform policies and the centrifugal regional forces they have generated. With over a
billion people, it is doubtful that China can engage in substantial political reform to create
bottom-up democratic control and a more liberal system without restructuring from a
unitary to a federal system. Yet, it is doubtful that a democrati c and federal China could
continue to sustain the current harsh policies and iron grip at the periphery. As a longer-
term vision of China's ongoing reform process it is important to begin to consider what a
future democratic federal China might look like and in what ways it may impact the Tibet
issue. While this vision offers little in response to Tibet's immediate concerns, it does
offer some important background factors to bear in mind as the process goes forward.

A Federal China and Autonomy Under Reform

Given the difficulties of sustaining local autonomy under an authoritarian unitary national
regime and given the pressures for change elsewhere in China, some consideration of
China's long-term structural options seems warranted. Such structural issues will likely
shape the direction of China's reform process and any long-term options with respect to
Tibet. Will China construct the type of consensual community that will allow its reform
process to go forward? Or will it continue with a failed Soviet-style political model that
sees its political system become more and more out of sync with its economic reforms
and the value systems of the modem global order? The latter course of action seems to
invite, upon the first sign of weakness at the center, the kind of territorial disintegration
that occurred in the former Soviet Union. Chinese leaders have failed to appreciate that it
was not simply liberalization, but rather the harsh suppression of national groups that
preceded it, that contributed most to the Sovie t debacle.

Until China begins to address these issues its political reform process is likely to remain a
hostage to the imperatives of it current model of top-down domination of a vast unitary
system extending to China's far-flung periphery. In this context, the Tibetan issue is
directly linked to the problems of other peripheral communities, especially Taiwan and
Hong Kong. It is also directly linked to the possibility of democratic reform and
federalism in China. At present, China experiences both a cost of expansion gradient,
with respect to Taiwan, and a high cost of ruling resistant people, as evident in the
substantial military presence in Tibet. Even traditional Chinese political culture, as
reflected in the views of Confucius and Mencius, would seem to favor a more benevolent

As I have discussed elsewhere, [6] China currently faces two sources of pressure toward
a federal system. In the Chinese heartland, regionalism creates pressures for the kind of
locally accountable government associated with democratic federalism. In some sense, by
loosening local economic control, China has produced a kind of regionalism that might
be characterized as economic federalism. [7] Without adequate democratic institutions in
a federal system, this kind of economic federalism can only encourage the kinds of
corruption that have plagued China's reform processes. Local interests, deprived of
adequate representative political channels, resort to the corruption track. Both experience
elsewhere and forces at play in China point to the value of a federal structure for any
future democratic China. As Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan have noted, it is not meaningful
to speak of federalism under authoritarianism or other dictatorial systems. [8] While the
former Soviet Union claimed to be a federal system, such federalism is not genuine in the
absence of democratic institutions to support local self-rule. Merely launching a national
election without meaningful institutions of democracy at the regional or local level will
likewise lead to a failed democracy. [9] Chinese reformers have recognized this and are
usually attracted to federalism because it is directly related to democratization.
The other source of federalist pressure has come from China's peripheral communities. In
addition to Tibet there are also Hong Kong and Taiwan. [10] Tibet has the least
bargaining power; Hong Kong is slightly stronger; and Taiwan has been able to use its
power to resist mainland overtures. Tibetans in exile have had to sit on the sidelines and
watch a cultural disaster unfold. In an age when democracy is widely accepted as the
norm, Tibetans find themselves facing a powerful authoritarian regime with their backs
against the wall. For Hong Kong, many of the tensions and much of the distrust, which
marks popular attitudes towards the central government, relate to China's lack of
democracy on a national level and its resistance to democracy in Hong Kong. For
Taiwan, returning to the Chinese fold under the current system that prevails in China
amounts practically to political and economic suicide. Taiwan, however, has had a level
of power and economic clout sufficient to resist mainland encroachment. It has sens ibly
and forcefully asserted mainland democratization as a condition of unification. Mainland
officials would be wise to adopt a more conciliatory attitude toward these peripheral
communities. It is doubtful that a democratic China could pursue these harsh policies and
yet democratic reform appears, in part, to be held hostage to the Chinese government's
assertions that it must pursue such policies if it is to hold China together.

Democratic federalism offers a more consensual model. Given the two sources of
pressure toward this direction in China, a dual model with federalism on the mainland
and confederalism with the periphery would seem to best respond to various concerns
that have been raised. Autonomous communities on the periphery will be concerned with
democratic and federal developments for mainland regions, as constructive of their
powerful mainland partner. For mainland regions the federal component could be similar
to other federal systems such as that in the U.S. or Germany, where democratic
institutions afford local self-rule and a seed bed for national institutions and actors to be
nurtured. This could be structured in a way that is responsive to currently evolving
circumstances and objectives. Initially, if democracy and multi-party contests were
introduced in China at the provincial level the existing formula of provincial assemblies
electing representative to the National People's Congress could be employed. Once a mor
e democratic NPC and national government is in place further reforms could be
considered. This could allow for local laws and courts in areas where local accountability
is more important. The national government would be free, in the emerging free market
system, to concentrate on those areas, such as defense, foreign affairs, banking regulation,
cross-regional commerce and even human rights, where public goods are more efficiently
delivered by a national government. The character of these reforms would clearly shape
confidence in any bargain with the periphery.

The pressures from the periphery point to a confederation bargain between the mainland
and peripheral communities, including Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan and possibly Xinjiang
and Inner Mongolia. If the reform process was already in progress in the Chinese
heartland and peripheral communities such as Tibet were already enjoying a previously
negotiated high degree of autonomy, in a form similar to that suggested in the previous
section, then a much more consensual community would already be taking shape. This
would reduce the risks for the mainland government in pursuing political reforms.
Democratization would no longer be held hostage to the difficult task of extending
control over currently very resistant subjugated peripheral communities. It is doubtful
that, given free choice, such peripheral communities would be satisfied to submerge
themselves, even as super states, in the mainland portion of the federal model. They
would particularly be concerned about maintaining substantial international status as
securi ty for any confederal arrangement. Such security is a central element in confidence
in such a system.

A confederal arrangement, as is evident in confederal Europe, could be a looser union

with the individual member communities having to consent in a collective process to the
rules that apply. At first such shared rules could focus on commerce within the confederal
Chinese community, the area of chief advantage to all members. This could entail an
initial representative body with representatives designated by the elected governments of
each member. A third-party dispute resolving body or court would also be useful. To the
extent that confederal laws and agreements protect the rights of individuals in commerce
or otherwise, local courts in all member communities could participate, with a confederal
court at the top, in enforcing such confederal rights and contributing to the rule of law
across the system. For communities such as Tibet, with little experience with the rule of
law, this structure could provide a valuable learning environment for developing the
kinds of institutions needed both to assist its auton omy and its political and economic
development. This system could encourage greater integration. An executive body could
also be formed to carry out and suggest new laws and systems.

As a form of security for any such arrangement, the members of such a confederation
would require the right to participate directly in international relations and organizations.
For a vulnerable community like Tibet, with little international economic clout,
projection into the international arena can afford a constraint on the habits of Beijing
intrusion. The confederal negotiators would have to decide what foreign affairs would be
left to the confederation. For example, there may be a common position on defense; or if
the confederation constituted a common market there could be a common position on
trade. Less developed communities, such as Tibet, might even use such international
access to independently obtain development aid from outside of the confederation. The
aim of this long-term confederal strategy is to create a community of mutual cooperation
where there is now a community of mutual distrust. Such a community need not be
symmetrical. It could generate distinct rules in respect of different member s, in relation
to their peculiar needs. For example, while Tibet may be more concerned with
maintaining traditional religious values or environmental resources, Hong Kong may be
concerned with autonomy in financial and monitory affairs, Taiwan with elevated defense
and foreign affairs capability and the mainland with global and strategic concerns.


In a recent speech Amartya Sen argued that democracy had become a universal value.
[11] He argued that at this time the burden is on those who would deny democracy to
justify their position. He urged that this was a historic change from not long ago when the
advocates for democracy in Asia or Africa had to argue for democracy with their backs to
the wall. In Asia, China has historically championed the fight against imperialism and has
celebrated the fact that the Chinese people have stood up to take their much-deserved
place in the world. For China, which has worked so assertively to bring its nation into the
modern world, it is a sign of failure if Tibetans, and even Chinese, have to continue to
argue for genuine democracy and self-government with their backs against the wall. The
Tibetans really face no dilemma since they are offered no choice except to defend their
basic interest.

But at present the Chinese leaders face a profound dilemma whether to embrace the
modem values that are consistent with their own development and reform process or to
continue to defy, especially in respect of Tibet, the very values they have championed in
their relationships with the rest of the world. It is with regard to these universal values,
against imperialism and in favor of democracy and self-rule, that solutions to the Tibetan
problem should be found. To subjugate the Tibetan people is not only inconsistent with
contemporary values but is also in contradiction of the pressures for change being
spawned by China's own emerging order in its reform era. It is within China's power at
present to set about solving the issues it confronts with Tibet. It can do so in ways that are
consistent with its long-term development interests or, alternatively, insist on old style
imperial domination at the long-term costs of fostering a territorial and political structure
for development that is inadequate both for i tself and Tibet.

Sautman, Barry. "China's strategic vulnerability to minority separatism in Tibet. " Asian
Affairs: An American Review. 32.2 (Summer 2005): 87(32). Expanded Academic

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 2005 Heldref Publications

When a breakup of the Soviet Union first seemed likely, a leading American journalist
wrote, If China ever crumbles, Tibet is likely to be the first piece to break off." (1) Talk of
a "China collapse" continues: George Friedman, founder of the U.S. strategic forecasters, said in 2000 that "China would break up in the next two to three years, not
unlike the Soviet Union, but more violently, and would revert to a group of competing
local warlords." (2) Political scientist Ross Terrill writes of a "climactic moment still to
come, when a Chinese Boris Yeltsin shouts a few truths and the machinery falls apart."
(3) Few predictions by scholars have focused on ethnic minority separatism as a major
cause of a breakup, however, and a bestselling book on China's "coming collapse"
devotes only a few anecdotal pages to Tibet. (4) Yet the idea of China as vulnerable
through Tibet has a purchase on the popular Western imagination, because the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) system is thought to be inherently self-destructive, while
spiritually based Tibetan separatism is seen as inherently virtuous.

This paper examines China's levels of vulnerability to separatism in Tibet. It argues that
most pronouncements on the question have focused on efforts to mobilize support for
separation as opposed to how events are likely to unfold. Separatism in Tibet is unlikely
to contribute to regime change in China, which would not in any case result in a "free"
Tibet, (5) nor is it apt to foster disintegration. As Yang Dali and Wei Houkai observe,
"China will disintegrate only if the central government itself falls apart" (6); that is,
becomes so weak it cannot prevent local elites from detaching both minority and key Han
Chinese areas. That scenario is unlikely: even China's warlords, during and after World
War I, wanted their regions to remain part of the country and proclaimed provinces
independent only for negotiating purposes. (7)

Disintegration might occur if China lost a major war, had a sustained depression, or was
wracked by violent factional struggle leading to massive elite disaffection, popular
mobilization, and the conviction that no acceptable central regime can be formed. Absent
sustained organizing by a national political force, however, the current combination of
gross inequality, mismanagement, and corruption is unlikely to lead to a national breakup
or even to regime change in China. Many countries subsist with worse problems, and
many survive despite being weaker states than China. Moreover, protests in China are
localized and not directed against national elites, who are instead often cast as potential
allies against lower-level officials and bosses. (8)

The already low-order vulnerability to separatism in Tibet will probably diminish further,
due mainly to separatism's identification with the Dalai Lama, whose political vitality
will likely ebb as he ages. This paper points out measures Beijing might adopt to reduce
vulnerability to a "nuisance, not a threat," while benefiting Tibetans and building the
confidence needed to bring about negotiations with the Tibetan emigres.

Vulnerabilities: Ratcheted-up and Real

Whether China is vulnerable to separatism in Tibet depends on what vulnerability means

for the PRC mega-state. Multiethnic states' vulnerabilities range from low-order (costs of
accommodation and suppression) to high-order (regime collapse or state breakup).
Middling forms include low-intensity ethnic war and international isolation. Separatism's
high-order vulnerabilities distinguish it from terrorism, which can alter state policy, but
not collapse regimes or breakup states.

In the war on terror discourse however, perceptions of vulnerability have been ratcheted
up to boost political mobilization, by rhetorically extending the term "terrorism" to create
greater affective capital and by supersizing terrorist power. (9) Thus, China presents the
East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a middle-order threat by exaggerating its
transnational presence and influence on Xinjiang's Uygurs. (10) Leaders elsewhere claim
terrorism imperils civilization and is as potent as major states during World War II. (11)
Compare, however, al Qaeda to imperial Japan: under its "Asia for the Asians" slogan,
Japan put millions under arms, occupied East Asia, and expelled the Western states. It
required three continental powers, the United States, China, and the USSR, to defeat
Japan. In contrast, eighteen thousand terrorists are identified with al Qaeda. (12) Osama
bin Laden is unlikely to create a caliphate in his native Saudi Arabia, let alone force the
United States from the Middle East. He failed to shift Muslim sentiment in his favor,
something done only by the United States itself with the invasion of Iraq. (13) Today's
terrorists pale before imperial Japan even in comparison to suicide bombings: in the first
eighteen months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were a few hundred suicide
bombings in Iraq; in half that time in 1944-45, 7,465 kamikaze sank one hundred twenty
U.S. ships. (14) Post-9/11 civilian victims of terrorism worldwide number in the low
thousands; the Japanese armed forces killed several million civilians in China in a
comparable time period. (15)

States with separatist and terrorist problems, such as Indonesia and China, generally
overstate both, but separatism is ranked as the greater threat. (16) It appears as a high-
order vulnerability because under imaginable yet unpredictable conditions, it can rapidly
change from a problem to an existential crisis. One imagined way is through a seemingly
endless Chechnya-type conflict. China identifies with Russian efforts in Chechnya, and
Chechnya's cause is invoked by "Tibet supporters." (17) A Kosovo-style intervention that
turns the tide for separatists is also a frequently imagined path from low- to high-order
vulnerability. A prominent PRC analyst has argued that the West's strategy is to split off
Tibet, (18) and others have called Tibet or Xinjiang "China's KOSOVO." (19) Premier
Zhu Rongji, visiting Canada, spoke of Tibet as an ethnic conflict like Kosovo, although
his host Premier Jean Chretien noted that there is no ethnic cleansing in Tibet. (20) A
Kosovo scenario continues to be cited, (21) despite decreased violence in Xinjiang since
the late 1990s (22) and recognition by emigres and their supporters that Tibet has no
visible separatist movement. (23)

Fear of a Kosovo-type scenario may be extravagant, given China's vastly greater scale.
China's rulers may also be obsessed with disintegration, as Bill Clinton once argued, (24)
but if so the fixation has a modest foundation. The PRC has said that in 1942, U.S.
envoys told officials in Lhasa the United States would support Tibet independence, if
asserted. (25) In 1949, the United States considered recognizing a Tibetan emigre regime,
if the CCP retained national power. (26) In 1951, it advised the Dalai Lama to reject any
pact with the PRC (27) and later supported rebels in eastern Tibet. (28) From 1959 to
1971, it financed the emigre regime, an unsuccessful guerrilla war, and the Dalai Lama
himself. (29) In the late 1980s, members of Congress pressed the Reagan Administration
to support Tibet independence. (30) As the Soviet collapse became apparent, support was
reported in the U.S. administration for backing separatism in the PRC if China retained
"unfair" trade practices, proliferated missiles and nuclear technology, and continued
human rights abuses. (31) In the mid-1990s, some U.S. politicians spoke of helping the
exiles to separate Tibet from China, including by providing arms. (32) Asia-Pacific states,
including U.S. allies, were moved to tell Washington that they regarded U.S.
encouragement of Tibet independence as interference in China's internal affairs. (33) A
renowned China specialist, Franz Schurmann, observed that the United States both
treated China as a business partner and pursued a policy aimed at its disintegration. (34)

China has improved its strategic position in recent years and drawn lessons from the
Soviet disintegration. (35) Nevertheless, since 2001 the United States has adopted a
policy of selective regime change, embedding its forces in Central Asia, favoring
separatists by financing Uygur exiles, refusing to return to China captured Taliban and al
Qaeda-linked Uygurs, funding exiles under the Tibet Policy Act of 2002, and appointing
a high-ranking State Department official as Special Coordinator for Tibet. (36) Such
moves have again stoked Chinese fears of a U.S. effort aimed at disintegration, impelling
PRC elites to increase vulnerability levels. Tibet's "stabilizing force" of local leaders
follow suit in order to extract more resources from Beijing and to mobilize cadres. (37)
To increase funds for modernization, the People's Liberation Army elides orders of
vulnerability by speaking of potential armed conflict over Tibet. (38) Exile leaders fuse
orders of vulnerability--violence in Tibet and Tibet's separation--to convince the PRC to
negotiate "genuine autonomy" for Tibet. (39)

High-order Vulnerability: Tibet and Prognostication as Provocation

Predictions of China's breakup, a staple of modern Western analysis for decades, (40)
have been only marginally more accurate than forecasts of the apocalypse and as unlikely
to give rise to reassessments. The failure of their 1990s predictions of China's
disintegration produced in U.S. neoconservative circles only something akin to the "Great
Disappointment" in the United States after the Rev. William Miller's prophecy of Christ's
return on October 22, 1844, proved wrong. Just as predictions of the Second Coming
were soon renewed, the prospect of China's collapse continued to be promoted as an
assurance of a "Second American Century."

Western forecasts do not reflect the CCP's theme that because no other force has the
capacity to rule, China will disintegrate if the party falls. (41) Instead, they tend to be
historical-determinist: other Communist systems collapsed, therefore China's will too,
(42) because every Communist system inevitably "founders under the weight of its
exhaustion and inadequacy." (43) Most predictions are based on lists of problems: income
disparities, corruption, unemployment, bad bank loans, land seizures, and the like--all the
elements of China's putative "Latin Americanization." (44) They are also economic-
determinist--victimized groups are seen as elemental forces that can collapse the regime
or even the country, despite a highly organized state and lack of a national movement
presenting an acceptable alternative form of governance. Most predictions of China's
collapse give short shrift to structures that promote national integration and state
legitimacy. They fail to specify the forces that favor collapse and the conditions needed
for their success. They use no comparative perspective to determine the impetuses for
collapses elsewhere and whether the PRC case differs from them. They do not explain
why key elites, who benefit from rent-seeking, asset stripping, and access to huge
markets and resources, would not do all in their power to prevent a collapse nor why the
Chinese treat a collapse as a potential catastrophe, not a wish. (45)

References to separatism in most China collapse predictions are sparse. Despite Tibetans'
diverse politics, (46) to the extent they do appear it is often as synecdoches--("There are
six million Tibetans aspiring for independence"), (47) givens ("Most Tibetans would
obviously want an independent and free Tibet"), (48) or reifications ("Tibet's desire to
break away is well known"). (49) During the Cold War, the most prominent of such
predictions was that of British journalist/KGB agent Victor Louis, who argued that unrest
in Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Manchuria would soon cause China's
disintegration. (50) The Soviets announced their support for Tibet independence, sent
emissaries to meet the Dalai Lama, and offered military assistance. (51) A dozen years
later however the USSR, not China, dissolved.

As Soviet dissolution became likely, China specialist Ohmae Kenichi predicted China
would break up into as many as eleven states. (52) After the dissolution, a China
"disintegration literature" appeared. (53) The U.S. State Department chief geographer
predicted Tibet and Xinjiang's independence within a decade. (54) A "deluge" was
forecast after Deng Xiaoping's death, (55) with disintegration led by liberal southern Han
Chinese. (56) Yale-trained Chinese Academy of Social Sciences scholars held that within
twenty years of Deng's passing, if regionalism still starved the center for fiscal resources,
China risked a Yugoslav-style breakup. A new revenue system was installed, but not the
federalism the authors sought: Yugoslavia, after all, had been a federation. (57) A
Pentagon study asserted a 50/50 chance of a "Soviet-style break-up" within seven years
of Deng Xiaoping's death, (58) which occurred in 1997. Sociologist Jack Goldstone
ventured "we can expect a terminal crisis within ten to fifteen years" (59) and political
scientist David Bachman spoke of an inevitable collapse of the political system or
national disintegration. (60) World systems theorist George Aseniero argued China's
integration into the world economy portended its political disintegration. (61)

Non-academic predictions of a breakup or regime collapse are often programmatic.

Foreseeing a collapse in five to six years, U.S. lawyer Gordon Chang averred that China's
purported socialism would bring it down and that those who dislike the CCP would be
pleased with his view of China's imminent demise. (62) Indeed, former Taiwanese
president Lee Teng-hui, who proposes breaking up China into seven units, promoted
Chang's book. (63) Other critics of the PRC, such as exiled dissidents Wei Jingsheng and
Wang Dan, the conservative Times of London, and ultra-nationalist Tokyo governor
Ishihara Shintaro, have predicted and often urged China's breakup. (64) Ross Terrill lays
out seven scenarios for China in the next two decades and favors regime collapse, but
includes a breakup scenario spurred, again, by disaffected southern Han. (65) Lee Teng-
hui has also endorsed his book. (66) Tibetan emigre activist Jamyang Norbu argues that
boycotts of PRC products can be effective despite China's economic strength because
Gordon Chang and others "indicate that [China] is headed for a considerable, if not
catastrophic collapse." (67) The link between forecasting and promoting collapse is
familiar from the Soviet case: Sovietologist Helene Carrere d'Encausse notably sought
and predicted the USSR's disintegration by ethnic mobilization and later claimed, against
the evidence (see below), that ethnic strife had caused it. (68)

Like most other analysts, PRC scholars have not assigned a prominent role to separatism
in evaluating claims of a possible China collapse, but they do focus on the economic
factors raised by Westerners. (69) Nor do they credit ethnic factors in their analyses of
communist state breakups: the social scientist Hu Angang has stressed that Yugoslavia's
collapse was only apparently induced by ethnic conflict; its root cause was in fact
regional disparities, with rich regions spurring the breakup to unburden themselves of
poor ones, a conclusion specialists affirm. (70) Another PRC scholar does regard "ethnic
chauvinism" (da minzu zhuyi), including Russian chauvinism, as a factor that caused the
USSR's breakup, but not as a main one. (71)

Political actors more often ascribe a major role to separatism in China's demise. At the
Soviet breakup, the Dalai Lama's representative said China would disintegrate soon. (72)
The Dalai Lama later asserted that because China has "the worst kind of totalitarian
system, the rule of terror," it would disintegrate and that Tibet would be free in five to ten
years. (73) International Campaign for Tibet president Lodi Gyari claimed that "Tibet has
become an unmanageable problem for China ... there is a sense of panic." (74) In the
early 1990s, the Dalai Lama welcomed a collapse as likely to result in a free Tibet, (75)
as did some U.S. politicians. (76) After the Soviet breakup, some officials in Tibet also
questioned the region's future with China. (77) Others disagreed, but noted that Western
forces intent on disintegrating China do use the Dalai Lama and that his value to them
increased after the USSR's collapse. (78) Until fresh contacts with the Dalai Lama began
in 2001, the PRC considered that "the essence of his activities is catering to the strategy
of his Western masters to Westernize and divide up China." (79)

In the mid-1990s, a U.S. Tibet specialist observed that "The Dalai Lama and his officials
... hope that China will soon disintegrate like the Qing Dynasty did in 1911." (80) The
Dalai Lama stated that "the question is not whether Tibet will ever be free, but rather how
soon" (81) and that "Tibet would be free by the year 2000." (82) His confidant Samdhong
Rinpoche argued that "China too will soon fall apart, just like the Soviet Union," with the
return of Hong Kong and Macao precipitating "turmoil and awakening." (83) His hope
was echoed in Japan by the Liberal Democratic Party's right wing, which sought a U.S.-
China confrontation over Taiwan and Tibet that would breakup China. (84) In the United
States however, the current that favored what Harry Harding termed "a policy of
fragmenting China, encouraging its breakup into its constituent regions and provinces"
started to recede in the mid-1990s. (85) By the late 1990s, leading scholars contended
that China's disintegration was implausible. (86)

The large, pro-independence emigre Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) continued to hold
that "China will disintegrate like the Soviet Union one day soon" (87) and "China is [on
the] verge of collapse" (88) The Dalai Lama, however, became less optimistic China
would dissolve or the CCP fall, (89) and he now places his hopes on liberal Chinese
intellectuals. (90) At times, however, he or his supporters do suggest that a breakup or
regime change is desirable: during a 2001 visit to Taiwan, he said of Lee Teng-hui's
proposal to break up China, "Why don't we give it a try?" (91) Samdhong Rinpoche,
asked about the demands of exiles for an independence struggle stated, "We are not
opposing their stand" (92) The Italian parliament Tibet caucus head Gianni Vernetti has
said that "collapse of the present communist China is the ultimate solution not only for
Tibet but also for the over one billion Chinese," (93) a stance that accords with that of
American neoconservatives who urge the government to "work for the fall of the
Communist Party oligarchy in China." (94)

Many analysts who have considered high-order PRC vulnerability to separatism assume
the USSR collapsed because of it. (95) Other scholars challenge this assumption. In a
study of whether minority separatisms were a primary cause of the Soviet breakup, Astrid
Tuminez found they were no more than "facilitating and precipitating variables"; Russian
nationalism, deployed in the interelite political struggle, was far more important. (96)
Ethnic pressures were not a proximate or intermediate cause of the breakup, but one of
several underlying causes. (97) The primary cause was Gorbachev's reform process itself,
(98) a process controlled by antisocialist elites. Polls showed that most Soviet citizens
upheld the socialist system: even five years after the breakup almost half the Russian
population still did SO; (99) eleven years after it, 75 percent of Russians agreed the
Soviet Union was better suited to fostering people's social and economic growth than
successor states. (100) In contrast to the largely prosocialist population, interviews have
revealed that less than a tenth of late Soviet power-holders had been socialists. These
antisocialist elites elaborated the reform process that led to the USSR's end. Most
separatist movements emerged only after the process was well under way. (101) It was in
the relatively prosperous Baltic republics and a couple better-off Caucasus republics that
separatists pushed for independence. The rest of the USSR hardly evinced any
enthusiasm for dissolving the federation. (102)

Many who see China as vulnerable to separatism assume the PRC resembles the former
Soviet Union. Scholars disagree. Robert Strayer, comparing a host of conditions,
contrasts a "virtuous" Chinese cycle of growth and political stability with a "vicious"
Soviet cycle of depression and instability. (103) Distinctions between Soviet and PRC
ethnic configurations also make it unlikely China will undergo even the nondeterminative
ethnic pressures that affected the USSR. Ethnic geography is seldom determinative of
high-order vulnerability to separatism: (104) The Democratic Republic of the Congo,
with two hundred ethnic groups and an ongoing civil war, maintains its territorial
integrity, but Somalia, Africa's only ethnically homogenous state, is broken in two and
regimeless. Minorities are however less remote from the center in China than in the
USSR and the PRC is decentralized, while the Soviet Union was hypercentralized. The
three communist states that broke up were ethnic-based federations, but China is a unitary
state. Compared to the former Soviet Union (49 percent non-Russian), and Russia (18
percent non-Russian), only 9 percent of PRC citizens are minorities, so that "ethnic
frictions can never present as fundamental a threat to the survival of China as they did to
the USSR and Russia." (105) Few states with fast-growing economies collapse and many
subsist in the face of impoverishment or civil war. Even highly diverse states embroiled
in ethnic conflicts seldom collapse. The Chechnya war began a decade ago, but a careful
study concludes that Russia's collapse "is an extremely unlikely event that could result
only from extreme circumstances." (106)

Perhaps the greatest difference between the USSR and PRC is that elites in Russia and
several other Soviet republics destroyed their regime and broke up the country to share
the status and presumed advantages of a "common European home." They sought to
realize the aim of three centuries of Westernizers by rejecting Slavophile notions of an
affinity with the East and all they deemed "Asiatic." (107) Late Soviet nationalisms were
racialized in a way not open to the PRC. As the heart of an East that was mistreated by
Western powers, political Westernization is scorned in China: (108) "the Chinese ... do
not share the cultural cringe of peoples of the former Soviet bloc: like Gandhi, they
believe that western civilization would be a very good idea." (109) Nor do PRC leaders
need to be pulled out of stagnation by joining the West, but are intent on China becoming
the center of an East Asian community of more than two billion people. (110) Given its
rivalry with the United States, even if China tried to gain admission to the West, it would
not be accepted. In fact, Russia is still not accepted as a "normal" European state, while
China's strengths have diminished the prestige of being regarded as "purely" Western.
Indeed, "China's rise is forcing Japan, which in the 1980s and 1990s thought it had joined
the West, to look east anew." (111)

Not only does China differ from Russia in not having leaders who can contemplate
national suicide in order to Westernize, but it is also building a "Beijing Consensus" seen
as an alternative to Western dominance of the global hierarchy of states. (112) To do so,
PRC leaders must protect against any action that appears to imperil national integrity to
assure the world of the state's invulnerability. (113) China's 2004 Defense White Paper
thus ratcheted-up antiseparatism to top priority. (114) Moreover, as Zhao Quansheng
observes, "No Chinese leader, conservative or reformer, can afford to be cast as lishi
zuiren [a person condemned by history] for taking action that would permanently split the
nation." (115) Indeed, the CCP shores up its legitimacy by contrasting China with
troubled postcommunist states, emphasizing that it has saved China from the chaos and
decline of the USSR and former Yugoslavia. (116)

Most scholarly comments on PRC vulnerability to separatism do not distinguish between

threat orders, (117) but more systematic analyses have focused on high-order
vulnerability. Sugimoto Takashi examined geographic dispersion, demographic
concentration, and development levels of PRC minorities, family planning policies, and
minority representation ratios in central organs of power. He found the center highly
favors Tibet and Xinjiang as to national income expended, fixed-assets investment, local
expenditure, and population policy and that Tibetans are overrepresented in high-level
central state and CCP organs. Sugimoto concluded that "Tibetan and Uygur independence
is unthinkable unless China undergoes a tectonic political upheaval similar to the one
experienced by the former Soviet Union." (118)

Jarmo Eronen applied theories of "imperial decline" to quantify factors that might cause
China's fragmentation, such as religion, language differences, and economic inequalities.
He argued Xinjiang and Tibet have the highest potential for separatism, due to strong
local cultural identity and Han being in the minority, followed by well-off Guangdong,
Fujian, and Zhejiang. Ernonen predicted that after 1997, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong
Kong-Guangdong would emerge as separatist areas and after 2000 the whole southern
coast would follow. (119) The prediction did not pan out. As a prominent U.S. journalist
notes, "China has never been more closely bound together than it is today." (120) In a
CIA-funded study, Gary Fuller and others assessed incentives and opportunities that
influence China's short-term vulnerability to ethnic conflict. Contrary to the wishes of the
funding agency, they argued there was little chance any part of China would break off
within three years and that violent conflict is unlikely in Tibet because Tibetans have no
natural ethnic allies in adjacent countries and are bound by the Dalai Lama's doctrine of
nonviolence. (121)
Two of the three main studies of vulnerability thus concluded that Tibet cannot become
independent unless political upheaval debilitates China proper and that Tibet will not
likely experience conflict that contributes to an upheaval, a view with which other
scholars of China's minorities concur. (122) The other study did not specify the
conditions or process under which Tibet and other regions would separate and its
predictions proved wrong. Many nonacademic observers agree that no territory regarded
as part of China can become independent without China's disintegration. Singapore
senior leader Lee Kwan Yew has said "Taiwan independence is not a viable option, unless
China were to disintegrate." (123) Human Rights in China Xinjiang specialist Nicholas
Bequelin observes that "Xinjiang has no chance of ever becoming independent, unless the
regime completely collapses at the center." (124) Some supporters of the emigre cause
also realize that Tibet will separate from China "only if China falls apart again, as it did
when the Manchus were overthrown in 1911." (125)

The notion of high-order vulnerability to separatism in Tibet is now mainly urged by pro-
independence activists. A TYC avatar, the National Democratic Party of Tibet, has stated,
for example, that "the disintegration of China is imminent as it is faced with the triple
problem of Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen Square." (126) Like Taiwan independence
leaders, they need a "politics of the possible" to support the idea that separation can be
achieved upon China's disintegration. (127) Even the conservative U.S. analysts at the
American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Hudson Institute, (128) and a
few management gurus who also hold that China's disintegration is likely, do not,
however, focus on separatism. (129) The most prolific of these "blue team" academics,
Arthur Waldron, scarcely devotes a sentence to minority separatism in making the case
for China's prospective demise. (130)

Unlike a decade earlier, (131) most China scholars now find resemblances between China
and the late USSR more apparent than real. They reject the idea of China's high-order
vulnerability to separatism, doubt it will collapse due to the potpourri of "causes"
adduced by Gordon Chang, and recognize the party-state's resilience. (132) In a 2003
statement, prominent China scholars stated that "the Chinese regime is relatively stable at
present." Noting the political agenda of the "disintegration literature," they rejected
Waldron's view as "an apparent attempt to justify a dangerous policy of unqualified
confrontation and subversion toward China," (133) an argument that holds true for "Tibet
movement" claims of PRC vulnerability to separatism as well.

Intermediate-order Vulnerability: Ethnic Violence and International Isolation

Many emigre leaders regard China as vulnerable to ethnic violence or international

isolation; the TYC emphasizes the former and the Dalai Lama the latter. Neither
eventuality has developed or is likely to emerge. Violent conflict in Tibet has been
minimal since 1989 and not just because of repression. As one scholar notes, "Tibetans in
Tibet [are] decidedly less vocal in their political protests than the Muslim separatists in
Xinjiang or even the followers of the Falun Gong movement." (134) Yet, penalties for
protests are at least as harsh for Uygurs or Falun Gong members. Tibetans' quietism thus
may reflect lessened discontent with state policies. In any case, few recent public
manifestations of separatism have been reported.

The Tibet question remains a prominent territorial conflict. (135) The PRC is still
criticized for its practices in Tibet. China, however, has gained ground on the sovereignty
issue. The global Tibet issue is seen as "relatively quiescent" (136) or even as "little more
than the fading stickers still found in youth hostels and on VW vans the world over."
(137) Politicians fete the Dalai Lama for their own purposes, but the war on terror and
"rise of China" have reduced states' support for the emigre cause. (138)

The argument that China is vulnerable to ethnic violence in Tibet is mainly made by pro-
independence partisans, many of whom believe the center will disappear and throw the
periphery into chaos. (139) Tibetans, they also argue, are not the gentle people of official
emigre representations. The Dalai Lama has said that "under the kings and Dalai Lamas
... peace and happiness prevailed in Tibet," that "before 1950, Tibet was completely a
land of peace," and that "Tibetan culture [is] based on peaceful relations." (140) A leading
"Tibet supporter" claims that Tibetans long ago "demilitarized, adjusted their life to
perfect balance, and [became] expert at helping people become civilized." (141) Tibetans,
including monks, have long borne arms, however, both against outsiders and against each
other, in wars between rulers or Buddhist sects. (142)

The Dalai Lama dubbed the "Great Fifth" was known for his ferocious annihilation of his
enemies and their families. (143) The "Great Thirteenth" had a ministry of war to oversee
his British-trained army. Violent conflicts occurred fight up to the regime's fall; (144) in a
late 1940s mini civil war, hundreds of monks fought and died. (145) The ancient regime
had in 1950 an army of twelve thousand, for a region of about 1.2 million people, and
wanted to raise one hundred thousand troops; (146) yet, the United States, with more than
seven hundred twenty-five bases outside its borders, has only half that proportion of its
people under arms. (147) Thousands of Tibetans fought the PLA in eastern Tibet in the
1950s, in the 1959 Lhasa uprising, and in border-crossing strikes in the 1960s and early
1970s. (148) More than ten thousand Tibetans have served in India's army. (149) Outside
the state's ambit, too, Tibetans are not especially known as nonviolent: violent quarrels--
from barroom brawls to domestic assaults to sectarian conflicts--are not rare. (150) The
trope of "the peaceful Tibetans" that emerged in the 1980s can be related to Buddhist
ideals of nonviolence, but these are highly conditional--the Dalai Lama has supported or
remained agnostic about all the armed conflicts waged by the United States since World
War II. (151)

The notion of "the gentle Tibetans" was created to boost the emigre cause abroad, but just
as it began to circulate, protests in Lhasa turned violent. The protests came after the PRC
had responded to Tibetans' main grievances concerning restrictions on religious practice,
Han migration, and other matters in late 1986. Many Tibetans had come to accept Tibet's
place in China and a consensus was emerging between Beijing and Tibetan elites. (152)
In response, emigres and their supporters launched an internationalization campaign in
which protests in Lhasa were to feature, although it remains unclear whether outside
instigation or inspiration played a role in them. (153) There were two dozen sizeable
demonstrations in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Several during 1987-89 and one in
1993 involved at least a thousand participants. Police killed dozens and arrested
hundreds; protestors killed several policemen and carried out beatings and arson directed
at Han civilians. (154) During the protests, monks told reporters that they would use guns
to fight the Chinese if they could get them. (155)

No one doubts the Dalai Lama's influence in Tibet's monasteries remains strong and exile
leaders have sent monks back to Tibet to carry out political work, (156) yet, there have
been no significant protests since the mid-1990s. A plan was mooted by Samdhong
Rinpoche during 1997-98 to train in India and place in Tibet satyagrahis, who would
encourage Tibetans to demonstrate and boycott all things "Chinese." (157) The Dalai
Lama rejected the plan. It is questionable whether India would allow such activities to
emanate from its soil or that devotion to the Dalai Lama's religious persona would again
produce widespread support for separatist protests. Given his promotion of non violent
tactics and the strengthened repressive apparatus since the late 1980s, it is doubtful that
emigre activity could prompt ethnic violence in Tibet.

The TYC is said to have been "the main outside force behind the disturbances" of the late
1980s, as part of its self-proclaimed "armed struggle to destabilize Tibet." (158) Its
president Lhasang Tsering repeatedly endorsed violence stating "There's only one
language the world understands and listens to and that language is violence. We have to
learn to speak that language." (159) Tsering also promoted terrorism stating "I declare
war on China, even on their civilians in Tibet" (160) and the TYC contemplated
assassinating officials. (161) Wang Lixiong, an admirer of the Dalai Lama, has said of the
TYC that

a sizeable number of them endorse terrorist struggle, holding that

terrorism brings the greatest results at the least cost, on the one
hand 'making the Chinese so anxious that they will flee,' while on
the other having a widespread impact, to attract more attention to
the Tibet matter. (162)

Some Han did flee Tibet after violent demonstrations in 1989 (163) and both Wang
Lixiong and the director of the International Campaign for Tibet have predicted that if
there were trouble in Tibet, they would do so again. (164) Pro independence emigres seek
to "cleanse" Tibet of Han, as their slogans of "Chinese quit Tibet" and "Tibet for the
Tibetans" indicate. (165) That happened in 1912 and 1949 (166) and some separatists
envisage a third cleansing through violent protests and bombings.

Just before his 1959 emigration, the Dalai Lama called the guerrillas then warring against
the PLA "heroes" and urged them to go on fighting. He later recalled how he admired
them and that he had thanked them and did not advise them to avoid violence. (167) As
late as the 1990s, he regarded them as "very dedicated people." (168) Since the 1980s, the
Dalai Lama has also urged nonviolence (169) and said violence is against human nature
and out of date. (170) More often than not however, he cites strategic, not ethical points,
such as a concern for Tibetan casualties (171) or a loss of support from non-Tibetans,
including Chinese who "appreciate our way of struggle" (172) and foreigners who equate
nonviolence with a general beneficence. (173) Violence would cast the cause as an
"ordinary" nationalist war, similar to that of ETA or the Tamil Tigers. Nonviolence even
allows "Tibet supporters" to imply that non supporters foster terrorism: the head of the
United Kingdom Tibet Society has said that those who ignore Tibet "further the cause of
global terror" because the Tibet movement is nonviolent and if such movements are not
valorized, violent movements will be. (174)

The Tibet Government-in-Exile (TGIE) leaders, however, include within the Tibet
movement those who favor violent struggle. (175) Tibetan Youth Congress president
Kalsang Phuntsok has said, "We're planning to train our members for six to seven months
in guerilla warfare but it's still in the thinking process," (176) yet the Dalai Lama has not
criticized the TYC and his representative has denied any Tibetan exiles have ever been
involved in terrorism or separatism. (177) The TYC, thus, can continue to endorse violent
struggle while being regarded by the TGIE as the loyal opposition.

In the mid-1990s, arms dealers offered to supply Tibetan emigres. (178) There were eight
bombings in Tibet, (179) which the TGIE, without evidence, blamed on "the Chinese,"
(180) but that the TYC had mentioned in discussing its strategy to keep Han from coming
to Tibet. (181) The bombs caused few casualties, but a more extensive campaign was
expected. (182) Sporadic bombings have continued: a bomb planted in 1998, outside a
Lhasa public security building, injured four, and one in 2000 exploded outside a Lhasa
courthouse. (183) In 2002, in a Tibetan area of Sichuan, reincarnated lama (tulku) Tenzin
Delek Rinpoche and ex-monk Lobsang Dhondup were convicted of alleged involvement
in five bombings that killed one person and wounded twelve in the provincial capital
Chengdu. (184) Tibet specialist Melvyn Goldstein has projected that Tibet may
experience Middle East or Northern Ireland-style ethnic violence, initially based perhaps
on militants outside Tibet, but leading to a "Tibetan-style intifada" that "may help
destabilize China." (185) David Lampton contends, "If the Dalai Lama dies, the
movement can fracture and there could be guerrilla and terrorist groups." (186)
Meanwhile, the authorities in Tibet have held exercises to prepare for hostage taking,
chemical and biological attacks, and bombings. (187)

While it is anyone's guess whether some emigres will carry out bombings or try to
instigate violent protests after the Dalai Lama's passing, there is no reason to believe that
would create substantial vulnerability. There are few hints of support for such actions
even in Lhasa, which only takes in 2 percent of the Tibetan population and was the only
place in Tibet where bombings and significant demonstrations took place. In 1993, when
the last major demonstration occurred, a reporter could say that "Lhasa was still seething
with anti-Chinese feeling." (188) A decade later, discontent of this magnitude was
described as a thing of the past: Tibet is "a region that once seethed with separatist
anger," (189) but that "long since gave up independence." (190) Without such discontent,
ethnic violence cannot be sustained, especially as the Dalai Lama's proscription of it will
not likely die with him and the PRC may yet act to determinedly lessen ethnic disparities
in urban Tibet. Perhaps 70 percent of urban employment remains in the state sector and
vocational training has been put into place to provide skills to many of the sixty thousand
Tibetans expected to move to these areas during the tenth Five Year Plan (2001-05). (191)
While state jobs and training are not now adequate to sharply reduce ethnic disparities,
many urban Tibetans are not without expectations of improved opportunities. (192) It is
hard then to avoid the conclusion of a U.S. military officer, in a study of insurgency in
Tibet, that a successful one is nearly impossible. (193)

Far from being isolated internationally, China's cooperation is sought as never before. No
state endorses Tibet independence or even the concept of an autonomy that requires
liberal democracy. Since the late 1990s, the governments of major countries, such as the
United Kingdom and India, that previously had seemingly ambiguous positions on
China's sovereignty in Tibet, have made it clear that they do not challenge it. (194) The
Dalai Lama has yet to accept the formulation the PRC requires for negotiations to begin
(that Tibet is an "inalienable" part of China), (195) but he has stated that Tibet is an
autonomous region of the PRC, that Tibet is part of China's five thousand year tradition,
that Tibetan culture and Buddhism are part of Chinese culture, and that Tibet has derived
benefits from China's development it would not receive if it were independent. (196)

It has been observed that "even western countries that still raise the issue of human rights
in Tibet appear to lack conviction." (197) The European Parliament resolved in 2000 that
a Special Representative for Tibet be appointed and the TGIE be recognized as Tibetans'
legitimate representative if Beijing did not hold talks with the Dalai Lama within three
years. Just before the period was to end, Premier Rasmussen of Denmark, a country with
longstanding ties to the exiles, stated he did not see a need for new initiatives. When an
EU-China summit was held, Tibet was not mentioned (198) and the official European
view now is that China is Europe's "strategic partner." (199) Perhaps because the opposite
of international isolation over Tibet has taken place, even the TYC head has said it may
take five hundred or one thousand years to make Tibet free. (200)

Low-order Vulnerabilities: Embarrassment and Sporadic Protests

While separatism in Tibet is unlikely to make China vulnerable to disintegration, regime

collapse, ethnic violence or international isolation, Tibet entails costs and low-order
vulnerabilities. Material costs include security forces beyond those needed to face off
India's border armies and subsidies above those provided to less-problematic poor
provinces. Low-intensity conflicts also generate "political and emotional costs of
successful repression," (201) such as U.S. pressure to resolve the Tibet conflict .(202)
Supporters of separatism believe these costs make Tibet "China's Achilles' Heel," (203)
but only low-order vulnerabilities exist, including embarrassment, sporadic separatist
protests, and "everyday resistance."

PRC officials' loss of face, through foreign elites' reception of the Dalai Lama and
criticisms of PRC Tibet policies, is supposed to pressure them to make changes in their
Tibet policies. China's leaders regard these, however, as an inevitable result of domestic
pressures on foreign politicians. In the United States, many (but not most) of the eight
hundred thousand converts to Buddhism adhere to Tibetan Buddhism. Well-educated and
articulate, many are politically active. (204) The Dalai Lama has urged converts to make
"Tibet activism" part of their practice. (205) Anticommunism, "China threat" notions, and
anti-Chinese racism also play a role in efforts to embarrass Chinese leaders about Tibet.
The latter, however, are mainly confident that foreign elites "talk the talk, but don't walk
the walk." Some PRC strategists worry separatists may receive military support from
China's enemies, (206) but most Chinese officials realize that no foreign power is likely
to recognize the TGIE or overtly promote Tibet separatism. They can also take comfort
that much criticism by Western politicians and media is based on misinformation; for
example, a Canadian newspaper editorial claimed that there are presently only dozens of
monks in Tibet, when there are actually some one hundred fifty thousand. (207)

Most Tibet Movement criticisms are framed to implicate issues such as Tibet's status or
governance (208) or to charge that China's Tibet policies are criminal. (209) Positive
changes are seen as ploys to maintain Tibet's "occupation," not to improve life for
Tibetans. Such criticisms are counterproductive in terms of Tibetan political participation
and cultural freedom, because they result only in hard-line reactions. (210) The
authorities have come to see criticisms of even mundane matters, such as economic
questions, as "hot issues" that separatists will use as wedges. (211) They thus also treat
embarrassments that attend suppression as the unavoidable price of closing off avenues of
separatist agitation. As long as emigre leaders argue for independence or a liberal
democratic Tibet that makes possible an elected pro-independence regime, the authorities
will continue to treat such embarrassments as a necessity to be borne.

The authorities in the Tibetan areas also remain vulnerable to occasional protests, which
continued during the 1990s, but have since dwindled. (212) Most protests are by monks
and nuns, who account for three-fourths of the perhaps one hundred thirty-five persons
imprisoned for separatism. They will occur from time to time for as long as the Dalai
Lama does not use his unique authority to meet a condition for negotiations--the
abandonment of separatist activities--by asking Tibetans to eschew "free Tibet" notions.
Absent that, any sizeable protest in Tibet will send the authorities there into crisis mode
because of their responsibility to maintain undisturbed stability.

"Everyday resistance"--efforts to avoid state-sanctioned practices or criticisms made of

the state, without resort to open protest--is romanticized by the Tibet movement but does
exist in Tibet. (213) It also exists everywhere in China, so that authorities in Tibet should
not be unduly concerned. They refuse however to accept that they have won as to high-
order vulnerabilities: no state recognizes the TGIE or the claim that Tibet was
independent, and there is no apparent movement in Tibet, only scattered small groups,
mainly of monks, who may or may not act. Yet, because PRC officials almost seem to
accept TGIE claims that "The hearts of 99 percent of Tibetans are with the Dalai Lama"
(214) they are convinced that if they ignore "everyday resistance," they court trouble. By
repressing such activity however, the authorities are guaranteed continued vulnerability to
it, as every repressed person, his friends and relations, will be alienated. By failing to
allow Tibetans to voice nonseparatist grievances, the state makes harder rectifying its
policies and enlarging its legitimacy.

Diminished Vulnerabilities to Come?

China's low vulnerabilities in Tibet can be expected to diminish further, even without
regard to whether development wins over key Tibetan groups, as is the case among PRC
Mongols. (215) That is more likely to happen if a "socialist" (redistributive and Tibetan
preferential), not a neoliberal (trickle-down and privatized) strategy is followed, as
fostering "the market" aggravates ethnic disparities. (216) A "socialist" strategy presents a
difficulty for the CCP however, because its ideology now embraces neoliberalism. (217)
On that ground, Beijing rejected a proposal by Goldstein that set-asides and tax
preferences be used to create off-farm employment for Tibetans. (218) Ironically, emigre
leaders have the same difficulty. They claim to favor development in Tibet, if it benefits
Tibetans. (219) Yet, although the Dalai Lama is a self-described socialist and "half-
Marxist," (220) the TGIE is also neoliberal. Samdhong Rinpoche has said "no
government has any business in doing business" and, thus, presumably opposes "pro-
Tibetan" redistribution if state ownership is involved. (221)

Because development in Tibet has both "socialist" and neoliberal features, it has mixed
effects on legitimacy among Tibetans, depending on their place within its complex
distribution of benefits and deficits. Thus changes among the emigres that are more likely
to lessen China's vulnerabilities. These include a diminished role for the Dalai Lama, the
migration of many Tibetans from India/Nepal to the West, and a development-induced
reconciliation of some exiles to Tibet being part of China.

The PRC government is said to expect that after the Dalai Lama's death the emigre
community and independence struggle will disintegrate, (222) although some officials
disagree. (223) Emigre leaders accept the Dalai Lama's passing will diminish their
movement. The Dalai Lama has stated "it will certainly be a great setback" and "the
Tibetan struggle may die." (224) Parliament-in-exile member Karma Choephel has said
that "after his passing away for the next fifty years Tibetans will not be able to bring any
sort of momentum for their struggle and the Tibetan issue will be lost." (225) Politicized
schisms within Tibetan Buddhism, such as the Shugden and Karmapa controversies--
involving the propriety of propitiating a certain "protective deity" and the disputed
designation of the Kagyu school's leading tulku--may also resurge. (226)

Samdhong Rinpoche has said of the Dalai Lama that "we can't do anything without him."
The Dalai Lama notes "when important matters are discussed or when decisions are being
made, Samdhong Rinpoche always seeks my opinion." (227) The latter has guessed the
Dalai Lama will live another twenty years or more. (228) Before that, he is likely to slow
down. On his birthday in 2004, the Dalai Lama lay ill, exhausted by travels. As an Indian
journalist remarked, "It was a perfect metaphor for the increasing fragility of the Tibetan
struggle." (229) The Dalai Lama's absence will not end the Tibet issue, but removal of a
charismatic leader does often lead to a fractured movement.

A trend of Tibetan emigres in India and Nepal migrating to the West began in the early
1990s. After a decade it was observed that "in India, most children of older Tibetan
refugees no longer fancy the idea of returning to a state that might offer few economic
opportunities. They would rather migrate to the West" (230) There are some one hundred
twenty-two thousand Tibetans outside Tibet. In 1991, there were fewer than one hundred
Tibetans in the United States; in 1993, two thousand; and in 2004, ten thousand. New
York in 1998 had eight hundred Tibetans; today there are four thousand. Northern
California has twenty-five hundred. In 1992, Canada had six hundred Tibetans; a dozen
years later, there were four thousand. Switzerland has more than three thousand Tibetans,
Belgium seven hundred, and London six hundred. (231) At the end of the 1990s, a
prominent emigre stated that young Tibetan exiles now look to the West, especially the
United States, for getting on with their lives. The Dalai Lama publicly urged exile youth
not to emigrate to the United States, (232) but, as former TYC president Lhasang
Tseringc--himself now reportedly sounding "deflated and defeated" (233)--notes,

it is hardly a secret that almost all Tibetans in exile--from

senior Tibet government officials down to the most lowly and
unemployed; from high lamas to young novices--are all clamoring
to emigrate to the USA by any means." (234)

A 2001 survey indicated that only 3 percent of India-born Tibetans did not want to "visit"
(reside for years), study, or work abroad. (235) Samdhong Rinpoche has said that "once
Tibetans emigrate to the West they cannot preserve the Tibetan identity for the second
generation." (236) TGIE chief planning officer Kunchok Tsundue confirmed that
"Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal were becoming unviable as a result of a 'second
exodus'" and globalization was making Tibetan migrants "dollar coolies" not as motivated
as their forebears to take up the emigre cause. (237)

Some middle-class diaspora Tibetans may also adjust to Tibet being ruled by the
Communist Party. A trend of that sort is evident among overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu),
especially in the United States. By 2004, Vietnam had two hundred eighty U.S. Viet Kieu
businesses and a large proportion ($2-3 billion annually) of Viet Kieu remittances to
Vietnam come from the U.S. About 230,000 of the 1.3 million Vietnamese Americans
visited Vietnam in 2001. (238) Intimidation in U.S. Viet Kieu communities prevents
members from openly reconciling with Vietnam's government, yet many business and
professional people do so privately. Most Tibetan exiles are not well-off--unemployment
among Tibetan youth in India is said to be 80 percent (239)--but there are enough
prosperous Tibetan exiles that the same phenomenon may appear among them.


With low and diminishing vulnerabilities to separatism, the PRC arguably has no
incentive to resolve the Tibet question through a negotiated settlement. Yet, while PRC
leaders may have "nothing to fear but fear itself," it is the "fear itself' that is an incentive
to reach a settlement: China is vulnerable to being perceived as vulnerable. Its leaders
already live with constant enervation from anticipating reform-induced crises. (240) They
can expect to contain these in the absence of a nationwide oppositional force with an
alternate vision. To create a Beijing Consensus and attract the world however, China must
be commonly perceived as invulnerable to high-order and intermediate-order threats.
That is not the case today. (241)
China's main incentive to solve the Tibet problem comes not from weakness and still less
from threats that Tibetans will revolt, turn terrorist, or feel "bitterness and anger toward
Chinese rule ... for generations." (242) Neither does it stem from PRC leaders' concern
about face: they have had to be strong-faced in response to the often inaccurate criticisms
of their policies in Tibet. Rather, it comes from their desire to make China a leading
power, an aim requiring common recognition that the PRC will subsist. No state can
aspire to be a world power if its viability is in question. Every major power needs at
minimum to gain the perception that it has secured its own territory. Thus, in the face of
movements to dissolve the United Kingdom and predictions of its demise, (243) Britain
devolved power to Scotland and Wales and reached a modus vivendi with Northern
Ireland republicans to enhance the cohesiveness of the United Kingdom.

A solution to the Tibet Question would help change perceptions from China as vulnerable
to China as solid. It would take the wind out of the sails of those who insist China will
soon confront an existential crisis or at least face perpetual threats of a kind that never
troubles the rival hyperpower. It may also make more likely a solution to China's other
peripheral political problems (Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong). Even without providing a
model for solving these problems, a Tibet settlement would show that PRC leaders
understand the necessity of offering to incorporate rival political elites on acceptable
terms and to meet the needs of peripheral populations.

One way China could facilitate a settlement is to create political space for the TGIE to
take the actions needed for negotiations to begin, such as granting the inalienability of
Tibet. If the PRC addresses issues of importance to Tibetans, the TGIE can work around
its previous objections to preconditions for negotiations. For example, both sides frame
the issue of Tibet's status as a question of history. (244) Emigre leaders claim the PRC
insists that they recognize that Tibet has always been part of China, (245) while the TGIE
holds that "Tibet has always been an independent nation." (246) Recently, however,
Samdhong Rinpoche has said that Tibet's administrations from 1640-1951 were local
governments in relation to China. (247) That goes some way toward circumventing the
historical issue. The TGIE may be still more forthcoming if China takes measures that
Tibetans would welcome and that would allow the TGIE to argue that Tibetan interests
can be protected in consort with the Chinese government.

One frequent complaint about China's ethnic policy is that it is based on a nineteenth-
century social evolutionism that includes notions of advanced and backward ethnic
groups. (248) Many Tibetans resent that their culture is called "backward" and such ideas
are properly criticized outside China as implicitly racist. They are also illogical, even
from the standpoint of Chinese nationalism, since to imply Tibetans are "backward"
because they are poorer and less educated than Han means that Chinese are "backward"
because they are poorer and less educated than Westerners. "Advanced cultures"
moreover are rife with problems, while traditional Tibetan culture represents a
remarkable achievement created in a difficult physical environment, one that has
contributed much to the world and most of all to China: Tibetan Buddhism, for example,
heavily influenced the Ming and Qing emperors' outlook on diplomacy and governance
and it is shaping Buddhism's development among Han today. (249)
Before the Cultural Revolution, PRC leaders urged Chinese to fight against Han
chauvinism (da hanzu zhuyi). (250) Since then, attention in minority areas has been on
fighting "local nationalism." To restore the balance in Tibetan areas, the government
could finance a program to educate non-Tibetans who migrate there about the
achievements of Tibetan culture. An antiracial discrimination law, similar perhaps to the
one planned for Hong Kong, (251) would also address a key issue that creates ethnic
tension and could be important in combating employment discrimination. While even a
vigorously enforced law will not change the ethnic distribution of labor in Tibet, it would
empower jobseekers who face ethnic and "home place" (lao jia) nepotism. (252)

Tibet has never had a Tibetan party secretary. That may be because of a tradition from
imperial times not to employ officials in their home areas. Exceptions to this policy now
exist however; in 2003, eighteen of the sixty-two "provincial chiefs" (governors and party
secretaries) were serving in their birth provinces. (253) Because there has not been a
Tibetan party secretary, many believe Beijing does not regard any Tibetan as competent
and loyal enough to hold the office; yet there are doubtless Tibetans qualified to do so: a
disproportionate number (six of one hundred ninety-eight full members) of the current
CCP Central Committee are Tibetans. (254) A Tibetan party secretary would be regarded
an indication that the CCP trusts Tibetans to lead Tibet.

It is often argued that Han benefit more than Tibetans from development in Tibet, (255)
which is not surprising, as they heavily concentrate in favored urban areas, while most
Tibetans are peasants or herders. Although there is growing Tibetan migration to cities,
ethnic disparities are significant there as well and will persist as long as there is an
educational and experiential gap between Han and Tibetans. (256) To compensate for this
tendency, preferential policies in the state economy should be reinvigorated and extended
to the private sector, including mandates, such as job and shareholding quotas, that favor
Tibetans. Wide-ranging affirmative action in Malaysia resulted in greater equality and
reduced ethnic tension: in 1970 ethnic Malays owned 2.4 percent of corporate wealth, but
by 2003 had about 20 percent, yet wealth shares of ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indians rose
from 30 percent to 40 percent, while average per capita income in Malaysia jumped from
1,132 Ringgit Malaysa (RM) in 1970 to 13,683 in 2003. (257) Results of affirmative
action in Malaysia have been mentioned favorably in official PRC media. (258)

In Tibet's cities, Han own most small businesses, but generally plan to stay only a few
years. (259) Tibetans can be encouraged to open more such businesses, through a sharp
increase in loans and training courses. Besides offering these supports, the government
could restrict migration to Tibet. To curtail or even ban migration to minority areas of a
country is not uncommon: India bars the movement of "mainland Indians" to Nagaland,
Kashmir, and the Andaman and Nicobar islands; Vietnam prohibits "spontaneous
migration" to the ethnic minority Central Highlands. (260) For Tibetans to be at the
center of Tibet's economy, they need higher-level skills, but in rural areas especially, there
is not much incentive for education because Tibetan children contribute to family labor
resources. The government could pay every Tibetan child who attends school a stipend
equal to the child's contribution to the family's income. It would be well worth the
expense, as most Tibetans can only become prosperous if education levels rise sharply. A
decade ago, Northern Ireland was a disadvantaged part of the United Kingdom, but today
it is said to have better schools, higher healthcare standards, and more cultural amenities
than "mainland Britain." The gap between Ulster's communities has been narrowed
through subsidies, fair employment legislation, affirmative action, greatly expanded
educational opportunities and the adoption by Catholics of education as the main avenue
of upward mobility. (261)

The CCP could also increase Tibetan political participation by dropping its ban on
recruiting the devout. The Cuban Communist Party did so in 1990, a change noted by
PRC media. (262) Vietnamese Communist Party members are permitted to join religious
organizations. (263) Many religious people are already in the CCP and in some minority
areas it could not function without them. (264) In 2001, a vice-minister level official in
the State Council's Office on Economic Structural Reform closely associated with Jiang
Zemin openly advocated that the CCP admit religious persons. (265) The party has also
considered establishing religious bureaus at all administrative levels, a move deemed "a
recognition that many party members, including senior officials, are religious adherents
and that it is better to keep such people in the party." (266)

Concerns are expressed about the ban on public display of Dalai Lama photos in the TAR
that began in 1996. The ban is not enforced in Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan,
and Yunnan, however, (267) and no untoward consequences have followed, indicating
that displays in a religious context can be accommodated without compromising
antiseparatism. Much has also been made of the quota on monks in Tibet. In the TAR, it
has remained fixed at forty-six thousand since 1994--there are also more than one
hundred thousand Tibetan Buddhist monks outside the TAR. (268) Even an initially sharp
rise in the quota would not likely affect development in Tibet, as the number of those
wanting to be monks should decline as alternative educational and work opportunities
expand. The increased availability of quota would, however, satisfy those Tibetans who
want to devote themselves full-time to the dharma or to follow the tradition of sending a
son to the monasteries to increase the family's religious merit.

Finally, international law entitles states to punish separatism, but those punished must be
well treated. Abusers of prisoners do sometimes face severe consequences elsewhere in
China. (269) That seems rare in Tibet, despite many credible reports of torture, (270) yet,
harsh punishment for abusers should diminish sympathy for separatism.

Many of these proposed actions may seem to the Tibet movement and PRC officials alike
as unimaginably sharp departures on sensitive policies. There have been sharp changes
before in China however. In 1977, Beijing issued a statement designed to rebut leftist
accusations that the new post-Mao regime would open the country to foreign capitalist
exploitation. The state, it said, would never allow foreign capital to exploit China's
resources or permit joint enterprises; (271) yet, by 1982 a PRC vice-minister told a
"China investment promotion meeting" that foreign capital was welcomed in China and
would never be confiscated. (272) Moreover, on many of the issues mentioned above,
some PRC officials already favor change.
China's vulnerability to separatism in Tibet will remain a common perception so long as
there is no negotiated resolution of the Tibet question. If the emigre leaders recognize that
the PRC's vulnerability is low and declining, they will be more likely to meet its
preconditions for negotiations, which are similar to those of other parties to ethnic
conflicts in seeking acknowledgement of the state's territorial integrity. If PRC leaders
recognize that confidence in China's cohesion is a prerequisite to world power status and
that their vulnerability in Tibet is scant and easing, they should be more inclined to
implement measures favorable to Tibetans that will facilitate negotiations.

He, Baogang, and Barry Sautman. "The politics of the Dalai Lama's new initiative for
autonomy (1). " Pacific Affairs. 78.4 (Winter 2005): 601(29). Expanded Academic

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 2005 University of British Columbia

In recent years, the Dalai Lama has pursued a dialogic approach to the Tibet Question. He
has significantly modified his views on autonomy and has made a number of fundamental
concessions. His present position should clearly be distinguished from the stance he had
from the late 1980s until recently. The Dalai Lama's views from that time are still fixed in
the minds of many people, but in the main they no longer constitute his approach.

From the late 1980s until recently, for example, the Dalai Lama refused to even imply
that Tibet is part of China. He stated in 2000: "The Beijing government often puts
pressure on me and wants me to declare that Tibet is a part of the Chinese territory.
However, this is not a fact. I will not make such an erroneous statement." (2) He also
maintained until recently that Tibetans and (Han) Chinese have no common bonds. In
1987, the Dalai Lama said that "Tibetans and Chinese are distinct peoples each with their
own country, history, culture, language and way of life," (3) and in 1995, he put it that
"the Chinese and Tibetans are very fundamentally different peoples.... We speak different
languages; are of different civilizations, have different customs; our religion and culture,
and even our written languages are completely different." (4) The Dalai Lama, as we will
show, now no longer excludes Tibet from the Chinese state and does not reject the
possibility that Tibetans can be part of the supra-ethnic Chinese nation; at least he has
indicated a willingness to confirm these views if negotiations with the Chinese
government go forward. (5)

From the late 1980s until a few years ago, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (TGIE)
maintained that for an accommodation to be reached, China would have to renounce all
control over affairs in Tibet except those involving foreign affairs and defense. (6) We
will show that the Dalai Lama has altered the focus of the autonomy he seeks for Tibet by
downplaying enhanced political and economic power and pursuing greater power as to
religion and culture. Even in those spheres, he no longer claims an exclusive domain, but
acknowledges a willingness to have the People's Republic of China (PRC) "govern and
guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment." (7)

The change in the Dalai Lama's view is linked to prospects of negotiations for greater
autonomy being pursued as a result of regular talks by his special envoys with China's
representatives. In July, 2002, the Dalai Lama's brother Gyalo Thondup visited Tibet. The
PRC's invitation was to set the stage for "talks about talks" that held out prospects of
immediate benefits for the PRC government: they would precede President Bush's
October, 2002 visit to China, scuttle attempts by some European Parliament (EP)
members to extend "recognition" to the TGIE if there were no talks between it and China
before July 5, 2003, and ease pressure on Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics. (8) Some
PRC leaders were also convinced that any settlement of the Tibet Question could be
better implemented during the lifetime of the Dalai Lama, who was 67 in 2002. (9)

The visit of the Dalai Lama's representatives to China in 2002 to 2004 created a quasi-
institutional forum to meet, discuss and address issues in a regular manner. The TGIE
sees the contacts both as a way to "create atmosphere in a long, drawn-out process" and
as a means of setting the stage for resolving differences within a set period. (10) TGIE
Premier Samdhong Rinpoche observed that the first round was to say hello, the second
for half-tourism, half-talks, the third to reduce fear on the Chinese side, and the fourth to
respond to questions raised in the third. (11) The latest round was said to take "a very
practical approach to the issues, rather than an emotional one." (12) For its part, the
position of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) was that direct contact had
become a stable, "established practice" and that the emigres should not be pessimistic
about differences between the sides, which may be narrowed through more meetings and
exchanges of views. (13)

It is the expression of greater flexibility on key issues of the Tibet Question, together with
a push to regularize contact between the parties, that constitutes the Dalai Lama's new
initiative for autonomy. Samdhong Rinpoche has said, "We do not regard China as an
enemy anymore, but more as a party with which we will have to negotiate. They have
sought a reassurance from us on this." (14) Through statements on the relationship
between Tibetans and China, the Dalai Lama has tried to provide that reassurance, as a
result enduring sharp criticism from Tibet independence supporters. (15) When PRC
Premier Wen Jiabao paid a visit to India in April, 2005, moreover, Samdhong Rinpoche
welcomed it, the first time the TGIE had ever approved of the visit of a Chinese leader.
(16) Asked after the Bern talks whether mediation was needed, he said, "We don't think it
is necessary as brokers are needed when disputes are international and since we accept
China's sovereignty then the dispute is internal and will have to be resolved between
ourselves." Following China's celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the establishment
of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Samdhong Rinpoche also noted that in marking
the day, "the Chinese government did not accuse the Dalai Lama of anything and the
statement was much mild compared to previous year's." (17)

The Dalai Lama has not concisely specified why he has undertaken the new initiative, but
a likely reason is that China has not followed a Soviet path to regime change and
dissolution, as predicted by emigre leaders in the 1990s, but has risen in importance in
the current decade, a phenomenon that narrowly limits what emigre leaders can
accomplish by mobilizing supporters. (18) The Dalai Lama has seemingly come to the
same conclusion that Western and Chinese scholars have reached: "separatists in China
do not have sufficient strength to force the central government to accept their demands of
independence or true autonomy unless there is a fundamental breakdown in China." (19)
The Dalai Lama also knows that the odds of gains through negotiation are highest during
his lifetime and certainly would like to see Tibet again and visit China's Buddhist sacred
sites. (20) Beijing's leaders, in turn, are now aware that negotiations provide a "win-win"
situation: they win if there is a settlement with the Dalai Lama, because he can best
ensure that Tibetans adhere to its terms, and they win nevertheless if they negotiate with
him, but do not reach a settlement in his lifetime, because to have brought about
negotiations the Dalai Lama will have met key PRC preconditions and the PRC will have
shown good faith through negotiating. It is also not coincidental that Chinese officials'
renewed interest in the Tibet Question has followed the rise to power of Hu Jintao, the
top official in Tibet from 1988 to 1992 (during a period of unrest in Lhasa), who is now
the CCP general secretary and PRC president. In what follows, we examine the
background to the Dalai Lama's new initiative, outline recent developments, discuss
obstacles to a breakthrough dialogue on autonomy, and suggest ways to overcome them.

Changing Wind

In the late 1980s, the 14th Dalai Lama proposed that the government of the PRC could
remain responsible for Tibet's foreign policy, while Tibet would be governed by its own
liberal democratic constitution. A decade later, he expressed disappointment that the
Chinese government had not responded positively to his proposals or used the framework
proposed by Deng Xiaoping that is, apart from the question of total independence of
Tibet, all other issues could be discussed and resolved. (21)

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have pressed PRC leaders to hold talks with
the Dalai Lama, and in 2001 the US Congress passed a Tibet Policy Act with the same
prescription. European Union (EU) External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten and
Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes called on China in 2002 to begin dialogue
with the Dalai Lama. (22) A European Parliament delegation to China that year did the
same, but was told by Beijing leaders that they were not ready for talks with the Tibetan
leader. (23) Indeed, HuJintao stated that "it is essential to fight unequivocally against the
separatist activities by the Dalai clique and anti-China forces in the world, vigorously
develop a good situation of stability and unity in Tibet and firmly safeguard national
unity and state security." (24)

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the collapse of the USSR brought a ray of hope to the Dalai
Lama. He declined a 1989 invitation from the Chinese Buddhism Association to attend
the Beijing funeral rites of the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, the 10th
Panchen Lama, and he won the Nobel peace prize. The US Congress passed a non-
binding resolution in 1991 stating that "Tibet is an occupied country" and urging the US
to recognize the TGIE as the legitimate government of the Tibetan people.
Times have changed since then. Western and Indian media observers now write about a
notable decline in support for the "Free Tibet movement" among political leaders and in
wider circles. (25) It now appears that the disintegration of China, hoped for by Tibetan
exile leaders, is unlikely. Instead, China has become an ever-greater regional power, a
hub for world manufacture, and a catalyst for East Asian integration. Meanwhile, support
for independence has seemingly diminished in Tibet, with both exile leaders and foreign
supporters acknowledging that the region has no visible opposition movement. (26) The
growing middle class, fostered by PRC government subsidies to the region, has not
panned out as a force for separatist nationalism, but is inclined to seek stability; staying
with China is seen as the best guarantor of Tibet's interests and prosperity. (27)

As a growing power, China has gained support from the international community for the
maintenance of its recognized territorial boundaries. During his 1992 electoral campaign,
Bill Clinton openly supported the Tibetan exile cause, but changed his policy toward
Tibet as soon as he entered the White House. In 2000, George W. Bush said that the US
would defend Taiwan if the Mainland attacked it, but in 2003-2004, he opposed Chen
Shuibian's referendum proposal and has provided no meaningful support for the Tibetan
exile cause. In the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate John Kerry even
endorsed China's "one country, two systems" proposal for Taiwan. A year 2000 EP
resolution called for the appointment of an EU Special Representative for Tibet and
recognition of the TGIE as the legitimate representative of the Tibetans, if Beijing refused
to hold talks with the Dalai Lama within the next three years. Meeting with the Dalai
Lama a month before the three-year deadline was to expire, Anders Fogh Rassmussen,
prime minister of Denmark, an EU country with longstanding ties to the exiles, stated he
did not believe there was a need for new EU or Danish initiatives. (28) When the sixth
EU-China Summit was held in October 2003, Tibet was not mentioned. The EU has even
considered lifting its arms embargo against China; it asked the PRC to meet four human
rights conditions for that to happen, but none involve Tibet. (29)

The Dalai Lama's two major traditional allies have changed their position on Tibet.
Britain, which had since 1906 spoken in terms of China's "suzerainty" in Tibet, in an
attempt to turn Tibet into a neutral buffer between India and China, now acknowledges
PRC sovereignty. (30) During the 2003 visit to China of Indian Prime Minister A.B.
Vajpayee, the Indian government, which had inherited the British "suzerainty" notion,
stated that the TAR is a part of China. (31) In return, China recognized Sikkim as a part
of India. Although Indian officials argued that their statement represented no change in
policy on Tibet, (32) the pronouncement proved a disappointment to Tibetan exiles, with
the largest exile organization, the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), stating that "Vajpayee's
signing of the declaration amounted to obliterating Tibet." (33) TGIE Kalon Tripa (prime
minister) Samdhong Rinpoche said after Vajpayee's visit that "the reality is that Tibet is
China's autonomous part." (34) The affirmation of PRC sovereignty by Vajpayee's right-
wing regime, which might have been expected to be hostile to China on the Tibet
question, was likely a factor in causing the TYC president to speculate that it may take
500 or 1,000 years to make Tibet free (35) and in inducing exile leaders to come closer
than ever before to meeting the main PRC condition for negotiations--namely, a public
statement by the Dalai Lama that Tibet is an inalienable part of China. During a
November 2003 trip to the Vatican, he reportedly made the following statement: "We
accept Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China." (36)

The Dalai Lama has entered his seventies and is sometimes ill. Indeed, his life was
thought to be in danger in 2002 and the question of his reincarnation was inevitably
raised. In an interview with a Taiwanese journalist in 2000, he had already stated that the
Tibetan theocracy, based on a reincarnation system, should be abandoned, and that he
would not take part in politics if he returns to China. (37) In a speech to Taiwan's
Legislative Yuan, he again expressed his preference for ending the system. (38) Many
Tibetans in exile express disfavour at this option, viewing it as an abandonment of
Tibetan tradition. The most that the Dalai Lama would concede, however, is his intention
to not be reincarnated in PRC territory. (39)

Even if the Dalai Lama dies outside the PRC, it is likely that two 15th Dalai Lamas will
emerge, one outside China, and the other chosen within China and affirmed by PRC
authorities. Such an outcome will weaken the 15th Dalai Lama's power, undermine
Tibetan tradition, and increase tensions among Tibetan exiles, China, and the country
where the reincarnation is found. The TGIE thus may now prefer that the Dalai Lama
dies and is reincarnated within Chinese territory. The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, the next
most prominent Buddhist leader in exile, has stated: "If in his wisdom the Dalai Lama
decides to take rebirth in China-held territory, one should not be surprised." (40) Many
Tibetans want the Dalai Lama to die in Tibet because if he dies on foreign soil, his "head"
and "body" will be separated. This is an important reason why the Dalai Lama is pressing
China to speed up the dialogue process.

Given these conditions, as US Tibet specialist Melvyn Goldstein points out, the Dalai
Lama and TGIE have three, not mutually exclusive options: 1. maintain the status quo by
continuing the campaign of enhancing international support; 2. escalate the conflict by
encouraging and even organizing violence in Tibet; and 3. compromise by sending
Beijing a message that the Dalai Lama is ready to scale down his political demands in
order to preserve a more homogeneous Tibetan homeland. (41) Evidence indicates that
the Dalai Lama has chosen the third option and made significant concessions.

The Dalai Lama's Concessions

New thinking about autonomy

The Dalai Lama's Five-Point Peace Plan, presented on Washington's Capitol Hill in 1987,
and his 1988 Strasbourg Proposal, before the EP, laid out his initial positions on
autonomy. Under the proposal, the PRC would remain responsible for Tibet's foreign
policy, while Tibet would be governed by its own constitution or basic law. The Tibetan
government would be comprised of a popularly elected chief executive, a bicameral
legislature and an independent legal system. (42) It would have a special duty to
safeguard and develop religious practice. (43) The proposal's inclusion of a directly
elected chief executive and independent judiciary represents a fundamental rupture in the
current Chinese political system and makes no room for the CCP, implying an end to
party leadership. Given its authoritarian system, Beijing will not accept a proposal of this
kind. (44)

In 1992, the Dalai Lama demanded that Chinese leaders allow Tibet, Inner Mongolia and
East Turkestan [Xinjiang] "to become free and equal partners in a new world order." (45)
In recent years, however, the Dalai Lama has emphasized cultural autonomy, played
down political autonomy, and shown respect for the Chinese constitutional framework.
(46) There was an internal discussion among Tibetan exiles in 1999 about the possibility
of proposing a power-sharing mechanism. (47) It is also suggested that the TGIE
recognize the reality of CCP leadership in Tibet and the role of the central government in
a transitional arrangement. While the central party organization would have the right to
appoint Tibet's party secretary, Tibet would have the right to elect its governor. Learning
from the practice of India, it is suggested the centre would have the right to remove the
governor if necessary. If China lists convincing reasons for an appointed chief executive,
the TGIE would agree to postpone direct elections for ten years. (48)

In a 2005 interview, the Dalai Lama presented a substantially changed view of Tibet's
relationship with China and prospects for governance in Tibet. He recognized that PRC
Tibetans are in some measure Chinese, because Tibetan culture and Buddhism are part of
Chinese culture and Tibet is part of China's 5,000-year history. He also affirmed that
Tibet gains materially from being part of China. His previous view was that Tibet might
benefit in the future from being part of China, but that it does not presently, because
China exploits Tibet, so that it benefits from having Tibet and not the other way around.

It was also reported that a TGIE official stated that the Dalai Lama now only wants
autonomy as to religious and cultural matters, not political, economic and diplomatic
affairs. (49) This position was prefigured by a 2004 statement of Thubten Samphel, the
TGIE's spokesman, that Tibetans "should be allowed genuine spiritual and cultural
autonomy, and a degree of political space." (50) In terms of religious and cultural
autonomy, the Dalai Lama reportedly has been concerned with the following criteria: the
ability to live year-round in Lhasa's Potala Palace; to travel in and out of China and to all
Tibetan areas; to have full control over the publication and editing of religious texts; and
to have undisputed authority to appoint abbots of monasteries and supervise the choice of
reincarnations of important lamas. (51) Such concerns are vastly different from those
reflected in past assertions that Tibet must have a liberal political system. The Dalai
Lama now speaks of enhanced autonomy under the PRC constitution and the need to
remain in China to foster economic development. (52)

The borders of an autonomous Tibet

Its conception of Tibet's borders is one of the most sensitive aspects of the Dalai Lama's
1988 Autonomy Proposal: Tibet would take in the whole Tibet Plateau, encompassing the
traditional Tibetan areas of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo, an area that comprises one-fourth
of PRC territory. Besides the TAR, "greater Tibet" would include most of Qinghai
province and parts of Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan, areas where 53 percent of PRC
Tibetans live amidst Han Chinese and other ethnic groups. Greater Tibet would become a
self-governing democratic political entity. (53)

Although, before the 1950s, Tibet's boundaries and political status were not determined
by modern standards, (54) "greater Tibet" is at the core of modern Tibetan nationalism. In
negotiations with the Chinese government in 1951, which led to the "17-Point Agreement
on the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet," the Dalai Lama's representatives were set to demand
that "the territories taken by Manchu China, the Kuomintang and the new government of
China must be returned to Tibet." (55) Since 1959, Tibetan nationalists have sought to
create a pan-Tibetan identity, fueling antagonism with PRC leaders, for whom Tibet is
confined to today's TAR, the area previously ruled by the Dalai Lama. By 1996, the Dalai
Lama had already acknowledged that much of the eastern Tibet Plateau had not been
under Lhasa's rule and expressed an interest in cultural preservation, rather than political
control of the area. (56) While the TGIE still insisted until at least 2003 that "the whole of
Tibet inhabited by the Tibetan people should be given genuine autonomy," (57) the Dalai
Lama no longer uses a concept of greater Tibet in the sense of insisting on the erasure of
borders in order to achieve unification of all Tibetan areas, but focuses on cultural
protection within a Tibetan cultural zone. (58) He avoids emphasizing political
boundaries, has stated that "my concern is culture, and spirituality, and environment,"
(59) and seems to accept there will be no boundary question under the constitutional
framework of China.

In a forum on Tibetan autonomy, Professor Ezra Vogel of Harvard University asked

whether redrawing boundaries to include Tibetans outside the TAR would be acceptable
to China. Zheng Shiping, a US political scientist originally from China, replied, "I don't
think it would be possible to change the boundaries. It would just be a waste of time."
However, Bhuchung Tsering, director of the International Campaign for Tibet, stressed
that "[w]e should look at this issue from a different perspective. Let's put the emphasis on
the survival of the Tibetan people. I don't see why this can't be accommodated within
Chinese limitations. To the Chinese, the idea of a 'Greater Tibet' seems very sinister. But
the survival of the Tibetan people would be acceptable." (60) The PRC government is
adamant that "Greater Tibet" is ahistorical and not feasible. (61) At the same time, there
has been a proliferation of wushengqu (five provinces and regions) bodies that coordinate
the implementation of similar policies across the Tibetan areas. (62) The guarantee to
Tibetans outside the TAR of any social and cultural benefit accorded TAR Tibetans may
be a suitable way to realize the goal of uniting Tibetans. For example, for a quarter-
century, TAR Tibetans have not had to pay regional taxes on farming and herding income.
In 2004, Sichuan province exempted its autonomous-area minorities (mostly Tibetans)
from paying such taxes. (63) By the same token, TAR Tibetans would be allowed rights
accorded Tibetans elsewhere; for example, the right to publicly display photos of the
Dalai Lama.

The withdrawal of Chinese troops

The Dalai Lama's 1988 Autonomy Proposal demanded the withdrawal of Chinese troops,
in order to transform the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace. Only with the withdrawal of
troops could a genuine process of reconciliation begin. (64) China would have the right to
maintain a restricted number of military installations in Tibet, solely for defensive
purposes, until a peace conference is convened and demilitarization and neutralization are

The Dalai Lama stated in 2003 that the number of paramilitary People's Armed Police
should be reduced in Tibetan cities, implying acceptance of the deployment of Chinese
troops. (65) The zone of peace idea remains popular among many exile political leaders
and "Tibet supporters," (66) but the Dalai Lama no longer demands a complete
withdrawal of the Chinese army, nor does he insist on withdrawal as a precondition for

The Hong Kong model of autonomy

The Dalai Lama has demanded that Hong Kong's one country-two systems policy be
applied to Tibet (67) and many commentators have considered its suitability for Tibet.
(68) Under it, Beijing would be responsible only for Tibet's foreign affairs and defense,
while Tibetans would be free to make their own decisions as to other matters. To endorse
a Hong Kong model for Tibet, however, the Dalai Lama must be aware of its political
implications. Under it, China's sovereignty includes a Hong Kong garrison, Beijing's
appointment of all high-level officials, and executive dominance through the tight
circumscription of legislative power. This set-up differs fundamentally from what the
Dalai Lama demanded in his original autonomy proposal, which was essentially an
American-style system of governance. The Dalai Lama does seem impressed, however,
with Hong Kong's ability to control the movement of population from Mainland China.
Though it will not totally end the migration of Han into Tibetan areas, a Hong Kong
model would slow the process. Tibetan autonomy could then focus on the preservation of
culture and religion, with Tibetans having a greater say about such matters.

Four Visits

In late 1978, the Dalai Lama established his first direct contact with PRC leaders since
1959. That came to an end in 1993, but indirect contacts via private persons and semi-
officials continued. In January 2002 a face-to-face meeting between the Dalai Lama's
representatives and PRC officials responsible for Tibet policy took place outside China.
This paved the way for a September 2002 visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Lhasa
by a four-member Tibetan exile delegation, headed by the Dalai Lama's special envoys,
Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, and including their special assistants, Sonam Dagpo
and Bhuchung Tsering. The same delegation visited Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Yunnan
provinces in May and June of 2003, soon after changes in the CCP and PRC leaderships.
(69) In a third trip of the same four-member team, in September 2004, they met Minister
Liu Yandong, vice chairperson of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
and leader of the CCP United Front Work Department, Zhu Weiqun, a vice-minister,
Chang Rongjun, head of the UFWD Nationalities and Religion Department, and other
Beijing officials. A fourth visit, to discuss autonomy with officials of the CCP UFWD,
took place in China's embassy in Bern, Switzerland on 30 June and 1 July 2005.
The four visits have given Tibetans in exile the opportunity to re-establish contacts,
explain the Dalai Lama's approach, and engage extensively with new Chinese leaders and
officials responsible for Tibet policy. There have been positive effects from the four
visits. The TGIE first ordered exile officials abroad to not organize protests against PRC
leaders who visit Western countries. It then asked Tibet support groups and NGOs to not
be very aggressive in staging such demonstrations and, according to the TYC, demanded
that pro-independence activists in India not hold processions or shout anti-Beijing
slogans on the occasion of the March 10 commemoration of the 1959 Lhasa uprising.
(70) During a 1984 visit to China by Tibetan exile officials, they encountered cadres who
complained of the Cultural Revolution and their suffering, but members of the recent
delegations were impressed by self-confident officials empowered by China's
development and were overwhelmed by the development itself, thus strengthening the
idea that Tibet is better off staying in China rather than seeking independence. As the
Dalai Lama said, "the best guarantee for Tibet" is to "remain within the People's Republic
of China," and "more union, more cooperation is in our best interest." (71) In 2003, an
exile special task force discussed how Sino-Tibet relations could be enhanced, with Lodi
Gyari consulting with specialists on whether the Dalai Lama should visit China. (72)

On China's side, TAR leaders regarded the first visit as purely private, but Beijing did
acknowledge the second visit, and the existence of "official" contact between the two
sides. It has also acknowledged that a Tibet Question exists and is in need of resolution.
(73) Harsh criticisms of the Dalai Lama as a "splittist" were reduced and his positive
efforts to create a constructive environment were explicitly recognized. In 2003, the TAR
governor told foreign journalists that China welcomes the Dalai Lama to visit Tibet if he
comes as a PRC citizen and recognizes Tibet as an inalienable part of China. (74) In the
fourth round of meetings in Bern, Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun acknowledged that direct
contacts had become an "established practice" and stated that the Chinese national
leadership attached great importance to the contact with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The four visits were aimed at building confidence by dispelling misconceptions and
distrust. A lack of sincerity and mutual trust remains. In addition, there are fundamental
differences in the two sides' conceptions of autonomy. Indeed, the Tibetan exile
delegation stated that "there are major differences on a number of issues, including some
fundamental ones. Both sides acknowledged the need for more substantive discussions in
order to narrow the gaps and reach a common ground. We stressed the need for both sides
to demonstrate flexibility, far-sightedness and vision to bridge the differences." (75)

Why the Absence of Substantive Progress?

Despite the four visits, there is no substantive breakthrough. Several reasons account for
this. First, some PRC hardliners believe the Dalai Lama's death will be a grave blow to
the Tibetan independence cause and that migrants will create a multi-ethnic community in
Tibetan areas that will weaken the demographic basis for an independence movement.
They even prefer that the Dalai Lama die outside of China, as that may create religious
divisions, as has been the case with the designation of the reincarnation of the 17th
Karmapa. (76) Most exiles do not deny that the Dalai Lama's passing will sharply set
back their cause: one pro-independence member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile has
stated that "[a]s long as he is alive, he will be the foremost motivating factor. After his
passing away, for the next 50 years Tibetans will not be able to bring any sort of
momentum for their struggle and the Tibetan issue will be lost." (77) Others contend that
the Dalai Lama's passing will not mean an end to the Tibet Question.

Second, in Beijing's view, Tibet already enjoys autonomy. In visits to China in 2002 and
2003, Lodi Gyari, the delegation head, confronted Chinese cultural and ideological
opposition to the 1988 Autonomy Proposal. Many PRC officials told him that China has
already developed a sound system of autonomy, implying it does not need the Dalai
Lama's proposal. Lodi Gyari would like Chinese leaders to revise their view of autonomy,
taking it as an intrinsic value that provides citizens with inalienable rights, demonstrated,
for example, by Tibetans being accorded the right to elect their governor, as opposed to
viewing autonomy merely as an instrument for national unity and social control. (78)

A third reason for no breakthrough is a fear that the CCP will lose control if the Dalai
Lama returns to Tibet. A senior PRC official has stated that "the Dalai Lama's return to
China will bring a great risk of instability. We will then not be able to control Tibet." (79)
Reportedly, officials in the TAR fear that with the Dalai Lama in the Potala Palace, "he
will inevitably become the source of all authority. Any theoretical separation of church
and state will be impossible to maintain and the [CCP] will lose its influence over
Tibetans." (80) Although it has been said that of "even a vast majority of Tibetans who
are members of the Communist Party, every one of them, would like to be able to see His
Holiness" return to Tibet, (81) Tibetan officials in Tibet have been at least as concerned
as Han cadres about the Dalai Lama's possible return. For example, when Thubten, head
of the TAR Religious Affairs Bureau, was asked whether the Dalai Lama will ever return,
he replied, "he has now sunk in the mud too deep to renounce all he had done in the past."
(82) Jampa Phuntsog, TAR governor, has said of the Dalai Lama: "It doesn't matter what
he says.... His nature--that he wants to split Tibet from China--has not changed," and that
it is "too early to discuss the question of the Dalai Lama's homecoming." (83)

In part, top Tibetan cadres display hostility in reaction to exile condemnations of them as
"collaborators." (84) They contrast their contributions to Tibet's modernization with exile
leaders' support for theocracy and failure to contribute to Tibet's development. The same
high-level cadres do, however, distinguish between the Dalai Lama and those around him
who are overt or covert supporters of independence, and those who are not wholly averse
to compromise. (85) Jampa Phuntsog has stated that "we very much welcome Tibetan
compatriots who return, including delegates of the Dalai Lama. Negotiations are good so
that we can understand the true feelings of the Dalai Lama, which is the basis for
progress." If the exiles were to repudiate claims of "cultural genocide," colonialism, etc.,
Tibetan cadres might well be willing to work with them after a settlement to the Tibet
Question is reached. (86) One might also argue that if the Dalai Lama does return to Tibet
with a PRC passport and TV stations show this passport, this will strengthen the comfort
level of the PRC government and Tibetan cadres.
A fourth key reason for no breakthrough is that Beijing thinks the Dalai Lama has not met
its preconditions. President Jiang Zemin stated in 1998 that before dialogue could begin,
the Dalai Lama must "publicly make a statement and a commitment that Tibet is an
inalienable part of China" and "must also recognize Taiwan as a province of China." (87)
Premier Wen Jiabao reaffirmed that in 2003 and noted that "regrettably" the Dalai Lama
had not met the preconditions and had not genuinely given up independence and
separatist activities. (88) PRC government spokespeople continue to uphold the
preconditions, indicating that they believe the Dalai Lama has not actually forsaken
independence and separatist actions. (89)

Many exile officials also refuse to commit to the idea that Tibet is an inalienable part of
China, and in interviews in 1999 in India they gave several reasons for refraining from
such a statement. First, the Dalai Lama has already announced that he would not seek
independence. Second, the Dalai Lama's public declaration should be linked to China's
promise to grant genuine autonomy, but exile officials have argued that PRC leaders are
unwilling to make such a concession even if the Dalai Lama offers this declaration.
Third, Tibet's history as an independent country is bargaining power for greater
autonomy; a public announcement will deprive Tibetans of this power. Fourth, Tibetans
want independence, not autonomy; a declaration would mean giving up that goal, which
should never be renounced. (90)

Another position was also mentioned: that Tibet was not an inalienable part of China in
the past, but is now a part of China, a position the Dalai Lama now seemingly follows.
Thus, the TGIE has stated that the Dalai Lama has "acknowledged the de facto status of
Tibet" as part of China, but that "the issue of Tibet is yet to be resolved." (91) Queried
about whether he is ready to acknowledge that Tibet is an integral part of China, the Dalai
Lama replied, "Not that one sentence. Since 1950-51, as far as the central autonomous
region of Tibet is concerned, after the seventeen-point agreement was signed, then Tibet
became part of the People's Republic of China.... But then in the past, that's up to
history." (92)

Because he has not used the term "inalienable," the PRC has not considered sufficient the
Dalai Lama's statements thus far on Tibet being a part of China. Beijing does not think
the Dalai Lama has met its precondition (93) because he has not repudiated his 1991
statement that "Tibet was an independent country before its occupation by China. It had
its own government, now in exile.... There is no justification claiming that Tibet was 'part
of China' as Peking claims today." (94) In response to a PRC offer to return the Dalai
Lama to Tibet if he becomes a PRC citizen and acknowledges that Tibet is an inalienable
part of China, TGIE Department of Information and International Relations secretary
Sonam Dagpo said the latter precondition was not acceptable, since Tibet had always
been an independent nation until China occupied it forcibly. (95) The PRC and Tibetan
exiles may, however, set aside the issue of whether Tibet was independent before 1951, as
Britain and China eventually did with the question of the validity of "three unequal
treaties" that were the basis for British rule in Hong Kong. (96) In any case, the Dalai
Lama's 2005 statement that Tibet is part of China's 5,000-year "history of tradition"
excludes insistence that Tibet was always independent, while the Chinese government
does not demand that the Dalai Lama affirm that Tibet has always been part of China.

The TGIE has quoted only the Dalai Lama's statements that the Taiwan issue "is not my
business" and "mainly depends on the people of Taiwan." (98) Beijing's position is that
Tibet and Taiwan must adhere to the one-China policy and recognize each other as a part
of China; hence it insists that the Dalai Lama recognize both as inalienable parts of
China. (99) For the Dalai Lama, it is thought his image would be damaged if he publicly
opposed Taiwanese independence in response to political pressure. Forces working for
Taiwanese independence have, moreover, been allies with a goal similar to his own; an
acknowledgement that Taiwan is part of China would weaken an alliance enhanced by
Chen Shui-bian's presidency.

The Dalai Lama reportedly said in 1998, however, that "Taiwan's future should ... be
viewed under the one China policy.... My stand is: I don't support or encourage Taiwan's
independence movement." (100) This statement provided a moment of hope for a
breakthrough in negotiations, and Kelsang Gyaltsen affirmed at the time that "the Dalai
Lama has never doubted the 'one China' policy." (101) The Dalai Lama may revert to that
position if it appears that little has been gained from his de facto alliance with Taiwan
independence forces. In 2000, he denied a report that "Tibetans and Taiwanese would
form a common front to press for independence from China." (102) He may come to
view the Taiwan independence forces as taking advantage of the Tibet issue, adding
obstacles to creating conditions favourable to dialogue, especially as other allies, most
notably the Bush administration, have disapproved of Taiwan's pro-independence moves.

Beijing sees the Dalai Lama's advocacy of autonomy for Tibet as a smokescreen for
independence because he fails to stop separatist activities, yet TGIE spokesman Thubten
Samphel has claimed to have "no idea what China means by 'separatist activities.'" (103)
TGIE/TYC relations are an example of such activities, however: the TYC goal is an
independent Tibet headed by the Dalai Lama. It has launched campaigns like "Boycott
Made in China" and "No Olympics 2008 in Beijing," (104) efforts blessed by the Dalai
Lama's oldest brother, Professor Thupten Norbu (105) and by his prime minister. (106)
One of the Dalai Lama's representatives at the ongoing talks with PRC officials addressed
the 2004 TYC Tibetan youth leadership training programme. (107) That organization
announced the same year its plans to train for "guerrilla activities" and in 2005 stated that
it was "opposed to the Dalai Lama's stand," and does "not support the Dalai Lama at all"
with respect to the latter's "Middle Way" approach." (108) The same largely holds true for
the Students for a Free Tibet, which campaigns for the "fundamental right of Tibetans to
independence" and apparently seeks the overthrow of the CCP. (109) Another example is
TGIE participation in the pan-separatist Allied Committee of the Peoples of East
Turkestan, Tibet and Inner Mongolia, founded in 1985 and still being promoted in 2005.
(110) The history of negotiating processes to reach agreements aimed at settling major
ethno-territorial disputes shows that no progress is possible if the two sides do not
decisively break with nationalist extremists in their midst.

Tibetan Exile Perspectives

The Dalai Lama, the TGIE and pro-Dalai Lama Western scholars have provided several
reasons for Beijing to start a dialogue as soon as possible.

View the Dalai Lama as an asset

The main problem lies in the PRC leaders' negative perception of the Dalai Lama. If they
change their view, the Tibet problem can be solved. Lodi Gyari argues that Beijing thinks
the US is using the Dalai Lama to "split" China; to reduce the chance of his being used by
outsiders, the best solution is to let him live in China. As long as the Dalai Lama lives
outside China, Tibetan loyalty will follow suit. (111) Kelsang Gyaltsen has said "the
Dalai Lama is the only person who would persuade Tibetans to accept an agreement with
the Chinese government that would recognize Tibet to be part of the PRC." (112) Orville
Schell, dean of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, has advised Beijing
to view the Dalai Lama as an asset who could serve the interests of Han and Tibetans
alike, rather than as a die-hard "splittist," and to return him to Lhasa as a religious and
cultural avatar. (113) John Kenneth Knaus, a Harvard researcher, has asserted that "for
China, it would be a loss of an opportunity to benefit from the presence of the one person
who is best able to guarantee peace...." (114)

Consequences of Denying Dialogue

Kelsang Gyaltsen warns that failure to reach agreement with the Dalai Lama could
inspire generations of Tibetans to resistance. (115) Lodi Gyari argues that as time passes,
the situation will only become less favourable for the PRC: resentment will grow, it will
be increasingly difficult to convince Tibetans to accept a solution short of independence,
and there will be higher odds of dealing with the dangers posed by the emergence of
extreme leaders. (116)

Preventing Political Violence

The Dalai Lama and the TGIE are pledged to a nonviolent strategy, which most Tibetan
exile leaders are dedicated to realizing. If that strategy cannot work, radical groups such
as the TYC will gain the confidence needed to engage in violence, as was the case for the
Irish Republican Army and Hamas in recent decades. For Tibetans, the ideal of
embracing peace is a contemporary development. There have been many instances of
mass violence in Tibetan history and some prominent exiles do advocate violent struggle.

To prevent radicals from gaining influence, the Dalai Lama is insisting that China begin
engaging in dialogue sooner rather than later. He warned in 2003 that if peaceful dialogue
does not produce results within two or three years, violence may occur that he is unable
to stop. (118) History has shown that when moderates fail, radicals take over and when
they do, even more hardline elements emerge to outbid them for support. It is
shortsighted to imagine exile violence will favour China because it goes against the Dalai
Lama's strategy, damages his reputation as a peacemaker, and serves to justify
suppression. Israel adopted that approach in facilitating the emergence of Hamas as a
counter to the Palestine Liberation Organization and now faces dire consequences.

Benefits for China's Unity

The Tibet problem directly threatens China's unity, but also has implications for Taiwan
and Xinjiang. The Dalai Lama has stated that if China were to address the Tibet issue
properly, it could only have positive implications for Hong Kong, Taiwan and the PRC's
international image. (119) With many Taiwanese having moved away from a Chinese
national identity in recent years, peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue will help China
strengthen its national identity and will persuade Taiwanese leaders to negotiate.

Difficulties from Democratization

The Dalai Lama praises democratization among Tibetan exiles, who in 2001 directly
elected the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies. Samdhong Rinpoche was elected
Kalon Tripa by over 84 percent of the vote. However, exile democracy is characterized
by the overriding power of the Dalai Lama, who gave instructions for direct elections and
an increase in parliament's power. Samdhong Rinpoche has said of the Dalai Lama, "we
can't do anything without him." (120) Indeed, even a move by the TGIE to close down its
Budapest office in 2005 required the Dalai Lama's approval. (121) The exile political
system integrates political institutions and Buddhism, (122) and the very top positions are
held by monks (the "head of state" and "head of government," so to speak). There are no
party politics and criticism of the Dalai Lama is deemed illegitimate among the exiles.
(123) Will top-down democratization ensure moderates wield power, or will it empower

When the Dalai Lama dies, exile democratization may deepen, but that would make it
more difficult for Beijing to strike a deal with the TGIE, as a pact will be subject to the
will of diverse exiles. The lesson from East Timor is that an early grant of autonomy is an
effective way to prevent future independence. If Indonesian strongman Suharto had
offered autonomy, the East Timor issue would likely have been resolved. When his
successor Habibie offered autonomy in 1999, rapid democratization was already
underway in Indonesia and it was too late. If China had made a deal with Taiwan's
President Jiang Jinguo in 1986, before Taiwan's democratization, the one-China principle
would have become entrenched there.

Preparing the Groundwork for a Breakthrough

Cognitive and ideological gaps between Tibetan exile and PRC perspectives have been so
great the two sides have been unable to negotiate. While China sees the Dalai Lama as
advocating "disguised independence," the TGIE sees Beijing as playing games. Both
sides need to take steps to reduce animosity and increase familiarity with each other's
positions; for example, the Tibet exile delegation has attempted to prove the Dalai Lama's
autonomy is not equivalent to independence. Both sides need to develop a non-zero-sum
game, re-examine tendentious claims, drop recriminations and create a roadmap to
negotiations. Instead of being preoccupied with talk of "fake" or "genuine" autonomy, for
example, the focus should be on improving the existing autonomy system.

The Dalai Lama's Side

The Dalai Lama needs to reconsider his strategy. The TGIE has enjoyed international
successes, but has had little impact in China, where it invites suspicion. It views
internationalization as a means of overcoming Beijing's winning position in politics by
turning it into the loser in the moral battle; this is reflected in Samdhong Rinpoche's
statement: "We have a unique source of strength, which puts us in a position to negotiate
with China on equal terms. We have the strength of truth and non-violence, which, if
anything, makes us more powerful than China." (124) The sense of international success,
measured in terms of the number and level of politicians, cultural figures and NGOs
favouring the TGIE position, obscures its view of the realities involved in the politics of
creating expanded autonomy for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama should adopt a gradual strategy, (125) starting with cultural autonomy
before moving on to other forms of autonomy. There is reason to believe that he is willing
to do so. He stated in 2004 that China had to accept three things in order to solve Tibet's
problems: "Tibet's unique cultural heritage and compassionate spirituality, and delicate
situation of environment." (126) Both sides could cooperate in building the Tibetan
economy. While it is legitimate and appealing to hold to a Buddhist green vision of
economic development, it is unproductive for the TGIE to reflexively oppose China's
economic development projects, (127) especially given that the Dalai Lama has
recognized that "all Tibetans want more prosperity, more material development." (128)

Autonomy is not created full-blown, but involves an ongoing process of learning and
mutual adjustment. Patience is the key to progress, as it is impossible to remove fifty
years of distrust through a few visits. China has reason to be suspicious, due to the
historical involvement of the CIA, the internationalization of the Tibet Question, TYC
support for Tibetan independence, etc. Moves such as deadlines for negotiations,
moreover, have led nowhere, but have only proved the ineffectiveness of those who set
them, when no action was taken after the deadline passed. (129) Finally, there is a need to
contain rejectionists on both sides. As long as moderates are in power and work towards a
cooperative, interactive future, there is hope for a peaceful settlement in the long run.

Beijing's Side

In January 2005, the TGIE, guided by the Dalai Lama, added a new unit, the Task Force
on Negotiations. (130) To respond to this initiative, the CCP United Front Work
Department should not host Tibetan exile delegations, as that may be misconceived as
merely an effort to persuade the world of the Party's beneficent inclusiveness. Rather, the
PRC government should rename the working group--now composed of officials from the
UFWD, the Department of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs--as a Tibet
Commission, or create such a commission to concentrate work on the issue. It should also
extend the scope of official Tibetan exile visits beyond the Dalai Lama's representatives.
Apart from the Tibetan exiles' visits and meetings with PRC officials being
institutionalized as a forum, held once a year, a working group should focus on education
and culture, and an exchange programme should be established between Buddhist schools
and institutions. (131)

To facilitate a settlement, Beijing should help the TGIE to create the political space it
needs in order to meet such PRC preconditions to negotiations as the recognition that
Tibet is an inalienable part of China. If the PRC addresses issues of importance to
Tibetans, the TGIE can work around its previous objections to negotiations with
preconditions. For example, both sides frame the issue of Tibet's status as a question of
history. (132) Emigre leaders claim that the PRC insists they recognize that Tibet has
always been part of China (133); despite the pressure, the TGIE holds firm to its position
that "Tibet has always been an independent nation." (134) Recently, however, Samdhong
Rinpoche has said that from 1640 and 1951, Tibet's governments were local, i.e., not
national, in relation to China. (135) This position goes some way toward circumventing
the historical issue.

In the 1950s, PRC leaders urged the Chinese to fight against Han chauvinism (da hanzu
zhuyi). (136) Since then, attention in minority areas has been on fighting "local
nationalism." (137) To restore the balance in Tibetan areas, the government could finance
a programme to educate non-Tibetans who migrate there about the achievements of
Tibetan culture. An anti-racial discrimination law, similar perhaps to the one planned for
Hong Kong, (138) would also address a key issue that creates ethnic tension and could be
important in combating employment discrimination. While even a vigorously enforced
law will not change the ethnic distribution of labour in Tibet, it would empower
jobseekers who face ethnic and "home place" (lao jia) nepotism. (139)

Tibet has never had a Tibetan party secretary. That may be because of a tradition from
imperial times to not employ officials in their home areas. Exceptions to this policy now
exist, however; in 2003, 18 of the 62 "provincial chiefs" (governors and party secretaries)
were serving in their birth provinces. (140) Because there has not been a Tibetan party
secretary, many believe Beijing does not regard any Tibetan as competent and loyal
enough to hold the office. Yet there are doubtless Tibetans who are qualified for the
position: a disproportionate number (6 of 198 full members) of the current CCP Central
Committee are Tibetans. (141) A Tibetan party secretary would be regarded as an
indication that the CCP trusts Tibetans to lead Tibet.

It is often argued that Han benefit more than Tibetans from development in Tibet, (142)
not surprisingly as they heavily concentrate in favoured urban areas, while most Tibetans
are peasants or herders. Although there is growing Tibetan migration to cities, ethnic
disparities are significant there as well and will persist as long as there is an educational
and experiential gap between Han and Tibetans. (143) To compensate for this tendency,
preferential policies in the state economy should be reinvigorated and extended to the
private sector, including mandates, such as job and shareholding quotas, that favour
Tibetans. Wide-ranging affirmative action in Malaysia resulted in greater equality and
reduced ethnic tension: in 1970 ethnic Malays owned 2.4 percent of corporate wealth, but
by 2003 they had about 20 percent; at the same time, the wealth shares of ethnic Chinese
and ethnic Indians rose from 30 to 40 percent, while average per capita income in
Malaysia jumped from RM 1,132 in 1970 to RM 13,683 in 2003. (144) Results of
affirmative action in Malaysia have been mentioned favourably in official PRC media.

The government could restrict migration to Tibet. To curtail or even ban migration to
minority areas of a country is not uncommon: India bars the movement of "mainland
Indians" to Nagaland, Kashmir and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Vietnam
prohibits "spontaneous migration" to the ethnic minority Central Highlands. (146) For
Tibetans to be at the centre of Tibet's economy, they need higher-level skills, but in rural
areas especially, there is not much incentive for education, because Tibetan children
contribute to family labour resources. (147) The government could pay every Tibetan
child who attends school a stipend equal to the child's contribution to the family's income.
It would be well worth the expense, as most Tibetans can become prosperous only if
education levels rise sharply. A decade ago, Northern Ireland was a disadvantaged part of
the UK, but today it is said to have better schools and health care and more cultural
amenities than "mainland Britain." The gap between Ulster's communities has been
narrowed through subsidies, fair employment legislation, affirmative action, expanded
educational opportunities and the adoption by Catholics of education as the main avenue
of upward mobility. (148)

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the ban on public displays of the Dalai
Lama's photo in the TAR. The ban, in place since 1996, is not enforced in the Tibetan
areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, however, (149) and no untoward
consequences have followed, indicating that displays in a religious context can be
accommodated without compromising anti-separatism. In 1987, a provisional law to
make Tibetan an official language of the TAR was enacted, including a provision
requiring officials there to learn Tibetan. (150) Similar regulations have been
promulgated in other PRC Tibetan areas, (151) yet in the main, they have not been
implemented. It is not yet clear whether the permanent TAR language law, passed in
2002, will meet with the same disregard. (152) While some Han officials serving in Tibet
are now being trained in Tibetan, (153) a Tibetan competency requirement would indicate
a greater commitment to strengthening Tibetan autonomy.

Finally, international law entitles states to punish separatism, but those punished must be
well treated. Abusers of prisoners do sometimes face severe consequences elsewhere in
China. (154) That seems rare in Tibet, despite many credible reports of torture, (155) yet
harsh punishment for abusers should diminish sympathy for separatism.

Current global and national trends favour peaceful dialogue as a means of resolving the
Tibet issue. The international environment is ripe for dialogue. The US government has
firmly recognized Tibet as part of China and on several occasions President Bush
encouraged Chinese leaders to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Dialogue with
the Dalai Lama will neutralize critics in Western parliaments and help convince many of
the Chinese government's good will.
With China's increasing power, the so-called Tibet issue no longer threatens China's
national security, and the Dalai Lama's new initiative and statement about Tibet's history
and status provide further reassurance. The visits of Taiwan's opposition parties to China
in spring 2005 have eased tension across the Taiwan Strait and opened a door to peaceful
dialogue. New peace efforts elsewhere, for example between the Indonesian government
and Aceh's independence forces, and between Israel and the new Palestinian leaders,
reinforce a global trend toward using dialogue to resolve seemingly intractable conflicts.

While the Dalai Lama will have to adopt tough but persuasive measures to ensure the
TYC does not derail his new autonomy process, recognition that he has undertaken a new
initiative is up to the Beijing leadership, in particularly President Hu Jintao. If Hu Jintao,
with his determination, commitment and wisdom, can grasp this golden opportunity to
make a decisive move to engage in direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama and to make a
number of concessions, (156) there is a possibility that Hu Jintao and the Dalai Lama
might share a Nobel peace prize one day. The Chinese, and the world community, should
be encouraged to think the unthinkable in this matter, despite many rocks and steep hills
remaining on the road to dialogue and the establishment of a noble peace.

Beijing steps up movement to integrate Tibet USA Today, 07347456, DEC 04,
Academic Search Premier

Beijing steps up movement to integrate Tibet

Territory has long resisted Chinese rule

Section: News, Pg. 20a

LHASA, China -- Chinese supermarket baron Zhang Xiaohong reveres Tibet's austere
Buddhist culture so deeply that he spent $12.5million to build a luxury hotel that doubles
as a Tibetan folklore museum.

The Brahmaputra Grand Hotel, in Tibet's high-altitude capital of Lhasa, is the region's
only five-star hotel. It houses Zhang's extensive collection of Tibetan antiquities,
including a 1,000-year-old warrior's costume. "I must do something to protect and
promote Tibetan culture," says Zhang, founder of the Bright Red Supermarket chain.

In reality, the culture Zhang wants to preserve risks disappearing beneath a surge of
Chinese investment, migration and tourism. Beijing is accelerating its 5 1/2-decade
campaign to bring Tibet to heel. It is spurring high-growth economic policies and
crushing political dissent in a drive to integrate the separatist-minded region into the rest
of China.
Tibetan exiles say political repression is on the rise. In recent months, Chinese authorities
have jailed several Tibetans, including monks, for possessing or distributing pro-
independence leaflets, posters or photographs of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual

In September, Chinese border guards fired on an unarmed group of about 80 Tibetans

fleeing to Nepal through a Himalayan pass. One of those fleeing, a Buddhist nun, was
killed. A Romanian mountaineer filmed the attack.

"The killing of Tibetans by Chinese authorities is a matter of common practice," the Dalai
Lama told Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, last month.

Since May, Chinese officials have directed "an unprecedented wave of criticism" at the
Dalai Lama, says his brother Gyalo Dhondup. "This is a major shift in their attitude,
unprecedented in the past 27 years of contact with Chinese officials," Dhondup told
Radio Free Asia last month.

Economic initiatives

Beijing's political crackdown has coincided with major economic initiatives that have

*Tourism. In July, China completed construction of the 2,500-mile Beijing-Lhasa rail

line, which carries the world's highest-elevation passenger train. Since then, tourist
arrivals -- mainly of ethnic Chinese -- have soared. In July and August, 913,000 travelers
surged into the sparsely populated region, a 54% increase over the same two-month
period a year ago, says Lhaba Phuntsok, a Tibetan who heads the official China
Tibetology Research Center in Beijing.

Government banners hanging across the streets of Lhasa proclaim the railway to be "the
happiness line for all the peoples of Tibet."

Phuntsok says the railway creates a healthy incentive. For Tibetans to benefit
economically from tourist traffic, he says, they must preserve the things that lured tourists
in the first place: Tibet's distinct culture and the pristine beauty of its high plateaus and

The Dalai Lama, though, has warned that a tide of outsiders brought in by rail could lead
to "cultural genocide" in Tibet, which is home to just 2.8 million of China's 1.3 billion

Zhang, the Chinese tycoon, says Chinese influences could overwhelm Tibet. "It's a
challenge, and we will have to work hard" to protect the local way of life, he says.
*Migration. Figures on the number of ethnic Chinese living in Tibet remain highly
sensitive. At a news conference for foreign journalists in July, Tibet's Beijing-appointed
governor, Champa Phuntsok, declined to break down the current population of Lhasa.

He said the railway will bring "an inevitable increase" in Chinese workers, but
maintained the official line that Tibet is more than 95% non-Han. Han is the ethnicity of
the Chinese majority.

Many Tibetan Lhasa residents say their capital of 500,000 people is now at least half
Chinese. At the time of the Chinese takeover in 1950, the city's population barely topped
30,000, and only a few dozen were Chinese.

"The authorities are trying to stamp out any breath of dissent and are deliberately
encouraging people to move there," says Robbie Barnett, a Tibet specialist at Columbia
University in New York.

*Jobs and investment. Beijing has poured money into giant infrastructure projects, and
private investment has followed. But opportunities created by a boom in construction,
retail and services have gone disproportionately to Chinese newcomers. Only 10% of the
workers on the new rail line were Tibetans, says Zhu Zhensheng, senior engineer at the
Ministry of Railways. Most of the current railroad staff is Han, he says.

At Zhang's Brahmaputra Grand Hotel, where rooms range from $170 to $1,100 a night,
the management team was imported from neighboring Sichuan province. Only a third of
the employees are Tibetan, sales manager Hong He says.

Mistrust runs deep

In October, hundreds of young Tibetans staged a rare public protest in Lhasa to complain
about government job discrimination. The protest followed the regional government's
decision to fill 98 of 100 job openings with ethnic Chinese applicants.

Beijing says it has taken steps aimed at protecting Tibetan culture, such as ensuring that
70% of the books published in the region are in the Tibetan language. Government
officials also have loosened restrictions on Tibetan religious worship and reopened many
of the monasteries and holy sites that were closed in the 1980s.

Even so, the government keeps a firm grip. "Every month, a work team from the religious
affairs bureau and the police come to the temple to make us oppose the Dalai Lama," says
a young monk at the Jokhang temple, Lhasa's holiest site. He declined to be identified for
fear of persecution.

The vice director of administration at the temple, monk Ngawang Quzha, acknowledges
that all monks must undergo "patriotic study lessons."
Interviewed in the presence of officials from the regional government, he says: "Most of
the monks in Tibet would not hope the Dalai Lama returns to Tibet."

The mistrust between Chinese and Tibetans is deep.

"The Tibetan people are very suspicious," Barnett says, "and the Chinese are suspicious
that Tibet is not grateful for this largesse."

Mao Pengfei, a farmer who moved to Lhasa from China's Henan province in 2003, says
he has no Tibetan friends. "We live in different areas, and I don't speak any Tibetan," says
Mao, who now works as a taxi driver.

Cultures clash in Lhasa

Fan Liming, a Chinese engineer who helped build a rail station 70 miles outside Lhasa,
scratches his head at the slow pace and religious underpinnings that are central to Tibetan
life. "I saw Tibetan pilgrims prostrate themselves on the ground, get up, walk three paces,
then prostrate again," Fan says. "They could take months to get to Lhasa. It's difficult for
us Han to understand their faith. These people are not in a hurry."

Tashi Tsering, a Tibetan author who has funded construction of 69 rural schools to
preserve the written language, lives near Jokhang in a house squeezed between two
Chinese-owned fast-food restaurants, Dicos and California Beef Noodles. He marvels at
the new rail system but says it shouldn't be used to bring in migrants. "I hope the Chinese
government will never make that decision," he says.

Development has brought shopping malls and giant apartment blocks to Lhasa. The city's
old quarter is now dotted with shiny, tiled buildings familiar throughout China. Yuthok
Lam, the main shopping street, has been modernized in keeping with Tibetan
architectural style, albeit with one incongruous import -- plastic palm trees.

Tourists like to see the original buildings, "but that doesn't suit development needs," says
Que Longkai, director of architecture at Lhasa's Tibet University. Chinese outsiders "are
not wolves," says the academic, a Lhasa resident for the past five years. "Development is
the only way."

Kelsang Phuntsok, president of the exile group Tibetan Youth Congress, based in
Dharamsala, India, says China's view of development does little for the people he left
behind. "Tibetans don't need skyscrapers. They need education, food, security and
freedom," he says. "A hungry man doesn't need a Mercedes."

(c) USA TODAY, 2006

Source: USA Today, DEC 04, 2006

This paper makes use of both Chinese and English primary sources to reassess China's
agendas concerning Tibet during the Second World War. Previous researches have
suggested that the Japanese invasion of China proper and the emergence of a group of
powers allied with China in its struggle against Japan provided Nationalist China with an
opportunity to advance its claims to the “lost” border regions and restore China's past
territorial glory. Scholarly works have also argued that, being a member of the “Great
Four” after Pearl Harbor, the Chinese government talked volubly about restoring China's
authority over traditional frontier peripheries. In addition, it is suggested that, with
regards to Tibet in the early 1940s, Chiang Kai-shek's wartime regime in Chongqing was
even prepared to resort to military force to bring the long-lasting Tibetan issue to an end.
This research intends to offer a different story. Here it is suggested that efforts made by
the Chinese Nationalists during wartime to assert their rights in the southwest frontier
peripheries were primarily based on considerations of regime security and military
strategy. These considerations were felt to be more important than the ideological
contours of Chinese nationalism shaped as early as Sun Yat-sen's era. As revealed in this
paper, Chiang Kai-shek and his regime were actually taking afar more pragmatic stance
towards the Tibetan issues. This paper further suggests that, as late as the early 1940s, the
formulation of a definite and clear Chinese territoriality, with Tibet unconditionally
included, remained a pending and unresolved issue for China.

Previous researches have suggested that the Japanese invasion of China proper, and the
emergence of a group of powers allied with China in her struggle against Japan, provided
the Kuomintang (KMT) Nationalist Government with an opportunity to advance its
claims to the “lost” border regions and restore China's past territorial glory. Scholarly
works have also argued that, being a member of the “Great Four” after Pearl Harbor, the
Chinese talked volubly about restoring their authority over traditional frontier
peripheries. In addition, it has been suggested that, with regards to Tibet, in the early
1940s, Chiang Kai-shek's wartime regime in Chongqing was even prepared to resort to
military force to bring the long-lasting Tibetan issue to an end.[2] This research intends to
offer a different story. Here it is suggested that, efforts made by the KMT during wartime
to assert its rights in the southwest frontier peripheries were primarily based on
considerations of regime security and military strategy. These considerations were felt to
be more important than the ideological contours of Chinese nationalism shaped as early
as Sun Yat-sen's era. In other words, China's so-called “positive policy,” if there was such
a thing, towards Tibet in the Second World War was actually a reluctant yet unavoidable
alternative that Chongqing had to adopt to ensure the survival of their weak regime in a
precarious milieu. As will be revealed in the following discussions, Chiang Kai-shek and
his KMT regime were actually taking a far more pragmatic stance towards the Tibetan
issues. Moreover, wartime China's professed frontier and Tibetan policy at the highest
official level did not necessarily affect the actual Sino-Tibetan political scenario.

By sifting carefully through available sources, particularly the recently released Chiang
Kai-shek Papers and the Nationalist Government Archives, this study intends to
reconstruct a sober picture of wartime Sino-Tibetan relations and to reexamine the facts.
Here it will be argued that there is actually a discrepancy between what we have learned
from wartime Chinese supreme leaders' political propagandist work, and the superficially
presented facts which present-day scholarly works have heavily relied upon, and how
policymakers of the wartime Chinese government perceived and implemented their
frontier agendas. This study further suggests that as late as the early 1940s the
formulation of a definite and clear Chinese territoriality, with Tibet unconditionally
included, remained a pending and unresolved issue to the Chinese Nationalist authorities.

I. The Tibetan Agenda in the Context of a New Political Milieu

The Nationalist Government, a reincarnation of Sun Yat-sen's southern local regime in

Canton, was officially inaugurated in July, 1925. Within three years, the Nationalist
Revolutionary Army, under Chiang Kai-shek's leadership, defeated several warlords in
south and central China. When the KMT troops captured Beijing in the summer of 1928,
the Nationalist government formally declared its reunification of China. Since its
inception, the Nationalist regime had grand ambitions that made it look different from
other so-called “warlord regimes.” In their propaganda, the Nationalists not only sought
to defend the far-flung borders that the Chinese Republic inherited from the Manchu
empire, but also to reunify the whole nation and to protect its sovereignty. With a view to
achieving this grandiose goal, a revolutionary political construct emerged for the first
time in China's long political history.[3] At various political functions, the Nationalist
government constantly reiterated its claim of the “lost” outlying territories, such as Outer
Mongolia and Tibet, as inseparable part of Chinese territory (see Figure 1). Concerning
frontier and minority affairs, the KMT high echelons repeatedly reinforced revolutionary
and nationalist spirit as well as party guidelines in its official propaganda. The ideal
“five-race republic,” promoted unanimously by Sun Yat-sen and the Beijing warlord
regimes, became the ultimate goal for the new authorities in Nanking vis-à-vis its thorny
border and ethnic agendas.

The building-up of a nationalist image and the promise of implementing a revolutionary

policy towards foreign and frontier affairs to a great extent allowed the KMT nationalists
to convince people in the 1930s and 1940s that they were the only remedy for a weak,
disparaged China to become a great power. Concerning China's Tibetan agenda, as one
study put it recently, the rise of Chinese nationalism and the formation of the KMT
Nationalist regime in 1928, also ended an era in which international negotiations over the
status of Tibet might be possible.[4] Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that given
political and military fragmentation in China proper during the prewar decade (1928–37)
the Nanking Nationalist regime was actually in no position to implement any effective
policy towards China's Tibetan or frontier issues. As a result, outlying territories
continued to be deemed China's “lost” territories, while the Nationalists in their official
propaganda still indefatigably insisted upon their fictitious rights over unattainable border

The all-out Japanese invasion in 1937 forced the Nationalist government to retreat from
coastal China to the interior, and the seat of the government was removed from Nanking
to Chongqing. After Pearl Harbor in December 1941, when China was accepted as one of
the Allied Nations fighting against the Axis, a subtle shift in the political climate could be
perceived in unoccupied West China. In 1943, the abolition of China's unequal treaties,
along with the Nationalist Government's participation in the Cairo Summit and the Four-
Power declaration in Moscow, promoted China's status as, at least theoretically, a leading
world power. This was to have a strong, positive psychological effect on both the KMT
leaders and Chinese mass opinion. The changing international arena invited keen
discussion in China, from the highest official level to the grassroots, about the grandiose
restoration of past territorial rights not only over areas lost to the Japanese but also
former Qing imperial possessions in Inner Asia. The growing attention of public opinion
to reclaiming China's “lost frontiers,” in particular, was based primarily on the following
two theories. Politically, wartime Han Chinese intellectuals, expecting American support
to ensure the establishment of China as a great power, were deeply convinced that the
central government was more qualified than ever and in a position to restore Chinese
territorial controls over border regions.[5] Economically and strategically, scholars and
mass media in Chongqing also asserted that abundant natural resources in the traditional
border areas, such as wool, furs, copper, gold, and timber, would be of great military
significance to wartime China vis-à-vis the Japanese. They believed that the improving
war situation after Pearl Harbor would provide the government with a decent opportunity
to open up previously unexploited frontier territories for the benefit of the whole

Chiang Kai-shek's book, China's Destiny,[7] which was officially published in the spring
of 1943, attracted attention both within China and abroad. In it, Chiang bluntly pointed
out that the five major peoples within China, namely Han Chinese, Manchus, Mongols,
Uighurs, and Tibetans, were merely “various clans of the same racial stock.” His
statement differed saliently from the former ideas developed by Sun Yat-sen, that these
were “Five Races” united only by some spiritual bond.[8] Chiang further argued that
China's traditional territorial domains reached the Himalayas, the Pamirs, the Mid-South
Peninsula, and other Inner Asian peripheries such as Tibet, Chinese Turkestan, Outer
Mongolia, and Tannu Tuva. He took an especially hard stance towards Tibet and
Mongolia, asserting that these territories were necessary to China's national defense and
that “no area can of its own accord assume the form of independence.”[9]

As the supreme leader of wartime China, Chiang Kai-shek's perception of how China's
territoriality should be formulated, as embodied in China's Destiny, drew serious
diplomatic attention. Officials in the United States observed that the spirit of nationalism
was rampant in high quarters in Chongqing, and that China was still “in the throes of
revolution.”[10] The British also found it difficult to believe that the KMT Nationalists
had no imperialist ambitions. London saw China as not only determined to reassert
political domination over the border peoples, but also as having a strong desire to
exercise a preponderant influence in Thailand, Indo-China, and possibly Burma.
Furthermore, in the eyes of British officials, relations between Britain and Nationalist
China were overshadowed by the threat of a direct clash over Tibet and Hong Kong, and
the possibility of friction over the future of China's southwestern neighbors.”[11]

Chiang Kai-shek's momentary confidence in the possibility of restoring China's “lost

territories” can be understood in the context of not only a changing international
environment, but also a shifting domestic political situation in beleaguered China. In
1941, following the removal of the Muslim leader Ma Buqing from the Gansu Corridor,
Chongqing successfully extended its direct authority into Western Gansu. Ma Buqing and
his Muslim cavalry were sandwiched between Ma Bufang in Kokonor and Ma Hongkui
in the Alashan territory of Western Inner Mongolia. These three Muslim warlords had
actually constituted a continuous bloc of Muslim influence across the Northwest, and a
barrier between the KMT authorities in south Gansu and de facto independent Xinjiang.
In early 1942, Chongqing successfully broke up this Muslim bloc by ordering Ma Buqing
to transfer his troops to the Tsaidam Basin of Kokonor on the pretext of “colonizing and
guarding” that area. Since then, Chiang Kai-shek's lineal troops had moved into the
strategically important Gansu Corridor on the road to Xinjiang, (see Figures 1 and 2) and
were to be found, as one British diplomat observed, “in every district city as far west as
the furthest outposts of Gansu Province in the sands of Central Asia.”[12] The successful
out-maneuvering of Ma Buqing's Muslim influence over Western Gansu also contributed
to Chiang Kai-shek's first “inspection tour” of the warlords' domains of Kokonor,
Ningxia, and the KMT's newly-achieved Gansu Corridor in the summer of 1942.[13]

Almost simultaneously, the Xinjiang warlord Sheng Shicai brought about a change of
policy that would put an end to his long and independent rule in Chinese Inner Asia.
Expecting that Germany would defeat Russia, Sheng swung from a proSoviet to an anti-
Communist stance and tried to patch up his relations with the KMT regime. In the
autumn of 1942, Madame Chiang flew to the capital city of Xinjiang and negotiated with
Sheng. The result of this discussion was outwardly satisfactory to Chongqing, for shortly
afterwards Sheng made a declaration announcing his full allegiance to Chiang Kai-shek.
Soon afterwards, the KMT provincial party headquarters was inaugurated formally in
Urumqi. For the first time since 1928 the national flag as well as the KMT party flag
could be flown throughout Xinjiang, and the Chongqing Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(Waijiaobu) was able to dispatch its own officials to Urumqi, charged with the conduct of
the foreign affairs of this province.[14] Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek's military lineal
forces, now deployed in the Gansu Corridor, began to march further northwestwards and
stationed themselves in Hami. The well-known Soviet “Eighth Regiment” infantry force,
on the other hand, was obliged to withdraw from Eastern Xinjiang. Towards the end of
1943, when Sheng Shicai realized that Russia's defeat was neither imminent nor even
likely, he attempted once more to reverse his policy. It did not work, and in 1944 the
KMT regime replaced him with Wu Zhongxin, one of Chiang Kai-shek's most trusted
frontier advisors, a move that symbolized Chongqing's temporary success in asserting its
political authority in Chinese Turkestan.[15]

It was a preliminary achievement for the authority of Chongqing to have reached the
borderlands of Chinese Turkestan and Muslim-ruled territories of Kokonor, the Gansu
Corridor, and the Alashan region in Inner Mongolia. It therefore came as no surprise that
KMT policy planners took positive steps to devise ways of bringing another “lost
dependency” — Tibet — into closer Nationalist control. Among various plans broached
around 1942–43, some of Chiang Kai-shek's military advisors undertook a set of political
moves that merit scrutiny. In a joint conference attended by several top governmental
bodies in March 1943, the KMT military staff unusually proposed the gradual abolition
of Tibet's politico-religious dual system. This implied a transformation of the Tibetan
traditional structure, both politically and socially. Given that the KMT regime had
previously always maintained that the Tibetans should be granted autonomy within the
Chinese republican system, this change in position was significant. While claiming to
preserve Tibet's autonomy, and to strengthen the existing Chinese Mission in Lhasa, some
KMT military leaders were actually proposing that Chonging should send in more pro-
Han monks and political activists from China proper to Lhasa. This was the first step in
their plans to infiltrate Tibetan governmental structure. As a result, non-aristocratic and
non-ecclesiastical Tibetans would gradually be recruited into the political circle to
conduct political affairs, whereas the number of monk officials would slowly be reduced
to a minimum. It was also suggested that the KMT regime should dispatch well-trained
Han Chinese monks to Tibet to participate in local monasterial affairs and encourage
Han-Tibetan Buddhist interactions. The Chongqing military officials believed that with
time and effort, the Tibetan political system would eventually be separated from the
religious sector, and a new, purely secular governmental structure favorable to the
penetration of KMT influence could be established in Lhasa.[16]

The flourishing of various economic and financial projects related to Tibet around 1942–
43 also revealed how Chongqing unilaterally perceived its relations with Tibet, as well as
how an ideal Sino-Tibetan interaction should be shaped after Pearl Harbor. One novel
idea was for the demarcation of Tibet and, as it was referred to by some KMT officials,
“freshly-submitted” Xinjiang into “special economic zones.” These Chongqing planners
proposed that, given that their sovereignty over Xinjiang and Tibet was “soon going to be
restored,” these two outlying regions should maintain their independent economic and
monetary systems. By doing so, the worsening inflation in Sichuan proper would not spill
over into these areas. Chongqing policy designers also suggested that regulations for
currency exchange between southwest China and these newly-proposed frontier
economic zones should be promulgated as soon as possible, with a view to meeting the
“expected blooming commercial intercourse between Sichuan proper and the
frontiers.”[17] Obviously exhilarated by the belief that the renovation of China's full
authority in the frontiers was imminent, Chongqing officials meanwhile brooked no delay
to schedule the importation of urgently-needed war materials, such as wool, fur, and other
heavy industry raw materials from Xinjiang and Tibet.[18]

An on-the-spot investigative report written in May 1943 also elaborated upon how
wartime KMT officials formulated a closer Sino-Tibetan financial and commercial
affiliation once this “lost dependency” returned to the fold of the Chinese Republic. After
personally surveying the economic and commercial situations in Xikang (see Figure 1)
and India in early 1943, two of Chiang Kaishek's senior officials advised that, with Tibet
being further integrated with southwest China, the Central Bank of China should institute
branch headquarters in Lhasa. This arrangement would accordingly facilitate the Chinese
purchase of Tibetan wool and would help establish Chongqing's financial presence in this
region. They meanwhile advocated that the KMT regime should make full use of
overseas Chinese merchants in India, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal, all of whom had
business connections with the Tibetan firms, in order to facilitate trade between
beleaguered China and Tibet.[19] Another report also indicated that the Central
Government should extensively promote the Sino-Tibetan tea business, and should
provide the Tibetans with preferential tax and customs treatment. It was further suggested
that Chongqing should invest a significant amount of capital in KMTbacked firms to
purchase Tibetan traditional products on a large scale. By doing so, the report concluded,
the Government of India would no longer be able to monopolize Tibet's economy, and
China's status in this region would be perpetually consolidated.[20]

II. Sino-Tibetan Political Maneuvering in Reality: The Roadway Issue

Chiang Kai-shek's novel approach towards China's racial and territorial themes, along
with vigorous frontier planning at an official level, revealed how the KMT leadership
crafted their Tibetan proposition both ideally and subjectively. However, the wishes of
wartime Chinese planners regarding the mapping out of their future Tibetan agenda by no
means equated with real political interactions between China and Tibet. As a matter of
fact, instead of adopting a hard-line and revolutionary policy embracing the spirit of
nationalism illustrated in Chiang Kai-shek's grandiose statements, during the war, the
Nationalist officials took a rather pragmatic, if not ad hoc, stance concerning the a real
southwest-frontier scenario. In other words, there was a discrepancy between the policy-
making and official statements by the top leaders and planners, and the execution of these
policies in the actual Sino-Tibetan political setting. To better understand the reality of
wartime China's interaction with Tibet, one must not be misled by the professed policy.

I shall start by depicting a different picture of China's wartime Tibetan agenda with the
story of a roadway issue. Japanese military expansion in the Far East had been growing
intensively since the autumn of 1940. In September, Japanese forces occupied the
northern part of French Indo-China, where Tokyo set up its military bases and established
a substantial protectorate of its own. Soon afterwards, in order to blockade unoccupied
southwest China both militarily and economically, the important rail line between Hanoi
and Kunming was sealed by the Japanese. This action coincided with the temporary
closure of the Burma Road by the British due to strong pressure from the Japanese (see
Figure 3). These events dealt a damaging blow to the Chinese, whose international supply
routes were now cut off entirely and whose wartime materials previously transported via
these routes into Japanese-besieged China, became unavailable.[21] Although the British
reopened the Burma Road three months after its closure, the establishment of Japanese
authority in IndoChina continued to heighten Chinese fears of an attack on this route.
Chiang Kaishek, for instance, expressed his concern to the British Ambassador in
Chongqing in late 1940 that the Japanese might attack Yunnan very soon in order to
destroy the Burma Road, China's last means of contact with the outside world. Chiang
further pointed out that if Tokyo's offensive eventually succeeded, the Chinese armies
would be surrounded and there would be an end to Chinese resistance. The British Prime
Minister, Winston Churchill, also shared Chiang's pessimistic viewpoint. In an audience
with the Chinese ambassador in London, Mr. Churchill expressed his deep concern that
south China might be the next Japanese military objective.[22]

The unexpected Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought together
China, the United States, and Britain as new allies against the Axis Powers. Yet for the
Chinese government, the formation of a new alliance could not immediately reverse its
deteriorating military situation in the Far East. Neither were the Chongqing officials, who
theoretically no longer fought a lone battle against their enemy, able to avoid the
likelihood of the breakdown of their regime caused by the relentless Japanese military
advance. From the end of 1941 through to early 1942, Japanese forces captured the
Philippines, followed by other Pacific islands, attacked Hong Kong, and ultimately forced
the British to withdraw from Singapore and Malaya. In the spring of 1942, key cities in
south and central Burma such as Rangoon, Bhamo, and Myithyina, also fell into Japanese

In contrast with the Japanese victories in the Far East and Southeast Asia, the British had
suffered severe military setbacks which had had an extremely bad effect on Chinese
morale. For some time, Chiang Kai-shek and his regime were haunted by the possibility
of the eventual British abandonment of their Burmese and Indian domains. The fears of
Chongqing officials were not without reason, particularly when considering that the
United States had declared that all available resources would be used to secure the
Philippines. Meanwhile no similar declaration came from London to give the Indians
something for which to fight. On the other hand, in early 1942 the situation in south
China was alarming. The Sixth Army of the Chinese army, now a part of the allied forces
that were to be sent to the Burma theatre, was kept in Kunming until it was known
whether the Japanese were about to attack Yunnan or Burma.[23] At one point, people in
Chongqing were seemingly convinced of the threat of a domino effect, whereby the
whole of Burma, the Indian subcontinent, as well as Tibet and other Himalayan states
would sooner or later fall into Japanese hands.[24]

News of pro-active Japanese activities in Kokonor, southern Tibet and the vicinity of
northern India also inflicted considerable anxiety on KMT officials about regime security.
By 1939, the headquarters for Japanese secret service activities, based in Tokyo-
controlled Inner Mongolia, had extensively infiltrated Ningxia, Kokonor (Qinghai
Province), and northern Xinjiang and was conducting propagandist activities with a view
to creating disaffection among the local minority inhabitants (see Figure 1).[25] A
confidential report of the Military Affairs Commission in late 1942 further confirmed the
news that the well-known Japanese “fifth column” was already reaching deep into north
India, south Tibet, and adjacent areas where they vigorously propagated rumours that the
“defeated British” were soon going to surrender to the Japanese empire. The Tokyo
authorities meanwhile went to great lengths to declare their good faith to the Tibetans,
convincing Lhasa that due to military setbacks the withdrawing Allied forces, together
with their political and cultural influences, would soon enter Tibet. Meanwhile the
Japanese took pains to persuade Lhasa that they were the only nation genuinely willing to
help the Tibetans in a fulfilling of their desire for national salvation and self-
determination.[26] The Chinese Embassy in London even reported to Chongqing that a
group of Congress Party members were intriguing with the Japanese in north India, where
they had recruited Tibetan outlaws and bandits and were plotting to seize war materials
for the use of anti-British campaigns.[27]

The precarious military and political situation in the Far East, as well as the likelihood of
Japanese encroachment in South Asia, inevitably forced the jeopardized Nationalist
government to seek to advance its authority in China's southwestern peripheries to
counteract its opponents. The development of new routes to secure the supply line of
unoccupied China, in particular, was one of the most imperative items on the Chongqing
policy planners' agenda.[28] In addition, after the nightmarish experience of the Burma
Road being closed, the Chinese were obliged to consider the feasibility of opening up
alternative routes. Towards the end of 1940, the idea of building a China-India roadway
first emerged as a priority in Chongqing and was strongly supported by Chiang Kai-shek.
After a series of internal discussions held by the KMT officials in February 1941, Chiang
formally ordered the construction of a motorway from southwest Sichuan Province,
through Rima in southwest Tibet, to the Assam border in India. In May, two Chinese
survey parties were dispatched as preparation for the road project.[29]

Before long, however, the program had to be suspended temporarily when the Chinese
attempted but failed to secure Tibetan support. Having been informed of the possible
construction of such a roadway, the Lhasa authorities resolutely refused to accept it,
regarding China's intention as yet another attempt to regain a foothold in their country. In
July 1941 the Tibetan frontier officials were instructed by their government to turn back
any Chinese survey parties that they encountered in the border districts. According to the
Chinese, Tibetan frontier garrison forces not only drove back the unarmed Chinese
survey groups but even went as far as bombing bridges and roads on the border in order
to prevent the attempted entry of the Chinese.[30]

The Tibetan objection to the Chinese proposed roadway forced Chongqing to consider an
alternative route. In February 1942, Chiang Kai-shek paid an unofficial visits to India.
During his short stay, Chiang endeavored to persuade the British and Indian governments
to accept the idea of constructing a motor road “outside” Tibet, from the Assam rail and
river heads at Sadiya and Ledo, through Fort Hertz, south to Myithyina in Burma, and
then to Longling in Yunnan Province (see Figure 3).[31] Chiang's modified road project
revealed his realistic stance towards the Tibetans. Even if the Chinese failed to secure
Lhasa's full support over the road issue, Chongqing could not risk armed conflict with the
Tibetans, especially during the critical period when in the face of the possible fall of
Rangoon, the transportation of U.S. lend-lease stores to China was imperative.[32] Yet
though the British agreed to Chiang's latest road proposal, the deteriorating situation in
Upper Burma and the fall of Myithyina in May 1942 resulted in the withdrawal of Allied
forces from Burma to India. Eventually the construction of this newly proposed China-
India motorway via Upper Burma would be aborted.

While the China-India roadway scheme had become impractical due to the unfavorable
war conditions, it was the British who unilaterally reopened negotiations with the
Tibetans for the shipping of goods from India via Tibet to China.[33] In March 1942 the
British sent an official to Lhasa to persuade the Tibetans that they could best protect their
future interests by helping Britain and China in their hour of need. At first, Lhasa
categorically turned down any suggestion of using Tibetan soil for the purpose of
transporting supplies to China, emphasizing that Tibet would rather remain neutral in the
war. However, the British continued to exert pressure on Lhasa, and in the early summer
of 1942, the Tibetans grudgingly agreed to allow the transport of “non-military” supplies
from India to China through their territory.[34] As a matter of fact, the British not only
managed to open a pack route via Tibet, they also supported the Chinese in the
establishment of several other international supply lines from Sichuan via Soviet Central
Asia. In the summer of 1942, one of these pack routes was opened from Baluchistan
through Iran, Soviet Turkestan and Kazakhstan, to Xinjiang. With the opening of this
route, the transport of at least 2,000 tons of goods per month was made possible by rail
and lorry from India, via Mashhad in Iran to Askabad on the Russian trans-Caspian
railway. The Russians would take over the service from Askabad to Alma Ata in eastern
Turkestan by rail and thence by lorry to Hami in eastern Xinjiang (see Figure 1). The
Chinese would then carry on from Hami to Lanzhou in Gansu, and beyond.[35]
Chongqing officials later proposed other new pack routes, including the Leh-Karakoram
line and the Gilgit-Hunza-Kashgar line (see Figure 2). These pack routes were once again
encouraged by the British and American Governments.[36]

In early 1941 Chiang Kai-shek ordered the construction of several highways in southwest
China to link up Sichuan proper with new international supply lines in Chinese Inner
Asia. By 1942, two important Sichuan-Xikang roads were nearing completion. These
motor roads not only served to strengthen Yunnan in the event of that province being
attacked, but would also relieve some of the Burma Road traffic. Transportation facilities
in unoccupied China were further enhanced when a third road, from Kangding
(Tachienlu) to Sining was undertaken in 1943 to link up with Xinjiang and even as far
west as Soviet Russia.[37] Nonetheless, it was the building of two other motor roads, the
Qinghai-Xinjiang route, and the Qinghai-Tibet route (Sining to Jyekundo), that deserve
attention. The completion of these two roads was to be of far-reaching significance for
the development of KMT influence in Central Asia. Chiang Kai-shek therefore allocated
a huge amount of financial resources to Ma Bufang, who took primary responsibility for
their construction. Thousands of local Qinghai Mongolians and Tibetans were mobilized
to participate in the task. Ma Bufang's co-operative attitude in assisting in the
construction of these motor roads clearly revealed his political ambitions. Apart from
seeking to further tighten control over his Kokonor domain, Ma also intended to extend
his political and military authority into north Gansu and south Xinjiang. On the other
hand, the KMT's huge investment reaped considerable rewards: communications between
Sichuan proper and Inner Asian territories greatly improved, and the moving of Chinese
forces from Kokonor to Tibet and Xinjiang was much easier than before. By the same
token, the realization of these road routes suggested that the advancement of Nationalist
influence into Tibet and Xinjiang was now more than a mere fantasy.[38]

The Japanese military expansionism to East Asian theatres unwittingly offered the
beleaguered KMT regime opportunities to reinforce its authority in Tibet and other
outlying peripheries in Inner Asia. More significantly, in order to secure the transport of
lend-lease materials from the outside world to unoccupied China, Chiang Kai-shek took a
rather practical stance over wartime China's Tibetan issue. This tendency was fully
revealed in the course of the China-India road issue. On receiving the news that the
British had unilaterally persuaded Lhasa concerning its pack-route agenda, the
Chongqing officials at first demurred, viewing the British good offices as an affront to
their traditional position in Tibet.[39] Yet before long, a realistic stance was formulated
within the National government. In July 1942 the Military Affairs Commission, the top
organ of the wartime Chinese government chaired personally by Chiang Kai-shek,
proposed that cooperation with the British over the new pack route via Tibet should be
effected without delay. This body pragmatically suggested that China should not take the
direct contact between Britain and Tibet too seriously. For the sake of the development of
the supply line as well as the transport of war materials, the Commission further proposed
that China should not interfere with the Anglo-Tibetan negotiations, and should even
“allow the British to continue their unilateral diplomatic activities in Lhasa.”[40]

After the release of this message, there was a subtle shift in the political climate
surrounding China's frontier agenda and there followed a flurry of “pragmatic” proposals
from Chongqing. In particular, the feasibility of organizing a joint Sino-British transport
administration in Tibet was seriously discussed among KMT officials. Interestingly, ideas
such as this were no longer regarded as being “politically incorrect”: it was not
necessarily deemed as undermining China's national dignity to be seen co-operating with
the “imperialists” over the frontier and territorial issue. Chongqing was even ready, albeit
quite reluctantly, to accept the British proposal of establishing a bureaucratic agency
entitled the “Indo-Sino-Tibetan Transportation Office,” managed by Chinese, British, and
Tibetan officials who would conduct route affairs. Chongqing's tentative acceptance of
such a tripartite arrangement implicitly revealed that the Nationalist officials were tacitly
acknowledging the existence of Tibet's independent status outside China's effective
political jurisdiction.[41]

The KMT leadership's realistic attitude merits our attention. Since the 1913–14 Simla
Conference, when the Beijing republican government reluctantly accepted the
participation of a Tibetan plenipotentiary in this tripartite conference, no Chinese central
regime had been willing to consent to any public co-operation with the British over
Tibetan issues. Now the Sino-Japanese war had left the Nationalist Government with no
choice but to readjust its Tibetan policy for the sake of regime survival. In order to
alleviate British suspicion about possible Chinese political penetration of Tibet, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not delay in its attempts to convince London that in
wartime the only goal of the Chinese Government was to defeat Japan, and therefore
Chongqing possessed “no political ambitions towards Tibet.”[42] According to Dr.
Wellington Koo, China's wartime Ambassador to Britain, Chiang Kai-shek had
reluctantly agreed not to bring up the subject of Hong Kong and Tibet in the course of
negotiations for a new Anglo-Chinese Treaty in order to secure comprehensive British
support for KMT China.[43]

III. The Tibetan Foreign Office Bureau and the Kong Qingzong Incident

The KMT regime's compromising attitude was not only shown on the roadway issue, but
was also revealed in the face of several other of Lhasa's unilateral diplomatic démarches
during the war. In the summer of 1942, the Tibetan government suddenly notified the
British, Nepalese, and Chinese representatives in Lhasa that a “Foreign Office Bureau”
had been officially instituted under the Tibetan cabinet and they would have to deal with
this new office. According to Tibetan officials, this body was created in order to improve
the structure of their government, for it was not usual that foreign representatives in any
country should have direct access to the Cabinet or Executive Council.[44] The British
complied, believing that their daily work would be facilitated since the head of the
Bureau would be far more readily available for consultation than the Tibetan Chief
Councilors of State. The Chinese, however, regarded this unilateral action by the
authorities in Lhasa as evidence of their “sinister attempt” to transfer their de facto
autonomous status to an even bolder de jure independence. Furthermore, senior advisors
of the KMT regime were convinced that, if Chongqing failed to respond negatively to the
existence of such an office created by the Lhasa “separatists,” it would be misunderstood,
giving the impression that the Chinese government was prepared to recognize Tibet's
independence from China's territorial domain.[45]

However, in addition to the above viewpoints, there was also a group of KMT high
officials who held a much more realistic view of this development. These officials
asserted that the establishment of a Tibetan Foreign Affairs Bureau would not pose any
immediate problems for China's wartime diplomacy. What concerned them more
seriously was that once the Japanese had invaded India from Burma or Western Yunnan,
there would be a genuine possibility that Tibet might fall into Japanese hands. These
practical-minded officials could not rule out the possibility of collaboration between
Japan and Lhasa. They therefore envisaged that, as a result of this collaboration,
southwest China would be exposed to a real military threat far more perilous than the
emergence of a Foreign Affairs Bureau in Lhasa.[46] Therefore, having considered the
delicate political and military situation in South Asia and southwest China from a
practical viewpoint, the high authorities in Chongqing in the end simply made an official
announcement refusing to acknowledge this newly created office in Lhasa. On the one
hand, the KMT regime instructed its representative office in Lhasa not to have dealings
with this body. Yet on the other hand, the KMT officials pronounced that henceforth, all
negotiations between China and Lhasa would be carried out by the MTAC and the
Tibetan representative office in Chongqing. Consequently, the Nationalist government
avoided losing too much face over the uncompromising sovereignty issue, while the
bilateral communication channel between Chongqing and Lhasa was skillfully

The disputes that arose in late 1942 between the Chinese representative in Lhasa, Dr.
Kong Qingzong,[48] and the Tibetan government provides us with another chance to
examine the reality of how wartime China interacted with the Tibetans. In 1940 Kong
assumed office as China's new representative to Tibet. According to British sources, since
the beginning of his tenure in Lhasa, Kong's arrogant attitude and his inclination towards
favoring Han-Chinese chauvinism had caused resentment among Tibetan officials.[49] In
October 1942, a half-Chinese Tibetan became involved in a serious brawl with a half-
Nepalese Tibetan. When four Tibetan policemen intervened, the half-Chinese man fled to
the Chinese Mission, where he sought refuge as a Chinese national. The Tibetan
policemen pursued him into the Mission and Kong, furious, captured the Tibetan
policemen. The infuriated Lhasa authorities decided to cease providing the Chinese
Mission with daily necessities and demanded that Chongqing recall Kong.[50]
On hearing this news, the Chongqing MTAC officials decided that the whole episode was
a political plot orchestrated by the Lhasa Government. These Chinese officials were
convinced that Lhasa was capitalizing upon this incident to test Chongqing's bottom line
towards the Tibetan independent movement. In the eyes of the MTAC advisors, the
Tibetans were also seeking to force the Chinese officials in Lhasa to contact, and even
recognize, the new Foreign Affairs Bureau. The MTAC policymakers therefore insisted
that no concessions should be made to Lhasa. Officials dealing with frontier and minority
affairs from this body meanwhile warned that, once Chongqing complied with Lhasa and
relieved Kong of his position, they could not be confident that a newly appointed
representative would be dispatched to Tibet and take over Kong's position smoothly.[51]
Nevertheless, regardless of the MTAC officials' cautious warnings, Chiang Kai-shek was
determined to compromise. He ordered the replacement of Kong with Shen Zonglian,
who was then serving in the Office of Aides. By dispatching one of his trusted
subordinates to Lhasa, Chiang hoped that a deteriorating Chongqing-Lhasa relationship
might therefore be improved. On Chiang Kai-shek's insistence, moreover, almost all
former staff of the Chinese Mission in Lhasa were withdrawn and replaced.[52]

IV. Reconsidering China's Military Proposals Towards Tibet

Perhaps the best illustration of the disparity between the Chongqing leaders' theoretical
version of their Tibetan formula and their actual reaction to the political scenario in
southwest China is Chongqing's wartime disposition of military troops on the Sino-
Tibetan borders. Let us draw our attention back to the roadway issue. Since the summer
of 1942 when the Tibetans officially accepted the pack-transport route for the first time,
their resistance to any possible influx of Chinese influence was as steadfast as ever.
Lhasa's determination was demonstrated when they firmly rejected the dispatch of
Chinese technicians along the route to supervise the work. In November 1942, when the
Chinese realized that the Tibetans would not allow the posting of any Chinese officials
along the route, Chongqing compromised by contacting private Tibetan transport firms as
a way of “de-politicizing” the route issue in order to appease Lhasa's suspicions. The
British agreed to this arrangement and continued in their attempts to persuade Lhasa to
come to terms with the Chinese.[53] However, the Tibetans responded by forbidding any
private Tibetan trade firms to contact the Chinese without Lhasa's consent. In January
1943, Chongqing officials were further informed by Lhasa that no permission would be
granted for shipments through Tibet unless a tripartite agreement with Britain was
signed.[54] The Chinese authorities did not actually reject such a tripartite disposition.
Yet even as late as March 1943, almost nine months after Lhasa had consented to the
transport of non-military goods via Tibet, there was still no China-Britain-Tibet tripartite
agreement for the transport of war materials needed by the Chinese. The Tibetan
government had even taken the rather rash step of ordering all Tibetan firms to stop the
shipment of all goods, including non-military ones, to China, a move which infuriated
Chiang Kai-shek.[55]

The possible threat of all-out Japanese activity in Upper Burma, north India, and the
adjacent Himalayan areas, along with Tibet's unco-operative manner with regard to the
pack route issue, caused the Chinese government to gradually lose patience. Relations
between China and Tibet became so tense that, in the spring of 1943, news was rife that
Chinese forces were being mobilized towards the SinoTibetan border. The alarmed
Tibetans were alleged to have sent their troops to south Kokonor to guard against any
possible Chinese invasion.[56] While the Chinese and Tibetans accused each other of
threats of aggression, Chiang Kai-shek privately assured the Allied leaders that his
country would not resort to force to invade Tibet, and any movement of troops would be
made for the purpose of China's “self-defense.”[57] In addition, as some sources indicate,
Chiang Kai-shek's orders to the warlords to move their troops to the borders were
ostensibly intended to overawe the “obstinate” Tibetans. However, there was also the
underlying hope that Chongqing might be able to take this opportunity to send Chiang's
own forces into these border provinces under the pretext of reinforcement.[58]

The mobilization of Chinese troops towards Tibet, which is portrayed in contemporary

literature as the best evidence of the Chinese intention to use military means to solve the
Tibetan issue, merits closer examination. Actually as early as mid-1942, when
confidential reports were submitted to the Chongqing government about the growing
danger of Japanese encroachments in south Tibet and north India, both Liu Wenhui in
Xikang and Ma Bufang in Kokonor had been instructed to move their troops to the Sino-
Tibetan borders.[59] According to Chinese sources, Ma Bufang immediately followed
Chiang's instruction and moved his Muslim cavalry towards the border. On the other
hand, Liu Wenhui, who strongly suspected Chiang's motive, tentatively agreed to
mobilize his forces so long as Chongqing was willing to offer him more military
resources.[60] Yet from Chongqing's point of view, placing troops on the Sino-Tibetan
borders reflected, in reality, how Chiang Kai-shek's military advisors and planners
conceptualized their regime security and national defense at this particular moment
during the war. As they saw it, once India or Tibet actually fell under the Japanese
control, then the whole of Interior China, including Sichuan proper, would be exposed to
direct Japanese threats. In other words, instead of genuinely attempting to launch an
attack on Tibet, Chongqing was actually arranging a military barrier on the Xikang-
Tibetan and Kokonor-Tibetan borders.[61] Although only implicitly, Chiang Kai-shek
was actually viewing Tibet as a buffer zone, with which the Chinese might keep out any
possible Japanese military infiltration arriving from a politically unstable India, or a
militarily vulnerable Tibet.[62]

The above argument can be further consolidated by examining how Chiang Kai-shek's
trusted top military advisors viewed their Southwestern border defense. Considering that
any military deployment within the Tibetan boundary would have been virtually
impossible to carry out, Chiang Kai-shek's policy planners in a confidential scheme
shrewdly suggested that it would be best to leave the unresolved Sino-Tibetan border
disputes aside. They also preferred to shelve any foreseeable negotiation over boundary
issues in southwest China. They were convinced that, given Chongqing's negligible
control over Tibet and the adjacent Lhasa-administered Kham area, a deliberately-
managed nebulous borderline between China and Tibet would be favorable in terms of
allowing Chongqing free military action if and when needed.[63] Some KMT officials
meanwhile suggested that a small number of Chinese troops should be sent into areas
bordering Bhutan, Sikkim, and other Himalayan regions with a view to guarding against
possible Japanese penetration. Yet Chiang Kai-shek never looked with favor on such an
idea. He still regarded the Kokonor-Tibetan and Xikang-Tibetan boundaries as the front
line for China's wartime military defense in the Southwest.[64]

V. Concluding Remarks

In 1943 Chiang Kai-shek's KMT China was accepted into the ranks of the “Big Four.”
This gesture may be regarded as having basically realized Sun Yat-sen's bequeathed task
of “the elevation of China to a position of freedom and equality in the family of nations.”
It was also around this time that the Chongqing KMT authority first reached China's
traditional outlying possessions of Xinjiang, the Gansu Corridor, and the eastern part of
Inner Mongolia. The presence of KMT influence along the frontier territories would
inevitably inspire high Nationalist policymakers with enough confidence to draw a
grandiose picture of the Sino-Tibetan integration. Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek's China's
Destiny not only attracted tremendous attention among the political circles of the 1940s,
but also greatly influenced contemporary historiography focusing on the Republican and
Nationalist Chinese frontier and minority issues.[65] Chiang's fresh racial and territorial
statements in 1943 concerning China's traditional peripheries are often referred to in
scholarly works as the corollary of China's post-Pearl Harbor hard-line stance vis-à-vis its
pending territorial issues over Tibet.

In this paper, however, it is argued that implementation of Chongqing's Tibetan agendas

after Pearl Harbor in reality presented a rather different scenario, which could hardly be
portrayed as fitting the “revolutionary” or “nationalist” spirit. Written in the midst of the
Second World War, China's Destiny undeniably demonstrated Chiang Kai-shek's solid
commitments towards China's frontier and minority issues. Yet Chiang's political bible by
no means offered a genuine Sino-Tibetan political scenario in the post-Pearl Harbor era.
According to this analysis, during wartime when the issue of regime security came to the
fore, the KMT Nationalists were taking a rather pragmatic stance towards their frontier
agenda. The Chongqing ruling officials, whose influence was still feeble in Tibet and
adjacent areas, were substantially more concerned about the security and defense of their
precarious regime than with issues such as whether their fictitious legitimate status in
Tibet would be damaged, or whether their national dignity would be preserved in the
border regions. When scrutinizing how the Nationalists dealt with a more realistic and
important issue such as the China-India route, we also discover that there was a
substantial gap between what the KMT leaders officially claimed in their nationalist
propaganda, and how their regime operated in reality. As can be shown in the pack-route
issue, in the course of negotiations the KMT policy planners accepted the idea of joint
action by China and Britain over route affairs. They did not even reject the appearance of
a prospective tripartite administration to deal with the transport affairs and to secure
wartime materials. This was a vivid contrast to the hard-line attitude adopted over Tibetan
questions in the prewar decade, when the KMT officials, whose attention was focused
primarily on China proper, felt they had no substantial interests to win or lose over
China's territoriality in the frontier peripheries.
Beginning from mid-1937, the Sino-Japanese war forced the Nationalist government to
cope with semi-independent warlords and to painstakingly build a KMT-controlled state
in southwest China. The Japanese imposition of military and economic blockades further
compelled the besieged Nationalists to struggle for the survival of their regime by
seeking new supply lines in Inner Asia. With hindsight, it is one of the ironies of history
that the Japanese had unwittingly contributed to the partial introduction of KMT authority
in Tibet, as well as along southwestern borders and other Inner Asian frontiers where
Nationalist influence had barely existed before. As a result, it was not so much the “Great
Power” created in wartime that sought to restore its territorially glorious past in Tibet as it
was a precarious regime that was grudgingly given a bitter opportunity for the
advancement of its influence into China's traditional outlying territories.

Another point deserving attention is the matter of how Chiang Kai-shek and his military
staff once formulated their viewpoint regarding the national defense at the “backdoor” of
their southwestern Chinese domain. In the heyday of the Japanese offensive in Southeast
Asia, the fall of India, Burma, and Tibet was entirely possible in the eyes of Chongqing
officials. The KMT authorities at one point greatly feared that the approach of the
Japanese via a defenseless Tibet, marching eastwards all the way down to Sichuan via
Xikang, was imminent. Chongqing's fear was increased by the fact that the government
was in no real position either to control Tibet or to deploy its own troops in this region for
defense purposes. As a result, Chiang Kai-shek could only attempt to order his disloyal
warlord subordinates to move their forces on the Sino-Tibetan borders, on the pretext of
punishing the “treacherous,” “obstinate,” and unco-operative Tibetans. This was a
defensive reaction to possible Japanese infiltration. Half a century earlier, the British,
concerned that Russian and Chinese influences might approach from the north, managed
Tibet as a buffer state to protect their Indian domain. Interestingly, yet ironically, half a
century later it was the Chinese, fearing Japanese encroachment from the south, who
harboured the idea of viewing Tibet as a buffer zone to keep away any possible invasion
from their enemy.

According to L.K.D. Kristof, a frontier is an outward-oriented march line, a border area

in which the effective territorial control of the central state is limited. It is also an area of
potential expansion, for a forward-moving culture bent on occupying the whole belt in
front. A boundary, by contrast, is an inward-looking “bound”, a sharp dividing line
incorporating territories under the exclusive jurisdiction of a modern state.[66] The
evolution of Sino-Tibetan relations from the late Qing period until the Communist
takeover in the 1950s, as one source suggests, clearly demonstrates this frontier-boundary
transformation.[67] If this argument is correct, then this present study may further
suggest that, as late as the early 1940s, the formulation of a definite and clear Chinese
territoriality, with Tibet unconditionally included, remained implicitly a pending and
unresolved agenda to the Chinese Nationalist authorities.

Political economic, cultural and ethnic conflicts exist in Tibet and its surrounding areas.
Peaceful resolution of the Tibet Problem will rely upon rationality of each side involved.
The Tibet Problem has roots in the British invasion and in Mao Ze-dong's historical
mistake of replacing the Tibetan serfdom system with Communism. The welfare/carrot-
andstick policy used to govern Tibet since the 1980s has been proved ineffective for the
social development in Tibet. The Dalai Lama's 'Great Tibet' claim will cause civil and
ethnic wars among the Tibetans and between them and other Chinese ethnic groups.
However, the Dalai Lama's 'one country with two systems' proposal that follows the
Hong Kong model seems to be a realistic approach to a peaceful resolution of the Tibet

Introduction: facing the reality

An increasing number of international politicians and scholars have realized the

unfeasibility of Tibet independence, especially the catastrophe that might fall onto the
Tibetans, the Chinese, and peoples living in the eastern hemisphere if it became true. The
causes of social disturbance in Tibet are far more complicated than what has been
propagandized by either the Chinese Communist Party or the Dalai Lama. It is well
known that political, economic, cultural, and ethnic conflicts have existed in the Tibet
Autonomous Region for centuries. In recent years, such strives are getting more and more
intensified. Peaceful resolution of the Tibet Problem will rely upon rationality of each
side involved. Lessons from history, including the recent Bosnian War, tell us that
extreme ethnic nationalism will not help resolve any ethnic strife or economic problem in
any modem society. Cultural differences in any case cannot serve as a criterion for the
creation or splitting of a nation in today's world.

A simple fact is that the fate of the Tibetans and that of the Han-Chinese and other ethnic
Chinese people are interconnected. We are born neighbors and brothers and sisters. We
have suffered and survived together in history. We have a shared future of political and
economic development and a future of co-existence in a multicultural society. A united
China based on democratic ideals will make it possible to have appropriate policies on
ethnic autonomous governance towards the Tibetans and other Chinese ethnic minorities.
Another piece of reality is that the United Nations (UN) and countries around the world
recognize Tibet as an integral and indivisible part of China. The self-styled Tibetan
government in exile led by the Dalai Lama has not been recognized by any nation as the
polity of Tibet. Above all, the Tibetans who are living in Tibet are not the same as they
were half a century ago. The then serfs have changed their social status and become
Communist cadres, government employees, and land owners. Their interests may not be
the same as that of the Dalai Lama and his followers. The multiethnic, multicultural
complication of the social fabric of China and the changes in the Tibetan community
must be taken into consideration in the process of looking for a peaceful resolution for
the Tibet Problem. Any dialogue will lose ground if it ignores the reality of Tibet and

The causes of the Tibet Problem

The causes of the Tibet Problem are much more complicated than what has been
propagandized either by the Chinese government or by the Dalai Lama. Since the turn of
the century, the international influences have interacted with the internal political,
economic, cultural, and religious factors in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama tells the world that the cultural and religious difference between the
Tibetan and Chinese Han ethnic groups is the major cause of Sino-Tibetan conflict, which
pushes the Tibetans to pursue independence. This charge cannot be supported with any
evidence from either the world history or the Tibetan history. Multiethnic countries such
as the US, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and India exist as united nations. The 13th
Dalai Lama sought support from Britain against the Manchu emperor of the Qing
Dynasty who had the same religion as the Dalai Lama did, but none of the British kings
or queens believed in Buddhism. The 13th Dalai Lama did so out of the consideration for
his own political and economic interests. The 14th Dalai Lama has used cultural
difference as the major excuse seeking Tibet independence. This is because on the one
hand it can easily agitate some Tibetans; on the other hand, it is a strategy to win
sympathy from the outside world, especially from Western democratic countries. As
history shows, the cultural difference is not the major cause but the psychological
background of the conflicts in Tibet.

The Tibet Problem has roots in the British expansion in Asia and its aggression into Tibet
at the beginning of this century. In the first half of the century, the British colonialists
found a pro-British clique in the Tibetan hierarchies by invasion and bribing. That pro-
British clique launched the Tibetan Independence Movement. In 1914 Bshad Sgra, the
representative of the 13th Dalai Lama, and McMahon who was the representative of the
British India, signed the infamous Simla Treaty and other two agreements.[1] During
different periods of history, the Chinese governments have rebuffed all these agreements.

The British invaders benefited from these agreements tremendously. British India
annexed 90,000 sq. km of Chinese territory; British India controlled many trading ports
in Tibet; British Indians had the privileges of exemption from custom duty and other
taxation in then Tibet (an area controlled by the 13th Dalai Lama which was about the
same size as that of the present Tibet Autonomous Region). The 13th Dalai Lama wished
that Britain would help him to get independence from China. As a consequence, Tibet
became a 'disguised' British colony.[2]

Mao Ze-dong's tyranny has been the major cause for the Tibet Problem since the 1950s.
After the Chinese Liberation Army advanced to Chamdo in 1950, the Kashag that
claimed itself being independent appealed to the UN to prevent the Chinese invasion. But
the UN refused to discuss the appeal. The US, Britain and India all refused to respond to
the request.[3] The 14th Dalai Lama accepted the 17-Point Agreement proposed by the
Mao government and recognized the Chinese sovereignty of Tibet. It is recorded that,
'The Dalai Lama signaled his formal acceptance of it with a telegram to Mao Ze-dong
sent in late October 1951'.[4]

According to this Agreement, the political-religious-economic system in then Tibet would

remain the same, and the functions and power of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan serfdom
system should not be changed. The Tibetan internal affairs should be governed by the
Dalai Lama and his Kashag. Based on this Agreement, the Chinese central government
would take care of foreign affairs and defense of Tibet. This policy served as a model for
the Hong Kong policy, One Country With Two Systems, proposed by Deng Xiao-ping 30
years later.

Mao's central government did not comply with and carry out the Agreement. His brutal
proletarian dictatorship has been the source of sufferings for the Tibetans. He changed the
Tibetan society with Marxism as he did in other areas of China, by depriving of the rich
to help the serfs. This caused much grievance especially among upper-class monks and
lords. They rose up in March 1959 and were quickly suppressed. They were forced to flee
to India into exile with the Dalai Lama. Later the Dalai Lama realized that the Tibetan
serfdom was an out-of-date system.[5] However, any change of the Tibetan social system
should be made by the Tibetans themselves. The Chinese central government should not
force the Tibetans to accept a socialist revolution. Since 1959 to Mao's death in 1976,
many Tibetans were killed or persecuted. Numerous Tibetan monasteries and nunneries
were destroyed. This tragedy greatly intensified the tension between the Tibetans and the
Han-Chinese. Common Tibetans, being ignorant of the difference between the Chinese
Communist Party and the common Chinese people, tend to believe that the Han-Chinese
have done enormous damages to their culture. Common Tibetans do not know that the
Chinese Communist Party has done perhaps much more damages to the Chinese culture.

Deng's welfare policy, the consequences, and the changing Tibet

Since 1980, Deng Xiao-ping has implemented a welfare policy in the Tibetan
Autonomous Region to pacify the Tibetans. This policy has given the Tibetans
unprecedented social welfare benefits better than that given to any other Chinese ethnic
minority groups. The Tibetans do not have to pay any tax, but they enjoy free medical
care, free housing, free education (including clothing, boarding, and stipend), which none
of the other Chinese ethnic groups can have.[6] All of these welfare programs have been
financed by the central government with revenues from inland and coastal Han-Chinese

Authorized by the Chinese central government, the governments of the Tibet

Autonomous Region have redressed the mishandled cases in Tibet that were caused by
political and religious reasons from the 1950s to the 1970s or the end of the Cultural
Revolution. Those who were family members of Tibetan hierarchies have been granted
high positions, high salaries, and various kinds of privilege since the 1980s.[7]

The central government has been providing enormous financial support, human
resources, and technology to improve the living conditions in Tibet.[8] All farmland and
life stocks of the People's Communes are redistributed to the Tibetan farmers and
nomads. They enjoy exemption from both taxation and purchase quotas. They have free
medical care and free education, which most other Chinese peasants do not have.[9]

Since late 1980s, the central government have been withdrawing non-Tibetan cadres and
other employees back to the inland. At the same time many Tibetans are promoted to
positions at various levels of the Tibetan Autonomous governments. Eighty-five percent
of the Tibet Autonomous Region officials are Tibetans since the 1990s.[10]
There are notable improvements in restoring religious freedom in Tibet after the Cultural
Revolution. The Dalai Lama acknowledges that the 'Tibetans are allowed to visit temples
and to pray'.[11] The central government has provided a huge amount of financial aid to
rebuild 1,400 monasteries and nunneries around Tibet. In addition, it pays salary to
34,000 monks and nuns and provides them with free medical care.[12]

The Tibet Autonomous Region administration has adopted a Tibetan-Chinese bilingual

language system. All schools in the Tibet Autonomous Region teach the Tibetan
language, and use it as the primary medium of instruction.[13] Many schools have
Tibetan-Chinese bilingual education programs. The radio and TV stations, newspapers,
and all official communications are carded in both the Tibetan and Standard Chinese

Deng's welfare policy has been implemented for 16 years. As a result, the 'material life
had improved tremendously in both Lhasa and in the countryside';[15] and 'so long as
Lhasans did not engage in political dissidence, they were free to go where they wished,
meet with friends, invite monks for religious services, and have parties and so forth'.[16]
But religious tolerance and the improvement of living conditions are not enough to
silence political dissonance. Some Tibetans have rallied and marched for independence
since 1987 with various motivations. Some Tibetan communist cadres agitated rallies
secretly because they wanted to force the central government to withdraw more non-
Tibetan cadres so that they could be promoted faster and higher. Some Tibetan
government employees participated in the independent movement to push the
government to give them a raise. Some monks and nuns were active in the independence
movement because they wanted to restore the old theocratic system in which they had
much more political and economic privileges. However, the Tibetan farmers and nomads
who make up 85% of the Tibetan population have not participated in the independence
movement.[17] They perhaps are the most devout to the Dalai Lama, but they cannot
benefit from the independence movement at all.

It is important to notice that the rallies and marches for independence in Tibet were often
turned into riots by the demonstrators themselves,[18] which provided the Chinese
central government with the right excuse for suppression. Interesting enough, the Tibetan
demonstrators who were government employees would always get a raise or a promotion
each time after the riot and suppression. In this independence movement there is the cycle
of 'demonstration ---> riot ---> suppression ---> promotion/raise ---> demonstration' since
the late 1980s. Deng's welfare policy thus has become carrot-and-stick policy.

Another problem caused by Deng's welfare policy is the invasion of modem commercial
culture into Tibet. Modem materialism is quickly changing the Tibetan society. Many
Tibetans, especially Tibetan youths, turn their attention from Buddhism to money and
modem material joys. They are eager to learn Chinese and English rather than the Tibetan
language for economic advantages. In the past the Tibetans would go to monasteries
when they had free time. Nowadays the young city Tibetans prefer going to bars, cafes,
restaurants, ballrooms, cinemas and billiard rooms. The old and middle-age city Tibetans
like to watch TV at home. Over 96% of the Tibetan city families have color TV sets.[19]
Young Tibetans prefer blue jeans and Western suits to the traditional Tibetan costume.
They like disco more than the Tibetan folk dance. They drink more beer than chang (the
Tibetan barley wine). They like chocolate cakes more than tsampa (roasted barley flour).
They like cars and electric lamps but not horses and butter lamps. They want to use gas
cookers instead of yak chips. They want to have apartments in concrete buildings with
electricity and water supply and toilets instead of living in traditional stone-wood Tibetan
houses. The Dalai Lama is concerned about the changes in Tibet and blames the Chinese
government for destroying the Tibetan culture and religion. As a matter of fact, the
industrialization process and the influence of Western capitalism are changing both the
Chinese and Tibetan cultures. While this trend seems difficult to be reversed, a more
rational question may be how to balance the needs for modernization and maintenance of
a cultural tradition.

The third problem caused by Deng's welfare policy is the so-called immigration influx to
Tibet. At the present 2.8% of the total population in the Tibet Autonomous Region is
comprised of the Han-Chinese.[20] Most of them are scientists, engineers, economists,
teachers, doctors, agronomists, veterinarians, and technicians. Some of them have their
families with them. In recent years many self-employed technicians, workers,
businessmen and vendors of different ethnic groups go to Tibet to do business. The
central government has invested 3.3 billion RMB Yuan for 62 Construction Projects in
Tibet since 1994. This investment means various kinds of business opportunities and has
attracted many individual commercial adventurers to Tibet.[21] These non-Tibetan
business people do not have the intention to settle in Tibet. Most of them do not have
their families with them, nor do they own houses there. When these government-funded
projects are completed, they will leave for their inland homes or move to where they can
make money. This type of migrant people cannot be counted as immigrants. In China the
American, Japanese, European, Hong Kong, Singapore, and even Taiwan businessmen
are not counted as immigrants because they do not plan to stay in China.

It is necessary to point out that the central government-funded public services, such as
schools, hospitals, libraries, and communication and transportation facilities have greatly
improved the living conditions in Tibet. The government-sponsored modernization
projects provide opportunities to the Tibetans to share benefits from industrialization,
such as electricity, television, telephone, movies, cars, airplanes, running water, modern
medicine, department stores, restaurants, modern education, gymnasiums, and modern
housing. It must be acknowledged that the Tibetan people have the same right to
participate in, and contribute to, the common civilization course of all human beings. It is
doubtful any wish to hold back Tibet from modernization could be appreciated by the
majority of the Tibetans living in Tibet.

The catastrophe of Tibet independence

Mao Ze-dong's iron-handed dictatorship could not suppress the Tibetan people. Deng
Xiao-ping's welfare and carrot-and-stick policy has failed to appease either the Dalai
Lama or the city Tibetans. Can an independent Tibet be the answer? Leaving its
legitimacy aside, let me focus on the feasibility of Tibet independence. For such an
important matter this is a crucial question; yet it has been ignored by the Tibetans and
some pro-democratic Chinese and Westerners.

The Dalai Lama's claim for land for his 'Great Tibet' is too greedy. The map of the 'Great
Tibet' drawn by him covers the whole area of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the whole
area of Qinghai province, and parts of Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces. Within the
'Great Tibet' there are 5-6 million Tibetans and 7-8 million non-Tibetan people,[22]
including other Chinese ethnic minority groups such as the Hui people (Chinese
Muslims), the Kazak (also Muslims), the Yi people, the Han-Chinese, and many others.
According to the Chinese government report, the total population of the Tibetan ethnic
group is about 4.6 million within China. If the 'Great Tibet' became independent, the non-
Tibetan people would rise up against the Tibetans. In such a case, the 'Great Tibet' would
become a 'Great Bosnia'.

The so-called 'Great Tibet' looks like a different version of the Great Russia claimed by
Zelinovsky, the Russian extreme-nationalist, or a new version of the Great Serbia claimed
by Milosevic, the Serbian President. Comments Goldstein, '... the goal of a Great Tibet
was not politically realistic. Tibet had not ruled most of those areas for a century or more,
and it is difficult to see how China could have handed over large areas in Sichuan,
Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan, many of which included Chinese and Chinese Muslim
populations that had migrated there well before the communists came to power in
1949'.[23] The Dalai Lama accuses that the Tibetans have been made a minority in the
'Great Tibet' as a result of immigration encouraged by the Chinese government.[24] This
is not the truth. Before 1949, the majority of the population in the Qinghai province was
neither the Tibetans nor the Han-Chinese but the Hui people--Chinese Muslims. The then
governor of Qinghai was General Ma Bu-fang, a Hui leader.

The possibility for the Dalai Lama to set up an independent polity based upon the present
Tibet Autonomous Region also is limited. The first problem he must face, if he returned
to power in Tibet, would be how to control the Tibetan Communists. There are about
60,000 Tibetan Communist Party members in the Tibet Autonomous Region.[25] With
the number of people in their families, they make over 300,000, or about 15% of the
Tibetan population in Tibet. They may not believe in Communism, but they worship the
power given by the Chinese Communist Party rather than Buddha and the Dalai Lama.
This is because that power brings them enormous interests and privilege. They would
lose power and privilege if the Tibet Autonomous Region became independent as the
Dalai Lama wished. In such a case, they would rise up against the Dalai Lama to protect
their own vested interests. Having been trained by the Communist Party for decades, they
are well organized and experienced in political and military actions. They have the ability
to organize an army of 50,000 people or more to protect their interests from being
challenged by the Dalai Lama and his followers. The power struggle between the
Tibetans would cause bloody fights among themselves as had happened in the Tibetan
history. In 1959, Derge, the 9th Mdav Dpon of the Tibetan Army who surrendered to the
Liberation Army, led his Tibetan troops and suppressed the Tibetan rebels led by the
Dalai Lama.[26] During the Tibet independence demonstrations in the late 1980s and
early 1990s, the Tibetan Communist cadres, policemen and soldiers did not show any
mercy to their kinsmen when they were suppressing the Tibetan demonstrators.[27]

The Chinese government provides the Tibet Autonomous Region welfare subsidies of one
and a half billion RMB Yuan ( = 200 million USD) per year.[28] A huge portion of it goes
to government-sponsored life-long employment opportunities. If the Tibet Autonomous
Region became independent, 109,100 Tibetans who are government employees would
lose their jobs.[29] They would ask the Dalai Lama for jobs with the same pay and
benefits. They would demonstrate against him if he could not make the same offers.
Since 1980 the Tibetan farmers and nomads have been exempted from taxation. The
Dalai Lama declared several times that he would impose tax when he established an
independent Tibet state.[30] It would be difficult for him to force the farmers and nomads
to pay tax. The revenue from industry, if there were any, would be very small as there has
not been any self-dependable industry in Tibet. Without a stable revenue from tax, the
Dalai Lama's government would have financial crises. Foreign aid would be limited,
fragile, and unreliable. When the ability to be financially independent was limited, the
declaration of independence would be nothing but empty words.

Complete autonomy: the best way out for the Tibet Problem

Tibet independence would cause civil and ethnic wars in Tibet and China. Nobody with a
sound understanding of human rights would like to see such catastrophe happen. Three
resolutions have been proposed by different parties. The Chinese government has a
welfare and carrot-and-stick policy that has already been proved a failure. Goldstein
proposes to withdraw all Han-Chinese cadres and use the Tibetan communist cadres to
govern the Tibet Autonomous Region.[31] This proposal may have difficulty in being
accepted by the Dalai Lama and his followers who prefer Western democratic ideas and

The third proposal by the Dalai Lama seems to be a more realistic alternative as a
resolution of the Tibet Problem. Various media such as UPI and Reuters have reported
that the Dalai Lama is now fighting for political autonomy within China, not for complete
independence from China; and that he sees an autonomous Tibet, with its foreign affairs
and defense policy conducted by Beijing, as a realistic objective. 'We are talking of a
middle way--one country with two systems'; says the Dalai Lama,[32] 'Autonomy is
enough for me'. On 3 October 1993, UPI reported again that the Dalai Lama was willing
to accept limited autonomy for Tibet within China rather than demanding complete
independence.[33] He also made similar statements during his interviews with several
other media.[34] In his latest speech at the European Parliament he expressed the same
good will to negotiate with the Chinese government for autonomy within the Chinese

If the area claimed by the Dalai Lama for limited autonomy within China means the
present Tibet Autonomous Region, this formula sounds to be an applicable resolution.
This proposal is coherent with the 17-Point Agreement and therefore should be
acceptable by the Chinese central government. Based on the Agreement, the central
government must withdraw all Han-Chinese civilians from Tibet who are government
employees. The Dalai Lama must be authorized to organize his government and to
govern the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The Chinese central government will be in
charge of all foreign affairs and the defense of this Region, and be the authority to
approve the successors of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. This proposal will
avoid ethnic and civil wars in Tibet and in the surrounding areas if it can be accepted and
implemented. It will restore the Dalai Lama's power and help revive the Tibetan culture.
It will save the Chinese central government lots of money. In addition, it will impress the
international society with an improved image of human rights in Tibet.

Tibet will have a better future when the Chinese government accepts the Dalai Lama's
proposal discussed above. In the post-Cold War era, all countries are seeking peace and
stability in their own communities and economic collaborations with other countries. The
new leadership of China will have to pay more attention to the economy and national
unity. None of the new leadership will take the risk to let Tibet become independent and
cause war in China. They will have to re-evaluate the economic and political costs of the
present carrot-and-stick policy in Tibet. I predict that the Chinese central leadership will
be more pragmatic than Deng Xiao-ping in post-Deng China. Complete autonomy of the
Tibet Region will be the most appropriate approach to resolve the Tibet Problem when
the interests of the Han-Chinese, the Tibetans, the Chinese Muslims and other Chinese
ethnic minority groups are considered. I concur with Richard Solomon in that, 'Despite
tensions of the moment, shared interests will lead sane heads to manage the problems...
And there is no greater shared interest in the post-Cold War world than the benefits of
economic development'.[36]

the end of tibet

As China tortures monks and drives Tibetans into poverty, many young activists are
renouncing the Dalai Lama and resorting to violence. Is one of the world's most ancient
cultures facing extinction?


woman lies on a metal cot, moaning softly and vomiting up blood. A former Buddhist
nun, she is recovering from an operation on her stomach to fix internal injuries caused by
beatings from Chinese guards. Her roommate, Lhundrub Zangmo, speaks in a whispery
monotone. Zangmo's head is no longer shaven, and her straight black hair falls over her
tight sweater emblazoned with the words THE COOLEST BOY. But even though she has
left the clergy, Zangmo remains deeply religious. She has plastered the walls of the tiny
room with photos of Buddhist deities and the Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

It has been only a few months since Zangmo and her friend fled Tibet on foot over the
Himalayas to this squat, block-shaped center for Tibetan refugees in India. The two
women had been imprisoned along with a group of other nuns, some for as long as
sixteen years. They were first arrested in 1990 for staging a protest in Lhasa, the capital
of Tibet, to demonstrate their outrage over China's continuing presence in their native
land. As the women chanted "Free Tibet," Chinese police moved quickly, knocking them
to the ground and dragging them to jail before their protest could attract attention. Inside
the prison, Chinese authorities subjected the nuns to a brutal routine. "Police stuck
electric prods into my vagina and then hung me from the ceiling," Zangmo says softly.
Her voice doesn't waver, but she looks away. Some of her friends lost consciousness as
soon as guards pushed the cattle prods inside them, but Zangmo remained alert
throughout the torture. "I was totally, totally frightened," she says.

Police eventually transferred the women to Drapchi, the most feared prison in Lhasa.
According to human rights organizations like the International Campaign for Tibet, there
are hundreds of political prisoners in Tibet, the majority of them Buddhist clergy. Scores
have died from torture at the hands of Chinese authorities: electric shock, hanging, forced
blood extraction. "They tried to pull my arms out of my sockets, and beat my legs and
arms with metal bars and shocked me," recalls Phuntsog Nyidron, another nun who was
imprisoned at Drapchi. "I was worried they could easily kill me." After repeated beatings,
a monk named Lobsang Choephel hanged himself at Drapchi, his body dangling from the
iron bars of his cell.

The punishment was most severe for those who refused to give up their faith. "In
Drapchi, there were numerous demonstrations," Zangmo says. One day, four nuns refused
to renounce their Buddhist beliefs in front of the Chinese guards. "They were beaten until
they died." Zangmo stares at the floor and starts to cry, her voice breaking. "They died

BEFORE PLACES LIKE DRAPCHI existed, Lhasa was the capital of a remote kingdom
where a long line of Dalai Lamas presided over a civilization infused with spirituality,
perpetuated in more than 6,000 monasteries and protected by the snow-capped
Himalayas. In their sacred land, Tibetans built a distinct and mystical culture, a matchless
experiment in faith that permeated their lives. "Tibetans are unique on the planet in that
their national life is wholly dedicated to Buddhism," says Robert Thurman, the most
famous Tibet scholar in America. By developing a worship of living things, he says,
Tibetans also preserved the Earth's highest ecosystem, one that comprises biodiversity on
the scale of the Amazon and serves as the source of rivers that sustain nearly half the
world's population. "This is some of the most important environment in the world,"
Thurman says, "so fragile that, once it's gone, it can never come back."

Locked away from the world, Tibetans created a religion of otherworldly rituals and
monumental structures. Even today, the gleaming white Potala Palace, home to
generations of spiritual leaders, towers over Lhasa's modern skyline, its fifty-foot-high
tombs of past Dalai Lamas covered in gold and gems. "The Potala looks and feels like no
other building on the planet," writes the noted essayist Pico Iyer, who visits Tibet
frequently. "But more extraordinary is its meaning: The Potala stood for a unique system
in which administrators would be monks, political meetings would include prayers, and
law and order was in the hands of a meditating clergy."

For Tibetans, devotion centers on the Dalai Lama, whom they regard as a living god. As
Thurman notes, the Dalai Lama's spiritual connection to Tibetans is so great that, for his
people, it's as if Jesus still wandered the Earth in person. In a modern world filled with
war and consumerism, the current Dalai Lama -- who has lived in exile in Dharamsala,
India, since China seized control of Tibet in 1959 -- has become a global icon, inspiring
millions in the West. "With the quality of world leaders declining in recent years, the
Dalai Lama has become even more important," says Robert Barnett, a Tibet expert at
Columbia University. "He is one of the few morally inspiring leaders left."

But Tibet's time may be running out. In the past decade, China has waged a quiet but
ruthless war on Tibetan society -- part of a deliberate and sophisticated campaign to strip
"the Roof of the World" of any vestige of spirituality or political autonomy. Beijing has
systematically replaced Tibet's holiest monks -- the center of Tibetan power -- with its
own puppet leaders, torturing and killing those who refuse to submit to Chinese authority.
It has flooded Tibet with thousands of Chinese immigrants, who have seized control of
local businesses, driving many Tibetans into poverty and prostitution. And as Tibetans
have become increasingly powerless in their own land, China has dragged out political
talks with the Dalai Lama, causing some supporters to accuse their god-leader of caving
in to Beijing. Increasingly, young Tibetans reject the Dalai Lama's commitment to
nonviolence, engaging instead in the tactics of Palestinian militants. In a sharp break with
the past, Tibetan rebels have stormed Chinese embassies and even cut the throats of
Chinese migrants, dumping the corpses in the streets of rural towns as a warning to those
they see as collaborators.

"I have no hope for the future," says Lhasang Tsering, one of Tibet's most famous
activists. We are speaking in his home in Dharamsala, where he has lived in exile since
fleeing Tibet more than two decades ago. "Time is running out," he tells me. "Every day,
while we're sitting here praying for world peace, truckloads of Chinese are coming in,
and trainloads of Tibetan resources are coming out. Once the Chinese have the land for
themselves, they might have a few reservations for ethnic Tibetans, the way you
Americans have Native American reservations."

Tsering puts his head in his hands. I look away. When I glance back, his shoulders are
heaving with sobs.

Even the Dalai Lama himself, perpetually optimistic about his homeland, cannot help but
fear for the future. "This is a critical period for Tibet," he tells me at an event in New
York last fall, his face drawn with fatigue. "We don't know what will happen." This, in
short, could be the end of Tibet. As the Dalai Lama has warned his people, "We are facing
our own extinction."

WHEN CHINA ANNEXED Tibet in 1959, it savaged the country, unleashing Mao's
soldiers to tear apart monasteries, shell ancient structures and kill as many as 1.2 million
people. Thousands were executed; many more died of starvation, forced to subsist on
nothing but a thin gruel made of bark and leaves. "Their bodies became bloated," one
senior monk recalled. "Then they lay down, and as the weeks passed, they died."
But such heavy-handed tactics failed to destroy Tibet's cultural identity. By the late
1980s, Tibetans fed up with Chinese oppression began to fight back, pouring into the
streets of Lhasa by the thousands to demand independence. Hu Jintao, an obscure party
bureaucrat with an Elvis pompadour, imposed martial law, dispatching thousands of
soldiers to lock down Tibet. But the strong-arm tactics only served to rally international
support for the Tibetan cause. In 1989, the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize,
and his people's David-and-Goliath struggle appealed to Western artists and politicians as
diverse as Richard Gere, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, and the U.S. Congress, which
last year voted to award the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal.

Although the U.S. government officially recognizes Tibet as part of China, it has
pressured Beijing to curb its human rights violations. Gregory Craig, who served as
special envoy for Tibet in the Clinton administration, recalls a meeting at which then-
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confronted Jiang Zemin, the president of China,
with a list of Tibetan political prisoners. Jiang was not pleased. "He went on an
uninterrupted twenty-minute monologue on the role of religion in China," Craig recalls.

Today, however, China has adopted a subtler and more sophisticated approach to Tibet.
Its new president -- Hu Jintao, the official who once imposed martial law on Tibet -- got
smart. He knows that heavy-handed repression only serves to spark international protests,
emboldening dissenters in other parts of China. He also covets the billions of barrels of
oil and gas recently discovered in Tibet, resources that could help fuel energy-starved
China's rapid industrialization. So Beijing has enacted a new policy it calls "grasping
with two hands" -- co-opting Tibetans while quietly silencing those who still demand
freedom. Rather than putting soldiers in the streets and shelling monasteries, Hu has set
out to undermine the core of Tibetan identity: the monkhood.

In Tibet, senior monks known as lamas have historically wielded both spiritual and
secular authority, essentially running the state while laying down principles for society to
follow. In Lhasa, elderly women still walk in circles for hours around the holy city every
morning, murmuring prayers for the lamas' health. In eastern Tibet one day, I watch as
pilgrims prostrate themselves before a senior monk. Women push their ill relatives close
to the lama, desperate for a prayer of healing. "For older people, their whole lives revolve
around their spiritual leaders," says a Tibetan whose elderly mother spends her days
walking around Lhasa and praying to her favorite monks. "They will follow monks

In public, China has announced new policies promoting tolerance of Buddhism. Beijing
has lavished funds on restoring the Potala Palace, for example, and thrown open
monasteries to tourists. But across the city from the Potala, a senior monk living in a
crumbling earthen hut describes what is really happening. "Plainclothes security are all
over the monastery," he tells me. "There's never a time when the monks are together that
the public security bureau isn't watching them. The Chinese hold 'patriotic campaigns,'
and all the monks are forced to renounce the Dalai Lama."
Like many Tibetans I speak with, the monk asks that his name not be used, for fear of
reprisals. Chinese security agents, he says, have cracked down on interactions with
foreign visitors. "When I first came here, it wasn't illegal for monks to talk to foreigners,"
the monk says. "Now it is."

Inside the monasteries, Chinese authorities dominate the education of new monks,
barring boys who have any background in political action from becoming lamas and
placing strict limits on the number of students. "Management committees" staffed by
Chinese officials control monastic activities and indoctrinate monks in Chinese ideology.
"The monks will never recover," says one lama. "We cannot have enough boys studying
at monasteries, the traditional knowledge is vanishing, and we could just die out. In
twenty years, what will be left?" Another monk is even blunter: "This is the end of our
entire religious society," he tells me.

Thanks to the new tactics implemented by Hu Jintao, the systematic assault on the monks
has received little notice outside Tibet. "China has been skillful in creating a facade of
social and political freedom," says one human rights activist who asked not to be
identified. "They're not out there cracking the heads of monks, the way they did in the

But many Tibetans believe that China continues to back violence against those who defy
Beijing. On the evening of February 4th, 1997, monks in the Dalai Lama's central
compound in Dharamsala were translating Tibetan scriptures in a room fringed with
golden curtains. As they worked, six men armed with knives rushed into the room,
attacking the translators. The assassins slit the throat of Lobsang Gyatso, a senior monk
and close friend of the Dalai Lama, stabbing him so fiercely that blood splattered the
walls. Two other monks who were translating near Lobsang were hacked to death.
Though the compound contains priceless artifacts, the killers took nothing of value.

Indian police blamed the killing on Dorje Shugden, an obscure Tibetan Buddhist sect that
opposes the Dalai Lama, and many Tibetans believe that China has quietly provided
financial support to the Shugden. "Monks who follow Shugden get promoted in China,"
says one Tibetan monk. "They get support for their monasteries."

AT THE CENTER OF CHINA'S campaign to undermine Tibet's monks is the Panchen

Lama -- the Buddhist leader who ranks second only to the Dalai Lama. The Panchen not
only possesses enormous power in Tibetan society, he also helps select a new Dalai Lama
when the previous Dalai dies. Like the most powerful Tibetan lamas, the Panchen is
chosen through an ancient process of reincarnation, in which the soul of the dead monk is
rediscovered in a young boy. This unique tradition of finding reincarnations is essential to
the power of lamas -- Tibetans believe that through rebirth, the soul of Buddha himself
lives on in their leaders.

The search for a new Panchen can take years. To find the chosen boy, monks crisscross
Tibet's rugged landscape, consulting oracles, visions and markers in the sky or in the
waters of Lake Namtso, a turquoise pool perched in the Himalayas, some 15,000 feet
above sea level. The searchers may find thousands of children before identifying the one.
In the ultimate test, the monks hand a chosen child the dead man's possessions. If the
young boy is truly his reincarnation, he recognizes them as his own from his previous

For centuries, Tibet had followed these ancient traditions to find its leaders. But in 1989,
the year Hu Jintao imposed martial law on Tibet, the tenth Panchen Lama died of a
mysterious illness he contracted shortly after he publicly criticized the Chinese
government. Many Tibetans believe he was poisoned, and Beijing never allowed an
investigation into his death. Suddenly, China had a chance to take control of Tibetan
Buddhism. All Beijing had to do was select its own Panchen. Then, when the time came,
the Panchen would choose a puppet Dalai Lama beholden to Chinese authorities. The
supreme spiritual leader of Tibet would answer directly to Beijing.

The complete story of the selection of the new Panchen Lama has never been told. But
one senior monk who took part in the choice, the Arjia Rinpoche, fled Tibet in 1998 and
now lives in exile in America. When I located him late last year, I discovered that he had
written an unpublished memoir that describes China's role in the selection. Although no
writer had read the manuscript, the Arjia agreed to let me review it. It was delivered to
me by courier, like an old-school intelligence document, in an unmarked manila
envelope. In stacks of pages, the Arjia spills his life story. When I called him, he talked
for hours, like a man who had been waiting for years to reveal himself. He kept returning
to one date: November 29th, 1995.

Early that morning, the Arjia and other senior monks huddled inside the Jokhang, Lhasa's
holiest temple. Flickering lamps fueled by pungent, creamy yak butter lit the interior,
casting shadows across the faces of grinning warrior deities painted on the walls. Smoky
incense wafted through the temple. On this morning, the deities stood guard over a small
golden urn on a table draped with yellow silk. As is traditional in Tibet, monks in long
robes surrounded the urn. But in an alarming break from the past, the urn itself had been
brought by the Chinese -- and joining the monks were a host of officials from Beijing
dressed in sleek modern suits.

The lamas eyed each other nervously. The ceremony could determine the fate of Tibet,
but they had not come here voluntarily. The night before, Chinese guards had hustled the
monks into the Jokhang, along empty streets patrolled by armed soldiers, and ordered
them to prepare for a ceremony. If anyone disrupted the proceedings, one official warned,
"We will punish him without mercy." As dawn approached, with undercover Chinese
policemen standing in corners, the monks began selecting a Panchen Lama.

Every lama present knew that the ceremony should not be taking place. According to
Tibetan tradition, the selection had already been made. Since the previous Panchen died,
several leading monks had been working secretly with the Dalai Lama to conduct a
search for the next Panchen, quietly following the old traditions. After years of looking
for signs, they had identified Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a boy from a family of herders
from Lhari, a region of east-central Tibet. On May 14th, 1995, the Dalai Lama recognized
Nyima as the eleventh Panchen Lama.

But Beijing had reacted furiously. Before Nyima could appear in public, Chinese security
forces abducted the boy from his home and brought him to Beijing. Then Chinese
officials summoned Tibetan monks to an emergency meeting early in November 1995
and ordered them to denounce the Dalai Lama's Panchen. When the monks did as they
were told, in front of television cameras, they were each rewarded with $1,250 -- a
fortune in a country where the annual per-capita income is less than $500. When the Arjia
Rinpoche tried to suggest that China accept Nyima, he was warned, "Never mention that
again." China then sent chartered jets to the birthplaces of the boys they wanted to be
Panchen Lama and whisked them into hiding.

Now, as dawn approached in the Jokhang, Chinese officials placed pieces of ivory
marked with the names of each boy inside the golden urn. Bomi Rinpoche, a Tibetan
lama appointed by the Chinese government, approached the table. He rubbed the sides of
the urn, picked out one of the ivory lots and handed it to Luo Gan, a top Chinese official.
Luo then read the name: Gyaincain Norbu, the six-year-old son of a party member.
Surprise -- tiny Norbu happened to be waiting in the next room, dressed in a golden robe
and hat. Luo shook Norbu's hand, telling him, "Love the country and study hard." The
monks who had just been forced to participate in the destruction of centuries of tradition
could only murmur quiet prayers. After Norbu was enthroned, the Dalai Lama's office
called the ceremony "invalid and illegal."

Eager to create the fiction that Tibet's top religious leaders endorsed their new Panchen,
Chinese officials asked the Arjia Rinpoche to tutor Norbu. "They offered me a Mercedes
and a very senior government position," the Arjia says. Beijing also pressured lower-
ranking monks to pay respects to Norbu. Only nine days after his selection, Chinese
officials brought Norbu to another Tibetan monastery. With soldiers looming in the
background, they hoisted the tiny boy into a giant throne and gathered hundreds of monks
in front of the child. "The boy was sitting there, and all together we had to prostrate
ourselves before him," recalls the Arjia, his voice soft with shame. "It's supposed to be a
happy occasion, but no one was smiling."

Norbu has served his purpose. At his first major international event, a conference of
Buddhists held in China last April, the boy praised Beijing. "Chinese society," he
declared, "provides a favorable environment for Buddhist belief." Appearing before the
Chinese media, Norbu added, "We wouldn't have made all these achievements without
the good leadership of the Chinese Communist Party." Monks who refuse to appear in
public with Norbu have been threatened with expulsion from their monasteries, a
crushing blow in Tibetan society.

Shortly after the Buddhism conference, I tracked down one of the few foreigners ever
granted an audience with Norbu, an American businessman named Laurence Brahm, who
has close relations with both Tibetan lamas and Chinese officials. According to Brahm,
Norbu echoed the Chinese government's line, urging Tibetans in exile "to come back and
help Tibet." He also grilled Brahm about Christianity, possibly seeking to better
understand how the West would react to China's moves in Tibet. With the current Dalai
Lama approaching his seventy-second birthday, Norbu is in a position to play a major
role in the future of Tibetan Buddhism. According to several sources, Beijing has already
created an informal committee to pick a new Dalai Lama, with Norbu to give his seal of
approval to China's choice. "The Chinese are thinking they're going to pick their own
Dalai Lama," says the Arjia.

Nyima, the Panchen selected by the Dalai Lama, has meanwhile vanished. In April, Asma
Jehangir, a United Nations special envoy for freedom of religion, expressed her concern
to the Chinese government about Nyima's whereabouts. Beijing refused to present the
boy, but informed Jehangir that he was "leading a normal, happy life." Other foreign
diplomats have been similarly rebuffed. On a trip to China, former U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Harold Koh asked to see Nyima. "They said that he was fine -- We
know where he is, and he's fine," Koh told reporters. When Koh asked to see the boy, he
was told, "That's not necessary."

Information about Nyima remains sketchy, his movements tightly managed. But stories
trickle out. According to Tibetans who have traveled to Nyima's hometown, the boy
remains under guard in Beijing, living a sad, underground life as a political prisoner.
Chinese officials, they believe, sometimes smuggle him into Tibet so he can see his
family, but his visits are never announced, perhaps for fear that Tibetans would flock to
their chosen boy-god. People in Nyima's hometown remain deathly afraid to tell anyone
about his visits.

One Tibetan provided me with what he said was a photo of Nyima, which he had
obtained from sources close to the boy's family. The snapshot shows a moon-faced kid
with short hair. He sits on a simple bed in a bare room. He stares sad-faced and wide-
eyed at the camera.

ON A DRY, CLEAR MORNING, I climb to the top of the Potala Palace. Gazing across
downtown Lhasa, I see a city nothing like the low-lying town of twenty years ago, when
Tibetan vendors gathered every morning in the open-air markets to weigh hunks of yak
cheese and bloody yak meat, and pilgrims in long cloaks adorned with sashes rubbed
prayer beads and murmured to themselves as they circled the Jokhang. In those days,
Tibetan nomads wearing sheepskin coats would often ride into town on horseback,
herding their flocks of yaks into the streets.

Today Lhasa is booming. In the modern downtown, construction workers dig up entire
sections of the city, building new avenues lined with Chinese banks, Chinese department
stores and even Chinese fast-food restaurants overlooking the holy Jokhang. Along the
main drags, packs of taxis and Chinese tour buses jam the streets, disgorging crowds of
visitors who try to collar monks into posing with them or who play scratchy Chinese pop
tunes on their cell phones. On side alleys dotted with grim new apartment blocks, recent
migrants from China's Sichuan province crowd into four-table hot-pot restaurants, where
they use their chopsticks to dip vegetables and tiny chunks of meat into vats of steaming
oil sprinkled with fiery Sichuan chilies. Those with more money skip the hot-pot joints
and head instead to the new tearooms on the upper floors of hotels, where Chinese
businesspeople talk shop over thimble-size cups of tea, bowls of noodles or games of

As Lhasa is rebuilt from the ground up, Tibetans are being pushed to the margins -- in the
newer section of the city, I cannot find a single Tibetan-owned shop. And the pace of
change is only likely to increase: Last summer, China opened the first rail line to Tibet, a
move expected to flood the territory with as many as 800,000 migrants and tourists each

The sweeping changes in Lhasa are no accident. "The government has a long-term
strategy to encourage more Chinese businesspeople to come to Tibet, so it'll be easier to
control the Tibetan people," admits one former Chinese official. (Although the Chinese
embassy declined to comment, many government officials spoke to me on the condition
of anonymity.) Beijing has made it easier for migrants to gain residence in Tibet, and the
region receives more government subsidies than other provinces in China. The cash has
sparked growth and created prosperity -- but it often primarily benefits Chinese migrants.
According to one former official, government bureaucrats convince rural Tibetans to give
up their land, promising them that they will be given property in the city. "But then they
never give the Tibetans any compensation," the official explains. Instead, the bureaucrats
give the land to Chinese entrepreneurs, throwing in loans to help them start their own

"Businesses in Tibet simply are being taken over by the Chinese," says one prominent
Tibetan. Although Beijing officially denies the rapid influx of Chinese, a top government
official recently admitted to reporters that Tibetans would soon become a minority in
Lhasa. At the same time, the government ensures the support of provincial officials by
paying them some of the highest salaries in China. "The government allows more space
for corruption in Tibet," says Lukar Jam, a specialist on Chinese development policy who
has worked for the Tibetan government in exile. "The Tibetan officials accept Beijing's
policies because they see there will be significant financial benefits."

As Chinese migrants take over the city, they have turned traditional Tibetan culture into a
carnival sideshow. One Saturday night, I visit a nightclub in a high-end section of Lhasa.
The place is packed with Chinese businessmen, some of whom pay the equivalent of fifty
dollars each -- a fortune in Tibet -- for private boxes overlooking the stage. At II P.M.,
Tibetan men dressed in fake animal skins take the stage. The Chinese media often portray
Tibet as a wild, savage land, and the performers do their best to embody the stereotype,
flashing their bare chests and smashing drums while they chant and shake their long
black hair -- a traditional Tibetan dance hyped up for the crowd. Smoke machines and
flashing lights illuminate their writhing bodies, while giant speakers pound out traditional
Tibetan songs rewritten with Chinese lyrics and hip-hop beats.

When the men are done, female singers in traditional costumes dance toward the edge of
the stage, thrusting their hips and pouring shot glasses of alcohol down the throats of
favored customers. Chinese tourists and businessmen toss back shots and slip traditional
white scarves around the necks of their favorite singers. By midnight the drunkest
members of the audience have run onto the stage to slur songs along with the Tibetan
performers and pretend to pray Like devout Tibetans.

Outside the club, China's policies have succeeded in impoverishing many Tibetans.
Robbed of their land and unable to compete with Chinese migrants, Tibetans now suffer
the highest poverty rate in China and the worst malnutrition and infant mortality. Young
people often cannot find jobs in Chinese-dominated businesses, and many are homeless.
On a grassy plain on the outskirts of Lhasa, in the shadow of one of the city's most
important monasteries, I come across a cluster of white yurts surrounded by piles of
garbage. It is only afternoon, but groups of drunk young men already sit on tiny stools
outside the yurts, tossing dice and chugging local brews. Monks in ragged robes caked
with dirt wander from yurt to yurt, begging for coins from liquored-up Tibetans. Women
circulate through the camp, too, trying to lure men into a yurt for a quickie.

Prostitution is flourishing in Lhasa. By one estimate there are 10,000 sex workers in the
Tibetan capital, which has a population of less than 500,000. The day after visiting the
yurt camp, I wander to the core of the city. By four in the afternoon, hookers are pouring
into the streets. Along a narrow lane near the holiest temples in Tibetan Buddhism, young
women wear knee-high boots, push-up bras and so much eye shadow that they resemble
the evil offspring of Courtney Love and Katherine Harris. The girls, many of them no
more than adolescents, press themselves against the glass windows of their brothels. As
Chinese and Tibetan men stroll by, the hookers run outside, trying to drag them through
their doorway.

Inside one brothel, a concrete and metal shack with large windows exposing the front
room like a fishbowl, a fourteen-year-old girl takes my hand, leading me into the back.
Welts cover her stomach, which is exposed by her tube top. There is nothing on the
concrete walls, and the concrete floor is bare save for a small square of moldering
linoleum. The girl points to the bed and offers sexual intercourse for ten dollars. When I
pull away, she cups her breasts in her hands and halves the price to five dollars.

On a larger boulevard near the brothels, Chinese and Tibetan men saunter through a maze
of sex shops that sell dildos, inflatable breasts and other sex toys. Some pick out herbal
remedies from the shelves, Viagra-like potions designed to keep you hard all night.
Others wander next door to small convenience stores selling massive containers of beer.
Behind the convenience shops, the heaviest drinkers have collapsed on the ground, their
faces red, their clothes stained with food and feces. Laughing Tibetan children kick a
soccer ball around the drunks' prostrate bodies.

In a back alley behind the convenience stores, other prostitutes negotiate with customers.
A girl shaped like a child's top offers me oral sex for five bucks, when I turn away she,
too, lowers the price -- to three dollars, pleading for me to stay. As I walk away, she
shrieks, a pained scream.
SINCE HE FLED TO INDIA IN 1959, the Dalai Lama has remained the only figure able
to keep his people from succumbing to utter despair. For Tibetans, the fact that he lives
offers some meager hope they will not be forgotten by the world. His writings are
smuggled into Tibet, and his speeches are broadcast on stations like Radio Free Asia, a
U.S.-funded broadcaster. Almost every Tibetan I speak to tells me that their greatest wish
is for the Dalai Lama to return to his homeland. In the ultimate tribute to their love,
Tibetans frequently praise his name in public, knowing that doing so can result in harsh
treatment. "I knew that I would go to prison," says a former monk who screamed out
blessings for the Dalai Lama in front of Chinese police and paid for it with years of
beatings. "We will never forget him."

Eventually, however, even a living god must die. Facing his own mortality, the Dalai
Lama has adopted an approach to Beijing that he calls the Middle Way. Instead of
demanding independence for Tibet, as he did for decades, he affirms that the land is part
of China and calls only for greater political and cultural autonomy. China has responded
by quietly opening a dialogue with the Dalai Lama's envoys about the future of Tibet.

Lodi Gyari, a Tibetan diplomat based in Washington who leads the Dalai Lama's
negotiators, insists that the talks are essential for China. Tibetans will be furious, he
warns, if their spiritual leader dies in exile without stepping foot in Tibet again. "The only
person who can provide them with legitimacy is the Dalai Lama," Gyari says.

But others say privately that China is simply using the negotiations to co-opt the Dalai
Lama and blunt international criticism. Despite five rounds of talks, the Chinese have
offered nothing concrete, and a source close to Beijing policymakers tells me that China
believes it has no need to make a deal. "The view in China among the leaders is still of
the Dalai Lama as a traitor," says a scholar with close ties to Beijing. Even a senior U.S.
official worries that "the Chinese are engaged in the dialogue just to please the U.S. --
they have no desire to do more than that."

China's strategy seems to have succeeded: When Hu Jintao visited America last year, the
Dalai Lama quietly asked Tibetans not to protest. "The Chinese government has been
very successful in convincing the Dalai Lama to exercise some control over Tibetan
exiles," says Tenzin Dorjee, a leader of Students for a Free Tibet, a prominent activist
group based in New York. Some furious Tibetans go even further, accusing their god-
leader of unwittingly selling out to the Chinese. "There's anger and frustration and
disappointment with the Dalai Lama's envoys," says Lhadon Tethong, head of the student
group. "We don't support this appeasement line."

In the past, such blunt opposition to the Dalai Lama would have resulted in ostracism.
But these days, such sentiments can be heard throughout the exile community in
Dharamsala. One day, in the middle of a downpour, I drink tea with Tenzin Tsundue, a
young Tibetan whose wispy goatee and intense stare give him a striking resemblance to
Che Guevara. After the Dalai Lama, Tsundue has become the most prominent figure in
the exile community. Unwilling to accept anything less than complete independence, he
and his supporters have abandoned the Dalai Lama's peaceful approach, drawing
inspiration instead from the Palestinians and other militant organizations. "Youngsters tell
me they don't want to join a nonviolent protest," says Tsundue. "Youngsters feel
nonviolence is getting nothing."

In Tibetan universities and monasteries, activists tell me, underground cells have formed
to organize resistance to Chinese rule. In rural Tibet, Chinese truck drivers have been
ambushed and killed. In the age of CNN and the Internet, says an associate of the Dalai
Lama, young Tibetans "know about suicide bombers and Afghanistan and Iraq, and it
doesn't take a lot of ingenuity for a small group of Tibetans to emulate these tactics. It's a
powder keg."

"Young people are going to become more aggressive," agrees Sonata Wangdu, one of
Tibet's most respected activists and writers. "They can see how other nations, like East
Timor or the Soviet countries, were able to get their independence back. They will

In India, young Tibetan activists have stormed Chinese embassies, clashing with guards.
During a recent summit between India and China, a young Tibetan attempted to immolate
himself near a luxury hotel in Bombay where Hu Jintao was staying. Several years
earlier, another Tibetan named Thupten Ngodup burned himself to death. The Dalai Lama
openly despaired that his message of nonviolence was not reaching Tibetans, but Ngodup
became a martyr figure among young Tibetan hard-liners. Thousands of demonstrators
attended his funeral in Dharamsala. "Self-immolation was very inspiring for the Tibetan
people," says Kalsang Phuntsok, head of the Tibetan Youth Congress in Dharamsala. "It
showed the younger people that they could sacrifice for the Tibetan people."

With his bushy hair, stilted English and trim suit, Phuntsok seems like a cartoon version
of a 1960s British mod. But the group he leads is the largest Tibetan exile organization,
with some 15,000 members. "It's my responsibility to tell people what will be the
scenario when the Dalai Lama is no more," Phuntsok tells me, pounding his fist into his
palm. I ask him about the Middle Way, and he emits a snarly laugh. "We are nullifying all
we have achieved in the past forty-five years," he says. "We are admitting at the
international level that Tibetan people, and the Dalai Lama, are happy in China. We need
to educate Tibetans that attacking China is the only way. If you're willing to die, you have
no fear."

Tibetan hard-liners are considering a range of possible targets, including the 2008
Olympics in Beijing and the new train line to Lhasa. "The railway has been built, and it'll
be there," says Tsundue. "Unless you bomb it, you'll get no attention."

Yet violence could play into China's hands, enabling Beijing to tar Tibetan activists as
violent fanatics. "If they turn to violence," says Robert Thurman, "all their legitimacy
would be gone." Taking advantage of the hysteria surrounding the war on terror, China
has already claimed that Tibetan activists are terrorists and has held counterterrorism
exercises in Tibet. The Panchen Lama selected by China is so despised in Tibet that he
travels to monasteries under heavy guard, fearful that he will be murdered by the very
people who supposedly worship him.

DISCOVERED AS THE REINCARNATION of the previous Dalai Lama at age two, the
current Dalai Lama had to assume responsibility for his people at a young age. Normally,
a regent ran Tibet while a young Dalai Lama grew into manhood, but with Chinese troops
approaching his land, the Dalai Lama assumed the power of head of state in 1950, while
still a teenager. "I could not refuse my responsibilities," he has said. "I had to shoulder
them, put my boyhood behind me."

Carrying a nation on your back never gets easier. On a recent morning in New York, I
wait for the Dalai Lama in a small room above a conference room where he is scheduled
to speak. On his visits to America, the Tibetan leader packs in dozens, even hundreds, of
events; the previous day, he flew from New York to California and back, at the behest of
Maria Shriver, for another appearance. Now, he sweeps into the room flanked by a small
army of bodyguards. He sits across from me at a small table, his head down. Friends say
the Dalai Lama cannot hide his feelings, and today his seemingly limitless energy and
enthusiasm have been replaced by gloom and fatigue. Groups like Students for a Free
Tibet have stepped up their complaints about his decision to abandon independence, and
even his own brother recently contradicted him by declaring that China is giving no
ground to Tibetans.

"There is definitely more criticism from our own people and also from our supporters,"
the Dalai Lama tells me, his voice a low rumble. "More and more criticism about our
Middle Way approach."

He begins to outline the threats facing Tibet. The attitude of Chinese officials, he admits,
is "not encouraging." The new railroad to Lhasa has brought rampant development that
poses "consequences on the wild animals and also the environment." I try to interrupt
him, but he keeps talking, caught up in the litany of concerns. "And then the demographic
pressure is also increasing, and the ecological consequences are very serious."

But as he comes to the end of his soliloquy, the Dalai Lama's face suddenly brightens.
There is still hope for the future, he insists. "This is not a question of my return to Tibet
but a question of this century," he says. "So therefore, the Tibet issue will not go away."

When our interview ends, I mention to the Dalai Lama that I have recently returned from
Tibet, a land he has not been able to visit for almost half a century. He beams. "Oh!" he
shouts. "Oh!" Eager for firsthand accounts, he pumps me for information about the new
railroad to Lhasa. "Did you see new towns along the train?" he asks. "I've heard there are
many new Chinese towns."

As I try to describe what I saw, the Dalai Lama's aides grow nervous; dignitaries wait in
the next room for a photo shoot. But the Tibetan leader ignores their entreaties, firing
questions at me. "Did you see an impact on the environment?" he asks. The aides stare
pointedly at their watches, but the Dalai Lama seems to want more, desperate for any
information about his homeland.

Finally, the aides get his attention. The Dalai Lama grasps my hands. "Thank you," he
says, staring hard at me. His robes rustle as he heads into the next room.

Watching him go, I am reminded that, to a very real extent, the future of Tibet resides in
this elderly man. In an era of terror, his message of steadfast peace in the face of
destruction has proven an inspiration to people far beyond his own land. "He has given
something indelible to the world," writes the essayist Pico Iyer. "He has shown that
justice and nonviolence have a power of their own. And he has shown that globalism can
be a way of taking seriously the idea that all of us are one another's neighbors."

But despite the Dalai Lama's immense accomplishments, no leader has emerged who can
take his place, and the violence in Tibet is only likely to increase once he is gone. "When
the Dalai Lama passes away, it's a real mess," admits Randy Schriver, a former senior
official in the U.S. State Department. Worse, it will be at least twenty years before the
next Dalai Lama, once he is found and chosen, becomes old enough to lead his people.
By that time, given the rapid influx of Chinese and the next generation's growing
disillusionment with nonviolence, the Roof of the World may no longer be recognizable
as Tibetan.

"Right now, Tibetans have nothing more to lose," says a prominent businessman in
Lhasa, echoing the concerns of those who fear that one of the world's oldest cultures is
coming to an end. "It's like we have a gun at the back of our head and a ditch in front of