CHINA> Regional
An illusive olive branch from the Dalai Lama
By Jin Canrong (
Updated: 2008-08-21 11:00

Just one day ahead of the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, The New York Times published an editorial by its commentator and former correspondent in China, Nicholas D. Kristof, introducing the so-called Dalai Lama's new ideas on the Tibet issue.

In the commentary titled "An olive branch from the Dalai Lama", Kristof also gave his opinions about the Tibet issue with his incomplete knowledge of Beijing's policy on Tibet.

It is inexplicable that the Dalai Lama publicized his requests through a Western journalist, instead of raising them directly to the Central Government, since Beijing has spoken out repeatedly the door to dialogues is open. Talking through an American journalist's mouth reduces the creditability of his message, and makes people wonder if the Dalai really desired to solve the problems or is it another PR smoking campaign on behalf of the West.

From 2002 to early this year, the Central Government had six contacts with Dalai's envoys, and although the March 14 violent riot in Lhasa enraged the Chinese people, the Communist Party's United Front Work Department still managed to arrange two dialogues with his envoys. So, whom the Dalai Lama should talk to is the Central Government in Beijing, not some Western individuals.

In his latest messages, relayed through Kristof, the Dalai Lama requested not to talk to the United Front Work Department of China any more, but with top state leaders, such as the president or the premier, and even asked for the removal of the Communist Party chief in charge of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. These wanton requests are totally unreasonable which could only set new barriers to future dialogue. The requests also make people suspect of the Dalai Lama's credibility to seek genuine solutions.

The Dalai Lama said, via Kristof's writings, that it is his utmost concession to accept the socialist society in Tibet led by the Chinese Communist Party, and in return he demand the the Central Government make compromises. This is nothing but his negotiation skills.

In fact, it is what the Dalai Lama must recognize, and it is also an unchangeable fact that socialism led by CCP has been the basic social system in Tibet ever since the launching of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1965. The region has made great progress in modernization under this social system. To change the basic system will cause unimaginable disasters to Tibet. It is also futile for a few planning to revise the basic system.

The Dalai Lama also talked about the so-called "all Tibetan areas", asking to expand the territorial and political boundaries of the Tibetan Autonomous Region to encompass about one-fourth of China's land mass, merging parts of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. He also demanded that the Central Government physically block people from migrating into the Tibetan region. This ill-willed suggestion ignores the Constitutional rights of other ethnic groups to move freely and do businesses freely in China. And, a bigger and "all Tibetans' Area", as suggested by the Dalai Lama, will lead to an ethnic cleansing that all non-Tibetan residents will have to be moved out.

Kristof, in his article, put forward some specific requirements for the Dalai Lama after he highlighted Dalai's "new ideas". Kristof suggested that Dalai could enter and leave Tibet freely, restrict immigration to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, allow pre-school children to enter monasteries, strengthen Tibetan language promotion and phase in more Tibetan officials and so on. Sure, it is Dalai's right to bring suggestions but the suggestions should be reasonable and sound.

The freedom of migration is privileged by China's Constitution and any prohibition of this right is against modern law and individual citizens' basic human right. Children of all ethnic groups have right to receive nine-year basic education and both their parents and our government have obligation to do so. Religious freedom is protected after the children are grown up to make decisions for themselves.

In the process of modernization, The Tibet Autonomous Region, like other Chinese provinces and regions, faces the dilemma between modernization and traditional culture protection. The fact is that China has done lots of fruitful work to widen and spread Tibetan language teaching and usage and to protect Tibetan ethnic culture.

"The point is our culture not politics," as Dalai Lama was quoted by Kristof in the article. However readers can only smell the heavy scent of politics in the requirements made by the Dalai Lama. Culture protection is made use of by the lama.