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Why Dalai Lama can't represent all Tibetans: scholar
Updated: 2009-03-27 13:31

Tibetans, like other ethnic groups, have been living alongside Han, Hui, Mongol as well as ethnic groups for ages.

And if more people from other ethnic groups have been settling in Tibet in recent years, they are doing so out of their own free will - to seek jobs or run businesses - and have not been encouraged or coerced by the government to do so.

This makes the Dalai Lama's demand that all Han and other non-Tibetan Chinese be expelled from Tibet ring hollow, for it's intended at driving away people from the region and is against the basic human right of freedom of movement within one's country.

People who know China's history are outraged at the Dalai Lama's assertion of a "Greater Tibet", which adds up to a quarter of China's territory and never existed.

In fact, the Dalai Lama was always a local leader and used to run the administration only in the eastern half of what is the Tibet autonomous region (the other half was run by the Panchen Lama). The Dalai Lama had no jurisdiction over areas in Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces where ethnic Tibetans are settled and which he claims are part of the so-called "Greater Tibet".

Some people in the West have taken the Dalai Lama's claim at face value and have wrongly accused the central government of carrying out "cultural genocide" in Tibet. This is ridiculous. Tibetan culture is part of the culture of China, and it has been well preserved.

The central and the Tibet regional governments have done everything possible to maintain the distinct identity of Tibetan culture, protect its relics and heritage, promote the Tibetan language, and nurture local talents.

The central leadership is proud of the multi-cultural identity of China and has always tried to preserve the distinct features of these cultures.

The problem is that the Western media generally sees the Dalai Lama as the spiritual and political leader of all ethnic Tibetans, which is against historical facts.

Tibetan Buddhism is an amalgamation of several denominations, with the Dalai Lama being one of the two living Buddhas (the other being the Panchen Lama) of the Gelugpa sect, the largest among Tibetan Buddhists.

This, coupled with the fact that he never ruled over all the areas where ethnic Tibetans are settled, makes him ineligible to represent the entire gamut of Tibetan Buddhism and ethnic Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama lives in exile. His followers in Dharamshala, India, come mainly from exiled upper-class lamas and aristocrats, and their descendants, who account for a tiny minority of Tibetan society.

Before the 1959 democratic reform, the three major ruling classes - local administrative officials, aristocrats and upper-class monastery lamas -accounted for only 5 percent of Tibet's population.

Hence, the Dalai Lama's support base is too narrow for him to proclaim himself as the "leader" of all ethnic Tibetans.

We have to hear the voices of the liberated serfs, the vast majority in pre-1959 Tibet, and their descendants, who prefer to live peacefully with other ethnic groups in a prosperous and harmonious multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society that is China.

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