Has China finally shut the
door on Dalai Lama?
door has been peremptorily shut on the Dalai Lama's quest
for a "middle path" peaceful solution to the over
five-decade-old Tibet dispute with China accusing him of seeking
"ethnic cleansing" across the region.
startling assertion by Zhu Weiqun, a vice-minister of the
Chinese Communist Party's united front work department, comes
just days before a special general meeting of the Tibetan
exile community to decide on the future course of action.
meeting is scheduled between Nov 17 and 22 and comes in the
shadow of the Dalai Lama's rare expression of loss of "faith
and trust" in dealing with the Chinese leadership.
[the Dalai Lama] seizes power he will, without any compunction
or sympathy, carry out ethnic discrimination, apartheid and
ethnic cleansing," Zhu was quoted as saying at a news
conference after the eighth round of talks with the Dalai
Lama's special envoys Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen from
Oct 30 to Nov 5.
said there was no progress in the talks with the envoys and
blamed the Tibetan leadership. Zhu called the current system
"perfect", adding there was no need for any revision.
"There is no other way," he added.
the Chinese have been forthcoming about the outcome, or lack
thereof, of the talks the Tibetan envoys have not made any
detailed comments, perhaps conscious of the upcoming special
meeting. Characterising the Dalai Lama's position as wanting
to seek ethnic cleansing is by far the harshest denunciation
coming out of Beijing in recent times. It has frequently accused
"the Dalai clique" of carrying on "splittist"
activities but charging him with wanting to carry out apartheid
and discrimination in Tibet goes well beyond anything heard
in recent times.
the interpretations of the latest hardening of Beijing's positions
is that it wants to push the exiles towards a more radical
approach and then use that as an excuse to call off any more
dialogue. In any event, with the Dalai Lama himself wondering
whether it made any more sense to continue on the "middle
way", there is very little room for flexibility left.
may be several calculations behind China's latest pronouncements.
Chief among them is its long held but never articulated strategy
of waging a war of attrition against the Dalai Lama, which
essentially means talk about what to talk until he dies. Although
the Dalai Lama's health is reported to be fine in the aftermath
of his surgery, Beijing sees hope in any decline in the 73-year-old
calculation may well stem from the current financial meltdown
and the world community's preoccupation with it to the exclusion
of any other issue. Given China's obvious importance to the
global economy, Western countries may be particularly reluctant
to muddy the water by raising Tibet. A third factor could
be a tactic to push the exile community over the edge and
provoke them to do something unprecedented and then use it
as way to isolate it internationally.
ought to be conscious that the United States, the only power
that may have influence with Beijing, has just had its presidential
election in the midst of the worst financial crisis since
the Great Depression. President-elect Barack Obama will naturally
be focused on the economy, two wars and a host of other domestic
challenges. He is unlikely to find any time to address the
Tibetan question with a country which has significantly bankrolled
the United States.
convergence of all these factors could well mean that the
Nov 17-22 special meeting in Dharamsala would at the very
least decide to introduce more teeth to the middle way approach,
if not abandon it altogether. The Dalai Lama's acknowledgement
that his approach has not led to any solution may prompt the
younger leadership within the exile community to try something
option the exile Tibetan leadership might choose, Beijing
appears to have decided to give short shrift to them.
Chhaya is the author of the Dalai Lama's authorised biography
"Dalai Lama: Man, Monk, Mystic". He can be contacted