Global Politics

Tibetan exile summit

The Dalai Lama's envoy wouldn't say it was ever easy to negotiate with China, but up until last year he says the Chinese at least left the door open for future talks. Terms for a settlement as dictated by China in 2007 include that the Dalai Lama must state publicly that Tibet has always been a part of China, something Tibetans and independent historians have said is patently false. Tibet fell under Chinese sway about 300 years ago but was not directly controlled by China until the Communist Party invaded in 1950. the Dalai Lama has been pushing not for independence but more cultural autonomy, something that is promised to ethnic minorities within the Chinese constitution. Chinese negotiators asked the Dalai Lama to define what genuine autonomy would mean for them. In last month's talks the envoy said they did. He says the Chinese negotiators saw things like a request for Tibetan to be the main language of the region as a clear sign of striving for independence. The Chinese also monasteries are hotbeds of Tibetan separatism so a desire to preserve them is a desire to separate. The envoy says it's difficult to argue with your counterparts if everything you do is seen as a hidden attempt at separation, and this leaves no way forward with the Chinese. This elder Tibetan exile says he knew this strategy of negotiating with the Chinese would never work because Tibet is a region rich with resources which is too valuable to Chinese interests. The Dalai Lama's older brother disagrees and thinks that Tibetans have no choice but to talk with the Chinese. Some Tibetans think the Tibetans should make a stand and say what they really want is independence. But politics is the art of the possible, especially when you're a minority taking one of the most populous countries in the world. But the feeling among some Tibetans is a long shot is all they have left.

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