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Terrorist poised to rule "Tibetan government in-exile" ?

10:23, March 22, 2011

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By Li Hongmei

The exiled Tibetans worldwide voted Sunday to elect a new "prime minister", the Dalai Lama's India-based "government in exile" said.

Monks, nuns and laymen filled the courtyard of the Main Temple in Dharamsala, India, to vote at the polls, The Tibet Post International reported. The candidates for the post of "kalon tripa", or "the prime minister-in-exile," were Lobsang Sangay, Tenzin Tethong and Tashi Wangdi.

Jamphel Choesang, chief election commissioner, was cited as saying----As many as 83,399 exiled Tibetans settled in India, Nepal, Bhutan, the United States, European countries, Australia, Japan, Russia and other countries were eligible to exercise their franchise to elect the new "prime minister" and 43 members of "Tibetan Parliament-in-exile".

Even though the outcome will be unveiled till April 27, the Western media bet a great deal on the 43-year-old Harvard- trained Lobsang Sangay to be the winner.

The 14th Dalai Lama announced recently he would formally relinquish his political leadership role in the "Tibetan government in-exile", a decision intended to strengthen his long lobbied "Tibetan movement" on the eve of elections to choose a new generation of political leaders.

For years, the exiled Dalai Lama has spoken of his desire to cede political authority, or "retire" as he sometimes put it. But in Thursday's speech, the Dalai Lama made it official, announcing that he would propose the change during the session of the "Tibetan parliament-in-exile" that begins this month in Dharamsala.

Analysts who study Tibet said the announcement does not mean the Dalai Lama would cease to be recognized as the overall ruler of the exiled Tibetans. He is regarded as the lone figure capable of mobilizing his followers to devote to his ambition of "Tibetan Independence", or "Greater Tibet" as he has lobbied while going globetrotting.

But the analysts also said that by formally giving up political power, the Dalai Lama, who is 76, is trying to deepen the authority and credibility of the "Tibetan movement", an India-based organization to seek "Tibetan Independence".

Back in China, the Dalai Lama's announcement was met with blunt criticism by the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu. "We think these are his tricks to deceive the international community," she said.

The political future of the "Tibetan movement," and who will lead it, hinges on the unresolved question of who will be the eventual successor to the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has suggested he might choose his successor before he dies, deviating from the historic practice of senior lamas identifying his reincarnation after his death.

"We must respect the historical institutions and religious rituals of Tibetan Buddhism," Padma Choling, Chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional government, told reporters while attending the annual session of the National People's Congress (Mar 5—Mar 14) in Beijing. "I am afraid it is not up to anyone whether to abolish the reincarnation institution or not." He added: "Tibetan Buddhism has a history of more than 1,000 years, and the reincarnation institutions of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama have been carried on for several hundred years."

Meanwhile, the "Tibetan government in-exile" is set to elect a new prime minister Sunday as a political leader. It is said that winner would still operate in the shadow cast by the Dalai Lama but noted that the current frontrunner, Lobsang Sangay, a Tibetan who was trained in Harvard as a "legal scholar", enjoys wide popularity among young exiles.

Lobsang Sangay was born and bred in India, but has never been to Tibet. In 1992, he rose to fame and became the youngest leading member of "Tibetan Youth Congress" (TYC), a terrorist organization in nature.

The violent incident in Lhasa on March 14, 2008 -- including beating, smashing, looting and arson -- exposed the terrorist nature of "Tibetan Youth Congress" (TYC) as the direct planner of the riot. The crimes made the organization look like a kin member of Al-Qaida, Chechnyan armed terrorists and "East Turkistan" separatists."

Founded in 1970, the TYC advocates "complete independence of Tibet" and has fully integrated into the "Tibetan government-in-exile", entering the power core of the Dalai clique. It has long been involved in secessionist activities.

Speeches by some leading members of the organization and the Dalai clique revealed they would use terrorism to achieve their goals.

Gaisang Puncog, former chairman of the TYC, said, "We could use any methods to serve our cause, whether it is violent or non-violent."

Tendzin Choegyal, the Dalai Lama's younger brother and follower, said, "Terrorist activities could achieve the biggest effect at the lowest cost."

One of the Dalai Lama's most-trusted subordinates said in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington that a few desperate individuals and organizations could trigger instability on a large scale.

In a meeting of its "central executive committee" in Dharamsala, India, the TYC approved a decision to "found a guerrilla movement as soon as possible to secretly enter China and carry out armed struggles.

The organization also made preliminary plans to prepare personnel, funding and arms to steal into China through the China-Nepal border. Some ringleaders even claimed that they could sacrifice at least 100 Tibetans to achieve a "thorough victory".

The election favorite Lobsang Sangay hinted he could move beyond the Dalai Lama's "middle way", the policy of negotiating some "autonomy" from China. A younger generation has criticized it for producing no results despite the TYC- incited 2008 atrocities.

"The new leader will have to take advantage of changes in the Muslim world, the Jasmine revolution," Lobsang Sangay told Reuters. "When the opportunity presents itself, one must take advantage. There is a need of flexibility given the international situation and the stalemate with China."

Lobsang Sangay also despises the Dalai Lama's "middle way", and calls for "self determination", a term often used by young radicals pressing for Tibet independence.

In all likelihood, a new-generation leadership to rule the "Tibetan government in-exile" would inject the more radical and extreme theory in "Tibetan Independence", and would also take desperate steps to obtain the highly coveted goal. And they will never cease to sow the seed of ethnic discords and fuel flames among the Tibetan people within China.

But it will prove to be a vain attempt.

"I dare not say that Tibet will not see any incidents, big or small, forever, but I dare say that the current situation in Tibet is on the whole stable, and the Tibetan people wish for stability and object to trouble-making," as Padma Choling was quoted as saying.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.


Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Dai MinJohn
Dai Min

John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, the executive producers and co-hosts of the Collaboration of Civilizations television series adapted by the eight books they wrote in the America-China Partnership Book Series published in English and Mandarin in 2009-2010 that created the "New School of America-China Relations." They founded the America-China Partnership Foundation and Forum in 2008 and the Center for American-China Partnership in 2005, which was recognized in 2009 as "the first American think tank to combine and integrate American and Chinese perspectives providing a complete answer for America and China's success in the 21st century."