‘Permanent, negotiated solution for Tibet in China’s interest’

Updated - November 16, 2021 11:45 pm IST

Published - August 13, 2014 12:47 am IST - BEIJING:

While there remain serious differences between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama on the major political questions surrounding Tibet’s future, it would be in China’s interest to achieve a permanent, negotiated political solution for Tibet, N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd., said on Tuesday.

Mr. Ram, who was addressing the fourth forum on Tibet’s development in Lhasa, said the Tibet political question was “lurking in the shadows of international relations” and causing “friction and unease in China’s bilateral relations with some major developed countries, and confusing and dividing public opinion abroad and, to an extent, at home”.

This was despite the fact that “Tibet’s status as an integral part of the People’s Republic of China is not disputed by a single country in the world; and no country accords legal recognition to the Dalai Lama’s so-called ‘government-in-exile’ based in Dharamsala”.

Mr. Ram said that while the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama remained “diametrically opposed” on some issues, the nine rounds of talks between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Beijing were “a positive development since they have kept the door open and the contacts alive”.

However, following the last round in January 2010, wide gaps remained. Mr. Ram said the “biggest stumbling block” was the Dalai Lama’s position on bringing together “Greater Tibet” — comprising not just the Tibet Autonomous Region but parts of the provinces of Yunnan, Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu where around three million Tibetans reside, amounting to one-fourth of China’s territory — under a single administrative unit. The Chinese government has termed this demand “disguised independence”.

Mr. Ram was critical of the Dalai Lama’s stand, saying it was “reasonable to conclude, as the Chinese government has done, that the latest solution proposed by the Dalai Lama is both unacceptable and unworkable and is indeed “part of a two-step strategy — ‘first autonomy and then independence’.”

The Dalai Lama has, however, maintained that he was seeking only “genuine autonomy” for all Tibetans in China to protect their rights, and not independence. With the stalemate in negotiations, the Dalai Lama’s representatives, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, resigned from their positions as special envoys in June 2012 expressing “frustration over the lack of positive response from the Chinese side”, leaving the talks stalled.

Mr. Ram said “finding a permanent solution in Tibet through a negotiated end to the Dalai Lama-led ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign and activities is clearly in China’s national interest and therefore an important political objective”.

The fourth biennial Tibet forum, which brought together more than 100 overseas representatives and regional officials, highlighted the challenge of sustainable development in Tibet, covering environmental, economic and political issues.

In a statement issued in Beijing to mark the opening of the forum, Yu Zhengsheng, the fourth-ranked member of the Communist Party of China’s Politburo Standing Committee and the top official in charge of ethnic affairs, said the region was “for years trying to find a development pattern that can strike a balance between the needs of its people and protection of its natural environment”.

There has been increasing attention in China on environmental concerns facing the plateau, with a major government study in June, based on three decades of research, warning that glaciers on the plateau had shrunk by 15 per cent since 1980, retreating by 8,000 square kilometres.

Green groups here have also expressed concern about the impact of a fast-expanding mining industry on the plateau’s ecosystem — an issue that has come under the spotlight in China after landslides at a gold mine near Lhasa killed 83 people last year.

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