‘Middle Way’ May Need Review

Top candidates for Tibet's exile prime minister say that talks for greater Tibetan autonomy may need to be reassessed.
2010-11-12
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Tenzin-Tethong305.jpg
Tenzin Tethong, Nov. 12, 2010.
RFA

Talks between China and envoys of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have reached an impasse and may need to be reassessed, according to the two leading candidates vying to be Tibet's exile prime minister .

The Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” proposal for greater autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule has been rejected by China’s leaders as a disguised ploy for independence for the Himalayan region, which was invaded by Chinese communist troops in 1949.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 following a failed national uprising against Chinese rule.

Speaking on a panel discussion hosted on Nov. 12 by RFA and broadcast by radio and over the Internet, Tenzin Tethong—one of six candidates for the post of kalon tripa, or prime minister of the India-based exile government—said Tibetan proposals have received  a “negative” response from Chinese leaders.

“This makes us think that the time has come to review the current Middle Way approach of the Tibetan exile government in dealing with the Chinese leadership on the issue of Tibet,” said Tethong, who works as a consultant on Tibetan affairs for Stanford University in California.

Tethong’s remarks, and the RFA broadcast, came on the same day that the Election Commission of the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan exile government announced the results of a first round of voting for the post of prime minister.

‘Make use of opportunities’

Lobsang-Sangay305.jpg
Lobsang Sangay, Nov. 12, 2010. RFA
Lobsang Sangay, a research scholar at Harvard Law School and another leading candidate, said in the RFA broadcast that anyone elected to the post of prime minister must “follow the charter of the exile government.”

“However, it is crucial to make use of opportunities that come with changes in the international situation,” Sangay said. 

“If the general Tibetan public, the exile parliament, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama see the need for a change in the Middle Way approach of the Tibetan exile government, then the prime minister, who heads the executive branch, should implement it.”

A primary election for Tibetan exile prime minister was conducted last month, with exiled Tibetans voting in India, Nepal, Europe, North America, New Zealand, Australia, and Bhutan. 

Following the preliminary vote, the Election Commission of the exile government announced a final list of six candidates in a press conference on Nov. 12.

Those named on the list were Lobsang Sangay, a U.S. resident (22,469 votes); Tenzin Tethong, a U.S. resident (12,319 votes); Gyari Dolma, a resident of Dharamsala, India, and currently vice chairman of the exile parliament (2,733 votes); Tashi Wangdu, a resident of Switzerland (2,101 votes); Lobsang Jinpa, a U.S. resident (1,545 votes); and Sonam Topgyal Khorlhatsang, a resident of Mussorie, India (605 votes).

Votes cast by Tibetans in Nepal could not be counted, though, as Nepalese police seized ballot boxes at several polling places.

China, with whom Nepal has developed close ties, has regularly called on the country to crack down on what it calls “illegal” political activity by Tibetan refugees.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.