Tsering Woeser, who is one of 10 Women of Courage honored by the U.S. State Department this week, has used her blog, Invisible Tibet, together with her poetry and nonfiction and social media platforms like Twitter to give voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world by government curbs on information. Woeser continues to document the situation of Tibetans in spite of constant surveillance and house arrest.
In a commentary broadcast by RFA's Mandarin Service, she assesses the likelihood of a less hard-line policy on Tibet with the advent of China's new leadership under Communist Party chief Xi Jinping:
Perhaps it's inappropriate to continue to hope that we will see any change from the new leader of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, on Tibet? I think that a lot of people are hoping for a softer line, or even for something like the "positive changes" we have heard spoken about in diplomatic statements.
So many people have asked me what to expect from the Xi administration on Tibet that I am getting a headache. This is because that is often followed up with a story from the past that is supposed to sound heartening. The story goes that His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Xi's father when he was in his early twenties ... and had an impression of warmth and open-mindedness from the friendship.
But Confucius, that ancestor of Chinese culture, has a saying: "Look not at someone's words but at their actions." Xi Jinping, about to fully grasp power at the 18th Party Congress [in November], talked about "achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," and focused on the "Chinese dream."
I don't think this is fantasy. I think that the Chinese people are closer to realizing this goal now than at any other point in history.
According to Party tradition, every leader has his own agenda. Deng Xiaoping's was "reform and opening up." Jiang Zemin had the "Three Represents." Hu Jintao's was "a harmonious society." And Xi Jinping's should be "the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation".
And to what is the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation closely related?
On Jan. 28 this year, Xi Jinping took a stand and got tough on the Diaoyu Islands. He said: "We must not give up our legitimate rights and interests, and we must not sacrifice our core national interests."
Analysts noted that Xi's emphasis on "the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" and "the Chinese dream" are actually a dream of a Chinese empire.
Looking ahead, the sun is setting on the veteran imperialist countries, while the emerging empires are on the rise. Territorial autonomy is a top priority, and has usually been focused on never giving it up, rather than on trying to grab it.
The Tibetans' dream is nothing less than the "Middle Way" of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who seeks a high degree of autonomy in Tibet; although support for the pursuit of independence for Tibet increases daily.
But it seems that for the Chinese Communist Party, the "Middle Way" is still "de facto independence," and "independence" is a sin which cannot be pardoned. It interferes with China's "core interests" relating to territory and sovereignty, and so this dream must be crushed.
Some people do not believe that Xi Jinping can achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and feel that the renaissance of a nation deprived of its spirit and soul is no renaissance at all.
But one fact is clear. There is no room for the dreams of Tibetans in the "Chinese dream."
Translated by Luisetta Mudie.