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Tashi Delek Comrade? The Sikyong Accepts Communist Rule in Tibet

In a discourse to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC on May 8, 2013, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay offered three alarming expressions: a) majority rules system for Tibet was out and Communist Party rule was alright, b) real self-sufficiency for Tibet could be for a restricted span, and c) China would have circumspection over military organization in Tibet. In particular, the Sikyong expressed:

f the Chinese government implements their own laws, we could take that as genuine autonomy, and we don’t challenge or ask for an overthrow of the Communist Party.  So we don’t question or challenge the present structure of the ruling party.


We are not asking that democracy be implemented or be allowed inside Tibet.  What we’re asking is rights, as per the provisions of the Chinese constitution.  So democracy is what we practice, but this is what we aspire.  But that’s not part of what we’re asking to the Chinese government.

During his discourse, nobody got some information about these wonderful proclamations with the exception of the host, Jerome Cohen, who asked Sangay: “So how would you keep up self-sufficiency on the off chance that you host proceeding get-together control of the public authority?” Mr. Sangay answered: “As long as Tibetans are in control in the initiative”. This provoked a reaction from Prof. Cohen: “All things considered, they have Tibetans in control now in their independence.” Mr. Sangay countered by saying: “The gathering secretary is the most remarkable individual, and the gathering secretary of Tibet self-ruling locale has never under any circumstance been a Tibetan.” Prof. Cohen then, at that point inquired:

Do you want to establish popular government in a truly self-sufficient Tibet? Will there be genuine, free political races, opportunity of articulation?

Sangay answered that “we” are requesting the rights under the Chinese Constitution yet not majority rules system in Tibet and that “we” need the very arrangement that China gave Hong Kong and Macau. Cohen then, at that point brought up that Hong Kong may have the right to speak freely of discourse yet it doesn’t have popular government, and that Hong Kong’s self-rule has a period cutoff of a long time from 1997.<FN2> Sangay suggested that he would acknowledge a period limit for authentic independence in Tibet as long as China consented to the standard of real self-governance (on the off chance that it can in any case be called self-rule).

As well as tolerating the idea of a restricted length of self-sufficiency for Tibet, Sangay offered another surprising expression towards the finish of the Q&A time frame in which he expressed: “[M]ilitarization, it will be at China’s tact, and yet we wish to see less of it in the boundary regions.” Sangay, subsequently, surrendered that China would have attentiveness on military sending in Tibet. We can just expect that Sikyong Sangay’s remarks are as per the CTA’s present Middle Way Policy and mirror the authority perspective on the CTA.

In 2008, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) presented a Memorandum on Genuine Tibetan Autonomy to the Chinese Government. This was the main significant update and correction to the 1988 Strasbourg Proposal. The Memorandum called for certifiable Tibetan independence for every one of the three districts of Tibet under one organization inside the structure of the PRC Constitution. Albeit the Memorandum didn’t explicitly address what political framework ought to be in Tibet, it expressed:

he exercise of genuine autonomy would include the right of Tibetans to create their own regional government and government institutions and processes that are best suited to their needs and characteristics.  It would require that the People’s Congress of the autonomous region have the power to legislate on all matters within the competencies of the region … and that other organs of the autonomous government have the power to execute and administer decisions autonomously. 

The word democracy is not used anywhere in the Memorandum.  China rejected every point in the 2008 Memorandum.  In 2010, the CTA submitted a follow-up Note which stated:

The Memorandum also does not challenge the socialist system of the PRC.  Nothing in it suggests a demand for a change to this system or for its exclusion from Tibetan areas.  As for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s views on socialism, it is well known that he has always favoured a socialist economy and ideology that promotes equality and benefits to uplift the poorer sections of society.

Indeed, no place is the word popular government utilized. While the Note doesn’t challenge a communist framework in Tibetan regions, even a communist framework can have vote based races and all inclusive testimonial. (For example Scandinavian nations have communist economies and fairly chose governments.) There are such things as communist majority rules systems and the Note doesn’t expressly dismiss a vote based type of government for Tibet.

The surrender of popular government for Tibet as a state of certified self-governance is a sensational change from His Holiness’ 1988 Strasbourg Proposal, the establishment of the Middle Way proposition, in which the Dalai Lama expressed: “The Government [of Tibet] ought to be contained a prominently chosen Chief Executive, a bi-cameral authoritative branch, and a free legal system.” It additionally contradicts His Holiness’ numerous earlier assertions praising popular government:

I personally have great admiration for secular democracy.

The future head of the Tibetan Government must be someone popularly elected by the people.

Modern democracy is based on the principle that all human beings are essentially equal, that each of us has an equal right to life, liberty, and happiness.

[T]he political, social and cultural freedom that democracy entails is of immense value and importance.

No system of government is perfect, but democracy is closest to our essential human nature.  It is also the only stable foundation upon which a just and free global political structure can be built.  So it is in all our interests that those of us who already enjoy democracy should actively support everybody’s right to do so.

His Holiness has also criticized communist one-party rule:

Although communism espoused many noble ideals, including altruism, the attempt by its governing elites to dictate their views proved disastrous.  These governments went to tremendous lengths to control their societies and to induce their citizens to work for the common good.  Rigid organisation may have been necessary at first to overcome previously oppressive regimes.  Once that goal was fulfilled, however, such rigidity had very little to contribute to building a truly cooperative society.  Communism failed utterly because it relied on force to promote its beliefs.  Ultimately, human nature was unable to sustain the suffering it produced.

While the 2008 Memorandum and 2010 Note are not new, the Sikyong’s recent comments are the first time, to our knowledge, that any CTA official has confirmed that the Middle Way Policy now envisions a limited duration, militarization at China’s discretion, and – most importantly – no democracy


Sikyong Sangay’s comments brought some scathing responses.  Woeser wrote on her Facebook page:

If this is what he really said, then I have a strong recommendation: Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, please submit an application to join the Communist Party!  If you want to be the Obama of China, how can you not join the Chinese Communist Party?  121 self-immolators have paid the price!  I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut!  This is too painful!

Buchung D. Sonam, Elliot Sperling, and Maura Moynihan<FN11> additionally scrutinized the Sikyong’s new comments. It is likewise important that, of the Tibetan self-immolators, all have called for rangwang (opportunity) or rangzen (freedom) – none have called for rangkyong (self-sufficiency), not to mention marshok ringluk (socialism).

Such analysis provoked the CTA to issue a “explanation” of Mr. Sangay’s comments at the Council on Foreign Relations:

n his talk at CFR, the Sikyong was referring to the socialist system of China at the national level.  The Middle-Way policy seeks genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution which obviously requires restructuring of the existing system to include all the Tibetan areas under one single administration and implementation of Chinese laws.

Be that as it may, this has all the earmarks of being just a helpless effort to turn the Sikyong’s comments. No explanation was really required in light of the fact that there was no uncertainty in his comments. There is a full record of his assertions at the CFR site, and Mr. Sangay was plainly not talking about China’s political framework at the “public level”. Mr. Sangay unmistakably expressed that he isn’t testing Communist Party rule in Tibet, and isn’t looking for vote based system for Tibetans in Tibet.

The CTA’s “explanation” likewise noticed: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama had expressed that he can acknowledge the communist arrangement of China if authentic self-sufficiency is allowed to Tibetans”. Clearly, tolerating communism in China doesn’t need tolerating Communist Party fascism in a self-governing Tibet. The general purpose of self-sufficiency is that the self-ruling region is extraordinary. So the “clarification’s” summon of His Holiness doesn’t support the Sikyong’s position.

The Sikyong is a knowledgeable and familiar English speaker who has given numerous public meetings and discourses, so probably he picked his words cautiously and intentionally. We can just accept Mr. Sangay implied what he said. Besides, the purported “explanation” was given by the CTA Press Officer and not from Sangay himself. There was no public interview to permit the media to pose inquiries about the CTA’s “explanation” or Sangay’s unique comments.


In fact, Sangay’s new comments are not altogether conflicting with the CTA’s 2008 Memorandum or the 2010 Note. In any case, his translation of the Middle Way goes a lot farther away of concessions than is needed by a perusing of one or the other record. This is the first run through a chosen head of the CTA has freely expressed that the CTA isn’t looking for vote based system for Tibetans inside Tibet and will acknowledge Communist Party rule in Tibet. The CTA has not denied the Sikyong’s comments nor has Sangay withdrawn them. It is crystal clear since the CTA has deserted one of the center arrangements of the first Middle Way Proposal. The incongruity of a justly chosen organization of 130,000 Tibetan outcasts deserting popular government for 6 million Tibetans in Tibet isn’t lost on us. Some may utilize more grounded words than “irony.”

Curiously, Mr. Sangay’s remarks on having Tibetans in the socialist initiative reviews the purported “Obama of China” discussion that Woeser refered to. A 2010 TPR article noticed that Sangay’s October 2008 discourse at the Wilson Center, read intently, “changes the Tibetan battle from one for opportunity and self-assurance, into one for social liberties and ‘portrayal in … government.’ In that regard it contrasts from His Holiness’ Middle Way vision, which is for a particular and inside self-ruling Tibet.”

The Middle Way Proposal was offered to the Tibetan individuals as a sensible trade off between complete freedom and the insufferable the norm in Tibet. It was introduced as an answer for China’s emphasis on power over Tibet while ensuring common, social, and strict rights for Tibetans and giving a proportion of self-rule. Majority rule government with a chosen lawmaking body and CEO was initially essential for the Middle Way proposition.

The survey of Tibetans in a state of banishment in 1997, in which 64% upheld whatever the Dalai Lama thought was best,<FN15> was situated partially on the reason that the Middle Way incorporated an interest for a fairly chosen government in Tibet. In 2008, after the Special Meeting of Tibetans, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPIE) passed a consistent goal on the side of the Middle Way. By and by the TPIE, the members of the Special Meeting, and the Tibetan public were apparently still under the feeling that the Middle Way included majority rules system for Tibet.

Additionally, the Sikyong has now expressed that even this translation of Tibetan self-governance could be of restricted term for what it’s worth in Hong Kong (50 years). As far as anyone is concerned, this is the first occasion when anybody in the CTA recommended or expressed that Tibet’s independence would be restricted in term. No notice of a restricted term is in the 2008 Memorandum or the 2010 Note. The CTA clearly still needs Tibetan self-rule, yet would acknowledge it for a restricted timeframe (after which: what?).

Mr. Sangay likewise yielded China would have “tact” on the arrangement of military powers in Tibet. This implies that the PLA and the PRC choose the number of and of what kind of military powers it would put in the Tibetan Plateau, not the Tibetan Government. Sangay’s assertion is a more noteworthy concession than the 2010 Note which simply says that there is no proposition for the “withdrawal” of the PLA from Tibet.

The Sikyong’s new remarks bring up a bigger number of issues than they answer. In the event that Tibet were administered by one-party socialist principle, how might Tibetans ensure their self-governance? Regardless of whether all the Party chiefs in Tibet were ethnic Tibetans, for what reason would they not adhere to the guidelines of the focal Party initiative, since all administration and Party authorities are designated by Beijing. Would the Tibetan socialist initiative just be loaded with self-serving collaborationists like Legchok and Sither?<FN16> Promotion and tasks in the Party depend on endorsements from the focal Party Organization Department. If Tibetan Party individuals need to get advanced or get administrative roles, they need to submit to the arrangements and rules of the focal Party.


Shouldn’t something be said about the Communist Party necessity of skepticism? Would Tibetan Party individuals in self-ruling Tibet need to surrender their religion to join the Party? How might one be both a socialist and a Buddhist since secularism is integral to Party regulation? Would the Tibetan Communist Party actually force powers over cloisters and require all priests/nuns to take “enthusiastic” tests to guarantee they love the “homeland” and the Party? Would the Party actually force “popularity based administration boards of trustees” in the religious communities, and Party cells in any remaining social associations?

Would this mean Tibetans can’t frame a resistance ideological group, and on the off chance that they did, would they be captured? Resistance groups are right now illicit in China and requiring a finish to Communist Party rule will get you captured. Shouldn’t something be said about fights the Party or calls for Tibetan autonomy and majority rule government? Prof. Cohen raised free discourse at any rate multiple times in his inquiries, however Mr. Sangay over and again kept away from the issue. Would Tibetan socialist pioneers permit Tibetan residents to show against the Party or contrary to Chinese guideline?

Imagine a scenario where China demanded that fights for Tibetan freedom undermined Chinese power, requested that the Tibetan Government capture protestors, and took steps to prepare the PLA if the Tibetan Government denied. Would the Tibetan Government, run by Tibetan socialists, obediently submit to the Party and stifle its own residents? This is the difficulty of numerous manikin systems, and the outcomes are generally monstrous.

In the PRC today, the Chinese Communist Party controls the Central Government, every one of the common, self-governing and neighborhood governments, the military, the legal executive, the police, significant scholarly establishments, the public press, public TV stations, and countless state-claimed business undertakings. The Party controls the media, the Internet, movies and TV. Numerous Chinese scholarly people and dissenters host reprimanded the Gathering’s supreme restraining infrastructure on political force. Nobel Peace Prize victor Liu Xiaobo was condemned to 11 years since he called for popularity based changes in China. The issues of one-party rule are clear even to an easygoing onlooker. We are uninformed of any illustration of functional self-governance in a one-party arrangement of government. However, by one way or another the Sikyong trusts Tibet can be truly self-sufficient under a one-party state.

Strangely, even after the Sikyong’s May 8 comments, CTA authorities are as yet discussing the upsides of popular government. His Holiness’ Special Representative to Europe, Kelsang Gyaltsen, expressed in a discourse in Berlin on May 31, 2013 that: “Common freedoms, vote based system and law and order have become today general goals of individuals experiencing mistreatment and persecution.”<FN19> Is the CTA initiative saying that all individuals aim for majority rule government however not Tibetans? For what reason should Tibet alone be avoided with regard to the principal objective of majority rules system? In the event that the CTA initiative is currently saying that Communist Party rule is satisfactory in Tibet, why are CTA authorities not commending the upsides of socialism and the Chinese Communist Party? This shows profound disarray – or maybe inward inconsistencies – in how the current CTA authority is presently imagining the Middle Way.


The Middle Way Proposal has been changed from veritable self-rule for Tibet with vote based system and neutralization into a proposition for no majority rule government, Communist Party rule, restricted term of self-governance, and militarization of the Tibetan Plateau at the caution of China. The Middle Way has gone through critical changes since 1988 yet the new deserting of majority rule government is apparently the most huge. It stays not yet clear whether the Tibetan public, in a state of banishment and in Tibet, will acknowledge the Middle Way in its current structure.


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