Monday, June 4, 2012

The negotiations that unfortunately never were

When in 2009, I published a book: Dharamsala and Beijing: The negotiations that never were I still believed that the Chinese leadership would be wise enough to start genuine negotiations with Dharamsala.
It was not to be.
Later that year, I wrote on this blog:
This statement of  Zhu Weiqun, Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department is  depressing at first sight (Zhu said the the Dalai Lama lied) ; it however probably signals a return to the negotiating table.
he Chinese are also adepts of the Middle Path approach, but they prefer to change the posts before the beginning of the talks: the further the posts, closer to their position is the 'middle'.
One of the most shocking fact about the 'negotiations' is that the Chinese side does not even allow the Tibetans to have a Chinese-speaking member in their team.
The Chinese officials speak of 'lies', but their own is the biggest: they pretend that there never was an 'invasion' of Tibet and Tibet was just 'liberated'. According to the latest news from Eastern Tibet (Nyagchuka County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province), it is clear that Tibet is still not liberated.
The recent immolations on the Tibetan plateau is another indication that Tibet has never been 'liberated'
The back cover of my book explains the background of the 'negotiations':
In October 1950, Communist China invaded Tibet. After nine years of difficult co-habitation with the occupiers, the Dalai Lama, the young temporal and spiritual leader of the Tibetans, had no choice but to flee his country to take refuge in India.
It took 20 years for the Tibetans to renew a dialogue with the leaders in Beijing. Soon after Deng Xiaoping’s return to power in 1978, the first contacts were made. Using rare documents, this is the story of thirty years of encounters between the Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala and Beijing.
Today the stalemate continues; Beijing refuses to offer any sort of concession to the Dalai Lama’s demand for a genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Just like the border ‘talks’ between India and China, the negotiations with Dharamsala have never really started.

Reading through this book one understands how the relations between India and China are inextricably linked to the status of Tibet. Further, the present unrest in Tibet renders China unstable and increasingly belligerent towards India which gave refuge to the Tibetans.
Now, the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy, Lodi Gyari Rinpoche and his colleague,  Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen have resigned. It is sad, but it is the logical outcome of lack of interest of the Communist regime in Beijing in finding a 'negotaited' solution to the Tibetan issue.
Kalon Tripa Lobsang Sangye did not need to accept the resignation of the Envoys, because Gyari and Gayaltsen were not 'his' Envoys or the Kashag's Envoys, but the Dalai Lama's. 
When the Charter (Constitution) was reviewed in May 2011, the Dalai Lama, though retiring from 'political activities', was entitled to nominate 'Envoys' to have discussions with Beijing.
For the last 30 years, Beijing had made clear that they would never speak to Envoys from the Kashag.
By the way, the photo above was taken in Bern, Switzerland (in June 2005) on the occasion of the 4th round of talks between the Tibetan Envoys and the officials of the United Front Work Depaartment. It is the only time that the 'negotiations' were held outside China, though one could argue that technically that it was on Chinese territory (in the Chinese embassy in Switzerland). 
Another small detail, it is doubtful if the 'transition' in Beijing will be over in December. The latest rumors emanating from Zhongnanhai are that the outcome of the 18th Congress of the CCP may be postponed from 2 or 3 months, in order to reach a consensus on the number of members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo and who these members will be.

The Kashag
June 3, 2012

Kalon Tripa Accepts Resignations of Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen.
The Tibetan Leadership Reiterates its Commitment to the Middle-Way Policy

Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Head of the Central TibetanAdministration, regretfully accepted the resignations of SpecialEnvoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Lodi G. Gyari and EnvoyKelsang Gyaltsen. The resignations became effective June 1, 2012.

Special Envoy Lodi Gyari, assisted by Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, led the Tibetan team in nine rounds of talks with representatives of the Chinese government starting in 2002. The last meeting with the Chinese side took place more than two years ago in January 2010. Despite Mr. Gyari’s desire to step down in April 2011, the twoenvoys were asked to continue their efforts to reach out to their Chinese counterparts by Kalon Tripa-elect Dr. Lobsang Sangay. The envoys met and briefed the Kalon Tripa on twelve separate occasions since May 2011.

At the Task Force meeting on May 30-31, 2012 in Dharamsala, the envoys expressed their utter frustration over the lack of positive response from the Chinese side and submitted their resignations to the Kalon Tripa. “Given the deteriorating situation inside Tibet since 2008 leading to the increasing cases of self-immolations by Tibetans, we are compelled to submit our resignations. Furthermore, the United Front did not respond positively to the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People presented in 2008 and its Note in 2010. One of the key Chinese interlocutors in the dialogue process even advocated abrogation of minority status as stipulated in the Chinese constitution thereby seeming to remove the basis of autonomy. At this particular time, it is difficult to have substantive dialogue,” stated the two envoys in their resignation letter.

“I have known both Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen for many years. They have worked extremely hard in challenging circumstances and made earnest efforts to move the dialogue process forward and resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully. Their contributions during their decade-long leadership of the Tibetan negotiating team have been invaluable. The Kashag will continue to rely on them for their wise counsel. They will remain as senior members of the Task Force team,” said Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

The Kashag urges Beijing to accept the Middle-Way Approach, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and within the framework of the Chinese constitution. This is a win-win proposition, which contributes to PRC’s unity, stability, harmony and its peaceful rise in the world.

The Tibetan Task Force on Negotiations will be expanded and will meet again in December 2012 to discuss the Chinese leadership transition with the hope of continuing to dialogue with the new Chinese leaders to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully.

The Tibetan leadership remains firmly committed to non-violence and the Middle-Way Approach, and strongly believes that the only way to resolve the issue of Tibet is through dialogue. The Tibetan leadership considers substance to be primary and process as secondary, and is ready to engage in meaningful dialogue anywhere and at anytime.

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