New Tibetan Prez Penpa Tsering bowls a googly at China over its ‘white paper’

May 27, 2021 07:11 PM IST

Penpa Tsering, the new President, or Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration vowed to abide by the ‘middle way’ espoused by the Dalai Lama to find a lasting solution to the conflict with China.

Dharamshala: Penpa Tsering, president of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), on Thursday offered to send a team to Lhasa to verify claims made by Beijing in its much-publicised ‘white paper’ on Tibet.

Penpa Tsering after being sworn in as Sikyong, or Preident, of the Tibetan government-in-exile, officially called the Central Tibetan Administration. (CTA)
Penpa Tsering after being sworn in as Sikyong, or Preident, of the Tibetan government-in-exile, officially called the Central Tibetan Administration. (CTA)

“All I can say today is that we are open to sending people (to Lhasa) to verify all the claims made in the white paper,” Tsering, 54, said on Thursday minutes after taking oath as the Sikyong, or president, of the CTA, the Dharamshala-based Tibetan government-in-exile.

The white paper, Beijing’s counter to criticism of its repressive regime in Tibet, underlined how China had built “villages of moderate prosperity”, airports, highways along the 4,000-km border of Tibet, a large part of which aligns with the disputed boundary with India. Before China’s intervention, the paper insisted, Tibet was a “wretched and backward feudal serfdom” that was “doomed to die out”.

But China does not recognise the CTA and hasn’t held talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives since 2010.

On day one in the CTA’s lead role, Penpa Tsering, who has spoken about his fears of cultural genocide in Tibet, sounded a conciliatory note, vowing to resolutely tread the path of Middle Way advocated by the Dalai Lama to reach out to the Chinese government to find a “mutually beneficial, negotiated, non-violent solution to the Sino-Tibet conflict”.

Tsering, 54, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commissioner Sonam Norbu Dagpo in presence of his predecessor Lobsang Sangay and spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who attended the event virtually.

In his inaugural address, Tsering promised that he will use all his energies to find a lasting solution for the Sino-Tibet conflict and the welfare of the Tibetan people.

Till it is done, he said the Kashag (cabinet) shall represent the voices of Tibetans inside Tibet and optimise the global advocacy efforts.

“We shall not dither from pointing out the gross mistakes of the Chinese government’s policies and programs and seek to redress, withdraw or amend the wrong policies,” Tsering promised.

In future, the CTA President said, if and when the need arises to bring novelty in our approach in tune with the changing situation, it would be done in accordance with the democratic norms and consulting all important institutions.

“We will be responsible to the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and provide all necessary assistance to the three autonomous bodies, work out with NGOs irrespective of region, religion and political position and maintain transparency,” he said in a speech that focused on the immediate concerns of running the administration.

In the days ahead of his oath ceremony, Tsering has been outspoken to counter China and the continuing effort in Beijing to choose the next Dalai Lama. How will they, he asked at an event earlier this month, because communist leaders don’t even believe in religion whereas the succession of the Tibetan spiritual leader is a deeply religious matter.

Tsering told news agency Reuters earlier this month that he would continue to use all ways and means to reach out to the Chinese government.

“We’ll use all ways and means to reach out to the Chinese government,” said Tsering. “If the Chinese don’t respond to us the only way we can keep the issue alive is to reach out to the international community,” he said, underlining that there was an urgent threat of “cultural genocide” in Tibet, and the international community must stand up to China ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

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    Naresh K Thakur is a staff reporter in Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. Based at Dharamshala, he covers Tibetan affairs, local politics and environmental issues.

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