Use China’s ‘internal’ pro-democracy forces for positive change: Tibetan leader
Penpa Tsering said India needed to speak out clearly on issues such as China’s interference in choosing the Dalai Lama’s successor and Beijing’s belligerence
NEW DELHI: Democratic nations should work with China’s “internal” pro-democracy forces such as Tibetans, Uyghurs and Hong Kong residents to bring about positive changes in the country, the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile has said.
Penpa Tsering, the democratically elected Sikyong or chief of the Central Tibetan Administration, also said India needed to speak out clearly on issues such as China’s interference in choosing the successor to the Dalai Lama and Beijing’s belligerence across the region.
“Nobody wants anarchy in China because it is the second largest economy… So, if you don’t want anarchy, then you need positive change in China, and the only way that can come about is through implosion. Nobody is going to attack them from outside,” Tsering said on the margins of an event organised by Tibetan groups in New Delhi on Tuesday evening.
“So, pro-democracy movements in China – Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols, even Hong Kong residents – we are the internal forces. There has to be a union of internal and external forces to bring about positive change,” he said.
The Central Tibetan Administration can only reach out to the “democratic free world” to take forward its cause, Tsering said. Only a few countries, including India and the UK, have real knowledge of the situation in Tibet and this makes it imperative for them to speak up on the issue.
“I believe there are a lot of things that China can learn from India, which China is talking about, such as diverse culture. But unfortunately, they are moving towards a more uni-cultural system whereas the whole world is moving towards multiculturalism. China is doing this at the expense of all other cultures in the country, including Tibetan,” he said.
“One thing we have been saying is democracies around the world should come together when it comes to China. Otherwise, now you have [President] Xi Jinping’s thoughts on global security initiative, global economic initiative, global cultural initiative. This is all rhetoric. They want to propagate to spread authoritarianism,” he added.
Tsering said it will be helpful if India’s parliament adopts a resolution or issues a statement on the lines of the Tibet Support and Policy Act of 2020 passed by the US Congress, which states Tibetan Buddhists alone can decide on the succession of spiritual leaders such as the Dalai Lama and that the Chinese government cannot interfere in the process.
“If the Indian Parliament or the government can come out with a statement, that will help us because many people look at India’s leadership when it comes to Tibet. When India is quiet, then it’s difficult for us to tell other countries as to why India is not saying things which they should be saying,” he said.
Tsering acknowledged that India has its concerns which it has to be careful about, including the military standoff with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“But then again, we keep saying, stand up for your values and your positions, only then will China respect you. Otherwise, they will not,” he said.
Over the past few years, Chinese officials have said that the Dalai Lama’s successor will have to be approved by Beijing, but this has been rejected by Tibetan leaders and several Western countries.
Tsering said China’s actions along the LAC appear to be aimed at diverting attention from the country’s internal problems, including an economic downturn and growing dissent. He said: “I don’t understand China’s mentality, what they did in Doklam, Tawang and Ladakh...In Ladakh, nothing grows in those mountains. No people live in those mountains. So why do you do this belligerence towards India?”
China used its economic gains in past decades to splurge on the Belt and Road Initiative, but this only created “dead economies” and allowed Beijing to take over strategic assets such as Gwadar port in Pakistan and Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, he said. “One has to be very strategic when dealing with China. I think the Indian government has taken a very strong position – that unless there’s disengagement from all quarters, there won’t be normalisation of relations,” Tsering said.
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