ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Encouraging Move

The Dalai Lama's formal proposal to give up his temporal powers should make possible a reconciliation with China.

The responses by the Tibetan exiles and the Chinese government to the Dalai Lama’s formal proposal to step down as the political head of the exiles have, ironically, been similar. This, in a way, is representative of the Tibetan conundrum though for more than two decades the Dalai Lama has continued to make conciliatory offers as part of “a middle way”. The Kashag, the cabinet of the Tibetan government in exile, reacted negatively to the Dalai Lama’s decision and urged him to continue. But elections for a new “prime minister” were held and a committee was appointed to transfer political power to the Dalai Lama’s elected successor. The Chinese government’s appointed governor of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) meanwhile rejected the offer to step down and suggested that the tradition of reincarnation should continue and that the separation of the political and spiritual roles of the Dalai Lama was not acceptable.

The move by the Dalai Lama provides more impetus to the middle way approach that the Tibetan exile community has sought to use to reconcile differences with the Chinese government. China has consistently maintained that the very existence of the “government in exile” is to further the agenda of “splitting the motherland”, despite the Dalai Lama accepting Tibet as part of China (though demanding more autonomy for a larger Tibet). Talks between the Chinese government and representatives of the Tibetan exiles have thus far yielded few dividends. The Tibetan exiles have argued that the Chinese do not concede the legitimate concerns of a “more meaningful autonomy” and dismiss them as “splittist” or separatist demands. But the formal differences between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lamaled Tibetan community could in a way be narrowed by this move of the Dalai Lama to step down.

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