The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 5 , 2014
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Sangay echoes leader, upholds ‘middle path’

Sikyong (Prime Minister) of the Tibetan government in exile, Lobsang Sangay, in Shillong on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Shillong, Feb. 4: The Tibetan political leadership-in-exile was today optimistic that the Dalai Lama would “very soon” make a return to the “roof of the world” while asserting that it was following the “middle way” to ensure that the Tibet issue is resolved at the earliest.

The sikyong (prime minister) of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, who is accompanying the Tibetan spiritual leader on his three-day visit here, asserted that his administration follows the “middle way policy” which is in bet- ween “repression and separation”, to resolve the Tibet imbroglio.

“We want to see the sufferings of the Tibetan people end as soon as possible for which we are willing to compromise and not seek separation from China if we are given genuine autonomy within China. Hence, the middle way is our policy; dialogue is the process. We want to solve the issue of Tibet peacefully through dialogue. This is our stand,” Sangay told the media here.

The Fulbright fellow, who described himself as “someone who left American Starbucks Coffee for Indian masala chai,” said the middle path seeks genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution.

“Whatever we are speaking is within the provisions of the Chinese constitution. Essentially, what we are saying is that we will not challenge China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity if the Tibetans are provided with genuine autonomy,” he said.

Stating that there has been no dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Chinese government representatives since January 2010 on the Tibet issue, Sangay said the Tibetan government looked forward to the Chinese leadership with a hope that they, too, believe that dialogue is the only way out.

“We look forward to the new Chinese leadership. Hopefully they will also believe that dialogue is the way to solve the issue on Tibet for their own interest. As they want respect from the international community, they ought to show respect to the Tibetan people,” he said.

Yesterday, the Dalai Lama had said that Tibet is not seeking separation from China provided the Chinese government respects Tibet’s unique language, script, culture and ecology.

Terming his recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh as “auspicious”, the Harvard-educated sikyong was optimistic that the Dalai Lama would soon make a return to Tibet through Tawang, the same route through which he had escaped from Tibet to India 55 years ago.

“It was a poignant moment for me to see the path through which he came. I thought, perhaps, it was auspicious. Perhaps, that will be the path through which he will go back as well because that is the aspiration of the Tibetan people,” Sangay said.

Whether the change of stand on the issue was a betrayal of the Tibetan people, Sangay said: “We want to see the sufferings of the Tibetans end immediately and that is our primary objective. To achieve that, we are willing to compromise. So by giving autonomy, it will alleviate the sufferings of the Tibetans immediately. Those who are from inside Tibet are supportive of this move.”

On unremitting Chinese aggression along the Arunachal Pradesh border, the sikyong said the Shimla Agreement of 1914 had clearly demarcated the border between Tibet and India where the McMahon Line was drawn.

“This incursion takes place because in some areas, there is no clear demarcation, so says the Chinese government. As far as we are concerned, when Tibet was free, there was no dispute whatsoever. Anyone from India could walk over to Tibet, no visas were needed, no restrictions were imposed.”

Sangay said India has a crucial role to play in solving the Tibet issue.

“I think the China-Tibet issue is one of the core issues and, in that case, Tibet should also be a core issue of India. Environmentally, spiritually, geo-politically, India could play a very constructive role.”

On China’s plans to select the next Dalai Lama, he said: “They have no right whatsoever to select the next Dalai Lama. They have no basis whatsoever. Tibetans will select the next Dalai Lama and it is very clear.”