For someone like me, who is fortunate to have been able to study Political Science as major subject because we (Tibetans) are politically lapsed and lagging far behind than neighboring countries. Historically, we remained isolated from global political scenario because of certain issues (least understanding of politics). Nothing could be far from truth as we became a prey for predators of power in those days. Despite our best effort, we could not draw desirable heed from global powers to halt the Communist Party of China to redraw the existing map and Tibet’s sovereignty.
In 1950s, Tibet was more or less under the clutch of Communist Party of China under the leadership of Mao. Later, Tibet was literally annexed when they forced our delegations to sign so-called 17-Point Agreement in Beijing which formally or legally claimed that “Tibet is a part of China”. Since then, we lost our de facto sovereignty under this agreement. The People’s Liberation Army of China entered Tibet on the pretext of liberalizing Tibet from old existing feudal system and Imperial threats. Nothing could be worse than this façade as they forged our trust on them.
Tibet’s capacity of retaliation vis-à-vis China seemed incomparable as our army ratio was two to ten. The factors for such poor capacity were not only because of demographic problem but because of poor weaponry system and least knowledge of war in those days. Historically, Tibet once became major power in Asia under the rules of our three great kings. But nothing remains permanent as it keeps changing. So is today’s international politics.
When His Holiness the Dalai Lama fled his country and sought political asylum in India under the leadership of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the political system of Tibet altered as it was already latent. Tibetans were left with no other alternative but to seek political refuge in India to avoid repression under the status quo and to restore our lost freedom in future. These two undoubting tasks became prominent in then lost Tibet. His Holiness could envision the coming Tibet in future as he was the most experienced leader who had so many lessons from hindsight. His engagement in politics since his tender age of 16 years till 80 years old is undoubtedly the most invaluable asset that Tibet can boast of.
Our then target was to get back our de facto and de jure sovereignty from the clutch of China. The global politics seemed so busy to engage in our politics as they were after their national interests and alliances. The global power order was then very unstable as cold war was going between two powers with their different ideologies i.e. Communism and Capitalism. Yet His Holiness was able to internationalize Tibetan issue around the globe. I would boldly say that His Holiness is the existing heart of Tibet. Moreover, His Holiness became synonymous to Tibet. Tibet and His Holiness were born at same time in this world.
Around 1970s, His Holiness came up with an idea of restoring freedom in Tibet with a compromise. The reality is that Tibet is on the verge of extinction as its language is being deteriorated and the culture being assimilated. The identity of Tibetan is more or less about to vanish from this globe. Thus, he made this compromise to boost all these endangered entities so, that we can sustain our identity.
Hence, the idea of ‘Middle Way Approach’ was opined and disseminated among Tibetan diaspora. The essence of this approach is to promote win-win situation between China and Tibet because it is neither seeking independence nor accepting the status quo. It is just asking for a genuine autonomy which is feasible in the framework of Chinese constitution.
Thus, this article is, perhaps, the reflection of my thought who has been a staunch believer in this mechanism towards our freedom. Let me critically analyze its policy in a detailed manner.
ENTIRE GAMUT OF MIDDLE WAY POLICY
As Mahatma Gandhi borrowed his idea of ‘Satyagraha’ from religious ground based on non-violence principle and power of truth. The power of truth is something none can undermine because it has a latent potential to sentimentalize human beings as humans are intrinsically emotional beings. Thus, same is the case with ‘Middle Way Policy’ because its foundation principles are constituted in Buddhist canon which avoids two extremes i.e. eternalism and nihilism. So, ‘Middle Way Policy’ is neither seeking independence nor accepting present situation in Tibet. It is asking for a genuine autonomy within the framework of Chinese constitution. Here, this policy avoids two extremes i.e. independence and status quo. Despite its compromise, Chinese Government still claims that it is intending to split China and asking for semi-independence. The ‘Middle Way Policy’ is a policy that accelerates the restoration of freedom in Tibet in due course of time. Ironically, its significant outcomes are unable to be judged. A ‘Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for Tibetan People’ embodies the entire gamut of this policy. It encompasses the 11 basic needs of Tibetan people and defines the scope and definition of autonomy which this policy is seeking so far. If you go thoroughly through this memorandum you will get a clear understanding of this policy. Moreover, this policy is mutually beneficial for both countries. This entire gamut of policy is framed in order to ignite the remaining cinder of Tibetan tradition and culture of 2000 years old.
The Chinese government understands the latent potential of this policy, which thus officially condemns the policy and misinterprets it in their own-styled propaganda. The Central Tibetan Administration is reiterating its steadfast commitment in this policy and promoting win-win situation for both. Yet it remains insoluble for Chinese Government with some constraints from their domestic compulsion. The entire gamut of this policy doesn’t conceal any possible threat for China’s sovereignty.
Tibetans in exile represent Tibetans in Tibet to accelerate our struggle against Chinese Government in non-violent means and ways.
POLICY AND TIBETANS
What are the reactions of Tibetans to this policy? The most frequently asked question which has an ambiguous answers and different answers seem ubiquitous. The first opinion referendum clearly indicates that there is an overwhelming support from Tibetans. Yet this policy became very controversial in Exiled Tibetans because it left independence aside in order to meet its core principle. There are so many advocates of independence who were badly disappointed as they had no platform to voice their voice against independence. But they are minority with few intellectuals who really understand the politics. Another striking question arises in terms of involvement of Tibetans from Tibet in this referendum. There was no wide ranging platform to conduct referendum in Tibet but later proved there was huge support for this policy in Tibet. The most Tibetans are following this policy because of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The critics claim that these followers are merely following it due to their respect for His Holiness and not in terms of political significance. In other words, they are blind follower in a faith.
Can an infant teach his/her parents how to walk? Obviously big no! How could it possible? This metaphor is applicable in this context. The majority of Tibetans are still in deep slumber. It literally says that they are still infants in terms of politics when we talk comparatively with His Holiness. I would like to give another metaphor.
When your mom guides you to take right paths, you follow it because of your strong faith in her. A faith is there because she knows the wrong paths which might lead you in wrong direction. And most important is her love and care for her child. Will you still call it a blind faith for following her advice? There are Tibetan naysayers who will definitely call it a blind faith. It means they have not been nurtured well by their parents.
Tibetans in diaspora are mostly well off due to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and this policy. This policy is not only for future as it matter a lot in present days. No country is supporting our independence cause due to their domestic compulsion and national interests. Tibetans do not understand the real content of this policy because they claim that this policy ignored our sovereign status. The sovereign status is important, I agree it. Yet the most important thing is our identity. Where is our identity? How can we sustain it? Who are capable of sustaining it? Have you ever encountered these questions? Perhaps, you might have but answers are always distorted due to unwanted poking nose from some intellectuals. The majority of Tibetans possess very delicate and fragile mind which seems like weather. If they are with this policy today, they may not be there with tomorrow. That is why I said that the majority of Tibetans lack the real sense of politics. This is a major constraint for this policy. This is also a blocking stone on a way to success.
Post-cold war gave an opportunity to liberal perspectives to build their foundation further. The realist approaches are not vanished as they are still alive but the most trending global facet is liberal views. These arguments are illustrated by today’s global power orders. Every nation is dependent on each other. No nation can survive alone. Right from U.S.A’s isolationism and the disintegration of U.S.S.R envisage the rising consent of liberal views. If we look at international politics as cursory view, you will understand the importance of alliance building and bilateral trades. Why? The reason is simple because we all are interdependent.
The ‘Middle Way Policy’ is compatible with this trend and can be applicable in this system. We believe that we have to depend on China in the near future because we are landlocked neighbors. We can’t ignore it. Thus, the policy is very relevant and practical in this perspective.
Let me try to elaborate in following points:
- Ecological and Environment Interdependence: For instance, India has to depend on Tibet’s rivers like Brahmaputra (Geopolitically). So has China. The whole global weather is determined by Tibet’s glaciers and snowfalls. Thus, Tibet’s dependence on other nations and vice-versa seems indispensable. This policy is specifically aimed to meet this consequence.
- Political Interdependence: No further elaboration is needed here because I have already highlighted it in above. Yet it needs some specific clues. In reality, every nation is trying to satisfy its people through governmental instrumentals. Thus, the top priority is to look after its people. Today’s world clearly shows that people are becoming more dependent to each other. It implicitly means that every nation should be dependable to each other. The ‘Middle Way Policy” is explicitly appreciating this kind of environment in the world.
- Religious and Cultural Interdependence: “Humanity above all” This statement seems absurd yet it contains the real essence of understanding of religion. Every human is same, as we all desire to have happiness and avoid pains. Happiness is not something we can achieve it by not depending on others. This policy is something that really respect the core principle of this interdependence.
The global power order is maintained through distance war or proxy war in order to maintain peace around the world. The super powers like U.S.A and China are engaging in peace promoting agenda to resurrect their moral image and power. On contrary, there are few countries that still engaging in fanatical outlook towards politics of their people like North Korea. Moreover, they are despotic and oppressive in nature. Every human doesn’t like these natures because they desire to have happiness. Happiness doesn’t come from these things.
The ‘Middle Way Policy’ envisions the future global powers based on mutual understanding and co-existence of peace. It further envisages the real intend of every human’s inherit right to seek happiness not pain.
This policy is very inclusive and liberal to construct a firm foundation of future Tibet. It has been progressing its birth in the global politics like ‘Satyagraha’ once did. The whole global is awaiting another political ideology which has its foundation in religion.
WILL CHINA COMPROMISE?
This question seems normal but it has to be examined thoroughly if we think ‘Middle Way’ policy is going to work. To whom are we presenting this policy? It is none other than Chinese Government who time and again claims that Tibet is a part of China. It is very difficult for Chinese Government to compromise on this issue because it has so many repercussions. China is dealing with Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Uighur and Mongolia. They are all aspiring to be separate from China with their own power of execution and legislature. What would happen if Chinese Government grants the desired autonomy to Tibetans? The internal disturbances are the most possible ramifications. It might also split China and disintegrate their sovereignty which is constituted of 52 nationalities. Geopolitically, Tibet plays a key natural frontier for China; natural resources are abundant and spatial space to migrate their population.
It seems very difficult for them to compromise on it. Yet there are pressures from global politics to engage in it and compromise it. The recent U.S Congressional delegation headed by Nancy Pelosi visited China and Tibet. They raised issues about the earnest dialogue between the Chinese representatives and envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They further said that there was a warm gesture from Chinese authorities.
Chinese Government has to compromise on it as long as they need to win global moral trust.
The ‘Middle Way” policy has so far gained so many appreciations from towering leaders of the world including President Barack Obama of U.S.A, President Donald Tusk of E.U, Stephen Harper of Canada etc. The relevance of this policy is clearly reflected through these supports. To be frankly speaking, these nations are not sympathized towards Tibet but towards His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness works diligently to promote peace and religious harmony around the world to have better world. He frequently says that 20th Century is a century of bloodshed, let us not have it in 21st Century because 21st Century is the century of peace and dialogue. It is true and feasible. The policy of His Holiness against Chinese Government is always liberal and compassionate.
With these considerations from global, our ‘Middle Way’ policy finds a space to be dealt with Chinese Government. Recently, When President Obama welcomed President Xi Jinping at White House and they made a press conference. President Obama uttered following statement with presence of President Xi Jinping: “Tibet is a part of China but there should have dialogue between the representatives of Chinese Government and envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama”. We receive global recognition because of China’s global dominance. Sometimes, Tibet becomes a political tool for countries to deal China.
These supports seem rhetoric but they really pressurize Chinese Government because the latter engages to build their moral image around the world. The global powers need to win trust from others nations as well.
I am neither good in international politics nor well-informed in our (Tibetan) politics yet I think of writing my views on them on paper to reflect my understanding. I could gauge through it whether I am ready to open myself to others or not. The views expressed in this paper are entirely of mine. I didn’t refer any book or articles. I wrote whatever analysis I have in my mind. The ‘Middle Way’ policy tries to seek a genuine support from Chinese Government in order to preserve our rich tradition and culture in this hectic world.
This policy has so far achieved its inception in the world politics as it is relatively new to the world. The similar outlook of policy is there when cold-war happened. India led by Jawaharlal Nehru adopted a policy called ‘Non-alignment Movement which avoids joining both blocs of then. They remained neutral during those days. The Middle Way policy is avoiding two extremes i.e. independence and status quo.Our neutral path is to seek a genuine autonomy within the constitution of China.
As a student of political science, I tried my level best to compact all the comprehensive knowledge of this policy analysis in order to lessen the difficulties for my same standard students and people. This work would be nothing for well-informed personalities because they know much better than me. I am just beginning my work. They have already begun their work. Yet I am happy to produce this paper to help promote awareness of this policy among coming posterity and my standard environment. Thus, I came up with this analysis.
Tibetans are neither economically lapsed nor culturally lagging behind but because of political lapse and flaws caused this tragic fate. This is my prime reason to choose this policy for analysis. I hope it would work as a piecemeal help to understand in further or depth.
The article won’t work for insatiable readers because it doesn’t have genre to be entertained. It has something more than a plot of story. It has hope of six million Tibetans who aspire to have freedom to solicit their spiritual leader back to Tibet. It has hope of all peace loving people who always wish to have peaceful world. It also has hope of many Chinese citizens who aspire to be Buddhist and exercise their complete freedom of religion. It has, in nutshell, huge aspiration to be materialized in the near future.
I have been thinking for long time to carry out this paper to introduce my Indian friends about this particular policy because they are almost half-literate about it. I would be very pleased if I could bring some information to them and let them understand what this policy is all about. The essence this initiation is to win their support to vindicate its principles. The votaries of this policy must acknowledge one thing i.e. to adopt non-violent means to negotiate.
This policy doesn’t welcome aggressive nature to win mutual respect as it is very clear that aggressive nature doesn’t like to compromise. In other words, it has to be gentle and peace-loving nature. So, there is a way to negotiate and compromise from both sides.
I would like to urge to all advocates of Independence that your stand doesn’t affect this policy’s pavement to materialization but your distortion of this policy is something more than a work of enemy. I would therefore request you all to stop doing these things. As we are always appealing before two audiences: Chinese people and advocates of Independence. Should we regard you as Chinese? You might say that we gave Tibet’s sovereignty to China. We didn’t but they took it in 1951.