Tibetans and Tibet supporters over the past week has been intensely discussing over a news saying that former head of the Tibetan government in exile, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche had visited China in the second half of November. However, discussions further intensified when The Tribune news reported that President Lobsang Sangay confirmed the visit to be true.
The report initially surfaced when The Wire reported in an article, The Dalai Lama Wants To Return Home, that the former head of Tibetan government in exile Prof. Samdong Rinpoche appears to have had a discreet visit to Kunming (China) where he was facilitated by You Quan – newly-appointed head of the United Front Work Department that overseas Tibetan affairs.
This was read as important step in restoring dialogue between the Tibetan administration in exile and Beijing to find a solution for the Tibet issue. Besides, Dr. Lobsang Sangay’s reply an interactive session to a question about the report of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche’s visit to China was read as a confirmation of the news and further reported by many news agencies.
However, as Tibetan Journal reported Tuesday, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche properly clarified over an interview with the national daily Amar Ujala that the reports were nothing more than just media speculations. He also told in the interview that neither himself nor His Holiness the Dalai Lama has (or planning) visited China.
If we look into the conversation between Dr. Sangay and an audience at the 3rd Professor ML Sondhi Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on December 14, the questioner asked that it seems Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche has visited China as per the report where he is also inquired about what kind of signals they were receiving from Beijing.
“As far as my predecessor Prof Samdhong Rinpoche’s visit to Wu Taishan Mountain in China which was reported, I asked him. Again, when you are in the government, there are constraints. We did not meet as you see he was in Dharamshala and I was going to the US. So, I called him and asked him: Samdhong Rinpoche, it’s in the news. What should I say? He responded: I have not officially reported to you. So, you don’t know. He has to brief me officially. So, I don’t know the details. But it’s out in the paper. I think we shouldn’t read too much into it. At the most, it could be a private visit. I think we should not read too much and it’s too early to say.” replied the President of Central Tibetan Administration at the event as per the transcript of the conversation published on their website.
However, the reply does not amount to any confirmation of the visit as he has clearly said that he doesn’t know the details and since its in the paper, it ‘could’ be a private visit at most! But the sense of confirmation in his reply can not be ruled out too as the president has added a possibility that the professor could have made a private visit to China. Therefore, it is of the responsibility of Dr. Lobsang Sangay and his office to issue a clarification in time.