Home Academy Tibet, China Can Find Middle Way

Tibet, China Can Find Middle Way


This opinion piece was produced by a student in the Madison365 Academy. It reflects the opinion of the author, not necessarily the opinion of Madison365, its staff, board of directors, sponsors or funders. To learn more or support our educational programs, visit madison365.org/academy.

In 1959, Tibet was fully invaded by China. Almost 80,000 Tibetan people fled to India with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who is both the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. The Tibetan people in exile started their own government in India called the Central Tibetan Administration. More than 50 years later, tensions remain between the Chinese and Tibetans, but the CTA and His Holiness are trying to seek a middle way approach, called Umaylam in the Tibetan language, to resolve these difference. His Holiness is trying to preserve the culture, language and many other things important to the Tibetans, without demanding full independence. Tibetans are not seeking full freedom but want to restore Tibet and its dignity, preserving the culture and language but at the same time modernize through the help of Chinese Government. Tibetans are seeking a win-win proposition. China should agree with this middle way approach and should be open to peaceful dialogues that can help to resolve the conflict.

Tibet has never been a part of China. Tibet has its own government, culture, language and was independent before the invasion by People’s Republic of China (PRC). According to The Nation Thailand portal, in 1951, the Chinese invited Tibetans officials to a festival in Beijing where the Tibetans officials were forced to sign a 17-point treaty that took away the delegates’ power. Tibet was then forcibly invaded by the People’s Republic of China from 1950 to 1959. According to the Tibet Post, Chinese professor Hon Shiang Lau says more than 3,000 years of documented history demonstrates that Tibet was never a part of China, contrary to current Chinese claims. Since Tibet is not China, the Chinese government should cooperate with the Tibetan government in exile and exchange peaceful dialogues that can create a resolution which benefits both sides.

The Chinese government has been using strategies that don’t further the cause of peace. Tibetans living inside Tibet are facing discrimination and abuse from the Chinese government. The Chinese government restricts Tibetans from supporting His Holiness or standing up against the Chinese government for Tibet’s freedom. Tibetans are tortured and sent to the labor camp after attempting to escape across the Himalayas to get freedom. Jamyang Samten, who was tortured with electric shocks at age 15 and forced to dig ditches at labor camp but later escape to India safely. Tibetan inside Tibet will be tortured and put in labor camps if they protest against the Chinese government. Tibetan living under the control of Chinese wants to have more freedom and wants His Holiness to rule them. They also want a changes to the law. Therefore, Chinese Government should work together with the Tibetan Government for a better country and should seek the middle way approach.

The Chinese claim that Tibet has an autonomous region of the PRC. They’ll also claim that Tibetans are free to follow their traditions and Tibetan Buddhism is protected. Unfortunately, this is not true because, in reality, Beijing is in charge of the region and Tibetans haven’t been allowed to be in charge since 1959. The official language is Chinese, causing many Tibetan young generation to lose their ability to speak and write Tibetan. Resistance to China’s rule from singing to environmental protests can lead to repression and brutality. As for freedom of religion, monasteries are strictly guarded which causes fear in the minds of monks and nuns. Any Tibetans possessing an image of Dalai Lama can lead to imprisonment where they will get tortured. The main thing is that Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) doesn’t cover two regions of Tibet. It doesn’t cover Amdo (Qinghai) and Kham (Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan) where millions of Tibetans lives.

On the other side, inside Tibet, Tibetans self-immolate as a political form of protest. According to The International Campaign for Tibet, almost 153 Tibetans have self-immolated themselves inside Tibet since 2009. Meanwhile Tibetans in exile have always held many peaceful protests and are still trying to convince Chinese to seek the middle way approach. The Uprising Day for the Tibetan in exile takes place every year on the March 10. Every Tibetan living in exile will have the peaceful march in their communities. Tibetans in exile protest with peaceful marches and hunger strikes. Ultimately these protests Tibetans in exile are trying their best to have dialogues with the Chinese Government but Chinese are still not cooperating.

Neither the oppressive tendencies of the Chinese government nor demands for full Tibetan independence have gotten either side closer to a long-term peaceful solution. That’s why a Umaylam is so important — dignity and cultural preservation without full independence. The only way it will work, though, is through respectful dialogues.

The Chinese should approach the middle way and exchange peaceful dialogues with the Tibetan Government to create the resolution. Clearly, the current strategies used by Chinese aren’t working and affects the lives of Tibetan in a negative way. Lots of Tibetan lives have been lost because of the Chinese Government. The Tibetan Government in exile is trying their best to have peaceful dialogues when Chinese are only making the conflict worse by disagree with it. The only way to end the conflict is through Umaylam.