A number of Tibetan exile groups have been quite vocal in their opposition towards the Dalai Lama’s change in status and the reworking of the Central Tibetan Administration. Writers like Jamyang Norbu have eloquently described their position, and now Kelsang Gyaltsen rejoins them with the response from the Dalai camp:
Looking ahead and taking precautionary measures with the aim to coping with any political vicissitudes in the future is an act of responsible and prudent political leadership.
Far from appeasing China these initiatives by His Holiness represent a number of new challenges to the Chinese leadership. First of all they dismember the basic tenets of the Chinese justification propaganda narrative of “liberation”, as well as of their claim that the Dalai Lama is bent on the “restoration of feudal theocracy” and they bring into question their calculations on the issue of reincarnation. On a more practical and concrete political level His Holiness the Dalai Lama is once again making unambiguously clear that he has no personal demands to make to the Chinese leadership. He is putting the rights and welfare of the Tibetan people right in the forefront of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue. He is making clear that the fundamental issue that needs to be resolved is the faithful implementation of genuine autonomy that will enable the Tibetan people to govern themselves in accordance with their own genius and needs.
By devolving his political powers His Holiness is once again emphasising that his engagement for the cause of Tibet is not for the purpose of claiming certain personal rights or political positions, nor in order to stake claims for the Tibetan administration in exile. Once a satisfactory agreement with China is reached, the Central Tibetan Administration will be dissolved and it is the Tibetans in Tibet who should carry the main responsibility of administering Tibet.
Even after the amendments of the Charter the political mandate of the Central Tibetan Administration continues to be to serve the people of Tibet by acting as the free voice of our captive nation and representing the people’s aspirations in the wider world. In contrast to the Chinese Communist Party, it makes clear beyond any doubt that the Central Tibetan Administration is not seeking power to rule over Tibet. The sole task and purpose of the Central Tibetan Administration is no more and no less than to lead the struggle for the rights of the Tibetan people to freely determine their own affairs and to live in freedom and dignity in the land of snow that is our home.
I’m loathe to see the CTA cede so much as an inch of ground to the CCP, but what Gyaltsen says generally seems to make sense. It seems to make one enormous assumption, though: that the new leadership next year will be of a more reasonable variety than the current group. If not then much of this, and indeed much of their negotiating over the last decade, will have been a waste.
I find myself mostly agreeing with Jamyang Norbu et al, and will definitely carry their response to this should they issue one.