“Names You Need to Know: Lobsang Sangay, Tibet’s New Leader”

Forbes has a bit about Mr. Sangay:

The Chinese government was obviously unnerved when His Holiness announced this year that he intended to end his governmental role. Beijing’s apparent tactic had been to outlast the revered leader of the Tibetans, now 76, and then watch the leaderless movement fracture.

At the time of his election as the next Kalon Tripa, he was a fellow at Harvard Law School, but now he has quit so that he can earn $367.65 a month to be the leader of a people with no territory, no army, and no diplomatic recognition. He will preside over a flock divided by rivalries, religious and regional, and face a Chinese adversary that is implacable, ruthless, and powerful.

In the face of these seemingly insurmountable difficulties, Dr. Sangay now must make good on his two campaign pledges, freeing Tibet and helping the Dalai Lama return to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Few think he can succeed.

Yet despite their overwhelming power—or because of it—the Chinese have apparently lost the support of almost all Tibetans in China. Beijing maintains its rule over them only through undeclared martial law and an unprecedented campaign of coercion. Its program of bringing Han settlers into Tibet as well as its exploitation of resources there have fueled a long-lasting Tibetan sense of identity and deep resentment. Two generations in sealed-off Tibetan areas worship the Dalai Lama, although these followers have never seen or heard His Holiness and even though they have been subject to decades of unrelenting indoctrination against him. Sangay can always count on China’s hardnosed leaders to unite his people for him.

Sangay knows what he is up against. His struggle begins on the ninth second of the ninth minute of the ninth hour of August 8, a time he chose for his historic inauguration. Nine in Tibetan stands for the challenging of evils, he says.

There is no shortage of evils bedeviling the Tibetans or confronting Sangay, unfortunately. He must, in the face of devils, protect his people and lead them back to their mountain homeland.

“I have not seen Tibet, but I am very proud to be Tibetan,” he said to me. “I always say I will die as a Tibetan, but while I live I will fight for Tibet.”

We’ll see what he can do.

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Filed under China, exile, Tibet

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