In Krakow last month, important decisions on the world’s most important cultural and natural landscapes were made in a politically-charged environment at the annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting. A vast landscape of wetlands, wildlife and lakes on the Tibetan plateau, traditionally the domain of Tibetan nomads, was among the sites being discussed – in UNESCO terms, the Hoh Xil ‘property’ of the Chinese Communist Party government.
Today is the 28th birthday of the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who continues to remain in detention since 1995. From being the youngest Tibetan political prisoner, he might well be the only Tibetan who grew into his teens under detention by the Chinese Government. First a recap: the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima disappeared (detained by the Chinese authorities) in May 1995, when he was a six year old child, a few days after the Dalai Lama recognized him as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama.
An unflinching examination of the politics of protest in Tibet, confronting new audiences with the anguish of self-immolations in Tibet, is currently a part of an international art Bienniale in Belgium on the theme of justice, until May 21.
Here we are in the United States, far from Tibet, wondering what we can and should do. Some of us have been to Tibet or exile communities in India and Nepal, and fell in love with the culture. Some of us are followers of the Dharma. Some of us are Tibetan American immigrants or their children. Our existences are linked together, firmly or tenuously, by Tibet.
James Fallows’ recent cover article for The Atlantic, entitled “China’s Great Leap Backward,” is an important and timely piece. In it the veteran China writer describes how repression in the PRC has grown under Xi Jinping, and considers the implications for the United States. His article is especially significant because it arrives during a time of potential upheaval for America’s China policy under the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, which has already deviated from long-standing diplomatic precedent by accepting a congratulatory phone call from Tsai...
I have just watched a fascinating interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama by Qin Weiping, a US-based Chinese blogger, who visited Dharamsala in October 2016. The interview (conducted in Tibetan and Chinese) is interesting not only because His Holiness shares his thoughts on how China could become a compassionate nation, but more so because he says that such a transformation should be, and can be, led by the Chinese Communist Party. His Holiness believes that through such a transformation China has the opportunity to alter the current negative perception of Communism in the world.
One of the outcomes regarding the Dalai Lama in the post-1959 period is the clarity that has emerged about the nature of his followers. The conventional thinking about the Dalai Lama being merely the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people has changed. He has not only gained thousands of followers in both the Eastern and Western world, but more importantly the traditional followers of Tibetan Buddhism outside of Tibet, along the Himalayan region as well as in Mongolia and present-day Russian Federation, have become more visible.
Now that Mr. Donald J Trump will be the next President of the United States from January 20, 2017, what will be his approach to the Tibetan issue. While certain issues were highlighted during the election campaign, we are yet to get a clear picture of his stand on China (other than on matters of trade) as well as on the issue of Tibet. President Bill Clinton had called China a strategic partner; President George W. Bush said China was more of a strategic competitor. During President Obama’s time, China directly expressed its desire that its relations with the United States be recognized...
On October 2, 2016, I participated in a conference on possibility for democratization of China at New York University. There were scholars on China, Chinese-American academics, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and some of the top names in the Chinese democracy movement, including Tiananmen veteran Wang Juntao and writer of Fifth Modernization Wei Jingsheng. The conference was convened by Prof. Ming Xia of New York University and Mr. Chin Jin of the China Democracy Forum. In my presentation I made a case on why Tibet matters in this discourse by Chinese democracy advocates.
On August 28, 2016 the Chinese authorities replaced the Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Chen Quanguo, with Wu Yingjie. Chen’s transfer may not have any extra significance as he has served in Lhasa for over five years, which is around the time when such Party officials are moved. But Wu is interesting in quite a few ways. Wu is the first of the "second generation Tibetans" (Chinese: Zang Er Dai) to assume the position of the Party Secretary. The term "second generation Tibetans" is assigned to Chinese officials who have literally grown up in Tibet, having been brought...