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A New Path for China with the Dalai Lama

The author, president of Tibet House U.S., believes joining with the Tibetan leader and his people would benefit China in many ways

When Gandhi took his followers on the Salt March in 1930, and they were beaten by the police for collecting free salt from the beach, a U.S. journalist said, in effect: With these cruel blows on unarmed demonstrators, Britain has forfeited entirely the last shred of legitimacy for its rule over India.

Gandhi's nonviolent mass movements would occasionally spill over into violence by his supporters, which he would unfailingly deplore and he would immediately call a halt to the otherwise principled nonviolent actions.

Today, with the brutal military crackdown on the peaceful protests of Tibetan monks and nuns—who are calling for their religious freedom, for their right to their devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and for the release of the imprisoned youth they consider the rightful Panchen Lama—China has forfeited, on a global scale, any last tattered shred of its pretension to the legitimacy of its rule over Tibet. The basically unarmed response of lay Tibetans to Chinese suppression of the freedom of monks and nuns spilled over into recent violence, with long repressed emotions bursting forth in entirely regrettable destruction of property and some civilian lives.

Failed to Win the Hearts of Tibetans

This in no way justifies the Chinese military and police use of live ammunition fired into crowds, their beatings and killings of unarmed protesters, and the continued arrests of thousands of people all over the Tibetan plateau, who will doubtless disappear for life into the vast Chinese laogai prison system. But these acts are nothing new; they are visible manifestations of the fact that the almost 60-year-long Chinese occupation of Tibet is based on brute force—military invasion, occupation, colonization, and systematic cultural genocide.

The ongoing uprisings in Tibet show that after nearly six decades of various efforts, the Chinese occupiers have clearly failed to win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people across the full extent of Tibet—the entire Tibetan plateau. In an attempt to hide their failure, Chinese officials deceitfully maintain the Dalai Lama and his "clique" have orchestrated this mass convulsion.

But it is clear from the present events that the so-called "Dalai Lama clique" is simply all of the Tibetan people—who famously love the Dalai Lama. Last year, they were beaten and imprisoned by the embarrassed Chinese for publicly throwing away en masse their valuable fur coats and hats because the Dalai Lama in a public speech in India said that killing animals for their skins was a negative thing to do.

Calls Only for Dialogue

The absurdity of China's scapegoating the Dalai Lama is obvious when we reflect that he constantly calls only for dialogue in response to the injustices and injuries inflicted by the Chinese on the Tibetan people. He never even calls for the monks and nuns and lay citizens of occupied Tibet to oppose their Chinese masters confrontationally, since he knows a single act of public protest will lead to the destruction of lives through beating, arrest, torture, extra-judicial killings, and "reform through labor" in gulag-like, laogai prisons. Thus the Chinese vow to "destroy the Dalai Lama clique"—as his followers comprise 99.99% of the 6 million Tibetans—is an open declaration of the Chinese intention to continue the cultural genocide of the Tibetan people.

If the Chinese were really interested in the welfare of the Tibetans and true harmony and stability within a multicultural Chinese state, they would reverse their seriously flawed policy of demonizing the Dalai Lama—one of the most popular people on the planet, a Nobel Peace laureate, and a highly honored global citizen—and instead enlist the help of this beloved statesman to keep the Tibetan people happy and calm.

Securing Respect and Admiration for China

The Dalai Lama at work in cooperation with the Chinese leadership would be highly effective in fulfilling the wishes of both Chinese and Tibetans swiftly and easily.

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