China’s moral authority hinges on finding solution to issue of Tibet, says Kalon Tripa

DHARAMSHALA: In an interview with Deutsche Welle in Berlin on Thursday, Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay said that China’s moral authority in the world hinged upon it finding a solution to the Tibetan question.

Without morality, Beijing will be feared perhaps but it won’t be respected, he said, and yet this is intrinsic to great power status.

Kalon Tripa said the self-immolations by Tibetans were an act of despair committed by desperate people and that they were in reaction to the repressive policies of the Chinese government.

“However, we do not encourage anybody to choose this form of protest,” he insisted. “Life is very valuable,” he said and pointed out that the Dalai Lama had also spoken out against them,” Dr Sangay added.

“The self-immolations are a sign of hopelessness because many Tibetans believe that the world is no longer interested in their fate,” he said, adding that any sign of support from famous people or governments was important. He said such support could once again create hope.

Dr Lobsang Sangay said he was very disappointed that South Africa had refused the Dalai Lama an entry visa in October to attend Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu’s birthday celebrations. “A friend of the greatest South African leader, who worked so hard for democracy and Nelson Mandela’s release, refuses him entry. That makes me very sad.”

He said he had nothing against doing business with China but that one should not throw all one’s principles overboard.

In the past 50 years, Dr Lobsang Sangay explained, Tibet has invested in non-violence, democracy and dialogue. If the Tibetans are dropped the message sent out to others struggling for autonomy will be devastating – that violence does not pay.

Dr Lobsang Sangay pointed out that it would be in China’s own interest to help Tibet find a “middle way” for autonomy within a Chinese state structure. He even said this would work with the current Chinese constitution. “The ‘one country, two systems’ model is already practiced in Hong Kong and Macau. Beijing even seems willing to grant Taiwan more autonomy,” he said but added that this was perhaps because Chinese people live there, whereas Beijing is wary of Tibetans.