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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Press Briefing of the Tibetan Envoys -- Summarised Memorandum

November 17, 2008

November 16, 2008



During the seventh round of talks in Beijing on 1 and 2 July 2008,
the Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference and the Minister of the Central United Front Work
Department, Mr. Du Qinglin, explicitly invited suggestions from His
Holiness the Dalai Lama for the stability and development of Tibet.
The Executive Vice Minister of the Central United Front Work
Department, Mr. Zhu Weiqun, further said they would like to hear our
views on the degree or form of autonomy we are seeking as well as on
all aspects of regional autonomy within the scope of the Constitution
of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Accordingly, during the recent eighth round of talks we presented the
Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People to the vice
Chairman, Mr. Du Qinglin and held extensive discussions with our
Chinese counterparts on November 4th and 5th in Beijing.

In recent days the Central United Front Work Department of the
Chinese Communist Party has issued statements about our talks in
Beijing and in particular about the content of the memorandum we have
presented to them. These Chinese statements distort the position and
proposal we have outlined in our paper. In order to enable the
public, concerned governments, parliamentarians, non-governmental
organisations and individuals to gain a comprehensive and full
understanding of the Tibetan position on genuine autonomy for the
Tibetan people, we are releasing today the memorandum.

Our memorandum puts forth our position on genuine autonomy and how
the specific needs of the Tibetan nationality for autonomy and
self-government can be met through application of the principles on
autonomy of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, as we
understand them. On this basis, His Holiness the Dalai Lama felt
confident that the basic needs of the Tibetan nationality can be met
through genuine autonomy within the PRC.


The Constitution of the PRC contains fundamental principles on
autonomy and self-government whose objectives are compatible with the
needs and aspirations of the Tibetans. Regional national autonomy is
aimed at opposing both the oppression and the separation of
nationalities by rejecting both Han chauvinism and local nationalism.
It is intended to ensure the protection of the culture and the
identity of minority nationalities by empowering them to become
masters of their own affairs.

To a very considerable extent Tibetan needs can be met within the
constitutional principles on autonomy. On several points, the
Constitution gives significant discretionary powers to state organs
in decision-making and on the operation of the system of autonomy.
These discretionary powers can be exercised to facilitate genuine
autonomy for Tibetans in ways that would respond to the uniqueness of
the Tibetan situation. Given good will on both sides, outstanding
problems can be resolved within the constitutional principles on
autonomy. In this way national unity and stability and harmonious
relations between the Tibetan and other nationalities will be established.


Tibetans have a rich and distinct history, culture and spiritual
tradition all of which form valuable parts of the heritage of
humanity. Not only do Tibetans wish to preserve their own heritage,
which they cherish, but equally they wish to further develop their
culture and spiritual life and knowledge in ways that are
particularly suited to the needs and conditions of humanity in the
21st century.

As a part of the multi-national state of the PRC, Tibetans can
benefit greatly from the rapid economic and scientific development
the country is experiencing. While wanting to actively participate
and contribute to this development, we want to ensure that this
happens without the people losing their Tibetan identity, culture and
core values and without putting the distinct and fragile environment
of the Tibetan plateau, to which Tibetans are indigenous, at risk.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama's commitment to seek a solution for the
Tibetan people within the PRC is clear and unambiguous. This position
is in full compliance and agreement with paramount leader Deng
Xiaoping's statement in which he emphasised that except for
independence all other issues could be resolved through dialogue.
Whereas, we are committed, therefore, to fully respect the
territorial integrity of the PRC, we expect the Central Government to
recognise and fully respect the integrity of the Tibetan nationality
and its right to exercise genuine autonomy within the PRC. We believe
that this is the basis for resolving the differences between us and
promoting unity, stability and harmony among nationalities.


Subject Matters of Self-government:
1) Language
2) Culture
3) Religion
4) Education
5) Environmental Protection
6) Utilisation of Natural Resources
7) Economic Development and Trade
8) Public health
9) Public Security
10) Regulation on population migration
11) Cultural, educational and religious exchanges with other countries


Tibetans belong to one minority nationality regardless of the current
administrative divisions. The integrity of the Tibetan nationality
must be respected. That is the spirit, the intent and the principle
underlying the constitutional concept of national regional autonomy
as well as the principle of equality of nationalities.

There is no dispute about the fact that Tibetans share the same
language, culture, spiritual tradition, core values and customs, that
they belong to the same ethnic group and that they have a strong
sense of common identity. Tibetans share a common history and despite
periods of political or administrative divisions, Tibetans
continuously remained united by their religion, culture, education,
language, way of life and by their unique high plateau environment.

The Tibetan nationality lives in one contiguous area on the Tibetan
plateau, which they have inhabited for millennia and to which they
are therefore indigenous. For purposes of the constitutional
principles of national regional autonomy Tibetans in the PRC in fact
live as a single nationality all over the Tibetan plateau.

In order for the Tibetan nationality to develop and flourish with its
distinct identity, culture and spiritual tradition through the
exercise of self-government on the above mentioned basic Tibetan
needs, the entire community, comprising all the areas currently
designated by the PRC as Tibetan autonomous areas, should be under
one single administrative entity. The current administrative
divisions, by which Tibetan communities are ruled and administered
under different provinces and regions of the PRC, foments
fragmentation, promotes unequal development, and weakens the ability
of the Tibetan nationality to protect and promote its common
cultural, spiritual and ethnic identity. Rather than respecting the
integrity of the nationality, this policy promotes its fragmentation
and disregards the spirit of autonomy.


The exercise of genuine autonomy would include the right of Tibetans
to create their own regional government and government institutions
and processes that are best suited to their needs and
characteristics. It would require that the People's Congress of the
autonomous region have the power to legislate on all matters within
the competencies of the region and that other organs of the
autonomous government have the power to execute and administer
decisions autonomously. Autonomy also entails representation and
meaningful participation in national decision-making in the Central
Government. Processes for effective consultation and close
cooperation or joint decision-making between the Central Government
and the regional government on areas of common interest also need to
be in place for the autonomy to be effective.

A crucial element of genuine autonomy is the guarantee the
Constitution or other laws provide that powers and responsibilities
allocated to the autonomous region cannot be unilaterally abrogated
or changed. This means that neither the Central Government nor the
autonomous region's government should be able, without the consent of
the other, to change the basic features of the autonomy.

Implementation of genuine autonomy, for example, requires clear
divisions of powers and responsibilities between the Central
Government and the government of the autonomous region with respect
to subject matter competency. Currently there is no such clarity and
the scope of legislative powers of autonomous regions is both
uncertain and severely restricted. Thus, whereas the Constitution
intends to recognise the special need for autonomous regions to
legislate on many matters that affect them, the requirements of
Article 116 for prior approval at the highest level of the Central
Government - by the Standing Committee of National People's Congress
(NPC) - inhibit the implementation of this principle of autonomy. In
reality, it is only autonomous regional congresses that expressly
require such approval, while the congresses of ordinary (not
autonomous) provinces of the PRC do not need prior permission and
merely report the passage of regulations to the Standing Committee of
the NPC "for the record" (Article 100).

The exercise of autonomy is further subject to a considerable number
of laws and regulations, according to Article 115 of the
Constitution. Certain laws effectively restrict the autonomy of the
autonomous region, while others are not always consistent with one
another. The result is that the exact scope of the autonomy is
unclear and is not fixed, since it is unilaterally changed with the
enactment of laws and regulations at higher levels of the state, and
even by changes in policy. There is also no adequate process for
consultation or for settling differences that arise between the
organs of the Central Government and of the regional government with
respect to the scope and exercise of autonomy. In practice, the
resulting uncertainty limits the initiative of regional authorities
and impedes the exercise of genuine autonomy by Tibetans today.

Dharamsala, 16 Nov. 2008
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