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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

A Narrow Window for Tibet

November 18, 2008

Tibetans will only become more radical with the passing of His Holiness.
By THUPTEN JINPA
The Wall Street Journal Asia
November 16, 2008

Over the next few days, hundreds of Tibetans from communities around
the world will travel to the small Indian hill town of Dharamsala for
an unprecedented meeting called by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Beijing has already complained about the meeting, accusing India of
hosting "anti-China" activities, but this is far from the truth. The
Dalai Lama's conciliatory approach represents a solution for China,
as well as for Tibet. What is needed now is a boldness of vision and
political will on the part of the Beijing leadership -- before it is too late.

The Dalai Lama has been deeply distressed by the violent crackdown in
Tibet after a wave of largely peaceful protests against Chinese rule
swept across the plateau in March. The talks that have been taking
place since 2002 between the Dalai Lama's representatives and Beijing
have reached an impasse. The Dalai Lama's hope in the Chinese
government to reach a solution for the Tibet crisis is "thinning,
thinning, thinning," he said recently. There has even been
speculation in the press of his retirement as a political leader.

The meeting this week called by the Dalai Lama to review the future
course of the Tibetan struggle is an admission of painful truths for
Tibetans in exile. The Dalai Lama has urged Tibetans to give up their
aspirations for restored independence and to seek instead meaningful
autonomy within the People's Republic of China. But Beijing has
consistently misinterpreted or denounced his message and continues to
accuse him of covertly seeking Tibet's separation from PRC. Nor has
the Tibetan people's adherence to nonviolence led to any positive
gesture from Beijing. A lack of trust is inherent in the Chinese
leadership's approach. There is a Tibetan saying that Tibetans are
ruined by too much hope, while the Chinese are destroyed by too much suspicion.

When China began its march toward modernization under Deng Xiaoping
in the 1980s, it was possible to hope that eventually Beijing would
see the wisdom of the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" of genuine autonomy
under the PRC Constitution. The Middle Way emerged from the
recognition that China is understandably concerned about its
territorial integrity and security, while we Tibetans are concerned
primarily about our own survival as a people with a distinct culture,
language and identity. But after the initial opening made possible by
Deng and continued under Jiang Zemin, Beijing has not moved an inch on Tibet.

There are some indications that Beijing believes that once the Dalai
Lama is gone, the question of Tibet will disappear. This is a grave
miscalculation. The Dalai Lama is the sole individual who can rally
the Tibetan people behind any negotiated settlement with Beijing.
Unless the Chinese leadership is committed to a deliberate policy of
ensuring the end of Tibet, they have no better partner in dialogue.
Following its successful Olympics, Beijing can afford to take a bold
initiative and act with magnanimity.

No one wants to think about the passing of His Holiness, who is
revered by many Chinese as well as Tibetans. But he is 73 and the
reality is that we have only about a decade at best to resolve the
crisis. As time passes with no progress, the Tibetans are likely to
become more radical in their struggle. Tibetans, Chinese and the
global community cannot allow the end of Tibet to happen, or we will
have to explain to our children and our grandchildren how an ancient
nation with nearly 1,500 years of recorded history and a rich
civilization came to perish during our lifetime. As the meeting on
Tibet's future opens in India, a historic responsibility rests upon
the shoulders of our Tibetan community and China's leaders.

Mr. Jinpa has been the principal translator to the Dalai Lama for
more than two decades.
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