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

Will Tibet abandon the 'Middle Way'?

November 19, 2008

By Clifford Coonan in Beijing
The Independent (UK)
November 17, 2008

The speaker of Tibetan parliament in exile, Karma Choephel, addresses
the media during the conference called to discuss the Tibet issue in
Dharamshala

Tibetans fed up with Beijing's intransigence gathered today for a
summit that could see them abandon the Dalai Lama's moderate "Middle
Way" to push for full independence from China.

"Everybody is in the mood that the dialogue has come to a standstill,
there is no headway and people are rethinking their policies," said
Tseten Norbu, an MP in the Tibetan government-in-exile at Dharamsala,
a hill station in northern India. "We've been talking for 30 years
and there has been no result at all. This is the big question mark.
Now we have to think and strategise."

The Dalai Lama's envoys have met Chinese representatives for eight
rounds of talks since 2002 on the Tibet issue without any progress.
At the most recent talks, this month, Beijing again rejected out of
hand the Tibetan movement's long-standing demand for autonomy, and
the Dalai Lama, in a stark acknowledgment of his frustrations,
admitted that his efforts had failed. "As far as I'm concerned, I
have given up," he said. The 73-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate, who
had a gallstone removed last month, is not attending the Dharamsala
meeting, prompting speculation that he wants to step back from the
day-to-day political leadership and is paving the way for a possible successor.

Beijing blames the Dalai Lama for inciting anti-Chinese riots in the
region in March, when protests in the capital, Lhasa, erupted into
violence against Han Chinese settlers and spread to other areas of
western China with Tibetan populations. Tibet's government-in-exile
said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in a subsequent Chinese crackdown.

"The majority want a peaceful way but as we saw in March, some people
are demonstrating," said Tsering Lama, from the Jawalakhel refugee
camp for Tibetan exiles in Nepal.

For the Chinese, Tibet is, was and always will be China, and Beijing
says it is freeing the people of Tibet from the yoke of a malevolent
theocracy that enslaved the people in the territory for hundreds of
years. It also says that it is helping the territory by investing
billions of yuan in the local economy, though Tibetans say that the
Chinese are sending ethnic Han Chinese to the region to exploit its resources.

The debate in Dharamsala -- where the Dalai Lama and his supporters
set up their government-in-exile in 1959 after a failed uprising
against Chinese rule – will focus mainly on whether to continue with
the compromise strategy of autonomy or whether to risk China's wrath
by striving for independence. But factions within those camps have an
array of ways to achieve their aims, from more and angrier protests
to upping the pressure on the West to intervene, with some even
touting sabotage of Chinese infrastructure in the disputed region.

The speaker of the Tibetan government-in-exile said the cabinet had
consulted some 17,000 Tibetans inside Tibet. Almost half said they
would follow any decision by the Dalai Lama, more than 5,000 said
they wanted Tibetan independence and 2,000 preferred the "Middle Way" approach.

Karma Pangring, the leader of Tibet's exiles in Switzerland, said:
"The older generation is loyal to the Middle Way and wants to
strengthen it, but the younger groups want a different way and their
voices are getting louder. But what can we do? What form will that
take? This meeting won't decide that question."
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