How To Free Tibet in 3 Easy Steps

Tibet - from autonomy to independence in 3 easy steps
Suraj Sharma
Could all the antagonisms between the PRC and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile be rephrased as a question of who will win in the ultimate showdown between Buddha and the communists? Now that the high-profile special meeting of the government-in-exile and sympathetic parties is over, the international media is all in accord about the downhill battle that the issue has come to be. There is no escaping the fact that the Chinese adamancy against granting the region sanctions of autonomy  is ready to face all pressure that His Holiness can conjure up with. What’s even more debilitating to the further progress of the issue is the fact that the Chinese are right in denying autonomy to Tibetans, making no qualms whatsoever about the “disguised independence” they see it as.  Meanwhile as the eyes of the international community turn to Dharamshala,  one is forced to question whether the 30 year old policy of  the Middle-Way promoted by the Dalai Lama is really capable of producing a solution  to the problem at hand.

Seeing the Middle-Way doctrine as a sort of compromise between establishing Tibet as a full-fledged democracy and living under the heavy authoritarian hand of the Chinese government, it is obvious that what the Dalai Lama proposes is an idea which is not only hard to swallow by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) but is downright revolting to them and their interpretation of the Chinese constitution. To make matters worse the International response to the plight of the Tibetans has been minimum and diluted except maybe on the fringes of the violations of human rights by China in Tibet. The Chinese have blocked all UN resolutions over the matter and are not likely to entertain any interference into what they consider to be a matter of sovereignty (which no country has so far openly disputed). The situation now is more fragile than it ever was because after the failure of recent talks with China, it is plainly obvious that the Middle-Way doctrine is really a kind of schizophrenic excuse which has run out of all utility and can’t really be used by the government-in-exile to buy any more time for it to re-strategize.

The really surprising thing however, is the exiled government’s inability to accept the fact that the issue exists only because of the charismatic stature of His Holiness himself. In a universe where the Dalai Lama is nonexistent, the Chinese have already captured the area by using blatant forces and justified the violence as a suppression of secessionist uprising. There is no doubt that the delay in resolving the problem is all because of the leverage that Dalai Lama’s stature as a political and spiritual leader allows him. But even more surprising is his own adamancy regarding the Middle-Way approach which he stuck to, even after he was given express permission to deal with the issue using his own discretion after the 1997 referendum. The Chinese on the other hand can’t wait for the whole thing to be over with as few of their very ambitious plans rot in the pipeline because of it- like the railway link between Lhasa and Qinghai or their multipurpose river valley projects in the region (which are also a cause of row  with India but that’s quite a different story).

The only obvious solution now is a very difficult one. Not difficult in execution per se, but difficult in its own tacit acceptance and appreciation. For it is a solution that ruptures the ideological base built by the Government-in-Exile as its support system and calls forward a more radical yet methodical approach to solve the problem once and for all. In all its logistical and theoretical simplicity the solution can be split into three steps  as enumerated and described below:
Step 1Kill the Confusion
The first step is always the hardest. It calls for an understanding of the Chinese mindset as one which is not accustomed to be tamed with sophisticated diplomacy or elaborate play of words. The hard truth is that the demand for an independent Tibet is historically illegitimate but is legitimized only by the pressing need of the hour - regardless of the turn of events that have led to this moment. Secondly, those who aspire to be truly free must shake off the illusion of the Middle-Way doctrine - there is no point in playing a game with rules the enemy refuses to recognize. The Tibetans must face up to the fact that if the middle-way couldn’t solve the issue for 30 odd years, the chances are highly in favor of its failure once again and this time, it could be fatal to their aspirations. This debilitating confusion will beget nothing but defeat.

There is no Middle-Way.

Step 2: Arise-in-Unison!
Any Tibetan who is right now in exile must free his mind of the clutter and mess of dialogues that run back and forth between the exiled government and the Chinese  - s/he must recognize that if it is freedom that the Tibetans truly desire, they must rise themselves and demand it from the Chinese. All excuses of inability to do this must be rebutted - remember that Leonidas of Sparta pushed back Xerxes’ army with only 300 soldiers. Tibetan Expatriates in India and elsewhere are never shy to debate at length the reasons why their country must be freed from the evil clutches of the Chinese regime but will they actually contribute to a mass movement instead of discussing it over bulletin boards? Now is the time to move ahead of your friends and take the stand. The Chinese are surely still bitter about anti-Olympic protests but they cannot risk another human-rights disaster. This isn’t a call for blatant violence but peaceful aggression that shakes the very roots of all Chinese arguments and causes an international stir of a magnitude far greater than adherence to any paralyzing philosophy might provide. Not the kind of aggression that Gandhi or Mandela used though - they weren’t dealing with the Chinese,  what’s needed here is an aggression that disregards all options which deter it from its aim and posits its claim as an all-or-nothing proposition.

Step 3: It’s a Trap!
Sun-Tzu said in The Art Of War : “One is strong if he initiates the rival to act in response to him; One is feeble if he must act in response to the rival”. A mass uprising is exactly the kind of initiative the situation demands because not only would it be unpredictable at this moment (with the Dalai Lama being on a world-tour) it could also catapult the exiled government into a stronger position. The Central Tibetan Administration should not only support but endorse and solicit this uprising thereby putting even more pressure on the Chinese administration. The idea is to make it an essentially human rights issue and corner China into a dead-end, one it avoids the most. China’s recent economic rise is not without its antagonisms, the pomp of  Olympics has left many with green eyes and the international community would love nothing more than to have something to leash China with. A human rights flashpoint over Tibet could be that exact leash. India, however should watch the whole scene unfold passively as its interference would give the push  needed for this human-rights flashpoint to turn into a full blown war.

But all said and done, the question is not whether or not this three step process is a remotely feasible solution to the situation in Tibet today. The real question is, when push comes to shove - will the Central Tibetan Administration let go of the failed Middle-Way strategy and adopt a more radical approach to resolve the conflicting claims? Which all comes down to their commitment for a free, democratic Tibet where people are free to chose and live the lives they want.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree...nothing happens without taking a firm stand.n i can draw some sort of analogy between demands of autonomous kashmir n tibet.though they may be different in their reasons..n if Tibetans are really hungery for autonomy n freedom they sholud fight it out....n i found ur this article having a much better flow or i understood it much better:-)either....shubhra

suraj sharma said...

thanks for reading this Shubhra :)

Anonymous said...

Good summary. Sun-Tzu quote looks great. :))

Anonymous said...

hey it is good work

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