For Tibet and China, The Clock Is Ticking

Tibetan Envoy Urges China to Pursue Timely Resolution with the Dalai Lama

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari. (Elsa Ruiz/Asia Society)

Co-sponsored with the National Endowment for Democracy

NEW YORK, October 7, 2008 - As the eighth round of talks between Tibetan envoys and the Chinese government drew near, Tibet's Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, expressed his hope in conversation with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof that the Chinese would be "wise enough not to miss this opportunity" for substantive progress on the China-Tibet relationship.

The Dalai Lama recently conceded that Tibet would be willing to recognize Beijing Communist rule over Tibet if a clear agreement could be reached that granted real autonomy, human rights, and religious freedom to Tibetans. In Gyari's view, that acknowledgment presents a new opportunity for China and Tibet—one he encouraged both sides to embrace without fail.

Tactfully addressing the Dalai Lama's age, Gyari reflected that without His Holiness there will be no equivalent figure who can reach out to the Chinese government to resolve Tibet's status. He emphasized that one of China's most serious challenges in Tibet is its lack of legitimacy and that "only one person can help gain that legitmacy," citing the Dalai Lama's "historical and moral authority."

Gyari criticized the Chinese government for attempting to make the Dalai Lama a "scapegoat" after the 2008 anniversary of the 1959 Lhasa uprising, insisting again that they look to His Holiness not as the problem but as "the solution for all of us." Despite his criticism—which, he assured his audience, he doesn't withhold from the Chinese—Gyari was optimistic that the Tibetans would come to the table with concrete ideas for a mutual agreement based on the Chinese constitution, and that the Chinese government was serious about progress and not just "gaining time." He also commented on the importance of reaching out to other countries, fearing that the negotiations would stop if the international community were to turn its attention elsewhere.

Reported by Kyle Carroll

Excerpt: Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari on the young Tibetan generation in the absence of the Dalai Lama: "If the issue is not resolved, I'm afraid a section of Tibetans will resort to violence" (3 min., 33 sec).

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Excerpt: On the possibility of His Holiness's visiting China: "If we insist that he makes this visit [the Chinese Government] will think that [we have] an agenda" (3 min., 43 sec.).

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