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Lobsang Sangay re-election as PM after exile spurs hope for Tibet

Lobsang Sangay, the incumbent prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, speaks to media after being re-elected for second term in office in Dharmsala, India Source: VOA

The re-election of Lobsang Sangay as prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile has renewed hopes among some that dialogue between the Dalai Lama and China’s central government, which stopped in 2010, will begin again.

On the day of his election, Sangay vowed to push for autonomy for the Tibetan people and restart talks with the Chinese government. 

“We remain fully committed to the Middle Way Approach, which clearly seeks genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within China. It is hoped the leaders in Beijing will see reason with the Middle Way Approach, instead of distorting it, and step forward to engage in dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s envoys,” he said.

No talks since 2010

Representatives of the Dalai Lama held several rounds of talks with China until they were stalled in 2010 by protests and a subsequent crackdown in Tibet.

Tsering Passang, Chair of the Tibetan Community in Britain, said whether or not talks restart is in Beijing’s hands.

“It’s really up to the Chinese, and due to the current reality, the geopolitical situation, as well as the economic situation, China has the upper hand, so it’s going to be a challenge for the Tibetan leadership,” he said. 

FILE - An elderly Tibetan woman, who was among those waiting to receive the Dalai Lama, gets emotional as the spiritual leader greets devotees upon arrival at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics near Dharmsala, India.An elderly Tibetan woman, who was among those waiting to receive the Dalai Lama, gets emotional as the spiritual leader greets devotees upon arrival at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics near Dharmsala, India (VOA)


Sangay defeated challenger Penpa Tsering

Sangay ran against the speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Penpa Tsering and received 58 percent of nearly 60,000 votes cast. About 90,000 exiled Tibetans are registered to vote in 40 countries.

However, China has largely ignored the elections, with the foreign ministry only making terse remarks on the ballot results when pressed to comment at a recent briefing. Spokesman Hong Lei said the voting was nothing but a “farce” staged by an “illegal” organization that is not recognized by any country in the world.

Robert Barnett, the director of modern Tibet studies at Columbia University, is not very optimistic about the resumption of talks.

Also Read: Middle way’ the answer to Tibetan problem: Tibetan leader Lobsang Sangay

“It’s quite disheartening at the moment because there are no signs from the Chinese side of any concession at all, in fact very much the opposite. But of course the Chinese side would not disclose if it was going to make a move. It would be in its interest to move very quickly at a time of its own choosing,” he said.

FILE - An exile Tibetan nun cries as she prays during a candlelit vigil in solidarity with two Tibetans, who exiles claim have immolated themselves demanding freedom for Tibet, in Dharmsala, India, Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

An exile Tibetan nun cries as she prays during a candlelit vigil in solidarity with two Tibetans, who exiles claim have immolated themselves demanding freedom for Tibet, in Dharmsala, India(VOA)

China claims control of Tibet for centuries

China says it has maintained control of the Tibetan region since the 13th century, and the Communist Party says it has liberated the Tibetan people through removing monks from power who the party says presided over a feudal system. 

But many Tibetans argue they were independent until Communist forces invaded in 1950. Nine years later the Dalai Lama fled into exile after a failed uprising against the government.

While the Dalai Lama remains the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, he gave up political authority in 2011, and called for democratic elections to choose a prime minister to lead the parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, India.

With the current Dalai Lama now in his 80s, the issue of who will select the next Dalai Lama is gaining in importance.   

But P.K. Gautam, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in India, said any political talks that may develop should not be confused with discussions over who will select the next Dalai Lama.

“So who selects the Dalai Lama is a very separate process, but the political negotiations, for the autonomous region, the way it is desired, that can be taken on by this central administration. So it’s a long term process; it’s just one of these steps that may lead to a solution so that the Tibet autonomous region regains its pillars,” he said.

Many Tibetans hope Sangay’s election is also a step towards easing discontent throughout the Tibetan community. More than 100 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against the Chinese government since 2009. (VOA)

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Dalai Lama says that India and China have great potential

The spiritual leader feels that both the countries are doing compassionate works

Dalai Lama talks about India and China
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai says that India and China can work together. VOA

New Delhi, Nov 19

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said India and China have “great potential” and they could work together at a “practical level”.

“I think, a great potential… India and China combined are doing more compassionate work… At a practical level also. Imagine two billion people working together,” he told reporters here after inaugurating Smile Foundation’s initiative, The World of Children.

The spiritual leader, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since 1959, said neither country had the “ability to destroy the other”.

“Whether you like it or not, you have to live side by side,” he said.

Underlining the ancient spiritual connection between the two countries, he said Chinese Buddhist Hsuan Tsang visited Nalanda (now in Bihar) and brought Nalanda Buddhist traditions to China.

“All thinkers of Nalanda are Indian. So Nalanda’s tradition is India’s tradition,” he said.

The Nalanda traditions had turned Tibetans, who were warriors, into more compassionate, peaceful and non-violent nation, he said.

“So sometimes in Delhi, teasing my Indian friend, (I say) if Tibet still remained in the previous way of life, like Mongols, Chinese invasion may not have taken place,” the Dalai Lama said in a lighter vein.

He said nobody in the world wanted violence but it was happening “because our minds are dominated by destructive emotions due to short-sightedness”.

“Nobody wants problems. Yet, many problems are our own creation.”

The Dalai Lama said the existing modern education was oriented to material values. India can take lead in improving the education system by combining modern education with ancient knowledge, he said. (IANS)

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Donald Trump Planning to meet Putin during his Asia tour

Donald Trump's first trip to Asia is the longest international tour.

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his Asia tour.

“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One before landing at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, Efe reported.

Putin is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, which Trump will also attend as part of his long Asia tour.

The North Korean nuclear threat is expected to dominate Donald Trump’s meetings in Japan and the next two stages of his tour, South Korea and China, where he will have a highly anticipated sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The remainder of the tour will be more focused on economic issues, with Trump scheduled to take part in the APEC meeting in Da Nang and then in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia is the longest international tour by a US head of state since the one then-President George H.W. Bush embarked on in 1992.

Bush became ill at the end of that trip, famously vomiting on the Japanese prime minister’s lap at a formal dinner before fainting.(IANS)

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PM Modi inaugurates Ferry Service, Calls it his ‘Dream Project’

Calling it his dream project, PM Modi has called the service "a landmark occasion for entire South-East Asia".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Gujarat, October 22, 2017 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first phase of the Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro ferry service, a first-of-its-kind project in India, calling it “a landmark occasion for entire South-East Asia”.

Describing it as his dream project, Modi said the ferry service was his “invaluable gift to India” and claimed that the even for South-East Asia, this was the first project of its size.

He said it were his efforts that gave birth to this ferry service which he had heard about only in his school days.

“It seems implementation of all good works are my luck,” Modi joked. “New changes don’t come from cliched attitude but new thinking. We changed the way of thinking,” he said.

He said the service would shorten a 360-km distance to 31 km or a journey of seven hours to one hour. (IANS)