Tuesday, July 28, 2009

People to people dialogue

An interesting conference of Tibetan and Chinese aimed for reconcialtion is under way in Switzerland. His Holiness The Dalai Lama will address the sino Tibetan people's conference as a keynote speaker and exile Tibetan government Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche would make his presence. The exile government and Chinese government's dialogue has ended in a deadlock. But the people to people dialogue has revived, mainly owing to the farsighted vision of HH. Over 100 Tibetan and Chinese scholars, and journalists and writers would meet in Switzerland at a conference aimed to bridging the gap of misunderstanding between the Chinese and Tibetan as a result of last year's Tibetan uprising.

Background: I dont recall, when the Tibetan and Chinese people's dialogue formerly started. But after the failed dialogue between the exile government's or the Dalai Lama's envoys and the concerned officials of United Front of PRC, exile government show a keen interest in reaching out to the Chinese people. Noticeablly, the appointment of Chinese speaking Tibetan officials to higher position including in His Holiness's Private office. Apa Tsegyam, is now the Dalai lama's private Secterary, and entrusted with a big responsibiliy of acting an effective liaison between the Tibetan and Chinese people. He is seen as at all the meetings of HH the Dalai lama with Chinese citizens. Another, impressive young good communicator, Kunga (not the Khampa singer in Tibet)who has an excellent command over Chinese is appointed to the Secterary position at office of Tibet, in Newyork and he is one of the coordinators of the upcoming Tibetan Chinese people's dialogue in Switzerland. Exile groups, media outlets, and exile government website have started to publish in Chinese language with the aim of reaching out to the worm eaters.

Agenda: For any meeting or conference, to be successful, a clear agenda is a must. Looking by the press release of the 'people's conference', the agenda is pretty clear and well set. Which is to discuss the main causes of last year's Tibetan uprisings. To clarify by Tibetan side that the issue of Tibet is not an ethinic issue, and that the Tibetan as an oppressed people hold no grudge against the Chinese people as such. last year's uprising was a show of deep resenment of Tibetan people against the wrongheaded policy of the Communist government for decades in China. So in a nutshell, the conference is aimed to bring understandings among Chinese and Tibetan people on the foundamental issues of Tibetan people's struggle. The conference attracts some prominent Chinese intellectuals and former government officials, even though the full list of the attendees, about 70% have not been released. Interestely, the conference is organized by an well known international reconcialation agencey in Switzerland.

It is little too early to predicate any major breakthrough from this conference. But such a conference is in the right direction, in dispelling misunderstandings and forging a stonger community relationships. So the Chinese government will not be in such position to influnce their citizens unreasonablly in times of crisis.
Dalai lama's effort to reach out to the Chinese people: it is with such an extraordinary courage andwill of the HH the Dalai Lama, an considerable number of Chinese people openned up their mind and at least listen to the Tibetan people's grivances. Lately it has been a usual practice of HH the Dalai lama at all his foreign tour to meet with Chinese students, citizens and activists. HH Dalai Lama unlocked any barrier for a face to face dialogue with interested Chinese. Even at times, when Chinese students from mainland China unable to shun the Communist government brainwash and propaganda, refuse to listen to HH the Dalai Lama, still door for people to people dialogue remains widely open. There are instances of Chinese citizen after meeting with the Dalai lama abroad, upon return to China, was expelled from their institution for no apparant reason.

His Holiness bear no grudge against these few hostile Chinese students, rather it convinced him more strongly to reach out to the Chinese people. On His Holiness the Dalai lama's latest birthday, a host of Chinese people attended the function in Dharamsala for the first time in a formal official ceremony. When HH declared after the failed dialogue, his hope for the Chinese present leadership is getting thinner and thinner, his hope for the Chinese people still remains strong. He acted upon his words and therefore garnered all these tremendous effort to reach out the Chinese people, and i believe it has been reciprocated.

Any possible breakthrough at this conference: Despite of the Dalai lama's distinction of Chinese government and the Chinese people as two separate inentities. Tibetan intellectuals, as well as among common people, they view the Chinese people and the government one and same thing. They believe both the people and the government do not wish Tibet to be free or independent. The later is true, that i dont know any current Chinese citizens or intellectual who advocated Tibetan independence. There are some Chinese intellectual who have been supportive of Tibetan people's rights, and even openly support the Dalai lama's middle way approach to solve Tibet issue. Wangli xion is one such staucnh supporter of Tibetan peeple's right to self determination or genuine autonomy. However, on his recent trip to Dharamsala, he was openly confronted by few Tibetan writers, accusing him as a Chinese government spy among other allegations. Another editor of well know Tibetan newspaper, openly stated the Tibetan issue is also ,issue of ethinicity. He sharply differs his views from the exile goverment standing,that it is too naive to think the Chinese people and Chinese government as two separate entities with complete different stand on Tibet issue. But it should not be forgotten, that even some Chinese overseas activists has put forth informally that His Holiness the Dalai lama should be the leader of Chinese democracy movement. If this is a true reflection of Chinese activists aspiration, then it should be percieved as a good compliment and recogniton of His Holiness Dalai lama's immense power and influence even among the Chinese citizens.

Declaration: I am too curious, if the people to people conference will be open to media? will be there a open declaration after the two days meeting, which will be addressed by the Dalai lama at the inauguration. How much the Chinese governemnt would react to this conference. Can any of these attendees' will be prosecuted in China, if they return to China? I think the final outcome of the conference should be measured in terms of the extend of its influence on Chinese ordinary people and its media blizt.

How much hope we can place on this goodwill of the Chinese people for Tibet's future solution?.

As for me, my dialogue and reach out to a particular Chinese intellectual has not been successful,because of some foundamental differences in our view and perspective on Tibet issue. My dialogue or consultation with this Chinese lady, started out in the following email exchanges shortly after her talk on Tibetan exile dispora in Washington......, (I withheld her name, because it was a private conversation between her and me). The email starts out with the latest in the first..

She wrote to me in her last email:
"Don't give up us just yet. We used to be a Buddhist country too. Unfortunately the Chinese went astray in the 20th century. I have been saying this for quite long time now: sooner or later the Chinese will need the Tibetans to rescue their spirits. It is happening right now. See, my grandmother was a Buddhist, my mom is a communist, and I am a Buddhist again. :) The Chinese and the Tibetans will get along when the Chinese reached the similar spiritual level as the Tibetans. When I have audience with His Holiness next month, I will humbly ask him to give Dharma talks for the Chinese believers".

On Mon, May 18, 2009 at 6:07 PM, Dorjee Damdul wrote:
Hi Jiang: Is it true that the Chinese people believe the more animal is tortured; the better will be the taste. In my personal opinion, the Chinese people and Tibetan can not get along because of their differences.

But I thank you for your insights on animal abuses. I think that is a good approach to address the issue,
Leading by examples.

From: Han Sent: Sunday, May 17, 2009 11:08 PMTo: Dorjee DamdulSubject: Re: hello

Hi Dorjee,Thanks for coming to the talk. I know I am not that popular when I insist that the Tibetan problem is part of the general Chinese problems. However, I also argue with other Chinese scholars that, having said this, it doesn't mean that personal/national feelings of pain and humiliation can be canceled, just as the Chinese cannot be pacified by telling them the Nanjing Massacre was part of the WWII atrocities. Last year I didn't get a chance to discuss with students in Suja, but I am going to Suja again with a few more Chinese scholars this year. Requested by me, visiting Bir is going to be part of the programs this time. Even though I may not be able to accompany them as I need to interview a few old people regarding Chushi Gangdruk, but I definitely will encourage them to discuss this with the students there. My own impression so far is that young people left Tibet for various reasons, but the statistics point to two major issues: education and religion. I published an article about this last year.Animal abuse has become one of the issues in China in the recent years, and has caused backlash from European and Ameican animal rights organizations. Last year's Olympic torch relay, one of the issues China was being criticized was animal abuse, but few people paid attention to this issue, everybody was looking at the Tibetan flag. Definitely there is a cultural clash here. You know that China has been through nearly one century of violence, a few generations, including mine, were brought up without the concept of universal love and sympathy. It will take time for the Chinese to learn these basic human quality, younger generation (the 90s generation) is much better.I totally understand that Tibetans have quite different attitude toward animals, but if I may suggest, maybe you can think a different way of expressing the concern. Instead of condemning or slashing, you might want to think about a different angle, one of my favorate PR techniques is "expressing negative opinions in a positive way", instead of saying "you are wrong to treat animals like this", say something like "this is how we Tibetans treat animals, this is how other countries treat animals". But, frankly, I don't think the issue of animal abuse right now will cause much attention inside China. Sigh. ..

On Sun, May 17, 2009 at 9:34 AM, wrote:
Hello : It was nice meeting you at ICT last Thursday. And as I said it was very interesting to hear your observation of the Tibetan exile dispora. It was an effective recap of memories for the Tibetan audience of their journey in exile and a good education for the western audience. It is rare that a mainland Chinese pay that much close attention to Tibet issue, for that I congratulate you for your boldness in seeking the truth from fact, and by bridging the communication gap between Tibetan and Chinese.

What you are trying to do is not necessarily a token of support for Tibet issue, I see your attempt as way to understand the exile dispora and reasons for why Tibetans are more “out” than “in” as you said. Have you ever asked students at Suja school, where you said 90% of them escaped from Tibet, what are the reasons for their escape?

By the way, I am interested to hear your perspective on the one current issue in Tibet on which I am making a story for air show. Tibetan people in Tibet complain that Chinese buy lots of Tibetan livestock including Yak and took them to China for slaughter, and beside the process of transporting the yak is “gruesome”. For Tibetan it is a against their culture and Buddhist belief of being kindness to all animals. Do you think this is a legitimate concern expressed by the Tibetan?

If you can respond to this question, it will appreciate, otherwise you can call me...