By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 27 May 2021
Penpa Tsering, the new Sikyong or the political leader of the Tibetans-in-exile, who took the oath of office earlier today to lead the Central Tibetan Administration, said reaching out to China to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict will be his top priority.
“The main responsibility of the Kashag (the Cabinet) is to seek relief from the critical challenges being faced by endangered Tibet and suffering of the Tibetan people,” Tsering said, moments after taking his oath of office before the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama virtually participated in the swearing-in ceremony blessing the occasion and congratulated Tsering and thanked the outgoing Sikyong.
Due to the coronavirus restrictions, the swearing-in function was small and simple, but was webcast live as Tsering took the oath and outgoing Lobsang Sangay passed on to Tsering the seal of authority Kadham Sishi Deki, that dates back to the 7th Dalai Lama.
Penpa Tsering, 53, the former Speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile in Dharamshala, India, vowed to direct all his energies in carrying out the responsibility of finding a lasting solution for the Sino-Tibet conflict and looking after the welfare of the Tibetan people.
Following in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama, Tsering said he is committed to the ‘middle-way’ approach as the policy to resolve the vexed Tibetan issue in a way that is mutually beneficial to both Tibetans and the Chinese.
“We shall resolutely tread the path of Middle Way espoused by His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” Tsering said.
He said that his administration will reach out to the Chinese government to find a mutually beneficial, negotiated, non-violent solution to the Sino-Tibet conflict, and hoped that this in turn shall set a good example in resolving conflicts around the world.
“Till such a lasting solution is found, we shall represent the voices of Tibetans inside Tibet and by pooling the resource of every single Tibetan, optimize our global advocacy efforts. Likewise, we will put in every effort to seek increased interaction between Tibetans in Tibet and those in exile and work towards realizing the wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit China.”
Nine rounds of dialogue between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities produced no breakthrough, but the talks remain stalled since 2010.
Referring to China’s white paper titled ‘Tibet Since 1951, Liberation, Development and Prosperity’ issued on 21st of this month, Tsering said he is open to sending people to verify all the claims made in the white paper.
Domestically, one of his first tasks will be to look into what more can be done to contain the spread of Covid-19 within the Tibetan Communities in India and Nepal.
Meaningful education, providing proper amenities for children’s studies, upholding the importance of both the physical and mental wellbeing of the people, and special care to the poor and needy will have his attention, he said.