WOODSIDE, NY, US, 15 August 2019
Times have changed but are no longer strange. Beijing just upped the ante and called the pro-democracy protesters “terrorists”. Hong Kong is a hair closer to becoming the next Tiananmen massacre as China warns of playing with fire and hints at military intervention. The United States led by Trump has vowed to escalate trade war with China, and as of now both are bleeding sea of red and flirtatious volatility reign in their major indexes. More so, China’s economy has slowed the most in twenty six years as a direct result of the trade war. The party’s legitimacy is hanging on the slowing economy, waning job growth and the emergence of many ghost towns and the pain of crushed dreams of many migrant workers returning back to their poverty-stricken villages.
Even Taiwan is defying China, by giving political asylum to students fleeing from Hong Kong. The world and the international community are outraged over the treatment of one million Uyghurs, and the Orwellian surveillance state China has become. University after university in the Western Hemisphere are denouncing the Confucius institutes and bursting their balloon of soft power. Country after country are finally awakened by China’s predatory loans and their evil design belted around the silk route initiative — except for Nepal, one of the poorest countries on the face of the earth. Given all of these dynamics, China is certainly under huge pressure both at home and from outside.
But despite all of this, adhering to their ancient Art of War, China is playing their favourite long waiting game to weather out the storm until the US presidential election next year, crossing fingers for Trump to get booted, a scenario very unlikely because the historical nature of the incumbent winning re-election and of the flawed electoral system that’s working for Trump campaigns.
China is also playing their wicked waiting game with the issue of Tibet and are eagerly waiting for the aging Dalai Lama to die and along with it suffocate the issue of Tibet once and for all. Many would argue that the issue of Tibet is bigger than the Dalai Lama, and I am not debating.
Now when everything seems to be racked up against China, why are the Tibetans, and I am shy to call it our “seasonal movement”, so quiet?
The only noise I hear are the noises of the endless parties and joyful mirth. Are we waiting for March tenth to coincide with the changing dynamics of the world order, or are we just waiting for another painful self-immolation to rattle our slumber? It’s a question every Tibetan must ask themselves.
China has a twenty-year plan, thirty-year plan and fifty-year plan to propel China’s growth. We and our democratic government in exile, a government of the people but not necessarily chosen by the people, strive for a fifty-year plan on mere sustainability and resilience. Our vision parallels theirs, the only big difference being that in the next fifty years, we will all have become extinct like dinosaurs and found in some fossilized remains.
Time is of the essence here and we are running out of it. Fifty years from now Tibetan as an identity will remain, Tibetan Buddhism will flourish just like Guru Rinpoche prophesied when Tibetans will have spread around the world like a broken rosary, but the concept of Tibet is fast eroding, Tibet as a nation that is still visible on some rare maps will be long evaporated before we even realize, pretty much like the destroyed sand mandala which can be rebuilt again, but not this mandala of the home of the Tibetan people.
What we need is a plan now. A plan that has no room for compromise because we have compromised enough for decades. We need a plan to retract on the right path, a path that will be led by our collective conscience and not superseded by religious beliefs, a plan that will keep China alerted on their knees, a plan that will restore our claim for full sovereignty, a plan that will have all the three provinces as one Tibet, a plan to change our political path. A plan to make the Chinese fearful of Tibet’s dominance that it had the past.
We can not plan only on preserving our cultures and tradition alone all the time. That should be the primary objective on our secondary plan. The Native Americans still have their cultures intact after hundreds of years of total annhialation. Our main primary goal should be to achieve and reclaim our independence. Why are the victims of a stolen home so afraid to even talk about claiming it back?
We need a plan to connect with the real aspirations and sentiments of the Tibetans inside Tibet. I don’t think just the retracing of footsteps by His Holiness back to the Potala Palace can bring about a closure to our cause. Although it will bring a spiritual Hollywood textbook end to a story, the pain will always remain deep and rooted.
What we need is a plan to seek more than assurances from the United States. A plan more than the candy aids we receive from the USAID to put us into eternal cyclical help, while in the meantime under the cover of their financial help, the real issue of Tibet is buried under their political rug. We need more than issue of Human Rights to be synonymous to the Tibetan cause.
We need the leading nations of the world to restore the historical legitimacy of acknowledging Tibet as an independent country on congressional and parliamentarian grounds. We need a plan to make and restore confidence in the nations of the world that once recognized Tibet as an independent country, to reinstate their past recognition.
We need the US to engage in more than their covert mission of helping the Tibetan guerrilla fighters and leaving them in the middle of nowhere through the sixties. We need a plan to engage the US-led United Nations members in reframing the whole construction of the Security Council and make laws to negate and oust rogue nations like China which have taken the United Nations hostage with their veto powers.
We need a plan, a greater plan, and I know that sixty years of His Holiness sowing seeds a vision of creating infrastructure for education in the hopes of newer generation with brighter minds and stronger leadership can step up to carry the mantle of our cause and not get lost in their own pursuit of success. We need them more than ever to ferry this ship of our cause that’s bound to sink unless we steer on a new course, new direction.
The Chinese are playing their waiting game. They love to do that. That’s their Art of War. We need to play our own game, and not flow like river over their designed landscape.
We need the courage, solitude, and bravery displayed by the students of Hong Kong. We need the courage of our pawos to inflame the fire trapped inside us. The fear of living like subjugated Tibetans, the fear of living like the oppressed Uyghurs, is what the students in Hong Kong are fighting against.
I know a lot of you are itching to write comments and rebuttal. If my conscience does not align to yours this article is not for you. I respect all paths, all ideologies. It’s too much going to and forth. Just mere saber-rattling and nothing conducive. We have all tried this for decades now and I will let these decades of failures speak for itself.
About the author
Ugyen Gyalpo lives in Woodside, New York, and works as an insurance agent for United Health Group, New York.
More articles by Ugyen Gyalpo on Tibet Sun.
I like this article and it is very timely.
I am not a Tibetan. I did not have the opportunity to visit Tibet.
I admire Tibetan culture and I have respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
I believe that Tibetan culture is associated with peace, harmony and goodwill with malice for none. In today’s strife torn world, Tibetan culture holds unique role model for the world.
It is sad that Tibet is under Chinese occupation for several decades now and freedom movement for Tibet is not making any headway. I think that Tibetans living outside Tibet are largely responsible for this situation.
Many Tibetans who have left Tibet are now citizens of other countries like USA, Australia etc. Their children are growing as citizens of other countries and do not seem to care about Tibet’s fate except as a passing thought.
From the articles and letters, I find there is conflicts and sort of animosity between several office bearers of Tibetan movement.
Tibetans need to organise several conferences and wake up the world conscience.
I wonder whether Tibetans are really interested or simply reconciled themselves to the present situation.
If Tibetans do not wake up now and do their duty, Tibetan culture will be lost to the world. I do not want to see this happen.
The Tibetan movement has almost petered out for a decade now. It seems like we have resigned to the fate of having been defeated or hoping that communist China will some day change its mind and grant our wishes. It must be either of the two. Otherwise, how would we explain that we are hardly dong anything or saying any thing that would keep the struggle in the limelight? It has been allowed to fade away. There has been a gradual Finlandization of our movement. This has let to the present political amnesia of the Tibetan movement. Opportunities comes once in a while. We have to exploit the US-China strategic competition and India-China geopolitical competition for our cause. We see how the Uyghur issue has been propelled to prominence in the US with the appointment of Uyghur American academic Elnigar Iltebir to top position on Trump’s China policy. Tibet has all but disappeared from the International radar of hot spots in the world. If we choose to accept defeat, that is another story but if there is any residual fire left in the belly, we should be pulling our socks up and force ourselves on the International lime light. Tibetans seem to be extremely naive, gullible and delusional that China will somehow treat us kindly, if we stop fighting for our rights. There is nothing more absurd, stupid and delusional than this. What has been one our biggest set back has been the lack of self-belief that we will surely achieve our goal if we fight for it. The Indians came victorious from the mighty British Empire in 1947. Nelson Mandala was successful in bringing an end to apartheid in S Africa. There are lots of such examples. We deliberately chose to give up our cherished goal and fell for political expediency. The result is for all to see. It’s all quite on the Tibetan front.