A Conversation with Sikyong Lobsang Sangay
The political successor to the Dalai Lama discusses Tibet.
JEROME COHEN: Good evening, everyone. This is on the record, and it's about a subject that you all know has been with us since the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
Despite that and the ups and downs that have occurred in Tibet and out, we don't get a comprehensive look at Tibet's relations with China very often. There are just so many other issues that have to be dealt with in U.S. China's relations and China's relations with the world and whether it's cyberattacks or North Korea, human rights disputes, economic problems, military to military. Every day the rise of China gives us new preoccupations. And yet Tibet remains with us.
And this is an occasion for taking a comprehensive look at the situation and updating it. We have a new administration in China. Hope always springs eternal when you have new administrations. And we have a new administration in the Central Tibetan Administration itself, with my friend Lobsang Sangay, who spent many years at Harvard Law School. I had the pleasure of knowing him when he was a student. He did outstanding work there. And his advent, taking charge of the political arm of Tibet's external movement, also yields hope, with energy and ideas. And the challenge, of course, is to see what can be done. Is this an eternal problem, or is this something where we can witness some progress?
So we've asked Dr. Sangay to make a few remarks of an introductory nature, then he and I will talk for a little bit, and then we hope to have some good questions and comments from those of you who are here, asking you to wait for the microphone and identify yourself before speaking.
So this is an important occasion. It should be an interesting occasion. And Lobsang, we welcome you here.
SIKYONG LOBSANG SANGAY: Thank you, "Laoshe" (ph) -- that's "Teacher" -- Jerry Cohen for traveling all the way from New York solely for this event, and he's going to rush out given the traffic in D.C. because he has to catch his train at 8:00 p.m. And also, I would like to thank the council for -- Council on Foreign Relations for organizing this event, and especially Elliott Abrams for taking the initiative in hosting me here.
I will -- given the time, I was told to, you know, say everything about Tibet of last 2,000 years in 10 minutes, so I'll spend one second for every year. (Laughter.) So I'll briefly touch on democracy, because as Jerry mentioned about Tibetan administration, and then I'll touch on some of the key events -- recent events which reflect the importance of Tibet as far as geopolitical, water resources, environment and the tragedy unfolding in Tibet, and perhaps touch on the dialogue -- stalemate of a dialogue at the moment. Then where we go from there will be left to you all to ask questions, and I'll do the best I can, with slight probing from Jerry, to answer your questions.
Briefly about the Tibetan administration and democracy, as Jerry mentioned, I spent the last 16 years at Harvard Law School. Then Tibetans across the world voted on single day, then elected me as the, at that time, Kalon Tripa, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama had this idea of devolving all his political authority and then separate the spiritual authority from the political authority and gave me the responsibility as far as leading the Tibetan cause is concerned on political and administrative matters.
Briefly about Tibetan democracy, when Tibet was occupied in 1959, His Holiness was 26, (2)6 years old. In 1959, when he reached India, he had this vision of establishing a democratic system in exile to the Tibetan community. And in 1960 itself, he asked for the direct election of the Tibetan Parliament. And the Tibetans did party election, party selection, but in 1960, September 2nd, we had the first Tibetan Parliament.
Then in 1963, he had woman representation in the Tibetan Parliament, so we were far ahead of Switzerland, because they had women representation only in 1970s.
And then in 1963, the first constitution, or the constitution of future Tibet, was drafted in which he again mandated that there be a provision of impeachment of the Dalai Lama. So that was scandalous, shocking, surprising. Some of the Tibetan drafters, rather, translators were accused, alleged, nearly beaten, because how can you have a provision to impeach the Dalai Lama when we just lost our country? But His Holiness Dalai Lama insisted and said, if you want real democracy, everybody has to be subservient to the constitution, including the Dalai Lama. So the provision to impeach was kept.
And so on and so forth, every five years, 10 years, major reforms were introduced. And the direct election of my position, previous position, kalon tripa, was held in 2001 and then in 2010, because 2011 was the election for kalon tripa, for my position.
And 2010, there was a lot of talk about the upcoming election, next election, being very important. And then some websites mentioned my name; I took interest, you know, and then traveling around in Tibetan settlements in India. And one thing led to another, I got the highest vote in the primary round or the first round. So I became the leading candidate. Then on March 20th was the final round of election -- final round of the vote.
And then I must mention that in 50 years of democracy in Tibet -- in the Tibetan community is fully consolidated, in the sense our election commissioner is very strict that you have to vote on single day; otherwise, your votes will be invalid -- not just that our election is across continents; normally, you have a district-based or a state-based or a nation-based election, but because we are an exiled community, Tibetans are scattered in 40-some countries.
And then we had debates across continents as well; one day in Delhi, next day I was in Zurich and the fourth day I had to be in D.C. for a debate, then back to Ladakh for a campaign.
Again, Tibetans take our election very seriously. For example, Ladakh, and 4(,000), 5,000 meters high, on March 20th, it was minus 40 degrees. And in snow storm, local election officials took ballot boxes on the backs of yaks and donkeys and climbed mountains for three, four days so the few nomads in tents could come down and vote. And it was counted.
And also, there was a Buddhist element to the election in the sense, a colleague of mine, Elliott Abrams knows -- (inaudible) -- he was the other leading candidate. So we had debate in Dharamsala, but then the next day, our debate was in Delhi. So we looked at each other and said, we have to travel overnight, so what do we do? We took -- rented a taxi together, we shared taxi, drove all the way to Delhi for 12 hours. And then when we reached Muzhugatila (ph) we didn't get rooms for all the organizers and the participants or the candidates. And finally, they got two rooms, so the one room was shared by the organizers, other room was shared by me and the candidate.
So next morning, we had good breakfast, good debate, good lunch and gave each other campaign tips and went our way. So that is our recommendation to the next election in U.S., that Republican and Democrats share their planes and the buses and rooms. (Scattered laughter.) So that that's the Buddhist element of Tibetan democracy we would share with the superpower in D.C. and in the U.S.
Having said that, I got elected. And then His Holiness Dalai Lama decided to give up all his political authority. So since -- and he kindly and graciously attended my inauguration, which was on August 8th of 2011. So I made sure that it was August 8th -- in Chinese is paupa (ph), is prosperity, prosperity, and it was 9:00 a.m., nine minutes, nine seconds -- longevity, longevity, longevity. So it cannot be bad as far as Chinese government is concerned.
So a few days later, he gave an interview to, you know, media. And he said, that day was one of his best days in life because he slept so well: nine hours and no sleep. So since that day, I must report to you that my sleep pattern changed, a lot more gray hair than 19 months ago. But shouldering the responsibility, I thought to myself the fact that Tibetans elected me, it's my karma. The challenges are of Himalayan proportion, very difficult job. Anything that happens around the world in a way affects Dharamsala, but whatever that we do in Dharamsala need not necessarily affect the rest of the world. But we have to, to press the Chinese government to solve the issue of Tibet. So that's the democracy part. And if you're interested, I'm happy to entertain your questions.
Now, as far as Tibet is concerned, it's important, geopolitically very important. Recently we read there was an incident of, you know, Chinese Army incursion in Indian territory -- 19 kilometers, some say 2 kilometers or 10 kilometers. But then there was never incursion in '40s and '30s because India and China were never next to each other. Tibet always served as the buffer zone. Now they are facing off each other. So two of the largest populated country in this planet are facing each other because there is no Tibet as the buffer zone.
Now the military buildup is very high. According to Indian media reports, there are 23 military division on the Chinese side or the Tibet side, 11 military division on the Indian side; five military airfields on Tibet side, (32 ?) airports, only one airfield on the Indian side; and China has build a seaport in Pakistan, they're building one in Sri Lanka, attempting to build one in Bangladesh and Burma. Thereby the -- India is surrounded by sea, air now. With the train from Beijing to Golmud to Lhasa onto Shigatze to Nepal, maybe to border of Bangladesh also. So by sea, air and land, the two countries are facing each other. Historically, it was not the case. And it's geopolitically very important.
Another article by Andrew Jacobson, New York Times, that the -- one of the very few or the only river in the area which has not been dammed, the Salween River -- which starts in Tibet, flows all the way to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia -- is being dammed now. That leads to problem. And then that raises the issue of Tibet and water resources.
Tibet is also called the third pole because after Antarctica and Arctic, Tibet has the third highest reserve of ice, the difference being that when the ice melts, which hardly melts in Antarctica and Arctic -- (inaudible) -- but in Tibet, it forms or it becomes a source of major rivers of Asia.
Ten rivers of Asia flow from Tibet: Indus River, Sutlej River from Tibet to India to Pakistan; Brahmaputra River from Tibet to India to Bangladesh; Mekong River, the famous Mekong Delta, from Tibet all the way to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos; and Yangtze River, Yellow River. So water of Tibet feeds about reportedly more than a billion people and millions of people downstream who survive on agriculture and fishery.
The problem now is that Chinese companies are damming rivers, not just one or two dams but up to 20 dams. So it is leading -- it is leading towards a lot of complaints and criticisms from neighboring countries. And if you're interested, I'm happy to dwell on it later.
Now, another incident that is -- that was reported was the collapse of a gold mine, gold and copper mine in Medrogungkar near Lhasa. It's called Gyama mine.
Now, as for the Chinese media, 83 people died, of which only two were Tibetans, which is hard to believe. But nonetheless, the irony is that the Gyama model, Gyama mining was reported in the Chinese media as the model mining a year ago. Now, if model mining collapsed, led to deaths in the area, it raises the question what about all other mining.
Now, there are 205 reported minings. Some others say actually it's estimated up to 3,000 because Tibet has 132 different types of minerals, including gold, copper, borax, (corundum ?) the rest, and are exploited. The Tsaidam Basin, in Solut (ph), in Amdo area, has billions of tons of reserve of oil, of gas and minerals. All are being exploited and on the verge of exploitation.
So Tibet is also very rich in minerals and mineral resources. I just want to bring that up because when a particular country with plenty of oil was invaded, many countries went to rescue it. So we're trying to attract those countries that, hey, we have plenty of minerals as well, including oil.
Now also, the unfortunate tragedy that is unfolding in Tibet is the case or cases of self-immolation. Hundred and seventeen Tibetans have self-immolated, burned themselves, of which, sadly, hundred of them have died. Majority of them are lay people -- nomads and farmers, teenagers, mothers, fathers. A significant number of them are monks and nuns.
Unfortunately, instead of acknowledging that the hard-line policies are the cause for self-immolation, occupation and repression are the cause for self-immolation, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, the cultural assimilation are the cause of self-immolation and need to redress it, the Chinese government has launched more hard-line policies. They have criminalized self-immolation, and many Tibetans are prosecuted and sent to prison, including one who was helping to give a decent funeral for the dead body was sentenced to prison.
Again, self-immolation in many sense reflects the desperation and determined act on the part of Tibetan people that occupation is unacceptable, repression is unbearable. So this is the sad chapter. But as far as Tibetan administration is concerned, we have stated it categorically and consistently that we discourage drastic action by Tibetans, including self-immolation. But as Buddhists, we pray for those who die, and as Tibetans we show solidarity and support the aspirations of self-immolators and also the protesters inside Tibet, because the aspirations of Tibetans inside Tibet is exactly the same as our aspirations; that is, return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and freedom of Tibetan people.
Now, how do we do that? How do we make it possible? We subscribe to democracy. And I shared with you a summary of, you know, democratic processes and practices by Tibetans in exile. We subscribe to nonviolence, and through nonviolence we believe that Tibet issue ought to be solved peacefully through dialogue. That's why we are ready to engage in dialogue with the Chinese government any time, anywhere, to solve the issue of Tibet.
Unfortunately, there were nine rounds of dialogues between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese counterpart from 2002 to January 2010. But since then, there has not been any meetings. So it's been more than three years there has been stalemate, mainly because there's lack of reciprocity from the Chinese government side. From our side, we want to solve the issue of Tibet peacefully. And what we stand for is genuine autonomy. And our policy is called "Middle Way" policy, middle of two extremes. Neither we accept repression nor we seek independence, thereby not challenging China's sovereignty or territorial integrity, but what we seek is genuine autonomy as per the framework of the Chinese constitution. In short, if the Chinese government implemented their own laws, we could take that as genuine autonomy. That, we think, is a moderate, reasonable solution which is a win-win proposition both for the Chinese government and the Tibetan people.
COHEN: So let's talk about, what is genuine autonomy? What are the elements of it, and is Hong Kong, for example, a good model? Come, sit down here. Let's --
SANGAY: Thank you very much. (Laughter, applause.)
COHEN: So what is autonomy? Have you got a concrete, current proposal?
SANGAY: Yes. It's being defined, and if you Google, there's a document called Memorandum of Genuine Autonomy for Tibetan People. It's available on the -- I think there are five chapters, and fourth chapter has 11 subsection and almost all of them correlates to specific provisions in the Chinese constitution. So genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution -- that's what we mean.
COHEN: So there's a role for the Communist Party in your genuine autonomy?
SANGAY: Essentially, what we say is, if the Chinese government implements their own laws, we could take that as genuine autonomy, and we don't challenge or ask for an overthrow of the Communist Party. So we don't question or challenge the present structure of the ruling party.
COHEN: So how do you maintain autonomy if you have continuing party control of the government?
SANGAY: As long as Tibetans are in charge in the leadership --
COHEN: Well, they have Tibetans in charge now in their autonomy.
SANGAY: There, I must disagree with you -- (inaudible) -- (laughter). The party secretary is the most powerful person, and the party secretary of Tibet autonomous region has never, ever been a Tibetan. Now, the governor has been Tibetan, but the governor -- but if you look at his portfolio, it's often a cultural portfolio or some tourism portfolio or something like that. The four most power portfolio in the common structure are planning, finance, personnel, you know. They are not part of the portfolio; they are often handled by Han Chinese.
COHEN: So you're confident that if Tibetans would be in those positions, they would conform to the needs of genuine autonomy?
SANGAY: Because interests of Tibetans inside Tibet is our primary concern. So how to empower them, how to put them in leadership positions so they can administer their own interests, you know, as per the Chinese constitution.
That is -- that is what we seek. Now, you raised a very important question, whether Hong Kong be a solution. As per Article 31, a specially administrated region is allowed in the Chinese constitution based on that -- basic law was drafted, and one country, two system was allowed. And that is allowed for Macau.
Hence, what I say is that Tibet is not a constitutional challenge for China, because there is already a constitutional provision -- Article 31, or even if they want, they can look at Article IV, the minority nationality act or Article XII of the Chinese constitution and be there as a basis of solution.
But the Chinese government says no at the moment. Now, they are also showing political will to address the issue of Taiwan, and many people in Taiwan disagree with that. So Tibet is not a constitutional problem or institutional problem for China or lack of political will. As far as Tibet is concerned, they are neither using the constitutional provisions or institutional mechanism as they have done with Hong Kong and Taiwan -- Hong Kong and Macau. Nor they are showing the political will like they are showing it to Taiwan. The question is why.
Maybe, from the Chinese government point of view, people in Hong Kong are Chinese, people in Macau are Chinese. Perhaps people in Taiwan -- many of the people in Taiwan disagree with that, but they are Chinese -- not the Tibetans.
COHEN: They're ethnically Chinese.
SANGAY: But they -- some might -- some might say they are Taiwanese. But, you know -- but as far as Tibet is concerned, they are not showing those willingness, because essentially, they are telling us, you are not Chinese, you are Tibetan. And there is a racial element in their policy, in their perspective. That is more disturbing, and that is the main obstacle in finding the solution.
COHEN: How do you compare your situation to that of the Turkic people in Xinjiang area of China? Are there many similarities there? Do you get any mutual support from people who are trying to bring democracy to that area?
SANGAY: Actually, as I've participated in some conferences, panel discussions, where we had Uighur people and Tibetans and Mongolians, you know, if you close your eyes, if you listen to them, the problem's exactly the same -- starts in 1949, it gets worse and worse, then very bad in Cultural Revolution, gets a little better, now worse, you know. So it's very similar problem.
And as far as Tibetans are concerned, we subscribe to -- as I said, we practice democracy in exile, and we subscribe to nonviolence.
COHEN: Do you think you can institute democracy in a genuinely autonomous Tibet? Will there be real, free political elections, freedom of expression? It would be unique to the People's Republic, wouldn't it?
SANGAY: That -- democracy is what we practice in exile. We are not asking that democracy be implemented or be allowed inside Tibet. What we're asking is rights, as per the provisions of the Chinese constitution. So democracy is what we practice, but this is what we aspire. But that's not part of what we're asking to the Chinese government.
COHEN: And do you think the rest of China has democracy in accordance with the Chinese constitution?
SANGAY: No. As you often mention, you know, what they write is not necessarily -- what they write in constitution is not necessarily what they practice.
COHEN: So how should they interpret your request for democracy in accordance with what they write?
SANGAY: That's when -- that's right. So we are not asking for democracy for Tibetans inside Tibet. We are asking for what they have implemented in Hong Kong and Macau, as per the Article 31, Basic Law. Why can't implement Article 4 or Article 12 in Tibetan areas?
COHEN: Of course Hong Kong has freedom of speech to a a great degree, but they're not free to select their leadership.
SANGAY: Hopefully that will change in a few years' time. Chief executive is supposed to be elected next round. That has been postponed for some time, but hopefully --
COHEN: Do you put a time limit on your genuine autonomy? Taiwan of course hasn't accepted any of this, but Hong Kong has a time limit of 50 years from 1997. Would you put a time limit on yours, or it would be indefinite?
SANGAY: Of course we wish it be indefinite, but first we have to get the genuine autonomy on the table. So a time limit will come second. We are not yet there.
COHEN: Well, it's very interesting to see what this would amount to if there's no freedom of speech for the people in Tibet. And by the way, this includes all areas where there are Tibetan people, not merely what's formally called "Tibet" now.
SANGAY: That is true. You know, when define Tibet, if you look at the map of China, I'm sure most of you know that 60 percent of China territorially has historically been inhabited by quote-unquote "minorities." Han Chinese lived in 40 percent of China.
As for the definition of China, Middle Kingdom, Zhongguo is the Middle Kingdom, and the people in the periphery are barbarians. So Tibetans are barbarians, Uighurs. So we were quote-unquote "civilized" by the Han Chinese, and we were peacefully liberated.
So the territory of Tibet -- it could be anywhere from one-fourth, officially, or it could be anywhere between one-fourth to one-fifth of territory. So Tibet, as far as geography is concerned, is very big. Hence the Chinese leadership like to say -- or scare some foreigners and others -- they say, you know what Dalai Lama's asking for? He's asking for one-fourth of China. He's being very unreasonable. But that's not our problem, because one-fourth is where we Tibetans lived for centuries.
But at the same time, Chinese government and also the Chinese government has allowed one-sixth of China as Xinjiang Autonomous Region. So if they're OK with one-sixth of China as one autonomous region, why don't they allow Tibetans to live in one administrative region? At the moment, it's divided into five different provinces -- Tibet Autonomous Region, parts of -- part of Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan.
So the Chinese are going to sometimes say we can't redemarcate this area, because it has been demarcated a long time ago.
COHEN: How many Tibetans are there, would you estimate, living within China, wherever?
SANGAY: Estimated 6 million Tibetans.
COHEN: Only 6 million.
SANGAY: That's it. Compared to Han Chinese, 1.2 billion, we are just half-percent of the Han Chinese population. So they have nothing to worry about us. For every Tibetan, they can have 99 1/2 Chinese. (Laughter.) So when Chinese leaders say that -- (inaudible) -- is very important, stability's very important -- (inaudible) -- Tibetans are threatening our sovereignty and territorial integrity, 1 against 99.5, no chance. So they have nothing to worry about.
COHEN: You portray a current situation of a stalemate. Nothing has happened for several years in your attempts to have a discussion. Is time on the Chinese government's side, or is time on your side? I notice that the Dalai Lama is 77. From my perspective, he's a broth of a boy, but we have to look at reality. (Laughter.) Are you worrying about that? I mean, a provision has just been made for political succession in your group. But what about religious and ideological and spiritual succession. Is the situation going to get worse the next time a Dalai Lama has to be selected? And who will do it?
SANGAY: You're right, actually. He's 77 and very healthy. He does five hours of meditations and prayer every morning, and he practices meditation called Tonglen, you know, give and take: give compassion to enemy and take hatred from enemy. So that's why -- you know, why he exudes compassion and love and why he subscribes to nonviolence in dealing with the Chinese government, why he proposes dialogue is fundamentally his belief and daily practices.
And then the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, through this democratic process and election exile, is to institutionalize the leadership and democratize the system so that we are not dependent on one person; rather, Tibetan people, through democratic processes, lead the movement forward, strengthen it, sustain it for as long as it takes. So that is his vision. So we are in the first phase of the vision, and we are doing the best we can. And I have great responsibilities.
But (Tibetan ?) inside Tibet and outside Tibet in the last year and a half have been very, very supportive. Tibetan solidarity, sense of unity, has never been higher and stronger in recent history.
COHEN: How do you know what's going on inside China with respect to Tibetans? Outside, obviously, it's transparent.
SANGAY: From inside, we receive a lot of messages. Thousands of Tibetans in New York and Washington, D.C., you know, have relatives back in Tibet, and they talk through phone, cellphone, and get messages. And I also get messages. And also, many artists inside Tibet have composed songs in honor of the election and my victory, and they have put it on YouTube with English translation, and some of them arrested as well. And some have sent me scrolls called kanka (ph) where normally we put deities and god and goddesses only. They have put a picture of me that's being distributed. Now -- and then many letters and many prayers. But I always -- I always tell myself, don't get into your head. They are respecting and supporting the symbol that I represent, not the person I am, because --
COHEN: Is your photo banned in Tibetan homes?
SANGAY: It looks like local authorities didn't recognize my photos as yet. (Laughter, applause.) But soon they will. Yeah, then I think many Tibetans might be in trouble -- (inaudible).
Now, your question as to what happens after His Holiness Dalai Lama passes away is very important, and there is also a solution. His Holiness is a visionary guy, you know? So in March -- in September of 2011, all the high lamas met in Dharamsala, and His Holiness Dalai Lama issued a statement: The 15th Dalai Lama will come through reincarnation, selection and -- or emanation. Reincarnation mean one has to die and then reborn. That's a traditional form of reincarnation. Selection is high lamas will meet and, like the cardinals select the next pope. And emanation, which I like, is 14th Dalai Lama will designate his own successor while he's alive and groom him, train him, educate him and, through -- as we say in Max Weber, Weberian sense, extend a legitimacy and credibility to that person and groom him to be the 15th Dalai Lama. So solution is there. It's on paper. But he says he will decide at the age of 90.
COHEN: At 90? (Murmurs, laughter.)
COHEN: Well, I admire his self-confidence. Well, I think we can open it up. I'm just trying to warm up the turf here. Please identify yourself and wait for the microphone.
Yes, sir. Here it comes.
QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. A wonderful program. Raghubir Goyal. I'm with India Globe and Asia today. My question is that I had met Dalai Lama and also Chinese presidents at the White House. And I've been asking these questions for the last over 20 years in the White House and State Department, that before they were asking independent. Now you said you are asking only for -- within Chinese constitution, only autonomy.
My question is that how many friends do you have on the Capitol Hill, because Taiwan, they had many friends on the Capitol Hill. And how many friends do you have in the -- in the administration here since President Richard Nixon, he said that one-China policy, that is the policy of the United States -- if that policy, you think, is going to change? And finally, do you have any friends at the United Nations, as far as your autonomy and your rights are concerned? Thank you, sir.
SANGAY: That's a very broad question, actually. Yes, we have friends in the U.S. Congress and also in the executive. And my visit here is an -- is an effort to increase the number of friends. We wish we have as many as Taiwanese or others have, but that will be our ongoing efforts.
And as far as United Nations are concerned, they -- the U.N. General Assembly passed three resolution, in 1959, '61 and '65, one calling for self-determination of the Tibetan people. But we know the United Nation, especially General Assembly, is more or less an advisory body. Security Council is the main body which controls all the power. And China's sitting as one of the members, hence they veto any resolutions on Tibet.
And so only 1990, we managed to pass one resolution for China in general and with a provision on Tibet in the U.N. sub-commission on human rights. So our effort is to travel around the world, make more friends and have resolutions passed in different parliaments. So we have U.S. Senate passed a resolution on Tibet recently. EU -- European Union, the French senate, the Italian parliament, Brazil -- 2015 parliamentarians passed a statement -- issued a statement declaring themselves friends of Tibet.
And Luxembourg, Australia passed a motion --
COHEN: Are the supporting autonomy or are they supporting independence or is it a mixed bag?
SANGAY: All of them autonomy or dialogue.
COHEN: Autonomy. So nobody is challenging the one-China policy at this point.
SANGAY: At the government level? No one.
COHEN: And at your level?
SANGAY: (Laughs.) At my level -- again, as I said, our policy is general autonomy, but at individual level, there are some who I know who says --
COHEN: You have freedom of speech outside of China.
SANGAY: That is true. But still, we've been very pragmatic, reasonable and moderate, hence all the reason international community should support us and the Chinese government ought to deal with us.
COHEN: Yes. In the back, the gentleman with glasses and the beard. Yeah.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Tad Stahnke with Human Rights First. Can you tell us what support specifically you're seeking from the U.S. government to press the case of the Chinese -- of the Tibetan people with the Chinese government, and how satisfied you've been with their response?
SANGAY: Yes. We would like to see an end to the repressive policies and the Chinese government enter into dialogue to solve the issue of Tibet. In that sense, the U.S. Senate has passed a resolution and State Department has consistently issued statements supporting that. And we also know for a fact that when the leaders of the U.S. visit Beijing or meet with Chinese leaders, they do raise the issue of Tibet. And are we satisfied? Yes. If the -- if you find a solution, then I'll be fully satisfied.
COHEN: But the question is, are you urging the U.S. government to do more than it has done? And specifically, what could that be, given the situation?
SANGAY: Make the Chinese leaders realize that this vicious cycle of repression, resentment, resistance ought to end and is not good for the Chinese government. Hu Jintao says that their -- Chinese foreign policy is peaceful rights; their domestic policy is harmony. There is neither peace in Tibet nor harmony in Tibet. Now Xi Jinping says his slogan or aspiration or Chinese dream. And what we hope is that Tibetan dream be part of that dream so that, you know, Tibetan dream being that His Holiness the Dalai Lama return to Tibet.
So these ought to be pressed. And just inform the Chinese leadership that it's not only not working; it's backfiring. Chinese is, you know, a growing power for sure. They have economic power, military power. But if you real want -- if you really want respect, you ought to respect Tibetans. You have to earn it. You can't buy respect. You have to earn.
COHEN: Of course, one problem with Tibetans is if you give them freedom of speech, they may not shout autonomy; they may shout independence.
SANGAY: Not necessarily, because if you look at Quebec, there is an element, you know, which seeks independence, but if you reach this equilibrium, the pendulum stops swinging and then you don't reach that level. So Scottish, Catalonia -- there are many examples where -- let's say the North Ireland Good Friday agreement. They were killing each other. Finally, you found a solution which is agreeable to both sides, and their people live with it, you know. So not necessarily -- Hong Kong got freedom of speech, and they are still abiding by the Basic Law.
COHEN: Yes, in the back. Young woman in the back. Yes.
QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. My name is Genie Nguyen. I'm with Voice of Vietnamese Americans. Thank you, Prime Minister of Tibet. I very happy. I'm very happy that the Tibetans have a prime minister -- (inaudible).
COHEN: We have to hear you, please. Speak louder.
QUESTIONER: (Chuckles.) I'm very happy. (Chuckles, scattered applause.) My question to you, sir, since you leading the Tibetan people to sustainable peace and development and retaining your culture -- I respect the Tibetan culture very much -- you ask -- you answer the question about the roles of the U.S. What do you think about the role of India? Because if Tibet have their autonomy, part of the land, the 10 kilometers that China has just recently advanced itself into the Indian territory, it's considered Tibetans' land or not? And how are you supposed to -- within your autonomy, how do you define the geopolitical aspect of it?
SANGAY: As far as Tibetans are concerned, exiled Tibetans, you know, I -- I'm -- I was born and brought up in India. India has done the most for Tibetans because largest number of Tibetans are in India. The Tibetan administration also is in India. And also on humanitarian ground, India does more than any country in this planet for Tibetans. So we always say India is our host; we are their guest.
As for Indian tradition, you know, a guest should be content with what he was provided, so we don't want to complain. But given a choice, we wish India does more than what it -- what it does. But it's not a demand. It is not a complain. It is just a request because they do -- actually, they do the most for us.
As far as as my administration is concerned and the Indian leadership, we have very good relationship in the last 18 months or so. Even though I left America for 16 years, I built a very good relationship, and I've seen firsthand how much sympathy and support the Indian people and the leadership have for Tibet. So India is doing a very good job. Now, we wish, you know, they do more.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. So you have 1.2 billions of friends from Indians, and us from Vietnam, we have almost 92 millions. We are all your friends. Count on us.
SANGAY: Then we have to add 300 Americans, so we have more people support Tibet than the 1.2 billion Chinese. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: Yes. Yes. We do -- you do have a lot of friends. Thank you.
COHEN: Yes, sir. Please.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. My -- I'm David Kramer with Freedom House. I wanted to ask you about the self-immolations and about your concern that what has been a very peaceful movement to this point could be a sign of desperation that could lead to violence. How worried are you about that possibility? Thank you.
SANGAY: Obviously, it's a matter of concern. But if you really analyze self-immolation, I think it's pretty clear. In some sense, self-immolation -- is it a violent act? In some sense, yes. But is it violence? No, because violence assumes you hurt and harm someone else.
Now, the 117 self-immolators, they have not harmed a single soul, not even a Chinese person, not even a Chinese restaurant, not even a Chinese bicycle. So you can see even though they are resorting to such drastic action, the thinking process that they're going through and the action, even at that particular moment, a very painful, tragic, sad moment, they're restraining themself from hurting anyone.
In that sense, that much of restraint that Tibetans impose on themselves it a clear indication and a reflection of the fact that we do subscribe to nonviolence, that we don't want to hurt anyone. In that sense, the danger or potential danger of Tibetans resorting to violence is minimal.
COHEN: Yes, please. We need a microphone. It's coming.
QUESTIONER: Hi. I'm Ellen Bork from the Foreign Policy Initiative. Speaking of the number of fans that you have around the world, that you just enumerated, could you address the conception that Tibetans don't have supporters in China? Could you talk about support from ordinary Chinese, from Chinese dissidents, and efforts that are being made to make connections with them, please.
SANGAY: Well, there are a lot of supporters of Tibet and Tibetan people in China, and then potential support is more than the population of America. Why I say this is, irony of China is that the largest number of Buddhists in this world is in China, 300 million officially, some say as high as 500 million who are Buddhist. And then last January when His Holiness Dalai Lama gave a teaching in Bodhgaya, in India, more than 200,000 people came from 50-some countries, and I was there, 10,000 also from Tibet. So they were lined up on this side because His Holiness entered this way, so they have close proximity and blessing. Right in front were 1,100 from mainland China seeking teaching for two weeks, in India living side by side with Tibetans.
So there are, I think, many, many Chinese who are Buddhist and who are sympathetic and supportive. And also not just dissidents outside, but many Chinese writers and scholars, including the Nobel Laureate Liu Xaiobo has in his Charter 08 clearly mentioned Tibet and the Tibetans deserving own rights. And then many intellectuals also are on the record, you know, issuing statements supportive of the Tibetan cause.
So there are many, many Chinese, including -- maybe I can just mention recently there were, like, you know, 200 Chinese in Dharamsala. So hundreds of Chinese come to Dharamsala to seek teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
COHEN: What about the Internet? Do you get much support from the Internet? I mean, can't Buddhists be highly nationalist or very Chinese chauvinist? Why do we assume Buddhists have to necessarily support Tibetan Buddhists?
SANGAY: But historically if you look at -- sometimes I say this. The last 50 years of the situation in Tibet is an aberration. It's a mistake on the part of the Chinese government. Other than that, pre-1949, we can go all the wan to Tang Dynasty, where there is some recorded history of relationship between Tibetans, Chinese. From Tang Dynasty to Song to Yuan to Ming to Qing, even to Nationalists you can point out any year and Tibetans can have that relationship and live side by side peacefully.
But the present relationship that we have is an aberration because the premises on which it is based is very antagonistic because the discourse that we have is more rights-based from our side, and from the Chinese side it's sovereignty and territorial integrity, internal matters. So hence there's inherent antagonism in the discourse itself, hence difficult to find solution.
But if you look a the past thousand-plus years, the discourse we had and relationship we had was based on religion -- Buddhism. So we prefer that our relationship be more like Tang Dynasty, where Tibetan king married Chinese princess, so maybe they were more supportive of us, or during the Nationalists from 1911 to 1949, where Tibet was de facto an independent country. But maybe Chinese say, no, no, no, that's too -- first one and last one is not good; they might point out to the early part of Qing Dynasty, which is also fine with us.
COHEN: How do you get along with the regime in Taiwan? I remember being in Taiwan maybe 15 years ago. And I met the Dalai Lama by accident. He was staying in my hotel, or I was staying in his hotel. (Scattered laughter.) And it was my first exposure to Taiwan democracy, because on one side of the hotel, there were a thousand people saying down with the Dalai Lama; on the other side were a thousand people saying up with the Dalai Lama.
SANGAY: A thousand. (Laughter.)
COHEN: I'd never seen the Chinese society so democratic before. But Ma Ying-jeou did not let the Dalai Lama visit Taiwan recently. And what do you think of that? He's a fellow Harvard doctoral recipient, like you.
SANGAY: And you were his teacher, so you better tell him. (Laughter.)
COHEN: And believe me, I'm worrying about it. I'm --
SANGAY: So among students, there are good students and there are bad students, so -- (laughter, applause) --
I was just joking. Ma Ying-jeou is a nice guy. He did allow His Holiness to visit Taiwan during the tragedy in Taiwan. But the -- recently, he has not allowed, which is unfortunate. And Taiwan being a democratic society with free speech, and they should demonstrate their, you know, status and allow His Holiness Dalai Lama there because they have tremendous respect for him among people in Taiwan. And many Buddhists follow him there.
So the thousand on one-hand side and you said other side was a thousand -- I think it's a thousand there on one-hand side protesting paid by the Chinese government, 10,000 voluntarily supporting and welcoming His Holiness. That's the proportion, I think. (Scattered laughter.)
COHEN: Yes, please.
QUESTIONER: Sima Suroli (sp), I'm a columnist for Indian newspapers such as Firstpost and the Hindu.
I -- welcome to Washington, Mr. Prime Minister. I wanted to ask for your geopolitical assessment of the new leadership in China. As you mentioned, they entered what we know as Indian territory, 19 kilometers inside. They have been rather assertive with Japan, with the Philippines, with several other countries. How do you assess the new game plan of the new leadership?
And my second question is about India. You said that you would like India to do more. Could you elaborate a little bit? Now that China has not given Tibet autonomy, which was one of the conditions of Indian support to China -- Tibet being considered a part of China -- do you think India could revive that issue in negotiations, especially because India is kind of on the receiving end right now?
SANGAY: With your second question first, Tibet is very much linked to India's security. The 4,000, 5,000 kilometers of border that we have with, quote, unquote, China has always been the threat, so hence the border dispute. Pre-1949 there was hardly even a policeman on the border. There was no need for one. Now, the military buildup that is going on and the billions of dollars India has spent on its border security, which could rather be spent on other humanitarian or educational projects. So India's security is very much linked to Tibet issue. The Chinese government in China says Tibet is one of their core issues. And all the more, India should say Tibet is one of the core issues for India, as well.
Now, as far as the assessment of the Chinese leadership, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang at helm, it's too early to say. But then if you look at one -- at a micro level and at macro level, it's quite disturbing.
For example, now they have seven leaders. In the Politburo, they have 20-some leaders. In the 17th Party Congress, there used to be at least one presence of minority -- (inaudible) -- was there. Now no minority presence in the Politburo. In the Central Committee, 200-plus members. In the 17 Party Congress, there used to be 16 minorities. Now, in the 18th Party Congress, it's reduced to 10. Now, minorities are reportedly 8 percent of China's population. So when they had 16 members, it was 7.6 percent, at least -- nearly 8 percent. Now they have reduced to less than five percent -- 4.8 percent now. So even the token representation in these bodies have been reduced.
Now, whether it was deliberate or maybe millionaires and billionaires are buying seats in these -- in these -- in these committees to protect their own wealth is to be seen, because incidentally, or coincidentally, one billionaire and one multi-millionaires are representative of Tibet or Tibetan people in the National People's Congress, or one in the political consultative conference. So it's surprising that, you know, Han Chinese from Shanghai, which has -- who has nothing to do whatsoever with minorities or Tibet is a delegation -- a member of the delegation in the -- in the Chinese Congress.
Now, obviously, you know, that -- so that shows that even a token gesture -- representation is being reduced. Now, at a micro level, as I mentioned, there has been self-immolation so far. Now, self-immolation is criminalized, and they are prosecuted. Instead of finding a solution to the problem, they are aggravating the problem. So the trend so far has been disturbing. But at an individual level, Xi Jinping, his father Xi Zhongxun, was -- he met with His Holiness Dalai Lama in 1954 when Panchen Lama and Dalai Lama went to Beijing and to China, where they spent 11 months.
Later, Xi Zhongxun, the father, became very close to late Panchen Lama and Xi Zhongxun, the father wrote the official obituary of Panchen Lama when he passed away. It's a long one; you can clearly see that they were very close. And Xi Zhongxun, we also know that he was supportive of Hu Yaobang, the most liberal Chinese leader till the end, and when Deng Xiaoping traveled south to Guangdong and Xinjiang economic zone or establish, it was Xi Zhongxun who was actually implementing the vision of Deng Xiaoping in that area.
So if the father's knowledge of Tibet and the liberal mindset rubs off on the son, there is some hope. If not, it will, unfortunately, continue the same way. So it rather -- a little early at the moment, because he has -- Xi Jinping has to consolidate his position. It looks like he is doing it rather quickly, and Li Keqiang also is much more -- is not robotic. He smiles, he is -- you know, moves his hands. His English his good, so it's too early to say, but on the one hand, at a micro and macro level, as far as implementation of policy is concerned, it's disturbing and quite pessimistic. But on the other side, if you look at personnel, a few cases -- as a human being, we have to remain hopeful.
COHEN: Questions, comments?
QUESTIONER: Thank you. We've looked for analogies at geographic entities -- Taiwan, Xinjiang Macau, Hong Kong. Another analogy is to the treatment of house churches of -- Protestant house churches or to the Catholic Church. Both of those in the last few years have, I think it's fair to say, gotten worse, tightened up. I wonder if you would just comment on the treatment not of Tibet as a geographical entity but the treatment of religion and what that may suggest for the future of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism.
SANGAY: I'm sure some of you know Elliot Abram (sic). You know, he was assistant secretary of East Asia in the State Department before, and he really wanted to meet -- (name inaudible) -- in the State Department. And when I came here last -- 2011 October, he wrote a piece saying I should be allowed in the State Department, you know, rather than meeting outside. So there are many supporters in this room who agree with your suggestion and thankful for the support and today's, you know, efforts in organizing this event.
As far as -- yes, from religious point of view, the harshest policies are, in fact, implemented in monasteries. If any one of you have been to Lasa (ph), if you go to major monasteries -- Ganda (ph) and Draboon (ph), you will see a police station or a military camp right outside the monastery, most of them. And in fact it's been reported actually -- I remember reading a quote from a Chinese official in Tibet Autonomous Region in Lhasa saying of 2,700 or so monasteries and nunneries in Tibet Autonomous Region, they have established democratic management committee in all of them. Now it sounds democratic, but actually it's the Communist Party members who are sitting there, deciding who should join the monastery, who should be expelled from the monastery.
That is why it's not a coincidence that the first of the series of self-immolators were monks from Kirti monastery because they face -- experience the harshest policies, including denouncing the Dalai Lama, spitting on his picture, stamping on his picture. Now when monks, who have taken vows, are forced to do that, they'll react. And hence Tabe, the first monk, in 2009, and Phuntsog, in 2011, and many of them -- initially it was mainly monks, because they faced the harshest side of Chinese government repressive policies. Hence the resentment.
So they have also been the leading protesters in Tibet. So they are suffering quite a -- quite a -- a great deal.
COHEN: What is the government policy implicitly, you think? Is it on the one hand to encourage economic development and sort of buy the good will of the new generation of Tibetan people and on the other hand repress those aspects of Tibetan language, culture, religion that might continue to foster this desire for autonomy? Or are they just muddling through? Do they have some kind of a plan, do you think?
SANGAY: Some said that their plans is carrot and stick, like you said, between carrot and stick.
COHEN: Carrot and stick.
SANGAY: It's development for Tibet, on the one hand, stick for all the dissent or dissidents.
But even the carrot is not working, because the Chinese government funding that goes to the Tibet -- 80 percent of it till recently goes to urban areas, where the 90-plus percent of Chinese migrants move. And actually, 80 percent of Tibetans are in rural areas, nomads and farmers included, and where only 20 or less go to rural areas.
And also the number is 70, 50, 40 -- now recently I read it's higher than that -- 70 percent of private entrepreneurship -- enterprise restaurants, shops, you know -- in Lhasa are owned or run by Chinese. Fifty percent of Communist Party members, Communist Party members, from postman to sweeper, all the way to governor, are Chinese in Tibet. Forty percent of Tibetans with high school or college degrees are unemployed.
Now there's a picture -- it's available if you google it -- a small signboard says, job available; apply within, outside a small Chinese shop in Lhasa, which says that if you are Chinese, we pay you 50 renminbi a day; if you are Tibetan, we pay your 30 renminbi a day. Now how would you feel if there's a signboard outside Chinese restaurant in Washington, D.C., which says that if you are Chinese, we give you $50 a day; if you are America, we give you only $30 a day? And that -- as blatant as one can be.
So hence the subsidies, incentives, given to Chinese migrants to, you know, move to Tibetan areas and control the economy. It's blatant and abusive. Hence protesters all over Tibet.
COHEN: What about the use of language? To what extent is Tibetan permittable -- permissible in the courts, in legal education, for example? What are the constraints and what are the incentives?
SANGAY: I think it's getting worse, because at university level the medium of instruction has always been Chinese. In Tibet University in Lhasa, even Tibetan history is partly taught in Chinese language now. In high school level, medium of instruction is Chinese -- middle school level. Now even at primary school level they are mandating that Chinese be medium of instruction. Hence in Chaucha (ph) and Rekong (ph) the primary school kids are in the street saying that, you know, Tibetan be the medium of instruction.
So unfortunately, the assimilation drive to synthesize Tibetans into Chinese fold is at the education level, even at the language level.
COHEN: Oh, yes, please.
QUESTIONER: Dov Zakheim, CSIS and other places. Several people have asked you about the incursion into the India. Specifically, suppose your wish came true and Tibet now had autonomy, what difference would it make the Chinese buildup on the Indian border or the Chinese behavior vis-a-vis India?
SANGAY: Now, it depends what kind of status is restored to the Tibetans. Because we advocate nonviolence, hopefully both sides will be less suspicious of each other. That is our hope. But it all depends on two countries. Tibet as a buffer zone has always served the separation between two countries and maintained the peace by and large.
Whether the incursion will continue, the military buildup will continue or not, can't say for sure. But given a choice, Tibetans, we will say, you know, this is nonviolence, what we believe. And nonviolence should be the process to solve the issue. And militarization, it will be at China's discretion, but at the same time we wish to see less of it in the border areas.
COHEN: Yes, sir.
QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. Ziad Haider with White & Case. Nice to see you again. Just turning inwards a bit and thinking about your role as prime minister, it seems like you have to manage, as you mention, almost 40 different constituencies in some ways, but focusing on two, the Tibetan population in China and that in India, very different expectations in some ways. As you just mentioned, the youth in one place might be marching because they're on the receiving end of these policies, be it education or language, and in some ways may even outpace the way in which you might want to move on an issue based on their frustration.
And then you turn towards India, where there's a youth that probably doesn't know any other land other than India and might, even though they empathize with the Tibetan cause, may not even be able to conceive of what it means to leave India and move to Tibet. So I'm curious, how do you think about managing the expectations of the youth in particular between those in Tibet and those in India itself?
SANGAY: Yes, in the Tibetan community in exile, the Tibetan Youth Congress and Students for a Free Tibet, they do advocate independence, hence their expectation is different or more than the Tibet administration. Having said that, with the self immolation, one thing became clearer -- is the aspirations of Tibet inside Tibet is the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibetans.
That has become more or less universal now. If you look at different organizations, including youth and students in exile, and all the Tibet support groups, most of them agree with this aspiration because they have to, as these are the aspirations of Tibetans from inside Tibet. And they have passed resolutions to that affect.
So yes, we have differences in views, but we hope and we try, the difference of views, to remain as difference at most, debated but not lead to divisions. So far, we don't have divisions, per se, and we want to keep it within that framework. So when you are young, I was also not so long ago, so we are quite emotional, quite passionate and our expectations is a lot higher than as you get gray hair and, you know, you become more realistic.
So that's the very nature -- that's the way life is. So -- but Tibetan aspiration of -- you know, the Tibet administration of genuine autonomy as the policy is supported by a majority of Tibetans, inside and outside Tibet.
COHEN: Yes, please.
QUESTIONER: Louisa Chiang from the National Endowment for Democracy. I have a question about the soft power of Tibet. So recently a Chinese academic wrote that Chinese -- Buddhism in China is losing out to Tibetan Buddhism. He analyzes that because of the rampant commercialization and corruption in Chinese Buddhism -- which outsiders like us can infer results from heavy state intervention in religious life and curbs on religious freedom -- a lot of Chinese Buddhists have grown disgusted with their homegrown version. And as a consequence, they are turning to Tibetan Buddhism to fill that spiritual void, and this Chinese academic argues that they are losing out on the competition. So what does this mean, do you think, about Tibet's soft power, and keeping in mind, of course, that this is at the same time when Chinese government is spending a lot of money to market its -- the China model, its soft power abroad. Thank you.
SANGAY: Professor Joseph Nye doesn't think China can have soft power, because soft power lies on freedom and creativity, innovation, which is very much denied. So as much as they can spend billions, but you cannot buy soft power. It's has to -- a voluntary nature. But that's Joseph Nye -- (chuckles) -- to develop the Chinese leadership.
Now, Buddhism, you know, I can't say for sure the debate and the result, but then if you check, you know, Chinese websites, and I was told by many Chinese, friends, that it's quite popular to advertise for group marriage, to go to Tibet and get married. Even the artists, that is separate community, for them to be authentic artists, they have to travel to Tibet to be certified. So there are some Chinese singles who sang a song about Tibet, it became controversial. But nonetheless, I know they sang. So Tibet is a popular destination for Chinese.
Two years ago, I think, there were 5 million tourists coming to China -- or coming to Tibet, at least Tibet Autonomous Region -- 90-plus percent were Han Chinese. But the problem, whether that translated into support for Tibet or not is the problem, because sometimes I've met many Chinese and -- who say, oh, I've been to Tibet. There was no problem at all. And I said, that's a problem. (Laughter.) Because -- and I often asked them -- you booked your ticket through a Chinese travel agency? He says, yes. You stayed in Chinese hotel? Yes. So you had a Chinese travel guide? Yes. You know, then what's the purpose of going to Tibet if you eat in Chinese restaurant, stay in Chinese hotel and you're shown around by Chinese guide who give you the Chinese propaganda, you know? Rather, you should be staying in Tibetan hotel. And I was told, no, no, no. Guide told us not to stay in Tibetan hotel because it's dangerous.
That's the problem, you see? If you cannot even spend a night in a Tibetan hotel, then you say you went to Tibet and saw Tibet, except for the, you know, altitude sickness, what's the point of going to Tibet? You have to eat Tibetan food, and drink Tibetan tea, which is salty and buttery, which is more like soup. And some say it's disgusting, but that's the beauty of it, you know? (Laughter.) Right? And then otherwise, you might as well go to Shanghai and have a good time. (Laughter.) So, yes, many tourists, millions go to Tibet. To understand Tibet issue, you have to live with Tibet and converse with Tibet.
And the problem also is this. They'll say, I went to Tibet and didn't see any problem because no one told me so. And when I asked, they said, no problem. And I said, exactly is the issue. Because if you ask a Tibetan in Chinese -- (in Chinese) -- that means, are you Chinese, in Chinese, answer will be -- (in Chinese) -- yes, because that's politically correct thing to say, and that's the language. But if you ask the same question in English to a Tibetan, are you Chinese, the Tibetan will give a little different answer: I am Tibetan from China. They will not say, I am Chinese.
But if you ask a Tibetan -- (in Tibetan) -- exactly same question, are you Chinese, Tibetans would immediately say, no. (In Tibetan.) Why? In Tibetan language, there is no word that combines Chinese and Tibetan people as one people, China and Tibet as one nation. And Chinese and Tibetan language are separate, hence the mindset is different. The language and discourse is different. So when Tibetans say, we are Tibetan, not Chinese, we are Tibet, not China, some Chinese get offended. How can you say that? You are part of the motherland. You are part of the family. When we say we are separate and distinctly different, we are not saying out of hatred. But there is no linguistic framework, term or terminology which combines as one. Hence we say we are distinct and separate, yet we will live side by side peacefully. That is the proposition. So unless you ask the question in Tibetan, you will never understand Tibetan mindset, hence they will never know the problem.
COHEN: Well, you've given us a good incentive to study Tibetan. (Laughter.) You've also given us an awful lot to chew on, and we're very grateful to you for coming here.
SANGAY: Thank you very much. (Applause.)
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