Rising tensions, including an ongoing Chinese crackdown on dissent, will not stop Tibet’s government-in-exile from seeking talks with Beijing.
Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay told reporters Friday in New Delhi that the next step is up to China.
“We are ready to engage in dialogue with the Chinese government anytime, anywhere, this is where we stand. But ’till the leadership transition, we will not see the clear sign or indication as to how they want to approach Tibet,” he said.
Sangay said he fears recent protests and self-immolations are only causing China to take an even harder line [tougher approach] on Tibet.
”Now they are patrolling the streets of towns and cities, including villages, that way. But unfortunately the pressure seems to be at least in their mind, instead of reforming and introducing more liberal-oriented attitude, they are cracking down more,” he said.
The comments come just one day after word that yet another Tibetan set himself on fire to protest Chinese rule.
Poet and blogger Gudru, 43, set himself on fire Thursday in Dreru, Tibet – part of the area China has designated the Tibet Autonomous Region. One of Gudrup’s last blog posts called on fellow Tibetans to “win the battle through truth, by shooting arrows upon our lives.”
There now have been at least 51 self-immolations since March of 2009. Sangay told reporters it is the duty of the government-in-exile to show solidarity with the protesters, but that it will not advocate for more “drastic actions.”
“We do not encourage any protest inside Tibet because of harsh reality, the ones who participate in protest, you get arrested and then you go to prison, you get tortured, you get dying, so why would I encourage any form of protest when you know the consequences,” said Sangay.
China has repeatedly denounced self-immolations as terrorist acts, calling the practice barbaric. Beijing also holds Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, responsible.
China views Tibet as a non-negotiable part of its territory and has long accused the Dalai Lama of trying to separate the Himalayan region from China. The Dalai Lama has said repeatedly that he is not pushing for Tibetan independence, but for greater autonomy.
Tibet Prime Minister-in-Exile Sangay repeated Friday that Tibetans are pushing for autonomy and not separation, suggesting Beijing could use talks to send a clear message.
“If they really say ‘we believe in moderation’ then Tibet is the test, it’s not Hong Kong, it’s not Macau, it’s not Taiwan,” said Sangay. “Tibet is the test because once Tibetans are granted autonomy then that is an indication that finally the Chinese leadership or the Han Chinese people have accepted diversity.”