Leading article: The folly of spurning the Dalai Lama

Share
Related Topics

It is easy to call on the world's freedom movements to seek the path of negotiation over the way of violence. But what happens if it gets you nowhere? That was the bleak question asked by Tibetan exiles at a meeting in Dharmsala in India that ended at the weekend.

It is five decades since Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled the country after an aborted revolt against Chinese rule. Since then, he has consistently foresworn violence and urged a negotiated settlement, accepting the reality of Chinese suzerainty in exchange for autonomy.

The 73-year-old Dalai Lama has received a Nobel prize for his moderation but no Chinese concessions for his pains. The whole course of Chinese policy in the past decade has been to isolate him from his people, weaning away popular loyalty through economic investment from Beijing, asserting political control of the monasteries and weakening the ethnic basis of the country through Han Chinese immigration.

It is this latter policy that helped foment the rebellion last summer. It was these riots, and the failure of talks to relieve the pressure of Chinese rule, which induced the Tibetan leader to call this meeting, partly to pressure China into a more conciliatory policy and partly to head off the growing call among young Tibetans to ditch the policy of seeking autonomy and go for full independence. In this, the Dalai Lama succeeded, for the Dharamsala meeting ended with an endorsement of his authority, and of his policy of seeking a "middle way" between independence and Chinese rule.

However, it will not be easy to deflect the calls for Tibetan independence forever. Indeed, the Chinese are assisting this trend, encouraging radicalism as a way of splitting the Dalai Lama from his adherents and then waiting for him to reach an isolated death. This is a dangerous policy. Marginalising moderation, as we know from the Islamic world, only plays into the hands of the extremists, of which there are an increasing number amongst young Tibetans. The call for independence, as opposed to autonomy, will grow louder. Beijing should heed the Dalai Lama's call for the "middle way" before it finds that events have moved beyond its control.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

year 5 teacher

£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Maths Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

Urgently looking for Qualified Teachers and NQT's

£110 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Urgently looking for Qua...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Palestinian natural resources lie beneath this terrible conflict

Shawan Jabarin
 

The daily catch-up: heatwave update; duck tape and market socialism

John Rentoul
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform