Tibetan Government-in-Exile: "We Have to Accept Ground Realities"

March 21, 2005

In an interview in Outlook India on March 19, Tibetan leader Samdhong Rinpoche said, "We have to accept ground realities of the new world order. We feel that the Dalai Lama's middle way approach to seek genuine autonomy for Tibetans is an achievable objective and are therefore moving ahead for it." Samdhong is the first elected head of the exiled Tibetan government.

The comments appear to support statements by the Dalai Lama in a March 14 South China Morning Post interview that seemed designed to reassure Chinese leaders that the Tibetan religious leader is not seeking independence. The Dalai Lama's statements, however, have drawn objections from some Tibetans. Samdhong set out the Tibetan government-in-exile's priority, saying, "For us, the issue is not so much the future of the Tibetans in exile, and how we all will return, but genuine self-rule within the framework of the Chinese Constitution for the six million Tibetans inside Tibet."

Earlier in March, Samdhong expressed optimism that the Dalai Lama's envoys would travel to China later in 2005 for "decisive" talks. But his remarks in Outlook India follow an apparent Chinese Foreign Ministry rejection of the Dalai Lama's attempt to reach out to Chinese leaders and officials. "We do expect them to reciprocate," Samdhong observed, "but if they don't, it's just too bad. Our efforts, however, will continue and we are hoping that the next delegation of the Dalai Lama's envoys will be permitted to visit China this year too."