By Mila Rangzen
Independence advocates have every right to pursue their goal based on history, legality, off and on independence struggle from 1949 to 1974, and the current will, hardship, and sacrifice of and by the Tibet Tibetans for independence.
On the other hand, CTA has every technical right to pursue its goal supported by the exile Tibetan parliament. However, our political reality for the past six decades has clearly shown us that right alone cannot beat might in the world of politics, economics, and military. Four decades of Middle Way Approach (MWA) with no Genuine Autonomy insight proves that it has failed.
There is something wrong with the key we have been using to unlock the Tibet issue. MWA Advocates in power ought to be more creative by initiating a new middle ground as a way to realize a livable reality. The political administration of the Sakya Lamas, Phakdruks, Ripungs, Dhepa Tsangpa, Miwang Pholha and Gaden Phodrang from the 13th century up to the fall of Tibet in 1949/1959 did not reign beyond the Drichu River. Therefore any claim on Genuine Autonomy cannot stretch beyond the Drichu River. Period. Tibet that we know of today as chokasum (The three traditional regions of Tibet under the governance of a Tibetan government based in Lhasa) simply did not exist as one united political entity for the past eleven centuries! What can we do now?
The alternative is to drop the demand for Genuine Autonomy for Dhotoe, Dhomey and Utsang under one giant Tibetan administration over 2.5 million sq-km of territory, and instead demand Independence on a landmass of just 300,000 sq-km around Kongpo and the adjoining areas to the west and east of it. Carve out a half moon map and call it New Tibet in which Tibetans from different parts of the Tsenpo era Tibet can be relocated and yet maintain diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). PRC would fund the relocation.
Given the political reasoning of the MWA proponents that compromise is the key means available to strike a deal with PRC; this proposal is highly sensible and reasonable. A mutual agreement can be reached and New Tibet can materialize within a decade and the Bardo of Uma and Rangzen (Proponents of autonomy within China and Tibetan independence respectively) will finally come to an end. What more can we ask?
This proposal is far more realistic than demanding Genuine Autonomy over 1/4 of the current Chinese Territorial size. PRC can never let go such a vast resourceful territory to a non-Han people whose population is less than 1/226 of the overall PRC population. New Tibet is definitely more practical than hoping for the grand Genuine Autonomy that has china losing everything and gaining nothing. If there is any basis of hope for Genuine Autonomy, why wouldn’t there be more basis of hope on Independence for New Tibet where the demand is over only 300,000 sq-km or just 12% of the 2.5 million sq-km of Tibet, and the remaining 2.2 million sq-km or 88% of the disputed territory is given up completely?
Whether PRC blows up mountains in the given up areas for uranium or transfers to the valleys a Chinese population of 100 million overnight would be none of our business once an agreement is reached. PRC shall enjoy the vast Tibetan territory and its resources worth hundreds of trillions of dollars for the next millennium and beyond with no disruption or protest from us. This approach will silence the Chinese accusation that Tibetans are seeking independence in disguise for greater Tibet.
Producing this result will close down Rangzen camp for good and we shall all be reunited with our brethren in New Tibet enjoying the fruits of Freedom. Meanwhile, Tibetans from every part of cultural Tibet should start moving defiantly with their belongings including livestock to New Tibet. Locals in New Tibet should welcome them with tents pitched near their dwellings.
The ground realities are tough but the idea and the process must not be mistaken for an Indian reservation in the US. The fact that the Chinese are in Tibet for the greed of the land and its resources, not for the love of the Tibetan people or their cheap labor is obvious. Mere dialogue with the overseas Chinese dissidents or intellectuals or Buddhists or United Front Work Department, international awareness campaign and street protest can get us no further than we are at–a dead end.
The longer it takes, the more we get dragged deeper and deeper into the Uma and Rangzen hopelessness. Imagine 35 years from now. Nothing matters. Imagine 63 years from now. Everything is dead, including the New Tibet. For the Chinese, the land is everything and a good Tibetan if I may use the cliche is a dead Tibetan. Outside in and inside out. Physically, psychologically and functionally extinct.
When PRC can squander $40 billion on a 16 day Olympic Games in 2008, the cost of relocation of fewer than 6 million Tibetans to New Tibet is easy. The US relocated hundreds of thousands of refugees from Vietnam, Laos and other countries in the 70s across land, sea, and air without any unbearable difficulties. PRC with GDP $12,610,000,000,000 can do it too. When more than 30 million Irish, Italians and Jews left their respective countries in Europe in the late 19th century and early 20th century and moved to the US with next to nothing on rickety boats on turbulent seas stretching over thousands of kilometers, the relocation of Tibetans on land within the same territory is a simple task.
In the next dozen years, PRC is moving 400 million rural Chinese to megacities. With just about $100 billion to $200 billion, PRC can easily relocate six million Tibetans in 6000 concrete lasting buildings in New Tibet. Of course, Tibetans can move to the countryside if so wished. This is not an unbelievably huge sum for PRC and it’s a matter of taking one small decision on her part. In this venture, United Nations would also intermediate and help with funding, expertise, time and energy.
It is not far-fetched to expect a donation of $1 billion to $ 5 billion from each major country that has remained silent on Tibet where justice has been brutally raped for over six decades without the slightest provocation or justification. Approximate $200 billion donation windfall can be fix deposited in a world bank for two reasons a) The new Tibetan government cannot swindle it b) Use the interest earned annually on rebuilding Tibetan life in New Tibet. History is a witness that none of them supported Tibetan independence or the Genuine Autonomy since the Chinese occupation in 1949. The European guilt that ensured an independent homeland for the Jews in Israel in 1947 should be extended to us at least in the form of independence over New Tibet. Are we asking too much?
For Tibetans to relocate is not an issue for most of the Tibetans are or were nomads for centuries so to be on the move is nothing new, and to relocate one big time is no big deal. Nearly three thousand Tibet Tibetans on foot crossed over the 300km wide snow-covered Tibetan Himalayan borders in mid-winter to Nepal and India every year from 1980 to 2008 with the minimum clothing and no equipment whatsoever and majority of them walking their way back through the same treacherous route after tasting Dharamsala for awhile.
Migrating to New Tibet in freedom should be an indescribable joy. The fire that rages within the chest of every Tibetan including newcomers inside India, Nepal, Bhutan to migrate to the west at substantial personal cost, sometimes incurring debt as high as $60,000 per person is true and impressive from a business perspective. Moving to a stunning corner of your own known familiar country with a certain future with your own folks in charge should be even easier.
With each passing day we as a people are nearing extinction in our own land. Ironically, the threat of extinction comes not only from the guns of the Chinese troops guarding the Himalayan borders in the distance but also from the police, informers and the millions of innocent looking Chinese civilians in our villages and towns and cities. The Chinese population in Tibet is now estimated at 12 million to 15 million and it will continue to rise rapidly.
Such massive Chinese population would engulf Tibetans in opportunity, modernization, education, jobs, language, business, sports, administration, trade, culture, and politics and we will be forever at the receiving end in our own land. Independence in New Tibet will rescue us from this imminent threat.
There are least 17 independent nations with less than 200 sq-km of land. At a first glance, 300,000sqkm of land mass may seem small and insignificant but this is not supposed to be the case when more than 130 sovereign nations and 29 non-sovereign nations with a population ranging from 1000 individuals to 150 million people who are not only surviving but flourishing economically, politically and even militarily in a landmass of less than 100,000 sq-km e.g. Hong Kong (1100),Taiwan (36,000), South Korea (100,000), UAE (84,000), Switzerland (40,000), Singapore (700), Netherlands (34,000), Kuwait (18,000), Israel (22,000), Ireland (70,000), Denmark (43,000), Bhutan (39,000), Belgium (31,000), and Austria (83,000). Independence in New Tibet with a population of fewer than 6 million Tibetans is no difficult matter at all to succeed.
Tibetan love for nature is legendary. New Tibet is a fertile land rich in minerals, flora, fauna, marine life, air life, fresh water with a moderate climate all year round except a little cold in winter but certainly not colder than the freezing Dharamsala winter. With the development of Tibetan instinct for business and passion for education over the years, we can in New Tibet produce tens of thousands of sharp masters and brilliant Phds with international exposure with a zeal for community progress and creativity, the most important goal of learning and education. Focus on education and business will eventually ensure our political brain power which is behind the firepower that defeats overwhelming manpower as we witness in the Israel- Arab scenario.
Buddhism being central to the Tibetan life, Tibetan population of less than six million will not see a rapid rise as many Tibetans given the freedom and free facilities will become monks and nuns quite happily. Polyandry, unprotected sex, promiscuous sexual culture, aids, hepatitis B will slow down our population growth.
With the rise in career consciousness, our population will increase slow and steady. Our population which was estimated at 10 million in the 7th century, today after 1300 years, when it should be 60 million, is only less than 6 million. With a small population to take care of, the strain on New Tibet and its natural resources will not be unbearable for some centuries.
Located in Tibet Autonomous Region with Lhasa in the North West and Arunachal Pradesh in the South East, Kongpo is one of the most important cradles of ancient Tibetan civilization having been settled as early as five thousand years ago. It is famed for its ancient verdant mountainous terrain and clear waterways. It is indeed a great location to practice and preserve our identity, language, freedom, Buddhism, and culture, and while at the same time benefiting from the neighboring Chinese economic prosperity.
This is the ideal spot from where the Dalai Lama can realize his idea of a spiritual sanctuary for humanity in distress, a zone of Ahimsa (peace) from which the Dalai Lama can inject reality into his dreams of universal responsibility and harmony of world religions.
According to a renowned Tibetan historian Lobsang Shastri based in New York, Nyatri Tsenpo- the first Tibetan king, and the 13th Dalai Lama were born and bred in Kongpo! Also for the faith-driven there are numerous pilgrimage sites including holy hot springs, waterfalls, lakes and rivers, sacred mountains, and the trails of Guru Rinpoche, Thangthong Gyalpo, Dorjee Phagmo and also the famous Kongpo Ben Rock! Yarlung Tsangpo River also cuts through the Kongpo making the famous Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon which is 496 kilometers long and is four times deeper than the Grand Canyon in America. 16,000 feet deep! It is, in fact, the deepest canyon in the world and this fact alone can ignite a mega tourist industry for self-sustenance, peace, and prosperity.
100,000 sq-km of the southern New Tibet can be declared a wildlife sanctuary protecting world’s endangered species from wild yak (the symbol of Tibetan freedom) to magnificent tigers, generating extra revenue through wildlife tourism while also helping the world become less poor and less ugly. What a double contribution, one at a local level and the other at global Dharmic level!
Those who may feel emotionally betrayed because of the perception that your local land is given up need not feel so. Whether it is Siling in Amdo or Chamdo in Kham or Lhasa in Utsang, they all belong to all the Tibetans and not just to the locals. Similarly, Kongpo and the adjoining areas belong not just to Kongpowas or Pemakoepas or Zayulpas or Lobas but to all Tibetans. What is given up to PRC and what is demanded from PRC belongs to all of us Tibetans equally? For now, the fact remains we do not possess control over an inch of our land and the independence struggle for the whole Tibet has been abandoned for four decades and no Genuine Autonomy in sight. Everything in Tibet is Chinese for six decades now. The walls are closing in on us. No amount of petty immature internal bickering will make this eventuality go away. Find a way and adapt or die.
However beautiful and realistic New Tibet may sound, it will not come about voluntarily. In politics, there is no such thing as free lunch and we have to struggle for every scrap of it. And in the absence of a top-down and a bottom-up struggle in the true sense of the word, not even one sq-km of the barren Jangthang will be given to us for underneath that small piece of land, perceiving no threat whatsoever from us to their economy and security, the Chinese occupier has the luxury to claim to see, regardless of whether it exists or not, oil worth $10 trillion.
A war between India, Japan, and the US on one side, with China on the other side of the power spectrum can result in any possibilities in our favor but for the foreseeable future, such a mega war is highly unlikely due to a mutual vulnerability of nuclear proportions. Whatever the case might be, we cannot afford to wait praying any longer.
With the Chinese political power at its peak on the global stage, Tibet’s future is not in the hands of either umavas or rangzenpas (proponents of autonomy within China, and Tibetan independence, respectively) but in the clutches of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To understand why genuine autonomy is an unrealistic goal, one must first be familiar with the grand list of demands for genuine autonomy, and also the history of Chinese deceptions during the past six decades. Seeking genuine autonomy within PRC, with Dhotoe, Dhomey, and U-Tsang under one giant Tibetan administration enjoying legislative power to self-govern in major areas like education, environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, population migration regulation, etc, may sound very reasonable from our side, but it is being seen by the CCP as nothing more than seeking independence in disguise.
At the same time, those seeking genuine autonomy want China to guard Tibet’s long borders, a costly proposal in itself. In Chinese history, there never was a cholka sum (the three traditional regions of Tibet under the governance of a Tibetan Government based in Lhasa). Therefore there cannot be one in the future operating over 2.5 million sq km of landmass, which makes up more than one-fourth of the current Chinese territory.
P.S. This post was first published in July 2013.