By Robert Barnett, Columbia University
“... The Chinese government has responded with tighter controls on movement, worship, speech and information in Tibetan areas, together with increased mechanisms for surveillance. But the reason for the failure to resolve the issue is not because of tensions on the ground. It’s because of the inability of the two leaderships to agree on what the issue is.
... Each side has an undisputed leader who could sign a deal, the weaker side has long agreed on the need to compromise, and the two sides are — in principle — only arguing over one thing: what degree of autonomy Tibetans should enjoy ...
... The Dalai Lama’s success in getting world support since the 1980s led to ten rounds of preliminary talks with China from 2002–10. But he has little time left (he turns 80 this year), urgently needs to find effective leaders to succeed him, and has wavered over recent issues like the self-immolations, to which he failed to call a halt.
The Chinese side faces even greater obstacles, such as entrenched conservativism within the bureaucracy. It has a long history of introducing policies that worsened rather than assuaged relations with its key minorities. But it needs to avoid anything that might look like a concession to outside pressure…..Despite these obstacles, the Chinese leadership might well decide that a negotiated solution to the Tibetan issue would be in its interests. But for that to be successful, Tibetan and Chinese leaders will need to recognise each other’s views of the Tibetan situation, both as a site of ethnic tensions and as a place with a singular and distinctive past."
Robert Barnett is Director of Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, New York.
Excerpt from the full article published at: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/04/19/making-progress-on-tibet/