President Dr Lobsang Sangay being interviewed by NHK, Japan's national public broadcasting organization, Tokyo, Japan, January 25, 2019. Photo: Office of Tibet, Japan

Interviews and Recap
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Dharamshala, India — Tibetan President Dr Laobsang Sangay, who is making his fifth official visit to Japan has urged the Chinese government to resume dialogue, saying that is the only way China can guarantee true autonomy for the people of Tibet.

President Dr Sangay called on the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and listen to the cries of Tibetans inside Tibet.

Dr Sangay is on a weeklong visit to Japan to raise awareness on Tibet issue and garner support to resolve the issue of Tibet as this year marks 60 years under China’s occupation and situation remains grim in Tibet, according to the Office of Tibet, Japan.

Speaking to Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, Dr Sangay said the Chinese government should listen to the voices and cries of the Tibetan people. “153 Tibetans have self-immolated calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and basic freedom for Tibetan people. If the Chinese government listen to their voices, it will be good for the Chinese government and harmony in Tibet and China, which is a win-win proposition,” he said.

He reiterated that Tibetans are not seeking separation of Tibet from China, but genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people. “There is no dispute about the fact that Tibet was historically an independent country. Repression of Tibetans should end and genuine autonomy should be given to the Tibetan people as per the Chinese constitution.”

President Dr Sangay said though there is no formal dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the representatives of the Chinese government since 2010, there are many well-intended Chinese people, including Buddhists, business people, who have been meeting informally in their private capacity with His Holiness to express their interest in Tibetan culture and Buddhism.

Speaking on the future of the Tibetan freedom movement, the Tibetan President said the freedom movement will become stronger because the younger generation is getting better education and exposure around the world. “The elder generation has a very strong sense of identity and determination. So we are finding a way to maintain our identity and at the same time pursuing better education. The younger generation’s sense of identity and solidarity with the Tibetan cause are very strong.”

President Dr Sangay described the recent Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act as a very significant law passed by the US Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. “It sends a clear political message to the Chinese government that people who support justice, human rights and democracy are watching and telling the Chinese government that it cannot keep on denying visas to American diplomats, students, scholars, journalists to visit Tibet. It sends a clear message to those Chinese officials who violate human rights in Tibet and torture Tibetans including political prisoners, that they cannot act with impunity and there will be consequences.”

Dr Sangay said the harsh clampdown on religious in and Tibet reflects the Chinese government’s sense of insecurity due to growing number of people devotion to religion. “At present there are more religious people than communist party members. The Chinese communist party is facing an institutional threat and it feels insecurity. Hence there is clampdown on all kinds of religions and practitioners including Muslims, Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists,” he said.

“Since Buddhism is fundamental to Tibetans’ sense of culture, identity and civilization, Tibetans should be allowed to visit monasteries to pray and picture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said.

Responding to questions on Holiness the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation, Dr Sangay said: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very healthy and recently he agreed to live more than 100 years when we organized a long life prayer ceremony. His Holiness has said ultimately it is for the Tibetan people to decide whether the next Dalai Lama should come or not. Tibetans and Buddha of compassion cannot be separated. Similarly the Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan people cannot be separated too. Hence we appeal the Dalai Lamas to come back."

"The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have no legitimacy and role whatsoever in the reincarnation process because of their track record. They have destroyed 98 percent of Tibetan monasteries and nunneries, disrobed 99.9 percent of Tibetan monks and nuns, they disallow practice of religion and possession of photograph of the Dalai Lama, and criticize him throughout his life,” he added.

He said he has telling countries around the world that what has happened to Tibet could happen to them as well. “The people in Europe, South Africa and Latin America are realizing what I have been telling them for the last 7 years with the growing influence of the Chinese government’s co-opting of elite leadership and strategies like Belt and Road Initiative to expand its sphere of influence in countries around the world.”

President Dr Sangay will meet with the members of the All Party Japanese parliamentary Support Group for Tibet at the Parliament office, Tibetans and Japanese public to speak on the current situation on Tibet, the way forward to resolve the issue of Tibet, why Tibet matters for Asia and the world, and leadership.

This is President Dr Lobsang Sangay’s fifth official visit to Japan. He first visited Japan in 2012.