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Dalai Lama's Influence in Tibet Weakens

March 20, 2008 09:50 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Recent violence shows the Tibetan community split on how to resist Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama's nonviolent approach has lost favor with many.

30-Second Summary

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On Monday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao charged the Dalai "clique," exiled in India, of instigating the protests in Lhasa that began last week.

However, the Dalai Lama has discouraged violence and championed peaceful resistance. In fact, he threatened to resign as political leader of the exiled Tibetan government if the violence increased.

He advocates a “middle way." Instead of working toward Tibetan independence, he has called for a meaningful autonomy for Tibet within China.

But analysts say at this point Tibetan frustration at the lack of reform has boiled over. They have lost faith in the talks and fear a growing Chinese influence over Tibetan affairs. They also worry about the uncertain future of the Dalai Lama’s successor.

Time magazine quotes Lobsang Sangay, senior fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School: "It's that the Dalai Lama's approach is right but that the partner is not willing and the people see the Dalai Lama being taken for a ride.”

Although peaceful resistance worked successfully for Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., the approach has not always achieved its goals, despite the commitment of the protestors.

As George Orwell once wrote about the Soviet Union, “It is difficult to see how Gandhi’s methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again.”

Headline Links: Tibetans differ on how to respond to China

Opinion & Analysis: The best approach for Tibet

Background: The current Tibetan crisis and Burma’s 2007 protests

Historical Context: Nonviolent resistance in India, the United States and China

Gandhi, non-cooperation and Orwell
The U.S. Civil Rights Movement
Tiananmen Square
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