China Fails to Buy Tibetan Loyalty: Dalai Lama to Mediate Peace?
China finally admits that it has been "mishandling" Tibet. China's interests in Tibet is largely due to its vast natural resources, but they have failed to counter support for the Tibetan people worldwide and for the leadership of the Dalai Lama who lives in exile protesting China's treatment of the nation.
"The Dalai Lama will be 75 in July. He is revered by the Tibetans and admired around the world. Any deal with him will have the unquestioned legitimacy and support that is so vital to China's aspirations....the Dalai Lama has consistently maintained that he does not want to separate Tibet from China.
World leaders who have met the Dalai Lama seem convinced of his sincerity and nonviolent approach to solving the Tibet issue. China has spent $45.6 billion since 2001 for roads, trains, and housing complexes, but its has bought them no loyalty from the Tibetan people.
"Even the most massive infusions of funds have never been able to buy the affection of the people," says Tibetologist Parvez Dewan, who has just coauthored a book called Tibet: Fifty Years After with Siddharth Srivastava. "You can't get rid of the alienation of a people through development...we could not find any Tibetan who showed his loyalty to the Chinese," says Dewan.
Officially the province is run by an ethnic Tibetan governor named Pema Thinley, a military commander, but real power lies with Communist Party Secretary Zhang Qingli, an ethnic Han. Nearly 60 % of Lhasa's 500,000 people are now Han Chinese immigrants, although the Chinese-government census disputes that claim.
Tibet expert Robert Thurman, author of Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as a Solution for China, Tibet and the World, says, the Dalai Lama's growing following within mainland China in Dharamsala signals his growing influence with Chinese discontented and receiving no benefits from China's impressive economic growth; spiritual growth is perhaps a more affordable and satisfying substitute.