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What are the Consequences of the "Overseas Chinese National" Document?

posted Mar 12, 2011, 12:04 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Mar 14, 2011, 2:23 PM ]

By Phuntsok Tsering Duechung

One question that interests not only me, but surely all Tibetans is that of the Tibetan exile government’s position on Lobsang Sangay’s readiness to accept the Chinese travel document in which he is declared to be an overseas Chinese, and what their response is to his insinuation that not only he, but also the exile government’s delegates, Jamyang Norbu and Lhasang Tsering to boot, have travelled to China using that very same type of document?
Does the electoral commission in Dharamsala not have any reservations about the fact that Lobsang Sangay’s campaign was probably financed through a Taiwanese organisation? What a ruckus there would have been in the past if it turned out somebody had gotten money from Taiwan! Contrary to past usage, this time a campaign for the highest political position in the exile government is being financed by a foreign organization - as if that were no grounds for concern!

Some have called upon the exile government in the Internet to take a clear position here, but unfortunately the government has failed to state its position to date, while Jamyang Norbu and Lhasang Tsering have taken a clear stance, rejecting this claim by LS as a lie. Thank God it has become clear in the meantime through other unofficial channels that there is not even a shred of truth to this claim by LS. Not one of the delegates has ever borne such a document. 

I personally find this thoughtless acceptance of such a document extremely troubling, especially since LS prides himself on being an expert in international law. The matter becomes even more fateful when one considers that he is aspiring to the position of Kalon Tripa. The position of the exile government up until now has been that such a document is damaging to the Tibetan cause. The exile government requested our fellow countrymen who are forced to accept such documents out of necessity to fill out and sign a counter-document to document these persons’ total entrapment. In spite of this, many of our simple countrymen in similar situations have voluntarily waived these Chinese documents, because they see them as a betrayal of the Tibetan cause and thus as incompatible with their conscience. One would actually expect all the more caution and foresight from a Kalon Tripa candidate.

In any event, such a completed document in LS’ possession is a free lunch for the Chinese government. China wouldn’t be China if it wouldn’t take full advantage of such a profitable offer. The Chinese have proved often enough in the course of history that they know how to exploit such formalisms and labels to perfection.

The second question is, would a Kalon Tripa of this sort have any free room at all for political action? How can a Kalon Tripa who has accepted the status of an overseas Chinese seriously believe in rangzen and above all implement it? It’s a pure and total paradox! Rangzen by definition cannot be implemented by such a Kalon Tripa, apart from the parliament’s position on the matter! It would therefore be fraudulent if one were to continue to delude Tibetan youth into taking this option seriously. And also with respect to the Middle Way - the position of the future exile government would be significantly weakened if a Kalon Tripa who would allow himself to be defined as an overseas Chinese were to preside over it. 

His Holiness has said that we are willing to remain in the Chinese confederation if the Chinese government grants us genuine autonomy under one administration for the entire Tibetan area. But this willingness is thus definitively linked with one clear-cut condition. Why should the Chinese fulfill this condition if they can get everything free of charge with LS? In the event he becomes the new Kalon Tripa, LS will thus have pre-empted our decision by means of his completely unnecessary trip to Beijing.

Why is the dialog between His Holiness’ delegates and the Chinese government stagnating and failing? Because His Holiness is not prepared to go along with the Chinese claim that Tibet was always a part of China. But if a political figure, elected by the people and equipped with the highest authority permits him/herself to be declared an overseas Chinese, i.e. as Chinese by birth, the implication is that we all are and always have been Chinese by birth!

Electing LS as Kalon Tripa would thus be like a rupture in a dike, with possibly catastrophic results for all of us. Many of our countrymen who have until now hesitated to accept such a document without qualms of conscience would now accept such a document and travel to Tibet or China with a clear conscience. And the Chinese government would do everything in its power to deny Tibetans with a foreign passport a regular visa, to compel them, too, to accept this “overseas Chinese document.” “A Tibet problem? What Tibet problem?” China would one day say with satisfaction, and spread out all these documents on the table!

All in all, it is surely justified to question whether such a person meets the requirements for the position of Kalon Tripa, as the electoral regulations state that a person who acts against the interests of the Tibetan people cannot be permitted to campaign for the position of Kalon Tripa


Editors' Note: As always, publication of any article does not necessarily imply endorsement by the Editors.  For an alternate viewpoint on this issue, please see "Overseas Chinese National Controversy is Baseless and Irrelevant" by Tenzin Ngawang.