(TibetanReview.net, Dec07, 2017) – Did the Dalai Lama send his envoy Professor Samdhong Rinpoche on a clandestine visit to China in November? A Tibet expert has said Dec 4 that he appeared to have done so and then proceeds to examine as if he actually may have.
Writing in a commentary posted on thewire.in, P Stobdan, India’s former ambassador to Mongolia and a specialist in Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian and Uighur affairs, maintains that the envoy appeared to have undertaken a discreet visit to Kunming (China).
He then proceeds to suggest that Samdong Rinpoche’s visit, starting from mid-November, must have been facilitated by no less than You Quan, newly-appointed head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China which deals with overseas Tibetan affairs. You, who formerly served as party secretary of Fujian, is a close associate of President Xi Jinping, he has pointed out. He was earlier said to have successfully dealt with Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan’s business communities.
Stobdan argues that while Chinese leaders had in the past stymied the Dalai Lama’s desire to return to Tibet, there is a distinct possibility that it may bear fruit this time.
From the Dalai Lama’s side, Stobdan points out that a statement the Tibetan leader had made on Nov 23 saying he was “not seeking independence for Tibet” but only “wishing to stay with China” was not new. However, he then argues that his declaration that “he would return to Tibet at once, if China agrees” has sparked fresh speculation of a possible rapprochement with Beijing.
From the Chinese side, Stobdan argues that President Xi Jinping is widely known to have a soft spot for Tibet; that he has hitherto kept his own approach close to his chest, fearing resistance from hardliners. Xi also supposedly holds the view, unlike others, that the prospects for solving the Tibet problem would peter out once the Dalai Lama is no more. “Xi now finds himself in a perfect position to resolve the issue as no other Chinese leader could do in the past, for he also stands to gain personally both in political and moral terms, to become the most credible leader in China’s history.”
In this connection, he points out that the Dalai Lama too had long hoped for Xi to change tack, as he hailed him as “realist” and “open-minded” in contrast to his predecessors.
The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet was also stated to have admitted receiving positive signals from top Chinese officials, especially from the moderate elements as streams of Han Chinese flocked to meet him during Xi’s first term.
However, there is as yet no word on whether Samdhong Rinpoche did indeed visit China. Besides, one might speculate on the Dalai Lama’s very recent meeting in New Delhi with former US President Barack Obama after the latter had arrived from China and a meeting with Xi in connection with this discourse.