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Lions Roar : July 2017
it will find its own reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, which would help the CCP further solidify control over Tibet. In response, His Holiness has said that he will not be reincarnated in Chi- nese-controlled territory—“Reincarnation is not the business of the Communists,” he has said—and for that matter, may not be reincarnated at all, if that is the will of the Tibetan people. Whoever follows may never enjoy the geopolitical stature of Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who is venerated as both a secular and spiritual leader and has personally brought his people’s tragedy into the global consciousness. But there are other reasons why the “middle way” goal of cultural and reli- gious autonomy for Tibet within China remains, in the eyes of many, as distant as ever. Tsering says that it is hard for the government-in-exile to move toward a diplomatic solution with a Chinese govern- ment that refuses to recognize, let along negotiate with, the democratically-elected administration. For other Tibet-watch- ers, the government-in-exile has erred strategically by focusing more on winning over the West than on trying to make head- way with China. Even within the Tibetan diaspora, there is dis- agreement on the best way to advance the Tibetan cause, with some Tibetan exiles backing His Holiness’ notion of autonomy while others still call for rangzen, or full-blown independence. Robert Thurman, though, remains hopeful. The reason, perhaps surprisingly, is Xi Jinping, the man who runs China, in the view of the New York Times, “with a firmer hand than any leader since Mao Zedong.” The political pragmatist seems to have something of a fondness for Buddhism—at least compared to his predecessors. When the Dalai Lama was a young man, he spent months in Beijing studying Chinese and Marxism. At the end of his studies, His Holiness presented a watch to one of the Chinese officials he’d spent time with— Xi Zhongxun, father of the current leader— ➢ page 81 Tibet: The Dire Numbers 1,894: Tibetan political prisoners detained on or after March 10, 2008, the beginning of the protests that swept across the Tibetan plateau. 43% are Buddhist monastics. 156: Self-immolations by Tibetans inside Tibet or in exile since 2008. 98: Tibetans who have been sentenced to prison terms or death, tortured, disappeared, or otherwise persecuted because they have allegedly helped others to self-immolate. 50%: Increase in the Han Chinese population of Lhasa from 2000 to 2010. $4.26 billion: Value of Tibet’s tourism industry in 2015, nearly triple the amount in 2010. The annual number of Chinese tourists exceeds the official population of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. 1,300: “Living Buddhas” in the Communist Party database set up following Beijing’s decree that reincarnate lamas must be approved by the Chinese government. 21,000: Number of Chinese officials, plus thousands of additional police, transferred to villages and monasteries in the last three years in order to solidify control over rural areas. 7%: Annual shrinkage of glaciers on the Tibetan plateau, which because of economic development is heating up at three times the global rate. PHOTOABOVERIGHTBY:REUTERS/KYODO(CHINA) LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 73