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Western Perspectives on the Tibetan Issue and Nepal's One-China Policy

By       Message Mohan Nepali     Permalink
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Can anybody give me a piece of evidence that the U.S. administration, including the EU members, have ever declared their official stance that Tibet must be an independent nation? Why don't they explicitly put their position forward for the world community to assess? Why don't America and Europe allow Tibetans to protest against China from within their nations? What is obvious in this context is the fact that the norms and values of international relations and friendship bind nations to the essential criterion of respecting mutual sovereignty. Perhaps this spirit of international relations is working, as far as the Tibetan issue, also linked to Nepal's existence, is concerned.

Jon Krakauer's write-up in the blog of the New Yorker published on December 28, 2011 did not surprise me very much because this is the general perspective I have quite often found among the Americans and the Europeans on the Tibetan issue. Although I am not an expert on Tibetan issues, I can still state something as an ordinary Nepali citizen that what Tibetan activists say from Europe, America and India is their political issue and needs to be settled politically on the basis of universal principles of democracy and human rights.

While the UN General Assembly, the U.S. administration, the EU, India and other global and regional powers have not officially approved of any resolution on the Dalai Lama-led Tibetan independence movement, how can a loan-and-grant-dependent nation like Nepal declare itself as a field for Tibetans to organize and conduct their activities openly against a neighbor? Should Nepal allow Tibetans to run their pro-independence movement from the land of Nepal, it will be entirely against its declared foreign policy based on the five principles of coexistence. The Nepalis so far have not demonstrated their double standard policy regarding Tibetan issues. Westerners are right to emphasize that Tibetan refugees' human rights be respected in Nepal. But they need to understand the basic truth that the majority of Tibetan refugees, well-settled in Nepal, live and work with the Nepalis like brothers and sisters. Tibetan refugees in Nepal have an excellent understanding and warmth with the Nepalis. This is an open truth for Westerners who know Nepal better. However, handling Tibetan protests in the streets of Kathmandu has become an issue because the police and the Tibetan protesters scuffle there.

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Nepal, geopolitically far too sensitive because of its location between India and China, faces pressures not only from America and Europe via India but also from China. The global mass media has played an agenda-setting role in internationalizing the issue of Tibetan human rights. Many human rights NGOs have a job to advocate for such causes. Westerners have their liberal perspectives, while separatism may not be their headache. But Nepal, pinned to its age-old One-China Policy, does have certain headaches. Nepal itself faces threats against its sovereignty, especially from dominant external lackeys and domestic separatists who own no political and human rights philosophy but have a criminal mindset given to wilder exercises in the name of politics. The public conscience involved in having the "save Nepal" type of foreign policy is less likely to facilitate a playground for Western free Tibet campaigners.

Several Tibetan refugees, flying to the U.S. via Nepal, claim that they bought Nepali citizenship certificates for 5,000 or 10,000 Nepali rupees. This is a matter of constant investigation and follow-up. The Tibetan refugees, officially registered in Nepal, have rarely been found involved in protests. Officially, registered Tibetan refugees -- although it's natural for them to have sympathy with Tibetan plights -- have rarely become foreigners in Nepal. They run hotels, guest houses, restaurants, carpet industries and showrooms in Kathmandu. This status of Tibetans in Nepal shows that they have adopted the Nepali society as their living environment of which they have become important components. How, then, can the independence movement led by the Dalai Lama be a reason to disrupt the age-old sound relationship between the Tibetan community and the Nepalis or between Nepal and China? My major point here is that the U.S. administration, European regimes and India can have a dialogue directly with China on the Tibetan issue rather than use Nepal, which is extremely vulnerable in itself.

Regarding human rights violations, anybody anywhere can raise a voice for the victims. The Nepalis can criticize the human rights violations in America and Europe while the Americans and the Europeans, too, can condemn the human rights violations in Nepal. As far as Tibetans' independence is concerned, it is not Nepal who decides it. It is not even any other country that decides it. The best that the forces other than Tibetan themselves can do is create pressures for China's commitment to human rights. Any independence movement, less clear in its ideology and democratic modalities but more dependent on foreign input, money and media, is less predictable in terms of its goals and achievements.
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Mass Communication and Journalism Lecturer, Kathmandu

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