November 11, 2011 - FSI Stanford, The Europe Center In the News
Roland Benedikter's Commentary on Tibetan Autonomy Published in Time Magazine
Appeared in TIME Magazine, October 31, 2011
A shortened version of a commentary titled "Tibetan Autonomy" written by TEC Visiting Scholar Roland Benedikter was recently published in TIME Magazine, International Edition, October 31, 2011, p. 4. The full text version of this commentary on the article about Tibet's future, written by Hannah Beech, can be found below.
Hannah Beech's TIME article "Tibet's next incarnation" (October 10, 2011) on Tibet's future is written well and provides welcome visibility to an important topic for Asia's future, shadowed in the past years by other global events like the financial crisis, the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the Arab spring. But it fails to mention the practical models envisioned by the Dalai Lama and the exile government of how Tibet may arrange its further existence politically and institutionally. After the Dalai Lama's withdrawal from political leadership, eleven self-immolations by burning in protest against China in the first eleven months of 2011 and amid increasing unrest, time is starting to press for a lasting solution. The most important model clinging to "realpolitik" is to establish a regional autonomy for Tibet within the national borders of China, according to the example of the threelingual Autonomous Province of Bolzano - South Tyrol in Northern Italy (which is overseen and protected by the European Union). As early as in the 1990s the Dalai Lama personally instituted a permanent study group there consisting of some of his closest collaborators to study this model and to search for ways to apply it to Tibet. An attempt of compromise between independence and assimilation, the efforts to adapt this model to contemporary Tibet led to several proposals all rejected by the Chinese authorities who (falsly) asserted that the central part of Tibet was already an "autonomous province". In short, following the model of South Tyrol, Tibet would become a real autonomous zone with a bipolar schooling system, where Tibetians would have teir own, self-administered schools from kindergarden up to college in their mother tongue, with Chinese as a foreign language. Both Tibetians and Chinese would be represented by law in the autonomous government, and the money for cultural and educational issues would be distributed among the two ethnicities according to census percentages. The national state of China would keep the overall sovereignity, while the taxes collected within Tibet would belong exclusively to the autonomous region, which would also be entitled to contain further immigration from China. I think it is important to let people know that there are concrete and proven models of how to move the situation in Tibet forward, and that the new heads of the exile government are not dreamers, but dispose of realistic models of pacification and cooperation. It is up to China to show its good will and to put forth its hand to go on from here.