The Dalai Tree and its Scattered Monkeys

Beijing-based China Tibet News (中国西藏网), known as the “China Tibet Information Center Net” until July 2010, explained in an article of April 1 why it views the Dalai Lama‘s (referred to as “Dalai”) retirement as a farce (literally: a noisy or rampant opera, 闹剧)*).

The second Tibetan national general meeting would be held at Dharamshala from May 21 to 23 to deliberate on Dalai Lama’s formal proposal to retire from political duties, the Times of India reported, also on April 1. The 14th Tibetan parliament would then have to approve amendments to the Tibetan Charter, i. e. the Tibetan-in-exiles’ constitution.

[Main link:; links within blockquotes inserted during translation – JR]

“The issue of the Dalai’s ‘retirement’ immediately became the focus of the small clique’s and Western supporters’ speculation”, writes China Tibet News. On March 18, the “illegal” (伪, wěi) parliament had requested that the Dalai should remain the supreme political leader, but had changed its tone immediately after the Dalai had made up his mind to resign, and announced a working group that would implement the Dalai Lama’s wishes. The working group then suggested that with separate powers, the cabinet (i. e. the government in exile), the parliament and the supreme court (all three cited within quotation marks) should exercise the Dalai Lama’s powers, but that on major issues, the Dalai Lama should guide the government in exile.

That proposal wasn’t adopted either, according to the article; as some illegal parliament members considered it “absolutely contrary to the wishes of the people within and outside Tibet”, and others opposed the prime minister’s government-in-exile’s monopoly to power, which led to speculation by American media that in the end, the Dalai Lama might stay in power after all, “obeying to public opinion”. It was just an ostensible fuss (煞有介事), reasons China Tibet News.

The article then reiterates the position that the Dalai Lama could be no mere “respected religious leader” – i. e.  no normal religious figure -, as “the American and some Western countries’ governments who frequently meet with the Dalai cite as a high-sounding reason.”

The question arises: can there be any “political” or “administrative duties” for  a simple religious person, a Lama, to be transferred to other bodies? (现在问题来了:一个单纯的宗教人士,一个喇嘛,会有什么“政治或行政工作”需要交接?)


Not to mention that for decades, the Dalai’s separatist and violently terrorist behavior has highlighted his status as a political person living in exile, who has political power, more than all other political leaders of the world, in accordance with a charter who he himself formulated and signed. (且不说达赖几十年来分裂主义和暴力恐怖主义行为早就清楚标明他的政治流亡者身份,由其亲手制定、签署的“西藏流亡藏人宪章”所规定达赖所享有的政治权力,更远远超过当今世界所有政治领导人。)

The article refers to the Charter established in 1991, quotes from the its article 3, and suggests that its content prescribes that based on Tibet’s good tradition of a combination of politics and religion, future Tibet would be a country of combined politics and religion (基于“西藏特殊的政教合一之良好传统”,未来西藏是一个“政教结合的国家”), and from its article 19 that the highest political authority belonged to the Dalai (政府最高权力属于达赖所有).

The way the China Tibet News article quotes from the Charter’s article 1 does not correspond with an English version of the 1991 Charter as published at Tibet Justice Center. The uniqueness of Tibetan culture is stated in its preface, saying that

in order that the Tibetan people in exile be able to preserve their ancient traditions of spiritual and temporal life, unique to the Tibetans, based on the principles of peace and non-violence, aimed at providing political, social and economic rights as well as the attainment of justice and equality for all Tibetan people.

The Charter in its own words (English version as linked above) was, however, assented to by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (article 1), and article 19 states that

The executive power of the Tibetan Administration shall be vested in His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and shall be exercised by Him, either directly or through officers subordinate to Him, in accordance with the provisions of this Charter.

The China Tibet News article also highlights the Dalai Lama’s deciding role in appointing and removing government cabinets, according to article 29, in the appointment of the central election commission – article 97, the public service commission – articles 100 and 101, and the composition of the audit commission – article 107.

At this point, the China Tibet News article takes a short digression from the identity issue (Dalai Lama’s religious and/or political role) to the issue of democracy, and concludes from the quoted articles that the Dalai Clique‘s role is that of an unadulterated politico-religious totalitarian tyranny (极权专制), headed by the Dalai as its overall leader. The small clique continued its old Tibetan practices of feudal serfdom (从旧西藏封建农奴制). Statements by Tibetan-government-in-exile politicians and the Dalai Lama’s special envoy in Washington were suggesting that his retirement would have no changing impact on the leadership, and that there was no need to need to start to start writing black characters on white paper (白纸黑字, apparently suggesting that there was no dramatic, sad news).

China Tibet News then quotes Western media and scholars (but without naming any):

Western media and scholars generally believe that the Dalai “retires without retiring” (“退而不休”), they “don’t rule out that the Dalai Lama will continue to influence politics and the direction of the overseas Tibetans from behind the bamboo blinds”. “If the Dalai Lama says something, his leadership will still be absolute.” From this, we can see that the notion of the Dalai Lama as a “religious leader” is just an excuse for Western politicians who want to counter China’s opposition against their meetings with the Dalai, in which the Dalai Clique and its Western supporters themselves never believed.

China Tibet News explains the Dalai Lama’s retirement as an attempt to handle contradictions (矛盾). As early as in in 1991, corruption and conflicts had arisen within the clique, the entire illegal cabinet had had to resign after acts of violence, and the illegal parliament had been desolved. Back then, the Dalai Lama had semi-retired, and left the daily business of government to the prime minister, but reserved major decisions to himself.

After his schemes to spread chaos in Tibet and to damage the Olympic Games had dismally failed in 2008 (2008年,达赖在搞乱西藏、破坏北京奥运会图谋遭到惨败后)**), the clique‘s infighting had once again intensified, which led to another announcement of semi-retirement by the Dalai Lama, and  his preparedness to retire completely.

The article comes back to calls on the Dalai Lama it had quoted earlier, which urged him not to retire. However, it also includes considerations about the Dalai Lama’s advanced age as factors in his announcement to retire. His future role could be to help the Tibetan separatist elements to stabilize their position, so as to avoid a situation where the monkeys scatter once the tree is falling (树倒猢狲散, shù dǎo húsūn sàn). An additional benefit would be that in the future, thanks to his “retired” status, the Dalai can avoid responsibility for violent incidents [such as 3-14, 2008], will not be liable, and the separatist extremists can play it big. China Tibet News quotes Duowei News (多维新闻):

The danger that the Tibet issue becomes terrorist is real. But given the Chinese government’s abilities and its position to speak in global affairs, this kind of change will only isolate Dharamsala’s political power further, and will put the American government and some other Western governments in a position of even less moral persuasion power. It can’t necessarily be believed that the Dalai Lama can keep out.

The danger of isolating itself even from Western governments in case of more radical forces gaining clout would keep the Dalai Lama within politics, China Tibet News suggests. The article ends with an biting reference to the Son of India and his thoughts about his remaining lifespan.



*) The article, originally published by China Tibet News on April 1, has since been republished by many more general websites whose coverage goes beyond Tibet issues, such as Enorth (Tianjin), but also for Uyghur or Hui readers such as China Muslim Youth Net (中国穆斯林青年网).

**) Chinese news articles sometimes attribute the 2008 uprising directly to the Dalai Lama, and on the Dalai Clique on other occasions. In the China Tibet News article, it is directly attributed to the Dalai Lama – an interpretation neither former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt (considered a friend of the Chinese people by the Chinese embassy in Berlin) nor sinologist Oskar Weggel agree with.



Melodious Plateau, Kristiana Henderson, March 19, 2011
The Dalai under the Bamboo Hedge, February 11, 2011
Quote: “Serf Emancipation Day”, March 28, 2009
NPC Tibetan Delegates, visit to U.S., March 20, 2009


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