On Sunday, Tibetan refugees are voting to elect the leadership of their government. The final phase of the election, to be held on April 11 in Dharamshala and other cities around the world will elect the next Sikyong (President). The final two candidates with the slogan of ‘Independent Tibet’ are in the contest.
The government of Tibetan exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), has meanwhile been waging anti-China activities in favor of an independent Tibet. This year, Lobsang Sangay has completed his second term. Meanwhile, the US has implemented the Tibet Policy and Support Act (TPSA) in line with its strategy of encompassing China. The United States is helping the Tibetan community through an act issued by the United States amid opposition from China.
As of December 22, 2020, more than 80,000 voters around the world have registered to vote. Of these, more than 55,000 are in India alone. Big pooling is going to be held in Dharamshala ; the capital of the CTA. Forty-five members will be elected for the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE).
Disputes are growing among the Tibetan community over the election of a new Sikyong. Initially, eight candidates appeared in the election race, but in the final competition, two have been selected. Candidates have been campaigning on social media.
Penpa Tsering and Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang are currently vying for the post of head of Tibet’s exiled government. Tsering was also contesting in 2016. He is a former envoy of the Dalai Lama to Washington DC. Dorsi is also the Dalai Lama’s representative for North America. Former Deputy Speaker Dolma Giari has dropped out of the competition. Although she has served as home minister in Tibet’s government-in-exile, it is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
On the other hand, discussions have started among the Tibetan community regarding Dolma’s exit. In Dolma, two men have even started analyzing the politics of Khampa.
Those contesting the election have given slogans of unity, education, and patriotism. On the other hand, the current heads of government have been accused of failing to facilitate dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Communist Party.
Mounting American Persuade
The United States has been attacking China over Tibet. In this case, he is expanding his influence. Diplomatic tensions between China and the United States escalated as the world struggled against COVID-19. At the root of the controversy was the US’s Tibet Policy and Support Act (TPSA). The controversy escalated when the US Congress passed a bill. American policy on Tibet and reaffirmed the US’s support for the Dalai Lama and the CTA.
This Act will result in economic and visa sanctions on any of the Chinese officials who interfere with the succession of the Dalai Lama. Not only that, but the Act will also require Beijing to allow the opening of a US consulate in Lhasa before any new Chinese consulate can be opened in the US. The TPSA passed by the both house of Congress of the US as an amendment to the $1.4 trillion government spending bill and the $900 billion Covid-19 relief package.
The Act sets aside, $1 million per annum for the Special US Coordinator on Tibet. $675,000 for scholarship programs, $575,000 for scholarly exchanges, $ 8 million for China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, $6 million for Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal, $ 3.4 million for Voice of America and Radio Free Asia reporting on Tibet, and $3 million for Tibetan exiles have been allocated for the government.
Tibet has been a major weapon against the United States in attacking China. Claiming to be the new head of government, Dorjee announced in his election manifesto that he would take the Tibetan independence struggle to the next level. He pledged to expand the capacity of offices in Delhi, Washington DC and Brussels, and Taipei. He also pledged to advance the Tibetan freedom struggle strategically by enhancing coordination with the central government of India.
‘Let’s move forward together for one nation, one people, one struggle; “Let’s use collective energy and resources for great thinking, invention and Tibetan independence, rights and dignity,” he said. Both candidates have ties to the United States. Thus, the US influence on the Tibetan community in the region is likely to increase.
This seems to have an impact on Nepal, which has adopted a ‘one-China policy. The strategy of digitizing the activities related to independent Tibet seems to have an impact on Nepal as well.
The US always has argued against Nepal on the issue of Tibetan issue. The US Secretary of the State 2019, asked the Nepal government to honor the principle of “non-refoulment”, a cornerstone of international refugee law whereby asylum seekers or refugees can’t be forced to return to a country where they can be subjected to persecution.
In his note to the PM, Secretary Pompeo made a special mention regarding Tibetan refugees in Nepal and highlighted Nepal’s reassurance to protect the rights of Tibetans in Nepal, particularly the principle of non-refoulment.
Nepal is firmly committed to the One China policy and is also committed not to allow its soil to be used for any inimical activities against China. CTA announcing free Tibet will impact on Nepal-China relations. The aggression activities by upcoming CTA leadership; will have a certain influence on communities settling in Nepal. Winch will certainly impact Nepal’s policy. It is and need to be a great concern to both of the nation.