Self-immolations in Tibet and the hope for dialogue under Xi Jinping’s leadership

19 Feb

On the 13th February the BBC reported that one more Tibetan man set himself on fire as a sign of protest against the Chinese domination. This has been one of several cases when Tibetans set themselves on fire to show their strong intention to make Tibet independent from China.

The Chinese authorities claim that the Dalai Lama, instead of condemning, has been glorifying these events that have taken place since 2011 and have caused the death of about a 100 people since then. The spiritual leader of Tibet instead denies this accusation and it might even seem that the Dalai Lama is willing to compromise and fight for Tibet’s autonomy rather than its complete independence from Beijing.

The hope is that Xi Jingping will pursue a change in policy but this will certainly require more flexibility from both sides. In fact this has been a burning issue since the 1950s, when China regained control over Tibet. From a Chinese perspective this was an act of liberation from a “feudal serfdom under a theocracy”, which led to increased liberties and democracy. From a Tibetan point of view, instead, after some liberal reforms had been enforced, China went back to a repressing behaviour which is seen to have strongly undermined the Tibetan and Buddhist culture and reinforced the need to be independent.


Both sides have contrasting opinions on what the Chinese domination means and whether or not Tibet is to be considered part of China or independent. Certainly the issue is still important and Xi Jinping will have to decide if China and Tibet can make even a small step toward each other in a more diplomatic way.


One Response to “Self-immolations in Tibet and the hope for dialogue under Xi Jinping’s leadership”

  1. gcb1g12 February 21, 2013 at 12:01 am #

    Further activist have participated in the extreme political protest of self-immolation.

    The debate over Tibet continues with China trying to silence the Dali Lama using political pressure, even used in Britain, and political activists in Western China continuing to display their extreme passion for the cause of independence.

    The real question is whether China is the liberator or the oppressor? Is the removal of the Tibetan theocracy a step towards freedom or an extension of Beijing’s control? With the lack of freedom in China, political oppression and lack of media coverage, one can only assume that China is not the great liberator it claims to be and only once political freedom is achieved all around China can Beijing be seen as pursuing the interests of the Tibetan and Chinese people rather than their own.

    The only real certainty is that China will not willingly relinquish control of the historic province of China. At last November’s leadership change, the protests in Tibet were not part of the agenda or even mentioned. In addition, the lack of free internet means any online organisations for rallies or support for Tibetan independence are impossible and as the Tibetan independence movement display their unwillingness to yield, this issue may be remain contentious for the distant future.

    Sources: – New activist suicides. – Tibetan issue at leadership change. – Channel 4 documentary on the Chinese political control in Britain (mentions the Dali Lama)

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