You are here

Xinhua News Agency, "On the 'Memorandum' of the Dalai clique," November 21, 2008

This is a detailed response to the memorandum released by the Dalai Lama's representatives on November 16, 2008.
November 21, 2008

For other articles and documents on Tibet, click here.

This was published by the Xinhua News Agency on November 21, 2008. The original text is available at:

An English translation of the memorandum is available at:

By Yiduo

BEIJING, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- At a press conference of the State Council Information Office on Nov. 10, Zhu Weiqun, executive vice director of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, UFWD Vice Director Sita and Executive Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region Government Pelma Trilek briefed media on their talks with private representatives of the Dalai Lama from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5.

Zhu said the Dalai Lama's private representatives presented the central government a "Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People", which has drawn wide attention. On November 16, the Dalai side held a press conference in India. They distributed the "Memorandum," and claimed that it was completely in accordance with relevant clauses of China's Constitution and law and it could meet Tibetan people's demands of special interests, if it was implemented substantially.

After a careful reading of the "Memorandum" and checking it against relevant Chinese laws, I found that contradictions with China's Constitution and laws were everywhere in the "Memorandum."

Denial of China's regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities

The "Memorandum" suggests, "The exercise of genuine autonomy would include the right of Tibetans to create their own regional government and government institutions and processes that are best suited to their needs and system compatible to their own requirements and characteristics. It would require that the People's Congress of the autonomous region have the power to legislate on all matters within the competencies of the region."

The so-called local "matters" listed by the "Memorandum" are 11 issues such as language, culture, religion, education, environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, economic development and trade, public health, public security, administrative regulations on migrants, and exchanges with foreign countries. It also says that the central and local governments should set up a way to jointly solve issues of common concern and common interest and neither the central government nor the autonomous region could change the basic clauses of regional autonomy without the consent of the other side.

To say it straight, it is what the Dalai Lama has repeatedly emphasized in recent years, "Except for foreign affairs and defense, all other issues should be given charge and full authority to Tibetans," and Tibet should follow the method of "One Country, Two Systems" and adopt "genuine autonomy, " and its "autonomous right" should be broader than that applied to Hong Kong and Macao.

China is a unitary nation, unlike some nations that are federal states or confederations. Article 3 of the Chinese Constitution says, "The division of functions and powers between the central and local State organs is guided by the principle of giving full scope to the initiative and enthusiasm of the local authorities under the unified leadership of the central authorities."

Article 15 of the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy says, "The people's governments of all national autonomous areas shall be administrative organs of the State under the unified leadership of the State Council and shall be subordinate to it." There are no such problems as equal "negotiations" between the central and the local governments, seeking for mutual "consent" from one another, and establishing a "way to jointly resolving (problems). "

China has established a regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities, which is cordially supported by people of all ethnic groups. The legislative framework of the Chinese regional ethnic autonomy has been well established and the legal system is being improved constantly. To date, government departments concerned have issued 22 supplementary documents, while the whole country has stipulated 134 provisions on autonomy, 429 separate provisions, and 74 supplementary regulations for the Law on Marriage and the Law on Election.

Since the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, people of different ethnic groups have actively participated in the management of the national and regional affairs, by fully practicing their autonomous rights endowed by the Constitution and law.

Of the deputies of all the previous regional people's congresses, those from Tibetan and other ethnic groups have always accounted for 80 percent or more, while all the chairmen of the regional people's congresses and regional people's governments have been Tibetans. The regional people's congress and its standing committee have stipulated 253 local laws, regulations and separate provisions, involving politics, the economy, culture, and education.

The regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities is the basic policy for the country on ethnic issues, and it is a fundamental political system for the country. Both the Constitution and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy have defined clearly the right of autonomy of all the autonomous regions.

Unlike Hong Kong and Macao, Tibet does not have the problem of restoring the sovereignty and practicing a different social system, and thus it can not copy the models of "One Country, Two Systems," "Hong Kong People Govern Hong Kong," "Macao People Govern Macao," and "A High Degree of Autonomy." By proposing the so-called "Genuine Autonomy" in the name of the Chinese Constitution, the Dalai Lama in fact attempted to deny China's regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities and the unified leadership of the central authorities, and set up another system according to their "political design."

Demand for an independent, uncontrolled "right of legislation"

The "Memorandum" says, "Thus, whereas the Constitution intends to recognize the special need for autonomous regions to legislate on many matters that affect them, the requirements of Article 116 for prior approval at the highest level of the Central Government -- by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) -- inhibit the implementation of this principle of autonomy." "The exercise of autonomy is further subject to a considerable number of laws and regulations, according to Article 115 of the Constitution.... The result is that the exact scope of the autonomy is unclear and is not fixed."

It seems that the Dalai Lama side demands not only the "power to legislate on all matters within the competencies of the region" but the "legislative power" independent from the central authorities. Article 57 of the Constitution says that the NPC is the highest organ of state power, and Article 58 says that the NPC and the NPC Standing Committee exercise national legislative power.

The Constitution is the fundamental and supreme law for a nation, and all laws and regulations, including autonomous regulations of ethnic autonomous regions and separate provisions of ethnic autonomous regions must not be contradictory to the Constitution. Meanwhile, regulations and separate provisions of ethnic autonomous regions often involve adaptations of state laws. It is reasonable that the Constitution demands for prior approval by the NPC Standing Committee before the regulations become effective. The procedure will not undermine the decision-making right of autonomous regions. Instead, it grants the right with a higher level of legislative protection. The "Memorandum" denies the supreme power of the NPC Standing Committee and demands for legislative power that is equivalent to the state level. Is it compatible with the Chinese Constitution?

Seeking for a "Greater Tibet" Without any Historic, Realistic and Legal Basis

The "Memorandum" suggests, "The entire community, comprising all the areas currently designated by the PRC as Tibetan autonomous areas, should be under one single administrative entity. The current administrative divisions, by which Tibetan communities are ruled and administered under different provinces and regions of the PRC, foments fragmentation, promotes unequal development, and weakens the ability of the Tibetan nationality to protect and promote its common cultural, spiritual and ethnic identity."

It is known to all that the administrative divisions of Tibet and other areas inhabited by Tibetans have been formed since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and the former local government of Tibet has never governed any other Tibetan areas outside Tibet. In history, Tibetan people had lived in different administrative regions, and they had formed close ties with other ethnic groups living in the areas and formed regional cultures of different characteristics.

The PRC, since its founding in 1949, has established the Tibet Autonomous Region, 10 other Tibetan autonomous prefectures and autonomous prefectures for both Tibetans and other ethnic groups, and two Tibetan autonomous counties. All the Tibetan autonomous areas have adopted the regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities.

Article 14 of the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy says, "Once an ethnic autonomous area is established, it shall not be abolished or merged without legislative process. Once the boundary of an ethnic autonomous area is confirmed, it shall not be changed. If it is really necessary to abolish, merge or change it, it must be done through sufficient consultation between the relevant departments of the higher state organs and the autonomous organ of the ethnic autonomous region and applied for approval according to legal process."

In this case, why has the Dalai side tried to create a "Greater Tibet" that did not exist in history and has no realistic basis?

In the autobiography of the Dalai Lama, one sentence exposes the "top secret." The Dalai Lama says that since the 1950s he has been pondering on how to win independence for "Greater Tibet. "

There is a map of the "Tibetan State" he has imagined on the head page of his autobiography. In the hall of the so-called "Tibetan Government in Exile" in India's small town of Dharamsala, hung their dreamed-of "Map of the Tibetan State," which takes up about one quarter of China's territory. Apparently, the so-called "Greater Tibet" is a key component of the advocacy of the Dalai side to separate the nation, and its essence is "Tibetan independence."
Trying to create isolation among ethnic groups

The memorandum says, "To us it would be vital that the autonomous organs of self-government have the authority to regulate the residence, settlement and employment or economic activities of persons who wish to move to Tibetan areas from other parts of the PRC (People's Republic of China) in order to ensure respect for and the realization of the objectives of the principle of autonomy."

In a sovereign nation, citizens of different ethnic groups are free to choose where to live. This is the basic human rights. It is normal that people of Han nationality and other ethnic groups visit Tibet and Tibetan people do business, receive education and find jobs in other parts of China. This is conducive to exchanges among ethnic groups and common progress.

China's system of regional autonomy of ethnic minorities is based on the history, relations among ethnic groups, and local economic and social conditions. It is not purely the autonomy of a single ethnic group nor a single region.

Since the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded, the population of Tibetan people and other ethnic minorities have always at least accounted for 95 percent of the total. The "large-scale migration to Tibet, initiated by the Chinese government", as claimed by the Dalai Lama and some foreigners, has never happened.

China's then leader Deng Xiaoping told then U.S. President Jimmy Carter in a meeting in 1987, "As a region with a small population, Tibet is too large to be developed only through the efforts of 2 million Tibetan people. It is not a bad thing for some Han people to help them. If you simply judge China's policy on ethnic minorities and the Tibet issue by the population of Han people in Tibet, you will not come to a right conclusion. The key issue is how to benefit Tibetan people, to make the regional development fast and to put Tibet in a leading position in China's drive to realize Four Modernizations (modernization in agriculture, industry, technology and defense)."

The Dalai side intends to create a scenario of pure Tibetan autonomy while restricting exchanges and bonds among different ethnic groups, which actually provokes conflicts and creates isolation among ethnic groups. Anyone who has lived in the 20th Century would know the consequences of such a policy.

Trying to stop promotion and use of Putonghua

The memorandum says, "Tibetan must be respected as the main spoken and written language. Similarly, the principal language of the Tibetan autonomous areas needs to be Tibetan."

The fourth article of China's Constitution is, "The people of all nationalities have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages." The Tibet Autonomous Region also issued a regulation on learning, using and developing the Tibetan language.

In addition, the 19th article of the Constitution is, "The state promotes the nationwide use of Putonghua (standard Chinese)." The law on regional autonomy of ethnic minorities says in its 49th article, "In autonomous regions of ethnic minorities, authorities shall educate and encourage officials to learn languages of different ethnic groups. Officials of Han nationality shall learn languages of local ethnic minorities. Officials of ethnic minorities shall learn to speak and write commonly-used Putonghua while learning and using their own languages."

Based on these laws, all decisions, regulations, circulars and other documents of the People's Congress (local legislature) and governments of all levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region are written in both Chinese and Tibetan languages. So are official seals, certification papers, letterheads, logos and traffic signs. This has greatly improved the capability of Tibetans and other ethnic groups to learn from each other and communicate.

The memorandum talks a lot about the Tibetan language, but does not mention a word about the promotion and use of Putonghua. This actually echoes the so-called "extinction of Tibetan culture," which has been repeatedly elaborated by the Dalai Lama in recent years, as well as his accusations that the Chinese government is restricting the use of Tibetan. It intends to create a false impression that no one but they care about the fate of Tibetan culture and language. Strongly opposing government's management of religious affairs in line with laws

The memorandum says, "Religion is fundamental to Tibetans;" "The freedom covers the right of monasteries to be organized and run according to Buddhist monastic tradition, to engage in teachings and studies, and to enroll any number of monks and nuns or age group in accordance with these rules. The normal practice to hold public teachings and the empowerment of large gatherings is covered by this freedom;" "The state should not interfere in religious practice and traditions, such as the relationship between a teacher and his disciple, management of monastic institutions, and the recognition of reincarnations."

Religion not only is ideology, but also involves social activities and institutions. It definitely involves public and state interests. Any country may manage religious affairs in line with laws as no religion enjoys a privilege higher than the Constitution and laws.

The 36th article in the Constitution is, "Citizens of the PRC enjoy freedom of religious belief.... The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state." The 46th article also says, "Citizens of the PRC have the duty as well as the right to receive education." A regulation on religious affairs, issued by the State Council, says in its third article that religious organizations, religious practice and believers should abide by the Constitution, laws, regulations and rules.

Despite clear laws and regulations, the Dalai Lama insists that the religion is supreme. This is not surprising because before his exile, the Dalai Lama was in fact the chief of the feudal slavery system by which the old theocratic Tibet was governed. Even now he is the "political and religious leader" of his group-in-exile. So it is not surprising that he still dreams of restoring such a "wonderful system."

Completely ignoring fact that Tibet is always part of China

The memorandum has said nothing about the ownership of the sovereignty of Tibet and completely ignored the fact that Tibet has been part of China since ancient times. Tibet has always been an inalienable part of Chinese territory. Since the central authorities formally administered Tibet in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 A.D.), China has exercised unquestionable sovereignty over Tibet. The fact that Tibet is part of China has been widely recognized in the world.

This issue cannot be ignored because it is fundamental to the improvement of the relationship between the Dalai Lama and the central government.

In its preamble, the Constitution says, "The PRC is a unitary multi-national state built jointly by the people of all its nationalities." The fourth article is, "All the national autonomous areas are inalienable parts of the PRC."

But even today, the Dalai Lama side repeatedly claims that Tibet was an "independent country" before the People's Liberation Army entered Tibet in 1949 and that Tibet is "an occupied nation under colonial rule."

If Tibet was a colony of China and an "occupied" nation, as he claimed, it would enjoy sovereignty of its own and the right to gain independence in the future, according to international law. This would in fact deny China's sovereignty over Tibet and violate the principle set by the Constitution and law on regional autonomy of ethnic minorities that the autonomous areas are inalienable.

Provided that the memorandum ignores this fundamental issue, the Dalai side actually presages future movements to openly claim "Tibet independence." Claiming "Tibet government-in-exile" as representative of Tibetan people

The "memorandum" says, "The objective of the Tibetan Government in Exile is to represent the interests of the Tibetan people and to speak on their behalf," and that after an agreement was reached on relevant issues, the "exile government" would be dissolved and the Dalai Lama would not assume any political post in the future.

However, Tibet was peacefully liberated in 1951 and with the democratic reform in 1959, the feudal serfdom under theocracy was overturned and the people's democratic government was established and more than 1 million serfs were emancipated. In 1965, the regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities was exercised, and people of various ethnic groups became the masters of their own affairs.

Therefore, it is the central government and the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Government, elected by the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region, that can represent the Tibetan people.

The so-called "Tibet government-in-exile" was created by the upper class of the serf owners who launched a failed armed rebellion in 1959, and then fled China. It is totally illegal and has been recognized by no country in the world.

The Dalai Lama side described the illegal "government-in-exile" as the representative of the Tibetan people, and told the international community that their contacts and talks with the central government was the "Tibet-China negotiation" and "Han Nationality-Tibetan Dialogue" on so-called issues of "Tibet's political status" and "high degree of autonomy." They attempt to confuse the nature of the contacts and talks and mislead the public, and it served them right to be solemnly denounced by the central government.

To sum up, the "Memorandum," from its title to content, is still about the "Greater Tibetan-inhabited Area" and "high degree of autonomy." It becomes more deceiving as it is disguised in legal terms and claims to be "in accordance with China's Constitution and laws."

Its attempt is to set up a "half independent" or "covertly independent" political entity controlled by the Dalai clique on soil that occupies one quarter of the Chinese territory, and when conditions are ripe, they will seek to realize "total Tibet independence."

As early as the 1980s when central government leaders like Xi Zhongxun, Ulanhu and Yang Jingren were meeting with visiting groups sent by the Dalai Lama, they made it clear that neither "Tibet as a country" nor "high degree of autonomy" would be tolerated, and that the "Greater Tibetan-inhabited Area" was absolutely out of the question.

Nearly 30 years have passed, and the Dalai Lama side still insists on issues of "Greater Tibetan-inhabited Area" and "high degree of autonomy." They never truly relinquish their stance on splitting the homeland, which is the fundamental reason why their contacts and talks with the central government have never made substantial progress for so many years.

What Zhu Weiqun said at the press conference made it clear about the nature and objective of the contacts and talks.

He said, "We only accept Mr. Lodi Gyari and his party talking with us as the private representatives of the Dalai Lama, and the topics can only be the Dalai Lama completely giving up separatist propositions and activities and his seeking forgiveness from the central government and all Chinese people for his own future. We will never discuss with them anything like the 'Tibet issue'. To help the Dalai Lama better understand the central government's attitude and realize his own mistakes, we will listen to their explanations, and the objective is still to check if he has given up his separatism and is trying to get close to the central government."

We can see that the central government's policy toward the Dalai Lama has been consistent and clear, and it has been treating him with the utmost decency and kindness and trying to give him a way out.

Although the Dalai Lama ran away in 1959, his position as the vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress was retained for him until 1964. Ever since 1979, relevant departments have organized dozens of visits to China for his private representatives and relatives to help them understand the country's development and policy.

The central government has repeatedly stated that so long as the Dalai Lama truly relinquishes his stance on "Tibet independence", stops splitting activities, openly acknowledges Tibet as an inalienable part of China, acknowledges Taiwan an inalienable part of China, and acknowledges the People's Republic of China as the only lawful government in China, we will have contacts and talks with them on his personal future.

Even after the violent criminal activities of beating, smashing, looting and burning occurred in Lhasa on March 14, and even with the fact that the Dalai clique sabotaged the Beijing Olympics, relevant departments of the central government still arranged three meetings with the Dalai Lama's private representatives, showing its sincerity.

The door of the central government for the Dalai Lama to return to the patriotic stance has always been open and will remain open in the future. However, the door for "Tibet independence," "half independence" or "covert independence" has never been open, nor will it be open in the future.

 Other articles and documents on Tibet:

Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet | Kolas, Tourism and Tibetan Culture in Transition: A Place Called Shangrila | PRC Officials Discuss Tibet Situation with USC Scholars and Students | Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy | Testimony on ‘The Crisis in Tibet: Finding a Path to Peace | Tibet: Problems, Prospects, and U.S. Policy | The Way to Resolve the Tibet Issue | President Obama Meets with the Dalai Lama | On the 'Memorandum' of the Dalai clique | Beijing-Based G-5 Chiefs of Mission on DPRK, GTMO, Uighurs, Sino-Japan Relations, Dalai Lama |