Tibetan PM elect asks India to include Tibet as "core issue" with China

'Passing the baton' - Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche (front) is seen here leading his successor Lobsang Sangay, the next Tibetan PM, as they arrive for the second Tibetan General Body Meeting, May 21, 2011

Dharamsala, May 23 – The Tibetan Prime Minister elect Lobsang Sangay has appealed the Indian government to make Tibet “a core issue” in its dealings with China which he warned has India encircled by its interests in South Asia. 

In a televised interview to a leading Indian national news channel, the Harvard educated scholar said, "I just want to remind or highlight these facts, let the Indian leaders decide for themselves what to do."

Sangay, who is yet to take the oath of office, said China has already started issuing statements against him. An article in People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist regime, likened him to a terrorist for once serving as an executive member in the pro-independence group the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) even before the poll results were declared. 

He said such attacks were “not helpful in creating a conducive atmosphere for peaceful dialogue" that the Tibetan government in exile has been trying to engage China in through nine round of talks since 2001. 

Sangay vowed to abide by the existing policy of the Tibetan government in exile of seeking a meaningful autonomy for Tibet within the Chinese constitution, a position shared by the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and approved by the Tibetan parliament in exile. "I, as the elected head of the administration, must fulfil that policy," Sangay said. 

Sangay is currently in Dharamsala where 418 Tibetans from various parts of the world are deliberating on amendments to the Tibetan Charter concerning the power of the Dalai Lama who in March announced his decision of devolve his powers to an elected leader and directed the Tibetan parliament to amend the Charter. China, however, has said that the Tibetan leader’s decision is an attempt to mislead the world’s opinion and that it will not effect its position on Tibet. 

Relations between China and India, which has been a home for more than 100,000 Tibetans for over fifty years, has become tense in the recent years following China’s intrusions into India’s long border with it and issuing stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir which it considers a “disputed” territory. 

Sangay succeeds former academician Samdhong Rinpoche whose second term in office as the first directly elected Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile ends in August. 

Sangay will be the first Tibetan Prime Minister born outside of Tibet. He studied at the Central School for Tibetans, Darjeeling, near his home town, a small village on the outskirts of Darjeeling. He went to the Delhi University for his college and later studied law at Harvard on a scholarship for Tibetan refugee students from the US State Department. 

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