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Head of Tibetan government-in-exile admires Taiwan’s democracy

Tokyo, (CNA):  The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile expressed his admiration Tuesday for Taiwan’s democracy.

However, Lobsang Sangay, who arrived in Tokyo March 31 for a visit, said at a press conference that he is not sure whether a democratic Taiwan can serve as a catalyst for China to also implement a democratic and free political system.

Citing the example of Hong Kong, Sangay said many people had expected that the former British colony would be able to influence China in terms of what he described as “its free system.”

“But it turned out to be just the contrary, with China exercising far-reaching influence over Hong Kong as evidenced by the just- concluded election of the chief executive of Hong Kong,” he said.

“Therefore it’s hard to say at the moment which one — Taiwan or China — will have more effect on the other.”

Sangay said he would be happy to visit Taiwan and meet any figures there if such a visit were permitted by the Taiwanese authorities, although he said such a visit is unlikely because it would definitely be blocked by China.

On the idea of “one country, two areas” floated recently by ruling Kuomintang Honorary Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung with regard to cross-Taiwan Strait relations, he said this should be determined by the people of Taiwan.

Asked about reports of recent self-immolations by Tibetan monks in Tibet, Sangay said he initially considered them to be a way for the Tibetan monks to express the “hopelessness” of their futures, so he visited Europe and the United States since assuming his post last August to urge the international community to help the Tibetans.

“But I finally came to understand that the immolations were strong messages beamed out by the Tibetans about their sufferings and bitterness under the iron-hand suppression of China, as well as their desire for their spiritual leader — the Dalai Lama — to return to Tibet,” he went on.

If Beijing were to discontinue its oppressive rule of Tibet, then no more immolations would take place, Sangay said.

He said Beijing should take responsibility to communicate with the Tibetan government-in-exile and stop demonizing the Dalai Lama.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed “strong anger” April 1 over the Japanese government’s decision to allow Sangay to visit and asked Tokyo to withhold any assistance to the Tibetan “separatists” for the sake of good China-Japan relations.

Sangay, born in 1968 in Darjeeling, northern India, is a Tibetan refugee, legal scholar and political activist. He was elected as the Kalon Tripa (equivalent to prime minister) of the Tibetan government-in-exile 26 April, 2011.

(By Yang Ming-chu & Bear Lee)

Published Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 | 06:27 PM

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