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THE POTOMAC CONFERENCE, October 5 and 6, 1992


Organized by Tibet Forum and Center for Modern China

Funded in part by National Endowment for Democracy

  and Hosted by The Freedom Forum


October 5, Morning Session

Opening Remarks

     Chris Wells, The Freedom Forum

     Jigme Ngapo, Tibet Forum

     Rinchen Dharlo, Representative of HH the Dalai Lama

     Chen Yizi, Center for Modern China


CHRIS WELLS, Vice President, International Division

Good morning, good morning!  ....  I'm Chris Wells, International Vice 
President of Operations for The Freedom Forum and, on behalf of Al 
Newhart, the Chairman of The Freedom Forum and Charles Overby, the 
President, I'd like to welcome you this morning to the World Center of 
The Freedom Forum.  The Freedom Forum, as most of you know, is an 
independent non-political international organization dedicated to 
promoting media development around the world.  We do that with programs 
and projects that foster free press, free speech and free spirit in the 
United States and abroad.  Traditionally and historically, this 
organization has focused its initiative on programs within the US.  But 
at the beginning of this year the international division of The Freedom 
Forum was created to address the same kinds of issues outside the 
boundaries of the US.  The first region we looked at was Europe, and the 
emerging democracies in central and eastern Europe in the former Soviet 
Union.  In May, we opened our first international office in Zurich, 
Switzerland, and that office now coordinates our programs in that region 
of the world, including programs that encompass professional journalism 
training, workshops, consultancies and a variety of other projects like 
that.  Later this month our Board of Trustees will travel to Asia, as we 
begin to look at that part of the world.  And after that, next year and 
the following year, we'll look at Latin America, South America, Africa 
and the Middle East.

In order to effectively run the international division of The Freedom 
Forum, we have some excellent staffers who are experts in international 
affairs and the media, and I'd like to introduce two of the most 
important ones to you right now.  First of all, our International Program 
Director who is responsible for coordinating our European programs as 
well as the rest of our programs around the world, Lisa Ellis - in the 
back.  And, our International Coordinator who is responsible for 
administering our grants and also looking after our international 
programs here at the World Center, and who's been instrumental in the 
organization and administration of this conference, Alice Bishop.

I talked a little bit about The Freedom Forum projects outside the 
boundaries of the US but, as our name suggests, we are also committed to 
providing a forum for an open exchange of ideas here in Washington at 
this World Center.  That's why we have just completed the construction 
and development of this conference facility where we are this morning.  
This is a place where ideas and information can be exchanged in an open 
and candid way, and what could be more appropriate for this facility than 
to convene the first conference where Chinese and Tibetan leaders have 
come together by mutual agreement to discuss their views on Sino-Tibetan 

It is in this spirit of an open forum that we hope you will be both 
informed and inspired, and that you will have the opportunity to hear 
each other's views and have your views heard in return.  Over the next 
two days, while you are exploring the complex issues affecting both China 
and Tibet, you will discover new ways of addressing those issues.  And as 
you help us to inaugurate our brand new conference facility here at The 
Freedom Forum, we hope you will inaugurate a new era in Sino-Tibetan 
relations.  Now, I'd like to introduce to you one of the people 
responsible for bringing all of us here together this morning, the 
Co-Executive Director of the Tibet Forum, Mr. Jigme Ngapo.



Thank you.  It is a pleasure and an honor to have you here today at this 
conference.  As you all know, I am Jigme Ngapo, one of the organizers of 
this conference.  We have here before us two days to discuss an issue 
which is vital to all of us; that is, the future relationship between 
Tibet and China.  This conference will provide us with a unique 
opportunity to bring together Tibetan and Chinese scholars and experts to 
discuss Sino-Tibetan relations in the context of mutual respect.  This 
has never happened before in our history.  Dialogue such as this is 
essential in bringing about peace and democracy.  The history of 
Sino-Tibetan relations and the complex politics in Asia suggests that 
achieving a peaceful resolution of the  Tibetan issue and effecting a 
smooth transition is a long-term endeavor.  That is why, at this unique 
moment in world history when unprecedented movement across the world is 
taking place, we have recognized that we have an opportunity and a 
responsibility not only to engender a climate of understanding but to 
actively work in collaboration, so that the issue of Tibet can be subject 
to a sincere debate.

I would like to thank The Freedom Forum for hosting this conference, and 
thank all of you for coming to this discussion.  Now, we have two keynote 
speakers, Mr. Rinchen Dharlo and Mr. Chen Yizi.  Mr. Rinchen Dharlo is 
the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to North America.  Mr. 
Chen Yizi is the President of the Center for Modern China, based in 
Princeton.  Now Mr. Rinchen Dharlo.

[Editors' Note:  paper submitted in English.]



Thank you very much.

I.  Introduction

Friends, organizers, Chinese friends, fellow Tibetans, and distinguished 
guests.  First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt greetings to 
all of you.  Since the early 'eighties, since China's opening to the 
outside world, Chinese students have been streaming to the West for 
education.  Some have met His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his frequent 
travels abroad.  Since then, His Holiness has been urging individual 
Tibetans, as well as Chinese, to deepen contacts.  His Holiness believes 
that regardless of what relations governments have, it is important for 
individual human beings to keep in contact and to exchange ideas, so that 
a more harmonious relationship can be built.  This is because His 
Holiness believes that man-made problems can be solved through mutual 
understanding and frequent contact.

It is ironic that while we have ignored each other under the common 
oppression of the Beijing regime, we should come together to discuss our 
relations on somebody else's piece of land.  This may be ironic, but it 
is no accident.  Our meeting here in the United States - the home, as you 
would say, of the goddess of democracy - is an indication of our basic 
yearning for freedom and democracy.  And our common belief, despite the 
contrasting and different visions of our future, is that the democratic 
culture that exists in this country should take roots back home.

And it is to discuss how each of us see our future that we have gathered 
here, and I commend Tibet Forum and the Center for Modern China for this 
bold initiative.  This is a golden opportunity for us to discuss our 
common hopes and aspirations for the future, without fear or favor.

II.  Basic Issues

I would first of all like to clarify our basic stand:  the struggle of 
the Tibetan people is not a struggle against the Chinese people.  Our 
problem is with the Chinese government and not with the Chinese people, 
with whom we have lived as neighbors for centuries, and with whom will 
continue to live as neighbors.  Though we are brought together here today 
by our common democratic aspirations, we would be doing a great 
disservice to ourselves, to each other and to our future, if we focused 
only on our commonality and ignored our differences; differences which 
constitute the Tibet problem.

One of the basic differences is that we Tibetans are the victims of 
oppression by Chinese authorities.  But, in another sense, we are also 
the victims of the distortion and re-writing of our history by the 
Beijing regime.  Official Chinese historians and scholars have tempered 
their understanding of Tibet and Tibetan history to suit the needs of the 
Chinese Communist Party.  Intensive propaganda by the Party and the 
government has succeeded so far in teaching you a history that is far 
from complete and greatly falsified.  Overriding all these differences is 
the fact that Tibetans perceive themselves as being occupied by 
foreigners.  As such, we Tibetans are not only fighting for democracy and 
the right to self-determination, but fighting against an alien 

III.  Tibetan Government in Exile

The weapons we Tibetans have in our struggle for freedom and restoration 
of our human dignity are Truth and Justice, symbolized by His Holiness 
the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile.  For your 
information, the Tibetan government is not recognized by any country.  
But, more importantly, our government _is_ recognized as the legitimate 
government for all Tibet by the Tibetan people on both sides of the 
Himalayas.  This government is established on modern democratic 
principles.  Tibetan exiles elect their representatives to the Tibetan 
parliament who, in turn, elect the members of the Tibetan cabinet - the 
highest executive body of the Tibetan administration.

IV.  Peaceful Settlement of the Tibetan Issue

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always believed in a peaceful and 
negotiated settlement of the Tibet issue.  Starting from 1979, His 
Holiness sent four fact-finding missions to Tibet and two exploratory 
delegations to China.  During all these rounds, Beijing tried to reduce 
the Tibetan issue to the rights and privileges of the Dalai Lama, and not 
the common aspirations of six million Tibetans.  With such an attitude 
nothing came out of this brief contact.

Unable to get the Chinese leadership to seriously discuss the Tibetan 
issue, Dharamsala took the international community into confidence when, 
in September of 1987, His Holiness enunciated his Five Point Peace Plan.  
And, in 1988, in Strasbourg, France, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said 
that he would be relieved to make Tibet a self-governing political entity 
"in association with the People's Republic of China."  [Editors' Note:  
for full text of the Strasbourg Proposal, see Appendix 7.]  The official 
Chinese response to this measured initiative was negative.  Recently, 
China invited the Dalai Lama's elder brother, Kalon Gyalop Thondup, for 
talks in Beijing.  Approved by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Kashag 
[Tibetan cabinet], Mr. Thondup went to Beijing in his personal and 
individual capacity.

Yet, even as the Chinese leadership is giving the impression to the 
world of having a dialogue with the Tibetan leadership, the Chinese 
government is pouring thousands of Chinese settlers into Tibet in the 
guise of "opening" Tibet to foreign investment.  This is, in a way, 
China's "Final Solution" to its Tibet problem.  What the People's 
Liberation Army has not been able to accomplish by force, China hopes to 
do by mass immigration, namely, the suppression of the Tibetan nation and 
Tibetan identity.

Another disturbing trend is the recent release of a White Paper entitled 
_Tibet: It's Ownership and Human Rights Situation_ issued by the 
Information Office of the State Council of China.  Even though the White 
Paper is titled _Tibet: It's Ownership and Human Rights Situation_, it 
only deals with the issue of "ownership" - namely, that Tibet belongs to 
China.  The paper fails to address human rights issues; it does not 
reveal any information on the thousands of Tibetan political prisoners 
who are currently languishing in prison or war camps.  Many of them face 
torture, long sentences, and sometimes even execution.  It gives no 
indication that the nation of Tibet is the world's largest gulag, and 
that the People's Republic of China is responsible for it.  

V.  Pro-Democracy Chinese and Pro-Independence Tibetans

However, it is my sincere hope that our contacts and interaction with 
Chinese students and scholars will be more sincere, meaningful and 
productive.  Intellectuals and students have always been a force for 
change and progress in Chinese history.  The May 4 movement of 1919 when 
students protested in the streets of Beijing constituted a political and 
intellectual climate out of which emerged the Chinese Communist 
revolution.  Recently, the whole world watched in admiration and respect 
as courageous Chinese students stood up against an oppressive tyrant at 
Tiananmen Square.  Your courage and self-sacrifices have given _us_ new 
courage and hope, and strengthened our belief that the future will be a 
happy one for both Chinese and Tibetans.

It is in this context that Tibetans are glad to see the Chinese, 
especially young Chinese, taking risks, working for change, and being 
sincere about democracy and human rights.  And we cannot help but say 
that being sincere about democracy is being sincere about the right to 
self-determination for the Tibetan people, or any people.  Chinese people 
cannot be good democrats and, at the same time, be good colonialists.

A good example of a great Chinese democrat is Shen Tong, recently 
arrested by Chinese authorities.  While envisioning a democratic future 
for China, Shen Tong at the same time recognizes the right of the Tibetan 
people to their own separate destiny.  Another great Chinese I would like 
to mention is Professor Fang Lizhi who is on record as saying that the 
future of Tibet should be decided by the Tibetan people themselves.  Such 
enlightened understanding of our problem is an indication that, with the 
right attitude, the Tibetans and the great Chinese people can solve our 
differences to our mutual benefit.

At this point, I would like to remind the audience that a similar 
conference was held between pro-democracy Chinese and exiled Tibetans 
during the Year of Tibet in October of last year, organized by the 
Religious Department of Columbia University.  The two-day Tibetan-Chinese 
conference was attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Professor Fang 
Lizhi.  At this conference, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "I always 
consider democracy important.  This is because we are human beings 
endowed with the gift of intelligence.  If we utilize our intelligence 
properly we have the potential for creativity and new initiatives.  As 
such, democracy and human freedom are essential,"  His Holiness said.

"Earlier, people thought that a single organization with strict rules 
can make progress for the benefit of mankind.  Now we know this concept 
is failing.  As such, there is every reason to be optimistic about the 
future, especially in the case of China - and Tibet, as well."  His 
Holiness said, "When I met some of the Chinese brothers and sisters who 
came out because of their strong belief in the value of democracy and 
individual freedom, I felt sad, because I realized that not only had we 
Tibetans suffered, but the Chinese people have suffered as well."

His Holiness continued, "China is the most populous nation on earth and, 
therefore, the most important.  As such, I think that full utilization of 
individual creativity by the Chinese is not only very important for the 
benefit of the Chinese people, but also for the whole world."

His Holiness concluded, "Whatever these meetings achieve and accomplish, 
there is no denying that such meetings will vastly contribute to our 
mutual understanding.  All relations start with _individual_ relations, 
and such meetings - with no official or officially-approved agenda - will 
hopefully become the foundation for a more enduring relationship in 
whatever context it assumes.  Whatever the future holds, I'm convinced 
that it will be a better future for all of us because of the more 
enlightened attitude and the new vision of democratic China all of you 

In conclusion, I would like to add that my colleague Lodi Gyari, Special 
Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has been delayed in Dharamsala, but 
he asks me to convey his regards, and he wishes the conference great 
success.  Thank you very much.


Now, Mr. Chen Yizi.


[The Potomac Conference translated text; delivered in Chinese; outline 
submitted in Chinese.]

Ladies and gentlemen! Today Tibetan friends, Chinese friends, and 
friends from other countries are sitting together discussing Sino-Tibetan 
relations.  I think this is a very important thing, because the Tibet 
issue is a concern not only of Tibetans, but also of the Chinese and 
people from other countries.  In 1989, I talked with the Dalai Lama; last 
year, I talked with Dalai Lama's brother Gyalop Thondup (Jiale Dezhu) and 
other Tibetan friends.  Gyalop Thondup said that Tibetan and Chinese have 
lived together on that land for more than 5,000 years, during which the 
time of peace is much longer than the time of conflict.  Conflicts result 
from irrational actions, which consequently hurt national pride.  And, if 
national pride is hurt, it is very difficult to regain it.  So, the 
Center for Modern China and Tibet Forum have convened this conference on 
Sino-Tibetan relations to enhance communication.  Our purpose is for us 
to use a conversational mode, a rational mode, a democratic mode, a mode 
of compromise as a basis for understanding each other.  Through 
communication, a peaceful and rational base for Tibetans and Chinese to 
resolve Tibet issues will be established.  Therefore, this conference is 

The world has changed greatly since 1989.  The Cold War has ended and 
many autocratic regimes have collapsed.  Now, China is changing, and it 
will keep on changing in the future.  We do not want to see bloodshed and 
confrontation in the process of change in China, because confrontation 
will bring much misery to our people.  Hence, we should actively engage 
in specific work to prepare for the changes that China will face in the 
future.  The duty of the Center for Modern China is:  first, facilitating 
change in China - facilitating changes in the system and toward 
democratization; and second, responding to the changes - once there are 
changes in China, we will have the capability and methods to resolve 
these new problems.  From this perspective, I think, this conference on 
Sino-Tibetan relations is even more valuable.  

Today, so many friends are attending this conference.  Jigme Ngapo, 
Tseten Wangchuk and other Tibetan friends have done a lot of work for 
this conference.  Specifically, today, we have invited Wang Ruowang, the 
most famous democratic fighter in China, to our conference.  Mr. Wang 
Ruowang has worked his entire life for the cause of democracy in China.  
Under the enslavement of the Chinese Communist Party, he had been 
imprisoned for more than 40 years.  He displays the Chinese people's 
spirit of pursuit for freedom and democracy.  His attending adds much 
honor to this conference.  

Provided that we have made lots of efforts in many aspects, such as in 
mobilizing people in China, the peaceful transition of the system in 
China will soon come true.  I hope that all of us will stay together and 
strive together for that day.  I also hope that we can resolve 
Sino-Tibetan problems by peaceful and conversational methods.  The 
Tibetan issue should be decided by Tibetan people.  I agree with this 
viewpoint.  Resolving so many problems of Chins will be a very difficult 
process.  We should unite together and end the autocracy of the Communist 
Party - only in this way can every nationality have a great future.  I 
hope we jointly strive for this great future, and I wish the conference a 
great success.  Thanks.


gv. A