Economic liberalization failed to bring political liberalization to China, which has only grown more repressive. NED president Carl Gershman reflects on the life and legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s special envoy Lodi Gyari and the relationship between democracy in China and freedom in Tibet.
“The death last month of Lodi Gyari, who as the Dalai Lama’s special envoy conducted nine rounds of negotiations with Beijing over Tibet’s status, offers an occasion to reflect on the increasingly troubled relationship between the United States and China.
The negotiations conducted by Gyari in 2002 through 2010 were based on the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach, which seeks genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the framework of the existing Chinese state and constitution. Earlier in his career, when he was an interpreter for the Tibetan resistance fighters training in the United States and helped found the Tibetan Youth Congress, Gyari was committed to the struggle for Tibetan independence. He never changed his belief that Tibet is “in every sense an occupied nation, brutally occupied.” But he became persuaded that the Dalai Lama’s vision of autonomy offered a nonviolent way to preserve the Tibetan people’s religion, culture, language and identity. And after conducting exploratory talks in China in the 1980s during the period of reform under Deng Xiaoping and Hu Yaobang, he believed that such an approach was feasible.”