The Chinese government’s BFF, the Dalai Lama, has just made it public that he is going to retire from his political post as leader of the Tibetan government in exile. The announcement was given in India on the 52nd anniversary of his fleeing China. He assured the crowds, “My desire to devolve authority has nothing to do with a wish to shirk responsibility. It is to benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel disheartened. I am committed to playing my part in the just cause of Tibet.”
His stepping down will require an amendment in the exiled Tibetan parliament’s constitution and a prime minister, chosen by the people on March 20, will take his place.
One might expect the Chinese government to see this as good news, however a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said the Dalai Lama was playing “tricks to deceive the international community”.
Reactions from other sources have been mixed. Many are wondering if the exile movement will falter without the Dalai Lama as leader. But others yet think that it will emboldened the movement.
Supporters suggest the retirement may, paradoxically, increase the Dalai Lama’s influence on behalf of his community. China has repeatedly warned the leaders of other countries against meeting him.
“Up until now [foreign governments] have often sought to overcome the perception of dealing with him as a political leader … there’s a possibility that they may find it easier to have a formal relationship with him as an eminent religious leader,” said Saunders.
But she added that the Dalai Lama would continue to be regarded by the Tibetan people as their free spokesperson: “In a sense, [he] cannot retire,” she said.