Smash China


BERLIN/BEIJING/DHARAMSALA (Own report) - At a conference of more than 600 exiled Tibetans that began Monday at the seat of Tibet's self-proclaimed "exile government" in Dharamsala (India), a long-time employee of the Heinrich Boell Foundation (affiliated with Germany's Green Party) was demanding a radicalization of the Tibetan secessionist policy. This meeting will decide on the Tibetan secessionist strategy for the next few years. The Berlin-based Green-affiliated activist demanded, that the Tibet movement no longer formally be fighting for autonomy, but rather for the secession of this territory. In Dharamsala, this demand is becoming more popular. In spite of unambiguous radicalization tendencies, several German politicians and political organizations, for example the party affiliated foundations of the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), are maintaining their contacts to the Tibetan exile institutions and supporting their structures. The Heinrich Boell Foundation explains that its presence and capacity to "moderate" is important precisely because of a threatening escalation. German participation in future conflicts taking place in Western China will therefore be insured.

Uprising Movement

Tsewang Norbu, a long time employee of the Heinrich Boell Foundation [*] raised the demand during the current conference of over 600 exile Tibetans at the seat of the self-proclaimed Tibetan "exile government" in Dharamsala (India). The conference was convened by the Tibetans' political-religious leader, the Dalai Lama, to discuss the strategy of the secessionist movement. Up to now, the Dalai Lama has always officially declared that he would be satisfied with an extensive autonomy within the People's Republic of China and has engaged in negotiations with government officials in Beijing on that basis. Just a few weeks ago, he announced a breakdown in this negotiation strategy. This creates a realm for those, seeking a more aggressive policy to openly call for Tibet's secession from China. This group includes the followers of the "Tibetan People's Uprising Movement," founded in 2008, but also those of the older, 30,000 member "Tibetan Youth Congress," which according to its statutes pledges "to struggle for the total independence of Tibet even at the cost of one’s life."[1]


Tsewang Norbu, who spoke about the future strategy of the "exile government" in Dharamsala, wields a lot of weight in the exile Tibetan debate. A resident of West Germany since 1973, at the side of the Green parliamentarian, Petra Kelly, he developed during the mid-1980s the Green Party's policy toward Tibet [2] and was hired by the Heinrich Boell Foundation in 1992. Norbu founded the German-Tibetan Cultural Society, was also active in the Tibet-Initiative Deutschland and is one of the original German supporters for the Tibetan exile in Dharamsala. Norbus' position is also being propagated among sympathizers in Germany.


As Norbu writes, following the breakdown of negotiations between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, the Tibetan exile has "to come back to square one."[3] The "Tibetans, as a people, have this right to self-determination and we should not forfeit this right." Norbu is "convinced" that "the majority of the Tibetans in Tibet still retain a strong commitment to full independence for Tibet." According to Norbu, only the Dalai Lama could have won the Tibetans over to accepting autonomy within the territorial boundaries of the PR China. When he dies "no Tibetan leadership" will be able to hold the population back from their striving for secession. Norbu therefore called on all participants at the Dharamsala conference, to radicalize the policy of the "exile government" and "struggle for complete independence" - in other words, to smash China.

No Opposition

According to Norbu, deficits in the political structures in Dharamsala have prohibited a parliamentary debate on a radicalization of policy. "In a parliamentary democracy you have a ruling party or coalition (...) and an opposition party or parties" writes the activist. "We do not have that." Therefore the demand for a radical secessionist policy is also not being raised by a strong opposition and must be pushed at the current Dharamsala conference. But the former Green Party member does not want his remarks about the absence of parties and an opposition in the Tibetan "exile Parliament" to be mistaken as a criticism of principle: "I am not implying that a multiparty parliamentary system, per se, is better than a one or no party parliamentary system."[4]


The tendencies toward radicalization in Dharamsala, which could lead the '"exile government" to take on a new course, are being closely observed in Germany. "Particularly young exile Tibetans, who grew up in India," obviously tend "toward carrying out protest actions," reports the Indian office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.[5] "Since 2008, young leaders in the exile Tibetan community" have been using "a new rhetoric and even new political tactics." In reference to those exile Tibetans, who, disrupted the Olympic torch relay this spring with violent actions, the foundation writes "they are placing, to a growing extent, the unconditional commitment to non-violence into question and seeking new forms of resistance." According to articles in the German press, their objective is evidently "to drive up the 'costs of occupation' for the Chinese government."[6]


German politicians and political organizations are closely accompanying the developments in Dharamsala. Above all the Heinrich Boell Foundation and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (affiliated with the FDP) are supporting the Tibetan exile institutions from their bases in New Delhi. The Hessian Prime Minister, Roland Koch (CDU) entertains a close relationship with the Dalai Lama. The international network of exile Tibetan organizations and their sympathizers are also being promoted from inside Germany, particularly by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation ( reported extensively [7]). Whereas the Naumann Foundation is dealing with the "exile parliament" and the "reinforcement of democratic institutions" in Dharamsala,[8] the Boell Foundation, for example uses the "Tibetan Centre for Conflict Resolution," an organization that is supposed to mediate between the antagonists.


Particularly in the case of a possible change of strategy, to a more radical policy, it is very important to maintain intensive contacts to the organizations in Dharamsala, according to the program coordinator of the Boell Foundation. He makes a plea to the "Tibetan Centre for Conflict Resolution" that is supported by his organization, to broaden it activities to include mediation in the coming political conflicts with more radical forces, such as the "Tibetan Youth Congress." The president of the foundation declared that it is necessary "to prevent any sort of misguidance," thereby justifying an intensification of German activities in an increasingly inflamed exile Tibetan milieu.[9] It seems a certainty that in the coming conflicts in Western China, German organisations will be playing no insignificant role. This will provide Berlin influence in several Chinese provinces,[10] therefore weakening its rival, while reinforcing the German position.

[*] The German Green Party foundation dissociates itself from its employee Tsewang Norbu, who is calling for smashing the People's Republic of China. Norbu is an activist in exile Tibetan organizations. Since a long time, he has been presenting himself as an employee of the foundation both in the press and in public announcements of his appearances. In a written declaration made to, the foundation declares: "we repudiate any connection between the article written by Mr. Norbu and the Tibet policy of the Heinrich Boell Foundation. The position articulated by Mr. Norbu in his article does not correspond in the least with the policy of the foundation. The Heinrich Boell Foundation calls neither for the independence of Tibet nor does it accept violence as a means of solving this serious conflict. (...) Mr. Norbu wrote the article in question in his personal capacity as a member of the Tibetan exile community. In the foundation, Mr. Norbu has a purely administrative function and is not employed in the domain of policy formulation. He is therefore not qualified to publicly speak in the name of the foundation on the Tibet issue. We respect the value of individual freedom of opinion, but are in full disaccord with the position articulated by Mr. Norbu."

Please read also: Strategies of Attrition (I), Strategies of Attrition (II), Strategies of Attrition (III), Strategies of Attrition (IV), The Olympic Lever, The Olympic Torch Relay Campaign, Operations Against China, Particularly Manipulative, Mobilize at Any Time and Olympics in Beijing.

[1] Aims and Objectives;
[2] see also Operations Against China
[3], [4] Put "complete" independence on the agenda again; Berlin 11.11.2008
[5] Heinrich Böll Stiftung India: Politischer Jahresbericht Indien 2007/2008, August 2008
[6] Der Fall Tibet; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 18.11.2008
[7] see also Strategies of Attrition (I), Strategies of Attrition (II), Strategies of Attrition (III) and Mobilize at Any Time
[8] Projekt Indien;
[9] Tshering Chonzom Bhutia: After the storm - The status quo of Sino-Tibetan Talks and the situation of the Tibetan Community in exile; Heinrich Boell Foundation, Briefing Paper No. 1, 04.11.2008
[10] Die tibetische Sezessionsbewegung beansprucht nicht allein die Autonome Region Tibet, sondern auch Teile der Provinzen Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan und Yunnan ("Groß-Tibet"). See also Tibet ohne Mythos