ABC7 talks with Tibetan PM candidate Tenzin Tethong

April 27, 2011 12:57:16 AM PDT
A Harvard research fellow has just been elected the new prime minister of Tibet's exiled government. Lobsang Sangay now has the challenging task of taking on a role embodied by the Dalai Lama for decades. The second place candidate is a visiting scholar at Stanford.

Stanford scholar Tenzin Tethong says the new prime minister of the exiled Tibetan government will have a lot of work. The Dalai Lama, Tibet's Buddhist spiritual leader, is stepping down as the head of state.

"Any elected Tibetan leader has the responsibility to reach out as much as possible to the Chinese leadership," said Tethong.

Tethong is the chair of Stanford's Tibetan Studies Initiative and he also worked closely with the Dalai Lama for more than 20 years. Since the 2008 crackdown, Tibet's relations with China have soured and he says the new prime minister must enlighten the Chinese of its unequal treatment of Tibetans.

"New economic opportunities have been to a large extent directed towards Chinese migrant workers who are coming into Tibet," said Tethong.

Tethong gives the Obama administration low marks.

"Well they haven't been able to do much more than speak out on Tibet so far," said Tethong.

Tethong says he understands the Obama administration has bigger issues to deal with, but he says the real change may come from within China. He believes Chinese scholars, reporters, and artists are exploring their spirituality and sympathizing with the Dalai Lama.


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