In 1987 the Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet. The plan called for:
- Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of Ahimsa, demilitarized zone of peace and non-violence.
- Abandonment of China’s population transfer policy, which threatened the very existence of the Tibetans as a people.
- Respect for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;
- Restoration of and protection of Tibet’s natural environment and abandonment of China’s use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste;
- Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people.
In 1988 the Dalai Lama elaborated on the fifth point, proposing a concrete framework of negotiations. Tibet, he suggested, should become fully self-governing under a democratically elected government. China could maintain responsibility for the overall foreign policy of Tibet and, until such time as the Tibetan zone of Ahimsa is set up, following a regional conference on peace, China would also be permitted to maintain a restricted number of troops in Tibet for defensive purposes only.
These proposals were well received internationally, although the Chinese rejected them. At least, until the June 1989 crackdown on China’s democracy movement, however, the Chinese indicated a willingness to talk in its communications with the Tibetan government in exile. This willingness was, it is now believed, in large part due to international pressure on China to negotiate with the Dalai Lama. Once again, communication between Beijing and the Tibetan government in exile has opened up but nothing substantive has resulted.
In August of 1993, two Tibetan representatives traveled to discuss the possibility of substantive negotiations. However, no major advances were made. Instead the Chinese only reiterated their empty statement that they are willing to discuss anything other then independence, while at the same time refusing to respond to any such initiatives by the Dalai Lama.
Today the situation in Tibet is increasingly tense. The influx of Chinese increases; peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa and elsewhere take place despite the strong and often violent reaction of Chinese security forces. Thousands of Tibetans are imprisoned for their political or religious activities; torture is carried out regularly on detainees; Tibetans are rarely permitted to leave the country and access to Tibet by exiled Tibetans is limited. China has just opened Tibet to tourism, both individual and group, and to wider economic development. The "economic miracle" of China does not apply to Tibet, however, since the only community that is benefiting from economic incentives is the Chinese community. Indeed, the Chinese authorities are so worried that Tibetan political activity might disrupt business and public relations that repression in the major towns – and at the major monasteries – is very tight.
In recent years, and especially since the award to the Dalai Lama of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the concern shown by governments in Europe and the America, in particular, has grown considerably. A number of parliamentary bodies have passed resolutions condemning human rights violations in Tibet and calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in accordance with the Dalai Lama’s plan. Heads of state, foreign ministers and other political leaders have received the Dalai Lama and his representatives and have shown a desire to be of assistance in promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and thereby contributing to greater peace in the entire region. However, pressure tactics by China have thwarted efforts to make substantive headway to resolve the issue, and Tibet has continued to pay a terrible price for the failure of the world community to seriously challenge China on its behavior there.