Tibet Exiles See Rise of American-style Politician

In the wake of rising tensions between Tibetans and Han Chinese in Qinghai and Gansu provinces, and a string of self-immolations by protesting Tibetans, AP profiles Lobsang Sangay, the new Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Sangay took over from the Dalai Lama when he gave up his political responsibilities:

Sangay came to power in what might be the most critical moment for Tibet in a generation: A wave of Tibetans have burned themselves alive to protest Chinese rule, Beijing is undergoing a leadership transition and the 76-year-old Dalai Lama is speaking openly of his eventual death.

“Tibet is in crisis,” said Youdong Aukatsang, a New Delhi-based member of the exile parliament. “But this is also a historic moment for us, with His Holiness deciding to give up his political position. Lobsang Sangay symbolizes this turning point.”

Exile politics, long a genteel arena that plodded along in the Dalai Lama’s shadow, has never seen anything like Sangay.

“Tibetans normally want their leaders to be dignified and distant. Lobsang Sangay went to the people,” said Tsering Shakya, a scholar of modern Tibet at the University of British Columbia.