1. Beijing will not and cannot compromise: The problem with the first pro‑compromise justification is that Beijing has no desire to compromise. In fact, structural factors in the Chinese government’s decision-making process reward hard‑liners and make it extremely unlikely that moderate solutions will prevail (witness the rise of Hu Jintao and the purges of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang). No one I spoke with in Tibet had any hope for an autonomous solution, since a necessary but missing precondition is the Chinese government’s willingness to compromise. Without Beijing’s approval, there can be no autonomy – and any concessions granted by Dharamsala toward that end are a waste.
Beijing’s policies in Tibet are motivated above all else by an obsessive focus on fighting separatism, probably all the more so with Hu Jintao’s first-hand experience with Tibetan pro-independence riots. Chinese policy-makers view Tibetan nationalism as a threat that must be fully suppressed; they see no room to give concessions on the slippery slope toward independence. One People’s Daily editorial put this view succinctly: “the ‘middle way’ goes against the Chinese Constitution and law… This shows that what [the Dalai Lama] pursues is a swindle and nothing stands between his ‘high-level autonomy’ and ‘Tibetan independence.’” The Beijing-appointed chairman of Tibet’s regional government, Champa Phuntsok, recently echoed these views, saying of the autonomy proposals, “These are only empty words, steps for [the Dalai Lama] to reach independence for Tibet.”
This stonewalling makes sense from a Chinese perspective because Beijing calculates it has little to gain but much to lose by an autonomous Tibet, especially when it feels its control is improving thanks to the new railway and the accelerating influx of Chinese settlers that it allows. As Chinese writer Wang Lixiong writes,”