Sangay asks China to review its 'hard-line' Tibet policy

Sangay said that the 76-year-old Dalai Lama would return during his lifetime to the Potala Palace he fled nearly 50 years ago. The 43-year-old Harvard law researcher won 55 per cent votes in the March 20 election held around the world, defeating two candidates, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong and Trash Waged.

"We are already facing immense challenges including a critical situation in Nags and Andi with Tibetans being killed and arrested by the Chinese government. I urge every Tibetan and friends of Tibet to join me in our common cause to alleviate the suffering of Tibetans in occupied Tibet and to return His Holiness to his rightful place in the Potable Palace," Sangay said in a statement after the election results were announced.

Asking Beijing to review its "hard-line" Tibet policy and take a "more moderate and liberal approach", he said if China wanted to become a new world superpower, it could not do so through economic or military might, but would need to exercise moral authority in how it treats people.

He said that the decision of the Dalai Lama to transfer political powers needs to be respected.

"The Dalai Lama has decided to transfer political power to the Tibetan people by entrusting whom they have magnanimously chosen as the head of their exile government," Sangay said in an interview to the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia.

"We must respect the wishes and wisdom of His Holiness and find ways to implement his decision," he said in his first ever interview after he was declared elected the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in exile.

Sangay had addressed an audience at Harvard two days before his election result and said his "number one priority is always and will always remain to restore freedom in Tibet...Domestically, improving education will be my number one priority."

On the tense political issue of Chinese rule of Tibet, Sangay said he advocates a "middle way," or autonomy for Tibet within Chinese sovereignty.

"That is the Tibetan government's policy, and if I get elected, I must abide by the policy, and I will do so," Sangay said in a Harvard release.

Sangay believes the election will give him legitimacy on the world stage as a Tibetan leader in a now-secular government, but China is unlikely to recognise his authority with some Chinese newspapers even labelling him as a "terrorist."

He said he knew many Chinese scholars personally, and "I believe in dialogue." Sangay said he expects the Dalai Lama, who will "always be my spiritual leader and source of inspiration," to play the role of an "elder statesman."

"It's not so much to replace him, but rather to live up to his expectation and fulfill his vision which is that when elected, I should be the head of the government and become the political face and spokesman for the Tibetan people."

Sangay would relocate in May to Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, to establish his cabinet before the current office holder; Samdhong Rinpoche steps down on August 14.

Many expect Sangay would play a more visible role, as the Dalai Lama this year announced his intention of stepping down as political leader of the Tibetan exile community.

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