On Nov. 7, 2012, the Dalai Lama sent President Barack Obama a note of congratulations on his reelection. It was, in most respects, an unremarkable form letter. For careful observers of Tibetan politics, however, the last paragraph jumped out:

As you know, it is over a year since I handed over all my political authority to the elected Tibetan leadership … I am very appreciative of your support for our Middle Way Approach, which I continue to believe is the best way for us to ensure a solution that is beneficial for both Tibetans and Chinese.

The Middle Way Approach has dominated international dialog over Tibet since 1979, when it was adopted by Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)—Tibet’s government-in-exile, of which the Dalai Lama was then head of state. Now His Holiness’ letter to Obama reaffirmed the Middle Way Approach amid growing frustration with it from Tibetans in and outside of Tibet — including some who have self-immolated.

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