Sangay, who beat out two rival candidates with about 59 percent of the vote, won the March election among 89,000 eligible Tibetan exiles.
Observers say Sangay, who has lived in the United States for the past 15 years, likely won’t shy away from raising the issues of human rights, identity, religion, and the usage of natural resources inside Tibet.
“There is no ‘socialism’ in Tibet. There is colonialism. Chinese rule in Tibet is clearly unjust and untenable,” Sangay said, pledging to fulfill the Dalai Lama’s vision to create a secular democratic society in his inauguration speech.
Sangay calls himself an activist scholar. While on a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard, he met thousands of Chinese students and organized round table meetings for the Dalai Lama with the Chinese scholars. In 2007 he was named one of the Asia Society’s 24 Young Leaders of Asia.
Pointing to his 16 years of experience reaching out to Chinese people, scholars, and students, Sangay says he believes in dialogue. “I have a track record,” he says, “and if Beijing is interested and wishing to negotiate and resolve the issue of Tibet, I am willing to extend my hands, which I have always done.”
Beijing on the other hand, has made a series of allegations against Sangay and even ruled out any talks with him as a new representative of the Tibetan exiles.