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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Destroying Tibetan identity

July 30, 2008

By Arthur Thomas
On Line Opinion (Australia)
July 29, 2008

The Tibet rights factor was prominent in the Insight forum on SBS
"Going to China," with interesting and lively participation and views
on the direction of negotiations with China.

The Dalai Lama is actively pursuing a peaceful solution for the
rights and future of the Tibetan People and Tibetan culture in talks
with China via his "Middle way". This is a peaceful coexistence
concept with full autonomy for the Tibetans and their inalienable
right to retain their culture and practice their religion.

There is however growing militancy, mostly among the young within and
outside Tibet due to the failure of progress in the "Middle Way"
caused by China's delaying and intransigent tactics and lack of
respect for the religious leader.

Despite the Dalai Lama's best intentions, the "Middle Way" will never
happen and the reasons are clearly enshrined in the principles of the
CCP (Chinese Communist Party). This demands unconditional obedience
and loyalty to the Party before all else. The PLA (People's
Liberation Army) is at the CCP's exclusive disposal to enforce this
command if and when the need arises.

In democratic countries it is the government that is responsible to
the people and the military is there to protect the people and the country.

This is not the case in China where the Government is the Chinese
Communist Party and the difference can be found enshrined within the
guiding principles of the PLA. "Obeying the Party comes before
defending the country".

Freedom of religion is in direct conflict with official policy and
the CCP will not tolerate belief or loyalty to any individual, body
or icon before the CCP. The CCP sees religion as undermining the
stability of the state and creating civil unrest. There is also an
ongoing policy of denigrating the Dalai Lama and his honest
intentions that only increases dissent.

The CCP ridicules the concept that Tibetans have the capacity to rule
and develop a nation such as Tibet in modern times with a government
based on religion, made up of monks and lead by the Dalai Lama.

Despite Beijing's best efforts, the current Panchen Lama, selected
and educated by the CCP, will never be recognised or accepted by the
Tibetan population as their true spiritual leader. The selection
process did not comply with the ancient and accepted selection
process of the monasteries.

China on the other hand is intent on delay, waiting for the death of
the Dalai Lama so that they can replace him with their own chosen and
Chinese educated Panchen Lama.

The CCP considers that a "bunch of monks" are incapable of governing
or developing Tibet in modern times from a religious base. Is that
merely an over simplistic concept based on ignorance that fails to
recognise existing and increasing latent abilities of Tibetans and
fuelled by fear?

One does not have to look far to find one state that belies this
concept and successfully runs an extensive global "empire" with
ambassadors and "citizens" living in harmony, and respected around
the globe. It successfully manages an amassed wealth exceeding that
of many countries including Tibet. That state is the Holy See and its
government comprises a collective mind of scholars and experts in
every field beyond religion that includes modern technology, the
sciences, finance, development, politics, environment, history and
the humanities to name but a few.

It is this devotion to religion and resulting ability to amass great
wealth from voluntary contributions and command respect on a global
scale that frightens the CCP most of all and is the reason behind the
ongoing and more recent harsh crackdown on Catholic churches and
priests throughout China.

China conveniently overlooks growing global support for the various
Tibet freedom movements, Tibet's Government in Exile and especially
His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

There are also the growing numbers of "refugees" and monks studying
outside Tibet, developing the collective skills, personal political
relationships and commercial and industrial contacts and support.
Such support and confidence will become crucial for the successful
and sustainable development of an environmentally fragile country
such as Tibet.

Unlike China's unsustainable and environmentally destructive,
materialistic approach, their religion, love and knowledge of their
country will implement a more gradual and sympathetic development
more in harmony with Tibet's fragile environment and its neighbours.

The Insight on SBS "Going to China" forum focused on China's human
rights abuse in occupied Tibet but failed to address the question as
to how the enmity arose. This problem extends beyond the Tibetan
historical regions and into other regions occupied by Han Chinese in
recent times, including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and north east Burma.

To make way for the new Han Chinese frontiersmen, the indigenous
populations are relocated away from their traditional lands onto
lesser productive land and in smaller groups, isolated from one
another to limit the possibility of an organised mass protest. There
is no compensation, since the Chinese State now owns the land.

The nomadic herders are resettled into urbanised type settlements
without land to farm or raise animals. They are now reliant on
employment to provide money to buy food. The only employment for
Tibetans who do not speak Chinese is menial, low paid and mostly casual.

Unlike the new migrants, there are no incentives for the Tibetans to
develop their own land or businesses. As for the new housing, they
are forced to buy these dwellings as well as providing their labour
free for construction. It is known as the "Namdrang Rangdrik"
("Do-It-Yourself Program"). The cost is well above what the normal
herder can earn at US$5,000 to US$6,000. The government lends
US$1,200. The balance must be made up from family cash and Chinese
bank loans. No money to repay the loan means no house and relocation
to remote small subsistence communities.

Understanding the causes requires knowledge of the role of the
Central Propaganda Department and the state media. When China
occupies new territory and has established tight military control,
the next stage is a well managed mass migration program motivated by
government financial incentives, promises of land, additional support
and military protection.

The objective is to rapidly dilute the indigenous population with Han
Chinese. In the case of Tibet, these new frontiersmen and their
families are told that the indigenous population are "A repressed,
feudal, uneducated race, incapable of releasing the full potential of
the land. We will improve their lifestyle and provide them with
employment and education."

The ongoing theme is that the Tibetans cannot develop the rich
resources of their land, have no concept of the value of money,
donating much of their income to their religion and it is up to China
to do this for them so that they can have a future as part of modern
China. They will however provide a labour pool to help the Han
Chinese in developing their new land and operations.

A review of State media over the years reveals an ongoing program of
denigrating the Tibetans, their customs, history, culture and more
recently the intense personal attack on H.H. the Dalai Lama. To the
Catholic, Buddhist and Muslim, it is the equal to desecrating the
name of the Pope, Buddha and Mohammed.

One Tibetan summed it up very simply:

"We're not sure if it's true that the Panchen was appointed by the
government, but if it is true, we cannot support him. We wouldn't
support a Dalai Lama appointed by the government either. These people
should be chosen by monasteries.

"There's been this hatred for a long time. Sometimes you would even
wonder how we had avoided open confrontation for so many years. This
is a hatred that cannot be solved by arresting a few people.

"If we did not believe in Buddhism, we would have rioted a long time
ago. We endured and endured, but now it has become impossible to
endure any more."

While the Han Chinese are supported by the government and receive
what was once traditional Tibetan land and protection by the police
and military, the Tibetans are shunted off to the equivalent of urban
ghettos or small remote isolated villages.

Beijing's attitude to the media was highlighted by foreign media
coverage of the Sichuan quake that favoured Beijing. That support
however, was rapidly reversed when the media began to explore the
corruption behind the causes of collapsed public buildings,
especially schools and hospitals as well as the later diversion of
funds and resources. There will be continued heavily conditioned and
controlled coverage for foreign media on Tibet, as will be the case
for the 2008 Olympics supporting the increasing claim that the CCP
cannot be trusted to meet its promises in respect to media and human rights.

In respect to Beijing's strategy against the Dalai Lama, it will be
interesting to see just how long India will put up with the same
delays and procrastination from China on the border issues and
China's more ambitious Himalayan Strategy.

History shows that media attention rapidly moves on once an Olympics
is over. The 2008 Olympics however not only has the potential to
prolong media interest, it has the potential to increase that
interest with intensifying coverage ranging from the world's number
one polluter and Kyoto rejector, its headlong and unsustainable rush
for economic growth at any cost, sacrificing human rights and the
health and welfare of its own citizens.

The story of China's water, pollution, environment and abuse of the
rights of its rural poor as well as the people of Tibet, Inner
Mongolia and Xinjiang is too good to let go. It will never go away.
The more Beijing represses the freedom of the media, the more it
isolates itself from positive media coverage. The proposed diversion
of the Brahmaputra into China is another story gaining momentum. The
horrifying human impact on downstream populations on this sacred
river is already the focus of increasing numbers of journalists and
activist groups.

Was the IOC right?

Given the foregoing, it would appear that the IOC has failed
miserably in its responsibilities in measuring up China for the 2008 Olympics.

Could that really be the case, given the calibre and international
standing of those on the IOC?

Or is it possible that the foregoing comments unfairly treat the IOC
itself and its members who, from their backgrounds, should have been
only too well aware of the internal workings of China and the CCP and
what would happen once China committed to the Games?

Surely, such an experienced and committed group must have been only
too well aware of the consequences. Once committed China would be
subjected to intense ongoing scrutiny and criticism that would
eventually justify the granting and with it the aims of the Olympics
and much mianji (face making) for the IOC and its members.
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