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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Editorial: China’s bullying

November 2, 2007

Editorial, The Chronicle Herald, Halifax October 29, 2007

CHINA should realize that the civilized world is simply not buying its
self-serving tale about the dangerous revolutionary, the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of millions of Tibetan Buddhists, has
long championed a non-violent campaign promoting human rights and
political autonomy for Tibet. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989
for his efforts. But China, which forcefully "liberated" a peaceful
Tibet in 1950 – forcing the Dalai Lama to flee to India in 1959 after a
failed uprising – and later flooded the region with Chinese settlers,
claims the Dalai Lama and his followers, not the communist government
and its repressive actions, deserve condemnation.

To his credit, Stephen Harper indicated he would publicly meet the Dalai
Lama, the first prime minister to do so, during his three-day visit
which began Sunday. Paul Martin met the Dalai Lama privately in 2004;
Jean Chretien, while in office, refused to meet the Buddhist leader.

Mr. Harper’s meeting follows several recent high-profile encounters
between the 72-year-old Dalai Lama and Western leaders. In late
September, the Dalai Lama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Two
weeks ago, U.S. President George W. Bush presented the Dalai Lama with
that country’s highest civilian honour, the Congressional Gold Medal.

In both cases, China’s reaction was furious and swift. Chinese officials
denounced meetings with the "splittist" – so-called because the Dalai
Lama allegedly wants to split Tibet away from China – and warned of
serious repercussions to relations. Similarly, Chinese officials in
Ottawa have warned Mr. Harper that a meeting would "jeopardize" Canada’s
interests.

China should put a stopper in its bottle of bluster. Its rapidly growing
economy needs Western markets as much as ours need China’s. Instead of
portraying the Dalai Lama as a separatist, China should apologize for
its historically heavy-handed treatment of Tibet and open talks with the
respected religious figure on Tibetan autonomy.

Unfortunately, there’s no sign that China plans to abandon its
authoritarian approach. Last month, authorities actually made future
reincarnations of Buddhist religious figures, such as the Dalai Lama,
subject to government approval. Tibetan leaders have rightly rejected
this blatant interference in Buddhists’ religious freedom.

But China’s move is chillingly not without precedent. In 1995, the Dalai
Lama named six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the Panchen Lama,
Tibetan Buddhism’s second highest figure. China arrested the boy, naming
another to the position. The boy’s whereabouts have been shrouded in
mystery ever since.

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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