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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Comment: Tibet ranks as one of history's sorriest stories

October 27, 2009

London Free Press (Canada)
October 26, 2009

Out of deference to Chinese sensitivities, U.S.
President Barack Obama cancelled ... whoops,
sorry, "postponed" ... a scheduled meeting with
the Dalai Lama this month, until after Obama
meets with china's President Hu Jintao.

A lot of people are disappointed that Obama seems
to be dancing to the tune of Beijing, rather than
standing up for the values personified in the Dalai Lama.

This is nothing new for Obama, who seems to
pander to the world's despots instead of defying
them by reiterating America's dislike of tyranny.
one supposes Obama does this to establish a new
approach to international problems that he hopes will enhance peace.

While this has persuaded the Norwegian Nobel
Peace Prize committee, it remains to be seen if
it will influence the likes of Kim Jong Il,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hu Jintao, Mullah Ahmad or
Hugo Chavez. despite a record 4.75 million
tourists to Tibet in the first nine months of
this year, Tibet remains one of history's sorriest stories.

Unmentioned is that the vast majority of tourists
are Chinese, who now outnumber ethnic Tibetans,
maybe by a two-to-one margin. of Tibet's
estimated population of six million, three
million are Tibetan. (Some 1.2 million Tibetans
have died fighting the Chinese who "invaded" in
1950, with the Dalai Lama escaping into India in 1959.)

A reason for my renewed interest in Tibet is not
only because I was in India when he escaped, and
visited him again in Dharamsala in 1962 (when
china invaded India), and then again when he
visited Toronto, but because my wife has just
returned from Tibet -- and reports that without
tourism, life would be even harsher than it is.

She was searched on entering "the roof of the
world" for photos of the Dalai Lama or
anti-Chinese literature (that is, pro-Tibetan
writings). Rules were strict not to photograph
Chinese soldiers, but no restrictions on
photographing token Buddhist monasteries.

Yvonne thinks without tourists, the few hundred
left of 6,000 temples and monasteries would be
closed and left to decay. As it is, they are now
tourist sites and income for Tibetan monks.

In part, Tibet's plight is Tibet's fault.
Historically it's been independent by choice for
some 1,300 years. According to thomas Laird's
intriguing book Into Tibet (about the cIA's 1949-
50 intrusion there), "Tibetans made it easy for the Chinese."

While China would accept no foreign embassies
unless these countries accepted china's ownership
of Tibet, Tibetan nobility wanted no diplomatic
relations with anyone. they wanted to be left
alone in frugal isolation: no roads, no
newspapers, no factories, no radios, no
airfields, no wheeled or motorized vehicles.

The present Dalai Lama joked to me that when as a
kid he drove a car into a tree, "I wrecked 50% of
the cars in Tibet." Until col. Francis
younghusband led a british army force into Tibet
in 1904 and claimed it for the empire, Tibet was
unsullied by any foreign influence. double-speak
british diplomacy of the day implied support for
china's position -- and for Tibetan independence.

Forget China's claim of bringing education and
progress to Tibet. Tibetans didn't want it. they
died young, they lived for their religion and
their independence, they showed little curiosity in the outside world.

Today, the world loves, respects, mourns for
Tibetans. More than can be said for the Beijing Chinese.
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