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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Why is China scared

November 6, 2009

By Maura Moynihan
Asian Age
November 3, 2009

A special ritual of life in Dharamsala is
welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama back to his
exile home. A victory banner is strung over the
road as a multinational crowd pours into the
lanes of Mcleodganj and down Temple Road to His
Holiness’ residence, waiting for a glimpse of the
great spiritual master and honorary citizen of
India, waving from the window of a vehicle
escorted by a crack team of Indian commandos.

The Dalai Lama never seems to rest; he just
returned from North America, to commence a week
of teachings on the Diamond Sutra and the Four
Noble Truths of the Buddha. It’s impossible to
find a hotel room -- Dharamsala quivers from the
weight of tourists and pilgrims from five
continents who have come to this refugee town in
Himachal Pradesh to touch a piece of old Tibet
that fell upon this hillside 50 years ago.

There is disquiet among Tibetan refugees and
their supporters over escalating Chinese
repression in Tibet and Beijing’s success in
pressuring world leaders to back off from the Tibet issue.

Last month United States President Barack Obama
declined to meet the Dalai Lama as it would upset
the Chinese Communist Party bosses in Beijing.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said:
“The stronger relationship that we have with
China benefits the Tibetan people.” A statement
so credulous, or cynical, it seems to have been
crafted expressly by the Beijing bureau of propaganda.

The grim reality of life in China’s Tibet is told
in every corner of this refugee town, especially
at the Gu Chu Sum Society created by ex-political
prisoners from Tibet. The office stairwell is
lined with drawings depicting the torture Tibetan
nationalists endured in Chinese custody. One man
was hung by his ankles for hours and whipped with
barbed wire. Another had his legs and arms
broken, was tossed into a sewage pit and pelted
with rocks. A Buddhist nun was repeatedly raped with an electric cattle prod.

This is how China governs Tibet, and the most
dangerous outcome of Mr Obama’s refusal to meet
the Dalai Lama is the message it sends to the
Chinese Communist Party: that their barbarous
rule in Tibet can continue without impediment,
that they can proceed with the plunder of Tibet’s
lands and the yoking of Tibet’s rivers.

China has made the mere mention of Tibet so toxic
that delegates at last month’s climate change
summit in Bangkok refused to address climate
change on the Tibetan plateau and its deleterious
effect on the rivers of nation states in south
and southeast Asia, hardly a small matter.

Control of the Tibetan plateau and its vast
riches is a priority for Hu Jintao’s government.
Since March 2008, China has mobilised an
estimated 50,000 troops along the Tibet-India
border, while protesting against visits by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh to Arunachal Pradesh and
excising Kashmir from India in a new map and
website. China is supplying Nepal with aid and
weaponry, which fuels the advance of Maoist
insurgencies across India. Himachal This Week
just ran a two-page story on Chinese spies
working in Dharamsala, with a timeline of a
decade of arrests and confessions of agents with
plans to attack the Dalai Lama.

Why does Beijing so fear this gentle Tibetan
Buddhist master and purveyor of the Gandhian
legacy of non-violence? On October 1, 2009, the
Chinese Communist Party celebrated 60 years of
one-party rule with a Cold War parade of massive
weaponry and Maoist sloganeering. On October 2,
India paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 140th
birth anniversary with an inter-faith service at
New Delhi’s Gandhi Smriti. Dr Singh sat upon the
grass amid citizens and guests as prayers from
all religions were read and sung, then scattered
rose petals on the site of the Mahatma’s martyrdom with quiet dignity.

These twin ceremonies just a day apart reveal the
vast gap between Mao’s and Gandhi’s visions of
power. His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls Gandhi
his political guru and has steadfastly pursued
the path of ahimsa with the Chinese Communists
who call him “an incestuous murderer with evil
intentions”. But the Dalai Lama has not been
broken. Witness him upon his lama’s throne,
imparting the wisdom of the Buddha into the
golden light of the Kangra Valley, to students
from Mongolia, Vietnam and Laos, whose sanghas
were laid waste by the Communists, who regard him as the Living Buddha.

"Look how much power China has, and they are so
paranoid, they take such desperate measures to
keep politicians away from the Dalai Lama," says
celebrated Tibetan poet Tenzing Tsundue. “The
Dalai Lama has no aircraft, no money, he’s a
refugee. China has weapons and banks, but they
are terrified of this simple monk who wants to
make peace with them. It shows their great
insecurity. Our power lies in our faith in
non-violence. The Tibet movement is still here
after 50 years. We continue to inspire the people
of the world who are looking for solutions to violence and conflict."

* Maura Moynihan is a writer who has worked with
Tibetan refugees in India for many years. Now
based in New York, she is researching a book on America’s failed China policy.
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