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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."

Opinion: China's Tibet Pique

February 24, 2010

The Wall Street Journal
February 23, 2010

Beijing's anger is likely to backfire.
Much ado has been made about President Obama's
chat with the Dalai Lama last week and the
response from Beijing. "The U.S. act grossly
interfered in China's internal affairs . . . and
seriously damaged the Sino-U.S. ties," said a
Chinese government spokesman, but the barrage
reveals more about China than it does about U.S. policy toward Tibet.
Beijing believes it can browbeat other nations
into ignoring its human-rights violations in
Tibet, regularly retaliating after European
leaders meet with the Dalai Lama. It has
cancelled a 2008 trade summit because of a
planned meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy and turned
away U.S. warships from Hong Kong after the Dalai
Lama received the Congressional gold medal.
The fist-shaking has yielded short-term benefits
for Beijing. Mr. Obama postponed his meeting with
the Tibetan leader until after his November trip
to China, and his Administration has dealt with
Chinese human-rights abuses in whispers. Leaders
in Australia, New Zealand and other democracies
have also declined to meet the Dalai Lama in
recent years. All this has given China a freer
hand to pursue its crackdown on Tibetan dissent,
which started in earnest after the 2008 Lhasa riots.
Yet China's tough stance will only draw more
attention to the Tibetan cause. "Free Tibet"
groups abound in France, Britain and other free
nations. In the U.S. last week, the Dalai Lama
was awarded a medal from the National Endowment
for Democracy. He will spend the rest of this
week addressing audiences at sold-out talks.
Much of the reason Tibet touches such a raw nerve
in Beijing is that the unrest there goes to the
heart of the Communist Party's lack of democratic
legitimacy. The more the Party attempts to impose
its will—on Lhasa and on those who daare to meet
with its most famous son—the less legitimate its
rule wiill seem, and the more support the Dalai
Lama will receive around the world.
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