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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."

What Taiwan can learn from Obama-Dalai meeting

February 26, 2010

Taiwan News
February 25, 2010

Many pundits believe that, if Taiwan President Ma
Ying-jeou could meet People's Republic of China
State Chairman Hu Jintao met and signed a
cross-strait peace agreement, both would
certainly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, developments related to last week's
meeting in Washington D.C. between two Nobel
Peace Prize laureates, namely Tibet spiritual
leader Dalai Lama and United States President
Barack Hussein Obama, indicate that Ma would not
dare to sit as an equal with Hu, even if the PRC
authorities genuinely wanted to sign a peace pact with Taiwan.

Firstly, since taking office in May 2000, Ma
himself has rejected several requests by the
Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan and initially turned a
deaf ear to the Tibetan Buddhist leader's desire
to hold a prayer meeting for the victims of Typhoon Morakot last August.

The second factor was the hysterically overblown
angry reaction in Beijing to Obama's low-profile meeting with the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama is a senior Nobel Peace Prize
laureate having received this honor in 1989 for
his efforts to "promote freedom in Tibet and find
a non-violent solution to the Tibet problem,"
while Obama only received his peace prize last
year in a surprising and controversial decision
that apparently reflected more the hopes of the
Nobel judges (and much of world opinion) than the
new U.S. president's actual achievements.

During his first year in office, Obama has made
compromises to the PRC, including delaying
meeting the Dalai Lama, in hopes of securing
Beijing's assistance in facing the world economic
crisis and other hot spots from North Korea to
Iran, but has received precious little goodwill
from the PRC leadership in return for his
concessions on human rights and U.S.-China trade.

Beijing has not displayed any intention of
assisting Washington promote international peace
through resolving the nuclear crises in North Korea or Iran.

Moreover, PRC Premier Wen Jiabao treated Obama
with disrespect bordering on contempt during the
world climate change summit in Copenhagen in
December as Wen twice kept the U.S. president
waiting for scheduled meetings during Obama's
last-minute push to achieve some sort of consensual agreement.

Most news media has maintained that Obama decided
to meet the Dalai Lama in the White House Map
Room instead of the Oval Office out of deference
to Beijing's sensitivities, but, as far as the
Tibetan spiritual leader was concerned, meeting
the president of the United States in the White
House was a political triumph, regardless in
which room their conversation was held.

Indeed, besides showing Washington's
unwillingness to dance to Beijing's tune, Obama's
decisions to meet with the Dalai Lama, allow the
Tibetan leader meet with Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and numerous congressional
leaders, and hold a public news conference at the
National Endowment for Democracy, was a direct
consequence of Beijing's own shameful behavior
toward the Dalai Lama and its criminal and bloody
suppression of human rights in Tibet and the rest of the PRC.

The Dalai Lama also fully realizes that to secure
the support of the United States for the cause of
Tibetan freedom the most important arena is not
the White House but Congress and the most
critical audience is the American people and
therefore endeavored explained his views on
non-violence and Buddhism and the importance of
Tibetan culture to the widest possible audience during his whirlwind visit.

Dalai as leadership model

The decision by the PRC authorities to respond to
the Dalai Lama's moderation with curses, insults
and slanders was surely sufficient to show
American citizens and politicians just who has
taken on the role of the Devil in the Sino-Tibetan conundrum.

The majority of Taiwan's 23 million people are also clear on this point.

In December 2008 and March 2009, Ma stunned
politicians in both his own ruling rightist
Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), the
Taiwan-centric opposition Democratic Progressive
Party and innumerable civic and religious groups
by refusing to allow the Dalai Lama to enter Taiwan.

Last August, Ma finally allowed the Dalai Lama to
accept the invitation of DPP Kaohsiung City Mayor
Chen Chu to console victims of Typhoon Morakot
only because the KMT president's approval ratings
were so low that he did not dare to further
offend voters by a further display of discourtesy
to this world religious leader.

The Tibetan leader expressed no regret for Ma's
disinclination to meet him and instead told
followers that Ma "is now president and has his
responsibilities and to me he is still the friend that I used to know."

Similarly, when asked by Larry King on CNN
Tuesday whether he has love for the Chinese, the
Dalai Lama replied, "Certainly. We have to practice that."

President Ma would do himself no harm by
seriously studying the Dalai Lama's style of
leadership and his sense of humor instead of
attempting to learn containment and terror from
Hu Jintao or continuing to kowtow to the Beijing authorities.
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