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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

EDITORIAL: Tibet: Now the debacle starts

March 16, 2008

Taipei Times
Mar 15, 2008

The portents are bad: The day that the qualifying tournament for the
Olympic baseball competition finished in Taiwan was the day that
Beijing commenced its violent crackdown on Buddhist monks and other
protesters in Tibet and Gansu Province after a week of protests.

Local sports fans may be delighted at the good fortune of the national
baseball team, especially in light of its poor performance in previous
contests. But for Taiwanese looking at the bigger picture, the thrill
should be seriously dampened by the reports of a massive police
mobilization, gunfire and burning of buildings in the Tibetan capital,
Lhasa.

Pre-Olympics pressure against the Chinese government over its many
ugly faces has focused on its funding and arming of Sudan's murderous
government. This pressure is well earned, but in terms of sheer scale,
the number of people that Beijing oppresses within its own borders has
not received the attention that it deserves.

Until now.

It is difficult to see how Beijing can deal with the disturbances
without angering or embarrassing its sympathizers in the West. Its
inclination is to use total force to extinguish Tibetan expressions of
dissent, but to do so threatens to conflagrate an already delicate
domestic mood.

The opposite strategy -- a negotiated solution with Tibetan leaders in
exile and religious figures in Tibet -- remains out of the question:
Such a concession would be revolutionary and precipitate changes in
other parts of the country that would be seen as a threat to the
Chinese Communist Party.

The likely approach will fall somewhere in between. A media blackout
and selected arrests in monasteries and elsewhere -- but also a
concerted effort to minimize the use of violence in more conspicuous
locations. The Chinese can afford to exercise restraint, because once
the Olympics are over they can resume special treatment for dissidents
at any level of violence they choose.

With the British government already expressing concern over the unrest
in southwest China, it remains a matter of time before more
conscientious governments in the West -- especially those in northern
Europe -- begin to juggle the implications of recommending an Olympic
boycott to the national Olympic committees.

As for the Tibetans, it is becoming increasingly apparent -- in no
small part because of the Dalai Lama's more direct criticisms of
Beijing in recent days -- that the Olympics might be their last chance
to appeal to the world for something approaching dignified treatment
by a government that wants to overwhelm, marginalize and denude them.

The situation is thus likely to worsen until Beijing faces the
impossible dilemma of sacrificing either Olympic glory or its
self-declared right to molest its national minorities.

There are five months until the Olympics. With this early outbreak of
public anger against despotism, the time ahead is bound to
increasingly rattle Olympic sponsors, frighten the Chinese government
and unnerve even the most mercenary of International Olympic Committee
bureaucrats.

For everyone else with a trace of conscience and a grasp of diplomacy,
the truth is out: The Beijing Olympics debacle has begun.
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