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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."

West's old clarion call for 'democracy'

April 29, 2008

N J Nanporia
The Deccan Herald ~~ Sunday April 27 2008

The sense of reality or unreality of what things appear to be, is
enhanced by asking at this point, why in response to Tibetan cultural
and identity aspirations, Beijing remains adamant?


Of the Tibet-China-Olympics affair, it can be truly said that things are
not what they appear to be. Thanks to the Western media, with a few
exceptions, the impression planted in the collective global mind is that
the Tibetan uprising was and continues to be “spontaneous”. But the New
York Times, no less, assures us that seven years ago when Beijing was
awarded the Games, “Tibet support groups in the United States and
abroad” began preparing for the day when China would be most politically
vulnerable.

These organisations, as recent events have shown, are equipped with
highly sophisticated communication and coordination technologies,
bolstered by skilfully managed publicity campaigns to which there is
nothing comparable outside the West. In its rather flustered reaction,
Beijing consulted an American PR firm which pointedly advised it to
“separate human rights” from the issue of the Olympic Games; and that,
in effect, hosting the Games “might lead to some movement on a number of
fronts”. That movement is currently on the move for all to see. Put in
less enigmatic terms Beijing was told, without being aware of it, that
there was a political price to pay for the Games award.

The way Dalai Lama sees it

The above raises two questions for which there are no answers because
they were never asked. Has the Tibetan opposition, the resources and the
know-how to conduct an operation on a scale that has astonished so many,
the Chinese apart? Isn’t it more than plausible to conclude that
American expertise (a la the “democratic” uprisings in some former
Soviet Union states) explains both the timing and efficiency of this
exercise? The answer to the first question is an obvious no. To the
second, it is a yes that has evidence to support it.

First, the ongoing anti-Chinese campaign has been seven years in the
making. Second, the Americans themselves have advertised their skills in
orchestrating demonstrations, protests and uprisings to promote what
they believe to be their national interests. Third, their ability to
create a problem is matched by an equal ability to sabotage a solution.
An illustration of this goes back to the time when with Beijing’s
consent, the Dalai Lama was about to make a pilgrimage to China to visit
a wellknown temple. Was it deliberate timing or just ignorance that
persuaded Washington and Congress to gift the Tibetan leader with the
Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honour?

The sense of reality or unreality of what things appear to be, is
enhanced by asking at this point, why in response to Tibetan cultural
and identity aspirations, Beijing remains adamant? The Dalai Lama asks
for autonomy, not independence. He denounces violence. He understands
the advantages for Tibet in remaining a part of China. Here, surely, the
West and many outside it argue, is the ideal Tibetan leader with whom to
negotiate and get the Tibetan problem out of the way.

What explains China’s seemingly irrational obstinacy? No serious
political problem can be solved without some degree of political
empathy. So the question at this point is not about what the Dalai Lama
says, but about the reception he has received in the world outside China
itself. What does Beijing see?

The Dalai Lama being honoured in Washington. The German Chancellor
talking of boycotting the Games. Canada granting honourary citizenship
to the Tibetan leader. Japan and Australia falling into line. The Pope
and the IOC itself being equivocal. Gordon Brown trying to find middle
ground by attending the closure of but not the opening of Games
ceremony. Hillary Clinton opting for a boycott and President Bush under
pressure not to attend.

Nicholas Sarkosy and Nancy Pelosi also flying the boycott flag; and even
the UN Secretary General, rather more questionably, following suit. The
European Parliament with its 27 members and the US House of
Representatives haven’t hesitated to join the party, not to speak of
American Indians with feathered head-dresses dancing to the
accompaniment of their drums. Taken together, can Beijing be blamed for
interpreting all this is as a West- inspired ganging up?

Of what China wants to tell US

One conclusion must be that, whether we approve or not, Beijing sees
things in its own way. When it accuses the Dalai Lama of lacking
“sincerity” it is, in effect, accusing the US of a dangerous failure in
empathy. “Sincerity” is a quality in China’s and Japan’s public life
that means “if you take a stand against us to which you are genuinely
attached, we will respect it and a compromise is not impossible.”

As usual Bush’s America has been taken aback by the enormous public
support Beijing has received from the Chinese people. Nationalism is
passe in the so called developed world. But China is currently a mix of
old and new and even Beijing, in its own interests, has set a limit to
giving rein to nationalism. Then there is that dreary subject of human
rights, always exploitable in the sort of context created by the
Olympics. The Declaration of Human Rights in the UN was made at a time
when what the West decided was never questioned without objections being
brushed aside during the original debates on the subject.

Then in 1980 and 1984 both the US and the Soviet Union made the
exploitation of the Olympics for political ends respectable.

As a footnote to all this America is furious about a map of Mexico that
includes California and Texas. Another footnote is a comment by a
Belgian expert: “If you know China you know that barricades and tough
language will have the opposite effect. China will close itself off from
the rest of the world.” People like Richard Gere and Spielberg hardly
come into the picture.
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