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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Editorial: The Dalai Lama's Speech

March 11, 2009

The New York Times
March 11, 2009

The Dalai Lama is a man of peace and forbearance. So it is a measure of Tibet’s suffering and growing desperation that he accused China’s government on Tuesday of turning Tibet into a "hell on earth." We only hope Beijing heeds his warnings before it is too late.

The Tibetan spiritual leader still advocates a "middle way" of nonviolence. But China stubbornly refuses to pursue serious compromise on Tibet.

The Dalai Lama spoke out on the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising. After the Chinese military crushed the rebellion, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee across the Himalayas to India. Since then, he said, Beijing has suppressed Tibet’s religion, culture, language and identity to near extinction. He charged that Chinese authorities viewed the Tibetan people as “criminals deserving to be put to death.”

China has invested heavily in recent years to improve the quality of life in Tibet. But that is canceled out by harsh restrictions on the Tibetans’ rights. That repression has increased significantly after anti-China riots erupted in Tibet’s capital last year.

We accept that Beijing must protect lives and property from unrest. But it responded to the 50th anniversary with force rather than reason by sending in thousands more troops, ordering monks to stay indoors and cutting off cellphone and Internet services. That level of repression is intolerable and unsustainable.

Beijing insists that the Dalai Lama’s real plan is to break Tibet away from China, even though he has repeatedly endorsed autonomy. It is long past time for serious talks to test the Dalai Lama’s intentions.

The revered, 73-year-old leader has so far managed to deflect demands for independence. But Tibetans are increasingly frustrated. And when the Dalai Lama dies, Beijing will lose its best interlocutor for resolving the dispute peacefully.

This week, China’s president, Hu Jintao, called for building a "Great Wall" of stability in Tibet. But without serious negotiations, and a political solution, there will be only instability -- just what Beijing’s leaders fear.
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