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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."

The Chinese Are in My Laptop!

February 21, 2010

Roy Fitzgerald
The Huffington Post
February 19, 2010

Yesterday I posted a piece about Tibet,
criticizing China and saying the West should
stand up for Tibetans. Within an hour of the
piece going online, my normally reliable laptop
began to play up: programs seized, and weird
error massages kept coming up. Microsoft Word
went crazy. My computer then stopped functioning
completely for the first time in the three years
I've had it. A friend, an IT security consultant,
said this could have been a due to hacking or cyber attacks.

Now, in my case, I'm sure it's just a
coincidence. I'd actually be quite flattered if
the Chinese authorities took such an interest in
my scribblings. But cyber-attacks emanating from
China are a very real phenomenon for journalists,
especially in the run up sensitive events like
the yesterday's meeting between President Obama
and the Dalai Lama. In fact, it is now almost
routine for China to launch cyber attacks on
journalists and news agencies: They have recently
attacked the computer systems of Reuters, Dow
Jones and Agence Presse. They focus these attacks
just before major news events involving China. In
the wake of cyber-attacks on Google, Hillary
Clinton recently condemned cyber-attacks saying
that they contravene the human right to free
speech. Well, if the Chinese can cyber attack
Google, they can surely get in to my beat-up old laptop if they want.

We almost take cyber-snooping for granted these
days, but we shouldn't. Let's imagine if the same
thing happened with 1980s technology: I write a
piece criticizing China on my electronic
typewriter (while listening to Wham.) I then post
it to the United States where it is published. I
come home the next day to find a Chinese man
rooting around in my filing cabinet.

If that happened in your own home, you might be
tempted to take the 12 bore to the intruder. We
should be equally belligerent about the modern
version of this sort of intrusion. Nor should we
cooperate with a regime that behaves in this way:
the Chinese are forever spying on Western
individuals, corporations and governments. Well
done to Google for pulling out of China. Full
credit also to the Huffington Post for featuring
my piece on their front page. They are not cowed by Chinese cyber threats.

Before posting the piece yesterday, I said to my
wife, "Hey, you know how we've always dreamed of
going to Tibet? I'm just about to post a piece
about it. If I do, we'll probably never be allowed in."

"Small price to pay," she said.

Why care about Tibet? If you watch this video you
will see one very good reason why:

Nangpala survivors and witnesses recall their experiences [Video Clip]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rez1xDZuZwU&feature=player_embedded

In September 2006, 75 young Tibetans tried to
flee across the border to Nepal. They were
attempting to cross the high mountain passes near
Everest. Only 43 made it to Nepal. Of the others,
some were shot in the back by Chinese soldiers
and many were captured. Some are now missing,
presumed dead. The group included children and
Buddhist nuns. As the bullets rained down, they
could not even run, because they were waist deep
in snow. The first to be shot dead was a 17 year
old Buddhist nun named Kelsang Namtso. Western
mountaineers at China's Everest base camp videoed
the shootings: Chinese snipers calmly aimed
across the cavernous Himalayan valley and shot
dead these defenseless civilians, fleeing for a
better life. Such incidents happen all the time.
This one was only unusual because it was videoed
by Westerners: one of the Western climbers can be
heard saying incredulously: "they are shooting them, like dogs."

When these Tibetans were attacked they had
already been walking for seventeen days. They had
gone without food or sleep. A few years ago, I
trekked to Nepal's Everest base camp: even with
our modern gear and the help of porters, the
conditions at 18,000 feet were harsh beyond
belief. There is hardly even any oxygen. Why did
these impoverished and ill-equipped people risk
their lives crossing the Himalayas, one of the
most forbidding environments on earth? Because of
a Chinese oppression that the world no longer
cares about. Here is a list of those said to be
still missing since the September 2006 attack.
They are presumed imprisoned or dead:

· Tenwang, age 7
· Lhakpa Tsering, age 8
· Dhondup Lhamo, age 9
· Dechen Dolma, age 10
· Wangchen, age 11
· Tsedon, age 12
· Sonam Wangdue, age 12
· Ming Shomo, age 13
· Lodoe Nyima, age 15
· Jamyang Tsetan, age 16
· Karma Tsetan, age 16
· Lodoe Namkha, age 16
· Karma, age 19
· Samten, age 19
· Sonam Palzom, age 20
· Dhondup Palden, age 21
· Kusang, age 22
· Lobsang Paljor, age 35


Every day that we trade with China, we make it
wealthier and more powerful. Yet in Tienneman
Square and elsewhere we have seen how China
treats it own people, and the people of Tibet.
China is also using its growing power to prop up
dictators in Africa, such as Robert Mugabe.

Why do we continue to trade with China? For the
sake of our "economic interests." Just for the
life of Tenwang, age 7, I'd happily live a life
of poverty. But if the West did invoke principled
sanctions against China, we wouldn't all suddenly
collapse in to poverty. We might have a slightly
modified standard of living. It might even be
good if the West again manufactured its own
things. Why not reopen our factories and give
ordinary working people jobs again?

The idea that trade and engagement with China
will make it become democratic is as dead as
17-year-old Kelsang Namtso, the Buddhist nun
killed on that mountain pass. Ordinary Chinese
people are wonderful, and are the inheritors of
an amazing civilization, but their government is
increasingly tyrannical; and it's trying to go
global. The West must now choose between money
and the principles that made it great. We are
sacrificing the lives and liberty of innocent
people for an addiction to consumer goods that don't make us any happier.

If we choose money now, you'd better teach your
children the Mandarin for "yes sir".

Me, I just want to know the Mandarin for "get the hell out of my laptop."

* Rory Fitzgerald is an Irish journalist.
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