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« Le Canada peut, dans une atmosphère cordiale et constructive, demander au gouvernement chinois de résoudre la situation du Tibet. »

Ottawa Citizen Response

March 14, 2007

Chinese diplomat Zuo Wenxing’s letter to the Citizen regarding Tibet is reminiscent of Nikita Kruschev’s infamous shoe stomping show at the United Nations – good theatre, bad script.

While the Chinese government can choose to argue “that Tibet has been an inalienable part of Chinese territory since the 13th century”, others including the Canadian government have been more judicious. In an External Affairs memorandum to the Prime Minister at the time of the 1959 Lhasa uprising, the department wrote: “the status of Tibet in international law has been uncertain and ill-defined.” Later in 1970, the government’s position was that Canada neither challenges nor endorses specific Chinese territorial claims.

No country can ever consider itself truly unified when that so-called unity is achieved through the barrel of an artillery or machine gun.

However, fixating on opposing views of history serves little purpose 800 years after Marco Polo first reached China. The Dalai Lama’s “Middle Path” policy is clear in its favouring a free Tibet in a united China. Only this month, the Dalai Lama lauded Chinese President Hu Jintao and again recommitted to a peaceful resolution of Tibet’s status within China.

It’s ironic that Wenxing would raise the Olympic Games as a testament to China’s political or democratic progress. Five years ago, after awarding Beijing the games, IOC President Jacques Rogge said "we are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in China".

And while most already differ with Wenxing’s rosy spin of life in China, he failed to cite illustrations of that alleged progress, such as the 87,000 protests reported by China’s Ministry of Public Security in 2005, last September’s cold-blooded shooting of Tibetan refugees fleeing to India, or China’s 50,000 Internet police, a number just shy of Canada’s total 62,500 police officers.

Sadly, it’s telling that the only “cold war mentality” that still pervades this debate is communist propaganda.

It’s telling that nowadays there are still some people who cling to the Cold War mentality, believing the worst about China. The fact that Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics shows that the world has chosen to acknowledge how far China has gone and how much progress China has made over the years.

Move forward when the key issue is not in dispute. The Dalai Lama is clear that Tibet’s future is within China, what remains unresolved

In 18 months, athletes from around the world will compete at the Beijing Olympics. And now the only question that remains is whether China will honour Jacques Rogge’s promise, because the world still remembers and in just over a year the world will be watching.

Sustaining authoritarianism, however, has been no cakewalk. For Beijing, staying in power is a brutal, daily fight. It not only must neutralize the democratizing powers of market forces or liberal instruments and institutions that come with an open economy, it must also aggressively stifle the democratizing effect of the increased social pluralism that comes with modernization.

Ms. Ying Ma is a former NRI Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. This article is adapted from a longer version in the February/March issue of Policy Review.

Communiqués de presse

Bureau National du CCT 1425, boul. René-Lévesque Ouest, 3e étage, Montréal (Québec) H3G 1T7 Canada
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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