Friday, May 16, 2008
INTERNATIONAL ITEMS ON THE TIBET - CHINA ISSUE
Here is a collection of interesting articles from the international stage of the Tibet - China issue in the past while.
I'll start with a potentially positive rumour, via a member of the Tibetan parliament (no need to say "in exile" since there isn't any Tibetan parliament not in exile). The CCP may be floating the idea of inviting His Holiness to the Olympics.
Khedroob Thondup, a Taipei-based member of Tibet's parliament-in-exile, said a senior leader in Beijing had called him about two weeks ago to "sound out" the Olympic visit idea. He did not identify the leader...I'll bet he'd be happy to go! He could meet all the world leaders there...
"If they want to invite His Holiness to the Olympics, that would be a big change," Thondup told Reuters, referring to the Dalai Lama. "I'm sure he would consider this."
Another Tibetan escapee has made it to Kathmandu. Kusang Sonam hid for 12 days before crossing the mountain passes into Nepal. He says that after four days of protests in Lhasa, knife-wielding Chinese troops attacked Tibetan demonstrators on March 14.
Is it fair for the headline to call him a "rioter"? Are Tibetans shouting freedom slogans and waving flags, "rioters"? Let's please have the article writers remember that peaceful processions of monks and other non-violent expressions of the aspirations of the Tibetan public began on March 10 (and in a couple of places on March 9). Violence was used by the security forces during those first four or five days, before any rioting broke out on March 14th.
This article gives Kusang's account. They were "protesting" before "troops attacked" and only after that he "threw stones." Chinese officials define the Lhasa riot as the "burning, smashing, looting and killing" incident. We have no way of knowing from this article whether Kusang did any of these things, yet by its headline, he is a rioter.
"We were protesting to mark the 49th anniversary (of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule) when the troops attacked us with long knives," he said.Kusang won't be going home anytime soon, although he has a young family to worry about.
"We threw stones and the soldiers retreated and then returned with guns and soon there was smoke, rattle of gunfire and terrible shrieks," said Sonam, who is from the restive Dartsedo district in Karze prefecture.
He said he saw several Tibetans die from gunshot and knife wounds.
"The troops just hurled them like carcasses into police vans and drove off," said Sonam, who escaped to Nepal on March 26.
"It was our duty as Tibetans to protest the occupation of our land by China but they (troops) used excessive force," said Sonam in a rare first-hand account...He is only the fourth Tibetan to make it out of Tibet since the uprising began. The normal rate of escape is around 2,000 - 3,000 per year, but he's now the only one in the dormitory at the Kathmandu refugee centre.
Sonam already yearns to return to his family -- daughter, wife, brother and father -- but that is now impossible.
"I cannot go back as I have received a message from my wife, the police were still out looking for me and have confiscated all my belongings," said the refugee, clad in borrowed clothes.
Sometimes one has to wonder what is in the minds of some of the editors who write these wire-service stories. Dalai Lama arrived in Germany yesterday and made some comments to reporters at Frankfurt's airport.
"The Chinese political authorities' reaction, as before, was suppression. So it is very sad," the Tibetan spiritual leader said after landing in Frankfurt.According to the headline writer, this is represented by "Dalai Lama attacks China." In writer Martin Achter's opening sentence, "[t]he Dalai Lama lashed out...", and immediately following the quoted portion, he refers to it as the "Nobel peace laureate's salvo..." So many aggressive-sounding descriptors, when the strongest language actually used by the Tibetan leader was that the situation was "very sad." Then came a salvo of "genuine harmony", "basis of trust", "equality" and "genuine autonomy." Better put away those big guns, Dalai Lama! [note: the headline is now changed to indicate a Dalai Lama "broadside" against China, and the "lashed out" has been moved to the photo caption since yesterday.]
He called for autonomy for the Himalayan region and stressed that Tibetans wanted to live in peace with China. "Genuine harmony must come on the basis of trust, trust very much based on equality.
"So far these are lacking. We need genuine autonomy."
Better relations with Tibet, he added, was "in the own interest of the people of this huge country."
Tibetan exile authorities have been exceedingly restrained in the face of dumbfoundingly shrill -- bordering on vulgar -- attacks from the CCP government of China. It wasn't only the government officials providing incendiary quotes for state media to use, in addition to their foaming editorials and "history" lessons. Books were rushed into print.
In fact the war of words is so intense from the Chinese side that they have already published a book called Lies and Truth. The lies are all on the Tibetan side and the truth is with Beijing. The book was launched on 4 April in Beijing by Sanlian, a unit of the China Publishing Group. The publishers claim the publication of Lies and Truth is the fastest ever in publishing history. The book was commissioned on 27 March and published on 3 April. The publisher of Sanlian, Zhang Weimin told China's CCTV that "We had to frame a response to demonstrate our position. We worked to show the true state of things to those unaware of the truth, and to rebut the axe-grinding, misleading reports of the western media."Now the Tibetan exile authorities are responding to the irrational, Cultural Revolution-style attacks, in a rational and calm manner. In a response to the CCP allegations, the exile authorities show, in a very well-written essay, how Tibet policy was suddenly reversed at the "Third Tibet Work Forum" in 1994. The previous trend toward liberalization was replaced by a policy that would result in the obliteration of Tibetan national identity.
The significance of the Third Work Forum lies in the fact that it overturned the more liberal policies laid out for Tibet's "development" by the First and Second Work Forums held in 1980 and 1984. The first two work forums were initiated by the late Hu Yaobang, then Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party. This liberal leader is credited with masterminding a series of measures to improve the social, economic and political conditions in Tibet. The brief spell of liberalization markedly improved the living conditions of the majority of Tibetans and contributed to a more relaxed intellectual and social climate.This one is well worth reading in full. A portion of the letter from the world's Tibetologists, sent to President Hu on March 27, is included and bears repeating:
All these were reversed at the Third Work Forum. The Third Work Forum policy recommendations contained four key elements. China stepped up the scale of repression in Tibet. External propaganda work was escalated. The pace of economic development in Tibet and its corollary of encouraging more Chinese settlers and businessmen to take advantage of the economic boom on "the roof of the world" was also increased.
"As scholars engaged in Tibetan Studies, we are especially disturbed by what has been happening. The civilization we study is not simply a subject of academic enquiry; it is the heritage of a living people and one of the world's great cultural legacies...The attribution of the current unrest to the Dalai Lama represents a reluctance on the part of the Chinese government to acknowledge and engage with policy failures that are surely the true cause of popular discontent."The hardcore Motherlanders on display internationally last month would also do well to know that the official CCP version of history is not universally adhered to even by renowned Chinese historians. Professor Ge Jianxiong, 62, director of the Institute of Chinese Historical Geography and the Research Centre for Historical Geographic Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, is a veteran of the committee which advises the government on official Chinese history textbooks. In an article in the China Review magazine last year, he broke with the tired old CCP line that Tibet "has always been a part of China."
"It would be a defiance of history," asserts Ge, "to claim that Tibet has always been a part of China since the Tang Dynasty; the fact that the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau subsequently became a part of the Chinese dynasties does not substantiate such a claim."A wai for the finder of this one, Stormbringer's Thunder, who has more on this subject.
Noting that notions of a 'Greater China' were based entirely on the "one-sided views of Qing court records that were… written for the court’s self-aggrandisement", Ge criticises those who feel that "the more they exaggerate the territory of historical 'China' or China’s successive dynasties and kingdoms, the more patriotic they are."
But of course, extreme exaggeration is not the only thing the super-patriots get up to. They also order each other's children to get out there and defend the motherland from "ethnic scum" (as it was put by a representative of Chinese "students and scholars" in Australia last month). Now, just as first suspected by the Australian government, we learn that the Chinese government actually ordered its officials with children studying in Australia to send them to Canberra for the torch-erously harmonious relay run, to "guard the torch" (and then some, apparently). The aggression of some of those in Canberra has caused the local Chinese community considerable embarrassment.
The allegation, by well-known dissident Yuan Hongbing, was made at a weekend forum in Sydney...The single human rights activist credited with prompting the release of more Chinese political prisoners than any other person or organisation, is John Kamm and his Dui Hua Foundation. He gave an interview last week with the New York Sun.
He said he had learned of a communication by the central government to officials at all levels, that whoever had children abroad, should inform them to participate in the pro-China rallies and follow the local Chinese Embassy.
During question time a Chinese man stood up to say that he loved Australia and its freedoms. The man said he had waved an Australian flag many times, but had never held the red flag since he came to Australia. He said he was very angry about the Canberra protests.
"Now Australian Chinese have to bear the burden for the bad impression they have made," he said.
For a very long time, if you look at my position on key issues, I've favored the view that opening up, having this relationship is going to produce a better China....At the bottom of that optimism was this view of Chinese youth. The thing that has rattled me and what I'm seeing very unexpectedly on the part of Chinese youth is instead of being more critical, more tolerant, more worldly, they are reverting to a form of nationalistic intolerance of any form of dissent, blind patriotism, paranoid conspiratorial kind of theorizing, the politics of grievance.The government went full steam on transforming the youthful idealism displayed in 1989 into a blind nationalism, through the use of school teaching materials. It seems to have worked on the new generation.
Chinese officials in Nepal evidently don't need to worry so much about leaving bad impressions. Although the Nepali police, who have been faced with daily Tibetan protests in the capital, haven't appeared to be holding much back in the way of rough treatment when arrests are made, the Tibetans just refuse to be beaten (even while being beaten, as it were). Not good enough, says China's ambassador.
"We want the Nepali establishment to take severe penal actions against those involved in anti-china activities in Nepal", added Ambassador Xiangling.Hopefully he doesn't get to order UN officials around the same way Chinese officials have been ordering the Nepali government around. When Tibetans are beaten with sticks in Kathmandu, it can be thought of as at least 50% on behalf of the CCP government of China. Which sort of takes the sting out of the allegations of media bias when such pictures mistakenly carried captions about Chinese abuse of Tibetans.
As if this were not enough, the Chinese envoy [rapping] the UN system in Nepal stated that, "we have found out that the UN officials in Nepal are unnecessarily involved in the anti-china activities which run contrary to the UN charter".
"The UN system in Nepal is overtly engaged in assessing the human rights situation in Tibet…their job is to look into Nepali matters as a matter of fact", reminded the Chinese ambassador.
"UN officials posted in Nepal must not look beyond", concluded the Ambassador.
Der Spiegel's interview with Dalai Lama was published this week.
The young 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, who made a daring escape to India -- arriving in the very first days of 2000 -- is making his first international teaching trip abroad. The New York Times has a very good account of the young Tulku of the Karma Kagyu tradition, and the anticipation of his awaiting flock.
Anything written by Robert Barnett on the Tibet crisis is well worth reading carefully. He has a book review of Pico Iyer's latest work, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in the current New York Review of Books. In laying the foundation for his book review, Barnett gives a good synopsis of events in Tibet so far. It's long, but worth it.
Finally, I had heard of this new film, The Unwinking Gaze a few weeks ago when it was screened for members of the UK parliament. This was apparently met with demands for more showings, so there must be something special here.
The film has a website: 'The Unwinking Gaze' - The inside story of The Dalai Lama's struggle for Tibet, which offers an embeddable trailer.
So here you go. Karmapa is also seen here, appearing a little perplexed at the prospect of carrying on the Tibetan struggle at some future time. Relax, Your Holiness, there's plenty of life in him yet.