Agam's Gecko
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Kelsang Gyaltsen
Tibetan envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen speaks to reporters at the European Parliament in Brussels, July 15, 2008.
Photo: John Thys / AFP

s the Chinese government sincere about addressing the Tibet issue? A better question might be, "Is the Chinese government ever sincere about anything?"

After half a century of misrule in Tibet, the total failure of Chinese policy is evident to all but the holders of that policy. After major uprisings in 1959, 1987-89 and 2008 (with innumerable less known events affirming Tibetan national identity throughout the period), world leaders pressed China to deal with the problem sincerely. That there is a problem is beyond question.

After two meetings between Chinese and Tibetan exile officials (since the outbreak of the latest crisis), a Chinese official made plain that as far as the "People's" Republic is concerned, only a single narrow issue is on the table -- the personal future of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Nothing else will ever be considered.

One would expect such a bombshell announcement to have penetrated the world's halls of power, and reached at least some of those who have lately cited "progress" between the two sides. It seems not to have done so. Only the Tibetans are willing to state the inconvenient truth, while everyone else looks the other way.

On July 15, speaking to reporters at the European Parliament in Brussels, one of the Tibetan envoys to China stated the obvious.
"We do not see any useful purpose in continuing the dialogue, since there is obviously a lack of political will from the Chinese leadership to seriously address the issue of Tibet," said the envoy, Kelsang Gyaltsen.
This statement is objectively true, and proven so by China itself. Straight from the horse's mouthpiece, Xinhuanet:
He stressed that the contacts and dialogues were about Dalai Lama's personal future, not so-called "China-Tibet negotiation" or "dialogue between Han and Tibetan people"
Nothing could be clearer. The sky is blue; the sun is hot; China is insincere. It's like a law of nature, as long as the CCP runs the place.

Liu Jianchao
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao claimed that China is not insincere in dealing with the Tibet issue, July 17, 2008. (Photo was taken Oct. 18, 2007 as Liu complained about Dalai Lama's Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed by Congress and presented by President Bush.)
Photo: Greg Baker / AP

In a shocking display of insincerity, on July 17 China rejected the notion that it is insincere, clearly smarting from the implication that its own standard complaint about Dalai Lama actually applies more accurately to itself.
"The central government is sincere about holding contact with the Dalai side," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.
China perpetually issues demands to the Dalai Lama, and he just as continually meets (and even exceeds) them. Their permanent response to his goodwill, is to claim that his statements are "insincere." While he goes around the world, proving that he means what he says at every possible opportunity, it's never enough for the Chinese.

To make plain the depth (and longevity) of the Chinese insincerity, the Office of the Dalai Lama issued a statement, which says in part:
In fact, when the Chinese Government made a five-point proposal in 1981 which included that "the Dalai Lama will enjoy the same political status and living conditions as he had before 1959", His Holiness categorically made it clear to the Chinese leadership that the issue at stake was the well-being of six million Tibetans, and he personally had nothing to ask of the Central Chinese government.
For at least 27 years, the CCP has clearly known that the issue of Tibet has nothing to do with the personal future of His Holiness. Yet they assure the world that they sincerely want to meet with the Tibetans, but only for discussion of that one thing that they know doesn't matter at all.

The generally tongue-tied IOC, after being shamed by Chinese occupation officials in Lhasa who launched hysterically political diatribes at the "politics-free" official torch ceremony, expressed dismay at this blazing hypocrisy and "hoped it wouldn't happen again." It's been the only occasion of the IOC showing any sort of principle in the face of all the broken promises of better human rights, media freedom, etc. made during Beijing's campaign for this honour.

Jacques Rogge
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge claims credit for "new Chinese laws," promising "no Internet censorship."
On July 17, Jacques Rogge, the IOC President, announced that his "silent diplomacy" had resulted in new Chinese laws to protect child labourers, media rights, the Olympic projects' dispossessed people, and the environment.
"For the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. There will be no censorship on the Internet."
That's a pretty bold statement to make, "no censorship." He has received "very strong assurances." Right. Like that's never happened before.

Call me cynical, but I don't expect "no censorship of the Internet" to happen by August 8. Keep an eye on the live "China Internet Censorship Index" button, added to our sidebar a few days ago. A range of websites are continually tested from within China to gauge the Internet's status there. Zero would be a complete Internet shutdown, 100 would represent no censorship at all. The day I put it up, the index was at 32.5. Click the button to get more about the methodology.

Beijing may claim to be welcoming the world next month, but as its actions make clear, it doesn't consider Tibetans, Uyghurs or Mongolians to be part of that world. If you happen to be a young Uyghur family with a baby daughter, expect to get the Mary and Joseph treatment.
Most of the hotel clerks, mistaking them for foreigners, welcomed them and offered a room. But when the couple pulled out their identity cards, the clerks realized they were Muslim Uyghurs from China. And then the response was always the same: Sorry, no room at the inn.
Of course Han Chinese are not treated that way when they go to Xinjiang, where they now outnumber the locals.

A young British woman was recently subjected to the swiftest deportation procedure imaginable. She stepped out of her apartment to find security agents waiting for her. After letting her grab a change of clothes, confiscating her Olympics tickets and her bank account (and all belongings in the apartment), around 30 state agents mounted the operation to get her to the airport and out of the country.

How could a British citizen (with a valid visa and work permit, no less) be treated this way by a country claiming to be "welcoming the world"? That's easy: Dechen Pemba has a Tibetan heritage. Citizenship matters little to a regime which puts such a high premium on "race." Hotels in Beijing have been told not to accept Tibetans, Uyghurs or Mongolians.

During this high-security operation, Dechen Pemba was even refused her right to call her embassy. The entire episode was video-taped by (in)security officials, probably not for use in the next "Beijing Welcomes the World" advertisement.

The Chinese later claimed she was a member of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which Beijing falsely claims as a terror group. Dechen says, "It's amazing the things they just make up. It's absolutely not true." Once again, the inimitable Liu Jianchao:
"Dechen Pemba, a key member of the splittist organisation the Tibetan Youth Congress and a British citizen, took part in activities against the law of China during her stay, and has been deported," he said.
As is the standard procedure for the CCP, anything can be justified with hysterical accusations lacking a shred of evidence. Dechen had repeatedly asked these officials what she had done wrong. The only answer they could give was, "You know what you've done." They had no idea either! However, the pudgy spokesperson falsely claims that she had admitted to "activities against Chinese laws".

That guy has no shame in openly lying. Which should bring into serious question his assurance of China's "sincerity" noted earlier. The United Kingdom must respond to this outrageous treatment of its citizen.

Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongolians, British -- is anyone else unwelcome at the Welcome to the World event? After earlier incidents in which a young American was attacked while crowds shouted "Kill him! Kill the Frenchman!" and a French student was assaulted by a Chinese gang on a Shanghai subway and told "You are not welcome here," many foreign residents have been getting a similar (though less physical) attitude from Chinese officialdom. With a policy that aims to "keep dangerous forces outside the country," people such as English teachers are feeling picked on. Who knew that conjugating verbs could be so subversive?

For the "leadership" of China, this is the silencing season. No naysayers are allowed, and anything that might prove embarrassing will be off the menu. Racism, however, is decidedly on the menu.

Bar owners in Beijing are now being forced to sign pledges to ban "black people" and Mongolians from their establishments. Question: Wasn't it the apartheid laws which disqualified South Africa from Olympic participation not so many years ago? Can we now disqualify China, or is there a double standard somewhere?
"Bar owners near the Workers Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises," the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.

It quoted the co-owner of a bar who said that a group of police had recently visited his establishment to order it "not to serve black people or Mongolians."
In the Sanlitun bar district, owners are required to sign promises to prohibit certain activities, including dancing and serving black customers, according to SCMP. Mongolian women are perceived as "prostitutes" and Africans are perceived as "drug dealers."
In a notorious incident last September, dozens of black people were detained by police in a raid on bars in the Sanlitun district.

Witnesses said the police rounded up all the black people they could find, up to three dozen in total, and beat some of them with rubber truncheons.
In that incident, the son of the ambassador from Grenada was clubbed on the head, sending him to hospital.

A businesswoman from Liberia tells of two-tiered pricing at a popular nightclub; the entrance fee for "black people" is twice as high as for anyone else. Those who really wanted to go inside and paid the double price, were prohibited from sitting at the tables. Bar-raids on establishments patronized by Africans frequently include urine tests for all customers. Black people are asked to present their passport before entry to some clubs, while other foreigners are not.

The Liberian lady knows what is behind all this discriminatory treatment.
"When the police come, you have to run," she said. "I've lived in Holland and the United States and it was never like this. There's no human rights here. It's racist and it makes me feel very bad."
China's leaders need to learn a civil rights lesson given many years ago (40 years, to be exact). Here are two short video pieces from the producers of Salute the Movie. Keep this in mind when you see "T for Tibet" next month.

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