Saturday, July 05, 2008
CHINA: READY TO TALK, NOT READY TO LISTEN
Tibetan diplomatic team returned to Dharamsala on Friday, fresh from another round of "talks" with representatives of the Chinese government. While hopes were high that this "official" round might produce some signs of progress after the last "informal" meeting in early May made no progress at all (marked by constant demonization of Dalai Lama in Chinese state-run media before, during and after it), any amateur CCP-watcher could almost predict with certainty what would happen this time.
Of course, the Chinese government through its Party mouthpieces kept up its lying vilification campaign -- before, during and after this meeting too. I use scare quotes around "talks" because such a term normally implies that listening is also going on. It's clear from what is known of these events that, while the Tibetan side hears and addresses the expressed Chinese concerns openly, the Chinese side simply covers their ears and re-issues their already-fulfilled demands.
I'm beginning to see the Chinese strategy here. Naturally, just holding these events goes some way to getting the world off its back on the Tibet issue (progress or no) barely a month before their treasured Olympic Games are set to begin. But the loony-bin rhetoric is meant for domestic consumption; that's what the hyper-nationalist community can't seem to get enough of.
Having actual Tibetans from exile in town -- representatives of the man they love to hate -- ensures more attention for their unhinged screeds, more mileage out of the vilification campaign, and more boost to the CCP's tough guy image. Finding an actual solution to 57 years of absolutely failed policies comes far down on the priority list.
As the meetings were beginning in Beijing, the Communist Party boss in Tibet, hard-liner Zhang Qingli issued another of his blistering accusations.
"The March 14 incident was a seriously violent criminal incident by the Dalai clique. The organized and orchestrated incident was created by Tibetan separatists after long-term preparation, with the support and instigation of Western hostile forces," Zhang was quoted as saying...The next day, Party mouthpiece "editorials" continued the barrage.
"At a sensitive moment, they harbored the evil intention of turning the incident into a bloodbath, of disrupting the Beijing Olympics and destroying Tibet's stability and political harmony," Zhang said.
"The Dalai Lama has shown no intention of taking a break or displaying any sincerity in reining in his negative comments on the Chinese government," the dispatch by the Chinese government mouthpiece said...That's Du Qinglin sitting in one of the comfy chairs in the photo above.
"The Dalai Lama should openly and explicitly promise and prove it in his actions not to support activities to disturb the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games," the report quoted delegate Du Qinglin as telling the Tibetan side.
There should be no need to remind anyone that Dalai Lama has openly and explicitly disavowed any and all violent actions (telling his people he would resign if it happened again - which it hasn't), has openly and explicitly stated that it is a good thing for China to host the Olympics, has recognised Chinese pride in the event and called for that to be respected, has always refers to the Chinese people as "my Chinese brothers and sisters" (and to Chinese Buddhists as Tibetans' "elder brothers and sisters"), and has been saying for at least 20 years that he wishes for a genuinely and mutually agreeable solution for Tibet and China within the PRC constitution.
The envoys' senior dialogue partner this time was Du Qinglin, Minister of the Central United Front Work Department and Vice Chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference. During the Tibetans' stay in Beijing, Du was also quoted in mouthpiece media demanding Dalai Lama to "not support and earnestly restrain the Tibet Youth Congress' violent terrorist activities." That would be the same TYC which exemplified the Gandhian philosophy of standing on truth with strict non-violence, and displaying absolutely peaceful passive resistance as they were arrested multiple times by Indian police over the past few months.
The radical Tibet Youth Congress has vowed to use violence and terrorism to achieve Tibet independence and the Dalai Lama has said he was unable to influence the group's actions...Strangely enough, the first part of that last quote isn't a quote at all, though it reads like Xinhua (or one of the abundant "hard liners") speaking. Those are the words of Reuters itself, "reporting the news" (again, strangely enough, this article is available only on Reuters' China website, a couple of Malaysian reprints, and the Guardian).
"While some 'pro-Tibet Independence' activists claimed their goals were different from the Dalai Lama, evidence has shown conspiracies behind all the plots initiated by them were linked," Xinhua said.
Lodi Gyari made a few observations to the media yesterday as the 5 man diplomatic team made their way back to Dharamsala.
"Such baseless accusations make the Chinese government really look ridiculous in the eyes of the world," Gyari said. "This time they realized that labelling his Holiness being responsible for the present disturbances in Tibet and accusing him of sabotaging the Olympics is something that no one buys."The month of October has been mentioned as the time-frame for Round Eight. How many more Tibetans will have been tortured to death by that time? Tibetans are continuing to express their aspirations inside the country nearly four months after all this began in March, and they continue to die for those expressions (another round-up here of Tibet events is coming).
Gyari called the discussions "one of the most difficult sessions" the two sides have had, but said they agreed to meet again after the Olympics.
"I told my Chinese counterparts very candidly that if there is not seriousness on their part it is almost pointless for us to waste each other's time," Gyari told reporters at the New Delhi airport Friday before returning to Dharmsala, the base for Tibet's government-in-exile.
In this context, we had hoped that the Chinese leadership would reciprocate our efforts by taking tangible steps during this round. On the contrary, due to their excessive concern about legitimacy the Chinese side even failed to agree to our proposal of issuing a joint statement with the aim of committing both parties to the dialogue process.The Chinese did agree to more talks after the Olympics, but weren't even willing to sign a joint statement to that effect. They're often called "pragmatic," but often they just act like babies.
The statement continues:
While the Chinese side finally seems to have realized that their allegations against His Holiness for instigating the recent events in Tibet and in sabotaging the Olympics Games have become untenable, they are now urging His Holiness not to support violence, terrorism, and sabotaging the Olympics. We stated in the strongest possible terms that no one needs to urge us on this as His Holiness and the Tibetan struggle are universally acknowledged and appreciated for consistently rejecting and opposing such acts. While the Tibetan Youth Congress does not support the Middle Way Approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and stands for independence of Tibet, we categorically rejected the Chinese attempt to label it as a violent and terrorist organization. His Holiness has repeatedly and clearly stated publicly he is not seeking separation and independence of Tibet.As I wrote at the top, "talks" are only talks if the other side will actually listen. The Chinese authorities issue their concerns, the Tibetan authorities respond honestly that these concerns have been met. Autonomy not independence, support Beijing Olympics, no to violence, respect China and her people, all these are long on the record. The Tibetans issue some concerns, the Chinese say, "You must answer our concerns first. Dalai (Lama) must stop terrorist activites to split the motherland and turn Olympics into a bloodbath."
It's almost like, "You must stop beating your wife. Why can't you stop beating her?"
"But I don't beat my wife, I never beat my wife!"
"Well, we're not going to get anywhere until you admit to your violent nature and stop doing it. You must stop beating your wife."
That's not an argument, that's being hit on the head lessons. Or it's just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says. Whatever it is, it's not "talks."
In the course of our discussions we were compelled to candidly convey to our counterparts that in the absence of serious and sincere commitment on their part the continuation of the present dialogue process would serve no purpose.Maybe it's been productive for the Chinese side, I can see that. They get something for nothing -- world off their back, the hyper-nationalist community praising their toughness with "Tibetan terrorists," and so on. They offer absolutely nothing in return. It's not so productive for Tibetans who are continuing to get beaten bloody in the streets, and behind closed doors.
The Chinese side expressed the view that the dialogue process has been productive and that we need to keep in mind that a half-a-century-old issue of great complexity, cannot be resolved in a matter of years.