Five takes on tibet

What the papers are saying about China’s crackdown

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It was impossible not to notice that the United States removed China from its list of top 10 human rights violators just as the biggest anti-China protests in 20 years erupted in Tibet. In its annual human rights report on 190 countries, the State Department conceded that Beijing’s overall performance remained poor. But in what looked like a political payoff to a government whose help America desperately needs on difficult problems, the department dropped China from its list of 10 worst violators. China had a chance to shine for its Olympic coming-out party and is blowing it.

New York Times

China joins the dubious company of the Burmese junta in having its troops go into battle against unarmed Buddhist monks.

No one would want the vast range of grievances in Chinese society – some political like those of the Uighurs, some just personal like that of the man who hijacked a busload of Australian tourists in Xi’an – turned towards any violence at the Olympics or elsewhere. Nor would a boycott of the Olympics be anything but counter-productive, deepening the xenophobic nationalism that still runs deep in a lot of Chinese after their country’s 19th and 20th century humiliations.

But it should make most of us take with a grain of salt the claims of terrorist plots that Chinese authorities are making. Is it fear, or the Leninist doctrine that a party which wields infinite terror can rule indefinitely?

Sydney Morning Herald

After the past week’s bloodshed, it is impossible to imagine the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, meeting the Dalai Lama, the man Beijing holds responsible for fomenting the strife. But the Dalai Lama, a figure of moral authority who preaches cultural autonomy rather than separatism, still represents the only alternative to a further round of repression. His authority is being challenged by a younger generation of activists, who say that the 72-year-old Tibetan Buddhist leader has been strung along by China.

Faced with such a crisis, Beijing’s authoritarian instinct is to throw out foreign journalists and bring the hammer down on Tibet. It is surely impossible to condemn the Burmese junta for the brutal suppression of its Buddhist monks without holding China, a member of the UN security council, to the same standards.

The Guardian

It’s ironic, and even ridiculous, to raise the issue of “human rights” when the rioters have infringed upon the rights of the majority of Lhasa people to live and work in peace and prosperity. Anyone who visits Tibet can see how life has improved for the people, the freedom they enjoy in religious affairs and how much their cultural heritage has been preserved.

Gone are the days more than half a century ago when officials, nobles and upper-ranking monks in monasteries owned all the farmland, pastures, forests, mountains and rivers, and the majority of the livestock, and treated their serfs like dirt. It is revealing that the rioters made clear their objective: To split Tibet from the motherland and return to those days that can only be described as the dark middle ages.

China Daily

The irony is that since the early 1970s the Dalai Lama has advocated autonomy, not independence, for Tibet, and repeatedly disavows violence. He has called for China to deliver on the promises inherent in its constitution, which guarantees “regional autonomy” and “organs of self-government” for areas inhabited by minority nationalities.

There’s much Beijing could do to improve its rule in Lhasa. Allowing Tibetans to practise their religion freely would be a good place to start. Ending subsidies for Chinese settlers to move to Tibet and stopping the forced resettlement of Tibetan nomads would be welcome moves. Beijing could also benefit from taking its dialogue with the Dalai Lama more seriously after he’s gone, there’s no guarantee that an equally moderate voice will take his place.

Wall Street Journal

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