(博讯北京时间2010年2月24日 首发 - 支持此文作者/记者)
On 18th February 2010, US President Obama finally met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader, in the Map Room of White House.
The meeting of Obama and the Dalai Lama will allow the Tibet issue to float and draw sustained attention from world leaders. This meeting will send the correct message from the international community to the Beijing regime, emphasising that Tibetan issue is not something which can be manipulated by the dictatorship regime in Beijing. In addition, this meeting will also sustain the growing global political pressure against the world’s largest autocracy.
The White House delayed this meeting several times, in order not to provoke too much diplomatic ire from the Chinese communist regime. This attempt at US diplomacy obviously did not achieve the goal of an appreciative Beijing response, judging by the recent aggressive statements from the Chinese government spokespersons.
The Tibet issue and arms sale to Taiwan are what Beijing claims to be ‘internal affairs’, in which they have spared no effort in attempting to use economic ransom to dissuade the international community from comment or influence. However, the international community does not regard these issues as merely ‘internal’ to China, as claimed by Beijing, and these issues are a constant and growing issue of controversy on the global stage.
A Chinese government spokesperson purported that the meeting between Obama and H.H. the Dalai Lama would severely hurt the feelings of Chinese people, which is just wishful thinking on his part. In fact, the majority of Chinese populace is not aware of, nor concerned with, nor caring about this meeting. However, the truth of the matter is that the 18 February meeting did most decidedly damage the carefully laid veneer of propaganda of the Hu Jintao government.
In a way, Chinese culture is a ‘culture of appearances’ which is fastidious about its well promoted image of ‘sensibility, grace and impressiveness’.
The reason that Beijing continues to exert and to admonish the White House over and over, saying ‘this will harm the feelings of Chinese people and will undermine the interests of China, et cetera, is to attempt to abort the meeting by deterring the US with scare tactics before the planned Obama-the Dalai Lama meeting takes place. From President Obama’s point of view, however, he cannot change the long standing tradition of the US President hosting meetings with H.H. the Dalai Lama, as it has been a strong policy of the White House for over twenty years. Despite the several postponements, it was never in doubt that President Obama would eventually meet the Dalai Lama. As a double whammy for Beijing, its ransom efforts were all wasted in full public view, and this loss of face is so deplorable to the sensitive Beijing ego. It is believable that the Chinese government will bear a grudge and will retaliate. It is foreseeable that the next round of US-Chinese relationship could deteriorate and will possibly see new frictions and conflicts on many fronts; diplomatic, economic, trade, military, security and non-proliferation issues.
Does this Obama-Dalai Lama meeting have any profound importance? The contents of the meeting do not have anything innovative or new, so I don’t think so. First of all, this meeting is merely a customary continuation rather than a historic breakthrough. Secondly, the US will not change its policy towards China on the Tibet issue because of this meeting. The US will continue its recognition of the sovereignty and integrity of China, and will not promote independence of Tibet. On the other hand, the Dalai Lama always advocates for a meaningful autonomy of Tibet rather than seeking independence. There is no point in the Chinese government acting irrationally as it appears to be doing, as if they feel sitting on pins and needles against this customary liaison.
The Chinese government accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist, deliberately misconstruing the words of the Dalai Lama when he advocates meaningful autonomy. Beijing avoids repeating this simple statement, and insists on hearing and repeating an alternative statement of independence, which, once they have changed what he said, they repeat and publish via their huge propaganda machine. This is what the Chinese people hear. This is so obviously a distortion and will hardly win approval internationally in the long run, although it is clear that the powers in Beijing can indoctrinate the Chinese populace through partisan propaganda domestically. After all, this distortion will not withstand the test of time, and eventually the truth will speak louder than the propaganda.
Will this meeting harm the interest of China? Without a doubt, it could hurt the vanity of Beijing. In mid June 2007, the Dalai Lama visited Australia. Chinese authorities warned the Australian leaders again and again not to meet the Dalai Lama, which resulted in backfire for them. Not only Kevin Rudd, the then Opposition Leader, but also Prime Minister John Howard met His Holiness. Was there any impairment of mutual interest after the meeting between Beijing and Australia? Not at all. The Australian-Chinese bilateral relationship continued to develop as usual, and trade proceeded without any deterrence. To be honest, John Howard, then Australian PM, was perhaps not so keen initially to meet His Holiness. But he intentionally met the Dalai Lama to clearly convey the message that the Australian government will not be told what to do, and by doing so, he defended Australian sovereignty and global credibility. It appeared that that Hu Jintao government was self sabotaging. Isn’t Hu Jintao government repeating the same diplomatic stupidity this time?
It has been a long standing diplomatic tradition for the United States President to meet H.H. the Dalai Lama, as well as other world leaders. The meeting on 18th February is not the first and it will not be the last. It has also been an accepted practice for over 30 years for the US to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan in order to maintain the military balance in the Taiwan Strait according to the Taiwan Relations Act. The Chinese government persists in claiming Taiwan under its sovereignty and is attempting to prohibit foreign nations from intervening in its “internal affairs”. The US upholds democracy and liberty, passing bills to pay close attention to Tibetan and Taiwan issues. Therefore to meet with Tibetan spiritual leader is also the “internal affair” of the US, with which US tolerates no foreign powers to meddle.
As a frontrunner of the world democracies, the US should adopt value-oriented rather than interest-driven policies on the Tibet issue, the politico-military confrontation between the two polities across the Taiwan Strait, the movement for political transition in mainland China and other world affairs. Only in this way can the US demonstrate and sustain world respect for its leadership and just image of being the undisputed ethical power of the world. Only in this way can the US remain free from being caught in its own trap and vacillation.
In the spirit of building a harmonious society the Hu government claims to want to maintain, the Hu Jintao regime should consider dealing with the Tibet issue with a more reasonable and relaxed mind, without being seen to be paranoid and fearful of reality. The Tibet issue is problematic by design of its flawed policies, it is undoubtedly a significant issue to resolve and a big worry for those guilty of the policy blunder Beijing needs the courage and wisdom to face its own mistakes, rather than outrage and arrogance, which is losing them credibility and global respect. The Tibet issue is obvious, high profile, and exposed for the world to see. Beijing should evaluate the situation and seize the opportunity to start to resolve the issue once and for all while the Tibetan spiritual leader, who is greatly esteemed in the world, is in presence. This will also lay the foundations for successful resolution of the issues of other ethnic minority regions in China and the issue of Taiwan.
If this occurs, this would be a historic decision for Beijing which could draw world respect and a change in world profile from being a vagabond underdeveloped dictatorship, to a rapidly developing world power. In this case, the merits of Beijing could be respected beyond bounds and they could go down in history for such a significant change and development.
Whether Beijing government will have the foresight to elect to do this or not will depend on a single mind of right or wrong.
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秦晋:奥运前夕香港行动 （二） 民主中国阵线 (图)