Beijing: A Harder Line on Tibet?

Ever since the Sichuan earthquake hit, there has been little news about events in Tibet. But now that earthquake news is quieting down, reporters are again looking at what is happening in Tibetan regions and in relations between Beijing and the Tibetan government-in-exile. From Time Magazine:

…Since the quake, in which nearly 100,000 were killed and millions left homeless, global attention — and sympathy — has shifted decisively away from Tibet to China. Indeed, some observers say support in Western capitals for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has lessened noticeably since the quake. They fear the shift is an opportunity for China to harden its position, setting off a new round of tension and violence.

Those concerns were heightened in recent days when Beijing, citing the Sichuan earthquake, postponed a scheduled June 11th meeting between its representatives and those of the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, India. The meeting, set before the earthquake, would have marked the resumption of talks suspended in 2006, and thus was widely seen as an encouraging sign that rapprochement was possible.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has called on the Dalai Lama, whom they have blamed for the unrest in Tibet, to stop the protests before they will hold talks with his government. From Reuters:

China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, speaking to reporters during a visit to Rome, did not say when the next round of talks would take place. Chinese officials last met envoys of Tibet’s exiled spiritual and political leader on May 4.

“We maintain that the Dalai Lama’s side must halt the separatist activity, ending violent acts of destruction against China, halt its activity to ruin the Olympics, (thereby) creating the conditions for further meetings,” Yang said.

See also “Spotlight on China, darkness in Tibet” from the Christian Science Monitor, and “Beijing’s Crackdown Fuels Tibetan Anger” from the Wall Street Journal, which reports on resentment in Tibet that is being fed by a continuing government crackdown there:

An aggressive effort by Chinese security forces to suppress dissent across the Tibetan plateau is stoking resentment, three months after violent clashes started in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa.

Mass detentions, searches and stepped-up surveillance have largely quelled public demonstrations in Tongren, 744 miles from Lhasa, and in other Tibetan towns across Western China.

But Buddhist monks and other residents say those actions — and a “patriotic education” campaign that sometimes requires monks to renounce their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama — are also fueling growing anger in the region.

June 10, 2008 2:24 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Politics