Patrick French writes this OP-ED on the New York Times:
Nearly a decade ago, while staying with a nomad family in the remote grasslands of northeastern Tibet, I asked Namdrub, a man who fought in the anti-Communist resistance in the 1950s, what he thought about the exiled Tibetans who campaigned for his freedom. “It may make them feel good, but for us, it makes life worse,” he replied. “It makes the Chinese create more controls over us. Tibet is too important to the Communists for them even to discuss independence.”
Protests have spread across the Tibetan plateau over the last two weeks, and at least 100 people have died. Anyone who finds it odd that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rushed to Dharamsala, India, to stand by the Dalai Lama’s side fails to realize that American politics provided an important spark for the demonstrations. Last October, when the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the Dalai Lama, monks in Tibet watched over the Internet and celebrated by setting off fireworks and throwing barley flour. They were quickly arrested.
It was for the release of these monks that demonstrators initially turned out this month. Their brave stand quickly metamorphosed into a protest by Lhasa residents who were angry that many economic advantages of the last 10 or 15 years had gone to Han Chinese and Hui Muslims. A young refugee whose family is still in Tibet told me this week of the medal, “People believed that the American government was genuinely considering the Tibet issue as a priority.” In fact, the award was a symbolic gesture, arranged mostly to make American lawmakers feel good.