A Coordinated International Response Might Soften Chinese Intransigence Over Tibet
The West expresses increasing concern as China seems bent on hewing its own course, even on domestic matters such as handling unrest in Tibet, while China naturally resents foreign interference in domestic affairs. In the second of this two-part YaleGlobal series on divergence in foreign policy between the West and China, law professor Michael Davis addresses the rising tension over Tibet as demonstrated by Chinese cancellation of the summit with the European Union. He notes that Chinese talks with Tibetan exiles have fallen by the wayside. After a violent crackdown on Tibet protests in March, some in the West considered boycotting the Beijing Olympics. China since has threatened to shun any international leaders who meet with the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet. Tibetans aspire for autonomy in 11 policy areas, including language, religion, education, environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, and trade. Despite questions over different treatment for areas like Hong Kong, China is intent on maintaining unity in what it regards as its sovereign territory. Punitive actions like boycotts of European goods will only invite retaliation, and isolation of Tibetan exiles only makes the demands and difficulties more pronounced. Coordinated international efforts aimed at convincing China to acknowledge the Dalai Lama and Tibetan desires could actually sooth a festering domestic challenge.