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April 3, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

A Not-So-Fine Romance

In the aftermath of the Tibet upheavals, the complicated romance between America and China is degenerating into mutual recriminations, muttering about Olympic boycotts and tensions that are likely to rise through the summer.

It would be convenient if we could simply denounce the crackdown in Tibet as the unpopular action of a dictatorial government. But it wasn’t. It was the popular action of a dictatorial government, and many ordinary Chinese think the government acted too wimpishly, showing far too much restraint toward “thugs” and “rioters.”

China and the U.S. clash partly because of competing interests, but mostly because of competing narratives. To Americans, Tibet fits neatly into a framework of human rights and colonialism. To Chinese, steeped in education of 150 years of “guochi,” or national humiliations by foreigners, the current episode is one more effort by imperialistic and condescending foreigners to tear China apart or hold it back.

So what do we do? A boycott of the Olympic Games themselves is a nonstarter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has raised the possibility of a boycott of the opening ceremony, and that is plausible.

The best answer is: Postpone the decision until the last minute so as to extort every last ounce of good behavior possible out of the Chinese government — on Darfur as well as Tibet. But at the end of the day, if there have been no further abuses, President Bush should attend — for staying away would only inflame Chinese nationalism and make Beijing more obdurate.

If President Bush attends the ceremonies, however, he should balance that with a day trip to a Tibetan area. Such a visit would underscore American concern, even if the Chinese trot out fake monks to express fake contentment with fake freedom.

President Bush and other Western leaders should also continue to consult with the Dalai Lama, even though this infuriates Beijing. The Dalai Lama is the last, best hope for reaching an agreement that would resolve the dispute over Tibet forever. He accepts autonomy, rather than independence, and he has the moral authority to persuade Tibetans to accept a deal.

The outlines of an agreement would be simple. The Dalai Lama would return to Tibet as a spiritual leader, and Tibetans would be permitted to possess his picture and revere him, while he would unequivocally accept Chinese sovereignty. Monasteries would have much greater religious freedom, and Han Chinese migration to Tibet would be limited. The Dalai Lama would also accept that the Tibetan region encompasses only what is now labeled Tibet on the maps, not the much larger region of historic Tibet that he has continued to claim.

With such an arrangement, China could resolve the problem of Tibet, improve its international image, reassure Taiwan and rectify a 50-year-old policy of repression that has catastrophically failed.

But don’t hold your breath. Instead, President Hu Jintao — who made his reputation by crushing protests in Tibet in 1989 — will make up for failed policy within Tibet by trying to stir up Chinese nationalist resentments at nosy foreigners.

America and China get on each other’s nerves partly because they are so similar. Both are big, self-absorbed, and insular nations; both are entrepreneurial overachievers; both are infused with nationalism and yet tread clumsily on the nationalism of others — whether in Vietnam or Iraq, or Tibet and the Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Both the United States and China also hurt themselves by petulantly refusing to engage leaders they don’t like. The U.S. shrinks from talking with Iranian and Cuban leaders, and China refuses to negotiate directly with the Dalai Lama, whom it recently denounced as “a jackal wrapped in a habit, a monster with human face and animal’s heart.”

That refusal to talk is stunningly foolish. Nearly every Tibetan I’ve ever spoken to in Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan or Gansu has been loyal to the Dalai Lama — except those who think he’s too gentle and accommodating toward China. After the Dalai Lama dies, there will be no one to hold Tibetans back, and more militant organizers in the Tibetan Youth Congress and other organizations will turn to violence, and perhaps terrorism.

The only other Tibetan who could fill that vacuum is the Panchen Lama, the No. 2 Tibetan leader, who turns 19 later this month. But the Chinese government kidnapped the Panchen Lama when he was 6 years old and apparently has kept him under house arrest ever since.

Americans sometimes think that the Tibetan resentments are just about political and religious freedom. They’re much more complicated than that. Tibetan anger is also fueled by the success of Han Chinese shop owners, who are often better educated and more entrepreneurial. So Tibetans seek solace in monasteries or bars, and the economic gap widens and provokes even more frustration — which the spotlight of the Olympics gives them a chance to express.

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Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala, India, settle in with disillusionment


September 22, 2010

Dharamsala, the Indian hill town of monks, chocolate pancakes and backpacker kitsch, has long been a mecca for Tibetans fleeing Chinese communist rule. Thousands have made the tortuous journey over the Himalayas from Lhasa, drawn by the promise of a new life, freedom of expression and the presence of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who arrived in 1959 after he fled Tibet.

But it's also become a town of tarnished illusions, homesickness, intrigue and a more nuanced view of China than one might expect from the anti-China posters, anti-Beijing testimonials and shops claiming to shun all Chinese products.

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"When I was in China, friends told me Dharamsala was a paradise, you didn't even need money," said Golma, 39, who uses one name. She arrived here several years ago with her husband and young daughter.

"But life isn't easy, and this place is quite dirty," she said, pointing to an open sewer strewn with plastic bags, animal waste and rotting vegetables. "I couldn't believe the Dalai Lama would live in such a messy place."

In their headlong rush for greener pastures, some Tibetans here say, they underestimated the hardship of starting anew, and even the benefits of living under Chinese rule.

Tibet has lived in the shadow of — or been outright controlled by — its powerful neighbor for centuries. Chinese troops invaded in 1950, and some exile groups continue to call for Tibetan independence.

In 2003, Tsering Dolma, like many, sneaked over the mountains from the Tibet Autonomous Region with the help of a paid guide after friends in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, told her Dharamsala was heaven on Earth, every tree weighed down by juicy peaches, her favorite fruit.

"After I got here, I kept thinking, 'There must be another India I'm missing,' " the waitress said. "Now I want to go back, but can't. I'm stuck."

An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 Tibetans arrive annually, and their numbers in India totaled 110,000 at the last census, in 2001. Tibetans in the country can't vote or get a passport but are free to work and own property.

The most common problems faced by the newly arrived exiles, said Nawang Thogmed, a Tibetan government-in-exile official, include language barriers, their dislike of Indian food, and the warm weather, which makes their traditional woolen garments and yak-hide apparel uncomfortable.

Many initially live at the Tibetan Reception Center on Dharamsala's Jogibara Road, a three-story building with chipped concrete floors, clotheslines strung like spider webs and stained yellow shelves littered with expired medicines. "Reach High, Sky Is Not the Limit" reads a poster with a picture of a red Ferrari.

Though several exiles said they welcomed India's freedom of speech, some worried that Chinese spies in Dharamsala might report back if they spoke out, potentially endangering relatives in Tibet.

The Hindustan Times reported this month that security around the Dalai Lama had been boosted amid suspicion that Chinese spies disguised as monks were operating in Dharamsala.

Sonam Dawa, 25, a cook who has crossed the border three times, has all the proof of espionage he needs. Almost immediately after he applied for an identity card for exiles a few years ago, his parents in Tibet — who weren't even aware he'd left — were visited by Chinese police, who accused their son of being a traitor. "It's clear to me they have spies here," he said.

Though Tibetans worry that China is trying to weaken Tibetan culture — a claim Beijing denies — some believe their culture is also under subtle attack in Dharamsala.

"Here we watch Indian television in Hindi or English, diluting our Tibetan," said Lobsang Rabsel, 38, a restaurant manager and former monk who said he fled Tibet after being beaten by Chinese police. "Preserving our culture here isn't easy, either. Not that everything about our culture is good, but as a minority we should fight to keep it."

Nor is Dharamsala immune to cultural prejudices. Dawa, the cook, sang Tibetan opera in Lhasa, but now he finds himself excluded from local singing groups. "I know I have a good voice and dance well," he said. "But here they say my style is too Chinese, too much like Peking opera. China has some good things, but sometimes people here think everything's bad."

For restaurant manager Rabsel, the ability to speak his mind far outweighs any resettlement problems. As a young monk, he saw fellow clerics beaten and tortured. He was subject to re-education sessions by Chinese security officials, who insisted that he denounce the Dalai Lama as a "cannibal" and a "wolf in monk's clothing."

"I couldn't imagine staying," he said. "If you only care about money, you can have a good life in China."

Others, however, said most people who remain in Tibet just want to feed their families.

"China has jobs; you can start a business without a lot of bureaucracy. You don't get Delhi belly [dysentery] all the time," said Golma, who makes $60 a month as a Dharamsala shopkeeper, compared with $300 to $400 a month in Lhasa.

If you make a political ruckus in China you're likely to get in trouble, added Golma, who was dressed in a traditional Tibetan chupa robe, knockoff Crocs and worn green socks. "But there's also freedom in enjoying your life."

Several exiles paraphrased the Dalai Lama, noting that it's important to distinguish between the Chinese people and their government's policies. "Both societies have good and bad," Rabsel said.

Though China is better organized and has lifted far more people out of poverty, he said, the communist government is often extremely repressive toward the Tibetan minority. India may be bureaucratic and slow-moving, other exiles said, but its people are more tolerant.

"Superficially, everything's better in China," said Dawa. "But mentally, there's also lots of pressure there. You have to think before you talk."

He paused for a minute. "But I really miss my family. I'd like to go back if I ever get the chance."


Anshul Rana in The Times' New Delhi Bureau contributed to this report.

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  透过印度“亚洲学者学会”的联系,由台湾大学政治学系出版的Asian Ethnicity期刊所组织的西藏研究特刊团队,在德兰萨拉纪念达赖喇嘛抵达周年前夕(4月25日),获得他的接见。团队包括四名印度学者,一名在印法裔学者,一名在华澳裔学者,与三名台湾学者。






















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新华网北京2月21日电 题:事实胜于雄辩——评达赖集团“中共所谓‘旧西藏是一个封建农奴制’纯属虚构”一文














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新華網北京2月19日電  題:達賴挾洋自重必然失敗 










    作爲一些外國勢力對華戰略中的一枚棋子,達賴極力給自己的小集團披上合法性的外衣。達賴集團2008年散佈的所謂“爲全體藏人實現名符其實自治的建議”再次宣稱,“西藏流亡政府象徵著西藏人民的利益和西藏人民的代表”。在這個“建議”被中國政府有關部門全面駁回之後,達賴集團最近又炮製了一份“闡釋”,聲稱“達賴喇嘛尊者作爲西藏人民合法代表的地位,在任何時候都是不容置疑的”。其實達賴和所謂“流亡政府”是一回事,這個政府的英文全稱是“Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama”,翻譯過來就是“神聖的達賴喇嘛的西藏中央政府”。而事實是,這個“流亡政府”連同它的“政教首腦”達賴連半點合法性也不存在,僅僅是一個從事分裂祖國活動的、靠外國勢力養活的政治小集團。 






    2009年3月31日,達賴在新德里對媒體聲稱:“我把自己稱作‘印度之子’。”11月22日在新德里一次國際會議上再次稱,“我在過去50年來,都是吃印度飯生活,因此我也就成了印度之子(I am a son of India)”。今年1月16日,達賴在古吉拉特邦“國際佛教會議”開幕式上說得更直白:“我是印度之子,這是無可質疑的。在過去50年來,我一直靠著印度的食物生存著,而印度的自治給了我巨大的機會。由於這些原因,我將自己視爲印度之子,也爲此感到無比自豪。但我的父母是純藏人,因此外形上,我是一名藏人,而從精神上,我是一名印度人。我……已經做好爲上師印度提供一切服務的準備”。 






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A visit by the Dalai Lama to Washington has "seriously undermined" relations between the US and China, Beijing says.  2010/0219


It released a strongly worded statement in response to US President Barack Obama's meeting with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

China had earlier expressed "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the meeting with a man they see as a separatist.

It said the US should "take effective steps to eradicate the malign effects".

Washington had kept the Dalai Lama's meeting low-key to emphasis it was private rather than political.

Hurt feelings

Despite that, China's Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai summoned ambassador Jon Huntsman to lodge a "solemn representation".

The Dalai Lama (L) and US President Barack Obama at the White House Map Room - 18 February 2010
The talks were held in the White House Map Room instead of the Oval Office

"The behaviour of the US side seriously interferes in China's internal politics and seriously hurts the national feelings of the Chinese people," a ministry statement said.

China never reacts well to these meetings, which have been taking place for nearly two decades, says the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Beijing.

But this time it has expressed its dissatisfaction in stronger terms than ever before.

The meetings highlight Beijing's terrible human rights record, and remind the world that many Tibetans are deeply unhappy with China's heavy-handed rule in Tibet, our correspondent adds.

The White House meeting was held amid recent tensions, mainly over a US arms sale to Taiwan and allegations of Chinese cyber-spying.

Mark Mardell
The real test of US-China relations will not be the Dalai Lama but what happens on sanctions against Iran

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement that the meeting between President Obama and the exiled Tibetan leader "violated the US government's repeated acceptance that Tibet is a part of China and it does not support Tibetan independence".

He added: "Use concrete actions to promote the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations."

During the low-key meeting, President Obama expressed his "strong support" for Tibetan rights, his spokesman said.

The closed talks were held at the White House's Map Room instead of the more official Oval Office, in an attempt to signal to China that it was a private, not a political meeting.

Mr Obama praised the Dalai Lama's commitment to non-violence and "his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government", the spokesman said.

The Dalai Lama told reporters outside the White House that he expressed to the president his admiration for the US as a "champion of democracy, freedom, human values" and creativity.

'Deteriorating relations'

The White House had defended the decision to receive the Dalai Lama, saying he was "an internationally respected religious leader".

On the streets of Beijing, residents criticised the US to the BBC.

歐巴馬接見模式介於布希與柯林頓間: 非巧遇, 只釋出官方照片一張, 但不攝影.
By Richard Lister
BBC News, Washington

Not too many people meet the president at the White House wearing flip flops, particularly in the freezing depths of February.

But the Dalai Lama is no ordinary visitor, and not just because of his footwear.

Despite his relatively limited political influence, the impact of the Dalai Lama's presidential face-time resounds far beyond Washington. It provides a yardstick for measuring the administration's commitment to human rights, and for assessing its willingness to stand up to China.

So his visits to the White House are minutely choreographed with the understanding that how he is received here is at least as important as what is discussed behind closed doors.

President Bill Clinton was so wary of the possible Chinese repercussions that he chose never to have a formal meeting with the Dalai Lama, opting instead to "drop by" when the Dalai Lama was meeting other US officials.

Chinese sensibilities

George W Bush was somewhat more welcoming, becoming the first president to be filmed in public with the Dalai Lama. The obviously warm relationship between the two men when the president gave him the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 infuriated the Chinese.

President Obama and the Dalai Lama
The two men held a seemingly animated discussion

But even President Bush did not allow TV cameras into his White House meetings with the Dalai Lama, a step which would be even more antagonising to Beijing.

President Obama seems to have opted for something in between those two approaches.

He met the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, avoiding the obvious symbolism of the Oval Office. A single photograph was released of the two of them, but the TV cameras were kept well away.

China condemned the meeting anyway, but that is part of the ritualised diplomatic dance that these meetings have now become

No-one expects this deliberately low-key meeting to have any real impact on US-Sino relations.

Of course, by keeping it so low-key, the president risks tarnishing his credentials as a champion of human rights.

'Worth fighting for'

There was outrage from pressure groups when the Dalai Lama came to Washington last year and the president decided not to meet him in advance of his first official trip to Beijing.

That was a clear nod to Chinese sensibilities but was inevitably condemned by those who felt human rights had been dropped down the US agenda.

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Dalai Lama to meet Obama amid row  2010/0218 BBC

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is due to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House, despite objections from China.


Google - China denies being behind an alleged cyber attack on the US search engine.
Taiwan - a US sale of $6.4bn (£4bn) of defensive arms to Taiwan has angered Beijing.
Tibet - China says a US meeting with the Dalai Lama would "undermine relations".
Trade - rows over imports and exports of meat, media, car tyres and raw materials.
Iran - the US fears China will not back tougher sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Climate - the US is disappointed at China's tough position at the Copenhagen Summit.

The meeting comes amid tension in US-Sino relations, with disputes simmering over US arms sales to Taiwan, claims of Chinese cyber-spying and trade deals.

China, which views the Dalai Lama as a separatist, has warned the meeting will undermine relations.

The US is keeping formalities low-key and has downplayed China's concerns.

On his arrival in Washington on Wednesday, the Dalai Lama headed to a hotel for a ceremony to mark the Losar new year with fellow Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama's special envoy, Lodi Gayari, said that it was "important in itself that the meeting is happening".

He said that the Dalai Lama would be asking the US president to "help find a solution in resolving the Tibet issue that would be mutually beneficial to the Tibetan and Chinese people".

Sensitive issues

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs last week defended the decision to receive the Dalai Lama, saying he was "an internationally respected religious leader".

 Mr Obama avoided meeting the Dalai Lama in Washington last year ahead of his own first state visit to Beijing.

He said the Sino-US relationship was mature enough to disagree while finding common ground on international issues.

Thursday's meeting will take place in the White House Map Room, not the symbolic surroundings of the Oval Office, where Mr Obama normally meets foreign leaders and VIP guests.

The Dalai Lama will also meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

Citing the "high sensitivity of Tibet-related issues", China's foreign ministry had urged the US to call off the visit to "avoid any more damage to Sino-US relations".

China, which took over Tibet in 1950, considers the Dalai Lama a separatist and tries to isolate the spiritual leader by asking foreign leaders not to see him. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule and has since been living in India.

'Cyber attack'

The White House meeting comes soon after China expressed strong displeasure at the sale of $6.4bn (£4bn) worth of US weapons to Taiwan.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a Chinese territory to be reunified by force if necessary.

Another source of tension is internet censorship, following claims by the search giant Google that it had suffered a "sophisticated and targeted" cyber attack from inside China.

Mr Obama has also given signs of getting tougher on the long-standing dispute over China's currency, which some traders feel is kept artificially weak.

However, the US wants Chinese support in the United Nations regarding sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programmes.

This is not the first time that China has been angered by US support for the Dalai Lama.

Beijing was infuriated in 2007 when President George W Bush both received the Dalai Lama at the White House and attended a ceremony at which he was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal - the top US civilian honour. It was the first time a sitting US president had appeared in public with the exiled Tibetan leader. 

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China warns Obama over Dalai Lama
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

China has warned the US president that it will harm ties between the two countries if he meets the Dalai Lama.

Chinese Communist Party official Zhu Weiqun said there would be "corresponding action" if the meeting went ahead.

The White House has indicated that Barack Obama intends to meet the head of Tibetans in exile.

Mr Zhu's comments follow talks between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives in China.

The talks yielded little progress, with both sides reiterating positions that were "sharply divided".

No compromise

Mr Zhu talked at length about China's view on a possible meeting between Mr Obama and the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

He said: "It will seriously undermine the foundations of Sino-US political relations."

Mr Zhu, of the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department, said China would retaliate.

It will seriously undermine the foundations of Sino-US political relations
Zhu Weiqun on possible Obama-Dalai Lama meeting

"If [the meeting] does happen we will take corresponding action to make relevant countries see their mistakes," he said.

These comments come straight after a disagreement between China and the US about the sale of American military equipment worth $6.4bn to Taiwan, an island China considers its own.

Mr Zhu was speaking at a press conference to discuss the recent five-day visit to China by the Dalai Lama's representatives.

This is the ninth time the two sides have met since 2002, but there is little common ground between them, as the Communist Party official acknowledged.

"The positions of the two sides are sharply divided," he said.

"We have become accustomed to this - this has become a norm rather than an exception."

According to China, at this latest round of meetings the Tibetans again reiterated their hopes for the introduction of greater autonomy in the Himalayan region.

Mr Zhu said there was no possibility of the "slightest compromise" on the issue of sovereignty in Tibet.

He also attacked the Dalai Lama, who he said was a troublemaker.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

"He should make a thorough self-examination of his words and deeds and radically correct his political positions if he really expects results of contact and talks," said the Chinese official.

The talks between China and the Tibetans in exile, based in Dharamsala in India, follow an important conference held last month by Chinese leaders to review their Tibet policies.

The meeting established China's goal of bringing about "leap-forward development" and long-term security in the region, which saw major unrest in March 2008.

Despite riots and demonstrations directed against Chinese rule, Beijing believes its policies in Tibet are correct.

"The conference especially demonstrated the brilliant achievements in Tibet in the new century," said Mr Zhu.

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新聞速報 2010.01.26













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