Chinese diplomat Zuo Wenxing’s letter to the Citizen regarding Tibet is reminiscent of Nikita Kruschev’s infamous shoe stomping show at the United Nations – good theatre, bad script.
While the Chinese government can choose to argue “that Tibet has been an inalienable part of Chinese territory since the 13th century”, others including the Canadian government have been more judicious. In an External Affairs memorandum to the Prime Minister at the time of the 1959 Lhasa uprising, the department wrote: “the status of Tibet in international law has been uncertain and ill-defined.” Later in 1970, the government’s position was that Canada neither challenges nor endorses specific Chinese territorial claims.
No country can ever consider itself truly unified when that so-called unity is achieved through the barrel of an artillery or machine gun.
However, fixating on opposing views of history serves little purpose 800 years after Marco Polo first reached China. The Dalai Lama’s “Middle Path” policy is clear in its favouring a free Tibet in a united China. Only this month, the Dalai Lama lauded Chinese President Hu Jintao and again recommitted to a peaceful resolution of Tibet’s status within China.
It’s ironic that Wenxing would raise the Olympic Games as a testament to China’s political or democratic progress. Five years ago, after awarding Beijing the games, IOC President Jacques Rogge said "we are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in China".
And while most already differ with Wenxing’s rosy spin of life in China, he failed to cite illustrations of that alleged progress, such as the 87,000 protests reported by China’s Ministry of Public Security in 2005, last September’s cold-blooded shooting of Tibetan refugees fleeing to India, or China’s 50,000 Internet police, a number just shy of Canada’s total 62,500 police officers.
Sadly, it’s telling that the only “cold war mentality” that still pervades this debate is communist propaganda.