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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

EDITORIAL: Feeling the Dalai Lama's pain

October 30, 2008

Taipei Times
Oct 29, 2008, Page 8

On Saturday the Dalai Lama made a quiet statement of desperation,
signaling the frustration of decades of failed efforts to win fair
treatment for Tibetans living within China's borders.

"As far as I'm concerned, I've given up," reports quoted the Dalai
Lama as saying, referring to his attempts to engage Beijing in
meaningful talks on human rights abuses and the lack of autonomy in Tibet.

With these heartbreaking words, the exiled spiritual leader conceded
what independent observers have long recognized: Beijing has not and
will not move one inch on Tibet.

For all the differences between Taiwan, a sovereign country, and
Tibet, which has been controlled by the People's Republic of China
since 1951, the Taiwanese public can no doubt sympathize with the
Dalai Lama's distress. Beijing brands any stand for the ideals of
human rights and self-determination as dangerous, "splittist" and a
provocation. Peaceful actions are scorned and cited by Beijing as
sedition deserving of military retaliation -- whether in the form of
deploying missiles in the Taiwan Strait or cracking down on Tibetan

While Beijing time and again blames the lack of dialogue over Tibet
on the Dalai Lama, likewise, Taiwan has been repeatedly labeled the
provocateur across the Strait. Thus, the two UN referendums held in
conjunction with the presidential election in March drew much saber
rattling from Beijing.

Despite all the talk of detente, it is amply clear that China has no
intention of budging on its claim to Taiwan. On that front, nothing
has changed since the shift from a Democratic Progressive Party to a
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration in May, nor can we
expect to see any progress.

Taiwan, as a sovereign country with control over its borders and
economy, has more bargaining power than Tibet, where dissent is met
with aggressive reprisals. In spite of this, the nation has nothing
more than the Dalai Lama to show for extending olive branches to
Beijing. This was confirmed when Association for Relations Across the
Taiwan Strait Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing (???) said during his
brief visit that China would not give up Taiwan without war.

President Ma Ying-jeou's (???) critics argue that his goodwill toward
Beijing has yet to be reciprocated on any level. A single, meager
gesture of "goodwill" from Beijing came days ago when it belatedly
apologized for the tonnes of melamine-tainted products it has
exported to Taiwan. It would seem Beijing is worried about the future
of its exports to Taiwan — or disturbed by anti-China sentiment fed
by that scandal.

But as for the nation's status and international diplomacy, China
remains incapable of discussing Taiwan's future without brandishing
its missile arsenal.

For his many years of promoting a peaceful dialogue and human rights
in Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But from
Beijing, he walks away empty-handed, accused of inciting riots and
supporting terrorism.

As our own government pursues a dialogue with Beijing, it is unclear
why we should expect results that are any better.
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