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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Letter - China and Tibet

December 5, 2008

New York Times
December 4, 2008
To the Editor:
In “Beijing’s Blind Spot” (editorial, Nov. 27), you wonder why China’s rulers will not accept the Dalai Lama’s “middle way,” which seems so obviously “in Beijing’s clear interest,” since many Tibetans, especially among the young, would be more radical.
You would certainly be right to say the Dalai Lama’s offer is in the interests of the Chinese people as a whole. But the interests of Beijing’s rulers need to be looked at differently. If any one of them were to appear “weak” on the issue of “splitting the motherland,” he could be attacked by rivals and suffer a loss of power. Hence none are willing to.
Moreover, for the ruling group as a whole, trouble with the Dalai Lama is not entirely a bad thing. In recent years Chinese people having been protesting in increasing numbers over corruption, land seizures, environmental destruction, a growing gap between rich and poor, and other issues that specifically raise questions about the government’s performance.
For the government to be able to make an issue of the “jackal-hearted” Dalai Lama who would split the motherland not only diverts attention from these complaints but also positions the rulers as heroes of Chinese nationalism.
Eyewitnesses to the Lhasa riots last March noted a strange “hands off”’ posture of the police during the first half day of the disturbances. During those same hours, though, journalists from the government-controlled media were making videotapes of rioting “splittists,” and the tapes were then shown around the clock on television, in every corner of China, for several days to follow.
There are reasons China’s rulers do these things, but it is hard to call them a blind spot.
Perry Link
Riverside, Calif., Nov. 27, 2008
The writer is professor emeritus of Chinese studies at Princeton University and is now at the University of California at Riverside.
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