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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Feud Over Dalai Lama

December 10, 2008

MySinchew 2008.12.09
Sin Chew Jit Poh - Malaysia
 
China has strongly denounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama in Poland, but Beijing's apparent overreaction, which led to a boycott movement against French goods, could fuel international misgivings about a surge of Chinese nationalism of the most undesirable kind.
 
It is reported that, every day, some 100,000 Chinese people are signing up for the anti-French boycott campaign started by an official Chinese internet portal. Only last spring, there were similar Chinese reactions when French activists harassed the passage of the Olympic torch through their country in protest against Beijing's repression of uprisings in Tibet. Restraint is in order for the Chinese to avoid aggravating the friction.
 
Sarkozy explained that in the meeting he called for pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership and that the spiritual leader of Tibet was not demanding independence. Yet, Beijing, through its official Xinhua News commentary, lambasted Paris for taking an "opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach" to the Tibet issue, reiterating its firm principle of opposing any foreign leaders' contact with the Dalai Lama.
"He is not simply a religious or political leader, but a representative of human conscience."
 
When Sarkozy's plan to meet the Dalai Lama in Gdansk during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Lech Walesa's Nobel Peace Prize was made known, China demanded that the French president cancel the meeting and postponed a scheduled summit with the European Union. It also threatened to withdraw from a billion euro deal with Airbus, yet Sarkozy had a 30-minute conversation with the Dalai Lama Saturday.
 
Beijing has regarded the Dalai Lama as a separatist leader who seeks to gain independence of Tibet. China claims that Tibet was under Chinese control for more than seven centuries. Here, we would not judge the historical legitimacy of the Chinese minority policy, but its stand of not allowing foreign leaders' meeting with the exiled Tibetan is one-sided and arbitrary, especially when such contact is designed to promote the peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue through dialogue.
 
For half a century since he fled from Lhasa to an Indian border town, the Dalai Lama has stood for nonviolence in the Tibet people's struggle against Chinese rule, and politically he sought autonomy, rather than outright independence. The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize was given to him for his consistent opposition to the use of violence and advocation of peaceful solutions to problems of the world.
 
He is not simply a religious or political leader, but a representative of human conscience. Trying to brand him as a rebellious separatist is unacceptable and Sarkozy deserves commendation for his defiance of Chinese pressure. Our government's turning down the Dalai Lama's visit here at the invitation of Buddhist leaders a few years back is sorely regretted. (The Korea Herald/ ANN)
 
( The opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect those of MySinchew )
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