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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?"

Editorial: China's failed Tibet propaganda

December 10, 2007

Taipei Times
Sunday, Dec 09, 2007

In the past few months, several heads of state have received the Dalai
Lama and indirect exchanges between Beijing and the religious leader
have focused more attention on Tibet than it has seen for years. The
[for Beijing] unwelcome attention has incensed Chinese authorities and
sparked a nonstop flow of propagandist denunciations and threats that
have done little more than erode the country's credibility abroad at a
time when everything from child labor money-making schemes at public
schools to toys laced with lead have severely tarnished its reputation.

China's invective against a man who has won the Nobel Peace Prize and
advocates peaceful dialogue can only fail miserably, but Beijing has
displayed a distinct lack of strategic deftness in handling the matter,
doing itself the disservice of repeatedly stirring up the issue.

On Nov. 28, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao indicated Germany and China could
maintain their friendship only if German Chancellor Angela Merkel
admitted that meeting the Dalai Lama in September was a mistake --
strong words more likely to increase sympathies for the Dalai Lama in
the West and publicize Beijing's iron grip over its population than to
draw an apology.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao, meanwhile, lashed out
at the Dalai Lama for remarks last month that he might choose his
successor before he dies. Liu said Beijing could never accept the idea
because it violated "religious rituals and historical conventions." This
from the same government that kidnapped the Panchen Lama at the age of
six in 1995 and installed a replacement.

Again, China would have been better off keeping quiet. Its comment only
highlighted blatant contradictions in its actions and again landed its
"Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of the Living Buddhas
of Tibetan Buddhism" in international news. The measures, passed this
summer, stipulate that the Chinese government has sole authority in
selecting the reincarnations that are central to the religion.

A week later, the Dalai Lama proposed holding a referendum -- including
Tibetans in China -- over the issue of his next incarnation. But China,
which calls itself "the people's democratic dictatorship" in its
Constitution, quickly made it clear it would never allow a plebiscite.

Beijing has yet to understand that its rhetoric doesn't have the same
effect in democratic countries as it does with Chinese who have been
force-fed a skewed view of reality from grade school on. Instead,
Beijing is fueling a public opinion abroad that is a mirror opposite of
the image it wants to promote.

But perhaps China believes its rhetoric to be effective. After all, many
people in the West incorrectly believe the Dalai Lama demands
independence for Tibet -- a claim China repeatedly makes. That
widespread misunderstanding, however, probably has less to do with the
efficacy of Beijing's propaganda overseas and more to do with the
frequent news of abuses in Tibet. Only two weeks ago, hundreds of
Tibetans clashed with authorities after police reportedly brutally beat
three young monks, one of whom, a 14-year-old, was caught wearing a
photo of the Dalai Lama around his neck. For those of us who value
democracy and human rights, it is hard to believe Tibetans would want
anything less than full independence.
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