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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Taking a stand on China

April 4, 2010

By Guest Columnist April 01, 2010
By Jamyang Norbu

The commemoration, this March 10, by Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard and
Mayor Sam Adams of Tibet Awareness Day has raised concerns among some
Portland citizens about the adverse affect it might have on the city's and
Oregon's trade relations with China.

But is it just possible that the two city leaders were ahead of the curve in
anticipating possible future U.S.-China trade relations?

The New York Times on March 15 ("China Uses Rules on Global Trade to its
Advantage") reported on Beijing's two-pronged attack against its
international trading partners, noting that "[t]wo closely related scourges
played a central role in the collapse of world trade in the 1930s:
protectionism and beggar-thy-neighbor currency devaluations." An editorial
in The Times on March 17 followed up with this conclusion: "China's decision
to base its economic growth on exporting deliberately undervalued goods is
threatening economies around the world. It is fueling huge trade deficits in
the United States and Europe. Even worse, it is crowding out exports from
other developing countries, threatening their hopes of recovery."

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist for The Times, in a
commentary on March 15 called for a harder line against China's actions:
"China's policy of keeping its currency, the renminbi, undervalued has
become a significant drag on global economic recovery." He added: "I don't
propose this turn to policy hardball lightly. But Chinese currency policy is
adding materially to the world's economic problems at a time when those
problems are already very severe. It's time to take a stand."

The stand that Portland city leaders took on Tibet was based not on trade
but on human rights and respect for historical truth. No matter how
profitable it may be in the short term, intellectual self-censorship - what
Beijing is essentially demanding of Western nations and trading partners on
a number of issues (including Tibet) - is an unhealthy and baleful practice
for a democratic nation or even a high-tech company requiring information
freedom to function. Google appears to have learned that lesson.

Tibet was an independent nation on October 1950 when it was invaded by four
divisions of the Red Army. No less an authority than China's last official
representative (1945-49) to free Tibet, Dr. Shen Tsung Lien wrote in his
book "Tibetan and the Tibetans" (Stanford, 1953) that Tibet "had enjoyed
complete independence."

The violent uprising against Communist Chinese oppressions from 1956 to 1974
cost about half a million Tibetan lives, though many more died in subsequent
famines, labor camps and political campaigns. That the CIA supported this
uprising is regarded by some on the left as more than adequate reason for
condemnation. The CIA officers involved in the Tibet program -- a few who
have written books on their experiences and who continue to maintain warm
relations with Tibetans -- near unanimously express satisfaction if not
pride in their contribution to the Tibetan struggle.

In the BBC documentary "Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet," a group of
officers at a reunion reminisce about how grateful they were not to have
been involved in operations in Central America or the Bay of Pigs, but were
working in a program that supported a genuine cause and the brave people
fighting and dying for it.

Jamyang Norbu is a Tibetan political activist and writer and author of "The
Mandala of Sherlock Holmes," "Warriors of Tibet" and other books.
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