Updated – Tibet: China Admits Protests Spreading After Footage Aired

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…And Gordon Brown steps in to fill the Western void.

First, the footage. After this was aired on CTV in Canada and then picked up by other Western news outlets, China has formally admitted that the protests have spread outside Lhasa:

China has admitted for the first time that anti-Beijing protests have spread outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region, as security is ratcheted up.

Xinhua news agency reported huge damage to government buildings and shops after riots in Sichuan province on Sunday.

And officials said 24 people had been arrested after demos in the Tibetan city of Lhasa, and 170 protesters had surrendered to authorities.

Hundreds of troops have been seen pouring into Tibetan areas.

link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asi…

The Dalai Lama gave a press conference earlier today, reiterating his intention to resolve the conflict peacefully, while reminding folks that he cannot unilaterally stop these protests (full video of the press conference can be found on the Dalai Lama’s website, here: http://www.dalailama.com/page…. ).

The Dalai Lama specifically stated that he is “…not seeking Tibetan independence, but preservation of Tibetan culture.” He summed up the rhetorical back-and-forth between himself and the Chinese government (live blogging his comments – my apologies for any minor errors):

I think a hundred times, a thousand times I have repeated these things, so sometimes I jokingly tell people my side one mantra which to recite “we are not seeking independence, we are not seeking independence”. This is my mantra which I repeat a thousand times on my rosary. Then the Chinese government side has their mantra, “Tibet is part of China, Tibet is part of China” which they repeat a thousand times. But the world isn’t too convinced, is it?

In the middle of these dueling choruses worthy of Gilbert & Sullivan stepped in British Prime Minister Gordan Brown:

Mr Brown took the Commons by surprise when he informed MPs that Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Prime Minister, had told him in a telephone conversation yesterday that he was ready to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, provided that he did not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounced violence.

Downing Street said that the Dalai Lama had already satisfied both conditions in recent statements and that Britain believed that conditions were in place for talks to resume between Beijing and Tibet’s spiritual leader.

snip

During their conversation, for which diplomats on both sides had prepared for several days, Mr Brown also called on China to show restraint in Tibet. He told Mr Wen of his intention to meet the Dalai Lama.

The formal reaction from China was one of dismay, however. China’s Foreign Ministry urged Britain to understand the Dalai Lama’s “true face” and offer him no support, the Xinhua news agency reported. A ministry spokesman said: “China is seriously concerned about the message. As we have repeatedly pointed out, Dalai is a political refugee engaged in activities of splitting China under the camouflage of religion.”

link: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/t…

Any good operetta needs its villian, and China it trying to cast the Dalai Lama in that role.

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground remains uncertain as western journalists and international observers are still denied access to the areas where the protests are occuring.

Please keep all sides of this conflict in your thoughts, prayers and meditations.

UPDATE: On a topic that is near and dear to the heart of every blogger – evidence. With so many conspiracy theories, and smears, and misinformation floating around the blogosphere lots of us insist on it. Links. Facts. Videos. Expert analysis and testimony.

When asked to provide such evidence to back up their claims of a conspiracy theory that the Dalai Lama and his “clique” organized these current protests in Tibet, Chinese authorities could provide none of this evidence that we, as bloggers, demand:

China says a group it calls the “Dalai clique” organised protests that turned into a riot in Tibet’s capital Lhasa last week that killed at least 13 people and which spilled over into parts of its western provinces.

But during an hour-long news conference, its Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to elaborate on who that group includes or how such a plot went undetected by China’s intelligence organs in a region that the Communist government tightly controls.

“As the investigation unfolds, relevant authorities of China will release evidence in due course,” Qin Gang said.

Qin did not say how China could be certain the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism who has lived in exile since a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, was behind the unrest if the investigation has not yet concluded.

link: http://www.reuters.com/article…

If China is so upset that the Dalai Lama is “winning the PR battle with the West”, maybe they should reconsider tossing around conspiracy theories that wouldn’t meet the turnip test on any reputable blog.

22 comments

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    • Viet71 on March 20, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    reminds me so much of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, which ended so badly.

    Once again, but for different reasons, the U.S. government does nothing to support those seeking freedom from oppression.

    When the epitaph of the U.S. is written, it will contain some very dark and dismal chapters.

    • Mu on March 20, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    [ Note:  this stitches together several previous comments of mine on this matter, updated. ]

    Hopefully, if national Olympic teams won’t threaten “official” boycotts, then individual athletes should do so.  

    Hopefully it will become a wave.  

    China fears bad press about how it’s just a backwards, unsophisticated, bunch of thuggish rubes, undeserving of “1st World Status” more than it does bombs or missiles or any kind of military threat.  Much more.  It’s a matter of national pride.  Of ego.  Of “face” (and saving it).

    Besides “saving face”, whose influence cannot be underestimated when it comes to China, pragmatism, being “practical” both internally and in foreign affairs (real politik) is also part of the Communist leaders’ DNA.

    And, from a “practical”, “pragmatic” standpoint, it makes “domestic tranquility”/economic sense for the Communist Party Leaders to make China a rapaciously capitalistic country — otherwise they’d already be dead or otherwise out of power and to keep the national pride/fervor, lest the Party Leaders finding themselves holding a 1.3 billion-peopled tiger by the tail.

    It made sense to lobby like hell to bring the Olympics to Beijing:  to show that the Party could bring prestige and respect to China.  Very practical.  It makes sense (in their view of the word “sense”) to brutally suppress the Tibetans — lest any other minority or otherwise prospectively “uppity” group get ideas… and to keep burnished their (the Party Leaders’) image of “protectors” of China.  

    So, Western Nations (and India, Japan, and the ROK) ought to do what they can to — not necessarily “isolate” China (in the old sense of economic isolation — ain’t gonna happen) — but, rather to ridicule, to express shock at such thuggary, to question the “maturity” of China (which would REALLY get under their skin, given it’s 5,000 year old history and pride in that history).  This will very much get under the Communist Party Leaders’ skin – it should, and it combines the “losing face” hammer both internally and externally.

    Just as Bush thinks he can “save face” by acting like a bloated, inflamed, arrogant asshole all the time (which, of course, is always counterproductive to U.S. interests), so too do the Communist Party Leaders think that brutal repression of Tibet helps them “save face” and brings grudging “respect” from the ranks of nations.  Also, for them to admit that the generation before them screwed up by annexing Tibet, would be too much of a loss of face for them.

    Again, this is where other nations need to make it clear to China that, as practical, cost/benefit analyses go, the benefits of respecting Tibetan autonomy outweigh the “costs” of losing face within China proper.

    At the very least, we should not let China have its cake and eat it, too:  China should know that there are significant, face-losing consequences to brutalizing Tibet.

    Mu . . .

    • nocatz on March 20, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Both ‘ no-one could have known’ and ‘If we show the evidence, the terrists win.’

    But during an hour-long news conference, its Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to elaborate on who that group includes or how such a plot went undetected by China’s intelligence organs in a region that the Communist government tightly controls.

  1. as much as the Chinese try to demonize the Dali Lama, his Holiness is probably the only thing still preventing the Tibetans from full scale insurrection.



  2. …for posting these very important updates.

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