16 March 2008

The world watches Tibet

How much blood will China spill in advance of the Beijing Olympics?

2008 for China was meant to be a year to celebrate. Celebrate pride in extraordinary levels of economic development, and increases in standards of living for most people in China. China's coming of age, being the third biggest economy in the world (behind the USA and Japan) should see the Olympics being a showcase of a modern China, with pride.

China has faced a couple of challenges so far. One, regarding its foreign policy in Sudan, has moved somewhat. Another, is the heavy pollution remaining in Beijing - which bodes poorly for the Olympics.

but now it is Tibet. However, the primary issue for Tibet is not so much independence, which even the Dalai Lama does not seek now, but the treatment of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama seeks the same special status as Hong Kong, which would, of course, be a tremendous advancement. Sadly Tibetans face the restrictions on free speech, racism of the Han Chinese, and the fascism and corruption of the Communist Party run state that is found throughout China. Tibetans should have the right to oppose those governing them, to highlight abuses and corruption, and to be treated equally as Han Chinese by the state.

So China's Communist Party led government is trying to balance between suppressing what it sees as unacceptable dissent and challenges to its rule, and not appearing to be bloodthirsty.

China knows only too well that if it attempts another Tiananmen Square type massacre it risks boycotts of the Olympics, if not at the official level at least by individual athletes. The loss of face would be considerable. However, the West also knows the risks of offending China. Burma is easy - it is small, and can be boycotted and protested against with little cost. China is big, and it can do whatever it likes, knowing it is too valuable to too many countries to offend it.

The Daily Telegraph is carrying images of the protests, as Tibetan protestors attack Chinese premises. Many Tibetans are incensed at the Chinese takeover of the province, as Chinese are offered considerable incentives to relocate.

China will be restrained till it can take no more, as it has shown it is very willing to oppress when the rule of the bullies in the Communist Party seems threatened. If it does, then it is time to send China a message - you cannot aspire to be a global power and treat your citizens with impunity. It is not civilised.

The Communist Party and its handmaidens, the "People's Liberation Army" are fascist bullies - they seek only to tell their people what to do, push them around, arresting and executing if they get in the way. China deserves better, but for now China should consider what it has done in Hong Kong and Macau. Both regions of China now have freedoms that are unrivalled in many of China's neighbours - Tibet could be the same.

If the Communist Party set Tibet free it would suddenly dissipate an enormous amount of criticism, but at the risk of protests appearing elsewhere in China. If the killing and arrests continue, then Beijing does not deserve to host the games - it should be boycotted. The Olympics are about friendship, sport and peaceful interaction - the Chinese Communist Party led regime lies to its own people and the world, while spilling blood. That is not a fit venue for the Olympics.

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