Kowtowing to China

Seized, occupied and colonised by invading Han Chinese in 1950, Tibet is a litmus test for countries who claim to uphold human rights. For years, most nations, including Australia and New Zealand, have paid only lip service to human rights where China is concerned, frightened that an angry dragon will incinerate existing trade agreements and close its doors once more to the west. Nation heads who dare to meet with the ever cheerful Dalai Lama habitually cause the Chinese dictatorship to spout caustic recriminations.

In a sense, Tibet is the Palestine of the Orient, both areas being occupied by colonising aggressors around 60 years ago. Their lands appropriated for the benefit of Han hordes, like the Palestinians dispossessed and ethnically cleansed during their horrific Nakba, indigenous Tibetans driven from their homeland are unable to return or be granted compensation. Like Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, Tibetans supporting self-determination and resisting occupation are imprisoned, persecuted and sometimes killed. As unpopular as it is to voice support of the Palestinian people’s cause, so it is for nations to utter commitment to the cause of the Tibetan people. In both cases, the big bully calls the shots and vents slippery propaganda to justify criminal acts of abuse. In that vein, China has blamed the current riots in Lhasa on activist opportunists seeking to use the coming Olympic games to force the bully’s hand.

Tibetan sources however say the protests, in which 20 people thus far have been killed, began when the Chinese government demanded over 20 monasteries in occupied Tibet raise the Chinese flag. Protests spread spontaneously across Tibet and throughout the world, ignited by the need for freedom after 58 years of brutal occupation, borne by ubiquitous cellphone. With alarm and palpable guilt, China blocked YouTube too late to prevent eyewitnesses broadcasting images via cellphones to the net, along with material obtained by some intrepid tourists present in Lhasa at the commencement of the protests. Too late, mate – the cat is out of the bag and will never be be caught. The whole world is watching, including Chinese people sympathetic to the plight of Tibetans and their cause – so block this, you ridiculous, cruel, power-mad old dinosaurs. A healthy society can withstand and even welcome scrutiny and criticism.

Today, China’s growing economy is irrevocably intermeshed with the rest of the world. Educated youth bourgeoisie hungry for prestige, western goods and internet communication contrast with austere authoritarian rule. Without Mao-style bloody pogroms and a crippled economy, there can be no retreat for China. Particularly with the forthcoming Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, is it realistic to think that expressing solidarity with Tibetan rights (along with pressuring China over its bankrolling of the genocide at Darfur) will create a vast economic reprimand from the ruling Chinese junta? Why are Rudd and Helen Clark proferring customary kneejerk tut tuts rather than roundly condemning both the Chinese occupation of Tibet and its continued oppression of Tibet’s people?

If the west spoke in solidarity to condemn China’s human rights abuses in Tibet, what can China really do without harming itself?

Perhaps sensing this, Condisleezer has called for China to open talks with the Dalai Lama – an unprecedented request to which China has demurred unless the Dalai Lama gives up independence plans. The Dalai Lama however is not seeking independence – he simply wants Tibet to be a REAL autonomous region within China. Why has Kevvie not added his voice in support of Condi’s request? Is China to be our new master now rather than the US?

Next month, our Kevvie is to visit Beijing where it is reported he plans to raise human rights issues. Perhaps he feels that to preempt these talks by supporting Condi’s suggestion may damage his effectiveness.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith expressed the Australian government’s current position:

“The Australian government believes that China’s best interests are served by implementing policies which will foster an environment of greater respect and tolerance,” Mr Smith said.

“We remain concerned about serious inadequacies in the protection of Tibetans’ civil and political rights.”

But he stressed that Australia remained committed to a one-China policy.

Is it desirable or even possible to create an environment of respect and tolerance for oppressive, mass murdering thieves without tainting oneself with the blood of their victims?

Senator Bob Brown rightly criticises Rudd for his lack of support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, emphasising that

the media lockout of the Beijing University protests was a reminder China was being ruled by a nasty dictatorship.

“This is a police state,” he said.

“It’s a repressive dictatorship. It’s the last huge Communist dictatorship on the planet and there’s a great need for Kevin Rudd and other political leaders around the world to call a spade a spade.

“The Tibetans have a right to self-determination.

“Kevin Rudd should be speaking up for it.”

Frank Zappa, who often said things best, can have the last word in this post (from “How the Pigs’ Music Works” off the Civilisation Phase 111 album):

Spider: I think I can explain about about how the pigs’ music works
Monica: Well, this should be interesting
Spider: Remember that they make music with a very dense light
John: Yeah
Monica: O.K.
Spider: And remember about the smoke standing still and how they they really get uptight when you try to move the smoke, right?
Monica: Right
John: Yeah?
Spider: I think the music in that dense light is probably what makes the smoke stand still. As soon as the pony’s mane starts to get good in the back any sort of motion, especially of smoke or gas, begins to make the ends split
Monica: Well don’t the splitting ends change the density of the ponies’ music so it affects the density of the pigs’ music, which makes the smoke move which upsets the pigs?
Spider: No, it isn’t like that
John: Well, how does it work?
Spider: Well, what it does is when it strikes any sort of energy field or solid object or even something as ephemeral as smoke, the first thing it does is begins to inactivate the molecular motion so that it slows down and finally stops. That’s why the smoke stops. And also have you ever noticed how the the smoke clouds shrink up? That’s because the molecules come closer together. The cold light makes it get so small, this is really brittle smoke
John: And that’s why the pigs don’t want you to touch it
Spider: See, when the smoke gets that brittle what happens when you try to move it is it disintegrates
John: And the pigs get uptight ’cause you know they, they worship that smoke. They salute it every day
Monica: You know we’ve got something here
John: And, and, and, and that’s the basis of all their nationalism. Like if they can’t salute the smoke every morning when they get up…
Spider: Yeah, it’s a vicious circle. You got it.