The Olympic Games strive to promote peace and freedom of expression. But the Chinese government committed genocide and imposed restrictions on movement on the Tibetan people during this time. This begs the question: what did the Beijing Olympics represent? The Beijing Games were a stain on human history and the worldwide human rights movement.
The current world economic crisis is one of the gravest in history, surpassing the magnitude of the 1980s crisis and comparable to that of the 1920s. It will take over twenty years to neutralize this crisis, according to many analysts. In the last forty years, The Chinese communist regime has attempted to silence the international community’s criticism using the deteriorating economic situation to influence world politics with particular regard to various nations’ stances on the issue of Tibetan sovereignty. Nevertheless, international support for the Tibetan cause has remained unchecked. The significant question here is: can we find a solution to the Tibetan issue by mixing China’s political drama with global economics? We cannot.
From the beginning of the new millennium, China has amplified its criticism of Tibet’s spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, regarding his visits to various foreign countries and his meetings with their leaders. The Chinese government has augmented its foreign policy to include the enactment of pressure upon activists and alleged “separatists,” despite the fact that His Holiness seeks only a great autonomy for Tibet within China. “We are not ‘separatists.’ The whole world knows we are not seeking independence,” he assured the EU Parliament last year. China canceled its high-level summit with the European Union following French president, Sarkozy’s meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The aforementioned President of France held the EU presidency at the time, and endured open criticism from the Chinese government. China subsequently encouraged its individual citizens to boycott French goods; however, the vast majority of Chinese people cannot afford to purchase imports from France. China expressed further disapproval of South Africa, resulting in the country’s denial of a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who had planned to attend a peace conference there. In addition, China inflicted economic pressure upon Denmark, Holland and Iceland to prevent their respective governments from interfering in China’s policy concerning Tibet – a practicable political strategy in the midst of a global economic crisis.
China’s economic growth is extensive, but it is dangerous and, ultimately, limited. Over sixty-five percent of the Chinese population is poverty-stricken. Plus, the level of unemployment is steadily increasing. If the quantity of goods imported by China’s economic partners in Asia, Europe and North America continues to wane, China will face a great economic deflation. If the Chinese government persists in using its economic influence to conduct political manipulation, it will lose the trust and confidence of the international community. I see no long-term benefits of this strategy. As a result of the policies inflicted during the Olympic Games, China invited only criticism, and its international reputation suffered. Recently, during a conference in the United States, Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama described the Chinese government's propagandized statements regarding the lives of Tibetans in the homeland as infantile.
International support for the Tibetan cause is essential, but Tibetans themselves must act as the key players in the struggle. I recently attended a press conference with great hope of understanding the incredible determination of the Tibetan people in the struggle for sovereignty and human rights. The conference was held by Tibetan heroes who openly protested in front of the international media in Tibet last year. They were heavily restricted by the thousands of armed military forces which China promptly deployed. One of the speakers present, Jamyang Gyaltsen, emphasized the importance of international support all the while stressing that the Tibetans’ pursuit of freedom must remain unshakable. He also shed light on the realities of life in Tibet, mentioning deforestation, nuclear waste, and Tibet’s increasing Chinese population which may one day render Tibetans a minority in their own land.
On the subject of China’s deadly crackdown in all parts of Tibet last March he stated, “When we hear a statement made by a government leader which raises awareness of our cause, we feel encouraged and that we are not alone; that there is a place where people speak the truth.” I believe that the Tibetan issue will be fully recognized as a matter of human rights when the global community comprehends the fact that they are merely pawns in China’s political game. People can change a government and China will also change; it is only a matter of will and support.
Translated and Edited by Natalia Id?kowski, The Tibet Post International