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20september201amdhoLondon: Until as recently as 2008, authorities in China have assumed a stance on the Tibet situation that verges on alarming indifference to the global pleas of addressing the longstanding issue.

Beijing has slowly attempted a cultural genocide on the Tibetan people, attempting to wash the nation with Chinese communist party values, language and ideals, amid growing human rights abuses. China has persistently attempted to push Tibet's spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama out of the hearts and minds of not merely the Tibetan people, but the global community.

As a result, the image of China in the 20th and early 21st century is of a country with a bitter, marred history, littered with suppression, human rights crimes, bearing a colonialist, introverted attitude.

China's image as an acceptable world superpower is in tatters. In stark contrast to this however, the vision, wisdom and long-standing peaceful position of the Dalai Lama of Tibet has grown beyond expectation, reaching into the furthest corners of global awareness and winning the hearts and minds of the world community. With a Nobel peace prize to cement his validity as a serious global voice, and the sympathy of world leaders, His Holiness is an instantly recognisably peaceful figurehead, in an uncertain world.

Yet the stance by Beijing is persistently indifferent, seemingly hoping the situation will simply go away if ignored long enough.

The problem now is that the Tibet issue is relevant. China knows that it cannot grow into the economic giant it wishes to be without the support of global economic ties and trading, and for this to happen smoothly, national powers need to be persuaded that it is an ethical trading partner, and that, most importantly, China has stability.

Upon a recent trading visit to Europe, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo saw himself embarrassingly dogged not just by activists, but national leaders, on the human rights issues within China's borders.

So what is the solution? Many ideas have been put forward, some more realistic than others. However most of these have derived from the West, and often simply ignore the cultural values and ideals of the region.

It's all very well and good highlighting the breakup of the Soviet Union and the defeat of apartheid in South Africa to hope for an independent Tibet immediately, but the cultural difference in China is stark and unique. This needs to be kept in mind when looking for solutions for Tibet, and simply throwing Western ideals into the arena won't necessarily work.
One means of resolution, as ‘The Times' journalist Malcolm Rifkind highlights, comes from looking at China's own history for a solution on Tibet.

For this, we can look at the Hong Kong solution.

Hong Kong was absorbed into China in 1997, when its reign under British sovereignty ended. In order to keep Hong Kong stable, and economically strong, the region kept autonomy, and a capitalist system, yet became part of the Chinese ‘motherland'.
Rifkind states:

‘Instead of insisting that the Hong Kong Chinese had to accept a communist economic system combined with political uniformity, the people of Hong Kong have been able to continue to live as a Western, Capitalist enclave within the Chinese body. Hong Kong enjoys real autonomy, a functioning rule of law and a liberal press and media that have no equivalent in most of China'.
The author stresses that a similar technique could be used for Tibet:

‘A Tibetan province with cultural freedom and a significant degree of political autonomy would be no more than is already enjoyed by Hong Kong and Macao. It would be a Chinese solution to a Chinese problem, and all the better for it.'

The method is realistic, culturally sensitive, and should appease both sides. The Dalai Lama and the Kalon Tripa of Tibet have repeatedly stressed that they do not seek independence for Tibet, and China has used this method itself in its own very recent history, to great success.
Using the Hong Kong solution for Tibet would elate Tibetans in Tibet, end the refugee and human rights situation in the region, and allow China to gain a position as a worthy, respectable global superpower that it has worked so hard to become.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com