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China and West-2015Dharamshala — The democratic ideals of freedom and liberty that the world enjoy today were won through a decades-long struggle. However, despite the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights, a popular future slogan may arise among the Western world who fought for these principles: "Today's China is tomorrow's Western world". Gradually, their values are becoming one and the same.

But many still believe that so-called democracies are increasingly pernicious, and in the long run, as dangerous as totalitarian and authoritarian systems. Some of the most famous political leaders of all time and the most influential political scientists have defined Western states as being consistently guided by principles of democracy. But, many predict that these principles are endangered! Their fear is that the Western world will become another Soviet Union sooner or later; a free and open capitalist market economy transformed into a communist one modeled on China's example.

Sometimes silence reflects the ambivalence over human rights and freedom. Democratic nations should at all times be fond of an equal and open society, but there are certain periods at which they compromise their values for the interests of party politics. Has communist China bought the world's silence on human rights abuses?

Whatever freedoms you have cannot exist in a political vacuum. There must be some way of assuring and protecting our rights and freedom — government must be held accountable. We must remember that democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself, if we do not maintain principles. Therefore, world powers should also be mindful about China's credibility, otherwise there will be economic and political consequences.

Some might say that there never has been a democracy that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than authoritarian China. It is simply not true. However, according to recent studies, many democracies around the world are on the verge of a 'democratic meltdown', due to the failure of government political elites to respect universally valid democratic principles, including liberty and social justice.

In reality, the world must know that China forcefully occupied the defenceless and peaceful Tibet in 1949 using military power. Despite the opposition of Tibetans, Chinese suppressed the voices of Tibetan people and claimed to the world that Tibet was a part of China. The credibility of China is nothing; anything that it said isn't reliable.

Tibet's example should raise alerts for Taiwanese people about the future of Taiwan. Taiwan should be careful if they are negotiating with China about Taiwan's future. The same thing that happened to Tibet and Hong Kong could happen to Taiwan— it would lose its freedoms if it decided to return to China.

Taiwan enjoys democracy while Hong Kong is unlikely to get genuine universal suffrage in the foreseeable future. In that sense, Hong Kong is more like Tibet, inner Mongolia and eastern Turkistan. Tibetans have long viewed Nepal as a sanctuary and an ally in the past, but the situation is now at a turning point as China's growing influence causes great damage to the country's international image. Unlike in Taiwan, where Tibetans can freely voice views on human rights and freedom, Nepal has not yet fully realised the implications of democratic victory. It's a living example of what Hong Kong and Nepal might become if Beijing interferes more invasively in its affairs. Tibet is what everyone hopes any country will not be.

Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong are recognised as global hot topics among the international community — especially Tibet — one of the most controversial issues of the past half century. Whether intentionally or not, occupation and repression always creates economic, political and moral costs, not only for China but for many. A denial of freedom never earns the love and respect of the population that surrounds you.

The crisis of world silence on freedom and dignity is in its worst state in the past few decades. The recent political strategy in some countries favouring economic interests over human rights is increasing. The best example is Tibet: first comes excuses, then comes silence, then comes denial, and then comes mockery, but never an official word of responsibility or apology regarding 1.2 million Tibetan deaths, and to several million victims of human rights abuses.

China ironically uses the policy of 'One Country Two Systems' for Hong Kong today. This is a facade that Beijing consistently presents to the outside world. In reality, the regime's political system is still deeply rooted in Maoism and Pro-Sovietism which only superficially calls for peace, justice, equality and freedom.

This guise was originally derived from the policy used in Tibet during the early 1950s and completely failed. The problem is that the communist regime does not keep its promises. According to the current situation in Hong Kong, Tibet and eastern Turkistan's today will be Hong Kong's tomorrow, and Hong Kong's today will be Taiwan's tomorrow.

The conditions in China for the Middle Way Approach to solve the issue of Tibet has not yet publicly materialised. The Approach would be openly accepted by the masses if only they knew the truth. It is difficult to have a breakthrough on policy in Tibet as the whole region is under military control. However, many Chinese scholars believe that the Approach — in the long run — is the best solution to Tibet's political issues.

However, China's international image has been greatly tarnished from their policies of cultural genocide against the Tibetan people. Tibetan Buddhism is one of the most influential religions in the world. Nobody predicted that Buddhist science would have a huge global impact, nor Tibet's contribution towards a cultural realisation of a peaceful and harmonious world. Also, 60 years ago, it was an impossible for China to imagine Tibet on the world stage and for there to be international pressure for a negotiation between Tibet and China.

Like the urgent situation in Tibet, the nationality crisis was a key reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union. There is every possibility that China could go the same way as the Soviet Union did if the regime does not change its policies on its occupied nations. The Chinese social system is similar to that of the former Soviet Union — it controls everything.

However, it is nearly impossible to resolve the above issues in China, Tibet, eastern Turkistan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, if Xi Jinping's "China's Dreams" and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Middle Way Approach will not meet each other half way. But, if the Tibetan spiritual leader could visit China and Tibet, especially Wutai Shan Mountain, it would be a big breakthrough for the overall situation — a great and historical possibility that China could become a great moral power.

One of the biggest problems is that discussing Tibet related issues has been academically forbidden in China and Tibet for the past six decades. Whether intentionally or coincidentally, the Chinese government does not allow scholars to study the Tibet issue, Tibetan history or the current situation in Tibet freely.

World leaders including renowned religious scholars and political observers as well as many eminent Chinese intellectuals expressed their genuine support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Middle Way Approach — it is regarded as the best political method to resolve the issue. Teaching people in China the truth about His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his thoughts, his words, and the Approach should be a top priority.

The so called "One Country, Two Systems" is completely not working and Hong Kong's dream of enjoying greater democracy in the future seems like it will never come true. The recent protests in the region show that the "One Country, Two Systems" policy has not been politically or legally implemented. Many express their concerns that China will eventually change the current system into "One Country, One System".

Our struggle for freedom can be as great as we want it to be since we believe in truth and justice. Non-violence will prevail if we believe in ourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if we are willing to sacrifice the little things like short-term economic interests and stand up for universal principles that the free world should uphold.

As the Tibetan people went into exile, it enabled Buddhism and peaceful non-violent struggle to spread all over the world. Those elders who sacrificed their lives for the principles of democracy and freedom are sources of guidance in times of need. They can give us inspiration in times of freedom and their legacy can motivate us in times of struggle. Our struggle must continue until the end because success is not final and failure is not forever.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com