[The Korea Times, South Korea]
The Korea Times, South
Silence Over China's
"Perhaps the Bush
Administration thought there wasn't be much to be
gained from a strong denunciation of Beijing, a giant embroiled in conflict with a far smaller
adversary, similar to the U.S. war in Iraq."
March 17, 2008
Korea - The Korea Time - Original Article (English)
With the Chinese police
tightening their grip on Lhasa, the Tibetan capital
seems to have regained a relative calm. Few would doubt, however, that this
will be the calm before another storm - one far more violent - unless
fundamental problems are addressed.
Amid a virtual blockade of
the foreign press and with Beijing and Tibet's government in exile give
conflicting accounts, what triggered last week's violent clash and the number
of people who were killed and injured are as yet uncertain. What is certain is
that in view of China's half-century policy to nearly obliterate the autonomous
region's religion and culture, the turmoil was bound to break out some time or
another. And if it had to happen - the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games must
have seemed like a good time for the Tibetan separatists.
Chinese adherence to Tibet is
understandable - if not agreeable - in view of the region's military and
economic importance. If Beijing let Lhasa out of its
iron grip, it could lead to a domino-like splitting of 55 minority peoples away
from the People's Republic of China.
Nevertheless, what China is
now doing to Tibet calls to mind what imperialist Japan did to Korea and China
in the first half of the 20th century. Moreover, China's "southwestern
project'' to assimilate ancient Tibetan history into its own is an unwelcome
reminder of its "northeastern project,'' which has angered so many
Koreans. For Seoul in the context of both history and current affairs, this can
hardly be a "fire on the other side of the river."
[Editor's Note: China's "Northeastern Project" is a
Beijing-funded research project conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which sought to establish that Korea's Balhae Kingdom (698-926) was a vassal state of China .]
A moment of
anguish for Nobel Peace Prize winner and Tibet's spiritual and political
leader, The Dalai Lama.
Instead of further antagonizing
him, Beijing is advised to take heed of the words of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's
exiled spiritual leader. The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate has called for
more autonomy and a non-violent solution to the ongoing trouble - stopping far
short of independence or separation. If Chinese leaders push ahead with the
colonization of Tibet as it has over the past few years, the region will likely
remain a perennial ticking time bomb - and one as big as a quarter of its
Beijing's seeming leniency of
the past few days must not be simply to provide an excuse for even harsher
crackdowns to come. Otherwise, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, already marred by
food safety and environmental problems, may recieve a
crippling blow over human rights issues, as some European leaders have already
In contrast, Washington's
relatively subdued response is rather odd. Perhaps the Bush Administration
thought there wasn't much to be gained from a strong denunciation of Beijing, a
giant embroiled in conflict with a far smaller adversary, similar to the U.S.
war in Iraq.
Far harder to understand -
but not at all surprising - is Seoul's utter silence and its continued refusal
to allow the Dalai Lama to visit. This is in apparent deference to its largest
trading partner and the coordinator of Korean denuclearization.
[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US March