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Events on Hainan Island this past weekend have created a potentially interesting international PR situation when it comes to Beijing’s stance on its ‘internal affairs of state.’
At this weekend’s Boao Forum for Asia, Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Taiwan’s Vice-President-elect Vincent Siew. Siew-Hu.jpg Both agreed that Beijing and Taipei would restart official dialogue when the new administration in Taiwan takes over at the end of May. These talks have been frozen since 1999.
But what I find interesting, and something that the anti-Beijing establishment might be able to key on, is Beijing’s willingness to open up political discussions with the leadership in Taiwan, while at the same time refusing to meet with the spiritual leadership of the Tibetans. Why has Beijing become so steadfast in its unwillingness to sit down with the DL, while at the same time enter into talks with the same political organization, the KMT, which was bent on destroying the CPC until it was chased off the mainland in 1949? I’m looking forward to hearing some of the arguments on this question. And, just for fun, I’m going to try to presume and respond to the one I think would be the CPC’s argument to this point:

  • The Dalai Lama is a ‘splitist,’ bent on Tibetan independence. So why should Beijing negotiate with someone who wants to break up the country. The people of Taiwan want to reunite with the mainland, so we’re willing to talk with them.

Here’s my two cents on this one: The Dalai Lama has been on record numerous times as saying that he just wants more autonomy for Tibet, not independence. Perhaps this is just a nefarious attempt to subvert Beijing’s authority to the point where eventually independence will be reached for the Tibetan people. Who knows? But on the surface, the DL seems to be willing to make concessions to Beijing, so why not sit down with the guy and hammer some things out. And if it turns out that he was lying – and Beijing can prove it – then it’s won. It’s got its PR victory, and can just throw that in the face of anyone who says otherwise. And if it turns out the DL is as good as his word, then Beijing has still won, because it will likely quell any sort of complete independence movement within its borders, and can use the good will gesture to the Tibetan people as a PR victory to the world. But by not meeting with the DL and stoking up talks with Taipei, the anti-China establishment can use any forthcoming negotiations between Taipei and Beijing as a way to point out that Beijing says one thing and does another when it comes to its ‘internal matters.’

 
 

7 Comments

  1. cc says:

    Paul,
    “The Dalai Lama has been on record numerous times as saying that he just wants more autonomy for Tibet, not independence.”
    This is well-known. The argument of the Chinese government is that they are interested in his ACTIONS not WORDS.
    The Dalai Lama has also been on record numerous times as saying that he wanted independence. For years he was actively engaged in Ti through military means with the aid of foreign government. He changed his tactics in the 1980s, because the US had to stop official sponsorship following the establishment of diplomatic relations with China.
    Would you trust this guy just because he says now he does not want independence? His brother was quoted by saying “we have the autonomy first, and then drive out the Chinese”. Many members of the TYC were in his government. He says he doesn’t want independence, while he is the head of a so-called Tibet-government-in-exile. Is that a joke?
    Look at the conditions he demands for his “autonomy”. Look at the “cultural genocide” accusation he throws out now and again. Look at his claim of 1.27m Tibetan deaths under the Chinese rule. The list goes on and on.
    He says a lot of flowery words: passion, peace, reconciliation, respect, etc. Where are his actions?
    Would he dissolve his government-in-exile first? Would he admit that the 1.27m allegation is a lie? Would he tell the world that his “cultural genocide” accusation is totally unfounded? Would he denounce the TYC, which actively pursues Ti by whatever means?
    These are the actions that he could do to convince the Chinese government and more importantly the Chinese people that he really means what he says.

  2. Jim Zhang says:

    In these things, whenever you ask why, you have to follow the money trail. I think for most “lao wai” the moaney trail is the precise reason they all show up in China.
    Between the mainland and Taiwan there is 100 billion plus dollars of trade. People sit down and talk because there is something to talk about.
    Dolly has only hot oxygen and that only requires the PR people to deal with him.

  3. Paul says:

    @cc:
    Well put. But in trying to highlight the government’s point, you have also keyed in on exactly what I am contending might happen. Beijing is opening up the idea of reconciliation with the KMT, which it engaged in a bitter battle with for years. The DL also — as you contend — also engaged in a bitter battle with Beijing for years. Yet there is no sign Beijing is willing to hold out an olive branch for reconciliation in his case, compared to Taipei. The KMT has changed its position over the years when it comes to relations with the CPC. So has the DL. So, if you view it from this perspective, Beijing’s position could be viewed as hypocritical. As for disolving the Government-in-exile, if you use the same arguement, why should he have to do that? Beijing isn’t asking the KMT to disolve the Yuan in Taipei to begin dialogue.
    All I’m suggesting is that if both Beijing and the DL could get past the accusations and mud-slinging, I suspect there might well be some room in there for both sides to ‘save face’ and bring all this nonsense to a conclusion.

  4. Paul says:

    @Jim Zhang:
    That’s a very good point. If Beijing and Taipei can foster a better political relationship, the economic benefits only get better. Subsequently, if Beijing ever lost control of the TAR, it loses control of the source of China’s major rivers, which are the life-line to this country’s economic success.

  5. victtodd says:

    Paul,
    Don’t be naive, the truth is Dalai Lama does not have real leverage. Over the issue of tibet’s independence, the majority of Chinese people are very united and rally behind the China government.
    To put it bluntly, what DL can really count on are his popularity among west countries(clearly a minus in any negotiation with PRC government) and his believers in Tibet(which is under firm control of central government), while Taipei controls a modernized arm force, 22 million population and a economy ranked 20th in the world and its capability to pull off independence unilaterally( albeit its disastrous consequence). It is not hypocritical but realistic to stoke up talks with Taipei while stall any talks with DL given KMT’s election victory in Taiwan and DL’s alleged seditious role in recent violent riot.

  6. cc says:

    Paul,
    I think your comparison of the Tibet issue with that of the Taiwan issue is misplaced.
    If I am allowed to make an inappropriate analogy, you may see why I say your comparison is misplaced.
    Consider this
    the DL=KMT
    the TYC=DPP

  7. Sue says:

    I think also one of the stumbling blocks is DL’s insistence to include “the greater Tibet” in the discussion, considering “the greater Tibet” areas outside of TAR were not controlled politically by the current DL. It’s unlikely BJ would ever agree the inclusion of those areas in the discussion with DL.