Monday, March 17, 2008

Hu Jintao should learn from history: quit Tibet, let Tibet be for Tibetans

Tibet in ferment

Hu Jintao should learn from history

The rioting in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet that followed the commemoration of the 49th anniversary of what Tibetans refer to as their 'National Uprising Day' could not have come at a worse time for Beijing. Mr Hu Jintao, preparing for his second term as President of China, would not have wanted such a distraction from the proceedings of the National People's Congress, not least because they were supposed to set the tone and tenor of his fresh five-year tenure. The bloody clashes between Tibetans led by monks and the police, which have surpassed the skirmishes of recent times, have ensured that the world's attention is now focussed on Lhasa and not Beijing -- this is bad news for a man who is eager to lead China to the pre-eminent position it aspires for and to attain which much effort has been invested. The immediate impact of the spring uprising in Tibet could be felt on the Summer Olympics through which China wishes to showcase its admirable achievements -- a call to boycott the Games is inevitable, though it is anybody's guess as to how successful it will be in garnering international support. But irrespective of the fallout of the violence in Tibet -- which reports suggest is yet to be controlled by the security forces -- the Government of China needs to step back and ponder over its policy to contain dissent in the 'Roof of the World'. It is evident that the use of force and repressive measures to silence critics of Beijing, as well as the settlement of Han Chinese in Tibet to dilute the region's cultural identity, have not delivered the results China expected. Had this not been true, Tibet would not have been in fervent today. Mr Hu Jintao should have known this better than any of his comrades in the Communist Party of China. After all, two decades ago he had been given the task of suppressing another Tibetan uprising; he fulfilled that responsibility with remarkable efficiency, earning the admiration of his senior colleagues. But surely he would agree that what he had succeeded in achieving then was at best temporary -- it was neither a final nor a lasting solution to the issue of Tibet.

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