"Very Clearly And Frankly"
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush sharply confronted China's President Hu Jintao on Wednesday about Beijing's harsh crackdown in Tibet, joining an international chorus of alarm just months before the U.S. and the rest of the world parade to China for the Olympics.That's diplomatic-speak for tough stuff.
In a telephone call with Hu, Bush "pushed very hard" about violence in Tibet, a necessity for restraint and a need for China to consult with representatives of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, the White House said.
After days of silence by Bush as other world leaders raised their voices, it marked a rare, direct protest from one president to another. As if to underscore how pointed Bush was, the White House said he used the call to "speak very clearly and frankly."
The Tibetans are getting what they wanted in their uprising, and the timing is proving to be exceptionally effective. With less than five months until the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, all the world's eyes are turned to a sympathetic people under the thumb of an unsympathetic regime.
Beijing knows there are plenty of repressed people in their country who are watching Tibet's example and considering uprisings of their own, including farmers who have had their land stolen by the central government and the Muslim Uighurs next door to Tibet. What fun for us, watching Communist totalitarians squirm!
From a timing point of view, it's also interesting that all this is coming up as Obama "opens the dialog on race" (i.e., backpedals like crazy from his ranting racist pastor), because at its base, the China-Tibet situation is one of racism, with Beijing as the writer and enforcer of Jim Crow laws.
There's a very interesting report, Jampa: The Story of Racism in Tibet on the International Campaign for Tibet Web site. It cuts through the "equality" patter of the regime to detail Chinese attitudes of superiority over the scores of non-Chinese peoples that also make up a part of the nation's population, using Tibet as the central example. Excerpt:
Today's policies and practice of racism and racial discrimination in Tibet are heavily influenced by the historical development of Chinese perceptions of Tibetans. Chinese leaders, including Sun Yatsen and Chiang Kaishek, promoted racial myths to redefine territorial borders and unify the Chinese nation-state.The two Chinese characters that "spell out" China are one that means "kingdom" and one that means "central," and "central" comes first. For several thousand years, the Chinese have seen their civilization as the center of things -- and if you see yourself in the center, then everything else is outside of the center and necessarily lesser.
Chinese nationalism, embedded in a historiography of Chinese greatness and superiority over all other "barbarian" peoples, provides a backdrop to the current Chinese policy on the control and administration of Tibet. In July 2001, Hu Jintao credited China for ushering in "a new era in Tibet to turn from darkness to light, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to affluence."
Liberation, enlightenment and modernization have been the ideological banners for subjugating national minorities and, far from promoting respect and equitable treatment, fuel pre-existing biases of backwardness, barbarism and primitiveness.
Granted, Tibet's mystical Buddhist demographic makes the country seem to be an odd, primitive anachronism in today's modern world, but appearances are not reality. Tibetan culture is extremely sophisticated and intellectual; they are not a people or a culture to look down one's nose at.
But that is what China is doing, along with sending in troops to quell the Tibetan's desire to practice their religion without the soul-killing influence of Communist atheism.
To speak out against China on Tibet is to speak much good against much evil -- a classic Bush venue, so it's good to see him add his voice to the rising chorus.