By Maura Moynihan
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is back from Beijing, and the state-run China Daily has hailed her visit as "a relief." The Chinese Communist Party successfully steered the conversation towards the economy and climate change, eclipsing human rights and Tibet, set to explode on March 10th, 2009, the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising and the flight of the Dalai Lama.
China insists that Tibet is "internal affair of the state" but to ignore Tibet is to misread how the Chinese occupation contributes to environmental, economic and military instability in Asia and the world.
China's development policies in Tibet now threaten neighboring states. Population transfer, urbanization and forced resettlement of nomads has disrupted the delicate ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau, the source of Asia's rivers, which provide water for three billion people. China is building a colossal hydroelectric dam and water diversion scheme on the bend of Tibet's Yarlong Tsangpo River, with twice the hydropower of the Three Gorges Dam. The project will steer the Brahmaputra towards China's drought-stricken northern plain, and will cause untold disaster for the people of India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia.
In 2008 the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that 80% of Himalayan glaciers will be gone in 30 years. Isabel Hilton, editor of China Dialogue, a London think tank researching China's environment, has launched a campaign to address climate change in Tibet, states; "In a region that is already fractured and unstable, the melting of the 'third pole' glaciers is one of the most important challenges facing humanity in the 21st century."
China is expanding its military infrastructure in Tibet, diverting resources from crises in the mainland. The People's Liberation Army oversees extraction of Tibet's minerals and lumber for China's industrial heartland, and uses the Tibetan plateau for weapon development and military training. Occupied Tibet gives China a continuous border with Burma, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Kashmir. Diplomats in South Asia have expressed alarm over increased Chinese troop deployment along the Tibet border following the 2008 Olympic Games.
China's military ambitions are no loner confined to Asia. Chinese cyber hackers have for years penetrated classified US military networks, to the alarm of many Pentagon officials. Last fall FBI agents warned the Obama and McCain campaigns that Chinese networks were monitoring their computers, shortly after Chinese cyber hackers crashed congressional computers with files on Chinese dissidents. Larry M. Wortzel, the author of the US Army War College report on China's cyber espionage writes: "The thing that should give us pause is that in many Chinese military manuals they identify the U.S. as the country they are most likely to go to war with."
China's barbarous treatment of a helpless civilian populace in Tibet, who want only to speak their own language and practice their Buddhist faith, exposes the uncomfortable truth that China remains a cruel, unreformed totalitarian state. If China is free to violate the rule of law in Tibet, can China be held accountable on laws governing climate change, trade and nuclear proliferation?
As March 10th draws near, protest have already erupted in Tibet's eastern province of Kham, home of the Chushi Gandruk, the Tibetan Resistance fighters which bore the young Dalai Lama to safety in India fifty years ago, outwitting the People's Liberation Army. China has sent tens of thousands of paramilitary forces into Tibet with orders to "Strike Hard" upon all expressions of support for the Dalai Lama. Last month a Tibetan boy was beaten to death for raising a Tibetan flag in public.
In March 2008, as Chinese soldiers slaughtered men, women and children in Tibet, most heads of state looked away in uncomfortable silence, then flew to Beijing for a sports party. China has created its Tibet crisis, and it will not go away.
In 1959, when the Dalai Lama became a refugee in India, he wrote; "Behind the Himalayas, Tibet is like a gigantic prison camp…the sufferings have not ended, they will continue until the Chinese leave our country or Tibetans have ceased to exist as a race…We must never allow a belief to grow up abroad that Tibet will ever acquiesce in Chinese Communist domination, for I know it never will."
Maura Moynihan is the daughter of the late Senator Moynihan who was a great friend of Tibet. Maura herself has for long been a front-line supporter of Tibet and is a musician, songwriter and successful writer.
Maura Moynihan is the daughter of the late Senator Moynihan who was a great friend of Tibet. Maura herself has for long been a front-line supporter of Tibet and is a musician, songwriter and a successful writer.
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