Dharamshala, November 30 - "The Dalai Lama is not demanding independence for Tibet- he is certainly not demanding the breakup of China", Mr. Michael Danby, MP from Labor Party who attended the 4th World Parliamentarian Convention on Tibet in Edinburgh, said.
Speaking at the Australian Parliament last Monday, he said "the Dalai Lama is demanding no more than that the Tibetan people be allowed local autonomy and control of their own local affairs. This is a right which is actually guaranteed to them under the Chinese constitution, but has been systematically denied to them in practice."
"In fact, of course, the whole Chinese people, all 1.2 billion of them, are being systematically denied the rights which are supposedly guaranteed to them by their own Constitution", he added.
Following is the full text of Mr. Michael Danby's Speech
During the break I had the privilege of attending the Fourth World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet, held in Edinburgh. The Convention was organised by the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies and hosted by the Cross Party Scottish Parliamentary Group of Tibet and the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. The guest of honour was of course His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the leader of the Tibetan people and one of worlds great moral and spiritual leaders. I want to thank Mr Tenzin Phuntsok Atisha of the Tibet Information Office here in Australia for his help in facilitating my attendance.
The large and widely representative attendance at the Convention showed in the most striking way that the world has not forgotten the people of Tibet. After more that 50 years of Chinese occupation, the world is still not prepared to see the legitimate political, religious and cultural rights of the people of Tibet trampled underfoot. I might note in passing that the Dalai Lama is not demanding independence for Tibet he is certainly not demanding the breakup of China. He is demanding no more than that the Tibetan people be allowed local autonomy and control of their own local affairs. This is a right which is actually guaranteed to them under the Chinese constitution, but has been systematically denied to them in practice.
In fact, of course, the whole Chinese people, all 1.2 billion of them, are being systematically denied the rights which are supposedly guaranteed to them by their own Constitution. They are supposedly guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion, but in practice they are denied all these things. I acknowledge of course that things are better in China then they were 30 or 40 years ago. Since the reforms of Deng Xiaoping China has become a much more prosperous country and in some ways a country in which people have more freedom than they did in the days of the megalomaniac dictator Mao Zedong.
But it is still a country in which millions of people are being worked to death in the labor camps of the laogai, hundreds of camps which are run on the same lines, and on an ever greater scale, than the camps of Stalins Gulag. China is a country in which respected writers, doctors, scholars and artists are arrested, harassed and intimidated when they exercise their legal right to criticise government policy. It is a country where religious minorities, whether they are Catholics, Protestants, Muslims or Falun Gong practitioners, are routinely arrested and sent to labor camps. It is a country where tens of millions of people work in dangerous, unsanitary, oppressive work conditions, in which they are denied the right to organise or form free trade unions.
China is also a country which seeks to be admitted to the ranks of great powers, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that status. China is undoubtedly a great country, with a great history and a great civilisation. China deserves to be treated with the respect that its size, its history and its culture deserve. Chinas spectacular economic growth and its new prosperity and power must certainly be recognised. But China cannot expect to retain the respect of other nations if it does not behave as a responsible member of the world community.
How do the current rulers of China use their new position of power and influence in the world? They conduct a massive military build up in the Taiwan Straits, posing an growing threat to the security of Taiwan and creating the risk of a war into which the United States and other countries, possibly including Australia, would inevitably be drawn. They block efforts at the United Nations to censure the military regime in Sudan for the genocide it has been conducting against the people of Darfur. They aid and Prop up the regime in Burma, which for more than a decade has kept the elected leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest. They block efforts to refer Irans nuclear weapons program to the United Nations. They provide the economic lifeline which keeps afloat the North Korean regime, probably the worlds most oppressive regime.
Many people have become convinced that Chinas rise to great power status is inevitable and assured, and some have even argued that it is a good thing, apparently because they believe that a strong China will provide a counterweight to the United States. Many rather rash predictions have been made that China will soon overtake the US and become the worlds largest economy, and that it will in time overtake the US in political and military power as well. I beg to differ from all of these assumptions. There is nothing inevitable about Chinas rise. While its economic growth over the past 20 years has been spectacular, there is no guarantee it will continue.
Most of Chinas growth has flowed from Deng Xiaopings bold reforms in agriculture, which abolished Maos Peoples Communes and allowed the peasantry to once again own land and produce grain for profit. In an economy which was 80% agricultural in the 1970s, this produced a huge rise in living standards, creating a market for manufactured goods which boosted the whole economy, as well as proving the state with huge taxation revenues. But since the death of Deng, the pace of basic reform in China has slowed. The state still controls large parts of the means of production, and allows its state banks to prop up unproductive industries with soft loans which will never been repaid. China also replicates the mistake of the former Soviet regime, in spending a disproportionate share of state revenues on arms and other prestige projects.
The belief that China will soon overtake the western powers economically, politically and militarily is not shared by many observers who know China best. Professor Ross Terrill wrote recently. China may gain lasting prosperity. China may retain its Leninist party-state. But both will not occur; either the economic or the political logic will soon gain the upper hand. This is the heart of the matter. China will not become a great power unless it becomes a genuine market economy, rather than a Soviet0style command economy mixed with some of the worst aspects of 19th century capitalism, as it currently is. And it will not become a respected power in the world until its economic reforms are not only continued, but also matched by reforms in the political sphere. The Chinese leadership drew some of the correct conclusions from the fall of the Soviet Union, but not the essential one, which is that the command economy and the Leninist one-party state are failed models of economic and political development and cannot be the means for the China to achieve the place in the world it aspires to.
There are those in Australia who believe that since China is bound to become the dominant power in our region, if not the world, we had better jump on the bandwagon and become a Chinese client state so that we get to be in the good graces of the new regional hegemony and share in the vast Chinese market for raw materials. That some people on the left who have long admired Maoist China should take this view is not surprising. It is a bit more surprising that this view seems to be shared by senior ministers in the Howard Government. That seems to be the only conclusion that can be drawn from some of the Governments recent statements and actions, most obviously its shameful delay in granting a protection visa to the Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin or to take any interests in his information about Chinese espionage in Australia.
In fact there is no need for Australia to be overly deferential towards China. It is true that China may well become Australias most important trading partner, but trade is a two-way street. Chinas economic growth is being literally fuelled by Australian coal, iron ore and natural gas. There is no other source of these essential commodities as convenient and reliable as Australia. China needs Australia as much as Australia needs China, and will go on buying our raw materials whatever the state of our political relationship, just as China bought Australian wool and wheat in the 1960s when we did not even recognise the Peoples Republic. A healthy and mutually profitable trade relationship need not make Australia a Chinese client state.
(www.tibet.net is the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration.)