Paramilitary police march in a street in Zhongdian, in a Tibetan area known as Shangri-La, in Yunnan province Saturday March 22, 2008. Thousands of troops have moved into Tibetan areas outside Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) following last week's anti-government riots in Tibet's capital, Lhasa. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
The authoritarian crackdown by the Chinese state on the people of Tibet is in full swing. Since foreigners and journalists are now banned from the country and Tibetans can be jailed for speaking to foreign media, there's little anyone outside China can do now to influence events. The People's Liberation Army will do what it does, and all expressions of public dissent in Tibet will be ruthlessly crushed -- again.
The greater question is what do the rest of us do next. Will we turn a blind eye, as we have in the past?
China's repression in Tibet is not a theory, or a political position. It is a fact, backed up by numerous independent accounts. In 1950 China invaded and took over Tibet by force. Since then China has deliberately flooded the country with ethnic Han Chinese immigrants, in effect making Tibetans a minority in their own land. Tibet's Buddhist monks, the country's traditional spiritual and temporal leaders, have been either repressed or co-opted by Beijing.
Chinese riot police march in a street in Zhongdian, in a Tibetan area known as Shangri-La, Yunnan province Saturday March 22, 2008. (AP Photo)
China's response to the street protests that in recent days have overtaken Tibet and Tibetan-populated areas of other Chinese provinces, is typical. Here's a gem from Zhang Qingli, the Communist Party chief in Tibet. "The Dalai (Lama) is a jackal in Buddhist monk's robes, an evil spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast."
What did Josef Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, say? If you tell a lie, make it a big lie.
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Dalai Lama's teachings will know that virtually everything being said of him now by Chinese officials is false. He does not advocate Tibetan independence. He does not advocate violence.
We make a big public production in the West about our passion for human rights and democracy. But when China is involved, the narrative suddenly changes.
Here's one thing citizens in the West can do, as a response: We can stop buying products that carry the tag "made in China."
China's actions in Tibet are an outrage. We must stop looking the other way.