DHARAMSHALA, May 18: In a hard-hitting article written by prominent journalist Edward Lucas, the author advocates for democratic governments in the West to unite in resisting “Chinese bullying” against those who meet Tibet’s exiled leaders.
Lucas, who is International Editor of The Economist, in his article “The Tibetan Test” published online by European Voice, argues that Chinese bullying is working and it is “ever-harder for Tibetan leaders to get meetings when they travel in Europe and the United States.”
Lucas takes cue from the recent diplomatic spat between China and the United Kingdom over PM David Cameron’s meeting the Dalai Lama last year.
“These are tough times for Tibetans, not just because of their despair at occupation of their homeland, but because of Western pusillanimity,” Lucas writes.
Calling China’s bullying “a test” of European and transatlantic political will, he calls for Europe and the US to adopt a common position, something on the lines of “we will meet with anyone we choose to, regardless of diplomatic bluster.”
“China can afford to pick off individual countries, punishing them with a ban on high-level meetings and visits, or even trade and investment sanctions. But it cannot do that to the entire West,” Lucas argues.
The author, who has covered Central and Eastern Europe for more than 20 years, witnessing the final years of the last Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet empire, notes that the “burden of responsibility and solidarity lies particularly heavily on the countries that have living memories of communist rule and foreign occupation.”
He writes that former captive nations such as the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and others who cared about freedom in Europe during the Cold War “should care about Tibet now, for the same reasons.”
Lucas calls upon European leaders to arrange meetings with Tibetan representatives “publicly and proudly” and publish photos of the meetings.
“Once everyone is doing so, the ability of the Chinese embassies to feign outrage, and to impose punishments, is greatly limited. Instead of letting timidity ratchet down towards defeat, collective action ratchets resistance upwards towards victory,” Lucas writes.
“The importance of this goes far beyond Tibet. If Europe cannot stick up for principle and defend itself against bullying when the stakes are relatively low, what chance is there that it can do so when the stakes are higher?”