Robert Barnett asks in the Times, Did Britain just sell out Tibet? Gordon Brown asked the Chinese to contribute more money to the IMF in exchange for increased influence:
Now there is speculation that a trade-off for this arrangement involved a major shift in the British position on Tibet, whose leading representatives in exile this weekend called on their leader, the Dalai Lama, to stop sending envoys to Beijing — bringing the faltering talks between China and the exiles to a standstill. The exiles’ decision followed an announcement on Oct. 29 by David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, that after almost a century of recognizing Tibet as an autonomous entity, Britain had changed its mind. Mr. Miliband said that Britain had decided to recognize Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China. He even apologized that Britain had not done so earlier. Until that day, the British had described Tibet as autonomous, with China having a “special position” there. This formula did not endorse the Tibetan claim to independence. But it meant that in the British view China’s control over Tibet was limited to a condition once known as suzerainty, somewhat similar to administering a protectorate. Britain, alone among major powers, had exchanged official agreements with the Tibetan government before the Chinese takeover in 1951, so it could scarcely have said otherwise unless it was to vitiate those agreements.
This is all something short of surprising. China’s economic clout means very few nations will choose to stand up to Beijing. But we are all China’s customers. It cuts both ways. The Irrawaddy: Tibetan Exiles’ Meeting Produces Comparisons with Burma. Doesn’t the figure of the Dalai Lama giver greater legitimacy to the Tibetan exiles than the Burmese?
Despite the impression of unity given by the Tibetan exile movement, the Dalai Lama’s strategy for Tibet, calling for autonomy and not independence, came in for criticism at the Dharmsala meeting. Critics questioned this so-called “middle way.” Tsewang Rigzin, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, told The Associated Press ahead of the meeting: “We need to have a strategy. It’s the middle way right now. But that has been a failure. “We have history on our side; we have truth on our side. We know the Chinese—there’s no way we can live under China.”
Speaking of Burma, the UN resolution condemning the junta on its human rights abuses passed – barely.
Sign up for Tricycle’s newsletters