Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why the "great powers" are subdued on Tibet

Despite a strong grass roots movement across the world against the Chinese repression in Tibet, (see link for a spontaneous protest at the British Museum yesterday it is noticeable that not one great power has come out strongly against the Chinese actions to date.

Noises have been made about "concern", calls for restraint (on both sides) have been made but that has been about it. Horrific pictures of Tibetan dead are available online but the same establishment media who were all too happy to carry the pictures of Abu Graib are reluctant to carry these pictures of misdoings by China against its own citizens in "peacetime".

No one is seriously anticipating an Olympic boycott, at least at this stage.

Today some progress was made as Gordon Brown responding to a question from David Cameron at PMQs stated he would meet the Dalai Lama on his visit to London in May. This followed a No. 10 e-petition that was signed by over 9,000 people- high in relation to a foreign policy petition on the No.10 website.

However the reason why no one really wants to rock the boat comes downs to the world economy. With the credit crunch in full swing, banks being propped up on both sides of the Atlantic, world food prices soaring ( rice hit a 36 year high today), the last thing that is needed is to seriously alienate a country of 1.3 billion people that is a relatively rare point of economic growth.

It is easy to pick holes in this rationale but it prevails for now. The fact the Chinese boom may be overheating and Chinese inflation is soaring is one fly in the oitment of those who claim all is rosy in China.

The fact that China remains broadly a dictatorship who is quite prepared to use deadly force against its own dissidents (see above) is somehow irrelevant in this too.

Another way to look at it would be if 2008 is really going to be such a bad year we might as well get all the bad news out of the way with. A boycott of the Olympics might upset the current Chinese regime but if encouraged real change surely this is a prize worth going for. Ironically if the Chinese economy faltered in the short term as a result, commodity prices might fall for the rest of the world.

The other option for the Beijing Olympics is that enough protestors get into the opening ceremony to disrupt it. A bit of booing could give the PRC its own "Ceausescu moment" to deal with.

Meanwhile the comfortable onlookers seem prepared to leave the Tibetans to carry on suffering for now. Of course they are concerned but their concern only goes so far......


Steve said...

I see George W. Bush has accepted his invitation for the opening ceremony.

Luis said...

I saw that too.

I think it is a case of doing what is felt to be "expedient". At present I disagree that attendance of the opening ceremony at a presidential level is the right thing to do, regardless of expediency.