We’ve already had to warn the heroic Buddhist dissidents of Burma and colonized Uighur people of China’s far west against allowing themselves to be exploited as propaganda fodder by the Bush White House. Now it seems we have to warn the Dalai Lama—whose official website boasts the text of his Oct. 17 Capitol Hill acceptance speech upon being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. It is truly perverse to witness a single news story in the Los Angeles Times that day in which Bush defends his decision to attend the ceremony for the Dalai Lama (and to hold a private schmoozing session with him at the White House a day earlier)—while calling the Armenian genocide bill “counterproductive” meddling in Turkish affairs! This double standard should clue the Dalai Lama in that he is being used. Turkey is a strategic ally that Bush needs keep on good terms to stabilize Iraq—and, at this moment, to restrain from threatened military incursions into Iraqi Kurdistan. China is an imperial rival in the critical scramble for Africa’s oil—and the key nation now falling under the rubric of the 1992 Pentagon “Defense Planning Guide” drawn up by Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby which said the US must “discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”
China is reacting to the Congressional award much as Turkey is reacting to the progress of the Armenian genocide bill. “We solemnly demand that the US cancel the extremely wrong arrangements,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Oct. 16. “It seriously violates the norm of international relations and seriously wounded the feelings of the Chinese people and interfered with China’s internal affairs.” China protested the honors for the Dalai Lama by pulling out of an international strategy session on Iran sought by the US and planned for the same day the award was given. (AP, Oct. 16) The day after the ceremony, Yang also summoned US Ambassador to China Clark T. Randt to lodge a formal protest. “The move is a blatant interference in China’s internal affairs. It has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and gravely undermined bilateral relations,” ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news briefing. He urged Washington to correct “the terrible effects of its erroneous act and stop conniving with, and supporting, ‘Tibet independence’ secessionist forces.” (China Daily, Oct. 19)
The Dalai Lama’s speech anticipated that he would be accused of “hidden agendas”:
On the future of Tibet, let me take this opportunity to restate categorically that I am not seeking independence. I am seeking a meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people within the People’s Republic of China… I have no hidden agenda. My decision not to accept any political office in a future Tibet is final.
The Chinese authorities assert that I harbor hostility towards China and that I actively seek to undermine China’s welfare. This is totally untrue. I have always encouraged world leaders to engage with China; I have supported China’s entry into WTO and the awarding of summer Olympics to Beijing. I chose to do so with the hope that China would become a more open, tolerant and responsible country.
Ironically, principled activists concerned with Tibet, Burma and Darfur, as well as sinister neocons who seek to exploit these issues, might consider the Dalai Lama too soft on China! Nonetheless, most telling that His Holiness is in danger of being co-opted by the all-too-worldly agenda of the Bushites is that his speech contained not even the most allusive criticism of the war in Iraq—a nation being ravaged by US imperialism as surely as Tibet has been ravaged by Chinese imperialism.