Participating in the European Parliament Forum on Tibet in Brussels on November 12, 2003, Wu said, “The State Department of the United States government has appointed an Under Secretary of State, Ms. Paula Dobriansky, as U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
“This is a high level appointment, which highlights that the United States Government is paying serious attention to the non-violent struggle of Tibet.
“It is time for the European Union to also appoint a senior official to push China to the negotiation table. This is an important and concrete step that the European Union could take. It would show the European Union does in fact actively defend the rights of the downtrodden and repressed.”
Wu also said it was significant that envoys of the Dalai Lama have been visiting China as it showed that the Chinese Government has realized that they cannot ignore the Dalai Lama.
“Beijing received a high-level delegation to restart negotiations with the His Holiness Dalai Lama,” Wu said. “Regardless of Beijing’s motives for holding these talks, or if the negotiations have any real success, at the very least, the negotiations make one thing clear: despite being exiled for over 50 years, Beijing cannot ignore the Dalai Lama and his people. Beijing refused to talk with Tibetan delegates for many years; they referred to them as a ‘Gang of Bandits.’ Now, Beijing is beginning to accept the reality.”
Following is the full text of Harry Wu’s remarks.
The Crux of the Tibetan Problem
(European Parliament Forum on Tibet: EU Response to Sino-Tibetan Dialogue)
Harry Wu, Laogai Research Foundation
It is an honor to speak before this distinguished audience.
It’s been almost fifty years since China “liberated” Tibet, crushing its people, government and its religion, and forcing the Dalai Lama into exile. Since then, tens of thousands of Tibetans have fled to all parts of the world. However, they have not given up hope. They have not been wiped-out or deemed irrelevant, and I suspect they will never be. To most Han Chinese, Tibetans are an “uncivilized, ignorant, filthy and superstitious” people, who needed to be liberated by the Chinese Communist Party. Yet, all throughout the world, Tibetan stand with pride.
All over the world, exiled Tibetans live together in peace with the locals of their adopted nations, receiving much more respect and welcome and trust than Chinese immigrants. Tibetan maintains their religion, culture, dress and customs, as well as his own government in-exile, with an unmistakable dignity. Among the younger generation, many obtain high-level academic degrees, and become well-known scholars. They may have lost their land, but they are reaching toward the heavens.
Beijing received a high-level delegation to restart negotiations with the His Holiness Dalai Lama. Regardless of Beijing’s motives for holding these talks, or if the negotiations have any real success, at the very least, the negotiations make one thing clear: despite being exiled for over 50 years, Beijing cannot ignore the Dalai Lama and his people. Beijing refused to talk with Tibetan delegates for many years; they referred to them as a “Gang of Bandits.” Now, Beijing is beginning to accept the reality. One of the reasons that brought Beijing back to negotiating table is the fact that the Communist regime facing a historic crisis. It must change its policies. The exiled Tibetan government does not enjoy any military or any economic power; it does not even have any diplomatic relations. Yet they still matter. As everyone knows, the CCP’s political power is always based on physical strength. Yet, the facts prove, although often drowned out by wickedness and greed, justice and truth eventually prevail.
Beijing knows the Dalai Lama and Tibetans are highly respected by peoples and government of nearly all nations, they know truth is not on their side. Nevertheless, there are two key factors supporting Beijing’s Tibet policy: First, most Han Chinese are prejudiced against Tibetans, and believe Tibetans need economic, cultural and other assistance. Second, most Han Chinese believe Tibet was never an independent country, and was always a part of China. As a result, most Han Chinese agree with Beijing’s policies. Even many Chinese exiled or domestic dissidents which claim they are fighting for democracy, freedom and human rights, unfortunately, the sentiment of traditional nationalism leading them support and agree Beijing’s Tibet policy.
Many Han Chinese ask: Isn’t Han Chinese culture superior to Tibet’s? Don’t Tibetans have an unhealthy, harmful lifestyle? Don’t they want a theocracy? Doesn’t the Tibetan religion block economic and cultural development, etc.? These questions are important to evaluate and discuss. However, the first thing we should address is this: who has the right to judge right from wrong? Moreover, who has the right to use physical force to implement such a judgment?
If a culture fails to respect another people’s right to self-determination, then itself has no right to self-determination. Yet, this is what is happening in China. If Han Chinese is in the process of seeking democracy, freedom and prosperity, then it should respect another culture’s right to do the same. Tibetans have the right to seek their own political future, social structure, religious beliefs and culture.
Actually, Han Chinese must appreciate Tibetan’s tireless, courageous and consistent fight for its fundamental rights. Their struggle is breaking the power of the Communist autocratic regime in China. Tibet’s efforts will eventually benefit all Chinese people.
If most Han Chinese begin believing that they should respect Tibet, and agree that Tibet has freedom of choice, I believe Beijing’s current policy would become untenable. When a majority of Han Chinese expresses this type of sentiment, it will represent a significant shift in thought among Han Chinese.
In the last twenty years, the Communist government has hidden its use of force against the Tibetan people under the cover of economic development along with the feet of tens of thousands of Han Chinese migrants pouring into Tibet. The same autocratic government that destroyed Tibetan monasteries now is spending money rebuilt the monasteries. They are building railways, highways, and power stations. Their purpose is to gradually eliminate Tibetan’s culture, region, and people.
I wish Western nations would not only clearly express your desire to see fruitful negotiations between China and the Dalai Lama. However, I also hope they will stop investing in Tibet, stop purchasing any products made in Tibet, and never welcome any Beijing-controlled Tibetan delegates, or culture or artistic performance. The West must not maintain its hypocritical appeasement policy. I hope the West remembers how Stalin swallowed Eastern Europe and Asian countries and built up Soviet Empire, and what was necessary for the West to defeat it.
The State Department of the United States government has appointed an Under Secretary of State, Ms. Paula Dobriansky, as US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. This is a high level appointment, which highlights that the United States Government is paying serious attention to the non-violent struggle of Tibet. It is time for the European Union to also appoint a senior official to push China to the negotiation table. This is an important and concrete step that the European Union could take. It would show the European Union does in fact actively defend the rights of the downtrodden and repressed.
The world is changing. In the face of a rising tide of globalization, liberalization, democratization and human rights, the old and tired petty excuses for injustice, such as colonialism, racism, communism and even nationalism, are becoming weak and indefensible. Sooner or later, they will all be thrown into the dustbin of history.