Q&A on Tibet

Elisabeth Martens interviewed in "Le Courrier"

Elisabeth Martens was interviewed by Bénito Perez for Le Courrier in Geneva on 27 March 2008. Here is the entire interview in which she directly answers all questions on the history, recent events, repression, the Dalai Lama, and the social problems of Tibet.

Bénito Perez: Can you briefly introduce yourself? How did you become interested in Tibet and China?

Elizabeth Martens: I spent three years in China, after studying biology in Belgium, in order to specialize in traditional Chinese medicine. Of course, I took advantage of my stay there to travel throughout China—from north to south, and east to west. One of my trips in 1990 took me for the first time to a Tibetan region (i.e., inhabited by Tibetans), XiaHe in Gansu, to the great Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Labulang. I was surprised by the ease with which one could make contact with the Lamas who walked the streets and shopped at the corner grocery store; it was far from the image of our own monks who were cloistered behind their walls.

I was also surprised by the difference between the Chinese Buddhas, round as teapots mildly brewing on the stove, smiling, jolly, and the Tibetan Buddhas, much more imposing. And still more surprised to find in the Tibetan temples an incredible quantity of representations of the gods, of monsters, of Bodhisattvas, and such, one more ferocious and frightening than the next. I found that, in a certain way, this was a lot like what you find in the chamber of horrors in our churches, men impaled, crucified, or thrown into pots of boiling oil, and so on. Nothing like what is in Chinese art: in Chinese thought, and thus in the arts of China, suffering and the means by which it is brought about are not central preoccupations. From what must one free oneself at the moment when one realizes that suffering is only the flip side of well-being? I found in the Tibetan regions, where I returned several times after that (the last time in the summer of 2007), a very different culture from the Chinese. This difference seemed interesting to me: how could a country as huge as China (larger than all of Europe) reconcile 55 nationalities, each speaking its own language, especially with the disproportionate presence of the Han (about 90% of the population of China) as compared to the other nationalities?

BP: What happened, according to your information (and what are your sources?), recently in those regions of China populated by Tibetans?

EM: The violence which went down in Lhasa on 14 March 2008 was perpetrated by groups of Tibetan demonstrators. The testimony of foreigners present at the time was in agreement on this point: the aggression targeted the Chinese (the Han) and the Hui, a majority of whom are Muslims. Some people were burned alive, others were beaten, stabbed or stoned to death. The weapons used were Molotov cocktails, stones, iron bars, shanks and butcher knives. There were 22 dead and more than 300 wounded, nearly all were Hui and Han. These were criminal acts of a racist character. Serge Lachapelle, a tourist from Montreal, said: “The Muslim quarter was completely destroyed, not a single store was left standing.”

By the 18th of March, the Dalai Lama declared at a press conference that “the events in Tibet got out of control and that he is prepared to resign if the violence continues.” He added that “these acts of violence are suicidal.” It did not stop, just a few days later, through a strange bit of scheduling, US Senate Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, from showing up in Dharamsala for an official visit to the 14th Dalai Lama. She spoke of the events in Tibet as “a challenge to the conscience of the world” and demanded that China send and independent international commission to Tibet to verify the Chinese accusation that “the clique of the Dalai Lama was behind the violence”, and to check on “the manner in which the Chinese are treating their Tibetan prisoners.” This is one of the strategies used by the US: to force China to accept the teams of inspectors who carry the cachet of “Human Rights”, or to be able to say that China refused to accept them. There is no one better suited to pull off such a plan than the Dalai Lama: in his speech of 10 March, he had already demanded that China demonstrate “a greater transparency.”

Aren’t these terms curiously resonant of glasnost, which led to the break-up of the USSR? Germany, the avant-garde of Europe, lined up behind the demands for transparency made by the US: the German Minister of Foreign Affairs declared “the German Federal government demands greater transparency on the part of the Chinese government.” But the Chinese authorities speak of a premeditated and well-organized revolt. The occasion chosen to give the green light to the rioters was the anniversary of the 1959 revolt in Lhasa, a date the Tibetans in exile have declared a “National Holiday”: 10 March. On this day, a march from India to Tibet was effectively begun. It was supposed to go on for six months: until the opening of the Olympic Games in Peking. This march was organized by the “Movement for the Uprising of the Tibetan People”, an organization in which were represented the principal factions of the Tibetan government in exile: the NDP (New Democratic Party), the Tibetan Youth Congress, and the Women’s Movement.

10 March was clearly the signal to kick-off the riots: they were encouraged from abroad by multiple demonstrations in front of Chinese Embassies (e.g., in Brussels). Even in China, fliers calling for independence for Tibet were distributed in Tibetan regions. The same day, 300 Lamas from the monastery in Drepung demonstrated in the center of Lhasa in a non-violent but “provocative” manner; the police dispersed the demonstrators without clashes. This was not the case a few days later on the 14th of March: several Tibetan groups, all armed in the same way and operating in the same manner, were dispersed in city of Lhasa, bringing on hostilities and creating panic. What followed was the drama that we saw, with the anticipated repression by the Chinese. It should be remembered that international law stipulates, “Every country has the right to use force against independence movements aimed at dividing that country.” Imagine the havoc that would ensue in France if Corsican separatists set fire to French civilians in the middle of Ajacio!

BP: The general analysis of the riots has been that they were “a reaction to the colonization of Tibet by the Chinese”? There has even been talk of genocide? What’s up with this?

EM: When we speak of the “colonization” of one country by another, there should be, at least, two countries. In this particular case, we should remember that Tibet has never been recognized as an “independent country”. In the 13th century, the Mongols annexed Tibet to China, and in the 18th century the Manchus divided the Chinese empire into 18 provinces, Tibet being one of them. At the end of the 19th century, the British Empire invaded Tibet and installed their trading posts.

This happened under the reign of the 13th DL, who saw in the British occupation of Tibet an opportunity to claim independence. The basis for this was what was called “Greater Tibet”, a territory five times the size of France, about a third of China, and which corresponds more or less (because there were no maps at this time) to the territory of Tibet at the end of the Tubo dynasty of the 9th century. But China at the beginning of the 20th century had just come out of a territorial auction in which it had ceded a number of “concessions” to Western countries. To give up a third of its territory was to sign it own death warrant. So this demand for independence was inconceivable. That is to say that neither the UN nor any of its member states ever recognized Tibet as an independent country. This is an initial answer to your question.

A second answer is that when we use the term “colonization”, it implies that the invading country profits from the assets of the invaded country. But, if we consider the last fifty years in Tibet, we notice the opposite phenomenon. The Tibetan population has tripled thanks to the health care system and the rapid improvement of living standards. Which was, in fact, not difficult to achieve given the disastrous conditions under which 90% of the Tibetans lived under the theocratic regime of the Dalai Lamas. In any case, this improvement was not as fast as in the larger Chinese cities, which, with their gleaming spires, have made the whole world believe that China has turned capitalist. It’s crazy what you can make people believe with a few sequins, some lights and some big store windows. To answer your second question, about genocide, we must once more go back into history. In 1949, with the advent of the Peoples Republic of China, the Chinese government chose to set the odometer back to zero: all foreigners and foreign influences were shown the door, and all the borders were reasserted, even those in distant provinces like Tibet. In 1956, an armed rebellion was organized in several Tibetan monasteries (e.g., Litang and Drepung): the Peoples Republic of China targeted the Tibetan dignitaries, those of the clergy in particular. And so it was this part of the population that began to flee into India and which would make up the Tibetan community in exile (just as the exodus for Taiwan was made up mainly of the larger Chinese families).

This armed rebellion was from its beginnings financially and logistically supported by the CIA. For what reason? All you have to do to understand this is read a report by the US State Dept from April 1949: “Tibet has become strategically and ideologically important. Since the independence of Tibet could serve the struggle against communism, it is in our interests to recognize Tibet as independent. (…) However, it is not Tibet that interests us, it is the attitude we must adopt toward China.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that! The armed rebellion, which began in the monastery in Litang, spread in waves to Lhasa, where the most important action took place, and was put down by the Red Army in 1959. After this event, it was of great importance to the US to conduct public opinion to believe that there was a genocide, and that’s why the figure of 1.2 million dead was put out by the Tibetan Buddhist authorities in exile.

Several demographic studies later showed that this figure was made up out of whole cloth. Patrick French, former director of “Free Tibet”, verified this on the spot in Dharamsala. After a lengthy review of the “official” documents putting out this figure, he became completely disgusted with the magnitude of the falsifications coming from those he had admired. He recounts this episode in his book. What is important to remember in this falsification is that if we speak of 1.2 million dead from a population of barely 2 million inhabitants, we could well be talking about a “genocide”. But if it’s actually a matter of a few thousand dead on both sides, then it’s no longer a genocide, but more like a civil war. This figure of 1.2 million dead was allowed to manipulate public opinion toward a distrusting, unto xenophobia, of the Chinese. It has been the same story for 50 years. So, if we analyze the historical facts, we can no longer speak of either an invasion, or of colonization, or of genocide. The riots which took place in March 2008 must be analyzed, first of all, in an economic context, without forgetting that Tibet has been for a long time now one of the fields of battle between the US and China.

BP: The violence of the demonstrations does not jibe with the pacifism advocated by the DL. Why?

EM: The DL and his entourage carry the banner of pacifism and have cultivated the image of tolerance and compassion that has come to be associated with Tibetan Buddhism, or so it is believed in the West, right? Yet the DL still takes time to stir up public opinion over the peaceful demonstration of 300 monks from Drepung in the streets of Lhasa on the 10th of March and immediately charges the Chinese police with repression (and it should be noted here in passing that—and anyone who has been to Tibet can confirm this—the forces of order are essentially made up of Tibetans and depend very little on the Chinese). When these violent acts had reached a level of unspeakable barbarity, he quickly distanced himself from the events. What role did he play in the events? To determine this, you have to look at who profited from these riots: neither the Chinese, nor the six million Tibetans living in China. The riots essentially served to stir up public opinion over China’s Human Rights violations, the lack of freedom of expression, and the various repressions that we charge the Chinese government with. So, this uprising served to give China a terrible image, and this just before the Olympics were to gather the world press in Peking.

I think that, in part, they reflect the enormous fear that we have of the economic power represented by today’s China. It’s true that in some ways China is still part of the Third World, but in others ways, it threatens to catch up with us very quickly and even to surpass us. Few people here [in the West—ed] are aware of China’s huge intellectual potential and that this mass of Chinese intellectuals have begun to see themselves being under the constant repression and denigration of the West. They will not remain silent much longer. To recap, I think that these riots served to further darken the image of China: provoked by these racialist riots in the Tibetan regions, China was obliged to bring out its big guns, and so we can speak honorably of a “savage repression” exerted by the Chinese government at the time of these “ethnic incidents”.

It’s the same old song: we’ve heard it constantly since 1989 (with conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, Iraq, and those that went to breaking up the USSR). It should be noted also that at the heart of the Tibetan exile community, there is a schism becoming more and more apparent: on the one hand, there are the moderates, including the DL, who do not advocate violence (not openly, at least), and who do not even demand independence, but speak of “growing autonomy”, as we know. On the other hand, and at the moment it is a majority faction within the government in exile, there are the radicals who demand total independence and are ready to take up arms to achieve it. You can imagine that such discourse would be impossible to maintain without the support of their allies of 50 years: the US, which also continues to finance and arm the Tibetan community in exile. In reality, today the US has two war horses it can use simultaneously: the DL and his followers (in Europe, especially) from whom comes the pacifist line that serves to rally Western intellectuals around the themes of “democracy”, “Human Rights”, “Freedom of the Press”, etc., that must be imposed on China (what a bizarre idea: “a democracy” that has to be imposed! … but it gets across 200% of the time), and then the “hardcore” faction of the Tibetan government in exile, which is acquiring more and more adherents because of the tough talk of the struggle for independence at all cost. Apparently, these are the ones who have ignited and carried out the recent violence.

BP: Isn’t this an expression of real discontent?

EM: Yes, of course. What I’ve been describing so far is the “outside” instigators of the riots. But it’s obvious that if there weren’t a “suitable situation” on the ground, the instigators couldn’t instigate anything. As I said, the internal reasons are essentially economic, and therefore social. First, we must remember that mass education in Tibet didn’t begin until the 60s, which explains why Tibet is behind the rest of the country. What this means is that the first university students or advanced technicians in Tibet did not start working until the 80s, about 10 years later than the Han Chinese (and 10 years in China is like 100 years for us!). This is a disadvantage that they still have not made up. This disadvantage at the level of training, as well as in the type of work offered to each group, explains why all the “important” positions are held by the Chinese.

Besides this first problem, which is real, difficult to resolve, and the source of “ethnic” conflict, there is also the disadvantage, well recognized in China, of the country folk compared to the inhabitants of the large urban centers. If many Tibetans have benefited from the economic advances China has made, many others have been left behind in economic stagnation. This fact does not just impact Tibet, but effects the whole of China: the inequalities are becoming more and more glaring between the more fortunate (or even those of average fortune) and the more unfortunate. What is without doubt is that very few Chinese living in Tibet are unemployed—if they come to Tibet, it’s because they know there is a job waiting for them, if not they would go elsewhere—, while there are many young Tibetans would are without jobs. In general, they come from the countryside and have only had elementary school educations. They lack qualifications, while the Chinese who come to work in Tibet are qualified technicians, university trained, or experienced administrators, and, of course, merchants. Even if education is facilitated for Tibetans (as it is with other ethnic minorities elsewhere in China), the requirements for gaining an education are lower and the entrance exams less rigorous for the Hans, the Tibetans don’t always see their interests in pursuing a higher education. But bringing the Tibetans to educate themselves would be an interesting way of reducing social inequality, while China “stands by its commitment” to inject billions of Yuan just for the development of the Tibetan economy. What’s more, in Tibetan towns, the free market favors the Han and Muslim Hui who have more experience in trade than the Tibetans. So, here again, the Tibetans feel they have been dealt out of the game by the Han and the Hui.

Just to note that the racial hatred toward the Muslims has for a long time been rooted in and propagated by Tibetan Buddhism (e.g., by the Kalashakra): it is because of the Muslim invasions of northern India in the 10th and 11th centuries that the Tantric masters sought refuge in Tibet. Indian Tantrism came to Tibet and became Tibetan Buddhism, and held on to an age-old rancor for Islam because of their persecution by Muslims.

BP: Didn’t China annex Tibet? Can we deny the existence of a national claim for Tibet, for a “Tibetan nation” distinct from China?

EM: As I said earlier, Tibet was annexed to China by the Mongols, that is, during the period when the Mongols extended their empire into China (13th century). When China regained control of its empire, with the Mings, from the 14th to the 16th centuries, it pretty much lost all interest in that distant Tibetan region and Tibet remained “passively” annexed to China. Then the Manchus took over China and made Tibet a Chinese province. This tactic was repeated by the British and then by the US.

So what is meant by the term “nation”? If you want to talk about a nation historically distinct from China, you have to go back to the Tubo dynasty that ruled Tibet from the 7th to the 9th centuries. It would be like our now claiming to be the empire of Charlemagne! If you want to talk about a specific culture, it seems obvious that Tibet does not have the same culture as China, not just because of the differences in their spoken and written languages, but also because of the differences in their traditions, their religions, their inhabitants, and so on. This had not stopped the many instances of cross-culturing, to the point that I asked myself what would jump off in the way of family dramas and breakups if one day Tibet really became independent and shoved all the Han Chinese out the door, along with all the Muslims (these are the two ethnicities targeted by the government in exile): they would have a helluva problem telling just who was who and who belonged to what ethnicity. In fact, the ethnic analysis is only a way of explaining to the general public why the wars fought among the great powers happened: this was also seen in the Balkans, in Iraq, in the USSR, and it is happening again in Tibet. What flabbergasted me was that public opinion has still not caught on. And what worries me is that the stakes in this conflict have by far surpassed those of the other conflicts: on the one hand, China can not just let itself do whatever, and on the other, the world economy is at risk of serious shock.

BP: Today, can the Tibetans live according to their culture/religion?

EM: Tibetans are for the most part very devout, that can be seen in their daily life: the stone mills turn lightly, we see them kneeling in front of the temples from morning till night, on the highways we regularly encounter pilgrims en route to Lhasa, prayer flags around their necks, the monasteries are packed with monks, even very young children (which is forbidden by Chinese law), bank notes piled up at the feet of the Buddhas, in the distance we can hear the sounds of trumpets and mantras.

Religious practice is far from being repressed. It can only be an expression of bad faith to claim otherwise! Or of never having been to Tibet. In education, bilingualism is required and practiced in every school that we visited (primary, secondary and higher education); institutes of Tibetology were open for those young Tibetans (and others) who wished to deepen their study of Tibetan culture: here we found they gave courses in language, medicine, theology, music and dance, and so on. So I think that it is pure nonsense to say that the culture and the religion are being oppressed or destroyed. Again, it is the information we are fed at home: after shedding some light on the deception as to the ethnic genocide, we were quickly diverted to “cultural genocide”. It is obvious, that if I, as one small individual, were to contradict this notion, no one would believe me, but it is enough to go and see the place for yourself to be convinced.

So what are they talking about when they point a finger at “Chinese repression”? What is banned and severely punished is any attempt at “separatism”, or the division of China. What may seem trivial activities in our countries, like carrying a Tibetan flag in the streets (the flag that was created in 1959, at the time of the exodus, and which is thus of a political color), or distributing leaflets in the street, or passing out photos of the DL (who is a political effigy), or organizing demonstrations, and such. For this sort of activity there are very quick (doubtlessly too quick?) arrests, and sometimes imprisonment. China is quite severe on this matter because they know that the support for the Tibetan independence movement is huge, that this support comes from the West and is aimed at dividing China. As I said, the bone of contention here is not so much the six million Chinese Tibetans up against the Chinese state, but the pitting of China against the West, and it is expressed in the economic problems that exist in today’s Tibet.

BP: What is the nature of Tibetan Buddhism and its structure/clergy?

EM: Okay, so, you’re asking me to rewrite my book! To recap: Tibetan Buddhism came out of Tantrism, one of three great schools or “vehicles” of Buddhism. According to scholars of Buddhism, this vehicle is the farthest removed from the Dharma (or the original teachings of Buddha in the 6th century BC). First of all, because this vehicle is the most recent (6th century AD), so Buddhism had time to go through several changes, and did so largely because of the intellectual difficulties in its teaching. And then, because Tibetan Buddhism had the particularity of exerting a spiritual as well as a temporal power, which is not the case with the two other vehicles of Buddhism.

In fact, Tantrism fled to Tibet in the 10th and 11th centuries because of the historical circumstances I have just told you about (Muslim invasions). At this time, Tibet was totally disorganized on the political and social levels. But the Tantric communities who came north from India were very structured and hierarchical. This is why, when they had moved into Tibet, which badly needed a reorganization, they took control of the region “spontaneously”, by applying their own standards. Tantrism became Tibetan Buddhism from the moment it adapted itself to the local morals, customs and religion (Bön). You could say that at this time, the Buddhist religion was beneficial because it guided Tibet toward a structured feudalism. The problem was that this feudalism, over a millennium, became rigidly set in an extremely repressive and conservative religious power. Tibet was halted in its evolution because of this omniscient and omnipotent religious power. We must not forget that the monasteries owned more than 70% of the land in Tibet, the rest belonging to the families of the nobility. There has never been a theocratic rule as powerful or as rich as the one in Tibet. There was no comparison with what happened in Europe during the Middle Ages where the monasteries were tucked away in a dark corner of the castle grounds. With the arrival of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, it was much more difficult for the Tibetan clergy to give up this power.

BP: You said that Tibetan Buddhism allowed the imposition of a feudal system. But that was the case with most all religions. Isn’t this all in the past now?

EM: Certainly, that was the case with most religions, as religion has always had one foot in politics, as we say. Tibetan Buddhism permitted a tribal society, as it was before the 9th century, to evolve into a better structured, feudal society. Feudalism is no longer very popular anywhere, and the former Tibetan elite, now in exile, has no intention of returning to the old system. They, too, have modernized and are strong partisans of the “free market” model with a re-installation of the private ownership of land, thus especially outside the Chinese system, and based on the Western model.

PB: How do you explain the very pro-Tibetan feelings in the West, especially in the media?

EM: Public opinion follows the media, and the media obey the economic interests. Don’t we live in an economic dictatorship here at home? Censorship is as real here as it is anywhere, but just better hidden. In the West, you are not locked up in prison for your opinions, but rather in your head, then in the illnesses that ensue. I wonder sometimes which is worse. So your actual question becomes: “How do you explain the pro-Tibetan feelings conveyed by our economic system?” Neither the US nor Europe fully appreciates the dazzling advances made by China on the world stage. All the plans are in place to bring it down: “We have to raise hell during the Peking Olympics!” squeals Danny Cohn-Bendit in his speech before a plenary session of the EU parliament on how Europe must act toward China. And this, not even a week after the events that lit up downtown Lhasa! It is so monstrous, yet that shows in a very simple way that the “big world of diplomacy and high finance” doesn’t have a solution for the Tibetan problem, and what is really important for them is to “raise hell in China.”

How do you get the Western public to swallow this pill, especially without losing the approval of intellectuals? For that you have to call on His Holiness, who with a smile of the “eternal snows” could make a cat back down in front of a mouse. Hasn’t Tibetan Buddhism gussied itself up in its best bib and tucker to charm a West “devoid of spiritual values”? Surfing into our lives on the 70s wave of “getting back to the source”, it was not difficult to pass it off as the Dharma, presented to us as a sort of “spiritual atheism”, a philosophy of life, a way of being, an internal therapy, etc., in short, everything BUT a religion.

But, if we look at it a little more closely, the Buddhism of Buddha is already a religion when it offers transcendence: a place beyond the suffering that results from our physical and temporal limitations. Doesn’t this Beyond, this transcendence, imply having faith? Tibetan Buddhism is still more a religion when it reintroduces dogmas, the most famous of which being reincarnation, and it was exactly this that Buddha, himself, personally, rose up against! Reincarnation was returned to honor by the Tibetan Buddhism of the 14th century, in order to make official the spiritual, temporal, and, especially, material inheritance of a Rinpoché (or head of a monastery) to his successor, by the system of the Tulkous (which is based on a belief in reincarnation). To be the head of a monastery in Tibet at the time of feudalism, was to be a large property owner: land, and the assets on the land, including the serfs, belonged to the monastery. This explains why there were so many assassinations among the Tibetan high clergy and wars between the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

In short, Buddhism, thanks to its very plastic character, has adapted to the different environments where it has made its home, whether in Tibet or in 20th century Europe … where His Holiness the DL is happy to ladle out democracy, with a soup spoon of Human Rights, and some freedom of expression, all mixed with a pinch of Buddhist tolerance and compassion, and we get a nice smooth dough ready to bake in the media blast furnaces to make a nice cream pie! That Buddhism adapts is a sign of its good health! What is much more unwholesome is a DL who passes Tibetan Buddhism off as a non-religion (a philosophy) of tolerance and compassion stripped of any political implications. That is truly a laugh (even though it may not be a very good joke)!

BP: Can’t we also explain it by the totalitarian and repressive character of the Chinese state?

EM: Obviously, what we here in the West consider first off is the contrast between the “pacifism” of the DL and the “totalitarianism” of China. But it is a somewhat comically stark black and white, don’t you think? It’s just right for persuading kids dressed-up for communion. But how is it that everyone here (even the leftist intellectuals, the progressives, ecologists, health-food wonks, and all that) holds this highly contrasted idea in their heads, of such a sympathetic Tibet and such a horribly repressive China? It is the same question as: How come the whole world drinks Coke and wears Adidas? Advertising, it works and it’s dangerous, everybody knows it and yet they can’t help following it. Especially the sort of advertising on Tibet/China that we’ve been subjected to for 50 years now!

How can we talk about China being “repressive’—okay, maybe in a certain way it is—but explain to me how this could be when China has, proportionately, five times fewer prisoners than the US? We say here that China is “totalitarian”: okay, but to say it still remains communist, is this synonymous with “totalitarianism”? Besides, what bothers us is not so much that China is communist, but that it protects its “economic territory”: neither the US nor the EU do that, and that greatly displeases the multinationals. Foreign investment in China is less than 3%: this is not a great gift for the multinationals!

BP: Is there a geo-strategic dimension to this? What is the role of the Dalai-Lama?

EM: The geo-strategic dimension is at the very heart of the problem, certainly, and has been since the beginning of the 20th century. We must not forget that Europe held many “concessions” in China at the beginning of the 20th century, and that Tibet was, so to speak, under British trusteeship. When the communists took power, it put an end to this semi-colonization. I don’t believe we here in the West have fully accepted that. Since the end of the Second World War, the US has tried to pick up the colonialist torch with the Cold War as its justification. Tibet and the DL became the two main war horses for the US’s assaults to divide China.

BP: The USA has taken China off its list of most repressive states. Hasn’t China become a capitalist country like the others?

EM: If the US does something like that, isn’t it for some strategic purpose? It allows for the organization of more riots in the Tibetan regions, which forces China to bring out its big guns of repression, and the US can then cry foul: “State Repression”. Today, China has what it calls a “mixed economy”, that is, certain aspects of capitalism have been integrated, but socialism still is the structural basis for the Chinese economy. To simplify, we can say that capitalism has developed in China under the control of the Communist Party. According to international economists, the public sector still dominates the Chinese economy, making up more than 60% of it. It may be difficult to understand for those of us who consider it in Aristotelian terms, where “A can never be non-A”. But for the Chinese, it is more like yin-yang: one does not exclude the other: A can be non-A, depending on the conditions. It is what we call a dialectical way of thinking. For example, the authorities noticed that they had let pollution go far too long. Right away, in their five-year plan, they corrected the trend and made a gigantic investment in the environmental and ecological sectors, without calling for the contribution of foreign investors. But using capitalist methods is not an end in itself. We can only hope that it works for them!

* translated from the French by CirqueMinime/Paris

** cf. “A Lie Repeated: The Far Left’s Flawed History of Tibet.”

Bénito Perez writes for Le Courrier, an independent daily newspaper based in Geneva, Switzerland. Read other articles by Bénito, or visit Bénito's website.

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  1. Henry Thoreau the First said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:57am #

    Good interview. Ms. Martens has an unusually perspicacious insight into the roots of the Tibetan problem, which is essentially, as she said, an instance of the expression of Western interests against China.

  2. Ven.ThubtenPema Tenzin said on April 4th, 2008 at 6:22am #

    Facts Versus PRC and pro chinese foreign supported fiction :
    Fact monks were locked inside their Temples during the so called lhasa riots which were part of an PRC Govt organised propoganda show for the benefit of nationalism in china and fan anti tibetan anti buddhist sentiments overseas.
    Fact :I have a video shot inside tibet showing PSB and Chinese soldiers dressing up as monks before the so called “lhasa riots”.
    Louise Arbour,U.N. High Commissioner
    for Human Rights
    Doudou Diène,
    the Special Rapporteur on
    contemporary forms of racism
    racial discrimination,xenophobia
    and related intolerance
    Asma Jahangir,the Special Rapporteur
    on freedom of religion or belief
    Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur for the
    promotion and protection of the right to
    freedom of opinion and expression.
    UN Human Rights Council
    The facts regarding
    The Peoples Republic of China ongoing
    opppression against religeous freedom in Tibet ,
    its statements by various propoganda organs
    accusing His Holiness The Fouteenth Dalai Lama
    as a leader of Tibetan Buddhism in exile of organizing the Lhasa and other riots.Also the
    continuos verbal attack against the Dalai Lama
    by members of the Chinese Government constitute
    the same actions as were carried out by the film maker,
    yet their is no strong reaction By Mr.Ban Ki Moon,
    Mrs.Louise Arbour,or the UN Special Rapptuers listed
    in your public statement.Also the fact that China was allowed
    to ineterfere and manipulate the legal processes and meeting of
    The Human Rights council demonstarates clearly that China is
    recieving special treatment as the world number one human rights
    violaters and instrument of oppression .When will the UN ever make
    such statements on behalf of those whom have died merely for practicing
    their religeon or for trying to use free speech to speak out against continuos
    atrocities .
    Thubten
    buddhist monk contemplative

  3. Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda said on April 4th, 2008 at 7:29am #

    Ms. Martens makes very good points, ones that go for the most part unnoticed. The West is in the dark about most of this and in many cases there is a spiriit of denial within the pro-Tibetan camp when they are aware of it. The past behavior of the mainstream media has also played a big role in this, where fabricated stories can still manage to get passed off as if they are legitimate journalism.

  4. Jonathan Dolby said on April 4th, 2008 at 7:35am #

    I have never read so much biased rubbish in all my life! So the Chinese are blameless, and the Dalai Lama is an agressive and oppresive leader in waiting, encouraging violence and death?! So far from the truth might one call it the opposite.

  5. Amadida said on April 4th, 2008 at 8:10am #

    This is horrid drivel replete with an amazing number of mistakes!

  6. Sam said on April 4th, 2008 at 8:30am #

    Elisabeth Martens : you are a real Chinese expert. I would say that not many “Chinese Experts” like you in the west. Proud of you.

  7. Steve said on April 4th, 2008 at 8:38am #

    This is a very good interview. Ms. Martens spoke out the real facts and causes of Tibetan problem that the most major media choose to ignore.

  8. Alvin said on April 4th, 2008 at 8:45am #

    I am sorry to be so blunt, but this is one of the worst pieces on Tibet I have ever read.

    The history, context, selection of facts, tone, import, purpose, and more are all wrong.

    I believe that Dissident Voice should review its editorial policy as posting biased nonsense like this causes real harm, both to the truth and to real people living in Tibet. To say nothing of misleading its readers.

    A detailed response to all of the misstatements in this piece would be possible, but who has the time to spend on material of such incredibly low quality?

    I honestly believe that this post should be removed from your site.

  9. Rick said on April 4th, 2008 at 9:37am #

    Prior the Mao revolution in Tibet the DL and the aristocracy ruled with an iron fist. The ruling monks denied all freedom to the serfs and slave monks, the DL lived as a god while the majority were treated less than human. The west has made the DL as it has Gandhi and Mother Theresa into saints which is far form the truth. The DL is a CIA asset as he even admitted when he was escorted out of Tibet back in the 50’s.

  10. trilobian said on April 4th, 2008 at 10:51am #

    As said by a comment above:
    “Fact :I have a video shot inside tibet showing PSB and Chinese soldiers dressing up as monks before the so called “lhasa riots”.”

    I’m really interested to see such a video, please post the link here.
    Just wondering why no mainstream media never mentioned it?

  11. Mike said on April 4th, 2008 at 11:35am #

    Thank you for instilling some objectiveness and fairness into this heated topic. I bet most of the west “free world” people won’t like this, because it does not fit into their stereotype and won’t make them feel good about themselves. To me it’s very informative since she’s there, seeing with her own eyes and she pretty much understands the scope.

  12. Grace said on April 4th, 2008 at 11:51am #

    Elisabeth Martens :

    You are great. Actuallly you spoke out the most overseas Chinese wanted to say. I certianlly believe that not many politicians and journalists in the west will like you, because they have been brain washed for decades, and they still use tainted glasses made in 50’s and 60’s to see China. I am not trying to say that China is a perfect country, but certainly China is not like the images portrayed by the most western medias. You are brave and told truths, not like some big guy in US was lying under oath “I did not have sex with that lady”.

  13. Michelle said on April 4th, 2008 at 11:56am #

    This is most objective post I have read about the facts on Tibet as a lot of stories about Tibet have been distorted by the ” hidden agenda” of the West.
    So pround of Elisabeth .

  14. Jorge de Silva said on April 4th, 2008 at 12:00pm #

    FACT: He doesn’t have this. What he has is a fake story and picture of PLA soldiers being given robes when the monks refused to be part of a movie shot in 2003. The whole thing was debunked 4 days ago. Thubten is either ignorant or part of the deception, maybe a little of each.

    You can read these:

    http://www.mahabodhi.net/gordon_thomas.htm

    http://agonist.org/20080329/brit_spies_confirm_dalai_lamas_report_of_staged_violence?

    http://thinkpossible.gaia.com/blog

  15. hp said on April 4th, 2008 at 12:08pm #

    Is the Dalai Lama an atheist?

  16. gabriele zamparini said on April 4th, 2008 at 1:21pm #

    Really interesting. One day will come, I’m sure, when we won’t allow our “enemies” to decide for us who our friends are and which causes support. It’s ironic that even peace activists see the Tibetans, the Dalai Lama and their rights as human beings just in function of the political games of the great powers.

    I’m a regular reader of Dissident Voice and I do appreciate your work a lot. For this reason I hope now you will also interview the other side, just to keep some balance on this issue. (If you’ve already done this, I apologise for my ignorance). Meanwhile, those interested could read:

    An Appeal to the Chinese People from
    His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
    http://www.tibet.net/en/prelease/2008/280308.html

    Archbishop Tutu tells China to listen to His Holiness’s appeal
    http://www.tibet.net/en/flash/2008/0308/28A0308.html

    Acquainted with China’s crushingly heavy hand
    Washington Post[Thursday, April 03, 2008 11:20]
    By REBIYA KADEER
    Ethnic Uighurs know well brutality endured by Tibet
    http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?c=4&t=1&id=20293&article=Acquainted+with+China's+crushingly+heavy+hand

    China targets Dalai Lama supporters
    The Press Association[Thursday, April 03, 2008 16:01]
    http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=20295&article=China+targets+Dalai+Lama+supporters

    Claims of the Dalai Lama’s nepotistic behavior wrong
    June 7, 2007
    Autralian Newspaper: The Age.com
    COMMENT by Dr. Lobsang Sangay
    http://thesouloftibet.blogspot.com/2007/06/claims-of-dalai-lamas-nepotistic.html

    I hope the links work… if not, please e-mail me through my website: http://thecatsdream.com

    In peace and solidarity,
    Gabriele Zamparini

  17. Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda said on April 4th, 2008 at 3:17pm #

    I agree with Gabriele Zamparini that the Dissident Voice is an excellent website and that both sides of the issue should be examined unbiasedly. At the end of the day I believe that the truth will be found somewhere in the middle, especially because both have played hard and loose with the facts.

    There is no basis whatsoever for China’s claim that the Dalai Lama was somehow involved in the Lhasa riots, no sooner than there is a basis for their lastest claim of demonstrators planning suicide attacks.

    On the other hand, with the exception of TIBET.NET, the majority of the pro-Tibetan websites gleefully encouraged Gordon Thomas’ fabricated article and that three-ring blogging circus has taken on a life of its own.

    Gabriele is very correct — both sides not only need to heard and examined, but it also needs to be done in a spirit of equanimity, without biasness and clinging to our own condtitoned perceptions of what that “truth” is.

  18. Lin Zi Yi said on April 4th, 2008 at 4:07pm #

    It is best to look research historical findings, and come to a conclusion from the root of the problems. IT takes time, and patience. Who is willing?

    All things that rise and fall have their due time. It is Karma, and there will be endless amounts of people who go up and down needlessly all because of false views.

    Is any one who protests running for political, and or governmental office? I think not. They are just wasting their time and empowering false thinking. Research, educate oneself, and leave it at that, unless you are in the region of unrest. If you are in the region of unrest, then speak up, and or protect your family or others.

    but before we believe any media coverage, be sure that all media is filtered before it reaches the public eye, and all media is put out with a function. This function is to create believers and disbelievers. The function is to be a catalyst of separation.

    It is prevalent in our world now, just look at our world environment.

    Peace and Blessings.

  19. Josh said on April 4th, 2008 at 4:46pm #

    As much as Elisabeth Martens tries to paint the occupation of Tibet as anything but an occupation, she can’t escape from that time honored colonist tradition — depicting how much life has ‘improved’ for the occupied people. Her assertion that Tibetans have ‘benefited’ from an occupation which during the years of the cultural revolution was undebatedly and astonishligly brutal, sounds a lot like every other colonist trying to justify their occupation. You can position history however you want (like saying the Mongols annexed Tibet ‘to China’ when in fact both were part of the Mongol empire and Tibetans were given preferential treatment), and you can dismiss a people’s uprising as ‘instigated by outsiders’ (sorry Elisabeth, I’ve met far more former Tibetan political prisoners than you have and I don’t think you’re an authority on the subject), but the bottom line is Tibetans have never and will never consider themselves Chinese, because they aren’t. China, as the occupier, is the one who has to deal with that fact, and how they deal with it will determine much of how the next century of world history plays out.

  20. Simon said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:02pm #

    agree with gabriele zamparini. please interview each western Universities , especially those who lived in China and are living in western countries now. Only those people had experience on both sides. Not those who were born in the west and brain washed by their parents and have never seen China before.

  21. Alvin said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:04pm #

    In an effort to be brief, I will answer points with a short sentence and sometimes provide a link to some good info.

    Martens: “I was also surprised by the difference between the Chinese Buddhas, round as teapots mildly brewing on the stove, smiling, jolly, and the Tibetan Buddhas, much more imposing.”

    This is an absurd contrast between the two forms of Buddhism. In fact Tantric Buddhism is practiced by many Chinese. Also, this is just a way of slurring Tibet, and one based on misinformation. Truly outrageous.

    Martens: “Nothing like what is in Chinese art: in Chinese thought, and thus in the arts of China, suffering and the means by which it is brought about are not central preoccupations.”

    Completely untrue. There is plenty of suffering in Chinese art, literature, and Buddhist literature and art. It’s another completely absurd contrast. Also, completely misses the point of Tibetan art.

    Martens: “There were 22 dead and more than 300 wounded, nearly all were Hui and Han.”

    This is pure Xinhua propaganda. There are many credible sources giving a much different account, and much different figures.

    Martens: “10 March was clearly the signal to kick-off the riots: they were encouraged from abroad by multiple demonstrations in front of Chinese Embassies”

    This whole part about the Dalai Lama planning and setting the “riots” is more pure Xinhua (official Chinese propaganda). There are scores of other accounts and references. Easy to find on your own.

    Martens: “In the 13th century, the Mongols annexed Tibet to China, and in the 18th century the Manchus divided the Chinese empire into 18 provinces, Tibet being one of them.”

    This is nonsense not history. How can the “Mongols annex Tibet to China?” Did they also annex Russia to China?
    Here is a scholarly analysis of Chinese and Tibetan historical claims:
    The Tibet-China Conflict: History and Polemics:
    http://www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/stored/pdfs/PS007.pdf
    I urge your readers to read it.

    Martens: “A second answer is that when we use the term “colonization”, it implies that the invading country profits from the assets of the invaded country. But, if we consider the last fifty years in Tibet, we notice the opposite phenomenon.”

    The were widespread demonstrations prove this is not true. Tibetans risk prison and torture for merely possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama; imagine the penalties for protesting against Han rule. Also, virtually every part of the world is wealthier now than in 1949, so to say Tibet has more material goods is not saying that much. We still had Jim Crow laws back then in the USA.

    Martens: “…the CIA…”

    You can find the CIA under every leaf in the world. The recent demonstrations were caused by decades of cultural, linguistic, and religious repression. And the people involved have made enormous sacrifices.

    Martens: “To determine this, you have to look at who profited from these riots: neither the Chinese, nor the six million Tibetans living in China.”

    But it was Tibetans living in Tibet who demonstrated. The rest of this analysis is pure sophistry.

    Martens: “…and that this mass of Chinese intellectuals have begun to see themselves being under the constant repression and denigration of the West.”

    What about Hu Jia (recently jailed for 31/2 years for some writing) and the many other DISSIDENT Chinese intellectuals? Here is a link to some of Hu Jia’s writing. Well-worth reading an authentic voice from China:
    “The Real China and the Olympics” – Letter by Teng Biao & Hu Jia
    http://hujiajinyan.wordpress.com/petitions/the-real-china-and-the-olympics/
    I urge your readers to put his name in a search engine and find out what has happened to him, and many, many like him. And he is Han Chinese.

    Martens: “Religious practice is far from being repressed. It can only be an expression of bad faith to claim otherwise!”

    Only someone who does not understand–or is in denial about—Tibetan Buddhism or its history under Chinese occupation could say this! Also ALL religion in China is state controlled and thus repressed, but it is much worse in Tibet.

    Martens is basically playing up to Han Chinese nationalism as many of the comments in this string show.

    A few more links:

    Here is a reasonable statement from scholars of Tibet:
    A Statement by Concerned Tibetan Studies Scholars on the Current Crisis
    in Tibet:
    http://www.tibetopenletter.org/

    Here is a quick piece that gives a more accurate history and sense of
    conditions in Tibet:
    FAQs on Tibet, China, and the Dalai Lama:
    http://www.beliefnet.com/story/231/story_23154_1.html

    And here is a fairly good discussion of the politics surrounding the Olympic Games:
    A Not-So-Fine Romance:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/opinion/03Kristof.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    And please don’t miss this one:
    The Tibet-China Conflict: History and Polemics:
    http://www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/stored/pdfs/PS007.pdf

  22. by Eirik Granqvist said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:20pm #

    The Riots in Lhasa by Eirik Granqvist, a foreign expert in Shanghai who visited Tibet in 2006
    “The western medias announced that China had cut all information and that articles about the riots could not be sent out! I got mad about all the apparently incorrect information and wrote this article and two other similar ones although I am not a journalist but just because I could not stand all the bad things about China that was told. I sent them by e-mail without problems and they arrived well but two newspapers did neither respond neither publish what I had written. The third answered and wanted a shorter version that was published many days later as a normal ‘readers voice’. What Dalai Lama had said was largely published every day together with a real anti-China propaganda. What I had written was apparently too China friendly for the ‘free press’.” I was very shocked by what I had seen in the television and been reading in China daily about the riots in Lhasa. The most that shocked me was anyhow may be not the cruel events by themselves but how the medias in my country of origin, Finland, reported the events. A friend has scanned and sent me articles and I have checked also myself what can be found at Internet. Very few Finnish people have ever visited Tibet, but I was there together with my wife in 2006. This was private persons and not as a part of a group-travel. I have seen Lhasa with my own eyes. I have been talking and chatting with people there. This was without any restrictions. Okay, we had a lovely and very competent guide that helped us much and took us where we wanted to go in the mornings but in the afternoons we were alone. Therefore I think that I have something to tell. … In Tibet, about 5% of the population owned everything and the rest literally nothing. About 40% of the Tibetans were monks and nuns living as parasites on the rest of the population that had to feed them. Tibet was not a paradise! Now China decided that the Tibetans should have the same rights and place in the society as the rest of the country’s population. The monasteries should be emptied from their excessively large monk and nun populations. Tibet could earlier be reached only by some horse trails and was for the rest insulated. The Chinese built rapidly a trafficable road. The insulation was broken. In 1959, the young Dalai Lama caused a peoples upraising, using the religion as power since he was loosing his own powerful position. The upraising was however stopped, may be in not a too clever and smooth manner. Dalai Lama then left Tibet and his fellow citizens and escaped to India wherefrom he has continued to fight for his come back and reinstall the theocratic dictatorship that China will never allow again. Then followed the ten years of Cultural Revolution that was an unhappy time for all China that closed itself to the rest of the world. Now Lhasa has a modern airport and a railway. China has invested a lot in Tibet. The standard of living has been raised a lot in Tibet and last Xmas I have seen Tibetans spending sun-holidays on Hainan Island! …. What I had written was apparently too China friendly for the “free press”.
    http://tigerloong.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/the-riots-in-lhasa-by-eirik-granqvist/

  23. John Wilkinson said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:29pm #

    “When we speak of the “colonization” of one country by another, there should be, at least, two countries. In this particular case, we should remember that Tibet has never been recognized as an “independent country”. In the 13th century, the Mongols annexed Tibet to China, and in the 18th century the Manchus divided the Chinese empire into 18 provinces, Tibet being one of them. At the end of the 19th century, the British Empire invaded Tibet and installed their trading posts.”

    I see, the Tibetans have no right to a country of their own, cause they never had a country. Sounds like catch 22 to me. They don’t need self-determination like other people. And they worship those non-smiling gods. Obviously, evil people.

    I bet if the US were occupying Tibet, you’d be all for their independence. Like you are, rightly (but only because it opposes the US policy), for the Palestinian self-determination, even though they have never had a state.

    O tempora. O mores. O hypocrisy. And these are the “progressives”. These know the truth. These are the (self-styled) saviors of us all.

  24. hp said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:36pm #

    As of March 20th, 2008.
    “We do not seek independence. This is my mantra-we do not seek independence.”
    Dalai Lama

  25. John Wilkinson said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:45pm #

    As obvious here, the “progressives” act from the same impulses as those on the right. Money and power. They espouse positions that sell — moneywise and famewise in the “progressive” circles. No principles involved here.

  26. John Wilkinson said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:47pm #

    When the British colonized Africa, there were no countries there. So, the British should have stayed, the African peoples had no right to self-determination?

  27. Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:59pm #

    Self-determination is humankind’s birth right.

  28. Yen Choweng said on April 4th, 2008 at 6:35pm #

    Thank you for this enlightened, unbiased article. It is so rare to find such a breath of fresh air in a world filled with the stench of propaganda and racist hatred. I was so depressed as both side ramp-up their cold-war-esque rhetoric.

    I hope that more people who care about this issue will find this article — the world would be a safer, saner place if everyone would have a chance to read it. There is hope in the world that truth will triumph over lies.

    thank you, thank you, thank you!

  29. Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda said on April 4th, 2008 at 6:53pm #

    Yen Choweng — the same law applies for people to recognize the truth as it does for them to hear the song of the karavika bird… they need to hear the roar of the lion first. I’m sure that you grasp what I mean, so let’s see if there’s others here who are capable of critical thought.

  30. Mark Jayaweera said on April 4th, 2008 at 9:14pm #

    This article is just another in a campaign by the so called dissident left in the West to demonise the Dalai Lama. They are definitely dangerous to the cause of Free Tibet because they have among their ranks highly intellectual and skilled speakers and writers who confuse the issues for the general public with baseless arguments. I am amazed at their hypocrisy they are the most ardent supporters of Free Palestine but have no room for a Free Tibet as they admire Communist China. For them China provides a bulwark against US and the West. Interesting these dissidents mostly reside in the west and not in their beloved Communist China. I am sick and tired of these hypocrits. If you love China so much go and live there under their wonderful govt. Stop tormenting people who admire the Dalai Lama with your dissident voice rude,disrespectful and baseless arguments of a revered figure. They should be ashamed of themselves at their jounalism. Please respect the Dalai Lama.

  31. hp said on April 4th, 2008 at 10:20pm #

    Mark, am I missing something here?
    I’ll try not to be too intellectually skilled and/or deviously devilish as I ask just what in the blue blazes the Dalai Lama means when he says his mantra is ‘we do not seek independence.’
    I’m confused.
    Isn’t he calling for autonomy as opposed to a ‘free Tibet?
    And please, no accusing me of being a ‘China lover.’
    I have no respect for the atheist communist Chinese leaders.

  32. Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda said on April 4th, 2008 at 10:49pm #

    HP:

    Some people have the attitude that you’re either with them or against them, so take such statements with a grain of salt. You also asked earlier if the Dalai Lama was an atheist, but I don’t think anyone took the time to answer that either.

    First of all he doesn’t meet the definition of atheist, but he has stated the following: “I am a Marxist monk, a Buddhist Marxist. I belong to the Marxist camp, because unlike capitalism, Marxism is more ethical. Marxism, as an ideology, takes care of the welfare of its employees and believes in distribution of wealth among the people of the state.”

    As for his position on autonomy over independence, this change occurred awhile ago and has cause division among some Tibetan groups. If you look around and read some of the DL’s earlier writings you’ll also see a shift in what he says, but this shouldn’t be taken the wrong way — everyone’s positions, ideologies, ect., change in time because our understanding and interaction with others influences this.

    To put it another way, the only stagnant ideoology is a dead one.

  33. hp said on April 4th, 2008 at 11:09pm #

    Ven, thanks for your measured reply.
    Being a student of Vedanta, I’m always curious as to the feelings of others regarding their particular schools of thought and the effects politics has on an individual’s forbearance.

  34. Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda said on April 4th, 2008 at 11:25pm #

    Sadly, that’s the problem… politics do not belong in the Sangha or any other spiritual tradition because it never ends well. We actually remove monks that get involved in political parties, but a lot of other traditions do not.

  35. Alvin said on April 5th, 2008 at 5:24am #

    Hope readers of Dissident Voice are open-minded enough to listen to a real dissident voice from China. Below is an excerpt. Please be sure to read the entire piece. The link is at the bottom.

    The Real China and the Olympics

    By Hu Jia and Teng Biao
    Saturday, April 5, 2008

    This week, a Beijing court sentenced human rights activist Hu Jia to 3 1/2 years in prison for subverting state authority and to one additional year’s loss of his “political rights.” He was arrested in part for co-authoring, with Teng Biao, an open letter on human rights. Below, The Post printsHuman Rights Watch’s translation of the Sept. 10, 2007, letter.

    …China still practices literary inquisition and holds the world record for detaining journalists and writers, as many as several hundred since 1989, according to incomplete statistics. As of this writing, 35 Chinese journalists and 51 writers are still in prison. Over 90 percent were arrested or tried after Beijing’s successful bid for the Olympics in July 2001. For example, Shi Tao, a journalist and a poet, was sentenced to ten years in prison because of an e-mail sent to an overseas website. Dr. Xu Zerong, a scholar from Oxford University who researched the Korean War, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for “illegally providing information abroad.” Qingshuijun [Huang Jinqiu], a freelance writer, was sentenced to a 12-year term for his online publications. Some writers and dissidents are prohibited from going abroad; others from returning to China.

    Every year in mainland China, countless websites are closed, blogs deleted, sensitive words filtered. Many websites hosted abroad are blocked. Overseas radio and television programs are interfered with or strictly prohibited. Although the Chinese government has promised media freedom for foreign journalists for 22 months, before, during, and after the Beijing Olympics, and ending on October 17, 2008, an FCCC [Foreign Correspondents Club in China] survey showed that 40 percent of foreign correspondents have experienced harassment, detention or an official warning during news gathering in Beijing and other areas. Some reporters have complained about repeated violent police interference at the time they were speaking with interviewees. Most seriously, Chinese interviewees usually become vulnerable as a result. In June 2006, Fu Xiancai was beaten and paralyzed after being interviewed by German media. In March 2007, Zheng Dajing was beaten and arrested after being interviewed by a British TV station.

    Religious freedom is still under repression. In 2005, a Beijing pastor, Cai Zhuohua, was sentenced to three years for printing Bibles. Zhou Heng, a house church pastor in Xinjiang, was charged with running an “illegal operation” for receiving dozens of boxes of Bibles. From April to June 2007, China expelled over 100 suspected U.S., South Korean, Canadian, Australian, and other missionaries. Among them were humanitarian workers and language educators who had been teaching English in China for 15 years. During this so-called Typhoon 5 campaign, authorities took aim at missionary activities so as to prevent their recurrence during the Olympics.

    On September 30, 2006, Chinese soldiers opened fire on 71 Tibetans who were escaping to Nepal. A 17-year-old nun died and a 20-year-old man was severely injured. Despite numerous international witnesses, the Chinese police insisted that the shooting was in self-defense. One year later, China tightened its control over Tibetan Buddhism. A September 1, 2007, regulation requires all reincarnated lamas to be approved by Chinese authorities, a requirement that flagrantly interferes with the tradition of reincarnation of living Buddhas as practiced in Tibet for thousands of years. In addition, Chinese authorities still ban the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and a world-renowned pacifist, from returning to Tibet.

    Since 1999, the government has banned many religious beliefs such as Falungong and the Three Servants. Their followers have experienced extremely cruel and planned persecutions. Many died from abuse, suffered torture, brainwashing, imprisonment and labor camp internment for persisting in their faith, possessing religious books, making DVDs and writing articles to expose the truth of the persecution.

    China has the highest death penalty rate in the world. Execution statistics are treated as “state secrets.” However, experts estimate that 8,000-10,000 people are sentenced to death in China every year, among them not only criminals and economic convicts, but totally innocent citizens, such as Nie Shubin, Teng Xingshan, Cao Haixin and Hugejiletu, whose innocence was proven only after they were already dead.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/04/AR2008040402982.html?referrer=reddit

  36. Barbara O'Brien said on April 5th, 2008 at 5:32am #

    From today’s Times of London:

    Exclusive: Chinese police kill eight after opening fire on monks and Tibet protesters: ‘They cried long live the Dalai Lama – then the firing started’
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3683878.ece

    I can tell from her comments on Chinese v. Tibetan Buddhas that Elizabeth Martens doesn’t know Buddhism from chickens, and her “FAQ” is nothing but propaganda from the government of China.

    I don’t doubt that mobs of Tibetans turned murderous in March, but China has only itself to blame. China is repeating all of the mistake imperial powers have made through the ages in regard to their colonies. If they had worked with the Dalai Lama instead of turning him into a scapegoat, Tibet could be a genuine autonomous region of China instead of an exploited and oppressed colony of China.

  37. Samson said on April 5th, 2008 at 6:00am #

    In intelligence circles Martens is what is known as a “useful idiot.” I am not trying to be insulting or to call her an idiot, just want to introduce a term that some readers may not know.

    “Useful idiots” are people who due to ideological commitments, lack of political experience, personal emotions, or many other causes actually truly believe the biased stuff they espouse. Disinformation agents love useful idiots because they are often the most effective propagandists of all. They are emotionally committed to their “cause,” blind to new facts or rational interpretations, and tireless in their efforts to convince others that “their” point of view is the only one to be believed.

    Why do I say that Martens fits this profile? She gives herself away in the first part of this interview where she demonizes Tibetan art and Buddhism and contrasts it with a fluffy and uninformed view of Chinese art. Following that she presents a wildly inaccurate view of Tibetan history, one that anyone can check for themselves. From then on, her argumentative techniques include selective evidence, denial of evidence, and a rather strict PRC “party line” on all things Tibetan.

    The facts about Tibet are not hard to find. Here is a very brief outline that may be of help to readers that want to think clearly on the subject of Tibet.

    1) Start with the history. The short explanation is Tibet is not part of China. The long explanation can be found here: The Tibet-China Conflict: History and Polemics: http://www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/stored/pdfs/PS007.pdf

    2) Then go to the recent history. It is one of occupation and repression. The facts are easy to verify if you remove ideological blinders. Avoid the silly trap of comparing Tibet’s present-day “material wealth” to pre-1949 Tibetan society. Someone already made the point above that virtually all societies show improvement in this area. Also, avoid demonizing the Dalai Lama; just listen to what he actually says.

    3) Then consider what the Dalai Lama actually means by his “middle way.” Here is a quote that puts it quite well.:

    “His Middle Way can only be understood in the context of the two extremes it moves between. One extreme is unilateral surrender to China’s propaganda claims that it has always owned Tibet, which is simply not true historically, but never mind, Tibetans [should] just give up and accept an overwhelming Chinese colonial presence. The other extreme is to use any means possible to reclaim full sovereign independence and fight for it, including violence if necessary.

    The Dalai Lama is principled in his adherence to nonviolence due to his Buddhist faith, and so he cannot go for the violent option. And he is determined to preserve the freedom of Tibetan Buddhism in its homeland, so he cannot acquiesce to the surrender of the Tibetan national identity that the Chinese cultural genocide policy demands, remaking the Tibetans into Chinese (an impossibility, of course).

    Therefore, he sincerely proposes a genuine autonomy within a Chinese Union, offering a legitimate, voluntary union with China to avoid violence from either side, since a century of nationalist as well as communist propaganda has convinced most Chinese people that Tibet somehow belongs to them. He backs such an arrangement on the condition of receiving from Beijing a real autonomy within the whole plateau (including all ethnic Tibetan areas over 12,000 feet in altitude, so as to protect the four million Tibetans who live outside the present Tibet Autonomous Region, which is less than half of traditional Tibet). This “one-country, two-systems” arrangement for the regional Tibetan government requires a withdrawal of Han colonists and military occupation, and economic and environmental self-determination.

    Under this arrangement, China would get real ownership of Tibet resulting from Tibetan self-determination as part of China, and Tibetans would get real internal freedom in their homeland, to practice their Buddhism and maintain their way of life and restore their delicate environment. This is the Middle Way proposal, in brief outline.” (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/231/story_23154_1.html)

    4) If more information is required, research state control of religion, free speech, dissent, and so on in China today. This information can be found quite easily on the internet.

  38. hp said on April 5th, 2008 at 8:13am #

    Samson, thank you.
    This is what I was getting at.
    The closest thing I can relate this with, in an understandable Western perspective, is the status of a Yugoslavia within the Warsaw pact.
    Is that close?

  39. Mick Collins said on April 5th, 2008 at 9:03am #

    My fellow dissidents,

    It’s interesting, the growing desperation with which those of us who’ve been genetically programmed to see feudalism as the ‘natural scheme of things’, whose ‘authoritarian personalities’ (i.e., whose characters dependent on orders from the corporate hierarchy to know what is real and what exactly to do next—not just the Prof Irwin Coreys [The World's Leading Authority] among us who like to blow a lot of smoke about their ‘expertise’ on n’importe quoi.), those of us who possess just enough privilege to find time out from reproductive drudgery to contemplate our abject fates (‘Conceived in sin, born in pain, to a life of toil, and certain death.’), but are not privileged enough to get out of our moral dilemmas without the involuntary servitude of others: it’s interesting how all of us ‘dead men (and women) walking’ cling to irrational notions of our own uniqueness, the incomparable importance of our own special being—our ‘Spirituality’. And to reinforce this infantile narcissism, we have been given the Dalai Lama and Tibetan monks as a kind of passive-aggressive Hole-in-the-Wall gang.

    It’s this febrile obsession with keeping the ‘god-phone’ bill paid, so’s not to miss out on the last minute reprieve (like the discovery of a vaccine against death), that has made religion such an effective justification for violent, unto lethal, human exploitation, as well as a wildly popular business front and tax dodge (e.g., almost the entirety of US social services have been privatized, sold-off to ‘faith-based’ [i.e., tax-exempt] organizations).

    And when it comes to Tibet or EEurope or the Balkans or Africa or any of the rest of the Third World, when we talk of ‘Human Rights’ or ‘Freedom of Expression’, it is quite clear that, after the ‘Fall of Atheistic Communism’, what we are talking about are certain prioritized rights and freedoms: the right for everyone (at least, all those who have the disposable time and energy to have an interest in such things) to hold any opinion (no matter how lame or unfounded in reality) and to practice whatever ‘harmless’ superstitions she or he chooses trumps all political and social (and economic) rights, collective rights, to health care, education, mass communication, full employment, and, generally, to the pursuit of a decent life free from catastrophic violence.

    That the right to self-determination of a minority (however oppressed or repressed or suppressed) is acceptable at the cost of the enslavement and immiseration of the vast majority is the kind of occulted and toxic (il)logic that only exists inside the most delusional of sects (like the Moonies, or Scientologiest, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Democratic and Republican parties)—and certain locked wards for the criminally insane. Physical and intellectual terrorism on the part of the ruling elite in the US has absolutely laid its poor benighted and drug-addled people to waste—their only response to current profound economic depression is to plead for more Prozac from the Fed.

    We on the Left seem to use ‘Spirituality’ the way drunkards us lamp posts: more for support than for illumination. Adorno described this delusion that has recently justified so much murder and mayhem quite succinctly in his Treatise Against Occultism:

    >>IX. The cardinal sin of occultism is the contamination of mind and existence, the latter becoming itself an attribute of mind. Mind arose out of existence, as an organ for keeping alive. In reflecting existence, however, it becomes at the same time something else. The existent negates itself as thought upon itself. Such negation is mind’s element. To attribute to it positive existence, ever of a higher order, would be to deliver it up to what it opposes. Late bourgeois ideology has again made it what it was for pre-animism, a being-in-itself modeled on the social division of labor, on the split between manual and intellectual labor, on the planned domination over the former. In the concept of mind-in-itself, consciousness has ontologically justified and perpetuated privilege by making it independent of the social principle by which it is constituted. Such ideology explodes in occultism: it is idealism come full circle. Just by virtue of the rigid antithesis of being and mind, the latter becomes a department of being. If idealism demanded solely on behalf of the whole, the idea, that being be mind and that the latter exist, occultism draws the absurd conclusion that existence is determinate being:

    Existence, after it has become, is always benign with a non-being,
    so that this non-being is taken up in simple unity with the being.
    Non-being taken up in being, the fact that the concrete whole is
    in the form of being, of immediacy, constitutes determinateness
    as such.

    The occultists take literally the non-being as in ‘simple unity with being’, and their kind of concreteness is a surreptitious short-cut from the whole to the determinate which can defend itself by claiming that the whole, having once been determined, is no longer the whole. They call to metaphysics: Hic Rhodus hic salta: if the philosophic investment of spirit with existence is determinable, then finally, they sense, any scattered piece of existence must be justifiable as a particular spirit. The doctrine of the existence of the spirit, the ultimate exaltation of bourgeois consciousness, consequently bore teleologically within it the belief in spirits, its ultimate degradation. The shift to existence, always ‘positive’ and justifying the world, implies at the same time that thesis of the positivity of mind, pinning it down, transposing the absolute into appearance. Whether the whole objective world as ‘product’ is to be spirit, or a particular thing a particular spirit, cease to matter, and the world-spirit becomes the supreme Spirit, the guardian angel of the established, de-spiritualized order. On this the occultists live: their mysticism is the enfant terrible of the mystical moment in Hegel. They take speculation to the point of fraudulent bankruptcy. In passing off determinate being as mind, they put objectified mind to the test of existence, which must prove negative. No spirit exists.<<

    Those of us ‘non-spiritual types’, who are repulsed by the farcically fraudulent and parasitical nature of all ‘organized faith’, and who witnessed the brutal murders of the 18 innocent civilians in Lhasa on 14-15 March—two of them children whose heads were bashed in while still on their bikes—and two unarmed police—all of whom, it should be reiterated, were as much Tibetans (if not more so because they were residents) than His Holiness the DL and his swarm of swamis-in-exile—were as horrified as any be-robed transcendentalist or suede-elbowed Sinologists.

    But our response was not to deny the violence we had witnessed—to fantasize it out of existence as theatre—or to keen a quavering rationalization of this evil as being caused by the very victims, themselves, the Tibetan-Chinese, who, after all, had so oppressed their murderers for so very long that simple vengeance (even unto the stoning and burning of innocent women and children) should be understood and, thereby, forgiven. This morally bereft reasoning was recently tested in the Balkans, then in Rwanda, and is now boilerplate for the anti-communist left in its Human Rights (Victims Rights) crusade against decent popular government.

    Our ‘god-less’ response has been to pursue the truth behind the terrible events we witnessed as it would be demonstrated by the critically tested and justly confirmed evidence we would compile. And, happily enough—or not—its desperate clinging to the purses strings of its hideous masters has made the lies of the cravenly servile media quite transparent—like the Emperor’s new clothes.

    So, Free Tibet? From what?

    Mick Collins
    CirqueMinime/Paris

  40. Samson said on April 5th, 2008 at 9:25am #

    hp: I think that is a very good analogy. And we might add all of the former Soviet states to that list as well–Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

    And then add the other “captured nations” of the Soviet Union–Czech, Yugoslavia, Poland, East Germany, and Mongolia.

    For those of us old enough to remember, the Baltic states, Poland, East Germany, and Czech, in particular, had a long struggle to be free of their Soviet overlords, but they succeeded and through little or no violence. This should be a lesson to “Chinese patriots” who mistake the subjugation of Tibet with “Chinese strength” or “pride in the motherland,” especially given the very generous alternative the Dalai Lama has offered China.

    It is no accident, by the way, that Germany and Eastern Europe have been quick to understand Tibet’s predicament and thus support a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. Nothing like having lived through it…

    Another fine example is Mongolia. There are two “Mongolias,” in a way. One is so-called “inner-Mongolia,” a state entirely controlled by China in a manner similar to Tibet. Inner Mongolia hardly contains Mongolians any longer (just 17% of the population now); its religion, culture, and language have been all but destroyed, or “assimilated,” into the Chinese “motherland” (what a mother!).

    In contrast, the independent state of Mongolia which lies north of and outside of China, is now an OK democracy with freedom of speech, religion, association, and so on. The country is still poor, but it belongs to the people who have always lived there and they are free to control themselves as they see fit and are able.

    For readers more familiar with the USSR than the PRC, Mongolia is also an instructive example for comparisons between these two. Most of us know that the USSR could be very ruthless, deporting, killing, and imprisoning many thousands. But even their rough treatment did not seek to utterly destroy the cultures of the regions they controlled. The Mongolia to the north of China, which was controlled by the USSR, is an excellent example of this contrast. Compare to “inner Mongolia,” controlled by the PRC and which basically is no longer “Mongolian” in any real sense of the world.

    By the way, there is an “inner Mongolian” independence movement seeking relief from the PRC, but how many have ever heard of it? By the time your population is a mere 17% of the total, there is little hope left. So now you can understand the real reason for the railway into Tibet and the massive influx of Han Chinese into Tibet.

  41. John Wilkinson said on April 5th, 2008 at 10:01am #

    “The closest thing I can relate this with, in an understandable Western perspective, is the status of a Yugoslavia within the Warsaw pact.”

    hp: Yugoslavia was NEVER part of the Warsaw pact. Yes, it was a socialist country. There was a falling out in 1948 (the year that the Warsaw pact was founded) with Stalin who had tried to dictate to Tito. Since then, Yugoslavia was a founder and an active member of the non-aligned movement and never followed the Soviet-style communism. Take it from one who was born and lived there.

    But it’s good you mention this, because this is similar to Kosovo — I mean the “progressives” take on this. As long as you’re in opposition to the US policy, then oppression of a people and excusing inducing inhumanity in the masters is OK.

  42. John Wilkinson said on April 5th, 2008 at 10:10am #

    “That the right to self-determination of a minority (however oppressed or repressed or suppressed) is acceptable at the cost of the enslavement and immiseration of the vast majority is the kind of occulted and toxic (il)logic that only exists inside the most delusional of sects (like the Moonies, or Scientologiest, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Democratic and Republican parties)—and certain locked wards for the criminally insane.”

    This pretty much shows what I mean above. So, self determination and liberation from long term oppression and enslavement of a minority, somehow enslaves the colonizers and makes them (horrors, horrors) miserable!!!

    And you want to be taken seriously in elections….

  43. John Wilkinson said on April 5th, 2008 at 10:27am #

    “And then add the other “captured nations” of the Soviet Union–Czech, Yugoslavia, Poland, East Germany, and Mongolia”.

    Again discussion in left circles without knowledge of the most basic facts, another one of my pet peeves. Yugoslavia was never part of the Soviet block, please read some history before making such outlandish assertions. We could travel anywhere we could please, could buy western goods, our military was its own (and prepared for soviet aggression), our borders with Soviet countries were tense. People took refuge in our embassy in Budapest during the Hungarian uprising, and likewise during the Czechoslovak revolution in 1968. This is outrageous how I’m constantly reading in these pages that black is white and white is black, from people who don’t know which end is up, all told so authoritatively.

    The other nations were either part of the Soviet block, or had tight relations with USSR (Mongolia). Czech was not a country, Czechoslovakia was. They were not part of the country of the Soviet Union per se as implied by this quote, but were separate countries dictated to by the USSR.

  44. Mick Collins said on April 5th, 2008 at 10:39am #

    EXCUSE ME. I HATE CARELESSNESS!
    Allow me a second swing.

    Mr. Wilkinson,
    I understand how the Belgians exploited the great natural wealth of the Congo during their brutal colonization; and how the British maintained their worthless lives off the exploited wealth of its various colonies around the world: but what exactly did the Soviet Union take from its colonies, oft called ’satellites’, like Latvia or Poland? And, in the same vein, what has China taken in the way of imperialist booty from Tibet?

  45. Samson said on April 5th, 2008 at 5:35pm #

    Mike: A “colony” is defined as a territory under the control of a foreign power; it has no independent international representation and the top levels of its administration are controlled by the colonizing state. Colonies are USUALLY taken for the purpose of economic exploitation, but this need not always be the case, especially in the short-term. The colonizing power might simply want the land, or it might see other long-term gains that cost in the short-term.

    This may be the case with Tibet, which possesses valuable minerals and other natural resources, a good deal of territory, a strategic military position, and a border with India. I doubt that many know the true balance sheet between China and Tibet. Is China making a profit yet, or is it investing more than it gets in return?

    If China is already making a profit, then Tibet can be viewed as a typical colony. If China is not yet making a profit from Tibet, though, this does not mean that Tibet is not a colony. China may want Tibet for future gains and be investing in the infrastructure with the goal of assuring its domination by importing so many Han Chinese, the Tibetans will be unable to resist any longer. The Dalai Lama and many Tibet scholars believe that this is the true state of affairs in Tibet.

    As far as I know, the USSR actually lost money in Poland but it kept this satellite buffer state for strategic purposes and with the hope that it would become a more profitable relationship one day. The Baltic states were also money losers, as far as I know, but their status was different as the USSR had completely incorporated them into the central system as mere “republics” of the USSR.

  46. Robin said on April 5th, 2008 at 6:22pm #

    Great inverview!
    An objective and insightful analysis on the Tibet issue.
    A must-read for those politicians and career activists who are shouting the slogans of boycotting 2008 Olympics before checking the facts.

  47. hp said on April 5th, 2008 at 7:20pm #

    The strategic missile bases are reason enough on their own.

  48. Sunil Sharma said on April 6th, 2008 at 12:51pm #

    For another view, read this DV article.

  49. Sarah Walker said on April 6th, 2008 at 1:45pm #

    I have read Patrick French’s historical book “Tibet, Tibet” and this is a complete misrepresentation of what he has said. A few thousand dead, on each side! French estimates from a study of the demographics that up to HALF A MILLION Tibetans died.

  50. Ron Horn said on April 6th, 2008 at 10:03pm #

    This was an excellent article and there is no comparison with that other article. One has to go to foreign correspondents and other independent sources to get information like this. What amazes me is the fanatic support for the Dalai Lama and his monks among certain circles in the US. It seems to be mostly found on college campuses where I suspect it is good for academic careers. Have you people noticed that we are currently occupying Iraq where we have installed a puppet government? And we threaten to attack Iran. Where’s the outrage?

  51. Max Shields said on April 7th, 2008 at 11:30am #

    And Vermont wishes secession from the US. Separatist exist and have a right to their struggle.

    Nation states are problematic as they annex their Hawaiis, Puerto Ricos, Texases, Alaskas, and the whole US western “frontier”. Texas was once oil rich, now it and Lousiana are gateways for petro. Alaska is oil rich. Not to mention the Russian and Soviet empires, history is replete with the comes and goings of city states and nation states.

    So what is Tibet? Its a piece of land that neither the Tibetians nor the Chinese created.

    Personally, Dali Lama and his Rev. Moon-like persona aside, I think breakaways should be much more common. As an economy becomes self-reliant it is only natural that pieces break away and form entities as it happens in nature. There would be no tree, dog, human, ape, amoeba if this all were not part of a great complex of secession of micro cells.

    But we here in the US have one hellva lot of nerve to be calling anyone a colonial empire!

  52. qiang said on April 9th, 2008 at 4:32pm #

    This is really a fresh breath in the air. I applaud the author’s effort in putting these together. I am a native Chinese, living in the US for over 10 years. But I never felt belonged here. I just want to say that people are different! We, Chinese people, used to (and still do) have mixed feelings about your ‘westerners’ (no offense). You have to understand, and be reminded that we still remember what your ancestors did about 100-200 years ago, when they invaded China (that was a real invasion!), the British, French, etc, e.g., the United Nations from Eight Countries. That was one of the most humiliating parts of Chinese history. There had been numerous efforts by ‘westerners’ to try to divide China into pieces (some were described above; some are still being undertaken). But we survived and stood as one great nation today! That’s how and why Tibet (don’t know how this name comes from; it’s called ‘XiZang’ in Chinese by the way, just like it is ‘Beijing’, not ‘Peking’!) “was, is and will always be part of China”, and Tibetan people are Chinese too! If you are familiar with those pieces of history, you will understand why our fellow Chinese take great pride in our nation, and cherish every opportunity to raise our reputation, and won’t allow any vicious intent to tarnish it.

    So just like an old Chinese wisdom put it “things are segregated into categories, and people are divided into groups”. You got the idea. And there is a good ‘western’ one: “put your feet in other people’s shoes”.

    And there is one very simple explanation for restrictions on ‘western’ media in China, because WE DON’T TRUST YOU!

    I strongly urge any conscientious ‘westerners’ to check this out: http://www.anti-cnn.com

  53. Arno said on April 23rd, 2008 at 10:30pm #

    I’ve just seen this women on tv. I didn’t know her before.
    I’m stupiefied by her historical ignorance and absolute blindly…
    Some of her arguments were limits and like a defense of old colonial ideas… I’m like a lot of people in Europe against american foreign policy, and not naive about american intentions toward China.
    But, say that Tibet drama is an occidental invention is scandalous.
    Say that chinese occupation in Tibet is good for tibetans is…
    stupid and ugly…

    Was she paid by China to be at the show tonight (bad joke hum…)
    Listening her, we could seriously believe that…
    So stupid little bourgeoise…
    So…
    No words to discriebe my indignation in front of lie and distortion…
    Consternation…

  54. Zhonguoren said on May 7th, 2008 at 2:40am #

    I find it unbelievable that so much of play has been given to the views of someone who, by her own admission:

    * is not a student of history (she studied biology in Belgium and went th China to specialise in TCM). So why should I be subjected to her ill-informed views on Tibetan history?
    * did not even travel into Tibet (by which I mean TAR): she only went as far as XiaHe in Gansu province (which, although it’s a Tibetan area, isn’t representative of what’s happening inside Tibet, where travel is much more restrictive). (By the way the name of the monastery in XiaHe is Labrang, not Labulang: so much for nomenclatural accuracy)
    * Was not in Lhasa (or anywhere else in TAR) on March 14 when the riots occurred. So what she’s passing off is only second-hand perspective. (To be fair, I acknowledge that most eyewitnesses account note that the riots on March 14 in Lhasa were targeted at Han Chinese and Hui (Muslim) communities by Tibetans, and it’s probably true. But my point is: why should any weightage by given to Elisabeth Martens’ account of what happened when she was not an eyewitness to the events?)

    Did Ms Martens speak to the monks in “Labulang” (her description, not mine) about the “patriotic education” campaigns that they are subjected to? Does she even know what this entails?

    I could go on and on to give a point-by-point rebuttal, but I don’t have the time. But to reiterate, I find it unbelievable that such ill-informed views could be freely passed around as though Ms Martens was some historical scholar who has spent years and years in Tibet!

    Sickening!