Locke's visit shows US ready to play Tibetan card one more time

Source:Global Times Published: 2012-10-31 20:35:04

The US ambassador to China Gary Locke visited monasteries in Aba prefecture in Sichuan Province in September.

Aba is home to many ethnic Tibetans. Self-immolations happened since February 2009 there, and thus it has been hyped as a hotbed of protest against the central government.

The visit of Locke, the first Chinese-American to serve as US ambassador in Beijing, was conducted after a series of self-immolations took place there. In August, two more Tibetans were reported to have set themselves on fire.

Due to Locke's position, his behavior always has US government backing, and the motivation for his visit to Aba cannot be seen as purely his own.

Negative remarks about human rights in Tibetan areas by the US have been part of Sino-US relations over the past decades. The US has always urged China to address the human right issue in Tibetan areas, and by using this, it tries to take a share of China's internal affairs. During her visit to China in 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would continue to press China on issues such as human rights and Tibet.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 and enjoys strong public support in the US. Whenever the Sino-US relations are at a deadlock, the Dalai Lama enhances his activities abroad. When the US tries to show friendliness to China, he restrains himself.

Meanwhile, the US also makes use of him and takes a flexible approach toward the Tibet issue according to its own political needs.

In the early 1970s, when the US sought to establish diplomatic relations with China, it offered much less support to the Dalai group, although it never forgot this puppet that it could play with. Then in the 1980s when the Sino-US relationship gradually normalized, the US frequently raised this issue.

The disgraceful 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for the Dalai Lama was actually not a prize for him, but a card that the West used to contain and against China.

This is part of the US's long-term foreign policy toward China. Though China has become the world's second largest economy, most Americans label China as "the other." The US worries about its hegemonic position in the world.

In recent years, the influence of Dalai Lama has been declining, and forces advocating "Tibetan independence" in foreign lands are unstable. Under such circumstances, the US will attempt to shame China either by using the Dalai Lama or stressing the issue of human rights, no matter how ineffective it might be.

China has already put a lot of diplomatic resources into the Tibetan issue. As long as the US' strategy toward China doesn't change, activities seeking "Tibetan independence" will continue to exist.

The US has ignored China's feelings and always acts on its own will. We don't exclude the possibility that politicians from other countries may follow the US lead and try to extend their influence in China's Tibetan areas.

Nonetheless, we needn't be over-concerned about Locke's influence. The West has its own problems to tackle, such as the economic downturn. If they try to make something of this issue, the only possible result is the losses will outweigh the gain.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Wang Wenwen based on interviews with Guo Kefan, deputy director of the Contemporary Tibetan Research Institute with the Tibet Autonomous Region Academy of Social Sciences, and Ma Dazheng, former director of the Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. wangwenwen@globaltimes.com.cn

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