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Saturday, 20 March 2010

U.S. values seen behind the "Tibet issue"

Barack Obama is an actor, just the same as the Dalai Lama – The script for their meeting had been prepared beforehand, their general working schedule had already been fixed, and it was just necessary to select an appropriate time to stage the show. The meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama created a new friction for China-U.S. relations in 2010, a year that is universally viewed as a "strained year for China-U.S. relations."

Why has the U.S. always been enthusiastic about directing such an absurd show?

The reason is directly related to the U.S.'s national interests of "containing the rise of sub-super powers to maintain its hegemony" as well as to "be committed to the values that the systems in U.S. are the best and the U.S. ought to promote other countries' democracy." To fulfill their psychological comfort, some people in the west do not expect Tibet to achieve modernization, revealing the selfishness in their values. From the perspective of the interests of Tibet and Tibetan people, it is undeniable that Tibet needs to achieve modernization, said Ye Hailin, deputy director of the Asia-Pacific Studies Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online.

The west's subjective "Tibet illusion" is full of curiosity and selfishness.

"It is not important whether the U.S. or the western world's various understandings of Tibet are factual or not. The key is whether they are willing to and whether they need to understand Tibet. It is evident that they are covering their eyes and ears,"Ye said.

Firstly, it has to be admitted that because of the hype, the Dalai Lama has had a very high advertising effect. When the Dalai Lama was exiled in 1959, his English was just mediocre and he did not have an in-depth understanding of the west. However, following the several decades of studying and cultivation abroad, he has been familiarized with western cultural and their value systems, and is aware of how to rebuild his image with words and symbols that westerners are familiar with. To western society, the Dalai Lama, who is an important figure of Tibetan Buddhism that is filled with oriental mysticism, and obviously has a considerable advertising value.

In addition, the western world has the passionate "Tibet illusion." Westerners view Tibet as a cultural symbol with cult value, hold the novelty-seeking ideas toward Tibet and take Tibet as a pure and holy land. Such curiosity will be increasingly higher, because the west has entered a highly-institutionalized and rationalized post-industrial era of civilization since the middle of the twentieth century. And although westerners enjoy the achievements of the industrial civilization, they have yet to fulfill their psychological comfort due to the limitation of their culture. They therefore need to find some alien, particularly anti-modernization, representatives to serve as their psychological dependence. This is the source of the idea of seeking a pure and holy land. Tibet simply satisfies their imagination.

Ye pointed out, "Most Americans or westerners do not want to see a modernized Tibet. And the most contradictory and unacceptable aspect of the western industrial civilization is not their prejudice against Tibet, but that they intentionally want Tibet stuck in a preindustrial state to meet their psychological needs, which is actually rather selfish."

The "Tibet card" is designed to export U.S. "democracy" and to build an American-style "world".

Unlike the common Americans who hope Tibet to be a pure land forever, it is not that U.S. government officials, as the country's China and Tibet policy-makers, do not know about the actual situation in Tibet, but that they just have little regard for China, and think playing the "Tibet card" serves the interests and values of the U.S.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented the Dalai Lama with a so-called "Democracy Service Award" in the U.S. Library of Congress the day after Obama's meeting with him. Ye said that the NED, which claims to be non-partisan and non-governmental, relies heavily on the funding support from Congress for many years, and is particularly good at fomenting the "color revolution."

As U.S. values assume, a "democratized" country is to the interests of the U.S., and it is better when the "democratization" is realized with the help of the U.S. Americans believe that the U.S. will be safer if all other counties follow the American-style "democratization," and a world that follows the U.S. system is better for them. If a democratically-elected government takes unfriendly policies toward the U.S., it is then undemocratic in the eyes of Americans. Many foreigners, especially those who have suffered greatly from the "color revolution," find the assumption too strange and absurd, but Americans do not think it is self-contradictory. The interests and values of the U.S. are highly unified in this aspect.

Ye said that if we analyze U.S. diplomacy, we can find that the U.S. believes that only the things that can benefit the U.S. are right and just. The U.S. also believes that its social systems, especially the democratic political system and the liberal market economy are the best, and nothing can replace them at all. This is why the U.S. is trying its best to advocate the rising of India. The U.S. does not deny the fact that China is rising, but it is just trying to find a parallel alternative case for its "superior" systems to prove that China is not the only country that can succeed.

It is quite easy to understand why the U.S. always holds onto the "Tibet card" so tightly. In terms of values, the U.S. hopes it can export its "democratic and liberal" values through the "Tibet card." In terms of national interests, the U.S. regards China as a threat and not an ally, whether in ideology or in economic benefit. The U.S. always tries to use China's instable elements to stir up trouble. "The U.S. also knows that your enemy's enemy is your friend," said Ye with a smile on his face.

China should clear up westerners' misunderstandings by efficient media reports.

Rome was not built in a day. Ye said that in order to clear up the U.S. and western countries misinterpretations and misunderstandings, and solve the "Tibet issue," China must be patient and should not pursue short-term results. It will be a long-term game, and we must believe in the power of time. The achievements that Tibet has obtained in recent years cannot be questioned, and modernization is the ultimate aim of Tibet's development.

An article recently published by the Newsweek claimed, "Looking at the economic growth, standard of living, infrastructure and GDP, one thing is clear – China has been good for Tibet. Since 2001, Beijing has spent 45.4 billion U.S. dollars on developing the Tibet Autonomous Region, resulting in double-digit GDP growths for the past 9 years. Since 2006, the Chinese Central Government has been shifting its Tibet development strategy from funding massive infrastructure projects to programs intended to bring greater benefit to individual Tibetans. The net per-capita income of rural residents was 527 U.S. dollars in 2009, the fourth consecutive year that the growth exceeded 13 percent. While still low, it represents an increase in wealth creation. It seems clear that material living standards among the 80 to 90 percent of the population living in rural Tibet are rising rapidly. The Chinese Government has kept its promise and the Tibetan people have benefited much – a fact Obama should keep in mind when he meets with the Dalai Lama."

Ye stated that China needs to establish an effective dialogue mechanism if it hopes for the U.S. and the western world to receive correct information about Tibet.

Ordinary westerners are afraid that modernization in Tibet may destroy Tibetan culture as well as the pure and holy land. Therefore, we should not use too much data to show off the economic development in Tibet. Instead, we can focus on the development and protection of Tibetan culture to remove possible misunderstandings. At the same time, we should strive to win over some western intellectuals interested in Tibet such as anthropologists and media professionals, and persuade them to disseminate accurate information.

On the other hand, in addition to European and American countries, we should struggle to acquire more support from developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America by inviting media professionals from these countries to Tibet. In a word, we should win more sympathy from the international community and promote the international community's awareness of the progress we have made in advancing the modernization of Tibet. In addition, the above-mentioned progresses are all popular topics in developing countries.

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