Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hardline and Pragmatism

February 21, 2014 (Map Room)
China is good at putting ‘unusable’ Party leaders in cupboards (with always nice names/titles on the door). The reasoning is that, at a required time, these old cadres can be taken out of their ‘retirement’ and recycled for the sake of the Party’s interests. This is called a pragmatic approach.
Take the case of Zhu Weiqun, who used to occupy a senior position in the United Front Department and was the main interlocutor of the Dalai Lama’s envoys in the still-born negotiations process between Dharamsala and Beijing.
Zhu Weiqun is today the director of the Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. That’s a long title which can be useful when Zhu’s ‘expertise’ in required. After all, he is the official who had the longest encounters with the Tibetan delegates and can read their minds.
Zhu recently ‘expatiates’ for Xinhua ‘on why the West been is unwilling or unable to give up acts harmful to both China and itself’.
The article was reproduced by China Tibet Online, an official Chinese website which reports issues related to Tibet.
Zhu’s article is titled: “US’s ‘pragmatism’ consideration on Dalai Lama’.
It appeared a couple of days before the announcement that the Dalai Lama would meet President Obama in the White House (Beijing was obviously in the know about the meeting).
China Tibet Online used this picture
to illustrate the meeting

Before letting Zhu speak, the Editor of China Tibet Online noted: “The West has never stopped interfering in Tibet and Xinjiang issues, ever since the founding of the People's Republic of China despite its overall positive relations with China after China's reform and opening-up. Under special condition, such interference could even suddenly be intensified, which caused the bilateral relations to stagnate and even retrograde within a certain period of time. It has not only made trouble to China but also done no less harm to the West.”
Zhu gave ‘his’ reading of the history of the relations between the Dalai Lama and Washington: “In the 1970s, the US needed to concentrate on the ‘Cold War’ toward the former Soviet Union, extricate itself from the Vietnam War. Under this circumstance, China's attitude was very important, while the Dalai Lama was given the cold shoulder for not being very useful and even affects the improvement of the China-US relations.”
This culminated by President Nixon's visit to China in 1972, Zhu analyses thus the situation: “the US significantly cut down on the economic and military support to the Dalai clique. After ceasing the aerial delivery by the CIA for the major armed forces of the clique occupied in Mustang area of Nepal in 1965, it allowed the Nepalese military forces to annihilate it in 1974.”
The former Chinese negotiator then explains the Dalai Lama’s renouncement to Independence in the 1980s: “Desolated by the international community, the Dalai clique had to change its banner from ‘Tibet independence’ to ‘the Middle Way approach’, and stepped onto the path of ‘indirectly Tibetan separatism’ under the cloak of ‘Greater Tibet and High-degree Autonomy’.”
It is in 1987 that the Dalai Lama proposed his Five-Point Peace Plan to the US Congress in Washington. It was a constructive proposal. A year later, in front of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, the Tibetan leader mentioned for the first time his ‘Middle Path’ approach, seeking genuine autonomy. At that time, the Dalai Lama had the full support of the West, he cannot be said that he was ‘desolated’.
Zhu explains further that China's fast development since its reform and opening-up policy in 1978 has put the West into a dilemma: “On the one hand, everyone tries to improve its relations with China to get benefit from it, especially to get rid of its economic and financial crisis. On the other hand, they fear and worry that China would break the long-standing western-dominated international rules and pattern of interests. Therefore, they have taken every opportunity to contain China and separate China as a multi-ethnic country like what it did to the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.”
Zhu Weiqun sees a ‘strange phenomenon’ emerging: “When China is in a steady progress, the western leaders would line up to woo China, but change their attitude immediately and slander China as long as something happens in Tibet or Xinjiang. Of course, their attitudes will become softened immediately after the situation in Tibet or Xinjiang comes back to normal, which is really unbelievable.”
Mr. Zhu misses one part of history.
Tibet has for centuries been an independent nation with its own government, army, coinage, stamps, passports, etc.
China invaded Tibet in 1950 and in May 1951, Beijing forced a 17-Point Agreement on weak Tibetan leaders. The clauses of the Agreement were never sincerely implemented by China.
I mentioned a few days ago a document published by Melvyn Goldstein in which in 1957, the Central Committee, the highest authority in the Party under Mao's leadership, admits that “although Tibet became an inseparable part of China a long time ago, it has maintained an independent or semi-independent status in its relations with the motherland.”
As Mr. Zhu read this 1957 note of his own Party.
The document mentions only a ‘nominal subordination to the Beiyang government [from 1912 to 1928] and the Guomindang administration [from 1928 to 1949]’ and asserts that between the Xinhai Revolution (the 1911 Revolution) and the ‘Peaceful Liberation of Tibet’ in 1951’ Tibet once again restored its semi-independent status.
It says: “The fact that [Tibet] had achieved long-term independence and semi-independence historically distinguishes Tibet from other minority nationality areas in China.”
At the end of the 1950s, Mao and his associates decided to put the so-called reforms on hold.
Where Zhu Weiqun is probably right is when he says: “When some new leaders took office, they usually will meet with the 14th Dalai Lama regardless of China's strong opposition, and then privately promises to China that it will never happen again in a bid to recuperate its relationship with China.”
The duplicity of some Western leaders, at least as far as Tibet is concerned is well-known. Zhu says: “[This] will usually be followed by a large business delegation to visit China in order to obtain economic benefits. And so does the cycle go for the next leader.”
Zhu’s conclusion was: “The American foreign policy is based on ‘pragmatism’ for its own interests and ideology, so is the so-called Tibet issue and Xinjiang issue.”
When it became officially known that the US President would be meeting the Tibetan leader in ‘Map Room’, the Chinese government were upset, very very upset. How dare Obama to come back on his words (has he ever promised not to meet the Dalai Lama?).

Rampant Interference
The proposed meeting would be a 'rampant interference' which would damage bilateral relations said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying: “For the United States leader to meet the Dalai Lama is a gross interference in China's internal affairs and a serious violation of the norms of international relations.”
She angrily added: “If any country deliberately insists on harming China's interests, in the end it will also damage its own interests and will harm the bilateral relations between China and the relevant country. If the US president wishes to meet any person, it's his own affair, but he cannot meet the Dalai Lama.”
Xinhua was also sanguine: “No matter what Obama is to discuss with the Dalai Lama, their meeting will be sheer politics, but of no avail in manipulating China over the Tibet issue. It is high time for the United States to wake up to Dalai Lama's hypocrisy and abandon the lose-lose deal.”
But business is business.
Between ‘pragmatic’ States, lose-lose can become win-win in no time and contrary to what Mr. Zhu asserts, it is not the privilege of the United States to be pragmatic, China has a thousand-old tradition of ‘pragmatism’.
Gen. Fan Changlong receives Gen. Odierno
The day Obama met the Dalai Lama, The New York Times quoted a top U.S. military commander as saying that “the U.S. Army is working on starting a formal dialogue and exchange program with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army before the end of the year.”
From where was General Raymond T. Odierno, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff speaking? You won't believe it! From Beijing!
Though the Chinese government was undoubtedly informed by Secretary of State John Kerry about the Obama-Dalai Lama scheduled meeting (when Kerry was in Beijing a week earlier), General Odierno’s trip was not cancelled. During his press conference in the Chinese capital, the general even spoke of “expanding cooperation and managing differences constructively”.
He affirmed: “It really is about us focusing on a long-term relationship and the importance of us conducting exchanges, conducting institutional visits.”
That is a win-win statement.
The general not only visited the Shenyang Military Area Command (MAC) in northeast China, but he also met General Fan Changlong, senior vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), General Fang Fenghui, Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (also a member of all-powerful CMC) and General Wang Ning, the PLA’s Deputy Chief of Staff.
General Odierno said the formal dialogue between U.S. and Chinese army officials would include discussions of humanitarian relief, disaster management and peacekeeping operations.
Odierno affirmed that a formal high-level army-to-army exchange would be helpful because “throughout history, miscalculation is what has caused conflict.” The purpose of his visit was “to lay the groundwork for senior-level exchanges between the two armies”.
After visiting the Chinese troops, Odierno said that they are ‘incredibly professional and wonderful’. After his meeting with General Fang, he declared: “It’s been very encouraging and made very clear to me the importance that you place on collaboration and cooperation. And I think that is the key.”
Don’t you think that it is pragmatism all the way and from both sides?
The fact that Beijing ‘allows’ such a senior general’s visit to happen despite the US ‘rampant interference’ in China’s so-called internal affairs, is pure pragmatism.
India should certainly learn from the Chinese and the Americans.
But we are told that Indian diplomacy is based on ‘principles’, not on pragmatism.
Now Zhu, the harliner is not required anymore, he can be sent back to his cupboard. He will be recalled is a tough ‘Tibet expert’ is required again.

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