Sunday, March 23, 2008

China's disingenuous rhetoric

The more China has to say on Tibet, the worse the government sounds. Today, China's government accused the Dalai Lama of plotting to hijack the Beijing Olympics planned for August and blasted U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for expressing support for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader after a visit with him in India on Friday. But China's protestations sound less like genuine concerns and more like propaganda aimed at blunting worldwide outrage and events unfolding in western China. China has sent thousands of soldiers to Tibet and other western provinces to prevent protests, banned western journalists from the region and tried to stop Internet broadcasts of videotapes of protests in Tibet. China acknowledged today that 22 people had been killed since pro-independence protests began in Tibet 10 days ago; the Dalai Lama's government in exile says at least 99 people have died, many at the hands of the soldiers. But China has been attempting to manage the news that does manage to emanate from Tibet — it apparently was responsible for footage sent to YouTube, which is banned in China, of rioters in Llasa, Tibet's capital — and turning up the rhetoric. "'Human rights police' like Pelosi are habitually bad tempered and ungenerous when it comes to China, refusing to check their facts and find out the truth of the case," China's official Xinhua New Agency said today, according to the Associated Press. "Her views are like so many other politicians and western media. Beneath the double standards lies their intention to serve the interest groups behind them, who want to contain or smear China." The Dalai Lama has denied the charges and says he's only looking for dialog with Beijing. A Pelosi spokesman said Sunday that she condemned the crackdown in Tibet. Calls for a boycott of the Beijing games have started in many countries, including the European Union. China had hoped the games would showcase its embrace of modernity and enhance its reputation as a world power. The ceremonial lighting of the Olympic torch is planned tomorrow in Greece, and the torch will be carried through 20 countries before the games open Aug. 8.

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