Simon Tisdall for The Guardian
ast week’s US sanctioning of Chinese officials involved in Beijing’s ongoing criminal efforts to erase Tibet as a separate political, ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious entity showed America at its best.
Few other governments give a hoot. Most cravenly look the other way.
Citing a recent UN report on the “forced assimilation” of one million Tibetan children ordered into Mandarin-language state boarding schools far from their homes and families, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, demanded China stop trying to eradicate Tibet’s distinct identity.
“We urge PRC [People’s Republic of China] authorities to end the coercion of Tibetan children into government-run boarding schools and to cease repressive assimilation policies in Tibet and other parts of the PRC,” Blinken said – apparently referring to Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Hong Kong, where the right to self-determination is also denied.
The fact America’s senior diplomat was ready to take a public, principled stand will infuriate and puzzle Beijing, which has occupied Tibet since 1950. President Xi Jinping and his callous Communist cadres don’t do principles. For them, altruism in foreign policy is an alien concept.
The Biden administration is trying to patch up rocky relations with China. So it’s all the more impressive that it feels strongly enough about Beijing’s systemic abuses of democratic and human rights to speak out, regardless of possible negative repercussions.
It’s doubly refreshing after a week when a herd of middle-ranking, ethically challenged, mostly undemocratic governments kowtowed to Xi at the Brics summit in South Africa. They seem to think China will build a fairer, juster world. Are these leaders naive, corrupt, or merely stupid?
James Cleverly, foreign minister of another middling power, says he, too, will raise human rights concerns when he visits Beijing this week. British ministers always say that. Then nothing changes. Why is he going to China at all? Apparently it’s to maintain dialogue (as if one genuinely existed). He claims the UK has “agency”, can exert influence.
This is delusional. The Chinese party behemoth, spying, bullying and hacking, beating up protesters in Manchester, torching the Hong Kong joint declaration, backing neofascist Vladimir Putin, besieging democratic Taiwan and plotting an authoritarian “new world order” is simply not listening, especially now Europe and Britain no longer speak as one.
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