All entries for Friday 11 April 2008
April 11, 2008
Recently a lot of campaigners have argued the case that China shouldn’t be allowed to hold the olympics due to its ongoing occupation of tibet. It has been proposed that a boycott would reduce the positive publicity that the Chinese would be getting from their hosting activities. Gordon Brown announced the other day that he wouldn’t be present at the opening ceremonies. Media fetishism suddenly turned this into some kind of important stand again Chinese policies on tibet. This was denounced by Downing Street in an effort not to upset diplomatic relations.
But even if he hadn’t turned up – how is that progress? I can’t imagine Wen Jiabao trembling in his boots. Do we think that not having to shake some fat Scottish bloke’s hand is the biggest stand we can make on foreign policy? Is that what being a world power means these days? We fight wars against 3rd world countries actively and via proxy and yet here we are facing the another major country and all we can manage is a minor diplomatic snub? Will the historians of the 22nd Century ever enscribe the sentence “Chinese human rights abuses were cleaned up thanks to a second rate act of gesture politics by an unpopular 1/2 term prime minister?” I sincerely doubt it.
The key issue here is that whilst people have been caught up in the idea of denying China the publicity and support that the Olympics brings – we politcally, legally and by implication morally acquiesce to their acts. We’ve somehow managed to completely the obvious fact that Britain recognises Chinese rule over Tibet. We signed a treaty with the Qing empire in 1904 and ratified it in 1906. We officially considered it part of the Republic of China when dealing with Chiang Kai-shek in the second world war. When the west decided to be less hostile to the PRC the Tibet issue was ignored.
Bottom line: if you really want a stand from Britain on tibet – don’t boycott the olympics. Call for an Act of Parliament changing Britain’s recognise Chinese borders to exclude tibet. Now that really would be a stand on the matter.