by Professor M.D. Nalapat
UPI: Published: March 17, 2008
The Bush-Cheney genuflection toward Beijing in matters concerning Tibet, Taiwan and other issues that may reduce the flow of profits into the treasuries of favored corporations has created a cynicism about U.S. policy in East Asia that is reaching the levels of that in the Middle East. However, even the current U.S. administration, together with other China-friendly governments such as those in Ottawa and Canberra, may find it difficult to ignore their own public opinion.
White U.S. voters, by backing Barack Obama in large numbers, have shown that the world's First Civilization is transforming itself from within, from exclusivism to inclusivism, from racial values to human values. This transformation may in time even affect the present Mugabist -- frankly racist -- policies of the European Union.
Had China been a democracy, it might have designed a system of governance that would coopt the Tibetan people into a Greater China without forcing them to abandon their culture, traditions and religious beliefs. However, the Han-driven nationalist ideology of the CCP leaves President Hu Jintao scant room for maneuver. His own stint in Tibet in 1988-89 marked a departure from some of the more culturally sensitive views expressed by Mao Zedong.
Even if many in Xinjiang follow the example of indigenous Tibetans and go out into the streets to protest Han domination, the authorities in Beijing will still be able to damp the situation down to a "safe" level. The real nightmare scenario for Beijing would be if Christians in the rest of China, perhaps also other groups such as the Falun Gong, decided to follow the Tibet example and convert the streets of China's urban centers to the present chaos of Lhasa. Such a spread of indigenous unrest into the Han population might prove uncontrollable, unless economic growth expanded beyond even the present impressive levels.
By failing to fashion political institutions that can accommodate the needs of people of faith, the CCP may have created the conditions for a Bamboo Revolution that could lead to a repeat of what happened to the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. It may seem a far cry from the current triumphalism in Beijing to the meltdown that occurred in Moscow or Bucharest -- but the gongs in Tibet may have begun sounding that dirge.
As for Bush-Cheney, after repeatedly certifying Pakistan's dictator Pervez Musharraf as the First Democrat of his country, it should not pose much of a problem to claim similar qualities in Hu Jintao -- who in Tibet may be facing a challenge that will make the protests of 1989 look like a schoolyard drill.
--(Professor M.D. Nalapat is vice-chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair, and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University. ©Copyright M.D. Nalapat.)