I was surprised that such a supposedly experienced politician as yourself could visit Tibet and come away with a one-sided ‘Chinese’ view. (‘How trip to Tibet changed my mind’, Gaz. & Herald Sept. 24th). The answer is in the statement ‘what we found in Tibet was a….Country transformed into a modern Chinese way of life’! That is what your Chinese minders wanted you to see and what the 5 million Han Chinese (brought in to settle and now outnumber the Tibetans) want to happen. Is it what the Tibetans want and did you ask them?
Good for you in pressing the Chinese hard on ‘reported human rights abuses’, and not blindly accepting some of the ‘pretty crass propaganda which the Chinese hosts’ tried to feed you. But to then conclude that ‘overall, Chinese sovereignty over Tibet is in the best interests of the ordinary people’(...the Tibetans??), is not supported by the evidence:
- Economic benefits such as those quoted have undoubtedly occurred, but largely to the Chinese.
- The ‘great lengths’ the Chinese are going to in order ‘to preserve their (Tibetan) heritage and give them religious freedom’ is merely re-building parts of a few monasteries whilst strictly controlling the monks activities, so they can perform for tourists like a group of British MPs. Window dressing which you have swallowed hook, line and sinker!
Why have the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of his people fled Tibet to India, and are still doing so but not returning to Tibet, if life there is so marvellous? They would rather have poverty in exile with freedom rather than slavery with questionable economic benefits.
Why has the Panchen Lama, the second senior lama in Tibet, not been heard of since his removal nearly 20 years ago and a Chinese stooge put in his place, if religious freedom is a reality?
It is true that when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet it was a desperately poor feudal country guided by their religion and culture. But since then, a modern and democratic ‘Tibetan government in exile’ has been established and would carry out economic reforms in Tibet, if allowed, with religious, cultural and political freedom, something that the Chinese would never allow.
It is sometimes said that in Britain we don’t value our freedoms enough - sadly you have extended this to Tibet.
Bath District Tibet Support Group