Tuesday 13 October 2009

response from MP James Gray 12 Oct 09

12th October 2009

Dear Anne-Marie,

Thank you for you email and for the ten facts about Tibet from the Tibet Society, many of which I recognise and acknowledge as being true, without diminishing the broad thesis of my argument that despite all of that, Tibet is nonetheless better off as part of China than as some kind of small autonomous state.

I suspect this may well be one of those matters on which you and I will not necessarily agree, rather as I would not agree with those who advocate the independence of Scotland or Ireland, or of the Basque country, or of the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka.

I am strongly in favour of the devolution of powers to independent autonomous people, while retaining their status as part of that country or nation. I nonetheless readily accept that these are matters for debate and discussion and on which none of us has the monopoly on correctness.

Kind regards,


Sunday 11 October 2009

Response to James Gray Article

Dear Mr. Gray,

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!
If, as you say, the Chinese are going to great lengths to give Tibetans their religious freedom, does thinot simply say that they do not have it?

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.

George Yates,
Bath District Tibet Support Group

How my trip to Tibet changed my mind. by James Gray MP

Taken from the Gazette & Hearld Sept. 24th (North Wiltshire)
INSPIRED by Brad Pitt's film Seven Years in Tibet and feeling outraged by the murdering Chinese who invaded the mountain kingdom, I jumped at the chance to see things for myself.  The invitation came courtesy of the Parliamentary All Party Group for China and, alongside ex-Liberal leader Lord (David) Steel, cross-bench peer Lord (David) Alton and a Labour MP, I spent last week in Tibet and China. We journeyed by train from Xining in mid-China over the 5,000 metre high mountains to Lhasa, thankfully not needing the oxygen masks which many of the other passengers were gasping into.  While wondering at the sheer engineering skill of it, all of us felt a slight queasiness as to exactly why they had done so? Was this neo-colonialism or militaristic? What we found in Tibet was a former tiny theocratic and feudal country transformed into a modern Chinese way of life.  GDP per head has rocketed, the infrastructure improved, new schools and universities, life expectancy even for the poorest farmers, many of whom have been rehoused, has more than doubled. Of course we felt some sentimental nostalgia for the mountain kingdom of 100 years ago. But there is no doubt about it, the way of life is massively better under China than it could possibly be in an independent nation state Tibet.  We were of course deeply concerned about reported human rights abuses - as we are across China. We pressed the Chinese hard on reports of a large number of monks who had disappeared after last March's riots, of a local official who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the minor offence of communicating with the outside world, and of two people sentenced to death for opposing the Chinese. Similarly we pressed the Chinese hard on the status of the Dalai Llama, and how it might be that he could be allowed to return to Llasa after his 50 years in exile. So we by no means blindly accepted some of the - at times pretty crass - propaganda which our Chinese hosts tried to feed us. But overall, I have to admit that Chinese sovereignty over Tibet is very much in the best interests of the ordinary people of that lovely country, and the Chinese are going to great lengths to preserve their heritage and give them religious freedom. So I will not in the future be flirting with Bradd Pitt type sentimentality by calling for a "Free Tibet."

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To contact Bath District Tibet Support Group can be contacted via Email: Bath Dist. Tibet Support