Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Sunday, January 03, 2010

China, Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh: the giant stirs

I don't know how I can have missed it, but Peter Hitchens reminds us today: Britain has given Tibet to China, thanks to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Hitchens suggests it's something to do with the credit crunch and the price of China's support for the IMF.

China is struggling to provide for its people, and needs (among other things) wood, water and minerals. Tibet is a valuable source of such resources; but after floods caused by deforestation, and ice melts because of industrial activity, China has begun to consider sustainability and is working to undo some of the damage. The Chinese don't need finger-wagging from pseudo-religious green zealots: this is a matter of survival, and the undemocratic nature of their political structure may allow them to make longer-term, and therefore more successful plans.

Nevertheless, one suspects that unlike here in the Mrs-Jellyby-like UK, but like in most other sanely-led countries, China operates on the principle "look after our nation first, and worry about the rest of the world after that". So despite the protests of Free Tibet and others, that, sadly, is that.

But diplomacy to foster better treatment of ethnic Tibetans might have had more success if we hadn't given away such a powerful bargaining point, all in one go. There is a Japanese saying I read in one of James Clavell's novels: "give fish soup, but never the fish". I think we are represented by a boyish amateur.

You may say, if I'm so in favour of our minding our own business, why bother with Tibet? My answer is that we should be trying to encourage our future master to be kinder to his servants.

Besides, giving way on the Tibet question implicitly undermines our position on the 1913/1914 Simla Accord, which also established the border between India and China, which leads us to the next item on the land acquisition list: the province of Arunachal Pradesh, on which I commented in April 2008. The Dalai Lama clearly understands the implications as His Holiness visited the province last November - much to China's annoyance (here, also). Interestingly, it now seems difficult to access the Dalai Lama's own newspage on this story - another Chinese cyber-attack, or a diplomatic self-censorship?

Anyhow, these are more straws in the wind.

2 comments:

James Higham said...

Yeah, Millipede and his masters ove giving away that which is not theirs. It's a long tradition anyway - anyone remember Serbia?

Nick Drew said...

The Chinese don't need finger-wagging from pseudo-religious green zealots: this is a matter of survival, and the undemocratic nature of their political structure may allow them to make longer-term, and therefore more successful plans

that's the essence of how environmental protection needs to be advanced: via self-interest, the only reliable motive