It’s an interesting time for foreign relations between China and The U.S. As an attempt is being made to strengthen military ties between the countries, it seems a very angry China cannot stand to see our President hobnobbing with Tibet’s spiritual leader. China continues to view the Dalai Lama as an extreme separatist, as opposed to a peaceful, loving philanthropist who has been embraced by so much of the world’s international community. In a recent and well-received trip to the White House, it was implied that both Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama would ultimately like to see peace on all sides of this political and spiritual triangle. On one side, you have Tibet – no longer crying out for total independence from China, but simply calling for the ability to practice freedom of religion and live somewhat in harmony within China itself. You also have the United States, which desires to have strong ties to both China’s military and the Tibetan people. Finally, you have China…Oh, China.
Herein lies the problem. For so long China has held onto its claim over Tibet, and through violence, religious opposition, and trade restrictions, has been able to keep them “in their place” simply by being, what some might consider, a big bully. Without a large army or a serious modern industrial infrastructure, at this point, it would almost be impossible for Tibet to rise up successfully against its aggressor. And according to the Dalai Lama, that is not an intention. So, what is China’s problem? After all, considering it is a fairly small region that shows no real interest in war, invasion, or opposition of greater China (as far as this reporter can tell) – why not let Tibet simply be? Why not let His Holiness safely return to Tibet from his exile in India? Not only could this create unity and improve relationships between the Tibetan and Chinese people, it would also potentially eliminate reasons for certain conflict between China and the U.S. – not to mention other Tibetan-sympathetic countries, such as Australia, Canada, and Brazil.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is actively seeking stronger ties with the Chinese military in hopes of having easier movement and more control throughout certain Western Pacific regions of interest. A strengthened military bond between these two countries, which is at an extreme low, will allow for clearer designations of navigable waterways. This, in turn, will cause less territorial conflict and create an opportunity of working together on many issues ranging from humanitarian efforts that may become necessary to common enemies that may pose a threat down the line. A simple meeting between Obama and a well-loved spiritual leader cannot and should not stand in the way of greater progress amongst two world superpowers.
The U.S. and China want to be friends. Tibet and the U.S. want to be friends. If China and Tibet could just see to allow their relationship to improve for the better – i.e. forego pride for solidarity – we would see a real triangle of trust, strength, and respect. In today’s world, who wouldn’t want more of that? China?
Editorial by Josh Taub