Another example of the FCO's willingness to kowtow to nasty regimes has been flagged up in another newspaper, where a columnist researching ahead of a recent visit to China came across a remarkable statement from the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, slipped out on the FCO website on October 29 2008, just before representatives of the Dalai Lama were due to hold talks in Beijing on the future of Tibet.
Buried in the statement was Britain's recognition for the first time that, like "all other members of the EU… we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China".
It’s just what Barack Obama said last November, soon after his meeting with China’s president Hu Jintao. Unfortunately, the “recognition” has become a very popular motto in the language of international relations, since in a diplomatic note to Beijing issued one month ago by the Danish government it was made clear that Denmark—ruled by a center-right coalition—would oppose Tibetan independence and carefully considered China’s reaction before inviting the Dalai Lama again.
So, apparently it all started from David Miliband, the would be leader of the Labour party (and possibly Prime Minister of the UK), and above all the Foreign Secretary of a country which for over a hundred years has studiously not conceded that Tibet is part of China. He even apologized that Britain had not done so earlier… As Robert Barnett, the director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University, wrote in November 25, 2008 New York Times,
The British concession to China last month was buried within a public statement calling on Beijing to grant autonomy in Tibet, leading some to accuse the British government of hypocrisy. It is more worrying if it was a miscalculation. The statement was released two days before the Dalai Lama's envoys began the eighth round of talks with Beijing on their longstanding request for greater autonomy, apparently because the British believed - or had been told - that their giveaway to Beijing would relax the atmosphere and so encourage China to make concessions to the Dalai Lama.
The result was the opposite. On Nov. 10, China issued a damning attack on the exile leader, saying his autonomy plan amounted to ethnic cleansing, disguised independence and the reintroduction of serfdom and theocracy. The only thing that China will henceforth discuss with the exiles is the Dalai Lama's personal status, meaning roughly which luxury residence he can retire to in Beijing.
Barnett also reported that
The official press in China has gleefully attributed European concessions on Tibet to the financial crisis. "Of course these European countries are at this time not collectively changing their tune because their conscience has gotten the better of them," announced The International Herald Leader, a government-owned paper in Beijing, on Nov. 7. It added that the financial crisis "has made it impossible for them not to consider the 'cost problem' in continuing to 'aid Tibetan independence' and anger China. After all, compared to the Dalai, to as quickly as possible pull China onto Europe's rescue boat is even more important and urgent."
Would the International Herald Leader have ever imagined that about one year later even the President of the United States would sell out Tibet by rewriting history to get support in the financial crisis?
But, as the old saying goes, “Never say die!” In fact His Holiness the Dalai Lama today said he was optimistic about China giving autonomy to Tibet, and this, paradoxically, just because of a matter of money... Asked about the chances of China giving autonomy to Tibet, he said, “Since Jiang Zemin came to power, there has been a big change in China; now money is very important. Therefore, I am optimistic.” But then again, as another old saying goes, “Money comes and goes...”