Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Many years ago I interviewed the Dalai Lama at Heathrow. He wore big brown brogues under his saffron robes, chuckled a lot and held my hand throughout. I was charmed; I still am. He has achieved two things. First, he has preserved the identity of Tibet while in exile in India. Secondly, he has exploited the mystique of Tibet to keep the injustice of its subjugation by China constantly in the minds and imaginations of the West. Now he says he will resign if the violence continues - I didn't know resignation was an option for the holder of his office - and the Chinese are saying he is behind the violence. I'm sure the Chinese have no evidence for this. The calls for a boycott of the Olympics will get louder. As I have said before, this would not be a good idea however flattering it might be to our consciences. If the violence continues, the boycott is a real possibility followed by an insulted China full of resurgent Maoist nasties saying 'we told you so' and the prospect of economic revenge on the West. Even the sale of a small proportion of her dollar reserves would make a bad situation much worse. His Holiness doesn't want this, he just wants a little more autonomy for his people so that they are not drowned by the tide of Han Chinese flooding into their territory. For some reason, the Chinese leaders can't get it into their heads that they can talk to him. One day, they'll have to.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 1:19 pm