Chinese Wolves in Monk's Clothing

A poll a few years ago reflected that some gullible Americans believed that the 9/11 attacks were not a terrorist attack, but the results of a US government conspiracy. While such Americans seem quick to accept governmental conspiratorial theories of US complicity — even with no evidence to support it — they seem unwilling to accept well-supported accusations of acts as bad or worse against other governments.

A case of the latter is the Dalai Lama’s claim that the violence initiated last month in the Tibetan capitol of Lhasa resulting in dozens of deaths was not the work of Buddhist monks but of the Beijing government. This claim is supported both by British intelligence and a former high level Chinese official. But, other than an article by Gordon Thomas in a Canadian newspaper, the mainstream media (MSM) has largely ignored both the claim and the evidence.

According to Thomas, British intelligence had learned something was brewing even before the violence in Lhasa began. They knew Beijing had discovered Dalai Lama supporters, who already had been actively demonstrating — non-violently — for his return and the right to practice some of basic tenets of their religion, intended to increase their activities as the Olympics approached. Therefore, the Beijing government needed a pretext for putting this opposition down beforehand.

For this reason, various British agencies were on alert to closely monitor any breaking events in Tibet. One of the most effective tools in Britain’s intelligence arsenal to accomplish this is its Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). GCHQ employs thousands of electronic experts and analysts possessing a capability to speak almost every language on Planet Earth. It monitors communications in “half the world from space.” It was in this capacity GCHQ picked up communications among Chinese military personnel that made very clear what was actually happening in Lhasa. It was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” story. Army personnel were donning Buddhist monk religious robes to pose as monks, undertaking acts of violence to give viewers the impression the monks were the aggressors. Interestingly, as the first signs of the staged violence took place, those police who were present, vanished, allowing it to continue for rolling cameras. But it was this depiction of “monks running amok” that was shown to the Chinese public and outside world.

However, Thomas reported, Beijing misjudged the impact this would have as incidents of civil disturbance spread not only across Tibet but other provinces as well. Apparently, Beijing had started a fire and was now having trouble containing it. Lest there be doubters of the Beijing government’s complicity in this violence, one should heed the comments of Ruan Ming, a speechwriter for former Communist Party (CCP) official Hu Yaobang. He unequivocally states Beijing did stage the incidents in Tibet in an effort to force the Dalai Lama’s resignation and justify further repression of Tibetans. And this not the first time the Chinese government has used this tactic to justify an aggressive response and to manipulate the media. While releasing news videos of its state-controlled media to create the picture it seeks, Beijing curtails the outside press from access that would fine tune any picture provided by them via independent observation. Unsurprisingly then, against this backdrop, the CCP has now ordered regional party leaders to use military and intelligence units to crack down “harshly” on dissent and to increase spying efforts throughout the country against “national separation forces.” As part of the agreement to host the Olympics this year, Beijing was to expand press and internet freedoms. It is clear, however, with the Games just months away, Beijing’s self-imposed violence had a purpose.

It is using it as an excuse for “cleansing” China of its opposition voices and suppressing human rights before the Olympic torch is lit and the country goes on the world’s stage. Disregarding promises of more freedoms for its people, it uses the Olympics as a tool for imposing less. And, while China actively suppresses human rights in Tibet, it supports such suppression in other countries, such as Sudan, where it props up a government also using violence as a vehicle for control. Something needs to be done to impress upon China what it is doing within and without its borders in suppressing human rights is wrong.

The Olympics are extremely important to Beijing. It sees the Games as its shining moment. But we now need to remove some of that luster.

President Bush needs to start the process by which Beijing will hopefully reflect somewhat on its abusive human rights policy by making it clear, absent greater tolerance towards Tibetans, he will not attend the Opening Ceremony as he is currently planning to do. While a total boycott by the US may be a severe measure to take, it should be made clear it remains an option should Beijing mask its “wolves” again to do violence to peaceful demonstrators.

Historically, great civilizations have flourished on average of two centuries. By that measure, we are well into our twilight years. For those civilizations which fell from self-inflicted wounds, the process started with first losing sight of the values that originally led to their greatness. For the US, one of those values is doing the right thing to promote for others the freedoms we so richly enjoy. Therefore, we need to recalibrate our moral compass by demonstrating to China, if not the world, the Olympic gold comes with a corresponding commitment to honor universal human rights and freedoms.