Monday, April 7, 2008

Pro-Tibet Resistance Moves to Paris, U.S. Capitol

The pro-Tibet demonstrations against China don't seem to be ending soon. The Olympic flame procession has now been disrupted in France. And in the Congress, American politicians seem to have found a backbone...barely. They are voting on a toothless resolution, that nonetheless is a statement that the American are not going along with the brutality exhibited by the Chinese rulers towards Tibetans:

China on Monday slammed a proposed US Congressional resolution resolution on Tibet unrest and asked American lawmakers to refrain from doing anything that might harm Sino-US relations.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday tabled a resolution calling on Beijing to end its crackdown on peaceful protests in Tibet and begin a dialogue with the Dalai Lama to address the grievances of the Tibetan people.

The resolution proposed by a few US House of representatives neither condemned those responsible for the violence nor did it denounce the "Dalai Clique", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said.

There is some evidence that the Chinese authorities might be buckling under the weight of international pressure:
As unrest has spread among China's ethnic Tibetan population, Beijing has found itself caught between its desire to appear reasonable to the outside world and its tendency to come down hard when feeling threatened.
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In recent days, the government's propaganda arm has grown shriller and its security arm tighter: The London-based Free Tibet Campaign, an activist group, reported late Friday that police in Sichuan Province had fired on hundreds of Buddhist monks and lay people, resulting in eight deaths. The Chinese government acknowledged unrest in the area and said police fired warning shots, but reported no deaths.

Yet too much has changed for the emerging world power and soon-to-be Olympic host to revert completely to the Communist Party playbook of old, analysts say.

"China is facing some traditional challenges and new types of conditions," said Shen Dingli, professor at Shanghai's Fudan University. "This is forcing it to deal with this mixture and adapt."

Viva La France:
Thousands of demonstrators from across Europe massed Monday around some of the most storied sights of Paris to protest the heavily guarded passage of the Olympic torch on what was supposed to be a majestic procession through France’s capital.

The Associated Press reported that at one point police officers in jogging gear briefly extinguished the torch and took it on board a bus, apparently to move it away from the crowds. CNN broadcast television images of the torch as it was loaded onto the bus, apparently showing the flame was out or had been lowered.

CNN claims the flame was extinguished unlike the NY Times coverage above:
The Olympic torch relay was disrupted Monday by protesters in Paris demonstrating against the Chinese government, causing authorities to twice extinguish the flame and put the torch on a bus, according to The Associated Press.