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Pakistan Beware, They Are Cornering China

By Ahmed Quraishi

28/03/08 "
Global Politician" -- -- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Next to her bad Collagen-injected facelift job, Nancy Pelosi has given us one of the worst lessons in deceitful diplomacy on behalf of the United States. Pelosi, who is third in line of power in Washington after George Bush and Dick Cheney, flew halfway around the world to our neighborhood last week. Her mission? To further stoke the fire in China’s Tibet.

Tibet is striking a nerve in Islamabad because it is a classic example of the oldest trick in modern espionage: a host country, India, facilitates a superpower, the United States, to use Indian soil to create and sustain ethnic unrest in Tibet, China’s backwater joined at the hip with India.

For Islamabad, it’s déjà vu. Last year, a calculated U.S. media blitz and suspected espionage helped American strategists plead the case for military intervention in Pakistan. A false case was built around Pakistani nukes. Now it’s Beijing’s turn. And the pretext is Tibet which erupted in flames surprisingly just in time to tarnish China’s impressive 2008 Olympic preparations.

We in Pakistan are too busy to pay attention. But let’s remember: The politicization of the 1936 Berlin Olympics by the United States and Britain helped spark a world war three years later. Washington is convinced that China’s economic rise is undermining its political and economic hegemony. China must be drawn into a conflict sooner than later.

This is not a false alarm. Tibet can never emerge as an issue without the primary western support. The only non-western country playing a dirty role in this charade is India, host to the wily Dalai Lama, aptly described by the people who know him as a ‘wolf in a monk’s garb.’

Led by the Americans, the western bloc is all set to spoil the Beijing Olympics. The western rhetoric over Tibet is just a smokescreen that hides a disgustingly larger agenda that goes as far as stopping Chinese investments in African oilfields, where the Americans and the British are dazed at how the Chinese have outspent them on buying up oil concessions.

As soon as the riots erupted in Tibet, Ms. Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, dashed to New Delhi to meet the Dalai Lama. No question here about how urgent the matter is for U.S. foreign policy. More nauseating was her self-righteous sermon on Tibet. “If freedom loving people throughout the world do no speak out,” she said, “we have lost all moral authority to speak on human rights anywhere in the world.” This coming from a country that stands culpable for the murder of almost 300,000 Iraqis in five years of brutal American occupation.

Once Ms. Pelosi set the tone, ganging up on China was just a matter of tactics. John McCain, quietly being groomed by Mr. Bush to take the reigns in Washington, leaving Obama and Clinton to slug it out till death, was quick to say in Paris that “mistreatment” in Tibet was an “unacceptable conduct for a world power.” Says who? The United States?

And now it’s getting outright dirty. Britain’s former defense minister, Michael Portillo, a celebrated gay who bowed out after a scandal in the 1990s, turned on Sunday into a Mafiosi and openly asked western countries to blackmail China using Tibet against the Olympics. In a London newspaper, he came out with this headline, ‘Tibet: the West can use the Olympics as a weapon against Beijing.”

Opening a new front to punish China’s economic might, and as a proof that this anti-China campaign is deeply malicious, Steven Spielberg, hired by the Chinese as a creative consultant for the opening ceremony of the Olympics, resigned from the assignment to protest China’s huge investments in oilfields in Sudan. Mr. Spielberg’s excuse is that Sudan is embroiled in Darfur.

Of course no American journalist will ask Mr. Spielberg how come his snub to China is calculated to coincide with the Tibet riots? Surely he could have taken this principled stand before getting his advance payment from the Chinese government. Darfur is an old story after all. Nothing new about Hollywood becoming another discreet instrument of U.S. foreign policy.

This blackmail against China is so widespread that ‘report cards’ are being issued in the U.S. giving failing grades to companies that sponsor Beijing Olympics and don’t take a stand over Darfur, the oil-rich part of Sudan that Washington wants to see separated, to protect human rights of course.

The hypocritical posturing by the bigwigs – Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Spielberg, and Mr. McCain – hides the ugly reality of what the Dalai Lama and his U.S.-sponsored separatists have done during the Tibet riots. They burned five young waitresses alive in a restaurant. They snatched a young Chinese boy from his father, put him on the ground and then stomped on his chest and abdomen. An ethnic Tibetan doctor who tried to save the Chinese boy’s life was beaten by Dalai Lama’s insurgents. The Tibetan doctor is hospitalized in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. The kid couldn’t make it. How about the infant who was burned alive in her parents’ apartment set on fire by the separatists? Ms. Pelosi won’t see this of course. The agenda trumps everything else.

And please don’t believe the U.S. propaganda depicting the riots as some kind of a Tibetan backlash against Chinese oppression. Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, is far ahead in modernization than India’s biggest northern cities across the border. This is the place where China spent a staggering U.S. $ 4.1 billion just to build the world’s highest rail track, a luxury service stretching 1,142km from Beijing to Lhasa. It’s part of an elaborate Chinese vision to ‘open up’ the country’s sparsely populated western regions and make them key to China’s growth in the 21st century.

The western focus now is to push the Chinese government to make one wrong move so that Washington and other ‘allied’ governments could drag Beijing into a costly confrontation. The good news is that no Chinese citizen, even those third- or fourth-generation Americans, joined this anti-China campaign. Over the weekend, only 150 anti-China protesters showed up at a park in California. That’s less than the customers of any Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s ‘Little China’.

In Pakistan, we should be worried at this fresh push to corner China. It is in our interest not to allow this. And the best way to do it is through diplomacy and media. With the massive failures of our state-run media, the onus lies with Pakistan’s vibrant independent television networks to help spread the message. They will get their chance on April 16, when the Olympic torch reaches Islamabad.

Last year, they destabilized us. Today it’s China. The tactics are the same. Let’s keep our eyes open.

Ahmed Quraishi is a Pakistani public affairs professional. He heads the Pakistan Task Force at FurmaanRealpolitik, an independent Pakistani think tank based in Islamabad. He also produces and hosts a weekly foreign policy show for PTV World.

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