Joshua Dugdale: If we can't put pressure on China now, when will we?

The Olympics offer the West an opportunity

Share
Related Topics

Images of the dozens of deaths in Tibet look as if they will as infamous as those of the crackdown on Buddhist monks in 1989, and will be just as uncomfortable for the Chinese.

I am a film-maker and have spent the past four years following the Dalai Lama in his painstaking and frustrating efforts to engage the Chinese in negotiations towards what he calls "meaningful autonomy". In 1987, he met them halfway, abandoning his claim for full independence but seeking a degree of autonomy under overall Chinese control.

The Chinese response? To slate his character and dispute that he ever really gave up his claim for independence.(In doing so, as my film reveals, they have mistranslated the Dalai Lama's speeches, confusing the word 'freedom' for 'independence'.) Beijing believes it can carry on along this path, achieving a "peaceful rise" as it goes. But that is unlikely. Pressure from the international community will increase, just as the demonstrations are spreading out from Lhasa.

The Chinese have a choice. They can continue with their claimed policy of not talking to the Dalai Lama, which is risky and creates a target for those who want to see China democratise. If they crack down harshly, as their foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gan has said they will, China will be on the back foot for the next six months, with a potentially disastrous Olympic Games tarnishing their reputation for years. But, given that most countries are keener to do business with them than talk about human rights, they may feel they can weather the storm.

The alternative is to enter real negotiations with the Tibetan leader. This would require attention to detail, political courage and a willingness to compromise (on both sides). If diplomacy is about providing ladders down which your opponent can climb, Tibet is badly in need of such ladders – not least one that can bring the China's leaders to admit that the Dalai Lama is someone to do business with. And the Chinese have to confirm publicly that secret talks have been going on.

In making my film on the Dalai Lama I wanted to see if Beijing could justify its claim that he is duplicitous. If China's leaders could see the results, I have no doubt that it would challenge some of their preconceptions about him. (The same applies to the West.)

Whatever happens over the next few months, the pressure will mount in Tibet. Softly softly diplomacy has not worked. The Chinese were given the Olympics to "bring them into the international community", but on issue after issue – Tibet, Burma, Darfur – their behaviour has not improved. Beijing says it has put a lot of money into Tibet, but most has gone into Chinese hands, and Tibetan culture and religion continue to be undermined.

The Chinese government does not like embarrassment, so, with the Olympics nearing, the international community must act now – because Tibetan and Chinese lives are at stake.

Joshua Dugdale's film 'The Unwinking Gaze' opens the London International Documentary Festival on 29 March. See www.unwinkinggaze.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee