China Likens Tibet Policy to Abraham Lincoln

If the Chinese government is having trouble justifying their heavy-handed opposition to the Dalai Lama, a recent comment by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang is unlikely to help.

In a painfully blatant misrepresentation of history, Quin equated China’s stance on Tibet to that of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

“Lincoln played an incomparable role in protecting the national unity and territorial integrity of the United States,” stated Qin. He went on to add that Barack Obama, as a black president, “understands the slavery abolition movement and Lincoln’s major significance for that movement.”

The comparison could not be less accurate, as the Chinese government continues to violently crack down on the Tibetan autonomy movement. Last month, four were executed on charges of involvement in a spring 2008 protest in the Tibetan capital.

Amnesty International released a statement today calling for the Chineese government to “release immediately and unconditionally those detained solely for engaging in peaceful protest, including support for the Dalai Lama, the independence of Tibet, or greater autonomy for Tibet.”

Executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth is pressing for Obama to address these issues along with numerous other human rights violations perpetrated by the Chinese government. So far Obama has not shown a willingness to take China to task on these issues, instead refusing to meet with the Dalai Lama for fear that it might upset Tibet’s neighbor to the North.

UPDATE: Obama addressed human rights in China, but left Tibet out of the discussion.

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3 Comments

Filed under Foreign Policy, Human Rights

3 responses to “China Likens Tibet Policy to Abraham Lincoln

  1. Sophie

    While I agree ideologically that the United States should make a stand for human rights, I have to wonder whether we can really afford to. With the economic crisis and increasing unemployment, do we really want to risk our trade relationship with China?

    I respect the matters of religious freedom and human rights at issue here, but I can’t help but think that if Obama ruined our relations with China and the economy deteriorated as a result, there’s no way he would win re-election in 2012. I guess we have to decide which battles are worth fighting. Do you think Tibet is an important enough issue to the American people?

    • Sophie, you bring up an excellent point and I’m sure the administration would agree with you. However, it is my opinion that a just and accountable Chinese government would make a better economic partner in the long run. As they continue their economic ascendancy, it is going to become more and more difficult for the U.S. to assert even tacit influence on the human rights situation in China. This may be our last chance to speak up for oppressed people who see China as the enemy. If we stay silent and are seen as an ally of this enemy, this could spell a national security threat – a scenario that have seen time and time again.

  2. Pingback: Human Rights Day: A Glimpse at the Issues « DC Progressive

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