China’s global ambitions: are there lessons to be learnt from Tibet?

China’s global ambitions: are there lessons to be learnt from Tibet? By Peter Hartcher.

The man who replaced the Dalai Lama as the head of Tibet’s government-in-exile has brought a troubling message to Australia. The Chinese military forcibly annexed Tibet in the 1950s, sending the Dalai Lama into hasty exile in India. …

The Harvard-educated lawyer’s message to Australia: “It happened to Tibet – you could be next.”

His case: “If you understand the Tibetan story, the Chinese government [before the military takeover] started building a road – our first ever highway in Tibet.

“Now, we were promised peace and prosperity with the highway, and our parents and grandparents joined in building the road. In fact, they were paid silver coins to help them build the road…

“So my parents told me the Chinese soldiers with guns were so polite, so nice, the kids used to taunt them and taunt them, they always smiled. They never said anything. Then they built the road. Once the road reached Lhasa – the capital city of Tibet – first trucks came, then guns came, then tanks came. Soon, Tibet was occupied. So it started with the road.

“Then another strategy that they deployed was divide and rule, co-opting our ruling elite… They were paid, I think, in Australian context, huge consultation fees.” This brought knowing guffaws from the Australian audience.