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The Gulf Between Tibet and Its Exiles

Author: Tsering Shakya
May 2008

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Two recent articles concerning the unrest in Tibet purport to prove that the March unrest in Tibet was the result of foreign instigation. As a result, they have since been heavily featured in official Chinese news media, including CCTV, as well as on the Internet. This episode tells us much about the government’s efforts to influence domestic and international perception of the conflict in Tibet, as well as Chinese misconceptions about the nature of the linkage between Tibetans at home and in exile.

The first article was published on a Canadian Web site called Global Research and was written by U.S.-based writer William Engdahl, known for his views that both the Sept. 11 attacks and the theory of global warming are conspiracies. He cited publicly available information about funding of some Tibetan exile groups by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy in order to argue that the recent events in Tibet were engineered by U.S. government-backed organizations. The same argument has now been repeated verbatim and published throughout the Chinese speaking world by the well-known journalist Ching Cheong, without any additional evidence or research.

Both authors discern a shadowy plot by the U.S. government to destabilize China by “fanning the flames of violence in Tibet.” They both implicate a number of Tibet-related NGOs that have received funding from the NED in this effort. Neither article says what these plots were or offers any evidence of their existence, nor do they provide any evidence connecting the NGOs to the unstated plots apart from their funding source. As anyone who is familiar with these organizations and with contemporary Tibet can confirm, the accusations are simplistic arguments based on “guilt by association.”

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