China dismisses as absurd Spanish arrest warrants over Tibet

MADRID Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:51am EST

China's former President Jiang Zemin looks up while President Hu Jintao gives his speech during the opening ceremony of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Lee

China's former President Jiang Zemin looks up while President Hu Jintao gives his speech during the opening ceremony of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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MADRID (Reuters) - Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and ex prime minister Li Peng could face arrest when travelling abroad over allegations they committed genocide in Tibet, a Spanish court ruled on Tuesday, in a case Beijing has dismissed as absurd.

Two Tibetan support groups and a monk with Spanish nationality brought the case against the former leaders in 2006 using Spanish law, which allows suspects to be tried for human rights abuses committed abroad when a Spanish victim is involved.

The two former leaders and three other high-ranking officials who worked in the government in the 1980s and 1990s, are accused of human rights abuses in the Himalayan region.

Although it is unlikely the leaders will end up in a Spanish dock, the case is reminiscent of the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998 after a warrant was issued by former Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon.

Last month, another ruling by the same Spanish court indicted former Chinese president Hu Jintao for alleged genocide in Tibet. China's government denounced that move as interfering with its internal affairs.

China's foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said at a daily news briefing that Beijing has "sought clarification from Spain" about the latest ruling.

Tuesday's court order will now trigger arrest warrants which in turn could result in the suspects being arrested when they travel to Spain or other countries which recognize orders signed by Spain.

If the report is true, Hong said China expresses "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the Tibetan support groups in Spain for "repeatedly manipulating the issue".

Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of China's top advisory body to parliament, said the case was absurd, in comments published by Chinese state media on Tuesday before the ruling.

"If some country's court takes on this matter, it will bring itself enormous embarrassment," Zhu said. "Go ahead if you dare."

Communist Chinese troops took control of Tibet in 1950. China says it "peacefully liberated" the remote mountainous region that it says was mired in poverty, exploitation and economic stagnation.

Tibet's Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. Exiled Tibetan groups are campaigning for the return of the Dalai Lama and self-rule for their region.

More than 120 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against Chinese rule since 2009, mainly in heavily ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces rather than in what China terms the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Most of those who set themselves on fire have died.

(Reporting by Sarah Morris and Teresa Larraz Mora. Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing. Editing by Julien Toyer, William Hardy and Jeremy Laurence)

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Comments (9)
StephanLarose wrote:
Yes the Tibetans clearly love their Han Chinese overlords

Nov 20, 2013 4:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
godfree wrote:
The Chinese have a point. The Tibetan diaspora is behaving like all elites who have lost power by continuing to harass the current government. But their complaints and implied virtue rest on fictitious grounds. And the protesters know nothing about the Tibet that existed before 1951.

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan nobility were the world’s largest slave-owners when they fled Tibet in 1959 (taking with them the country’s entire treasury) . Despite their sudden impoverishment, the population and life-expectancy of Tibet’s native people has more than doubled in the intervening years, and more Tibetans now read the Sutras in their native language than all of Tibetans combined in that country’s long history.

Thanks to his organization and sponsorship of terrorist attacks on Tibet, His Holiness also managed to kill far more Tibetans than the Chinese army.

To learn something about historical (as opposed to hysterical) Tibet, read “The Snow Leopard and the Dragon” by Goldstein.

Nor can I find any evidence of the fabled ‘harsh crackdown’ on Tibetans. Han deaths, at the hands of Tibetan hoodlums (yes, Tibet has them, too) are running 20:1 against the Han.

His Holiness was–and is–free to resume his monastic vows and take up residence in the (now fully restored) Potala Palace. Instead, he has chosen to live on the $2 million annual stipend he receives from the CIA. Is it any wonder the Chinese question His Holiness’ sincerity?

In a survey conducted in 2000 by the renowned Tibetologists Melvyn Goldstein, Cynthia Beall, Ben Jiao and Phuntsog Tsering, they asked a sample of Tibetans from across the TAR whether their lives are better than that of their parents: “Do You Have a Better Life Now Than Your Parents Did?” One of the cohorts of that sample (N=150) is the age group between 60-79. In 2000, that means that they were born roughly between 1920-1940. That means their parents lived almost entirely before Chinese policies were instituted after 1959.

An astounding ~90% answered “Yes,” that is, their lives are indeed better than that of their parents.

So it would appear that the Dalai Lama’s claim (which the west accepts unquestioningly) that China had turned Tibetan “heaven on earth” to a “hell on earth” is, like many other claims about China and Tibet in the west, absolute rubbish.

But what about the question of independence? Well, that study did not directly question Tibetans on that thorny issue but one study conducted secretly by the Tibetan Government in Exile did–shortly after the ’08 March riots. Here, it looks that Tibetans inside Tibet who want independence (renzig) are in the minority (29% or about 5,000 out of a total sample of about 17,000).

This survey was likely crucial in getting the TGIE to stick with the so-called “middle way approach” after the riots, when they actively questioned that approach and contemplated seeking independence.

Nov 20, 2013 6:29am EST  --  Report as abuse
godfree wrote:
The Chinese have a point. The Tibetan diaspora is behaving like all elites who have lost power by continuing to harass the current government. But their complaints and implied virtue rest on fictitious grounds. And the protesters know nothing about the Tibet that existed before 1951.

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan nobility were the world’s largest slave-owners when they fled Tibet in 1959 (taking with them the country’s entire treasury) . Despite their sudden impoverishment, the population and life-expectancy of Tibet’s native people has more than doubled in the intervening years, and more Tibetans now read the Sutras in their native language than all of Tibetans combined in that country’s long history.

Thanks to his organization and sponsorship of terrorist attacks on Tibet, His Holiness also managed to kill far more Tibetans than the Chinese army.

To learn something about historical (as opposed to hysterical) Tibet, read “The Snow Leopard and the Dragon” by Goldstein.

Nor can I find any evidence of the fabled ‘harsh crackdown’ on Tibetans. Han deaths, at the hands of Tibetan hoodlums (yes, Tibet has them, too) are running 20:1 against the Han.

His Holiness was–and is–free to resume his monastic vows and take up residence in the (now fully restored) Potala Palace. Instead, he has chosen to live on the $2 million annual stipend he receives from the CIA. Is it any wonder the Chinese question His Holiness’ sincerity?

In a survey conducted in 2000 by the renowned Tibetologists Melvyn Goldstein, Cynthia Beall, Ben Jiao and Phuntsog Tsering, they asked a sample of Tibetans from across the TAR whether their lives are better than that of their parents: “Do You Have a Better Life Now Than Your Parents Did?” One of the cohorts of that sample (N=150) is the age group between 60-79. In 2000, that means that they were born roughly between 1920-1940. That means their parents lived almost entirely before Chinese policies were instituted after 1959.

An astounding ~90% answered “Yes,” that is, their lives are indeed better than that of their parents.

So it would appear that the Dalai Lama’s claim (which the west accepts unquestioningly) that China had turned Tibetan “heaven on earth” to a “hell on earth” is, like many other claims about China and Tibet in the west, absolute rubbish.

But what about the question of independence? Well, that study did not directly question Tibetans on that thorny issue but one study conducted secretly by the Tibetan Government in Exile did–shortly after the ’08 March riots. Here, it looks that Tibetans inside Tibet who want independence (renzig) are in the minority (29% or about 5,000 out of a total sample of about 17,000).

This survey was likely crucial in getting the TGIE to stick with the so-called “middle way approach” after the riots, when they actively questioned that approach and contemplated seeking independence.

Nov 20, 2013 6:29am EST  --  Report as abuse
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