Timid on Tibet

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On September 3rd, the world watched with fascination and at least a little trepidation as China marked the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender during World War II with a parade of troops and military hardware. The next day, the Pentagon acknowledged Chinese naval warships had entered US territorial waters in the Bering Strait. It was not a subtle message, even if Xi Jinping, dressed in a black Mao suit, did use the word peace more than a dozen times in his speech to mark the occasion.

These are not the only signals Xi is sending as he prepares for state visits to the US in September and the UK in October. From August 25th–26th, he presided over a top-level meeting on Tibet. According to Chinese state media, Xi vowed to “fight against separatist activities by the Dalai group,” a reference to the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, the meeting emphasized “stability,” a “political term associated with a dramatic expansion of military and police powers.”

Neither President Obama nor Prime Minister David Cameron will want Tibet on the agenda during Xi’s visits. However, both leaders should see Tibet as highly relevant to the problems they face with China’s military buildup and activities in the South China Sea.

- The remainder of this post can be read for free at Democracy Road, FPI Senior Fellow Ellen Bork's blog at World Affairs Journal

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