Wikileaks and Tibet

On Monday, November 29, 2010, in Tibet In The News, by Chris Ratke

The latest public unveiling of official and unofficial state secrets by Wikileaks has provided a treasure-trove of information that reveals new diplomatic tensions and elucidates others. While only a snippet of the 251,287 cables (diplomatic messages) from US embassies and consulates around the world have been made publicly available through Wikileaks and various news outlets, what can already be gleaned anticipates a broader understanding of international relations on a range of issues, including on Tibet.

The New York Times (which had an advanced look at the cables, along with The Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais, and Der Spiegel) has already reported that a contact in Beijing informed US Embassy officials there that GhostNet, a global computer spy ring originating in China which targeted among others, the office of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan government-in-exile and Google, was a project controlled by the CCP’s Politburo (a group of 24 people who lead the Party).

A separate cable available on Wikileaks from the American Embassy in Beijing, dated May 2009, reports that China requested that the UK government deny permission for the Dalai Lama to transit London, only to back down and ask that UK officials not meet with the Tibetan leader during his time in the UK.

And while Beijing’s displeasure with the Elysée over the issue is already well known, the same cable tells of China’s formal protest to French officials and the Beijing city government’s threat to end its sister-city relationship with the French capital over the decision by the city of Paris to award the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship (the Dalai Lama accepted the award from Parisian mayor Bertrand Delanoe on June 7, 2009 and Beijing’s familial civic ties with Paris remain firmly in tact). Somewhat surprisingly, the cable also reports that China had not made similar demands on the German government, at least at the time, despite the Dalai Lama’s frequent visits to Germany.

The Guardian has also published a cable from the US embassy in South Korea dated February 22 of this year, in which Kurt Campbell, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US State Department, and Kim Sung-hwan, a National Security Adviser for South Korea, discussed the February 18 meeting between the Dalai Lama and President Obama. According to the cable, Kim “said that the Chinese were ‘far too sensitive’ about the Tibetan spiritual leader’s meetings with foreign officials. A few years ago, Kim related, the PRC [People’s Republic of China] had crudely pressured the ROK [Republic of Korea] government into canceling a planned speech by the Dalai Lama at a Buddhist conference on Cheju Island.”

While certainly interesting from a historical or news point of view, one of the most important things we may be able to gain from cables such as these is a more accurate analysis of just how true to their word Beijing officials are when they threaten and cajole other governments whenever the prospect of a visit by the Dalai Lama to their countries is raised.

How much might we expect to learn regarding Tibet from the public disclosure of over 250,000 diplomatic cables? A quick look at a compilation of data by the Guardian shows that 198 of the cables contain “Tibet” as part of their subject, 134 have “Tibetan” in the subject, 41 contain “Tibetans,” 144 have “Dalai,” 133 contain “Lama,” and 26 cables deal with “Lhasa.”

In addition, 1,145 of the cables contain the word “Tibet” in their contents, 828 contain the word “Tibetan,” 776 cables contain “Dalai,” and 1,346 contain the word “Lama.”

There are also 36 cables that are tagged as “Tibetan.” [Source: the Guardian]

Any time Wikileaks discloses high-profile documentation emotions run high, ranging from excitement at the prospect of access to information and opinions previously unknown to the public, to outrage at what some see as part of a government’s domain that should remain confidential. However, many, if not most, of these messages will undoubtedly contain information already easily accessible and well-worn in the media. As will be the case with nearly all other issues these cables touch upon, most of what we may learn about Tibet will be found in the details and in those rare moments when, for reasons that will not always be known, what was supposed to remain behind closed doors becomes clear to us all.

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11 Responses to “Wikileaks and Tibet”

  1. Edeltraud says:

    In addition to being the leader of the Tibetan nation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a tireless advocate for peace and one of the most respected global leaders of all time! Long life the HH Dalai Lama. And, may all His aspirations are fulfilled.

  2. Edeltraud says:

    In addition to being the leader of the Tibetan nation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a tireless advocate for peace and one of the most respected global leaders of all time!
    Long life the HH Dalai Lama
    And may all His aspirations are fulfilled.

  3. Coineach Kirkcroughan says:

    The sooner the 24 members of the ccps politburo Join chairman mau in HELL for Eterity, the Better our world will be. Lets hope they are burnt, we do not need their Remains buried in Mother Earth, that would Polute it For-Ever.

    Coineach

  4. Iris Fuchs says:

    Wir alle sind Gast auf diesem Planeten. Wir sollten uns auch wie Gäste benehmen. Es gibt keine Menschen 2. Klasse. Wenn wir nicht den unterdrückten Völkern helfen – wer dann?

  5. Natalie Devlin says:

    Lets hope that the new media will cause more widespread knowledge and actual political action instead of just the same people talking about the same things. New media outlets such as Wikileaks, Facebook and Twitter could really help Tibet as long as we don’t become so proud of ourselves for speaking out on a forum that we think that’s enough.

  6. Christina Blair says:

    We pray that the Chinese experiment of merging communism with capitalism will cultivate compassion and gratitude in the hearts and minds of the Chinese who have realized a better material life and that their desire to have a better material life will encompass the well-being of Tibetans and all victims who have suffered terribly for the actualization of that reality on their behalf. We are deeply grateful for the good that may come from the dissemination of all dialogue regarding oppressed and harmed peoples.

  7. Ken Brooker says:

    China is a Gift! As Carlos Castaneda wrote in The Fire From Within — a “Petty Tyrant” (e.g. Hitler) is a rare treasure to humankind, who teaches us, by example and finally by failure, How NOT To Be…

  8. The truth will win out in the end. I hope and pray for Tibet daily. Free Tibet and Long Live His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama.

  9. We aren’t what we ought to be. We aren’t what were going to be. We aren’t what we want to be. But, thank God, we aren’t what we were.

  10. Joe Mickey says:

    Just feedback, this seems to be making some rounds on facebook…

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