Same conversation. Different viewpoints:
BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his British counterpart Gordon Brown talked over the phone on Wednesday, with both sides pledging to boost bilateral ties.
Wen said that the Sino-British relationship has entered a new phase of development and China is willing to work with Britain to maintain high-level contact between the two countries.
With various mechanisms of bilateral communication, the two countries could improve mutual understanding, enhance mutual trust, expand cooperation and push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides, the Chinese premier said.
Brown said Britain has dedicated great efforts to the development of ties with China and is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in a wide range of areas.
The British prime minister also said he believed the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be a success and he himself will come to Beijing for the event.
During the phone conversation, Wen also briefed Brown about the recent riot in China’s Tibet and reiterated the stance of the Chinese government on the issue.
For his part, Brown said that Britain also opposes violent criminal acts.
at the same time here is what Brown said in the House of Commons.
Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): The whole world will have been shocked by the pictures on television last night of the security crackdown and the dead bodies on the streets of Lhasa and other parts of Tibet. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that, yes, our relationship with China is vital, and China is a major power, but we must be absolutely clear in telling the Chinese Government that this is completely unacceptable?
The Prime Minister: I spoke to Premier Wen of China this morning, and I made it absolutely clear that there had to be an end to violence in Tibet. I hope that Members on both sides of the House will agree with that. I also called for constraint, and I called for an end to the violence by dialogue between the different parties. The Premier told me that subject to two things that the Dalai Lama has already said—that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence—he would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama. I will meet the Dalai Lama when he is in London. I think it is important that we all facilitate discussions, but the most important thing at the moment is to bring about an end to the violence, to see reconciliation, and to see legitimate talks taking place between those people in China.
Mr. Cameron: Can I congratulate the Prime Minister on making absolutely the right decision with regard to the Dalai Lama? It is a difficult decision, but it would not have been made any better by delaying it, and I congratulate him on doing the right thing.
The Prime Minister: We make the right decisions at all times.
(Note here that Cameron didn’t mention the Dalai Lama in his question, and there isn’t a huge amount of political pressure for Brown to announce right there that he was meeting the Dalai Lama. I have a feeling that Brown came into Common’s secretly smiling since he knew that Tibet would come up, and that he had a card to play.)
and then this from the LA Times
Chinese officials, however, have directed much of their rhetorical fire at the Tibetan leader.“We are now engaged in a fierce blood-and-fire battle with the Dalai clique, a life-and-death battle between us and the enemy,” Tibet’s Communist Party chief Zhang Qingli was quoted as saying by the state-run Tibetan Daily today.Zhang called the Dalai Lama “a wolf in monk’s robe, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast.”
I think Mr. Zhang is out of the loop here, and probably should be looking for a new job sometime soon.
My reconstruction of events here is that I think that the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama were actually talking to each other before last week. When the initial demonstrations came out there was probably some sort of informal agreement that Dalai Lama would keep the demonstrations under control and in return Beijing would not send in the police. Something that is forgetting is that you have peaceful demonstrations with the police looking on for about three days before everything fell apart.
What no one counted on was that they would spread out of control into violent riots. It’s the dictators dilemma. If you keep up the pressure, people will hate you, but if you ease up on the pressure a little bit, then people will take advantage of that and start expressing anger and hatred they had been keeping inside for decades. This is why I’m somewhat of the Communist sympathizer. Even if you are a good person that wants to introduce democracy and liberal policies, you have to realize that you are defusing a bomb. The moment people look around and realize that they *can* express what they have been bottling up for years and years, you end up with an explosion.
The reason that Beijing has been screaming at the Dalai Lama is that it looks to some people there that he had set a trap in order to intentionally make Beijing look bad and derail the Olympics.
What I think has happened in the last 48 hours is that Beijing has concluded that it wasn’t a trap, and the Dalai Lama’s public offer to “resign” if the violence continued pushed Beijing to conclude that he was sincere.
This is all total speculation and could be all wrong. Part of the reason I can blog on this is that I have absolutely no inside knowledge at all about any of this, just some general knowledge about how big bureaucratic organizations work, since I’ve been in them. If I did have any real inside knowledge about what is really going on, I couldn’t talk about it. The bureaucrat’s dilemma. People who know, can’t talk. People who talk, don’t know.
Part of me wonders if there is a blog somewhere by some low ranking official in the Chinese government, who has a lot of juicy information about what is going on in Tibet can’t say anything, but is venting his frustration by using is knowledge of how people work within bureaucracies to write some analysis about the events on Wall Street last week.