Twofish's Blog

March 20, 2008

Maybe not so serious concerned after all….. / Olympic torches

Filed under: china, politics, tibet — twofish @ 3:22 am

Western press reports have the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang saying that he is “seriously concerned” about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Britain.

The curious thing is that I can’t find any trace of that quote in any Chinese source. I don’t doubt that Qin Gang said it, but it is interesting that you don’t have that quote or others like it in the Chinese media. Nor do you have the standard screaming. It’s not a time issue. There is quote from the 3/19 press conference specifically about the Dalai Lama

What I think happened is that Qin Gang was reading from a script, and the script changed drastically.

Now here is the *really* interesting thing, and this *proves* that there is a lot going in under the surface.

At the same day we have talk of the Dalai Lama meeting Brown, we have a lot of news that the Olympic torch route will go through Nepal then Everest then Tibet as originally planned. At Chinese request, Nepal is planning to close the south side to Everest between May 1 and May 10 to climbers. This was announced right in the middle of the protests.

***So why are people talking about closing Everest on 5/1-5/10, if the original plan was to have the torch pass through Tibet in late June???***

Now the answer is that it may be possible to change the path of the torch so that it enters China through Tibet. The reason that becomes diplomatically significant is that the late-June original route was controversial because it showed that Tibet was an integral part of China sandwiched between two other provinces. If you put Tibet at one end of the leg, then it becomes possible to argue that Tibet is a separate country if that is your view of the world, or not, if that is also your view of the world. This was actually a big deal when people were talking about the route through Taiwan, and the route went through Hong Kong precisely so that you can argue that Taiwan is or is not part of China depending on your world view.

One problem with diplomatic messages is that you need to be able to deny that you are sending a message if you need to. Everest weather is better in May than June so the changes have nothing to do with politics, if that is your view of the world.

As far as  Taiwan goes, if Hsieh wins the election, then the torch isn’t going to pass through Taiwan.  If Ma wins the election on the basis of “one China, different interpretations” then there is no need to beat around the bush, by late June Ma will be in office, and passing the torch through Taiwan after going through Hong Kong in late June will be a way of demonstrating “one China.”


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