"Last month, for example, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, asked China to give money to the International Monetary Fund, in return for which Beijing would expect an increase in its voting share.
Now there is speculation that a trade-off for this arrangement involved a major shift in the British position on Tibet, whose leading representatives in exile this weekend called on their leader, the Dalai Lama, to stop sending envoys to Beijing — bringing the faltering talks between China and the exiles to a standstill.
The exiles’ decision followed an announcement on Oct. 29 by David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, that after almost a century of recognizing Tibet as an autonomous entity, Britain had changed its mind. Mr. Miliband said that Britain had decided to recognize Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China. He even apologized that Britain had not done so earlier.
Until that day, the British had described Tibet as autonomous, with China having a “special position” there. This formula did not endorse the Tibetan claim to independence. But it meant that in the British view China’s control over Tibet was limited to a condition once known as suzerainty, somewhat similar to administering a protectorate. Britain, alone among major powers, had exchanged official agreements with the Tibetan government before the Chinese takeover in 1951, so it could scarcely have said otherwise unless it was to vitiate those agreements.
After the People’s Republic of China joined the United Nations in 1971, British politicians refrained from referring to their country’s recognition of Tibet’s autonomy to avoid embarrassing Beijing. But that didn’t make it less significant. It remained the silent but enduring legal basis for 30 years of talks between the Dalai Lama and Beijing, in which the Tibetans have called only for autonomy and not independence — a position that a conference of Tibetan exiles in India reaffirmed on Saturday.Mr. Miliband described the British position as an anachronism and a colonial legacy. It certainly emerged out of a shabby episode in colonial history, Francis Younghusband’s cavalier invasion of Tibet in 1903. But the British description of Tibet’s status in the era before the modern nation-state was more finely tuned than the versions claimed by Beijing or many exiles, and it was close to the findings of most historians.
To read the full article click here http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/opinion/25barnett.html?_r=2&scp=2&sq=tibet&st=cse
I have blogged before on Labour's failure to implement ethical foreign policy.
There are a number of organisations that help those in Tibet. If you want to take a stand then you can donate to any of the following