Riots in Tibet in March this year marked a failed uprising against Chinese domination half a century ago, and were put down with the same rigour. This pricked the international conscience over China’s human rights record.
Tibet supporters in the European Parliament said open dialogue is vital: “I think the Chinese people they have to learn also in longer circumstances because the most important is to respect the people who are living there, otherwise there’s no chance for the people in China to survive without conflicts, without revolution, without bombs and so on. The way of the Dalai Lama is the best what we have.” A trade-keen Europe vacillated in the run up to the Beijing Olympics. Protests in London proved more than the police could cope with.
Analyst Jonathan Holslag said European ambivalence helps perpetuate problems in the EU-China relationship: “If you (had) a strong common European position endorsed by the European Council, at least, it would be not easier for the Chinese to accept but to deal with. If you compare for instance to the USA there the Dalai Lama too was received by even the American president, it was difficult for China but somehow they learned to live with it.” 49 years ago, China crushed Tibet’s revolt. In those days it was largely isolated from the world. Not now.