May 12, 2008
Pending publication of an extensive paper on Tibet, I would like to share with you one deep and worrying concern, namely the change in attitude of young Chinese as result of European behaviour over Tibet. While the PRC government may have felt it opportune to encourage – and certainly not to discourage – the young protesters, there is no doubt that the protests were genuine.
The younger generation has admired Europe for its values and its freedoms. Young Chinese feel badly let down by a media which inaccurately reported the March events, whether through ignorance, not wanting to know the facts or malice. The European Parliament has passed hostile resolutions. The leaders of the big Member States have vacillated in their positions and failed to criticise media reporting. Only José Manuel Barroso and the Commission have taken a clear and consistent line from the outset.
While Chinese leaders will no doubt look to strengthening their relationship with Europe, the effect on the young may be long-lasting. It is critically important that relations with this generation be repaired. The China we have to deal with in the future will most likely not emerge until the sixth generation of leadership in 2022 or 2027. Above all, we must build trust. Trust comes from working together. Effective working together requires mutual understanding and this is seriously lacking. Misperceptions abound, starting with Tibet and the Dalai Lama. Let’s face it: we just don’t understand each other and this is dangerous.Author : Stanley Crossick