You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Inside China: China and its exiles

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As its influence continues to grow on the world stage, China has one major demand that the rest of the world is finding more and more difficult to accept: stay away from those people Beijing dislikes and views as undesirable.

And that would include the exiled 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, exiled Uighur Muslim activists from China's Xinjiang region, exiled dissidents and all government officials, elected or otherwise, of Taiwan.

China is pressing this demand with sheer determination and is willing to risk some of its most valued bilateral relationships.

Last week, the Dalai Lama was in London to accept the prestigious Templeton Award for his tireless efforts to promote religious understanding. While there, he revealed that the Chinese might have sent assassins to kill him with poison.

Before the ceremony, Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition partner Nick Clegg met the Tibetan spiritual leader on May 14, not at 10 Downing Street, but at St. Paul's Cathedral.

The Chinese government immediately protested loudly to the British government. Within hours, China's Deputy Foreign Minister Song Tao summoned the Britain's ambassador to Beijing, Sebastian Wood, for a stern talk.

"The British side has done harm to China's core interest," Mr. Song said to Mr. Wood. "You have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. We are now expressing our severe unhappiness and are resolutely opposed to this [meeting with the Dalai Lama]."

Mr. Song's dressing-down continued, "The Dalai [Lama] is the overall representative of Tibetan independent forces. He is an exiled politician disguised in a religious cloak, devoted to activities aimed at splitting China."

As Mr. Wood carefully listened, Mr. Song concluded by saying, as reported by the official website of Chinese Foreign Ministry, "We demand the British side seriously treat our position and concerns, fully realize the severe consequences of [this meeting], take real actions to correct its misdeed."

Half a world away in Japan, a group of 120 exiled Uighur activists called the World Uighur Congress began a four-day meeting in Tokyo on Monday.

China has expressed outrage against the Japanese government for issuing visas to the Uighurs, especially the female leader of the group, Rebiya Kadeer.

"Anti-China separatists from the World Uighur Congress have colluded with Japan's right-wing forces and exposed their political determination to separate their homeland and undermine China-Japan relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a press conference on Monday.

In further protest, on Tuesday Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with a Japanese business lobby group. No explanation was provided for the cancellation.

China calls the group "terrorists" ineligible for visas by any government.

The Japanese government states that as long as there are no international arrest warrants on these activists, they cannot be turned down for visas.

PLA VETERAN STEALS TAIWAN MEDAL

Under President Ma Yin-jeou, Taiwan has opened itself to waves of tourists from mainland China. This is causing some major headaches for Taiwan's security officials as the tense military hostility on both sides of the Taiwan Strait still remains a clear and present danger.

Some visitors to the island have been caught snapping pictures of sensitive military facilities in the democratic-ruled state, and others were seen as overtly curious about sensitive defense issues.

But none has matched the notoriety gained by a 77-year-old former People's Liberation Army tank commander named Qiao Zhaoqing during his Taiwan visit.

On May 4, a group of Chinese tourists paid visit to a military museum on the famed Quemoy [Kinmen] island, Taiwan's frontline of defense against the mainland. Quemoy island was at the center of the communist government's regular artillery barrage starting in the 1950s until 1979 when President Jimmy Carter's administration recognized the Beijing government.

At the museum was a prized medal won by the two-time garrison chief of Quemoy Gen. Hu Lian. The Medal of the Blue Sky and the White Sun is the highest military medal bestowed by the Taiwanese government. After the visitors left, museum staff discovered the medal was missing.

Security videotape revealed the suspect was an old man belonging to the tourist group. Police cooperated with the Chinese local authorities and arrested the suspect on an express train to his home province of Helongjiang in Northeast China. The police also found the stolen medal in Mr. Qiao's luggage.

It turned out that Mr. Qiao was a well-known PLA tank commander reportedly responsible for destroying at least four American tanks in the Korean War.

But before that, he had fought with the tanks commanded by Gen. Hu Lian during the Chinese Civil War in the late 1940s.

Apparently, he just wanted to have a souvenir of some real value.

Miles Yu's columns appear Thursdays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.