Beijing urged by Hong Kong Christians to talk to Tibetans

By Ecumenical News International
March 21, 2008

Hong Kong Christians have urged the Chinese government in Beijing to stop its suppression of peaceful demonstrations in Tibet and to talk to the Tibetan people - writes Francis Wong.

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission protested on 19 March at the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong, pleading for a halt to the crackdown in Tibet on peaceful demonstrations, and calling for dialogue with Tibetans.

On the same day in Seoul, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea urged that the Chinese government "respect the right of the Tibetan people to determine their destiny themselves".

The Korean church's general secretary, the Rev. Yoon Kil-Soo, said his church was also urging that Chinese and Tibetan leaders "immediately begin a dialogue to achieve peace and to seek political, economic and cultural solutions mutually beneficial to both Chinese and Tibetan peoples."

Neither statement made mention of the exiled Dalai Lama, the highest leader of Tibet Buddhism, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Tibet's Communist Party chief Zhang Qingli was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "The Dalai is a wolf in monk's robes, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast." He said, "We are now engaged in a fierce blood-and-fire battle with the Dalai clique, a life-and-death battle between us and the enemy."

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet during a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, and he has urged his followers not to resort to violence. He has said he would resign as head of the Tibetan government-in-exile if protests get out of control. The Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy for Tibet, but not independence.

In Hong Kong, the Catholic commission said in its statement, "The Chinese government not only suppressed the demonstrators, it also ignored the freedom of the press by stopping Hong Kong reporters working in Tibet and escorting them out." The commission said that religious freedom was of vital importance to religious groups, and they shared difficulties similar to those of Tibetans, whose religious practices often faced interference by the government. It asked the Chinese government to respect the religious and cultural tradition of the Tibetans.

A Protestant pastor, the Rev. Kwok Nai-Wang, told Ecumenical Neews International that he shared the concern of the Catholic commission. "The Beijing government is offering economic benefits to Tibetan people, while it takes a hard stand in the political sphere," Kwok said. "Beijing should know that 'man does not live by bread alone'. The Tibetan people are not satisfied with the harsh rule they endure."

Kwok said that the Chinese government should not stop reporters going to Tibet. He feared that there would be no independent and free media to witness what had happened there. Kwok, who is an honorary pastor of the Kowloon Union Church, said it was good for international communities to show stronger concern about Tibetan affairs. The Union Church had bean a Tibet Charity Education Centre for Tibetan nationals in exile a few years ago.

The current Tibet demonstration started on 10 March to mark the uprising against the Chinese imposition of rule in 1959.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

Keywords:tibet | hong kong | china | beijing
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