| The 14th DALAI LAMA of Tibet teaches Buddhism sponsored by the TIBETAN MONGOLIAN CULTURAL CENTER BLOOMINGTON INDIANA | MR Online The 14th DALAI LAMA of Tibet teaches Buddhism sponsored by the TIBETAN MONGOLIAN CULTURAL CENTER – BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA

U.S. ready to play ‘Tibet card’ – Asian Media report

Originally published: Pearls and Irritations on July 6, 2024 by David Armstrong (more by Pearls and Irritations) (Posted Jul 09, 2024)

The U.S., likely supported by India, is preparing to play the “Tibet card”—to add another Asian crisis point to its confrontation with China, along with Taiwan, the South China Sea and islands claimed by Japan and China.

One of the signs that the U.S. intends to raise the temperature on Tibet was a recent visit to India by a Congressional delegation that included Nancy Pelosi, now with the title of Speaker Emerita.

The group met the Dalai Lama in the northern town of Dharamsala, seat of his government-in-exile. Pelosi was allowed to address the Tibetan parliament-in-exile.

The Indian Express reported Pelosi piled praise on the Dalai Lama, speaking of his knowledge, tradition, compassion, purity of soul and love. But she dismissed the notion that China’s President, Xi Jinping, would leave a legacy.

Ravi Velloor, a senior columnist with Singapore’s The Straits Times, noted this week in a detailed analytical piece the trip followed the passage by Congress of a Bill on Tibet that pressed China to engage the Dalai Lama without preconditions and rejected Beijing’s claim that Tibet had been part of China since ancient times. The Bill is awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature.

Velloor said that while in New Delhi the delegation met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. The group also had a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the administration’s top Asia hand, Kurt Campbell.

“These things do not happen by accident,” Velloor said.

The rest of us must recognise the developments for what they are: a disturbing and potentially dangerous new turn that adds the Tibet border to other Asian flashpoints.

America was trying to get India into a tighter strategic embrace against China, he wrote.

New Delhi appears increasingly receptive.

India, he said, might be getting ready to drop its resistance to turning the Quad—the U.S., Japan, India and Australia—into more of a security partnership.

South China Morning Post reported that China issued a stern warning after the delegation arrived in Dharamsala, vowing “resolute measures” if the U.S. failed to stick by its commitment to recognise Tibet as part of China.

It said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian had called the Dalai Lama a political exile engaged in anti-China separatist activities.

Lin said China urged the U.S. to have no contact with the Dalai Lama. Specifically, he warned Biden not to sign the recently passed Tibet Bill.

Lin used the Chinese name Xizang—the pinyin, or Chinese romanisation, of the Mandarin script for Tibet.

In a separate story, the Post said Beijing’s use of Xizang was a way to show its sovereignty over the region.

The story quoted La Xianjia, a senior religious studies official, as asserting Beijing’s right to identify the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, who is expected to announce his own decision in a year’s time.

Thailand banks boost death trade

Singapore last year clamped down on companies supplying weapons to the Myanmar junta but Thai banks and companies have moved in to fill the gap.

A report by Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, says:

Thailand has now become the [junta’s] leading source of military supplies purchased through the international banking system.

His report, “Banking on the Death Trade: How Banks and Governments Enable the Military Junta in Myanmar,” is covered by the exile news website The Irrawaddy. According to the news site, an earlier report by Andrews found that Singapore-based companies had become the junta’s third-biggest source of military-related materials.

The Singapore Government investigated the report and the flow of weapons and related materials dropped by almost 90 percent. But exports by Thailand-registered entities doubled from about $US 60 million in 2022-23 to almost $US 130 million the following year.
Singapore would continue to try to stop the junta accessing military supplies, The Straits Times reported. It quoted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying the country would be careful not to block legitimate trade.

The Thai Bankers’ Association said it was firmly opposed to facilitating transactions for procuring weapons for the junta, Bangkok Post said. It reported the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying Thailand followed the same protocols as other financial hubs. The Government, however, would look into the arms-financing report.

The Post also said Myanmar’s central bank had denied that the military government had used Thai banks to access money and weapons for its war against anti-coup forces.

Hindu-right eyes Jewish-state model

India has traditionally supported Palestine. In 1988, it became the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestinian statehood. Although it recognised Israel in 1950, it did not fully normalise relations until 1992.

But during Narendra Modi’s prime ministership, ties between India and Israel have grown much closer, says a feature article in The Diplomat, an Asian news and analysis website.

Three factors explain the upsurge in pro-Israel feeling, the article says—empathy towards Israel over Islamic terrorist attacks; extensive people-to-people and trade ties; and the affinity of the Hindu-right for Israel as an ideological and political model.

It says:

It is often said that [the Hindu-right] seek to create a Hindu Israel in India…a society that gives pride of place to its dominant cultural group and its norms, where minorities are managed.

The Hindu-right want to shepherd India away from its constitutionally mandated secular status towards something closer to Israel’s Jewish state model, where all groups have equal civic rights but the dominant group has preferential treatment.

“A major factor in the upsurge of Indian favourability to Israel is that Israel is a contemporary example of a modern ethnostate,” the article says.

One that combines ancient culture with modern prosperity, technological prowess and military success.

An opinion piece published by The Hindu newspaper expresses concern that Modi’s recently re-elected government will continue to pursue anti-Muslim policies, even though his Bharatiya Janata Party did not win a majority in its own right.

The author, Shaikh Mujibur Rehman, who teaches at Jamia Millia Central University in New Delhi, doubts that the rebuff will change the Government’s approach.

“The 2024 election campaign orchestrated by [Modi] stands out as the epitome of Islamophobia,” the article says. “[The] campaign was likely orchestrated not only for electoral gains but also to cultivate a conducive atmosphere for the Hindu Rashtra (polity) by delineating Muslims as the undesirable ‘Other’ and unworthy of equal rights.

Superpowers in Asia valued for education, economy

While many Australians look on China with trepidation, people who live closer to the supposed alarming threat take a more placid, positive view.

On the other hand, anti-American sentiment is not as deep-seated as it is among left-leaning Australians.

People in Thailand, for instance, see China as the most influential country in Asia, far ahead of those who think the U.S. is the most important.

The Asia Foundation, an international development organisation headquartered in the U.S., carried out a survey of Thai attitudes over the second half of last year. Bangkok Post reported the results and said it was the first poll to examine Thai opinion on foreign policy and international affairs.

Thais generally saw both China and the U.S. as having a largely positive impact on peace and security in Asia, the report said.

“Their economic ties and educational links [are] seen as more valuable than military or governance influence,” the paper said.

Most people wanted Thailand to maintain good relations with both superpowers. In the event of war 86 per cent of Thais would want their country to remain neutral.

But more than 70 per cent expected China to be the dominant power over the next decade. Only 15 per cent thought the U.S. would be ascendant.

In Indonesia, however, the government is getting anxious about China’s economic strength. It is planning to impose tariffs of between 100 per cent and 200 per cent on Chinese imports, because of oversupply in Asia flowing from increased tariffs on Chinese goods in Western markets.

The Jakarta Post said local importers opposed the plan. Indonesia Importers Association chairman Subandi said:

If [the government] is serious about this, we’re dead.

‘Big bazooka’ needed to blast property crisis

A big challenge confronting this month’s delayed third plenum of the Chinese Communist Party is stopping the country sliding into long-term economic doldrums—like the malaise that afflicted Japan in the 1990s.

An analysis in Singapore’s The Straits Times says the parallels between Japan after 1990 and China today are stunning.

The article is a scene-setter for the plenum, a gathering of 400 political leaders, officials, provincial bosses, military chiefs and academics, to be held from July 15-to-18. It is written by Vikram Khanna, one of the paper’s senior columnists.

He draws on a recent talk by Professor Stephen Roach, an economist and China scholar now at Yale University, to list the similarities.

They are: deflation (or falling prices); a bursting property bubble; a high level of private debt; an ageing population; and a decline in productivity.

“Finally, both Japan and China have faced trade conflicts with the US: Japan in the 1970s and 1980s and China, today,” Khanna writes.

He says Roach suggests that to tackle the property crisis China will need a “big bazooka”—a financing package that errs on the side of doing too much.

Khanna says: “To benefit from its latent advantages and avoid a Japan-style ‘lost decade,’ China will need to launch major initiatives, including a big fiscal stimulus, a much larger property rescue package, an expansion of social safety nets, radical reform of its hukou (household registration) system, relaxed regulations affecting the private sector, and whatever it can do to curtail the geopolitical risks it faces so that it can, over time, regain access to its big markets in the West.

What all this adds up to is nothing less than a change in its economic model. If [the] third plenum can signal a start to this process, it will be a game changer, not only for China but also for the world.

But the message from a long Bloomberg analysis, published by The Japan Times, is not to expect too much.

On the cards, Bloomberg says, is everything from chip technology to land reform, to a revamp of consumption taxes.

“What isn’t expected is the kind of major policy pivot that’s often been seen in the past,” the article says.

Gambling addiction grabs would-be protectors

Addiction to online gambling is not just a “first-world” disease.

According to The Jakarta Post, it has become entrenched in Indonesian society.

In an Editorial Board commentary, the paper says people who are meant to protect society—legislators, civil servants, the police and military personnel—have taken part in online gambling.

Gambling, online or offline, is a crime and can incur prison sentences. But the supposed protectors are just as vulnerable as the rest of society.

“Online gambling is addictive but most people are unaware of the profound psychological and financial toll it poses,” the paper says.

Algorithms that let players win in the beginning entice new users but when people become hooked the more they play, the more they lose.

Players include very young people—children under 10 years of age.

The Government has blocked more than one million sites in the past six months but new sites continue to pop up, with many using servers in other countries, such as Cambodia and the Philippines.

“Online gambling has become an epidemic and the complexity of the problem requires a serious government response,” the paper says.

Blocking websites is not as effective as cracking down on bookies and operators, removing ads and restricting payment gateways.

David Armstrong is an Australian journalist and editor with decades of experience, including as editor-in-chief of The Australian, editor of The Bulletin and The Canberra Times and deputy editor the Daily Telegraph in Australia. He is also former editor and editor-in-chief of the South China Morning Post, former president of the Bangkok Post company, former chair of the Phnom Penh Post company and is current chair of ucanews.com.

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.