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Tibet's only hope
China's crackdown on Tibetan Buddhist protesters shows "that far too little has changed" since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, said The Wall Street Journal. Beijing might try "allowing Tibetans to practice their religion freely" if
W
hat happened
The Dalai Lama called China’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters “cultural genocide,” and called for an international inquiry into the suppression of Tibetan Buddhists’ uprising against Chinese rule. (The New York Times, free registration) China said it had exercised great restraint in the face of what it called violent protests aiming to tarnish this summer’s Beijing Olympics. (Reuters)

What the commentators said
“The Olympics were supposed to be a showcase for Chinese progress,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editiorial. “Instead, the government's fear of political dissent and its authoritarian overreaction are showing the world that far too little has changed” since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. If Beijing wants to bring calm to Lhasa, “allowing Tibetans to practice their religion freely would be a good place to start.” Cracking heads is not.

If only China would talk to the Dalai Lama, said The Washington Post in an editorial (free registration). The exiled religious leader of Tibet has condemned the crackdown, which has already killed “anywhere between a handful and a hundred Tibetans,” but he has also “exhorted Tibetans to refrain from violence.” World leaders should continue to urge China to work with the Dalai Lama. He has acknowledged Chinese rule, and “asked only for greater cultural independence for his people.”

If the Dalai Lama wants only greater autonomy, said Wang Jiaquan of China’s Xinhua News Agency, why have his followers “turned the tranquil holy city of Lhasa into a land of terror”? They have run through the streets, “yelled independence, attacked police, smashed windows, robbed shops, and set cars and a mosque ablaze.” The "self-proclaimed peace preacher" is responsible for the violence.

The Chinese government and the protesters certainly give different accounts of the clashes, said Madhur Singh and Simon Robinson on Time.com. But one thing is certain. “The latest protests may mark a more serious shift towards confrontation.” Young protesters are clearly tiring of the moderation and renunciation of violence by the Dalai Lama and other exiled leaders. “The current uprising is a sign that the prospects for a compromise with Beijing are dimming.”

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