With the release of the Australia in the Asian Century report, it is hoped that Tibet does not become a forgotten part of Asia
TOOWOOMBA, Australia, 12 November 2012
The recently-released Australia in the Asian Century report has received accolades for finding an economic flight-path into developing sustainable relationships between Australia and its geographic neighbours, specifically the PRC (People’s Republic of China).
However, in its 320 pages not once is the issue of human rights raised. In Australian politics, Tibet seems to be not on the agenda any more.
With seven self-immolations as of 11 November 2012, it would be a good time for the Australian government to address what happened (and is still happening) in Tibet.
Australia, a stone’s throw away from the Asian continent, could possibly be a key in the process of bringing about long-term peace between the PRC government and the Tibetan people.
This is even more pertinent since Australia’s election onto the United Nations Security Council for 2012-2013.
Some of the results of the report seem to confirm Tibetan fears of being forgotten by the West, as detailed below:
Australia’s integration into Asia has been and is contributing to our national prosperity, to our vibrant and diverse society, and to our security.
A shift towards neo-conservatism in Australia arguably means there will be an emphasis on fiscal development between the country and Asian nations, rather than human rights development. It is likely Tibet will become less of an issue for Australian politicians in years to come, as their goal will be to forge strong trading relationships.
Australia and other countries in Asia must adapt to fluid and interconnected regional dynamics.
Business and education partnerships are emphasised in this report, as opposed to partnerships to bring about peace and stability in the Asia region. Tibet is in dire need of Western pressure on the PRC to adopt the “Middle-way” approach of the Central Tibetan Administration. It seems that the pressure will be unlikely to come from Australia, when its export industry relies on the PRC’s prosperity.
A web of interpersonal connections is bringing people in Asia closer together. But other forces, such as nationalism, often linked to historical and cultural frictions, challenge this trend.
No further exploration of this statement was detailed thereafter in the report. Whether this was a reference to Tibet remains completely up to the reader to determine.
US active engagement in the region has been an important factor underwriting regional security.
Here the report certainly makes reference to the US influence in Asia. Under the Bush administration, the US declared a pro-Tibetan stance. However with little action taken after this event to assist the Tibetan people, it could arguably be said that this move was more anti-China than pro-Tibet. President Barack Obama has also done nothing in regard to the issue of Tibet. The President-elect is touted by Tibetans as their “only hope”; however the sad part is he will likely continue his silence throughout his second term. FreeTibet.com details their concerns in this Youtube video
In June 2012, Sikyong, or the political leader of the exile Tibetans, Dr Lobsang Sangay visited Australia for a series of meetings. Sikyong Sangay was denied permission to see any ministers from the Australian government. He suggested that the West purposely does not want to hear “both sides of the argument [about Tibet]”.
Silence and omission seem to be the standard response of Western governments about what is happening in Tibet; Australia is no exception and this report is evidence of that.
With some pressure, and with due time, we can only hope the issues surrounding Tibet is addressed in an appendix to the report.
The full report of Australia in the Asian Century can be found here [PDF – 990 KB].
About the author
Kiara O'Gorman is a freelance writer and media consultant who currently lives in Toowoomba, Queensland. Next year she hopes to be able to assist non-profits from foreign countries market themselves using the English language effectively.