Understandably perturbed over the barrage of criticism his country is facing on the eve of an event — the Olympics — it had staked its prestige on, the Chinese Consul General in Kolkata, Mao Siwei, declared that mixing sport and politics, as the Tibetans and some of their supporters were trying to do, was a tactic reminiscent of the Cold War years.
“To mix politics with the Olympics is Cold War thinking,” he said in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times. “The Moscow Olympics in 1980 and the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 were unfortunately boycotted. Olympics are hosted by individual cities and nations, but they belong to the world and this should be understood by all.”
While praising Indian sportspersons for their understanding Mao however, refused to say a word about Baichung Bhutia, who has refused to carry the Olympic flame to show solidarity with the Tibetans.
“The Chinese people from all strata of life are trying their best to ensure the success of Beijing Olympics,” the envoy added. “The feelings of one-fifth of humanity (China’s population) ought to be respected.”
Mao strongly denied reports in the international media that around 100 peaceful Tibetan protesters had been killed during the crackdown in Lhasa on March 14. “The truth is just the opposite. In fact there were anti-Chinese riots in Lhasa, with hundreds of Han Chinese and Muslims being attacked and wounded,” he maintained. “Around 20 of them were killed, shops were burnt and even schools attacked. Some Western tourists, who fled Lhasa at the time have said they saw Tibetan mobs randomly turning on anyone who seemed to be Chinese,” he stated.
These violent acts by Tibetans rioters have “undermined Dalai Lama’s long-standing creed of non-violent resistance,” Mao felt. “Now Dharamsala claims that China was staging the violence. The Dalai Lama even said that the rioters all looked like Chinese people dressed like Tibetans,” he said. “It is as ridiculous as claiming that Americans plotted the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.”
Mao pointed out that although the Dalai Lama repeatedly said he was not seeking Tibet’s independence, his autobiography Freedom in Exile, published a year after he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, had stated otherwise. “His autobiography includes a map, which not only marked ‘Great Tibet’ an independent country but also included parts of Sinkiang or East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia and Northeast China and Manchuria in it. A most ambitious vision,” he remarked sarcastically.