Thu, Apr 22, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Dalai Lama's nephew praises book on China

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ross Terrill, head researcher at Harvard University's Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies and author of the book ``The New Chinese Empire.''

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

A nephew of the Dalai Lama and former member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, Khedroob Thondup, 52, yesterday expressed appreciation for Ross Terrill's new book, The New Chinese Empire, at a question-and-answer seminar the author held with academics and officials at the Taiwan Research Institute.

Terrill met with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Tuesday to discuss the book.

The seminar was held to illustrate the main ideas in the book.

Born in Calcutta, Khedroob was educated at a well-known Jesuit school in Darjeeling, India, and later at the University of San Francisco, where he was awarded an MBA.

After returning to India, he served as special assistant to the Dalai Lama and traveled extensively with him. In 1980, Khedroob was part of a special team that started dialogue between the Tibetan government-in-exile and the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Describing Tibet at the seminar as "one of the most oppressed autonomous regions without any of the freedoms that have been taken for granted in Taiwan," Khedroob, who now lives in Taiwan, lamented Beijing's grip on Tibet's religious freedom and its abuse of human rights in that country.

He asked the author, a renowned China expert, whether a genuine autonomy is acceptable to Beijing.

Terrill's answer to Khedroob's question was less than encouraging.

"Ask the people in Hong Kong in five years' time and you will have the answer," Terrill said.

The people of Hong Kong, Terrill said, had autonomy promised to them but they will find that the Communist Party will refrain from honoring that pledge.

Noting that Beijing has recently rewritten Hong Kong's Basic Law, Terrill questioned the completeness of an autonomy "that is not guaranteed by law."

If China were to give Taiwan autonomy, according to Terrill, that autonomy would become "a tight noose" around the country's neck.

Urging the Taiwanese people to unite, Terrill predicted that Taiwan would eventually become an independent country. Taiwan's status preserves a balance of power in East Asia, but most countries, though aware of the situation, would not like to talk much about it, he said.

The Chinese leadership, dominated by their imperial mentality, craves respect and does not pay much attention to their country's neighbors, Terril said.

China's attitude towards Taiwan has been "arrogant and insulting," he said, referring to Beijing's labeling of Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) as "scum of the nation" and its vitriol against Chen.

Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), director of foreign policy studies at the Taiwan Thinktank, asked Terrill what might happen to the power vacuum left by China should the country collapse in the way the Soviet Union did.

Terril said it is possible that a democratic federation could replace the China of today.

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