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China’s Perfect Storm

New York – A perfect storm is brewing that could threaten China’s relations with the world. Although some China bashers in the West and nationalists in China may be rejoicing, the potential deterioration of China’s international relations serves nobody’s interest and threatens to undermine global peace and security.

As the Beijing Olympics approach, what the Chinese seem to want most – that the Games herald China’s return as a leader among nations – appears close to slipping from their grasp. If things go wrong, China could move to embrace isolation.

The uprising in Tibet, and the government’s response, have highlighted ethnic tensions within China that the Chinese government is having difficulty managing. Politically unable to accept or sufficiently address the aspirations of the Tibetan protestors, China’s authorities have focused almost exclusively on the narrow law-and-order issues connected with the violence in March.

For many in the West who sympathize with Tibetans’ aspirations for more meaningful autonomy under Chinese sovereignty, China’s crackdown, vilification of the Dalai Lama, and hard-line approach have fueled disenchantment. Many Chinese, however, came to view pro-Tibetan protests in Paris, London, San Francisco, Delhi, and elsewhere as an effort to sabotage the Olympics and keep China down after almost two centuries of perceived national humiliation.