Tensions between Washington and Beijing are becoming the main intrigue of the global politics, going far beyond the Asia-Pacific region. Many experts see the so-called Arab revolutions, as well as the declared independence of South Sudan as the result of Washington`s intention to oust Beijing from oil and gas fields and routes in the Middle East. Debates have recently heated up between China and some of its neighbors over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, a group of islands located in the South China Sea. The U.S navy sent its aircraft carrier George Washington to the area, also visited by a Vietnamese delegation. And the fact that Pakistan gave Chinese military engineers access to the downed U.S. helicopter that was left behind when American special forces killed Osama bin Laden, proves that competition between Washington and Beijing in South Asia is gaining pace. This is a highly volatile region, with numerous territorial and ethnic conflicts. Besides, the countries of the region possess nukes.
Some experts believe that American diplomats have been applying in China the same 'tools' they had once used in the Soviet Union – selective cooperation and persistent deterrence. After Beijing wisely refused to accept an initiative by American political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski to create G2- an alliance between the U.S. and China, it is clear now that Washington will focus on 'deterrence'. Methods once used in the Soviet Union and now discussed in relation to China speak for themselves.
Ethnic conflicts tend to be heated up in China each time there is a lack of understanding between Washington and Beijing. Stability on the Chinese borders have been under jeopardy in recent months. The US media have not left unnoticed a series of clashes which took place in Chinese northern autonomous region of Inner Mongolia. Tension remains in the country`s western Xinjiang Uyghur region, mostly inhabited by Muslims.
But major differences still have to do with Tibet. In March 2008, when the region marked the anniversary of the 1959 uprising, just a few months before the Beijing Olympics, some areas of the so-called 'Great Tibet' were hit by mass riots, giving the rise to humanitarian rhetoric abroad. The Tibet issue is extremely popular in the West – but usually in the form of propaganda of Buddhism or biased and politicized research. Western researchers do not conceal their sympathy for Tibetans. Coupled with frequent references to the international law, this becomes a serious weapon in struggle for the rights of Tibetans in China.
Indeed, some difficulties result from Tibet`s integration into Chinese economy. However, there is evidence that efforts have been taken to preserve the unique Tibetan culture. But this hardly matters to those willing to stir up tensions in Tibet and turn it into a new volatile Chinese region. Some experts had earlier predicted that the Tibetan diasporas might develop a radical attitude to the situation. And this appears to be true. In early August aHarvard-trained legal scholar Lobsang Sangay was sworn in as new head of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama said he would remain the spiritual leader for Tibetan Buddhists.
The separation of church and state in Tibet may be viewed as a new, probably a tougher political attitude towards China. Mr. Sangay promised to reunite the Tibetan nation. Speaking during his inauguration, Sangay described Tibet as ‘occupied’ and talked about a ‘lont-term solution for the Tibet issue’, asking for help from the U.S., Europe and other ‘friends of Tibetans’. Mr. Sangay believes that ‘millions of Asian people are intersted in having Tibetans responsible for preserving the nature of the region’. The new political leader of Tibet also asked the government of India to consider Tibet as one of key issues in India-China relations. This may result in new tensions between Delhi and Beijing, with India`s enemy Islamabad supporting the Chinese ally. Thus, Tibet may stop being just a domestic issue and stir violence in South and South-Eastern Asia.
Apparently, the issues of Inner Mongolia, XinjiangUyghur and Tibet will be used against China regardless of how the events in these regions unfold. Geopolitics and attempts to weaken China`s growing influence in the region- this is what really stands behind this rhetoric about people being ‘oppressed’ by Beijing (despite the fact that they occupy almost half of the Chinese territory).
Chinais likely to adjust its model of autonomy to these changes, while the West can hardly offer Chinese and Tibetans anything new except chaos and bloody interethnic clashes similar to those taking place in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.