Most people would not hesitate to give a helping hand to a hapless kindergarten pupil being bullied by peers. But would they do the same if they came across a man under attack from a group of well-built aggressors with baseball bats? Probably not. The difference between the two situations is analogous to that between Kosovo and Tibet.

The former was fighting for independence from Yugoslavia, which, unlike China, was not intimidating enough to prevent NATO intervention and Kosovo’s eventual declaration of independence. Meanwhile, Tibetans have been under brutal Chinese rule for nearly 60 years, with their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama living in exile and struggling for true freedom for his people. During this period, the uniqueness of Tibetan culture has been gradually degraded partly because of China’s policy of encouraging members of the ethnic Han majority to migrate to the region, leading to what the Dalai Lama recently called “cultural genocide.” Despite this, the international community has done nothing significant.

Although hundreds of Tibetans led by Buddhist monks are reported to have taken to the streets in protest only to be repressed by Chinese authorities, how many countries are ready to come to the rescue? Is NATO, which helped realize the dream of the Kosovars, willing to fight against the People’s Liberation Army to liberate Tibetans? None of them are.

Since the Kosovar Assembly approved its declaration of independence in February, several countries, including the United States and Britain (and now Japan), have announced their recognition. Would those countries support the Tibetans if they tried to declare independence from China? None would.

takeshi suzuki