Question time on Thursday gave me the opportunity to make a point about training the Iraqi army and also about Chinese repression in Tibet. These are both contentious issues.
Iraq. Whatever your views about the invasion of Iraq I hope people will agree that training the Iraqi army is vital for the future stability of the state. I make the point (by implication) in the question that disbanding the army and police on May 18th and May 23rd 2003 was a very serious mistake. We should have started the training there and then and simply replaced the senior Ba’thist officers as we had done with other deposed dictatorships.
See the question and the Minister’s answer here. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/text/80320-0001.htm
Tibet. This requires some very clear speaking but also some hard reality about China’s growing strength recognising the changes they have made since the really hard line dictatorship of Mao. There is strong evidence of racism by the Han Chinese against the Tibetans and vice versa. The Chinese are very keen to stress that they are building the rule of law which is why I want the British government to emphasise that in the current talks. I think we have a much harder problem persuading them to relax media controls but we might make some progress persuading them to open a channel of communication with the Dalai Lama.
The Chinese do have a positive relationship with us. I have occasional talks with some of the leadership groups and they are clearly trying to liberalise but there is a constant fear of losing control – something that has trouble China’s leaders for centuries.
Here is the question. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/text/80320-0002.htm