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November 25th, 2008
03:49 PM ET

Did Britain just sell Tibet?

Tibetan monks in exile read prayers during a protest in New Delhi, India.

Tibetan monks in exile read prayers during a protest in New Delhi, India.

Robert Barnett
The New York Times

The financial crisis is going to do more than increase unemployment, bankruptcy and homelessness. It is also likely to reshape international alignments, sometimes in ways that we would not expect.

As Western powers struggle with the huge scale of the measures needed to revive their economies, they have turned increasingly to China. Last month, for example, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, asked China to give money to the International Monetary Fund, in return for which Beijing would expect an increase in its voting share.

Now there is speculation that a trade-off for this arrangement involved a major shift in the British position on Tibet, whose leading representatives in exile this weekend called on their leader, the Dalai Lama, to stop sending envoys to Beijing — bringing the faltering talks between China and the exiles to a standstill.

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Robert Barnett