A leading U.S. senator and one-time presidential candidate is warning China, “the Arab Spring is coming.”
Republican Senator John McCain made the comment to Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun Saturday during a high level security conference in Munich.
McCain, in his Arab Spring warning, referenced the recent self-immolations by Tibetan monks to protest Chinese rule in Tibet. He said, ” there is not a way that you will be able to stifle it completely because of these devices,” while pointing to a mobile phone.
Meanwhile, reports from Tibet say three more Tibetans set themselves on fire Friday in the town of Serthar in Sichuan province. Two survived and one is feared dead.
In the past year, 16 other Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks and nuns, have died by setting themselves on fire in protests against Chinese rule.
Regional tensions intensified in March of last year when a young Buddhist monk, demanding the return of exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, set himself on fire and died at a monastery in Sichuan.
China seized control of Tibet more than 50 years ago, forcing the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders to flee to northern India. Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting to separate Tibet from the rest of China, a charge that he denies.
Many Tibetans accuse the Chinese government of working to erode their culture and faith, and resent the large-scale migration of China's ethnic Han majority into Tibetan areas.
McCain also raised concern about China's activities in the tense South China Sea. Several East Asian countries claim part of the sea, which holds abundant natural resources, but China claims the entire area as its own.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang told the conference that as his country continues to develop it has a bigger stake in peace and stability. He said, “There is no reason for us to upset the situation.”