John Humphrys interviewed two people for the feature: China-Tibet expert Isabel Hilton and the Dalai Lama's representative in London, Thubten Samdup. Looking ahead, Hilton pointed out that the Chinese will most likely to try to 'interfere' with the identification of the next incarnation of the Lama and will try to choose their own 'puppet', 'someone who they can manipulate'. Humphreys conjectured that this might mean that Tibetans were 'fighting a losing battle'. Samdup, naturally, praised the Dalai Lama for having kept the Tibetan 'issue' in the public eye (which it certainly has been - consider the amount of fuss made in Western media about China's role in Tibet, while the far worse Indian oppression in Kashmir - to take just one example - is ignored).
The one-sidedness of even this brief report is striking. Hilton's analysis was both eloquent and accurate as far as it went. But can one imagine British news reports using these same terms - 'puppet', 'interference', and 'manipulation' - in relation to Western states, which also interfere in other countries and manipulate their own regional puppets? And can one imagine the BBC extending its scepticism about China to the Dalai Lama, a CIA-sponsored nationalist reactionary who believes that the rich deserve their wealth because of their good deeds and who supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the bombing of Yugoslavia in the 1990s (those seeking a fuller portrait of his holiness should consult Michael Parenti's trenchant polemic God and his Demons)? But perhaps this is asking too much. After all, as the Chinese understand very well, the Dalai Lama is an invaluable ally of the Western political apparatuses in their endeavour to tame, if not quite slay, the rising dragon of the east.