China and Tibet

While I think that some Chinese there and abroad are being overly sensitive about criticism from outside China (you realize the West is not ganging up on you, right? We worry about your government, but we worry more about our own governments and the forces of evil within our own borders, and we talk shit about every country), I never understood until recently the complexity of the Tibet issue, and the many valid concerns people in China have regarding Tibet, not the least of which is that possession is nine tenths of the law. And there is reason to feel that Tibet has been a part of China for centuries, and that Tibet before the 50’s had its own share of human rights abuses, even quasi-slavery in the form of feudalism (perhaps even some sex slavery), so perhaps the Westerners chanting “Free Tibet!” at the Olympic Torch rallies don’t really know the history of the issue they’re fighting.

On the other hand, the quelling of dissent in Tibet does seem to me a bona-fide human rights issue, even if independence is going to be considered off the table. And Tibet’s perceived past does not necessarily mean China should be forgiven for indiscretions and abuse now, nor does the ethnic Tibetans’ one slightly out-of-hand protest at an embassy in Nepal mean that Tibet is at all violent in the way the Communist Party in China has been, especially in our parents’ lifetimes.

In fact, the issue is so complex that the best summary of each position’s stance is this bizarre YouTube video I found.  It’s by what seems to be a Chinese American student who’s really upset but who also has Tibetan friends and wants to ask if we can’t all just get along. If you can sit through it, he gives all the arguments and passionate emotions of the Chinese diaspora and then attempts to give the opposing side’s viewpoint (or she, it could be a female yootoober):

P.S. In other news, my sympathies go out to those in China who today suffered from the brutal earthquake that hit the Sichuan province.  It’s so catastrophic in scope that I don’t know what to say.  Hopefully the help on the ground is adequate to help the survivors find shelter, food, and emergency services.

About orangehairboy

Oklahoman by birth. Angeleno by fate. I've been in half a dozen bands and own 25 cubic feet of old records. Thank God for Ikea shelves.

Posted on May 13, 2008, in China, Politics. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The propostion that Tibet was ever “part of China” is just too absurd to go unchallanged. There is one thing that is clear, which is that the CCP has never ever displayed any human, let alone humane triats. And trying to argue with reason with this cabal is to try and wrrestle with a hurricane.
    If there were any moral fibre left in the world, at least with politicians, the Tibet issue would be an international political issue before the UN and Tibet would have been declared an illegally occupied country and the Exiled Tibetan Government reconized by all civilized contries. Alas there is no ethics in plitics, only one’s own pocket and the mighty $$$ that matters thses days.

    See this Video for more information on Tibet and the riots

    See this Video for a careful look at history

  2. orangehairboy

    Well, hey, no one is denying that even by conservative standards, the atrocities committed in Tibet in the early part of the Communist occupation were on the scale of genocide.

    However, your video’s history of Tibetan independence is a little murky and misleading around the Mongol, Manchu, and pre-WWI areas, and doesn’t talk about how China’s armies helped expel the Nepalese from Tibet, nor does it distinguish between an independent Tibet and Tibet as a vassal-state, or the role in Chinese monarchy in picking and supporting various Dalai Llamas throughout history.

    Of course, Tibet was certainly self-sustaining and independent between WWI and the fifties. But suffice it to say that in the modern Chinese people’s consciousness, Tibet is a part of China, and that’s not up for debate at this time. Even the Dalai Llama in 2007 said that Tibetans should accept their role as part of China.

    The question now is how much influence China should have in Tibet’s affairs, and most observant people would answer “as little as possible.” I agree that the Tibetans have a right to protest, and a right to dissent and a certain amount of self-autonomy. But I’m trying also to be open-minded about the other side of the argument, which does have some valid points that have nothing to do with dollars or lining anyone’s pockets.

  3. orangehairboy

    And for the record, I really hate the CCP and think it’s a bit odd that Tibet is the issue most Olympics protestors care about, more so than Darfur or China’s human rights violations of its own people. In my mind, Tibet is less vital a situation than the 40,000 protestors jailed in China itself for protesting the mass eviction of two million residents in the course of preparing for the Olympics, or the oppression of the Falun Gong.

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