Friday, March 27, 2009

Understanding the Tibetan situation

By China Watcher

Actually I have other more interesting China’s issues and matters to convey in my blog but there is this nauseating feeling from within inciting me to put forward my opinion on the Tibetan problem of which the West has unashamedly created more attention by putting the Dalai Lama on its front page, even though the focus in terms of priority should be on the world economy which is presently mired with so much uncertainty.

The legacy issues of the Tibetan and their exiled religious leader have managed to garner the interest of the Western people and not the WORLD as incorrectly reported by these mostly Western news agencies and reprinted by the English version of a few emerging Asian countries. I have never doubted the global influence and “might” of the Western media particularly the ones based in the US. In Asia, efforts were now being made to establish the Asia News Network and other non Western news agencies to counter the very pro-West views coming from the US and Europe. I hope there would be more of the same committed efforts in becoming less reliance on Western sources in the near future.

What I found amusing was that the Tibetan issue and even to this day, in the Western media, the authors are wholly preoccupied with disseminating one and only one thing – the deprivation of human rights for the Tibetan people. The thorny issue behind Tibet is that the deposed religious leader and its many sympathizers and supporters wanted “independence” from China. I called it independence and not “AUTONOMY” because the Dalai Lama demanded that the whole of Tibet, Qinghai, part of Sichuan and Gansu, to be relieved of Han Chinese who have migrated from elsewhere over the past 50 years. The Han Chinese size in these provinces is huge and even, in Tibet itself, the numbers are not small. Further the Han Chinese has taken big sacrifices to uproot their families from familiar territory to establish business links in the uncharted and tough “Wild Wild West” region. Over the past decade, the Han Chinese has contributed to the economic progress of Tibet and it is not as simple as to “force” them to go back to their place of origins. In addition, the force repatriation of labor and people ran contrary to the Chinese government’s ethnic protection laws and policy to develop the “undeveloped West”. Even in the US, you cannot bar a US citizen from working in California if he is from New York.

In the memorandum given to the Chinese government by the Tibetan exiles at the latest dialogue, they also demanded that all Chinese military personnel be withdrawn from Tibet and the surrounding areas, and to a larger extent provide a high degree of diplomatic control to the Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama. If this is not independence or separation from the Beijing’s Central government, what terminology should we employ then? Can we still continue to accept the statement made by the Dalai Lama that he is not seeking independence but autonomy from China? People who have ulterior motives especially the Western rights NGOs and activists would readily accept the so-called fabricated “middle-path” lies as enunciated by the Dalai Lama.

If you reviewed the Chinese Constitution with regards to the local autonomous regional laws, the demands (within the Tibetan memorandum) made by the exiled Tibetan government is very far-fetched and it is not possible to be met unless the religious leader is willing to agree to similar terms that are currently being used to govern Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang (both autonomous regions). I personally do not see any progress from this stalemate at least until the Tibetan side is willing to face the present reality of the changing political landscape in Tibet.

Tibet is no longer a feudal serfdom where peasants are slaves to the Lamas. Even if there is a managed democracy in Tibet, do you think the monks and the Lamas are willing to play a lesser role in the governance of Tibet? The West always promoted the separation of State from the religious authorities but has never commented openly on the existence of the control of the religious Tibetan Lamas over the ordinary citizens within the circles of political power as still practiced by the Tibetan exiled government in Northern India today. Why are there double standards in the treatment of critical comments when it comes to China?
Today the ordinary Tibetans are economically so much better than those days when they were under the Lamas. There are now roads, railways, schools, shopping plazas and a university. The Chinese government has poured in millions of dollars to equip the Tibetans with proper housing and to ensure that there do not lose out in education to the “smarter” Han Chinese. I was told that the minorities like the Tibetans are provided with easy passage in terms of entrance quota by the Central government if they choose to study in prestigious Universities like Tsinghua and Beijing. I have always supported the idea that it is only through education that the Tibetans can elevate the social status of its people.

The West uses the causes of human rights abuses and “cultural genocide” to discredit China rule and to intervene in the administration of Tibet If there are truly rampant human rights abuses of the magnitude described by the West, there would be no large scale violent riot last year. Communication channels in Tibet were relaxed for the Olympic Games but the indigenous Tibetans do not know how to appreciate the limited “freedoms”. Tourism was heavily promoted since 1996 and foreigners were allowed to interact with the people in Tibet but some of the sympathizers from Western countries were seen to be inciting them to hate the Han Chinese. The Tibetans were allowed to own hand-phones, travel to other parts of China and to practice their religions at the temples. Yet the Tibetan monks were not happy as they could not revive the days there were in control of the peasants and also, they stubbornly refused to integrate. The same predicament would happen if the Red Indians in US, the Australian aborigines and the Canadian Eskimos if they refuse to integrate in a Caucasian based societies. There will always be discontented persons who would try to sneak out of Tibet to India. I would not deny the fact that there were evidences of demolitions of temples during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution which began in 1967. If there was “cultural genocide” as reported by the West, how is it that I still get to watch Tibetan cultural performance in Chinese cultural events, the most recent in London?

Most visitors to Tibet have noticed that old temples were restored and new ones were built for followers of the 6 permitted religions in China. The Tibetans enjoy the same basic rights as any Han Chinese as provided in the Chinese Constitution. Some Han Chinese had already started questioning why should the Tibetans be given more rights than others? If Chinese societies developed on the basis of their own refined characteristics in the near future, Chinese residents would enjoy far better protection of individual rights which would likewise cover all other 55 ethnic groups in China including the Tibetans.

Foreign activists may argue that the Tibetans are not bothered by the better economic status presently but are not comfortable to be governed by “outsiders”. Historically, the Chinese are not considered “outsiders”. The Tibetan rulers have been known to send expensive gifts to the emperors in the capital to pacify and to recognize the Chinese “sphere of control” over them since the era of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century. The Ching Dynasty (also known as Manchu) ruled the Chinese territory from 1644 to 1912 and it is evident from the Ching dynasty map Tibet had been an intricate part of the Chinese Empire. It was only momentarily “free” from China when China was centrally weak during the 1913 Revolution and a brief period after Second World War when the Chinese were embroiled in a civil war. Thus, it was and has been an inalienable and indisputable right of the Chinese government under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) when it re-established firm control of Tibet in 1959 when the Lamas tried to secede. If the Alaskan or the Chechens tried to breakaway from the US and Russia, what do you think Washington and Moscow would do?

I am sure some of you might have the idea that I am singing the same propaganda information of the CCP. I am not from China and I do not have to submit to the ideologies of the CCP but I am clearly defending Chinese sovereignty over its territories based on facts. I believe all Han Chinese should be seen giving all the support necessary to ensure Tibet will forever remain with China given the coordinated pressure coming from the West. I just cannot comprehend how a land-locked and barren land mass like Tibet could survive without China. The Central Intelligence Agency (of the US) were involved actively in funding and supplying weapons to the Tibetans to create unrest in Tibet and the surrounding areas with a clear objective to deter the spread of Communism from 1959 to 1980. The Americans were clearly not interested in liberating Tibet and the Dalai Lama was viewed as a pawn in a game of chess with the Chinese.

It is also sad to note that lots of Asians still hold strongly to the deeply rooted colonial mentality that everything from the West is good and progressive. Certain groups in Taiwan held street protest recently to support the Dalai Lama not because it wanted independence for Tibet but more to assure themselves and to send a message to the ruling Kuomintang that they would not like to be in the “hopeless situation” the Tibetans are currently in. But the Western media and the human rights activists trumpeted the notion that even Han Chinese supported the Dalai Lama’s cause. It is another plain ridiculous reporting from the West without actually diagnosing the background of the event.

The Tibet issue has various dimensions in the form of culture, race and religions and as such, it appears to be an attractive avenue for the West to attack China in the guise of human rights abuses. The West has always hold strongly to its core Western values – which are human rights and democracy – and Tibet with its many facets for exploitation remains the best possible way to spread its influence throughout the world in promoting its ideal societies.

The selection of the successor to the Dalai Lama has always been the right of the Panchen Lama. The governing authority in Tibet and the exiled government have appointed their own Panchen Lama. Western media on countless times reported that Beijing appointed second inline through a legally sanctioned Tibetan Council is not recognized by the Tibetans in China. I do not agree, once again, from Western findings. Perhaps, the Beijing’s endorsed Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu is not recognized by the Tibetan government-in-exiled and NOT the Tibetans residing in China. It is alarming to note how much efforts have been made by the few journalists in China to discredit the Tibetan provincial government involvement in the selection process. This age old traditions of the selection of the Dalai Lama has to be endorsed by the Beijing central government, which goes back during the time of the imperial emperor under the Ming and Ching dynasty. The government in exiled does not have that authority. The Dalai Lama has spoken numerous times that the Tibetan exiled government has the authority to do so but on what basis. Maybe, the power-to-be is implicitly crafted by the few European nations and the US which have actually emboldened the Dalai Lama’s quest for independence or full autonomy.

At the run-up to the Tibetan Uprising Anniversary recently, the Chinese government has increased its surveillance in Tibet after what happened last year just before the Olympic torch run made its way to Mount Everest. The increased army presence is justified in order to prevent a recurrence of the violent riots that resulted in unwarranted deaths among the Han Chinese and local Tibetans. The Western media as usual highlighted the increased military patrols as suppression of the Tibetans. Ridiculous!

In modern times, China has never succumbed to international pressure whether it is from the EU or US over issues concerning its sovereignty and I applauded this fine stance. To allow bilateral relationship to be strained by the Tibet issue shows a lack of political wisdom on the part of the Western governments. The only solution forward is to set aside the Tibetan matter and seek cooperation in other areas like in the spheres of trade, technology, cultural and finance.

I am sure the Chinese government has already implemented various strategies to deal with the continuous Western support given to the Dalai Lama to seek independence from China. One of the most immediate ways is to set up a bureau to counter all the “lies” from the exiled leader. And the introduction of the Serfs Emancipation Day in Tibet is a good move.

Who say the Han Chinese are not listening to the Chinese actions on Tibet? The West lacks of understanding of the actual situation allows Tibetan sympathisers (including certain anti-China media) and right activists to promote their hidden agenda.

Instead of lodging solemn representation with the Western government, the Chinese government should be serious in considering the reduction of the level of economic activities with the hypocritical governments in the West who choose to offer diplomatic space to the Dalai Lama. The diversification of economic dependence on exports to the US and European Union is a medium to long term effort to prevent the West from using “blackmailing tactics” in the near future.

No comments: