is a free China. Not because the Chinese people will vote for a government that will recognise Tibet’s self-determination (they won’t), but because dismantling the apparatus of oppression in China will make it a lot harder to maintain it in Tibet. Therefore, I am enthusiastic about the goals of the so-called Chinese Jasmine Revolution, even though I have to admit I am not very optimistic about its prospects for success. Gady Epstein has a good summary at Forbes. Check out hashtag #cn220 on Twitter (but don’t believe everything you read). André Holthe translates from the Chinese a post entitled “We are the initiators of the ‘jasmine’ revolution“. Charles Custer reports from the scene in Beijing in a post titled “The Revolution that Wasn’t“; he says that nothing much happened. I would be very surprised if anything much comes of this, but you never know for sure what’s going to happen in the future. 自由万岁! Freedom forever!
Archive for the 'China' Category
Granted, this basically confirms what we already knew or suspected: that “Chinese operatives hacked into Google, the computers of US officials, and the online communications of the Dalai Lama“. One wonders what if anything the Dalai Lama would have been discussing by e-mail that would be an important secret.
Barry Sautman’s recent column in South China Morning Post is hard to stomach. Sautman is one of the most notable Western academic defenders of Chinese policies in Tibet. This is a fine thing, since he tends to make rational arguments in favor of his opinions. Even if we don’t agree with his conclusions, his arguments give us an opportunity to reflect more deeply on our own opinions and so see the world more clearly. Obviously, that doesn’t put him above critique, which is richly deserved in the case of his new article, “The Tibetan Impasse”, a response to an earlier article by Lodi Gyari. Sautman’s basic thesis, as stated in his first paragraph, is that, “Three decades of ‘negotiations about negotiations’ between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Beijing have not made progress because, although exile leaders claim they are not separatists, they continue with assertions and actions that belie that claim.” Thus, he places blame squarely on the shoulders of the Tibetans. Continue reading ‘Are the Tibetans to blame for the failure of negotiatons?’
Writing at Asia Times Online, Peter Lee has a new piece (“China sees US as hedge for Taiwan, Tibet“) which gives a useful and interesting summary of some upcoming issues in the Tibetan political scene, as well as some other topics related to Sino-American politics. I do want to take issue with one turn of phrase he uses — this may seem like a minor point, but I feel that it is important to clarify: discussing the inevitable question of what sort of political conflict will develop between the Chinese government and the Tibetans when it comes time to find the next Dalai Lama, Lee writes, “The new governor of the Tibetan Autonomous Region declared that designation of the next Dalai Lama would strictly adhere to the state-controlled model dating to the Qing Dynasty: selection by lot from a golden urn under government supervision”.
As we find ourselves again at the anniversary of the 1959 Lhasa uprising, it seems natural to wonder about what the future holds for Tibet. As far as any significant political breakthroughs, the situation for the foreseeable future remains quite bleak. There is no evidence that the current Chinese government has any interest in any kind of compromise, and no reason to believe that the next generation will, either. There might be a leadership struggle in Beijing in 2012, but, as far as Tibet is concerned, it is likely to be between bad and worse, or, perhaps, between two equally bad elements. Unless the power struggle is so destructive as to radically reduce the PRC’s ability to exercise power (which would necessarily also introduce a dangerous tendency toward chaos), it is very unlikely that it will result directly in a more conciliatory approach. Another change of leadership would be expected in 2022, and by then it’s hypothetically possible that a healthy liberalising trend would emerge, but that is a long way off.
Ngabo Ngawang Jigme died a few days ago, just two months short of his 100th birthday. For good or ill, Ngabo had been one of the major figures in Tibetan politics since the 1940s. The scion of an aristocratic family, he rose through the ranks of the old Tibetan government to become one of the four members of the Kashag, which was generally the highest rank below the ruler. In 1950, at a crucial moment in Tibet’s history, the Kashag appointed Ngabo the governor of Kham (which in practice meant the area around Chamdo) and the commander-in-chief of the Tibetan forces on the frontier with Chinese-controlled territory; this was just as the new People’s Republic of China was consolidating its rule over the eastern Tibetan areas and moving its armies into place to attack the Tibetan government’s territory. Ngabo felt that it was futile to meet the Chinese with arms and that the only hope lay in a negotiated surrender; thus, when the People’s Liberation Army advanced on Chamdo, Ngabo surrendered. Ngabo became the Tibetan government’s lead negotiator in the talks that produced the 17 Point Agreement by which Tibet acquiesced to joining the PRC. He ignored the instructions given by the Kashag as utterly unrealistic and argued that if Lhasa disapproved of the agreement he signed they could simply refuse to ratify it.
The New York Times reports that Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker who was arrested after recording statements from his countrymen criticising the government’s rule of Tibet, is now on trial for subversion. His film, entitled Leaving Fear Behind, was smuggled out of China shortly before he was arrested in March 2008. He has apparently been tortured while in custody, which, unfortunately, does not seem surprising. Now he has written a letter, smuggled out of prison, saying that his trial on charges of state subversion has begun. This is a particularly blatant and unconscionable attempt by the government to stamp out any public discussion by Tibetans of the issues confronting, and everyone who cares about their own freedom or that of their neighbors should call upon the Chinese government to free Dhondup Wangchen. Furthermore, the public should pressure American authorities and other influential parties to pressure China to show leniency in this case. Since Dhondup Wangchen has apparently not been accused of violent acts or political organising, this seems like the sort of case where the Chinese government might bend under pressure.
Please see the take action page on the Leaving Fear Behind site for suggestions on contacting the authorities in China and in your home country.
Thanks for posting about the Elliot Sperling-Lobsang Sangay dissension, Jigme. I had actually intended to do a post on the Sperling article when it first came out, but, unfortunately, I got a bit wrapped up in non-blogging responsibilities. I found Lobsang Sangay’s response quite disappointing, both because I have a favorable impression of him (I lack any qualifications to assess his merits as a potential Kalön Thripa, but I like his bearing) and because I think there is a valid critique to be made of Sperling’s conclusions. And yet, Lobsang Sangay seems to respond only with invective. I don’t think it’s a fair criticism to simply accuse him of orientalism. His arguments make sense — it is very difficult to see how a free Tibet can be achieved through China’s legal system. The problem is that, when you lack any good options, simply demonstrating the faults of Option A doesn’t prove that Option B is going to work well. So, the question must be: if genuine autonomy is a very difficult goal, how is independence going to be achieved instead? Personally, I agree with Lobsang Sangay that there is a better chance of making gains by supporting the Middle Way plan (or going further, even, and simply asking that Tibet be given exactly the same status as Hong Kong), but, unfortunately, I don’t think that this particular contribution to the debate actually helps make that case.
Razib over at GNXP has an interesting post up on “the Shape of Empires Past”, about the history of China as part of the Qing empire and the uses of history to justify modern policies. This is in response to a recent article by Charles Hill in Forbes Magazine, “The New Great Game“, which argues that “The People’s Republic of China is an empire desperately trying to make the world think it’s a state.” Both are well worth reading (although I would not necessarily endorse the implications for American foreign policy that one might take from the latter).
The Dalai Lama offered his condolences and prayers Tuesday for the victims of the massive earthquake that hit central China, killing some 12,000 people.
”I am deeply saddened by the loss of many lives and many more who have been injured in the catastrophic earthquake that struck Sichuan province of China.
I would like to extend my deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences to those families who have been directly affected by the strong earthquake,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said in a statement. ”I offer my prayers for those who have lost their lives and those injured.”
|Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, left, Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile, back right, leads a prayer session in Dharmsala, India, Monday, April 28, 2008 (File)|
Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche said: “My colleagues in the Kashag, Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, join me to express our sense of great sorrow for the loss of lives and properties. We pray that may Three Jewels give courage and strength to the people of the affected areas to face this daunting natural calamity with ease.”
The Tibetan parliament-in-exile held a special Buddhist prayer session at their headquarters in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala.
The hardest hit county, Wenchuan, has more than 110,000 people and a large ethnic-Tibetan population. Wenchuan County is also home to the Wolong Nature Reserve, China’s leading research and breeding base for endangered giant pandas.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Tibet.net