The Empire

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).


2 thoughts on “The Empire

  1. You wrote,
    “You know, I don’t really care very much about what happened in the U.S. or in China hundreds of years ago. I have never been known to spend any time writing about how important it is that China give back Dzungaria to the Mongols, or Taiwan to the aborigines. I just don’t like to see people getting beat up and conquered now, today. Obviously, various people will continue to be beaten up and bullied, on large and small scales, in different places in the world for the foreseeable future. I know who I’m rooting for.”

    I’ve been to the Navajo reservation in Arizona, US. Amazingly, they still have their culture and language intact, but not for long. They’ve been pushed into the worst part of the American southwest, and they are dirt poor. That is getting beat up and bullied, and they’ll die out way earlier than Tibetans. Tibet is like the panda of people with no nation-states, and it’s cool to rally for them. But do you know about all the other peoples who are crying for independence? In the U.S., for example, many endangered Native American tribes, and Native Hawaiians, Eskimos.

    I support Tibet’s right for self-determination. That said, it seems that Westerners like you are so concerned with pointing at other people as evil-doers that they don’t notice what happens in their backyards.

  2. Otto Kerner


    Thank you for highlighting my comment from the other blog.

    I would like to emphasise out that I am not a professional activist, nor am I a very influential person; I am merely an occasional commentator on certain subjects. I don’t think it’s fair to interpret my decision to take an interest in one subject as a deliberate refusal of to help with another situation. That said, I am, in fact, very interested in indigenous politics in the United States. I would happily support independence for the Navajo nation, if that’s what they want for themselves (I don’t know if they do or if they don’t). As a more politically viable plan, I have occasionally in the past suggested that the Navajo reservation should become a separate state in the Union, while maintaining its rights as tribal land, so that they would at least be better-represented in Congress.

    You’re right that people in general have a strong tendency to worry about the mote in somebody else’s eye. Also, I’ve never been sure exactly why Western hippies are often so interested in Tibet. However, I do think that Tibet has a special pride of place when it comes to the issue of self-determination, because, in my opinion, the argument for Tibetan self-determination is just about the strongest out of all the stateless peoples in the world. Different people will “draw the line” on self-determination at different places, but since Tibet is such an open-and-shut case, if Tibet doesn’t enjoy the right to self-determination, basically nobody does. So, anybody who cares about self-determination should care about Tibet.

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