March 14, 2008

Riots in Tibet

In late February an anonymous tipster in China told Sinomania! to “watch out” soon for big protests. On Tuesday I reported on the apparently coordinated protests that were occurring around the world by angry groups of Tibetans demanding peace. The agitations continue and have now turned violent in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, site of the ancient Tibetan theocracy’s 1000-room Potala Palace.

Consider the words used in the news coverage of the riots in Tibet: the protestors we are told are “anti-China,” “pro-democracy,” it is an “intifadeh” according to TIME magazine, and all wire services condemn China’s use of “brutal force.” The latter words are straight from the lips of the Dalai Lama whose press releases have eerily matched the timing of each showy demonstration from the beginning of this week to today’s well photographed shout matches outside the United Nations building, in London, and elsewhere.

The reports of “gunfire” can be traced to the United States embassy in Beijing which says it heard of gunfire from phone calls to the embassy. Other sources of what’s happening in Tibet right now are the numerous, nameless “rights groups” that have the ear of Taiwan newspapers, the NED funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, and the Agence France Press.

So out of 2,000-odd headlines currently aggregated by Google News relating to these events of Tibet and Tibetans what do we really know?

The Chinese government is officially blaming the Dalai Lama himself for much of the agitation. This may surprise most Americans and many in Paris, London, and Berlin, since the luxury loving, alcohol drinking, meat-eating, Dalai Lama has so successfully branded himself to “peace” and “spiritual fulfillment,” but His Holiness is a very active and opportunistic politician. As I pointed out on this blog and in a video that was banned by YouTube the Dalai Lama is a tool of the American government. And the USA does influence China’s Himalayan border from Laos to Afghanistan with CIA psy-ops and actual troop presence as it has for over 60 years.

More likely, however, the real culprit behind the trouble in Lhasa is inflation and poverty. The Chinese Parliament (which is in session – showing obvious political timing to the unrest) is grappling with record inflation. Food prices are up over 23% on average. Prices for all goods and staples are rising dramatically including fuel and cooking oil. Remember, it was a surge in cooking oil prices that sent the Burma (Myanmar) monks over the edge last fall.

The Beijing government's statistical bureau does not publish Tibet data individually, alone of China’s provinces and autonomous areas. The lack of transparency into Tibet may be because it is a very skewed place. Reports are that inflation may run as high as 300% in the region. And ethnic Tibetans are mired in poverty. It is also well known that Chinese dominate the day-to-day markets and businesses in Lhasa and the urban areas of Tibet. When wire reports talk of shops looted, markets ablaze, and overturned Audis set afire in the streets, something other than “democracy” is at issue.

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Its really very simple. No, the Dalai Lama is not a tool of the US,blah blah. Rather Tibetan nationalism is being strengthened by the brutal repression of 50+ years of occupation and disrespect from the colonial Chinese regime. Tibetans are angry, they rightfully resent being slaves to their conquerors. Would that you, or even I, could be as brave as those courageous Tibetans are, standing up to their oppressors, knowing full well the torture and deaths that will inevitably follow from the sick Chinese regime.
Na Ja...

No, "anonymous" it is not simple. Tibetan nationalism is a fiction, a western invention. True, Tibet has been a pawn for much of its history. But keep in mind the actions of nations such as the USA, Great Britain, and many others, when using words such as "occupation," "slaves," "disrespect," and "colonial." It is absurd to view the events in Tibet through the prism of the English/American/French revolutionary tradition.

The Tibetan-Chinese synthesis goes back long before the Tang Dynasty when an invading Tibetan army brought a Chinese princess back. Tibet and Tibetans have been negotiating their status vis-à-vis China and Chinese for centuries and centuries and there is plenty of historical evidence to support claims on both sides. The interference of Great Britain beginning in 1854 and Americans beginning in the 1940s has only made things worse and more complicated.

"The Constitution of the Republic of China was enacted on December 25, 1947. And the first constitutional Control Yuan was organized on June 5, 1948 by members elected by provincial, municipal, Tibetan and Mongolian representative councils and overseas Chinese communities according to the Constitution."

The above is from Taiwan's Control Yuan. It shows that Taiwan, even though it hates the mainland, acknoledges Tibet was part of China even during the Republican era.
Hugo, good to hear from you! Please stay in touch.
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