It's not all a bucket of roses for Tibet, though. During a prayer festival in Sichuan province, Aba Prefecture, a monk set fire to himself. In context, since Aba Prefecture is mostly Tibetan, odds are that the monk was expressing an opinion about China's humanitarian liberation of his previously-oppressed homeland.
Tibet's monks, you see, were oppressing the serfs something fierce before a benevolent China came and liberated them.
That's the Chinese line, anyway: rather eloquently stated in an op-ed piece posted on the CNN website today. ("Opinion: Tibet, the true and the false" CNN (March 10, 2009))
That op-ed informs us that the Dalai Lama is dangerous. "...What looks like a spiritual leader to many in the West is viewed by China as less a spiritual leader than a political activist with dangerous political motivations...."
The author could be right. the Dalai Lama's repeated insistence that he does not want to separate Tibet from China, but would like "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet may be a smoke screen for dark ambitions.
The pro-China op-ed does make some valid points. Before the Chinese invasion, Tibet was not a western democracy with a thriving middle class and suburban sprawl. It's not likely that the Dalai Lama's vision of "meaningful autonomy" would look much like America of the 1950s, or any other period.
But that doesn't mean that China's efforts to 're-educate' Tibetan monks, and maintain a Tibetan status quo of Han shopkeepers and Tibetan workers, is right.
Tibet? Chinese Sovereignty Issues? War on Terror??China's concerns over retaining territory they conquered doesn't have all that much to do with the War on Terror, yet.
Last year, I used China's treatment of Tibet as an example of what can happen when a country is conquered by another. This year, it's more of the same.
Besides, I think that the Dalai Lama has a point, and I'm less concerned about his oppression of the Tibetan proletariat, than how the Chinese are running their ongoing 'liberation.'
Tibet? Shouldn't that be Xizang?As I wrote last year, China likes to call Tibet Xizang.
I call it "Tibet," because I'm writing in American English, and quite a few people in America still call the place "Tibet."
I could call it Pö or Bö, or maybe Bod. Those are efforts to take another "real" name of Tibet, and express it in the Latin alphabet that English uses. Since that's the (or a) Lhasa name for Tibet, maybe I should use that.
But, honestly: How many visitors to this blog are likely to know that Bö is that country between China and India?
I can't please everyone, so I use a name that most people who understand English will recognize: Tibet.
- "Place Names in Conventional English Form, or 'Correctly?'"
(April 26, 2008)
- "The War on Terror: It's Not Just the Middle East"
(March 29, 2008)
- "Tibet: A Preview of Coming Attractions?"
(March 16, 2008)
- "Opinion: Tibet, the true and the false"
CNN (March 10, 2009)
- "Dalai Lama to speak out 50 years after failed uprising"
AFP (March 9, 2009)
- "China Considers Tibet a Sovereignty Issue"
GlobalSecurity.org (March 9, 2009)
- "China Rejects US Report on Human Rights Record"
GlobalSecurity.org (February 26, 2009)
- "China Denies Using Lethal Force Against Tibet Demonstrations"
GlobalSecurity.org (March 17, 2008)