Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Tibet Day!

It's the 50th anniversary of the '59 Tibetan uprising, and Chinese state media is all over it. So are China's security services.

On March 10, 1959, the Dalai Lama and his supporters started an armed rebellion in a desperate attempt to preserve Tibet's feudal serfdom and split the region from China.

On Tuesday, exactly 50 years later, the Dalai Lama claimed that Tibetans have been living in "hell on earth," as if the Tibet under the former feudal serfdom ruled by him were a heaven. ...

Even from historical books written by Western scholars, people can draw the conclusion that Tibet under the rule of the Dalai Lama clique was a society of feudal serfdom that trampled human rights and easily reminded visitors of the dark age of medieval Europe.

The article goes on to say that China has allowed for "religious freedom" in Tibet.

For a region that has only 2 million of China's over 1 billion inhabitants, Tibet generates an awful lot of controversy. Yes it's true, as Penn and Teller have sharply pointed out, life under the Lamas was oppressive. And yes, the Dalai Lama was a CIA employee. And yes, the Chinese have put in running water and railroads. But, as Ambassador At Large loves to advise people, don't mess with ethnonationalism. The Dalai Lama isn't on the CIA's payroll anymore, his tactics are far less violent than, say, separatist Tibetans in Tibet, and his demand is no longer independence but autonomy and religious freedom. If China can allow for those demands, it can still maintain China's territorial integrity and access to critical water resources in Tibet. If it doesn't, Tibetan terrorists can be expected to become the norm once the Dalai Lama dies and is not replaced.

Mighty Britain built railroads in India, too, but the Indians were not receptive. Britain doesn't rule the Subcontinent anymore, and it's thanks to Gandhi that that transition was largely nonviolent (except for the partition of Pakistan, of course). If the Chinese miss their opportunity with the Dalai Lama, they might not get another.

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