Thursday, March 20, 2008
China clamps down in Tibet. How long can this go on?
Apologies for the lack of updates but I've been a little busy with work recently.
I'm sure you will have seen the recent news about the protests and violence in Lhasa, Tibet which started on the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Communist rule.
The protests are reported to have led to a number of civilian deaths (16 according to Chinese authorities, 100 according to Tibetan exiles monitoring the protests). It seems likely that some Han Chinese citizens have been attacked by Tibetans, and that the Chinese authorities have used force against the Tibetans although reliable figures are never easy to come by in these situations.
There are now reports that protests are spreading beyond Lhasa and that in response military personnel and equipment are being drafted in by the authorities.
Meanwhile British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made his stance clear by agreeing to meet the Dalai Lama when he visits the UK.
I think amongst bbcs you will find differing opinions on the issue of Tibet. I may be in a minority but I actually agree with calls for Tibet to be granted autonomy or even full independence.
I find it difficult to understand how any Chinese official can legitimately say to Tibetans that their homeland is part of China whether they like it or not.
The anti-independence arguments that I have read all seem incredibly flimsy and irrelevant. They cite historical claims of sovereignty over the territory and fears that granting Tibet independence would incite other territories to do the same. To which my honest answer is, 'So what?'
I think that when the population of part of a country consistently calls for independence, the worst thing a government can do is to use force to suppress those calls. It seems to me much more sensible and practical to start a dialogue and be willing to make some concessions. Why?
Because suppressing the will of the Tibetans with force is counterproductive. It uses up the state's resources needlessly, creates resentment, violence and aggression, and it clearly shows China as an oppressive, dictatorial state in the eyes the world. So really, why bother?
I think it would actually serve China's interests to grant Tibet a degree of autonomy and end this policy of forced integration. If other territories want to follow suit, then let them enter negotiations too.
A smaller, united China is far better than a larger, divided one in my opinion.
At the moment Tibet is a lose-lose situation for China and I hope it isn't long before a new, peaceful approach is tried in solving the Tibet problem.
Related: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
Related: Free Tibet
Related: Tibet protests chronology
Related: Tibet protest hits warriors show
Related: China acknowledges spread of Tibet protests