Saturday, May 3, 2008
Some thoughts on Tibet
Last weekend, I visited Chinatown in San Francisco and had the opportunity to observe a man standing on top of a box and shouting out slogans against the Dalai Lama to a small crowd of onlookers. The first thought to cross my mind was how could anyone hate someone like the Dalai Lama, a peaceful man who has done nothing more than call for a peaceful resolution to the Chinese occupation of his homeland.
Since I saw that rather disturbing display, I have been thinking a lot about this issue and I realized one reason why China will probably never voluntarily give up Tibet. For one thing, Tibet is not the only region of China that is seeking autonomy. The Chinese are more than likely fearful that an autonomous Tibet will inspire Taiwan to do the same. Much like Tibet, Taiwan has been trying for years to break free from Chinese rule, all to no avail. Then there are the Muslim regions, such as Xinjiang Province in the far west. Recently, the Chinese have pointed to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, an Al-Qaeda-linked extremist network, as a potential threat in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. So basically, if one province falls out of Chinese control, many more could follow. In the end, China could face the same fate as the Soviet Union.
Now, this is merely an attempt to try and understand why the Chinese continue the brutal siege of such a beautiful region. I do not think it would be a good thing if China disintegrated and millions of people were threatened with an economic crash and other problems that would emerge from such a scenario, but that would not be an issue if Mao Zedong and the communists decided against invading Tibet and conquering a people who only know peace in the first place. Is it really that much to ask for the Chinese to at least start a peaceful resolution by meeting with the Dalai Lama and treating him as a legitimate leader? Would it be so much to ask if he could return to his homeland without fear of retribution? These are steps that can be taken one at a time, but the Chinese have no desire to do so.
As the Dalai Lama's envoys are set to meet with Chinese officials, Chinese state media is continuing its criticism of him. With the upcoming Olympics, one might think that the Chinese would be doing everything they can to peacefully resolve this issue. The Dalai Lama is a man of peace...it is not as though China is facing a militant leader threatening to employ suicide bombers against civilian targets, as Israel and Sri Lanka are facing with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal or LTTE (Tamil Tigers) leader Vellupillai Prabakharan.
When the Opening Ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics begin, viewers the world over should remember that the Chinese security forces strolling through the crowds of spectators are not only busy keeping the event safe, but are also in the streets of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, holding down their ironclad grip on the city while attacking demonstrators who dare to defy them. With every Tibetan activist who is beaten, jailed, or killed, China is only reminding us that instead of a "world power", it is nothing more than another savage and evil regime engaging in acts of brutal violence against innocent people.