Thread: Lei Feng, Democracy, the One-Child Policy

I saw a few stories on China today that are thread-worthy and wanted to share.

First of all, this is a story on how China is giving the one-child policy a facelift — not changing the policy itself, but softening its sloganeering. The story made my eyes pop out when I read this:

People’s Daily cites several examples of “harsh slogans,” including those “which sometimes even threaten criminal acts.” The newly instituted program, slugged the “face-washing project,” will offer more proactive slogans to help enforce the policy, which has been in place since 1979. China claims the policy, which applies to those living in urban areas, affects approximately 35.9 percent of the population and has resulted in an estimated 400 million fewer births since first being implemented.

Some examples of the more offensive slogans currently in use include:

“If you don’t receive the tubal ligation surgery by the deadline, your house will be demolished!”

“We would rather scrape your womb than allow you to have a second child!”

“Kill all your family members if you don’t follow the rule!”

And…

“Once you get captured, an immediate tubal ligation will be done; Should you escape, we’ll hunt you down; If you attempt a suicide, we’ll offer you either the rope or a bottle of poison.”

The new less offensive slogans replacing the more callous ones will reportedly seek to “avoid offending the public and stoking social tensions.”

I want to ask my friends in China, is this for real? Is this an example of extreme Western media bias and ignorance, or do these sickening slogans actually exist??

[Update: CDT offers a source. Reliable?]

Next, there’s an interesting blog post on whether or not China is ready for democracy. Yes, we all know this is a tired subject, but this post is quite thoughtful and knowledgeable. I have never said I believed China was ready for democracy, but I do believe it’s ready to become more democratic, to give it’s people better representation (as opposed to giving them Western-style democracy). The post is well worth a read. The government’s position for decades is that the people aren’t ready. Will there ever be a time when they are? Excerpt from the blog post:

As popular blogger Han Han argued at the start of the year, China isn’t ready for democracy, because the people aren’t capable of making their own good decisions (Charlie Custer, from ChinaGeeks.org, wrote an excellent post exploring this particular issue). This idea has been put forth time and again by Party sympathizers, that simply the character of the average laobaixing is too low to make these kinds of decisions (Similar arguments were made in the US around the turn of the century in relation to voting rights for minorities and women).

The part of this argument that I find the most sickening, is that many Chinese are poorly educated and are therefore ill-equipped for democracy. But who is responsible for the current state of China’s educational system? The very people who would lose the most in a democracy.

Given this, it is also worth noting that China’s current system seems incapable of promoting people worthy of public service. With rampant corruption leading to weekly scandals that effect the lives of the laobaixing, what evidence is there that democracy would make things worse? Are farmers really more likely to vote for candidates that can’t protect their land rights? Would urbanites put up with officials that approve the construction of heavily polluting factories that send their children to the hospital?

In fact, the results of low-level elections have already achieved encouraging results in the countryside. As John Kennedy noted in a 2001 study, village elections result in leaders that are more accountable to the villagers, and results in more equitable land distribution (cited in this 2009 paper by Kevin O’brien and Rongbin Han which is worth reading). The problem is that elected village leaders are still dominated by local Party secretaries in a way that minimizes the voice of the laobaixing.

I love the line, “With rampant corruption leading to weekly scandals that effect the lives of the laobaixing, what evidence is there that democracy would make things worse?”

And finally, you should all check out this delightful post on the recent resurrection of Lei Feng (I know, it seems he’s always being resurrected) to keep people patriotic and willing to take what they get even as they see trillionaires driving by in Ferraris and eating a restaurant meal that costs more than they earn in a year. No matter what, they should be happy to live as Lei Feng did, if he ever existed, content to be a screw in the wonderful Communist Party machine. Do any Chinese still buy this nonsense today?

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 125 Comments

Acknowledging the low education of the masses and their inability to take their own decisions, after so my years since the revolution, doesn’t imply the failure of the CCP at its most basic task?

Where is the workers paradise and the society build only on scientific foundations where any ruling class or government would be substituted by self ruling people?

What would Marx an Engels say of what was achieved?

February 29, 2012 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

Click through the CDT post and you’ll find a People’s Daily story describing the same thing. Classic People’s Daily quoting People’s Daily as their source included inside:

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/102774/7741211.html

February 29, 2012 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

Those slogans at least have a chance of being effective (hopefully the threats aren’t carried out though). The slogans I’ve seen in the poorer areas are usually something like “Have less children, plant more trees and you’ll be rich.” I always wondered what sap walks by that and says to himself, “Hmm, that makes perfect sense. Perhaps producing fewer heirs to provide the safety nets the government has failed to give me would actually be in my best interest.”

February 29, 2012 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

When the highly educated democracy of the United States elected George “the Dubya” Bush into office twice, and nearly elected Sarah Palin as the President of the United States (which would have happened if McCain had won and then kicked the bucket while in office), yeah, I kinda take the premise that a society had better be much more highly educated in order to have a functioning democracy seriously…. *chuckle*

After all, I wouldn’t want a Chinese democracy to vote for invading my small country…. at least the current Commie dictators seem to have some … “common sense” among them…

Re the one-child policy facelift…. I must say that as an outsider, I find the old slogans, if they do exist, to be… most amusing and straightforward. I wonder whether they would be more effective then the new, facelifted slogans too… from my experience of China (somewhat limited), it tends to be a place where the stick works more than the carrot….

February 29, 2012 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

The advantage is that US presidents, good or bad, can only run for two terms. In other countries…. it takes quite a long time to get rid of a president/chairman/leader, even if he/she is terrible.

Sarah Palin as pressident? That could be a blast!

http://www.inquisitr.com/193093/sarah-palin-fights-moon-nazis-in-iron-sky-video/

Go to minute 1:16 on the video.

February 29, 2012 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

@ ecodelta:

“The advantage is that US presidents, good or bad, can only run for two terms. In other countries…. it takes quite a long time to get rid of a president/chairman/leader, even if he/she is terrible.”

That is one way of looking at it. For me, I tend to think that if the populace can elect a stupid leader once, it can elect more stupid leaders again, so the problem thus, lies on the judgement and selection skills of the populace rather than the leaders.

Why do I say this? Because I come from a democracy in which my countrymen have continued to elect the same government for over 50 years despite the fact that this government has been eroding my country’s competitiveness, natural resources, educational quality, talent pool and finances and economy through its obvious, mind-numbingly dumb policies. The educated of my country vote for the “opposition”, but the lowly-educated majority continue to vote for the same government at every election cycle. *chuckle* Things never change, the quality of my country continues to deteriorate, and my government is able to act almost like a dictatorship anyway…. :P

And food for thought for Americans… what would happen… if a Rick Santorum or a Mitt Romney gets elected President of the United States… whoo boy… I think such an election would be China’s dream come through…. US decline would accelerate much faster than even anticipated…. :P

February 29, 2012 @ 10:20 pm | Comment

From the other thread:

A Chinese collapse would not be the best outcome for Tibet–most rail and road links to Tibet go through China, and Lhasa is not self-sufficient in terms of food or oil… and the population is split roughly 90-10 Tibetan-Han/Hui, which means either 1) Western countries would have to organize an emergency airlift that uses the PLA-operated airport at Lhasa; the Tibetan recipients may or may not decide to share the humanitarian aid with other ethnicities, making Western countries implicit in ethnic cleansing as I doubt the Western countries would lean hard on the Tibetans to share their food with Han/Hui; or 2) the Tibetans would have to somehow negotiate (quickly) a logistical settlement with the Chinese government that sees the Chinese backing down their troops AND acceding to use those troops and Chinese rail/road facilities to protect and move those food shipments.

Option 2 is extremely unlikely. Option 1 requires that either the Tibetans seize the airport or the Western countries get an international mandate (read: Security Council resolution) to force the PLA to back down. The security council has a Chinese veto, so that will never happen. Hence the Tibetans have to seize the airport… against what is estimated to be an entire elite airborne mechanized division. It would take the Tibetans at least 20-25,000 men to take that airport… and casualties would be exceptionally high, as the Tibetans would have to use human wave assaults against 7,500 combat troops, light tanks, APCs, artillery, dozens of helo gunships, and all the organic air assets of the Chengdu Military Region, including over 100 Q-7 Fantan ground-attack aircraft equipped with cluster bombs and fuel-air explosives. Raising, arming, training, feeding, commanding, and concentrating into one point an army that large would probably consume the capacity of any transitional Tibetan government… and then the army would probably be decimated afterwards, and the PLA hungry for revenge (read: 1999 Chechnya). So then they would have to maintain a siege. This would require the Tibetans would have to invest in air defence systems to shoot down Chinese resupply transports coming in. ADS = Western arms imports, which would mean the West would have to back an insurgency based on ethnicity, and when you do that, you inevitably end up with ethnic cleansing; also how long before Chengdu Military Region decides to send in some of the other 9 divisions it has to mount a rescue operation? So seizing the airport is out.

Then the third outcome (starvation + ethnic cleansing) is the most likely. The Chinese government might be paralyzed, might be dysfunctional, but with daily images being broadcast of Chinese people getting beaten to death/a humanitarian crisis in Tibet, the Chinese government will have to act, based on domestic pressure. Given that the Chinese population is even more nationalist than the government (as Japan understands well), then any action the population forces the Party to do is likely to be very painful for the Tibetans. If the state fractures, you may see (relatively) disciplined PLA troops being replaced with much more aggressive paramilitary actions (read: death squads). That would kind of suck for the Tibetans.

Hence, any sort of hope Tibetans have for a Chinese collapse coming out in their favor is misguided at best. A Chinese collapse would be terrible for Tibet. The best hope for Tibet is the current course: a gradual liberalization in the Chinese government and the integration of Taiwan under a confederation, which could then be extended to Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. The best thing Tibetans could work towards is joining forces with moderates in the Party to effect slow political change, and to prove their bona fides by addressing issues that affect all Chinese (like environmental degradation and corruption), not just their ethnic subgroup.

Finally, allegations of brutality to Tibet are inaccurate. The brutality is directed only at very small segments of the Tibetan population–mostly clergy, and a few activists. For the vast majority of Tibetan people, they face softer forms of discrimination from the Han population, not unlike frictions between ethnic groups in the United States and other multiethnic countries, because the idea of secession is far from mainstream. The idea that somehow all 2.7 million Tibetans are being oppressed by China is founded on an erroneous assumption that somehow all 2.7 million Tibetans feel oppressed in the first place or wish to secede.

March 1, 2012 @ 2:43 am | Comment

For me, I tend to think that if the populace can elect a stupid leader once, it can elect more stupid leaders again, so the problem thus, lies on the judgement and selection skills of the populace rather than the leaders.

I think anyone would be hard-pressed to claim that in a democracy you are more likely to get highly intelligent leaders, but that is missing the point because democracies aren’t really about leadership. That was the mistake that the early Chinese intellectuals made, and they were disappointed.

Democracies are about civil society and institutions working well enough that people feel safe WITHOUT a strong/highly effective leader in charge. This is very hard to achieve and probably depends on a lot of cultural factors that we don’t really understand.

In the context of the previous thread, the idea that a more liberal China might emerge if the PRC collapses, is pie in the sky wishful thinking. A tougher regime would be more likely. Democracies don’t grow out of chaos.

March 1, 2012 @ 4:14 am | Comment

t_co,

Interesting comments. I realized that it was irresponsible for me to say that a collapse of the Chinese state would be the best outcome for Tibet — I meant that it would be the best chance of quick improvement. However, that would also be enormous risks associated with that turn of events, and it’s not for me to say whether the opportunities outweigh the risks when other people’s lives are at stake. I can tell you that, if my country were an “autonomous region” in the PRC, I would be itching for an opportunity to resist.

Exactly what the military situation would look like would depend on a lot of factors that I can’t predict and knowing it requires military expertise and knowledge that I don’t have. I think we can assume that Tibetans would not be able to defeat anything resembling a significant PLA force. Therefore, there’s no chance of winning an armed conflict unless the PLA is unwilling or unable to act. I don’t know what these “death squads” would look like: that could describe a very strong force that the Tibetans could never stand up to, or a rag-tag militia that would be easily defeated, or anything in between.

If I were advising the Tibetan leadership, my goal would be to get peacekeeping forces from any other country in Tibet as quickly as possible. This would be a very difficult diplomatic feat, however. Even if China was temporarily unable to take its seat on the Security Council, Russia would veto any resolution authorizing peacekeepers. What country would be willing to place their soldiers on Chinese territory without a UN mandate? Probably none. Could Russia be bribed into abstaining and allowing a resolution to pass? Maybe, but how much would the Western powers really be willing to offer them? Would Russia abstain in return for recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia? My guess is no.

As for the specific scenarios you’re describing, I think they are a bit overly simplistic. I don’t know what the data is that supports the idea that there would be a food crisis in Tibet in short order. If there were, I think there would be an overabundance of aid sources that would want to help: Western countries and India would love to give humanitarian aid to the Tibetans, and the international Chinese diaspora would be concerned about the Sinophone population. The question is the logistics of how to get food in, and there’s probably more than one way to do that. Tibetan exiles probably have lots of ideas about how to get stuff into Tibet overland. How long would it take to make a makeshift airstrip where emergency flights could land? Then there’s the old “care package with parachute” food bomber approach. I don’t know how effective those approaches would be, just as I don’t know how serious the food shortage would be in the first place.

On the military side, India has had the Special Frontier Force, a unit of the Indian military composed of Tibetan exiles and now under the command of Indian intelligence, watching and waiting for 50 years. I don’t think anybody knows what to expect from SFF if there were serious fighting in Tibet — there’s a lot that has never been made public. Obviously, the Indian government couldn’t do anything directly without major diplomatic fallout, but behind the scenes … who knows what tricks they would try to pull?

I agree that the Tibetans’ best bet in the current situation would be to work for gradual liberalization. I don’t see why they can’t pursue that strategy now and also plan to take advantage of a crisis if it occurs suddenly.

March 1, 2012 @ 8:15 am | Comment

Otto, you mentioned Xinjiang in the other thread – I think it needs to be said that the “Uighur” are not actually native to Xinjiang. In fact, they gained a demographic majority through genocide (murdering nearly 7 million people). Liberalization would entail repatriation as Germans were after World War 2, preferably a bloodless and gradual one.

As far as a collapse of the government in China, power would immediately default to the PLA. If you look at historical precedents, divided China has a tendency to create several relatively small but powerful and expansionist warlord states.

If Tibet were lucky they’d get a Sichuanese dictator, otherwise they can expect turmoil under Hui or other unsympathetic non-Hans who have an axe to grind.

March 1, 2012 @ 10:05 am | Comment

Likewise, if one of these warlords is sore about the collapse of government in China I could see them lobbing some nukes at “peacekeepers” in Tibet. This would result in utter ruin for the aggressor states, and relative impunity for China as a whole – especially if they threaten to flood and irradiate India’s rivers in retaliation for their support of a TGIE insurgency.

March 1, 2012 @ 10:08 am | Comment

I think it needs to be said that the “Uighur” are not actually native to Xinjiang.

They’ve been there for 1100 years, it seems fair to consider them native.

March 1, 2012 @ 1:23 pm | Comment

@ Peter

Thanks for the response. I agree that the PRC has made many mistakes in integrating Tibet into the Chinese fold, and demands for increased autonomy have their roots in legitimate Tibetan grievances. Itching for opportunities to resist, however, is probably less productive than working within the Chinese system. If I was Tibetan, I’d be doing my best to build a reputation as a national-level ideologue that can push issues which resonate with most Chinese (basically, stop being Al Sharpton and start being Barack Obama).

For example, imagine if Wang Yang, the reformist head of Guangzhou, widely believed to be the leading reformist candidate for a Politburo seat, was an ethnic Tibetan? Even without specific advocacy on behalf of Tibetans, explicitly, in his vision of the future of China, as he gains more political influence, the Party apparatus would automatically begin to make the situation in the region better. More importantly, the Party would stop looking at Tibetans as outsiders but as people who contribute to the development of China.

March 1, 2012 @ 1:57 pm | Comment

@ Peter

The humanitarian situation alone would break any new Tibetan government. There are 3 million people in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The standard emergency ration is the humanitarian daily ration, or HDR, which provides 2200 calories at 30 ounces, or approximately 1 kg. Assume that the food shortfall is 20% (half the urban population of Tibet). That gets you 6,000 tons per day of food you would need to provide. China also ships 5,000 tons of coal and oil per day to Tibet. Total inputs are then 11,000 tons per day.

Roads from India to Tibet can realistically only handle half that capacity, and may be clogged with refugees fleeing or people shipping weapons in. Airdrops of the scale necessary to make up 5,000 tons a day of food and fuel won’t happen unless air superiority is guaranteed over the PLA air force, which presumably would interdict any flights in on the plausible basis that they might be airdropping weapons. That won’t happen because the Tibetan exile movement does not have an air force, India’s air force is grossly inferior in quantity and quality to China’s, Tibet is in range of U.S. bombers but not in range of U.S. land and carrier-based fighters, and Russia will not interfere on Tibet’s side. That’s the reason you’d need Lhasa’s airport because then you would have a place to keep control of the skies in Tibet, but that won’t happen due to the aforementioned airborne mechanized division based there.

The SFF, a holdover from US Camp Hale operations, numbers 10,000 men. Lhasa is barely within combat range of their helicopters, the Dhruvs and Mil-17s, and their helicopter assets can only transport 1 regiment (max) at a time, and are not stealthy, and the Chengdu Military Region has over-the-horizon radar that should see a regiment-sized air assault force at least an hour before it lands. Hence they would have to hoof 30-40 miles to the airport itself, arriving piecemeal, all the while getting the bombed by 100 ground-attack aircraft plus tactical cruise missiles plus whatever other assets the PLA has. A ground infiltration would be spotted too; a march from the border to Lhasa would take a week across some of the harshest terrain known to man; the SFF would arrive tired, cut off from supply lines, and without any mechanized or air support. In that situation, morale would be no substitute for firepower, and they would be decimated.

The final point of your article–that Tibetans should plan to take advantage of any crisis situation–has an important implication: what would those preparatory actions be? Forming alternate centers of legitimate political power? Stockpiling weapons? Hoarding food? Reconnoitering roads, railways, power facilities, military patrols? Spreading pro-secession propaganda?

The problem with any of these actions is that they rob the credibility of any attempt to integrate with Chinese moderates. It would be all too easy (and somewhat plausible) for hardliners in the Party to then paint these as secessionist activities, and get a free pass from domestic audiences for yet another round of repression while making Chinese moderates quite embarrassed and reluctant to cooperate with any Tibetan attempt at rapprochement.

Ultimately Tibet needs to accept that since collapse is not in its best interest, armed rebellion will fail, and quiet planning for a crisis moment denies them domestic credibility, then they as a people need to sincerely strive for moderation and integration.

March 1, 2012 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

Suppose integration is the thing they wish to avoid. What then?

March 1, 2012 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

But who is responsible for the current state of China’s educational system? The very people who would lose the most in a democracy.

This is something I’ve been arguing for a while. The elite/middle classes argue that the masses are too poorly educated to deal with the power to elect politicians. But those same elite/middle class types refuse to pay more taxes to fund a decent education system. Pure hypocrisy.

P.S. There’s some “imposter system” telling me I have to log in. There is no option to login, so how am I supposed to do it?!

March 1, 2012 @ 4:18 pm | Comment

@Otto

We are in the position of say Hungary in the 1980s. Only the collapse of our Communist occupier holds out any hope of liberation. The Hungarians were the first of the Communist-occupied peoples to revolt (1956) and we were the second (1959). Soviet Russia collapsed in 1989 under the weight of the contradictions of its totalitarian rule, and its occupied satellite states like Hungary were freed. The brutal Chinese system was challenged at the same time (Tiananmen) but the generals managed to cling to power. I think anyone with a long view of history feels that the reckoning has probably only been postponed.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was not catastrophic for Russia, but an opportunity for the Russians. There is a broader middle class now with a taste for freedom. I think the same can be said about the collapse of the current Chinese state. As Tibetans we have to be humble and understand that the collapse of the Chinese state depends on the development of Chinese understanding of the costs of totalitarianism. All we can really do is what we are doing: refusing to become Chinese, and waiting. An interesting question is whether building bridges with dissidents in China who share our interest in the collapse of the PRC is a useful avenue for us (or a waste of time) and if so how this should be encouraged.

Claims about an insufficient food supply are the usual self-serving Chinese hogwash, not worth spending any time on. Tibet was self-sufficient in food before the Chinese invasion, we had learned about the importance of stockpiling food over centuries. The first famine in history was in 1960 as a direct result of Chinese rule and collectivisation. The only people who might have a difficult time finding the food they need following a Chinese collapse would be the Han migrants. This time they can go straight home down the Chinese-built roads (no need to send them via Calcutta and the sea as we had to with the Manchu soldiers in 1911).

Please also forget about the Tibetan SFF. The Indians are chaotic, unorganised and too corrupt to keep their own administration from the edge of collapse in a good year. Most of their army is tied down in Kashmir and the Northeast. They can’t even build and maintain roads of barely acceptable quality. No help of any kind can be expected from them. This is sad, we Tibetans have a long history of expecting salvation from “holy India”, but one has to be realistic.

March 1, 2012 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

Also, t_co, you sound like Gary Brecher talking about military hardware and such. But I think we can all agree to stipulate that Tibetans will never be able to fight the PLA and win, so it isn’t worth belaboring the point.

March 1, 2012 @ 8:56 pm | Comment

Regarding genocide, the ICJ considered the issue carefully in 1960 and used the word deliberately to point out in what respects the Chinese Communists had carried out a programme of genocide against the Tibetan nation and the Buddhist religion.

http://www.icj.org/default.asp?nodeID=349&sessID=&langage=1&myPage=Legal_Documentation&id=23464

http://www.tibetjustice.org/materials/govngo/govngo2.html

March 1, 2012 @ 9:07 pm | Comment

Atticus
They’ve been there for 1100 years, it seems fair to consider them native.

The Uighur of the Uighur Empire died out over a thousand years ago. The “Uighur” now were formerly called Turki, and they invaded in the 1800s.

Tsarong
Regarding genocide, the ICJ considered the issue carefully in 1960 and used the word deliberately to point out in what respects the Chinese Communists had carried out a programme of genocide against the Tibetan nation and the Buddhist religion.

So that’s where the TGIE’s CIA blood money was transferred. Bribing the ICJ of the 1960s.

March 1, 2012 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

I don’t really know what Cookie Monster #10 is talking about. Uighurs have been living in southern Xinjiang for a very long time. Northern Xinjiang used to be inhabited by Mongols but they got genocided by the Qianlong emperor back during the Qing. Liberalization and “repatriation” don’t go together, especially when you’re talking about people who have been where they are from birth.

March 1, 2012 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

@Cookie

Blood is on the hands of you Chinese mass murderers, not of the Tibetans who, attacked and invaded, naturally accepted help from whatever quarter it was offered, as any nation would do.

March 1, 2012 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

I tried to steer the conversation away from Tibet and see that I failed miserably.

March 2, 2012 @ 1:14 am | Comment

Richard,

I will totes respect your vision for what you want your blog to be like. Please clarify if you would like to drop this topic entirely or do a partial shift of focus. Personally, I just really like talking about Tibet, and this is a much better forum for it from my perspective than HH is, that’s for sure.

March 2, 2012 @ 2:02 am | Comment

It’s an open thread so people can talk about what they choose. I think we all know where everyone stands on Tibet, but if you want to keep going feel free.

March 2, 2012 @ 2:04 am | Comment

Tsarong,

The second of the documents you link to in #19, viz the ICJ report (1960), states:

“The committee did NOT find that there was sufficient proof of the destruction of Tibetans as a race, nation or ethnic group as such by methods that can be regarded as genocide in international law”. (My capitals.)

It DOES however state that “the committee found that acts of genocide had been committed in Tibet in an attempt to destroy the Tibetans as a religious group”, ie what some might term “cultural genocide”. Such behaviour is of course reprehensible, but it is not the same as physical genocide or “mass murder”.

(Moreover, you are doubtless aware that the ICJ at that time is believed to have been created & funded by the CIA with the purpose of disseminating anti-communist propaganda.)

March 2, 2012 @ 2:33 am | Comment

Richard,

I know where everybody stands, true, but I like to try to understand people’s opinions with more and more nuance, especially for the ones that I disagree with. Tsarong also has some interesting opinions and knows some things that I don’t.

March 2, 2012 @ 3:22 am | Comment

@ Richard

Thanks.

@ Tsarong

Liberation for Tibet via collapse, as I’ve stated again and again, is not the best outcome for Tibetans on the ground. (Maybe for the Tibetans in Dharamsala, but even then it is an open question how much political power the native Tibetans are willing to give up to a foreign government-in-exile–see what happened to the Iraqi exiles post-2003, for instance.) Hence arguing historical parallels for its occurence is a moot point.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was not catastrophic to Russia, but no one can argue that it was the best outcome for the average Russian if you look at things like life expectancy, infant mortality rates, disease, per capita GDP, average daily food intake, average daily energy expenditure, murders per 100,000 people, etc. A managed transition would probably have done much better on all these counts. Most Chinese intellectuals believe this point, and the Chinese people believe this point even more strongly. Waiting for the Chinese people to deliberately choose a USSR-style outcome will be a long wait.

A deliberate refusal to become Chinese becomes impossible in the face of sustained economic, social, and political pressures to do so, carried out over the course of decades. Do you honestly think that a Tibetan who gets a plum job out of a top Chinese college into a top Chinese bank or government organ is going to deny his Chinese-ness for very long? Now imagine that every year, all the smartest Tibetan kids go off to top Chinese colleges to be part of the Chinese elite. Imagine that every year, living in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, these Tibetans grow to realize that they have more interests in common with the other Chinese guys in their firm rather than the Tibetans in the village where they come from. Imagine that they start to think about moving their parents to the good life, so they can take care of them, and their Chinese employer is the one who helps them get the hukou done because their Chinese employer wants to keep them happy. Imagine that they marry a Chinese spouse, and have children. Now think–all this is happening in reality, every day, every week, slowly until over the course of decades the Tibetan minority in China becomes as indistinguishable and spread out as the Manchus or Hui. There is really no stopping this train of integration.

(An aside: I happened to date a Tibetan girl (finance major from Tsinghua) when I was in Beijing for the spring and summer of 2008. It was surprising to hear from her and her older brother how little being Tibetan mattered, and how much her concerns revolved around the same things other Chinese thought about–finding the right job, finding the right husband/wife, whether to go to Korea or Thailand for Chinese New Years. Even when I steered the conversation to Tibetan independence, they would only shrug and say that issues like that were for the older generation to worry about, and that their generation really didn’t care.)

Finally, the comment on the food supply is not hogwash since the Chinese government does not publish its own supply bottlenecks. The official population of the TAR has more than doubled since 1950 while food production on the plateau has not, and most of the official population increase is ethnic Tibetans, so resettlement will not solve that problem. Furthermore, leaving aside the issue of whether starvation-induced resettlement is right or wrong, such an action presupposes that the Tibetan government can act with impunity and not expect any interference. Such a condition is not feasible in the near term (or medium term) due to the existence, again, of the Chengdu Military Region’s 180,000 troops sitting next door. It would be insane to think that those troops would just watch as their fellow Chinese were starved out of their homes (or burned to death a la March 2008). Instead of your fantasy of Chinese being peacefully marched out of Tibet, the more likely outcome would be a few days of attempted ethnic cleansing by Tibetans and then the 13th Group Army executing a massive armored/airborne assault through the Tanggula Pass.

March 2, 2012 @ 3:55 am | Comment

@ Richard

Regarding halting steps toward liberalization–I think it will probably take years if not decades for real steps to be made. It will be hard to divorce the Chinese government away from its obsession on simple economic figures to become closer to the people absent the mechanism of elections, though, so such a move is necessary.

March 2, 2012 @ 4:03 am | Comment

Regarding halting steps toward liberalization–I think it will probably take years if not decades for real steps to be made.

Hold on a second, I want to write that down!

My point being, isn’t that obvious to everyone?

March 2, 2012 @ 4:08 am | Comment

@ Richard

Well the general spectrum of opinion seems to run from “China collapse” scenarios to “rosy liberalization” to “Brezhnev stagnation” to “the Chongqing model”, so I would say that is not obvious at all.

March 2, 2012 @ 4:21 am | Comment

A deliberate refusal to become Chinese becomes impossible in the face of sustained economic, social, and political pressures to do so, carried out over the course of decades. Do you honestly think that a Tibetan who gets a plum job out of a top Chinese college into a top Chinese bank or government organ is going to deny his Chinese-ness for very long?

That assumes that in the end, the average Tibetan has the same simple middle-class aspirations as the average Han Chinese, and that they are willing to give up their national identity for them. I don’t know any Tibetans so I can’t say whether this is true or not, but historically national identity is something that many people have been prepared to fight and die for. The Chinese education system also encourages this mindset.

What we do know is that we have large numbers of Han Chinese in the West who could presumably improve their chances of middle-classness by becoming completely “Westernized” and abandoning their Chinese roots, but they don’t want to do this. And it is easier than ever today for national minorities to network and communicate with each other, if they want to resist assimilation.

Apart from this, even though it is in the Han majority’s interests to allow large numbers of Tibetans to get rich and join the Chinese middle class establishment, there are a lot of factors which would make this difficult. Not the least of which is that they will have to compete with all the Han who also want to be middle class, and will resent and work against deliberate policy to tilt the playing field in favour of the Tibetans.

March 2, 2012 @ 5:17 am | Comment

Test

March 2, 2012 @ 6:52 am | Comment

@ Peter

The situation of Han Chinese in the West is not analogous to Tibetans within China, since most of the Han Chinese actively immigrated to the West and were not born there. The better analogy there would be Latinos within the United States, where people do keep their Latino roots but assimilate socially and politically into the new nation. Like Latinos within what was once the northern half of Mexico, Tibetans once had domestic political sovereignty; like Latinos, Tibetans became a minority in Lhasa and parts of Tibet; like Latinos, Tibetans are now slowly joining mainstream Chinese power structures; like White Americans, Han Chinese have similar concerns about affirmative action and regional separatism (which you mention.)

None of this is cause for concern. No harm in keeping a sense of Tibetan pride, after all. But when that pride is interpreted by an exile community as calls for direct political or military action, or permanently remaining apart from the rest of Chinese society, that’s when the argument crosses the line from idealistic to stupid.

What really strikes me as odd in some of the beliefs of more radical Tibetan elements is that they, in a sense, want to enforce a sort of apartheid on their own community; a cordon sanitaire between Tibetan and Chinese society; and in this worldview, every action that serves to alienate these two communities is celebrated, while every action that serves to bring them together is vilified. Indeed, China does not want to eliminate the Tibetan identity through assimilation; it will simply happen, slowly and by accident. What Tibetans should realize is that to China, maintaining a separate Tibetan identity is completely fine so long as it does not spill over into calls for political independence or degenerate into violence.

It is through this lens, then, that the actions of the brave young men and women who have chosen to abandon the precepts of their faith and douse themselves in gasoline appear most tragic. To the vast majority of Tibetans, these individuals are boxing against shadows, waging a war on behalf of aims most Tibetans don’t even believe in. For most ethnic Tibetans in China, primary concerns are food, housing, jobs, security, healthcare, education; just as they are to citizens in any country. The right to worship an 14th-century religious construct is not as critical, and given that His Holiness has been collecting frequent flyer miles off of tithed money for most the past half-century, his relevance (and the relevance of his exile group) to everyday Tibetans shrinks by the day. In the end, the true leaders of Tibet will come out of those elite students and young professionals currently firmly planted in Chinese universities, banks, professional services firms, and law firms, as they will be the ones who can best provide the primary concerns of their fellow citizens. And among that group, the overwhelming desire is one of continued integration with the Chinese state, and advancement within mainstream Chinese power structures.

March 2, 2012 @ 6:56 am | Comment

“What really strikes me as odd in some of the beliefs of more radical Tibetan elements is that they, in a sense, want to enforce a sort of apartheid on their own community”

All nationalists think like this, and almost everyone is a nationalist of one kind or another. Singling out Tibetan nationalists is unreasonable.

March 2, 2012 @ 7:47 am | Comment

I love how assumptious western liberals who once peddled free-market Capitalism to us like it was some goddamn miracle cure, now berates us for being too capitalist.

Not that they want us to return to socialism either, especially not when they’re making obscene amount of profit off of the backs of our indentured workers.

Who needs Lei Feng when you can have perfectly well-adjusted role models like Paris Hilton, who contribute so much to our society?

March 2, 2012 @ 8:44 am | Comment

We were never taught in school to emulate Paris Hilton. She is a subject of constant ridicule and lurid fascination by idiots. And who is berating China for being too capitalist? (Maybe someone is, I haven’t read every comment in the thread).

Not that they want us to return to socialism either, especially not when they’re making obscene amount of profit off of the backs of our indentured workers.

That’s a two-way street, my dear. The Chinese government has encouraged this relationship, to say the least, and their manipulation of their currency has largely been intended to keep labor there cheap. The millions of workers in China making up the manufacturing engine of the world is exactly what Deng Xiaoping envisioned. So don’t blame the West for that.

March 2, 2012 @ 8:53 am | Comment

“We were never taught in school to emulate Paris Hilton. She is a subject of constant ridicule and lurid fascination by idiots. ”

Nowadays, as it happens, Lei Feng also seems to be the subject of constant ridicule and lurid fascination by idiots. As demonstrated by this very post.

However, there are substantial differences between the two. Lei Feng actually did stuff. Objectively positive contributions to society, in fact.

And that, in my humble opinion deserves much better treatment than miss Hilton.

“And who is berating China for being too capitalist? (Maybe someone is, I haven’t read every comment in the thread).”

Wait, you mean to say you can’t read your own comments?

“…to keep people patriotic and willing to take what they get even as they see trillionaires driving by in Ferraris and eating a restaurant meal that costs more than they earn in a year.”

Is that not a condemnation of our capitalist society?

Or maybe you meant to say it in a positive way? As in, “Chinese trillionaires should eat more expensive meals and buy more Ferraris and watch in glee as Chinese workers toil under Dickensian conditions. Way to go, Capitalism!”

“That’s a two-way street, my dear. The Chinese government has encouraged this relationship…The millions of workers in China making up the manufacturing engine of the world is exactly what Deng Xiaoping envisioned. So don’t blame the West for that. ”

Yes, comrade. The “Communist” Party isn’t quite the workers’ party anymore, even they themselves acknowledge that.

But that’s like saying European slave traders weren’t guilty of enslaving blacks because the Kings of Kongo often allowed their own subjects to be sold into slavery. Doesn’t hold water.

So would I blame both Western capitalist as well as subservient Chinese ruling class, as do most Chinese people.

March 2, 2012 @ 9:25 am | Comment

Lei Feng is ridiculed by many young Chinese people and most China watchers. But he is certainly taken seriously by the propagandists. Personally, I believe he never existed, and is entirely a concoction of the party. But I never said Lei Feng deserves less beratement than Paris Hilton. Never.

Is that not a condemnation of our capitalist society?

Absolutely not. I have never, ever condemned capitalism on this bog, just the cruelty that can come with it if society doesn’t provide an adequate safety net. The US is capitalist, China is capitalist; unfortunately, it’s the only system, for all its terrible flaws, that actually works.

Your last three paragraphs are a complete nonsequitor. I have no idea what you’re talking about. How you can blame the West for China having “indentured servants” when this system was engineered by the party is beyond me, as is your bizarre comparison with the Belgian Congo.

You are slick, my friend. You extrapolate what you want to and then argue as if the person actually said what you say they said. Slick.

March 2, 2012 @ 9:47 am | Comment

“Lei Febg is ridiculed by most young Chinese people and most China watchers. ”

How many young Chinese people do you know? 3? Probably not large enough a sample size.

“Personally, I believe he never existed, and is entirely a concoction of the party. ”

Well, plenty of people don’t believe the US landed on the moon either.

Live and let live, I guess.

“Absolutely not. I have never, ever condemned capitalism on this bog, just the cruelty that can come with it if society doesn’t provide an adequate safety net. ”

Yes, I imagine you would never, ever condemn the Holocaust either, just the cruelty thatr can come with it.

That’s actually how many soft-core Neo-Nazis view the holocaust, actually.

“You are slick, my friend. You extrapolate what you want to and then argue as if the person actually said what you say they said. Slick.”

No. You said don’t blame the West, blame the Chinese government instead. I said I blame both. It’s that simple.

Seems like you’re employing the same tactic you implored against. All in the same paragraph, too.

March 2, 2012 @ 10:03 am | Comment

Definitely slick.

March 2, 2012 @ 10:29 am | Comment

How many young Chinese people do you know? 3? Probably not large enough a sample size.

I know quite a few and most of them don’t give a shit about Lei Feng, they just know that every couple of years, when the Party (or school principal) gets on a damned-young-people buzz, they have to mutter a few slogans.

“Absolutely not. I have never, ever condemned capitalism on this bog, just the cruelty that can come with it if society doesn’t provide an adequate safety net. ”

Yes, I imagine you would never, ever condemn the Holocaust either, just the cruelty thatr can come with it.

If you can’t see the logical inconsistencies in your comparison then there’s no hope for you.

March 2, 2012 @ 11:48 am | Comment

Thanks Atticus. He was really trying my patience, reminding me of another blog where commenters always talk in nonsequitors. I won’t interact with him anymore.

March 2, 2012 @ 11:53 am | Comment

For most ethnic Tibetans in China, primary concerns are food, housing, jobs, security, healthcare, education; just as they are to citizens in any country. The right to worship an 14th-century religious construct is not as critical

As I said, the assumption is that ultimately, Tibetan concerns are the same as Han Chinese concerns and are primarily economic and materialistic. That might be the case, but that hasn’t been demonstrated.

Of course there is likely to be an “elite” who will buy into the Chinese Dream, but how large they are and what the average Tibetan’s attitude toward them will be is key.

March 2, 2012 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

@Richard –

“He was really trying my patience, reminding me of another blog where commenters always talk in nonsequitors.”

Wait, I’m trying to think what blog you could possibly be talking about and drawing a complete blank . . .

March 2, 2012 @ 3:15 pm | Comment

A lot of Chinese people have anecdotes about how they knew some Tibetan person who was more interested in getting ahead in life than in the future of Tibet. For them, their experience proves 1. all Tibetans are not interested in the separate existence of Tibet, and 2. getting rich as a Chinese person is the future of all Tibetans.

For Tibetans, who know the reality of life under Chinese occupation, this actually says quite the opposite: 1. Tibetans under the occupation tell Chinese people what they want to hear, because not doing so is dangerous, and 2. Getting ahead in life is everybody’s concern, and does not exclude Tibetan patriotism. Also 3. Tibetans know they will never be Chinese.

The Chinese occupiers have a long history of forcing Tibetans to parrot Chinese lies, and then believing these lies are what Tibetans actually think. In 1979 before the delegation of His Holiness to Lhasa arrived, Chinese thought police tried to convince Tibetans that they should not spit at the delegation, no matter how much they hated the “old medieval regime”, because the delegation was a guest of the Chinese government. Of course Tibetans nodded and agreed. When the delegation arrived they greeted it in their thousands with tears in their eyes, prostrated and shouted slogans for Tibetan independence. Nobody spat.

Even for Tibetans who speak fluent Chinese, the discrimination under Chinese rule is very strong against Tibetans, and reminds us that we will always be foreigners in China. There was widespread publicity of the job postings “limited to Han” (Ch: xian Hanzu) – or simply “Han” (Ch: Hanzu). The outbreak of open violence by Han students against Tibetan students in Chengdu is exceptional, but Tibetans know it is only one open manifestation of how the Chinese people treat us daily (http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2011/12/han-students-attack-tibetans-at-chengdu-railroad-engineering-school/).

I personally find inspiring the story of Poland under the Austrian-German-Russian occupation. From 1795 for 123 years the occupiers put out the story that Poland no longer existed, that the future was to become German or Russian or Austrian. Of course the Polish people went about their daily lives, and studied and took government posts, but they never forgot their language, religion and culture, no matter how much the occupiers tried to convince them it did not exist. Now nobody can deny the existence of Poland – not because of any reason other than the people’s unconquerable belief in the eternal existence of their nation. This is our only hope as Tibetans, to cast aside the lies of our occupier and never swerve in our belief in ourselves and our holy leaders.

March 2, 2012 @ 5:46 pm | Comment

@ Tsarong

Ah, the No True Scotsman argument. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that. Since we’ve already shown how Tibetans are concerned with living better lives, now you shift the argument. Clever.

How can you prove that claims 1 and 3 are true? Those are sweeping, powerful arguments. If you accept point 1, then no Chinese is qualified to speak on what a Tibetan thinks; point 3 is a statement of faith without any supporting evidence or logic. Both these points are absurd, but I’ll give you the latitude to argue them. So do it.

(As another aside, Pema always thought of me as American, since I grew up in America. Doubt she was sugarcoating her answers because she happened to live in China, unless somehow she thought my place was bugged.)

One thing that I find funny about independence advocates on Tibet is that there could exist people within their ethnic group who sincerely want integration and rapprochement, and don’t really care about a “holy leader” who hasn’t done much for them. An anecdote from 1979 (over 30 years ago) does not prove mass dissatisfaction with Chinese sovereignty; the more recent 2008 riots might, but most of the Tibetan participants were marginalized groups of young men without jobs, definitely not the new bureaucratic elite of Tibet that is forming in Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.

You can assert all you want that Han in China exhibit discrimination against Tibetans, but without solid proof in the form of opinion polls, not isolated incidents like a Chengdu riot against a policy of government affirmative action–not Tibetans–then you can’t make that argument either.

The Polish analogy is flawed, because no one is trying to tell Tibetans to stop being Tibetan in China. Again, the force of assimilation is not coming from the Chinese government, but from the Tibetans themselves; in the process of trying to live a better life in China, Tibetans will inevitably dismantle any residual mental or emotional barriers they have to integration. The reason that is successful is that the benefits to integration are real, while the benefits of “believing in a national identity or holy leader” are pretty much nonexistent. Over time, the gentle push of memetic evolution will tie pragmatic ideals within the Tibetan population with success, while tying belief in the Dalai Lama with socioeconomic marginalization. In this sense, that is the real hope for Tibetans; to cast aside useless beliefs in a 14th century religious construct. What does believing in the Dalai Lama even get you?

March 2, 2012 @ 6:45 pm | Comment

@ Peter

Not sure how that hasn’t yet been demonstrated. Read Julia Hess’s piece on the Tibetan Diaspora:

To quote: “The more established Tibetans in diaspora reject recent immigrant Tibetans who watch Chinese movies, sing Chinese music, and can speak Mandarin, who are than alienated from the exile community. Newcomers express frustration that the government-in-exile wants to hear only “bad things” about Chinese rule in Tibet, and a lack of economic opportunity in Dharamsala.”

The clear implication here is that Tibetans today care about different things than Tibetan exiles pre-1989.

As for the idea of an elite, the question isn’t so simple as to whether Tibetans will support the new bureaucracy, but whether they will support them over the old semi-theocratic exile government. In this regard, the new bureaucracy has substantial advantages–incumbency, central Party largesse, visibility, and the best talent, since Tsinghua, Peking University, Jiaotong University, and Renmin University all act as excellent filters in that regard. It would not be hard to plant this idea in the heads of Tibetans; that the new bureaucracy is filled with Tibetans who worked hard, studied hard, and are trying to improve the lives of everyone in Tibet, while the exile movement is filled with Tibetans who essentially ran away from hardship rather than face it.

March 2, 2012 @ 7:30 pm | Comment

Chinese liars like @t_co are pretty good at convincing themselves, less so at convincing anyone who is not Chinese.

The “14th century religious construct” for which the Chinese usually have contempt (this is a typically Chinese attitude) is the same Buddhism which is the core of our identity and belief in ourselves, for Tibetans.

Whatever differences there are between Tibetans who have grown up in different circumstances and different parts of the world, there is no disagreement that we revere Buddhism and the role of the holy teachers who have done so much to spread the message of the Buddha for the good of all sentient beings.

The more the Chinese tell us we have to abandon this belief, because His Holiness is a “splittist”, the more they impose thought police on Tibetans, throw them in jail for saying the wrong thing or having the wrong photograph, torture and kill them for travelling to receive the Kalachakra initiation or take part in the Moenlam Chenmo – the more we cling to our beliefs in our heart.

I can honestly say that I have never met another Tibetan who believed otherwise. Of course I have met many Tibetans who have said otherwise to the Chinese occupiers.

March 2, 2012 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

@t_co #48,

That quotation proves a lot less than you seem to think it does. Clearly, there are some kinds of influence on Tibetans from living in the PRC. Consider that Irish people in Ireland have had enormous cultural influence from England … they speak English, for one thing, and very few speak Irish any more. That doesn’t mean that they see themselves as English or are less committed to having a separate group identity. Telling an Irishman that he’s English sounds like a good way to catch a beatdown.

Comparing older Tibetan exiles with newer ones seems weird anyway. These are all people who chose to go into exile, which most Tibetans never do.

March 2, 2012 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

“The Polish analogy is flawed, because no one is trying to tell Tibetans to stop being Tibetan in China.”

Actually, no-one explicitly tried to tell the Poles not to be Polish either. In Galicia and Prussia they were allowed to form political parties, set up schools and so forth. Even as part of the Russian Empire they were allowed to maintain nominal autonomy as a Kingdom within the empire until the first great uprising. What did happen, especially in Russia, was the crushing of any movement that aimed towards independence, the insinuation that Poles were incapable of governing themselves, the teaching of a paternalistic viewpoint whereby the Poles were the grateful recipients of the charity of their overlords. In spite of this, Poles rose to high positions in all three of the partitioning states.

Of course, without the virtually simultaneous total collapse of all three of the partitioning states, and an astonishing victory over the Soviets when they attempted to re-integrate Poland into the latest version of the Russian Empire, Poland could quite possible still be under occupation. The mere fact of integration, of assimilation, does not directly contradict a desire for greater autonomy expressed through direct action.

Frankly, though, I really can’t see an independent Tibet coming about within the next 20-30 years if ever. It is also hard to see it coming about without violence of the kind which would make 2008 look like a picnic – particularly within the Tibetan areas outside of the TAR. My preference is for democratisation that will allow any desire felt by Tibetans for greater autonomy to be contained within the Chinese state.

March 2, 2012 @ 10:56 pm | Comment

“If you can’t see the logical inconsistencies in your comparison then there’s no hope for you.”

I agree, there is no hope for me to ever recognize capitalism as anything other than a monstrous inhumanity comparable to the holocaust.

And that’s the way it should be. The history of capitalism has been very much bloodier than the Nazi holocaust.

“Thanks Atticus. He was really trying my patience, reminding me of another blog where commenters always talk in nonsequitors. I won’t interact with him anymore.”

That’s kinda expected of you though, Mr. “If-I-don’t-like-someone, he-doesn’t-exist”.

Thank you for your support.

March 3, 2012 @ 1:39 am | Comment

Oh, you exist alright, even if I don’t like you (which I neer said I did). Your arguments are just too batshit crazy to reply too, and I mean it. What’s the point of engagement? You are totally crazed.

March 3, 2012 @ 2:52 am | Comment

@ Otto

No one is trying to use that quote to prove new Tibetan exiles are any less Tibetan now. The implication from that quote is that new Tibetan exiles no longer care about the same things older Tibetan exiles do–namely, that they don’t care as much about independence under an exile-led semi-theocratic power structure anymore.

March 3, 2012 @ 3:51 am | Comment

@ FOARP

Actually, no-one explicitly tried to tell the Poles not to be Polish either. In Galicia and Prussia they were allowed to form political parties, set up schools and so forth. Even as part of the Russian Empire they were allowed to maintain nominal autonomy as a Kingdom within the empire until the first great uprising. What did happen, especially in Russia, was the crushing of any movement that aimed towards independence, the insinuation that Poles were incapable of governing themselves, the teaching of a paternalistic viewpoint whereby the Poles were the grateful recipients of the charity of their overlords. In spite of this, Poles rose to high positions in all three of the partitioning states.

Overt paternalism in the TAR is receding, thank goodness. Incoming Chinese administrations are getting much more subtle about it.

Of course, without the virtually simultaneous total collapse of all three of the partitioning states, and an astonishing victory over the Soviets when they attempted to re-integrate Poland into the latest version of the Russian Empire, Poland could quite possible still be under occupation. The mere fact of integration, of assimilation, does not directly contradict a desire for greater autonomy expressed through direct action.

The flip side of the coin is that a desire for autonomy does not contradict a desire for integration and assimilation either. Drawing from the experience of Scots in England, or Quebecois in Canada, sometimes powerful integrationist forces can arise from within the ethnic group in question.

Frankly, though, I really can’t see an independent Tibet coming about within the next 20-30 years if ever. It is also hard to see it coming about without violence of the kind which would make 2008 look like a picnic – particularly within the Tibetan areas outside of the TAR. My preference is for democratisation that will allow any desire felt by Tibetans for greater autonomy to be contained within the Chinese state.

This hits the nail right on the head. What Tsarong’s position fails to consider is that the means by which rapid (or even slow) independence are achieved would inevitably be bloody and result in large-scale quasi-coerced population transfer, a.k.a. ethnic cleansing.

To keep up the Eastern Europe metaphors, Tibet would then look like Yugoslavia.

March 3, 2012 @ 3:59 am | Comment

t_co,

The implication from that quote is that new Tibetan exiles no longer care about the same things older Tibetan exiles do–namely, that they don’t care as much about independence under an exile-led semi-theocratic power structure anymore.

Right, that was your implication, but it’s not what the quote says. It doesn’t say anything about independence one way or the other. “Exile-led power structure” is a strawman, since no one is proposing a Tibet ruled by the exiles. The only thing faintly political in that passage is, “Newcomers express frustration that the government-in-exile wants to hear only ‘bad things’ about Chinese rule in Tibet”, but this doesn’t say that the newcomers have lots of good things to say about the Chinese government, just that the exile administration takes a particularly simplistic, black-and-white approach and is not interested in learning about nuances and details, which is not surprising: life is full of contradictory details, but politicians like to keep things simple.

March 3, 2012 @ 4:13 am | Comment

@ Tsarong

Chinese liars like @t_co are pretty good at convincing themselves, less so at convincing anyone who is not Chinese.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

The “14th century religious construct” for which the Chinese usually have contempt (this is a typically Chinese attitude) is the same Buddhism which is the core of our identity and belief in ourselves, for Tibetans.
Whatever differences there are between Tibetans who have grown up in different circumstances and different parts of the world, there is no disagreement that we revere Buddhism and the role of the holy teachers who have done so much to spread the message of the Buddha for the good of all sentient beings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

The more the Chinese tell us we have to abandon this belief, because His Holiness is a “splittist”, the more they impose thought police on Tibetans, throw them in jail for saying the wrong thing or having the wrong photograph, torture and kill them for travelling to receive the Kalachakra initiation or take part in the Moenlam Chenmo – the more we cling to our beliefs in our heart.
I can honestly say that I have never met another Tibetan who believed otherwise. Of course I have met many Tibetans who have said otherwise to the Chinese occupiers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

March 3, 2012 @ 4:15 am | Comment

@ Otto

The quote was in response to this point:

As I said, the assumption is that ultimately, Tibetan concerns are the same as Han Chinese concerns and are primarily economic and materialistic. That might be the case, but that hasn’t been demonstrated.

The more established Tibetans in diaspora reject recent immigrant Tibetans who watch Chinese movies, sing Chinese music, and can speak Mandarin, who are than alienated from the exile community. Newcomers express frustration that the government-in-exile wants to hear only “bad things” about Chinese rule in Tibet, and a lack of economic opportunity in Dharamsala.

This clearly demonstrates that the current wave of exiles has concerns far closer to Han Chinese than the older generation.

Unfortunately, if you consider the argument re: the exile-led power structure to be a strawman, then you have to consider the Irish/English analogy to a strawman as well:

That quotation proves a lot less than you seem to think it does. Clearly, there are some kinds of influence on Tibetans from living in the PRC. Consider that Irish people in Ireland have had enormous cultural influence from England … they speak English, for one thing, and very few speak Irish any more. That doesn’t mean that they see themselves as English or are less committed to having a separate group identity. Telling an Irishman that he’s English sounds like a good way to catch a beatdown.

No one is arguing that Tibetans are or are not less committed to having a separate group identity. The argument here is what Tibetans really want for their future. Scotsmen can think of themselves as Scots, but still wish to remain part of the United Kingdom.

March 3, 2012 @ 4:45 am | Comment

Otto
I don’t really know what Cookie Monster #10 is talking about. Uighurs have been living in southern Xinjiang for a very long time.

You are confusing the old, true Uighur with the Uighur of today. They were just generalized Turks living elsewhere in Central Asia before the chaos of the late Qing allowed them infiltrate and then invade Xinjiang.

They have almost no genetic ties to the Uighur of old and even fewer to the Tocharians.

March 3, 2012 @ 4:49 am | Comment

Tsarong, please don’t call t_co a liar. He’s not, and it’s rude.

March 3, 2012 @ 5:32 am | Comment

@Richard – for a break from Tibet, any comment on Breitbart?

March 3, 2012 @ 6:24 am | Comment

I feel bad for his wife and kids, but that’s about all the compassion I can muster up for Breitbart. He was a liar, a manipulator of facts, a rabble rouser, a perpetrator of the dirtiest kinds of tricks, a serial smearer and an ogre of ego. He bristled with hate. All he could ever do was hate.

Here’s how he reacted after Ted Kennedy died:

Over the course of the next three hours, Breitbart unapologetically attacked Kennedy, calling him a “villain,” “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” and a “prick.” “I’ll shut my mouth for Carter. That’s just politics. Kennedy was a special pile of human excrement,” wrote Breitbart in one tweet.

ACORN, for all its faults, provided important services for the poor and he tore it down using incredibly dirty tricks, like doctored video and leaving out all the footage that would have exonerated them. The list goes on and on. I detested the man, but I won’t sink to his level and hurl obscenities at him. I won’t say I’m glad he’s dead, but neither will I be shedding any tears. It is said for his family, and no one’s death is a time to celebrate, unless they’re Bin Laden or Hitler.

March 3, 2012 @ 6:37 am | Comment

You are confusing the old, true Uighur with the Uighur of today. They were just generalized Turks living elsewhere in Central Asia before the chaos of the late Qing allowed them infiltrate and then invade Xinjiang.

Well, maybe. I agree that the connection between the old Uyghurs and the modern-day people called by that name. On the other hand, I did some basic research a while ago and, as far as I can tell, the the modern Uyghur language is as close to Old Uyghur as anything spoken today is. I believe the modern Uyghurs are the descendents of the Taranchis who lived in southern Xinjiang when it was conquered by the Qing.

March 3, 2012 @ 8:48 am | Comment

And so it goes, with just about any discussion on Tibet. For those of one persuasion, anecdotes serve to show that Tibetans really want one extreme of the independence-autonomy-coexistence-integration-assimilation spectrum. And for those of the other persuasion, anecdotes serve to show that Tibetans really want the other extreme. In reality, nobody knows.

In that context, I give credit to T-Co #47. It’s not often for someone arguing from his general point of view that they would acknowledge the potential utility of a scientific assessment of Tibetan opinion, and how that might be useful in informing the discussion.

March 3, 2012 @ 11:22 am | Comment

It would not be hard to plant this idea in the heads of Tibetans; that the new bureaucracy is filled with Tibetans who worked hard, studied hard, and are trying to improve the lives of everyone in Tibet, while the exile movement is filled with Tibetans who essentially ran away from hardship rather than face it.

No doubt the CCP’s agents are doing their best to plant this idea right now; and also plant the idea that since 1949 they’ve done nothing but good for the Tibetans. The results of this propaganda work must have been mediocre at best, or we would not be having this conversation.

I don’t find it convincing that most Tibetans aren’t interested in independence and just want their children to go to a good school and open a shop or factory; the CCP obviously doesn’t believe that or they wouldn’t have an enormous and intrusive security infrastructure in Tibet. The fact that a large military and secret police presence is required shows that dissatisfaction is also large and widespread.

The force of assimilation is not coming from the Chinese government, but from the Tibetans themselves; in the process of trying to live a better life in China, Tibetans will inevitably dismantle any residual mental or emotional barriers they have to integration. The reason that is successful is that the benefits to integration are real, while the benefits of “believing in a national identity or holy leader” are pretty much nonexistent.

And yet, as has been pointed out we have an independent Poland today and there are many other examples of powerful nations/empires which have tried and failed to assimilate national minorities. It’s easy to think that “national identity” is just something imaginary and not something that could be preferred to real wealth and development. Even Maozedong thought that in eighteen months, the Tibetan monks would all become dialectical materialists once they saw what the CCP was able to do.

March 3, 2012 @ 12:32 pm | Comment

FOARP
@Richard – for a break from Tibet, any comment on Breitbart?

There are worse scum among Republicans. If Rush Limbaugh died I’d be partying.

Otto
Well, maybe. I agree that the connection between the old Uyghurs and the modern-day people called by that name. On the other hand, I did some basic research a while ago and, as far as I can tell, the the modern Uyghur language is as close to Old Uyghur as anything spoken today is. I believe the modern Uyghurs are the descendents of the Taranchis who lived in southern Xinjiang when it was conquered by the Qing.

I would say some of them are, but I don’t know how many. The sheer number of people that migrated into Xinjiang after Turkic Muslim racial genocide against not only Han but pretty much every other ethnic group there can’t be understated.

Even though they speak a similar language they are not descendants of the Uighur any more than Indians are English or non-white Mexicans are Spaniards. Most Uighur have absolutely no right to any piece of Xinjiang, but it’s surprising how much sympathy the occasional blonde or blue eyes will inspire among Westerners for terrorists and the offspring of racialist mass murderers.

March 3, 2012 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

Also, can anyone send me a link to Arianna Huffington’s column on Catholics? When I google it I have to wade through the endless santorum of billions of weeping, moaning conservatives screeching for an apology.

I can’t actually get the article itself because the sheer volume of horseshit spewing out of the bleeding rectums we call freerepublic, wnd, fox news, women of grace, catholic pedophiles united, etc

March 3, 2012 @ 1:39 pm | Comment

@ SK Cheung

Sadly enough, any scientific poll will be discredited by Tibetan exiles or the government depending on which side it seems to support.

The best way to conduct such a poll would be to do the poll in an open fashion, and elicit statements of support for the polling methodology itself from both camps, and then release the results. That way no party can do any post facto mudslinging.

March 3, 2012 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

To T-Co,
totally agree. Ironically, both sides have as much to gain as they have to lose from such polling. But I’m most interested in the acquisition of a scientifically valid result itself. As you say, methodology is the key, and methods that are rigourous can and should inoculate the results against partisan misinterpretation.

March 3, 2012 @ 2:54 pm | Comment

@Richard

I don’t understand on what basis you claim that t_co is not a liar.

In the thread above he/she claimed: “Finally, allegations of brutality to Tibet are inaccurate. The brutality is directed only at very small segments of the Tibetan population–mostly clergy, and a few activists.”

This is a lie and it is a lie pursued in support of a regime of brutal repression. t_co is a liar and also an apologist for a murderous regime that is on a daily basis arresting, torturing and killing people for doing no more than standing up for their human rights.

See eg. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/07/22/i-saw-it-my-own-eyes

March 3, 2012 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

Now Chinese mass murder apologists like t_co are talking about polling the Tibetan population, and demanding “solid proof like opinion polls”.

They must think nobody is even aware of the reality in Tibet.

This is a reality in which independent observers, human rights observers and independent journalists are systematically refused permission by the Chinese authorities from visiting the country.

This is a reality in which Tibetans are harassed and imprisoned for the “crime” of speaking to foreign journalists.

This is a reality in which the slightest expression of free thought in religion or politics is punished by imprisonment and torture.

This is a reality in which plainclothes spies and thought police patrol the population ready to report any deviation from the official line by Tibetans.

Anybody who buys Chinese lies about wanting to hold opinion polls in such circumstances needs to put themselves for a minute in the above circumstances as a Tibetan and ask what the likelihood of a true outcome can be.

March 3, 2012 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

To Tsarong,
I am inclined to believe HRW and the contents of their report. However, that is because I am inclined to believe those accounts to begin with, and not because the HRW report is scientifically/methodologically compelling. At its core, it is a compilation of 203 anecdotal reports. HRW is correct in saying that this is the best that could be achieved based on the circumstances, and the CCP is to blame for those circumstances of restricted access. But that does not replace a study of better methodological merit.

In order to counter accusations of bias, you need a poll that is of sufficient scientific rigour as to be able to debunk such accusations. Only then can you face down the naysayers.

On a practical level, is it conceivable that China would agree to such a thing? I agree that is extremely exceedingly unlikely. One could reasonably infer that those who do not want to ask the question avoid doing so because they would be unhappy with the answer.

March 3, 2012 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

@ SK Cheung

Seems like our hunches have been affirmed by Tsarong’s two comments above.

March 3, 2012 @ 4:27 pm | Comment

@sk

If you can remove the conditions which make an opinion poll in occupied Tibet an exercise in futility, then by all means go ahead and Tibetans will cheer you on.

However, I think we can all agree that given what you call the “practical level” of cirucumstances in Tibet, holding any kind of poll _as conditions are now_ would be equivalent to holding a poll in occupied France in 1941, to ask people how they feel about being part of Greater Germany.

March 3, 2012 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

@ SK Cheung

Absent a collapse of the Chinese state, any change in Tibet’s status will have to occur with the consent of the Chinese people.

If Tibetan exiles want to effect real change in Tibet’s status, their challenge will be to disabuse themselves of their preconceived notions regarding sovereignty and work towards a better future for everyone living in Tibet as opposed to simply the aims of a particular ethnic group. Doing the former lets them come off as a legitimate quasi-government; doing the latter makes them seem like ethnic extremists in the vein of the Tamil Tigers or the Provisional IRA.

If Tibetan exiles believe that they want to work towards a better future within a single-state framework, then it makes sense to adopt a pro-integration stance as that will contribute to social welfare across Han and Tibetan in the entire Tibetan Plateau.

March 3, 2012 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

If people of Chinese descent were setting themselves on fire in the US, how much attention would that generate? Amongst the US media, as well as the China media? Oh, I forgot (clumsy ole me), Chinese-Americans aren’t setting themselves on fire! How many thousands are eagerly immigrating to the US on an annual basis? Cookie Monster included! I am certainly not reciprocating, to enjoy the disgusting lack of internet access in China, which Cookie monster has had the convenience of never experiencing under the protective shield of the US military (Taiwan) throughout his life.
How many Tibetans outside of Tibet today are eager to get a Chinese passport to live in (wish I could underline) their own homeland?
The average China-patriot ingrate-idiot has yet to understand the situation in Tibet, and is mainly interested in obsessively discussing the Native-American situation for the sole purpose of indirectly justifying the current situation in Tibet. No actual commitment to the native cause is apparent, solely pseudo-moral BS. First of all, two rights don’t make a wrong. Second of all, if China is such an awesome helper for “them poor ole backwards people in Tibet,” then why might people set themselves on fire? Let the conspiracy theories begin!
I would personally encourage Tibetan people to ask their “Han” neighbors whether they support their freedom. If not, then get Nat Turner on their asses! Just because the average Chinese citizen is stupid enough to accept a dictatorship does not mean that the average Tibetan has to accept this.
In the meantime, Cookie Monster might consider self-immolation in support of Native American rights, to awaken consciousness! And to leave more space for less mindless comments on this blog.

March 3, 2012 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

T_co:
“Absent a collapse of the Chinese state, any change in Tibet’s status will have to occur with the consent of the Chinese people.”
Haha, that is the dumbest comment yet, when has anything under the current Chinese state happened with the consent of the Chinese people? If so, how has that consent been exercised?
It is only with the collapse of the current state that any consent of the Chinese people might be realized. And that people is likely not going to include Tibet. In the long term, not a problem for a healthy and reasonable nation.

March 3, 2012 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

I would also urge T_co and cookie monster to go Native American lands and join in sovereignty protests, if they are so fond of drawing comparisons between racial relations in these two very different situations.
I would give them a head-start. After they arrive and begin their protests, I will fly across the world, then travel out west to join in sovereignty protests in Tibet.
Even considering their at least 36-hour (if not 48-hour) head-start, these idiots will still be left untouched, protesting a situation that they don’t in fact care about. I would be in a completely different situation. Anyone willing to take on this dare?

March 3, 2012 @ 5:56 pm | Comment

@ SK Cheung

On a practical level, is it conceivable that China would agree to such a thing? I agree that is extremely exceedingly unlikely. One could reasonably infer that those who do not want to ask the question avoid doing so because they would be unhappy with the answer.

Actually, the idea of a poll is currently being discussed in certain Chinese policy circles, but the sticking point there is the methodology itself, which Chinese policymakers believe would create contention from both camps. What areas should be polled? (Which areas of Sichuan and Qinghai?) Who should be polled? (Recent migrants to the province/TAR? Only “pure Tibetans, stretching back eight generations”? Somewhere in between? What about Tibetans living in Beijing/Shanghai/Hong Kong?) How should the questions be phrased? How could you verify the questioners are truly independent of either side of the issue?

The positions of the Tibetan exiles on these questions are exceedingly unlikely to match the preferences of the Chinese government. This in and of itself would doom the legitimacy of the poll.

Even worse is if results come out that are used to justify ethnic expulsions. Imagine, if, say, urban Tibetans of certain social strata are shown to support continued Chinese rule, with increased social stature for Tibetans in Chinese society; Tibetans affiliated with monasteries are shown to heavily oppose it; Han and Hui are shown to support it indefinitely; and most other Tibetans are shown to favor reduced police presence, greater autonomy, and some village-level accountability to reduce corruption. Having that result in place would essentially force any new government of Tibet to adopt a policy of ethnic cleansing in order to keep its hold on the region.

March 3, 2012 @ 6:01 pm | Comment

@ Kevin

I can’t speak for Cookie Monster, but reread what I wrote. When did I compare the situation in Tibet to what happened to Native Americans?

March 3, 2012 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

@ Kevin #74

Haha, that is the dumbest comment yet, when has anything under the current Chinese state happened with the consent of the Chinese people? If so, how has that consent been exercised? It is only with the collapse of the current state that any consent of the Chinese people might be realized. And that people is likely not going to include Tibet. In the long term, not a problem for a healthy and reasonable nation.

The logic goes like this:

Current Chinese administration has made Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan cornerstones of its legitimacy. Hence, no status change will occur.

A transition in the system of government, without a dissolution of the institutions of the Chinese state, may let Chinese policymakers reconsider these cornerstones.

A collapse of the Chinese state is a different matter altogether.

I’m confused by your final line. What is not a problem for a healthy and reasonable nation?

March 3, 2012 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

Then we can at least agree on the importance of the dissolution of the current Chinese state. Glad to meet a comrade-in-arms.

March 3, 2012 @ 6:28 pm | Comment

“allegations of brutality to Tibet are inaccurate. The brutality is directed only at very small segments of the Tibetan population–mostly clergy, and a few activists.”

We do have evidence of people who appear to have been fairly ordinary individuals being shot and killed by PLA/PLP crossing the border into Nepal. However, there is no evidence of ‘genocide’, and the people who try to equate Chinese rule in Tibet to a genocidal regime do so in bad taste.

March 3, 2012 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

@ Kevin

Making the state more representative to its own people does not equate to its dissolution. Sorry if that does not make sense to you.

March 3, 2012 @ 6:58 pm | Comment

@ Kevin

I personally have no opinion on the whole issue of what form of government ought to take shape anywhere. How can one man profess to speak for the will of the many?

March 3, 2012 @ 7:09 pm | Comment

@ Kevin

All I do is make studies and observations; given X, Y, and Z social, political, and economic conditions, what is the ideal pathway for the people on the Tibetan plateau to reach their self-declared goal of a better life?

March 3, 2012 @ 7:11 pm | Comment

Tsarong, lying is malicious and devious. T_co is saying what he believes; there are many extreme viewpoints on Tibet, as SKC said very well above. The reality on the ground is often hard to come by. Those views that differ from your own are not necessarily lies. Tibet is many things, but black and white it is not.

March 4, 2012 @ 12:28 am | Comment

To T-Co,
I was not aware that the concept of a scientifically- valid assessment of the opinion of Tibetans was being bantered about at any significant level. That even the mere discussion of such a concept can see the light of day in Chinese government circles is extremely surprising to me, but in a pleasant way, for once.

I agree that a poll not only needs to be scientifically rigourous, but the questions it asks also need to be valid. But if the CCP would agree to do one, and proceed to the hashing out of details such as who/what geographic region/what to ask, I think that is a step in the right direction. If I were Tibetan, that would be a discussion that holds potential, although ongoing distrust on their part about the CCP’s sincerity would also be entirely understandable.

I agree that seeking outright independence is something that would and should involve the entire Chinese citizenry, since it affects all of them. However, that is not the Dalai Lama’s official position at this time. Granting of “meaningful autonomy” (in more than name only), however, confines the discussion just to Tibet, and does not require the consent of the remainder of Chinese people (insofar as the CCP only nominally has consent of Chinese people to do anything whatsoever, as Kevin alludes to). And when it comes to meaningful autonomy, I suspect that would appeal not only to native/ethnic Tibetans, but also to Tibetans-by-immigration (ie Chinese who have gone there).

I would allow absentia polling, in the same sense that overseas Americans can vote in American elections. And I’m not one for eugenics, so i would certainly not restrict it to “ethnic Tibetans” alone, however-defined.

March 4, 2012 @ 8:19 am | Comment

Don’t know anything about China?

Try “My Chinese Wife Says” or “My Tibetan/Uighur/Hui/Martian Friend Thinks”

Order now and get “I Know A Minority That Says Chinese People Are Racist” and impress all your friends

…I’m assuming at least 3 of the above 4 posts will be deleted, because personal attacks are only allowed if the person hates the CCP and China like kevin

March 4, 2012 @ 9:30 am | Comment

SKC,

I agree that, in the absence of valid polling data, nobody really knows nothing about what Tibetans want. I sometimes make educated guesses about what they might want and then speculate about what might happen in the future based on a hypothesis, but it’s worth being reminded that, what the heck do I know?

Still, educated guesswork is the best we have to go on right now. It would be nice for the situation to change there so that more reliable data can become available.

I’m not optimistic about getting a scientific study done any time soon. Human rights organisations claim that Tibet is a really dangerous place to oppose the government. To the extent that that’s true, you can’t count on respondents to reply to questions honestly no matter how much effort you put into getting the methodology right, because you can’t control people’s perceptions of the danger of speaking freely.

March 4, 2012 @ 10:10 am | Comment

Cookie, all of your last four comments have been deleted. You can write them again and leave out the stuff where you say people should put shotguns in their mouths and kill themselves. I warned you long ago that sentences like this are intolerable: “Aww, look how angry [name deleted] is. Is your whore wife not putting out?” You can comment here, but you can never post crap like that. Start over.

March 4, 2012 @ 10:31 am | Comment

Cookie, can I get a “I Know Folks of Various Ethnic Groups Who Have Experienced Racism in China” and a “Kid, I Was Using Chopsticks Before You Were Born”

Thanks.

March 4, 2012 @ 11:17 am | Comment

Atticus
“I Was Using Chopsticks Before You Were Born”

I don’t think it counts if they’re being wiggled around into your skull in the second trimester.

Evidently it wasn’t a success.

March 4, 2012 @ 11:26 am | Comment

To Otto,
that’s true too. Not only do you need a scientifically valid means of collecting the data, but you also need subjects (in the sense of people being studied) who are willing to provide valid/truthful/honest responses. That might indeed be tricky, if they’ve been conditioned over 60 years to answer a certain way as a means of self-preservation. I am not aware of any scientific technique to account for that.

==============

Looks like Cookie fell off the deep end. He likes to proclaim himself not to be FQ, and he may well not be “Q”, but he’s certainly got enough “F” to go around.

March 4, 2012 @ 11:37 am | Comment

You’re lucky my mum doesn’t read this, Cookie. She’d gut you like the slimy hagfish that you are.

March 4, 2012 @ 12:58 pm | Comment

The Tibetans want racial autonomy, I don’t the Han race to mix with them. The obvious answer is to have two separate states no? The Tibetan exiles also want a racially distinct Tibet as do the Free Tibet hippies who, with all obliviousness, push multiculturalism at home.

My recommended course of action is to ethnically cleanse Northwestern Sichuan and parts of the TAR. The Tibetan population can all be relocated to Shigatse, Shannan, and Nyingchi and I suppose the southern dangle of Ngari prefecture. I think the Han should keep Lhasa so the Tibetans who live there will all have to be moved further south. This also happens to solve part of the border problem with India as those regions now are adjacent to a new independent Tibetan state.

Afterwards once the border is secured (good fences make good neighbors), the Tibetans can do whatever the hell they want as far as I am concerned.

March 4, 2012 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

The creation of Lei Feng is a absolute masterstroke by the propaganda department back then, it ties in perfectly with the mood of selfless serving the people, of liberating the whole of humanity, of the idealism of revolution. Everybody was immersed in the romance of Lei Feng.

Re-summoning him today is indicative of the absolute lack of imagination and inspiration of the propaganda department. In today’s money-first world, who still cares about the romance of selfless public service? Who still cares about revolution? Who still cares about the idealism of fighting for a cause?

Mao said, the CCP won China with the help of two things: the pen and the gun. Nowadays, the pen no longer has ink, and the gun, after so many decades of peace, is highly questionable as well.

The eras of the Hitler, Stalin, Mao were the golden eras of modern human history. That now will forever be a romance crystallized in the hearts of real men.

March 5, 2012 @ 12:48 am | Comment

The eras of the Hitler, Stalin, Mao were the golden eras of modern human history. That now will forever be a romance crystallized in the hearts of real men.

I don’t allow ad hominems but this is a special case. You are an asshole.

March 5, 2012 @ 12:51 am | Comment

Jing, the idea of concentration camps must make you excited.

March 5, 2012 @ 12:53 am | Comment

Ahh the inescapable Jewish narrative that has been so infected the West. Tell me Richard, how easy is the logical leap from wishing two people to live apart (their natural states) to wishing one group to be frog marched into gas chambers?

March 5, 2012 @ 1:17 am | Comment

I actually would agree with Jing here that he is not invoking concentration camps. He does espouse the eugenics concept hook/line/sinker, and he tolerates and perhaps even encourages an independent ethnic Tibetan state not out a desire to accommodate the possible wishes of Tibetans, but only as a means of creating a “pure Han” nation in China. In fact, Jing would probably go for carving up 55 areas of China’s territory and giving them to all the various ethnic minorities, just so he can round up all the “Han” into one big happy “Chinese” family. Deranged? For sure. But at least somewhat internally consistent. And that’s something.

As for King, I sure hope he is serving in a military somewhere, stationed in a forward area where he can get his rocks off. Otherwise he would be a hypocrite who isn’t even a “real man” based on his own warped metric.

March 5, 2012 @ 1:40 am | Comment

I didn’t say death camps or gas chambers, I said concentration camps, which inevitably pop up when you engineer the mass movement of millions of citizens from one place to the other, as we saw with the Palestinians and have also seen in Africa. There is no comparison with death camps the sole purpose of which was mass extermination. Concentration camps would be virtually inevitable, at least for several years, if you resettled millions of Tibetans. Where are they going to go? Will there be free condos waiting for them?

Do you even know what a concentration camp is? It’s a place where you concentrate people. You can also call it a resettlement camp but it’s the same thing. It’s also what the US did to the Japanese in WWII.

March 5, 2012 @ 2:06 am | Comment

Deleted

March 5, 2012 @ 3:19 am | Comment

How does a blog about China attract an anti-Semite? One of life’s many mysteries.

March 5, 2012 @ 3:34 am | Comment

I like the Jewish people, most of them I know are hardworking and intelligent. However, I agree with Jing in that this term concentration camp has been hijacked and become loaded. It’s now an electric fence that no one can touch.

From wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_camp#Concentration_camps

The earliest of these camps may have been those set up in the United States for Cherokee and other Native Americans in the 1830s; however, the term originated in the reconcentrados (reconcentration camps) set up by the Spanish military in Cuba during the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878) and by the United States during the Philippine–American War (1899–1902).[6]

Oh, snap.

March 5, 2012 @ 5:26 am | Comment

Thanks for the comment, Jing. Please don’t comment here anymore, okay?

March 5, 2012 @ 5:29 am | Comment

Jing, Tsarong, Stephen–Richard spends a lot of time and effort writing each and every blog post. Could you guys at least put the same amount of that into your comments?

March 5, 2012 @ 9:58 am | Comment

On Chinese democracy, the real challenge will be finding a new center of belief for the Chinese people. Unfortunately, belief is a double-edged sword.

Stephen is partially right when he points out that the age of “causes to die for” is mostly over (outside of the Middle East), but if history has shown us anything it’s that our current Belle Époque could quickly unravel back into mass slaughter. When life is good for everyone, there is no popular pressure to die for anything.

March 5, 2012 @ 10:03 am | Comment

Shouldn’t we try to keep it that way?

March 5, 2012 @ 10:03 am | Comment

@Richard

I cannot agree with you. A lie is an untruth. Whether it is malicious or what the person saying it deliberately believes does not affect whether it is a truth or a lie.

And you are of course right that truth is hard to come by on the Tibetan plateau, but it is not that hard to draw some basic conclusions, which are the same ones drawn by human rights organisations and the State Department annually. Namely that political repression in Tibet is widespread and severe; that the main reason why it is hard to come by truth and information is that the Chinese government strictly controls access.

Just a few examples recently: the Chinese government imprisoned four Tibetan students for working on a student newspaper. A filmmaker was imprisoned for six years for “splittism”. A writer was sentenced to fifteen months hard labour for writing songs!

Anyone like this Chinese liar t_co who claims in the face of these well known and documented sufferings of the Tibetan people under Chinese occupation that allegations of brutality in Tibet are inaccurate is a liar. I am not going to give a free pass to such liars, you are free to categorise them as “not malicious” if you want but I find such an attitude frankly hard to understand and morally questionable.

March 5, 2012 @ 2:33 pm | Comment

Tsarong,

Re the definition of “lie/liar”. Richard is right & you are wrong. Any reliable dictionary will confirm this.

Therefore, when you say (#110): “A lie is an untruth. Whether it is malicious or what the person saying it deliberately believes does not affect whether it is a truth or a lie”, that statement is itself an untruth. (The correct antonym of “truth” is “untruth”, not “lie”.) But, because you appear to be genuinely mistaken, or at least deserve the benefit of the doubt, I wouldn’t call you a liar on this. And it would also be rude to do so.

(PS Do you have any comments on #26?)

March 6, 2012 @ 1:01 am | Comment

when you say (#110): “A lie is an untruth. Whether it is malicious or what the person saying it deliberately believes does not affect whether it is a truth or a lie”, that statement is itself an untruth.

It’s still a lie if the originator knew it was false, even if other people later pass it on without realising it’s false. It doesn’t stop being a lie just because some people believe it.

That goes double if the people believe it only because they want to believe it.

March 6, 2012 @ 6:04 am | Comment

@ Tsarong

Calling people who have different positions on Tibet from you liars is not a good way to actually provoke discourse–especially when the only evidence you bring to back up your claim are anecdotal tales of oppression. Without bringing actual measurable data regarding Tibet, how can you draw conclusions about the facts on the ground?

March 6, 2012 @ 8:43 am | Comment

@ Peter, Otto

The real debate on Tibet hinges not on what is happening, but rather what is the best path forward. One thing I wish the exile community focused more on would be actually presenting a compelling vision of what Tibet *could* look like under an alternate government.

What is the sort of state they wish to construct? What sort of development do they want to do? What about reparations to China for the infrastructure investment that has happened over the past 60 years? Would they happen? Who would run the infrastructure otherwise?

Other than that, what would the general foreign policy look like? How about immigration from China? What happens to Tibetans living in other parts of China? Since Tibet would still need to import food and energy from China, how would those be taken care of?

What about domestic policy? Land reforms? Are all the monasteries going to get back the land that was taken away from them? How are the new owners (many of whom are Tibetan) going to be compensated? Taxes? Are monasteries (many of whom are profit-generating entities) going to be taxed? Constitutional safeguards on separation of church and state?

Plans for economic development–will Tibet rely purely on tourism? What sort of plans for industry?

The real way to earn respect from the people is not by arguing morality, but by drilling down into the details of policy. This is a lesson that most governments in the world take decades to understand, but one that all successful governments, by process of elimination, eventually realize.

March 6, 2012 @ 9:16 am | Comment

To tie these two threads (Tibet and the China democracy/Lei Feng debate) No body politic endorses a state to have the state preach morality at it. Morality is the end, not the means. While in an agarian society, the means for a state to achieve those good graces were simple and easily understandable to most people, now we live in a globalized, highly complex socio-economic sphere where complicated policies that the average person cannot fully grasp are necessary to promote the general welfare. It is in this role then that the state finds its purpose. All people, Tibetans, Chinese, Americans, would be well advised to grasp this fact.

March 6, 2012 @ 9:21 am | Comment

To tie these two threads (Tibet and the China democracy/Lei Feng debate) No body politic endorses a state to have the state preach morality at it.

The CCP preaches morality, hence the Lei Feng revival. The degree to which they have been endorsed by any body politic is debatable though.

While in an agarian society, the means for a state to achieve those good graces were simple and easily understandable to most people, now we live in a globalized, highly complex socio-economic sphere where complicated policies that the average person cannot fully grasp are necessary to promote the general welfare. It is in this role then that the state finds its purpose.

In other words, government ought to be left to the experts?

March 7, 2012 @ 6:40 am | Comment

That does look like a pitch for “meritocracy”. I have no problem with basing decisions on merit. The only question is who gets to make that determination of merit.

March 7, 2012 @ 6:43 am | Comment

t_co,

It seems a bit silly to go into these kind of details when we have established that we don’t know what Tibetans want. However, since my inclinations are basically policy-wonkish, I will take you up on answering some of your questions based on my own speculations.

What is the sort of state they wish to construct?

I would suggest a republic with democratically elected leaders (I prefer sortition, but democratic elections along the lines of the German constitution would be acceptable).

I’m actually a bit of a monarchist, but I don’t think Tibetans would accept a monarch other than the Dalai Lama, and I’m against mixing politics and religion like that because it’s bad for religion.

The Tibetan exiles have consistently stated since the 1970s that their goal is to achieve a republic (sovereign or autonomous) rather than a return to theocracy. My guess is that support for restoring the theocracy would be stronger among Tibetans in Tibet than among exiles.

What sort of development do they want to do?

Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody knows exactly how to get development to happen the way they want. I think the key thing is to have a capitalistic basis of the economy with as little corruption as possible. In other words, do the opposite of what India has done.

What about reparations to China for the infrastructure investment that has happened over the past 60 years?

Did China pay reparations to Japan for all the infrastructure they built in Taiwan?

Would they happen? Who would run the infrastructure otherwise?

Running the infrastructure is a challenge, but hardly insurmountable. Key specialist technocrat positions could keep employing the same personnel if they are willing (unless it is a highly politically sensitive position), with an offer of citizenship if necessary (I strongly suggest offering citizenship to any civilian legal resident of Tibet under current law, and I assume people with special technical skills are all legal rsesidents, so a special offer of citizenship would only be necessary if you were trying to retain uniformed technical experts). If they’re not willing, oh well, nobody is really irreplaceable.

The Tibetan Political Review addressed some of these questions in the article Tibetan freedom and the day after.

Other than that, what would the general foreign policy look like?

That would depend a lot on the circumstances of the independence or autonomy, wouldn’t it? I think the government would like and the public would support having a close alliance with India and the United States, because the Tibetan military under any circumstances would have a hard time resisting a competent Chinese army; but if they had U.S. military bases in Tibet, that starts to look quite a bit different. This is precisely the reason that China doesn’t want to see an independent Tibet. I would be happy with a compromise along the lines of what the U.S. did when the Phillipines became indepedendent. The arrangement was basically, “okay you can become fully independent in all other respects, on the condition that you agree to become a military ally: let us have military bases on your territory and don’t ally with our enemies or allow them to have bases.” Chinese military bases in Tibet should be near the border and not near population centers where the public might feel menaced by the soldiers.

How about immigration from China?

I doubt there would be much demand for that from either side.

What happens to Tibetans living in other parts of China?

I would suggest that Sinophone residents of Tibet should be offered their choice of citizenship or the equivalent of a green card if they are legal residents, or just the green card if they are illegal migrants. China should reciprocate by making the same offer to Tibetans living in China; although, really, if they already have PRC citizenship, it would be highly irregular to deny them Chinese citizenship if they want it even if they are living somewhere illegally.

Since Tibet would still need to import food and energy from China, how would those be taken care of?

Not convinced this is so, but if it is, then I guess it would depend a lot on the circumstances of the independence or autonomy, too.

What about domestic policy? Land reforms?

This is an extremely important question, since we’re talking about a transition from a Marxist economy (of the late state capitalist variety) to something else. I think it’s something that people could write books and a whole literature about, but it doesn’t seem to have been studied as intensively as it could be. There would need to be a transition to private ownership. Small-scale farmland and anything else that gets leased to everyday people for an extended period could simply be considered property of the leaseholder. Private parties who were divested of specific assets (such as a house that still stands) since 1949 should have them restored, with one major caveat: that this does not necessarily apply to major means-of-production properties (I’m thinking in particular of aristocratic landholdings). Everything else that’s private in a normal developed economy should be privatised very carefully. This is where careful research on the Eastern European experience could help develop a set of best practices. A good start would be to observe how Russia handled privatisation and do the opposite.

Are all the monasteries going to get back the land that was taken away from them? How are the new owners (many of whom are Tibetan) going to be compensated?

Good questions. I think that the bottom line summary of land reform in Tibet is that Tibetans did not mind very much or at all when land was taken away from aristocrats, but they minded a lot when land was taken away from monasteries. So, I would be inclined to say that monasteries should get their land back and aristocrats should not. Of course, in cases where a small farmer also has a claim to own the land, there should be compensation. I’m not sure whether it would be easier and better to give the farmer the land and compensate the monastery or the other way around.

There would be a lot of details to work out. Some large monasteries might be special cases. Tashilhünpo and Sakya monasteries were the two biggest feudal lords under the old Tibetan government, meaning they were essentially local governments, so I’m hesitant to say that they should get fee simple title to all their old lands. The three big monasteries of Lhasa were tied in very closely to the central government, which also makes them special cases.

Another issue is how to handle the property of tülkus (reincarnate lamas), who often had extensive possessions managed by their households (labrang). I’m inclined to say they should be treated the same as aristocrats. Some of the tülkus were also local governments, notably in Chamdo, so they definitely don’t get all of their land back. However, I’m not sure that it’s always easy to separate monastic property from labrang property. For instance, I had Tashilhünpo in mind as a landowner, but now that I think about it, it seems that the references I’ve seen are to the Panchen Lama’s labrang (which Tibetans often called simply, “the Labrang”). Were they two separate legal entities, or was Tashilhünpo considered to be subsumed in the Labrang?

I’m actually not that worried about the well-being of the top tier of most famous monasteries. It wouldn’t be a big problem if Tashilhünpo ended up with no property. Those monasteries have the ability to attract donations not only from Tibetans of all stripes, but also from networks of supporters in the Western world, India, and in mainland China, HK, and Taiwan.

Taxes? Are monasteries (many of whom are profit-generating entities) going to be taxed? Constitutional safeguards on separation of church and state?

Well, ideally there’s no need for a law specifically to safeguard separation of church and state; they are inherently separate and that’s never called into question. However, I can foresee problems with this in Tibet since there was never a separation historically. It would be good to establish clear and comprehensive rules on settling disputes between religious organisations over property, etc. (the government should not be in the business of deciding who is a “real” religious leader if there’s a dispute over authenticity, but if there’s a dispute over a piece of property, the courts will eventually have to get involved.)

At the very least, the basic law should contain statements specifying that the republic has a secular government, there is no religious test for office, and no favoritism is to be shown to any religion or sect.

I’m a little uncertain about what to do with the Potala Palace. Historically, it was divided into two parts, the White Palace, which was the residence of the Dalai Lama and the nerve center of the government and the Red Palace, which was used for religious purposes. I suppose the Potala Palace should be seen as a purely religious building and no government business should be conducted there.

Plans for economic development—will Tibet rely purely on tourism? What sort of plans for industry?

I think this is very much related to the question of what sort of development will be done, which, unfortunately, is hard to say. Tourism will of course be a major industry – they will lose a lot of Chinese tourism but gain a lot of international tourism. Tibet also has mineral resources. So, there will be some money coming, but it’s hard to say how effective they will be at leveraging that into developing industry and commerce.

March 7, 2012 @ 8:12 am | Comment

Otto, thanks for the extremely detailed answer.

The first key distinction we need to think about here is whether any new Tibetan government is built for the Tibetans or for all the inhabitants of the Tibetan plateau. The second key distinction is to ask–where do the exiles think Tibet ends, and China begins? The exile movement historically lumps chunks of Qinghai and Sichuan provinces into a “Greater Tibet”. They need to remember that the more territory they incorporate, the harder it will be for them to govern it, and the more the first key distinction is highlighted.

The third distinction is one you touched on as well. Are we building these policies for independence or autonomy? Given that you are the wonk here I’d suggest you make this choice.

What is the sort of state they wish to construct?
I would suggest a republic with democratically elected leaders (I prefer sortition, but democratic elections along the lines of the German constitution would be acceptable).
I’m actually a bit of a monarchist, but I don’t think Tibetans would accept a monarch other than the Dalai Lama, and I’m against mixing politics and religion like that because it’s bad for religion.
The Tibetan exiles have consistently stated since the 1970s that their goal is to achieve a republic (sovereign or autonomous) rather than a return to theocracy. My guess is that support for restoring the theocracy would be stronger among Tibetans in Tibet than among exiles.

What if, by the time Tibetans get around to building this state, the DL is dead, and the majority population is no longer ethnically Tibetan?

Actually, I think support for a theocracy would run the other way around, but without hard data we’re both in the dark on that. My logic is that the inhabitants of the plateau are used to answering to a secular bureaucracy by now, and that preference for the DL to be anything more than a figurehead is most prominent in the exile movement that interacts with him on a daily basis.

What sort of development do they want to do?
Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody knows exactly how to get development to happen the way they want. I think the key thing is to have a capitalistic basis of the economy with as little corruption as possible. In other words, do the opposite of what India has done.

This is something any incoming government will need to thoroughly analyze. As the link you provided states, Tibet will basically be an economic basketcase absent Chinese money, food, and energy flows. There needs to be a comprehensive stabilization plan in place before the exiles can even think soberly about anything else. Otherwise, you will have a lot of jubilant, cheering, jobless Tibetans next to a lot of scared, resentful, jobless Han/Hui/Uighurs, and that combination of idle time/emotional disconnect could trigger a Balkan-style meltdown (in which case the Tibetans–being unarmed–would suffer the most.)

What about reparations to China for the infrastructure investment that has happened over the past 60 years?
Did China pay reparations to Japan for all the infrastructure they built in Taiwan?

Japan was militarily defeated by the United States. Unless China gets embroiled in a general war with the US that results in US Marines occupying Beijing, China would have the capability and intent to wring repayment out of a nascent Tibetan government.
Furthermore, without a promise of reparations, what would prevent the Chinese government from pulling a Belgian Congo approach and dismantling all their infrastructure before they leave? There is nothing that would make such a move illegal under international law.

Would they happen? Who would run the infrastructure otherwise?
Running the infrastructure is a challenge, but hardly insurmountable. Key specialist technocrat positions could keep employing the same personnel if they are willing (unless it is a highly politically sensitive position), with an offer of citizenship if necessary (I strongly suggest offering citizenship to any civilian legal resident of Tibet under current law, and I assume people with special technical skills are all legal rsesidents, so a special offer of citizenship would only be necessary if you were trying to retain uniformed technical experts). If they’re not willing, oh well, nobody is really irreplaceable.
The Tibetan Political Review addressed some of these questions in the article Tibetan freedom and the day after.

This raises a practical issue of how long it would take to get another set of specialists in place, and an ethical issue of who gets citizenship.

Other than that, what would the general foreign policy look like?
That would depend a lot on the circumstances of the independence or autonomy, wouldn’t it? I think the government would like and the public would support having a close alliance with India and the United States, because the Tibetan military under any circumstances would have a hard time resisting a competent Chinese army; but if they had U.S. military bases in Tibet, that starts to look quite a bit different. This is precisely the reason that China doesn’t want to see an independent Tibet. I would be happy with a compromise along the lines of what the U.S. did when the Phillipines became indepedendent. The arrangement was basically, “okay you can become fully independent in all other respects, on the condition that you agree to become a military ally: let us have military bases on your territory and don’t ally with our enemies or allow them to have bases.” Chinese military bases in Tibet should be near the border and not near population centers where the public might feel menaced by the soldiers.

If there was any risk that Tibet would inch closer to a pro-India or pro-US stance, China would never agree to any autonomy for Tibet at all. Obviously under a military solution Tibet would become pro-US/pro-India, but without that step occuring no Chinese leadership would agree otherwise. In this vein, Chinese of all political stripes do not see how the Tibetan exiles can accept a Phillipines-style solution when the owe their existence to the Indian government’s forbearance. The Tibetan exile movement would probably have to issue a clear statement beforehand explicitly endorsing continued Chinese suzerainty and military supremacy over Tibet, and make that statement repeatedly, before Chinese worries on this issue are assuaged. In addition, they would have to go beyond their usual statements on autonomy and explicitly declare, again, repeatedly, that they will never encourage pro-India or pro-US sentiment in their domestic policies if they get autonomy. I do not see how India could tolerate that sort of behavior from the exiles, however, so this is a major sticking point.

How about immigration from China?
I doubt there would be much demand for that from either side.

You’d be surprised. There is still considerable cross-immigration between the Baltic States and Russia; between Georgia and Russia; between the UK and the Commonwealth; between France and Algeria. And many of those splits happened less than amicably.

Policy desires, of course, are another thing altogether. Will ethnic Tibetans push for a xenophobic policy? Will the government accede to that pressure? Even if it feels good, would it be the *right* thing to do?

What happens to Tibetans living in other parts of China?
I would suggest that Sinophone residents of Tibet should be offered their choice of citizenship or the equivalent of a green card if they are legal residents, or just the green card if they are illegal migrants. China should reciprocate by making the same offer to Tibetans living in China; although, really, if they already have PRC citizenship, it would be highly irregular to deny them Chinese citizenship if they want it even if they are living somewhere illegally.

Two things here. First, the question specifically refers to the educated elite of Tibet in eastern Chinese provinces–they constitute the majority of Tibetans in China. Second, to deny citizenship on the basis of a Chinese internal passport system which you yourself would agree is rather absurd implies one of two things: one, hypocrisy, or two, a desire to limit the number of non-Tibetan citizens on the plateau. China would not agree to two, and could easily tar the Tibetan government into the same corner of bad ethnic policy as Israel.

Since Tibet would still need to import food and energy from China, how would those be taken care of?
Not convinced this is so, but if it is, then I guess it would depend a lot on the circumstances of the independence or autonomy, too.

This again falls into the same category of reparations and economic transfers. Under independence, all these get thrown into jeopardy and Tibetans would need to come up with a solution, very very fast.

What about domestic policy? Land reforms?
This is an extremely important question, since we’re talking about a transition from a Marxist economy (of the late state capitalist variety) to something else. I think it’s something that people could write books and a whole literature about, but it doesn’t seem to have been studied as intensively as it could be. There would need to be a transition to private ownership. Small-scale farmland and anything else that gets leased to everyday people for an extended period could simply be considered property of the leaseholder. Private parties who were divested of specific assets (such as a house that still stands) since 1949 should have them restored, with one major caveat: that this does not necessarily apply to major means-of-production properties (I’m thinking in particular of aristocratic landholdings). Everything else that’s private in a normal developed economy should be privatised very carefully. This is where careful research on the Eastern European experience could help develop a set of best practices. A good start would be to observe how Russia handled privatisation and do the opposite.

Tibet’s not really a statist economy; the economy (outside of infrastructure) is already highly capitalist. The bigger distinction here would be how Chinese-owned property is handled. Much of the plateau’s infrastructure, for example, is owned by the same five Chinese mega-SOEs. Who gets them? Given that SOEs are the single largest interest group in the Chinese government (even more than the PLA, in my experience), any hint that their assets might be at risk would immediately put negotiations into a deep freeze. Any post facto betrayal/nationalization would lead to strong, strong lobbying for a reconquista.

Are all the monasteries going to get back the land that was taken away from them? How are the new owners (many of whom are Tibetan) going to be compensated?
Good questions. I think that the bottom line summary of land reform in Tibet is that Tibetans did not mind very much or at all when land was taken away from aristocrats, but they minded a lot when land was taken away from monasteries. So, I would be inclined to say that monasteries should get their land back and aristocrats should not. Of course, in cases where a small farmer also has a claim to own the land, there should be compensation. I’m not sure whether it would be easier and better to give the farmer the land and compensate the monastery or the other way around.
There would be a lot of details to work out. Some large monasteries might be special cases. Tashilhünpo and Sakya monasteries were the two biggest feudal lords under the old Tibetan government, meaning they were essentially local governments, so I’m hesitant to say that they should get fee simple title to all their old lands. The three big monasteries of Lhasa were tied in very closely to the central government, which also makes them special cases.
Another issue is how to handle the property of tülkus (reincarnate lamas), who often had extensive possessions managed by their households (labrang). I’m inclined to say they should be treated the same as aristocrats. Some of the tülkus were also local governments, notably in Chamdo, so they definitely don’t get all of their land back. However, I’m not sure that it’s always easy to separate monastic property from labrang property. For instance, I had Tashilhünpo in mind as a landowner, but now that I think about it, it seems that the references I’ve seen are to the Panchen Lama’s labrang (which Tibetans often called simply, “the Labrang”). Were they two separate legal entities, or was Tashilhünpo considered to be subsumed in the Labrang?
I’m actually not that worried about the well-being of the top tier of most famous monasteries. It wouldn’t be a big problem if Tashilhünpo ended up with no property. Those monasteries have the ability to attract donations not only from Tibetans of all stripes, but also from networks of supporters in the Western world, India, and in mainland China, HK, and Taiwan.

Let’s just hope the monasteries don’t get greedy and start abusing their newfound political influence like certain madrassas have done in postwar Iraq.

Taxes? Are monasteries (many of whom are profit-generating entities) going to be taxed? Constitutional safeguards on separation of church and state?
Well, ideally there’s no need for a law specifically to safeguard separation of church and state; they are inherently separate and that’s never called into question. However, I can foresee problems with this in Tibet since there was never a separation historically. It would be good to establish clear and comprehensive rules on settling disputes between religious organisations over property, etc. (the government should not be in the business of deciding who is a “real” religious leader if there’s a dispute over authenticity, but if there’s a dispute over a piece of property, the courts will eventually have to get involved.)
At the very least, the basic law should contain statements specifying that the republic has a secular government, there is no religious test for office, and no favoritism is to be shown to any religion or sect.
I’m a little uncertain about what to do with the Potala Palace. Historically, it was divided into two parts, the White Palace, which was the residence of the Dalai Lama and the nerve center of the government and the Red Palace, which was used for religious purposes. I suppose the Potala Palace should be seen as a purely religious building and no government business should be conducted there.

This will be easy to write, but hard to implement. Tibet essentially has no secular legal tradition to draw from, while the exile movement’s current attempts at secularization have never faced any real-world test drive, given that their authority exists only in theory.

Plans for economic development—will Tibet rely purely on tourism? What sort of plans for industry?
I think this is very much related to the question of what sort of development will be done, which, unfortunately, is hard to say. Tourism will of course be a major industry – they will lose a lot of Chinese tourism but gain a lot of international tourism. Tibet also has mineral resources. So, there will be some money coming, but it’s hard to say how effective they will be at leveraging that into developing industry and commerce.

Again, the real challenge here will be how to get things in and out of the region. Becoming a new Hermit Kingdom is out of the question when their presumably less-than-friendly new neighbor as large as the United States. What’s more difficult to manage would be the dependency on China. Any policy they implement would have to be preplanned and have the tacit cooperation of the Chinese government. Planning is easy but cooperation would be nigh impossible.

The bottom line seems to be, that, based on the policies we just analyzed, if a new Tibetan government doesn’t come to power through military force, then it would be at the mercy of China even after independence. In that situation, all the current resentment may be redirected towards the incoming politicians, who will be viewed as weak at best and Quisling at worst.

March 7, 2012 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

@jer
I guess definitions are subjective. That is also the answer to your question about genocide. Trying to wipe out a religious community is not the same as trying to exterminate an entire population through mass murder, but both are kinds of genocide (trying to wipe out all or part of an ethnic or religious group). Nobody claims the Chinese in Tibet have tried to wipe out all Tibetans the way the Nazis tried to wipe out all the jews, but they have certainly committed mass murder. In 1959, in the “struggle sessions” repression after 1959, and in 2008.

March 8, 2012 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

t_co,

I’m not sure when I will have time to respond in detail, but I wanted to address the most basic point you brought up at the beginning. When I talk about a “free Tibet”, I’m talking about a self-governing Tibetan national entity (regardless of whether a sovereign state or a subsovereign autonomous republic) which is in some sense democratically governed. In order to be both democratic and Tibetan-national, it must have a population with a Tibetan majority, or at least a plurality. So, the idea of an independent or autonomous Tibet is a non-starter if the population in question is mostly non-Tibetan. A Tibetan national entity would be “for Tibetans” the same way that Germany is “for Germans” or Latvia is “for Latvians”. In modern political systems, this is compatible with having thriving minority groups among the citizenry.

Since I’m a wonk by disposition, I’ve put some work in the past into looking at where the boundaries of a “Greater” Tibet would lie (for the record, I’ve done similar thought experiments multiple times for partitioning my own home country — I didn’t do this because I hate China). I was working mostly at the prefecture level, but in some cases, I sliced it down by counties or even more finely than that. The goal was to draw borders that are fairly clean and straight rather than complex and winding. My map makes Tibet about 20% of the land area of the PRC, whereas “traditional Tibetan lands” are supposedly closer to 25%, so it would be included most but not all of the Tibetan areas outside of the TAR. I looked at the population based mostly on year 2000 census figures, and I estimated that there would be a Sinophone minority of 15-20%. I suspect it would actually be less than that, because some people would voluntarily repatriate themselves (note the demographic pattern in the post-Soviet states, where the Russian minority in the poorer countries declined as a proportion of population sharply over the course of the 1990s). Voluntarily repatriation may or may not be counterbalanced by increases in Han and Hui people on the plateau since 2000.

March 10, 2012 @ 7:23 am | Comment

@ Otto

Thanks for the response. If Han migration continues and they eventually constitute over 50% of the population of Tibet, how would you get to your desired “free Tibet”?

March 10, 2012 @ 12:55 pm | Comment

When it becomes impossible to draw workable boundaries on a map, then Free Tibet has become irretrievable. Just like Free Inner Mongolia is irretrievable, or Free Cornwall, or Free Anishinaabe Country.

This is why it’s important that things not get to that point.

March 10, 2012 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

Tsarong, would you contact me at temp031012@gmail.com?

March 10, 2012 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

Time to put this thread to rest.

March 15, 2012 @ 10:38 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.