Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tibet, and more on childish China

Ah, Facebook. That place where everyone under 25 spends at least twice as much time as they want to. It's the place where you can find the most unintelligent debate on any subject. Girls asking if, as a Catholic, she can call herself a Christian. People asking if Obama is a secret Muslim who prays to idols and shouts 'Allahu Akbar!'

And then we get to the Tibet groups. There is the obvious Free Tibet group. There is the Tibet IS China group. But last of all, there is the most interesting. It is the group called "Tibet WAS, IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE a part of China." It has some 23,000 members. It is the most virulent pit of childishness and petty attacks that I have seen (save a few groups directed against Bush and a few against abortion). Now I know that what's said on facebook is exaggerated and often intentionally so, but I think that the constant overreaction of Chinese nationalists is yet another symptom of the lack of a worldwide diplomatic culture in China.

The group is mostly in English, otherwise I couldn't read it. One section is: "An applaud to Jin Jing for her valiant effort to protect the torch in Pairs and shame to the terrorists who attacked her." There we have it. Protesters trying to put forward a political point (in an inflammatory and probably illegal way) aren't just wrong. Neither are they simple lawbreakers. They're terrorists! I could make a joke about how only China is more willing to label people as terrorists than the USA...wait, I already made it.

What I really wanted to do was critique the name of the group. It makes three claims:
  1. Tibet was part of China (presumably in the past)
  2. Tibet is part of China
  3. Tibet will always be part of China
Tibet was part of China: This one is the hardest to talk about, simply because I don't know what 'was' means. There have been many periods in history where Tibet was independent of China. The traditional zone of China rarely extends as far inland as Tibet. Most of the Chinese Empires were more coastal. That deals with the far past. How about the near history? Until the late 1950s, Tibet was independent. Whatever the status of the people - poor, oppressed, etc - it does not change the fact that Tibet was not a part of China, at least de facto, less than sixty years ago. So the first claim is false, Tibet has not always been part of China. It is culturally related, but not the same. It is ethnically related, but not the same.

Tibet is part of China: Yeah, of course it is. No one would argue with this. Some people would say that it should not be, but that's normative. This claim is descriptive.

Tibet will always be part of China:
I don't know how to assess a statement that must apply throughout all time. Besides, if something will go on forever that does not necessarily make it good or acceptable. Inequality and unfairness will go on forever, but they are neither good nor acceptable.

The reason I went through the name is that is becomes some sort of slogan for pro-China groups. There are ten groups with variations on this slogan, which does nothing to attempt to convince people who don't already believe. It's childish to suppose that saying this over and over will do anything but make undecided people suspicious of the seeming craziness of the slogan itself. Besides, for a group that finds history so important it's pretty historically inaccurate.

1 comment:

xiaoyong said...

So you know a little about the darkness under teocracy and slavery of times of Dalai Lama. It seems you don't care about the human right, democracy, or liberty like the other western media and politicians.
Let's go to the history of Tibet de facto. From 14 century of Yuan Dynasty, Tibet was united in China as a province, and the Yuan dynasty accepted the Buddhism. From then on, Tibet was province of Ming dynasty and Qing daynasty, sometime when the central government was frigile or corrupt (and even at that time, tibet hasn't declared independence to China, if you can read chinese or tibetean, we can offer you many documents), and when the central government gained power over china, they tibetean governers governed tibet under supervisors from central government.
Even in times of foreign invisors (include england, u.s., russia, germany, france, and many other western countries who want human rights now) invaded and occupied most part of China, tibet was still part of China, and never declared independence to central government. Only onetime the english government (who invaded tibet and killed a lot tibetean people in order to occupy tibet but failed) forced tibet to declare independence and adherence to english government,of course objected by Chinese central government, and made a document but they were ashamed to show it pubblicly.
As for Dalai Lama, he himself signed the contract with central government and agreed to continue to be part of China since 1951, and you can read the contract and the letters sent to Mao zedong by Dalai Lama, if you want things de facto.
When China began to take reformation to remove feudalism and slavery, the so called tibetean nobles (Dalai was one of them, who owned a lot of land in Lhasa and more than 6000 slaves) felt threatened to lose their lands and social position. So they rebelled against Chinese central government.
This is a small history of tibet. There are many english books written by western historians, if you don't believe me, you can go to them.
But I can tell you that the tibeteans have democracy to elect their own leaders, have religious liberty to believe their religion, and have the human rights to live, to think, to believe. If they really want independence, they should have done it, because more than 70% tibetean government including their president are local tibeteans.
China has realized a dream that EU perhaps never arrive at, and the harmony between different nations can live peacefully together, help each other in one country, this is the greatest civilization in the world. For the world, uniting is more beautiful than dividing, let alone their history and civilization have made it real.
So, if you have a really human mind, please think about it.