Friday, August 1, 2008

A Lengthy Analysis of China: Tibet and Xinjiang under Communist Rule

Post 3 of an 11 part essay on how the recent unrest in Tibet is a barometer of the various internal issues and the international pressure that China is struggling to deal with.

As time went on, successive uprisings, such as the latest riots in Tibet, have only led the government to tighten its grip on these so-called “autonomous” regions. Like elsewhere in China, the Communist government has consistently throughout its 60 year reign made heavy use of the military and the police (and little use of human rights) to forcibly suppress unrest and eliminate any sort of challenge to its rule. In addition, the government has made full use of its control over the media to carry out propaganda campaigns aimed at encouraging loyalty towards China and away from “separatists,” the collective term for any sort of opposition, violent or peaceful, to Chinese rule and policies in these areas.[1][2]

Over the years, China has also used some more unconventional methods to enforce order. In Xinjiang, for example, the Uyghurs allege that the Chinese have performed nuclear tests in Xinjiang and have forced Uyghur women to have abortions in an effort to reduce the Uyghur population,[3] and in the wake of 9/11, the Chinese government was even able to get the international community to brand Uyghur “separatists” as “terrorists” in an attempt to legitimize their crackdowns in the region.[4]

Not only has the Chinese government forcibly kept the Tibetans and Uyghurs in line, but it has also instituted policies aimed at assimilating them into Chinese culture at the expense of their traditional cultures in much the same way that the Qing incorporated Inner Mongolia a century earlier. In particular, the Chinese have striven to undermine one of the most critical aspects of Tibetan and Uyghur culture: religion. In Tibet, the Chinese government has arrested a significant number of Buddhist monks and has forced the monasteries to teach “patriotic education” classes to their monks.[5] In an even more blatant attempt at controlling Tibetan Buddhism, the Chinese recently handpicked the new Panchen Lama and arrested the boy who the Tibetan monks had determined to be the true Panchen Lama.[6] In Xinjiang, the Chinese government has targeted Islam, widely practiced by the Uyghurs, as a source of separatist sentiments. Using this as justification, the Chinese government has required imams to take patriotic strengthening classes similar to those imposed on Tibetan monks, and it has forbidden any expression of religion in Uyghur schools. The Chinese government has even gone so far as to dictate what version of the Koran may be used and where religious practices may be held.[7]

As they suppress religion and other aspects of indigenous culture, the Chinese government has encouraged Han Chinese migration to Tibet and Xinjiang in an effort to literally remake these areas into Chinese regions with Chinese culture. Spurred on by economic incentives offered by the Chinese government, growing Han immigration to these areas has significantly diluted the regional population: in 2005, for example, Han Chinese made up 41% of Xinjiang while Uyghurs made up 47% (by comparison, in 1949 a little under 5% of Xinjiang was Han Chinese while over 90% was Uyghur).[8] With this influx of Chinese comes an influx of Chinese culture, which is further eroding the traditional Tibetan and Uyghur cultures. Although, as the Chinese are quick to point out, such migration has also instigated economic activity in these regions, the Han have been the main beneficiaries of such commerce, which has only added to the resentment felt by the Tibetans and Uyghurs towards their Chinese overlords. As Han Chinese, Han prosperity, and Han culture continue to infiltrate Tibet and Xinjiang, the Han Chinese government has been able to argue on more and more grounds that these territories should indeed belong to China. Should these trends continue, and should aspects of Tibetan and Uyghur culture, such as religion, continue to weaken, these regions may indeed lose their ethnic and cultural identities, like Inner Mongolia largely did under the late Qing Dynasty, and then China’s arguments would indeed prove true.

As has happened in countless other multinational empires in history, though, China’s direct, authoritative rule over Tibet and Xinjiang has indeed caused more determined resistance in such areas. Although it has brought some economic activity and immediate order, China’s autocratic rule has ultimately strengthened the very separatist sentiments it has worked so painstakingly to suppress. Centuries of distinctness from Chinese sovereignty and culture laid a strong foundation for such sentiments to begin with in Tibet and Xinjiang, which the strong imposition of Chinese rule has only reinforced. In addition, the successful independence of Mongolia and the later independence of the other Central Asian states after the collapse of the Soviet Union have given even more momentum to calls for Tibetan and Uyghur independence.

More fundamentally, though, the controlling, intrusive style of Chinese rule has made many Tibetans and Uyghurs equate independence with preserving their ethnic identity and way of life. With Chinese actions encroaching into religion, education, and other aspects of daily life, clearly the current Chinese policies must be changed in order to preserve Tibetan and Uyghur culture. With no peaceful means of changing such policies and with no sign that the current Chinese government will relent, let alone grant true autonomy, independence increasingly seems the only practical solution for the Tibetans and Uyghurs.

This reality will inexorably continue to breed unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang, which will continue to destabilize these regions and hamper their ability to prosper, weakening China domestically. Furthermore, such upheaval will doubtlessly continue to sap the money and will of the Chinese government even as more pressing problems loom on the horizon.

Internationally, the Tibetans and the Uyghurs have and will continue to garner sympathy: in the wake of the recent Tibetan crackdown, for example, pro-Tibetan rallies sprung up throughout towns in India[9] and Nepal,[10] bringing the crushing weight of the Tibetan crisis on the villages they march in. In addition, China faces a stream of international scrutiny for their repressive crackdowns against the Tibetans and Uyghurs, not the least from pro-Tibetan and human rights groups that have harassed the Olympic torch on its journey to Beijing. Truly, China’s authoritative, controlling rule over the non-Chinese regions of Tibet and Xinjiang has been and will continue to be a great obstacle to China’s development, both internally and externally.

[1] http://www.cwru.edu/affil/tibet/documents/DragonandSnowLion.pdf
[2] http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/china0405/index.htm
[3] http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/archives/1999/10/14/0000006433
[4] http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/china0405/index.htm
[5] http://savetibet.org/tibet/index.php
[6] http://www.savetibet.org/campaigns/pl/index.php
[7] http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/china0405/index.htm
[8] http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/china401/facts.html
[9] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/18/world/asia/18exiles.html
[10]http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/features/article_1397349.php/In_photos_Nepal_Tibetan_Protests

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3 comments:

veracity said...

It is time for international intervention on the Tibet issue.
Politicians, form every country, for five decades, have rung their hands in public over the atrocity of the illegal Chinese occupation, but never shown the least bit if courage to make a tangible impact.
Time is fast running out for Tibet under the perverse policies of the occupying Han Chinese.
Now time has come for righteous politicians from the so called civilized nations to bring this issue to the UN, and as a first step force the Han Chinese regime to accept at least some semblance of accepted international human rights standards, all of which they’re signatories to.

Every self respecting nation calling itself civilized should immediately:

• Declare Tibet an occupied nation.
• Recognize the Tibetan Government in exile.
• Force China to cease its illegal occupation through intense, coordinated international pressure.
• Postulate the issue before the UN and bring about resolutions to the same effect.

The Dalai Lama’s good intentions are being exploited to the full by the CCP and made a mockery of, by their resorting to puerile berating of his HH, and questioning his legitimacy.

The legitimacy question is China’s alone.
‘China’ is a perverse construct by the Han Chinese; they’ve invented the grotesque fantasy of the ‘nation family of 56 ethnic groups’ to masquerade their illegal occupation, annexation and settlement of these ethnic minorities’ lands.

This anachronistic, colonial and thoroughly racist empire is doomed to failure; they rose by, and just manage to hold onto power by the barrel of the gun.
Remove the gun, and with it evaporates their raison d'être, and their perceived ‘legitimacy’ arising from it.

http://one-just-world.blogspot.com/2008/07/letter-to-hu-jintao.html

http://one-just-world.blogspot.com/2008/07/of-patriotism-and-motherlands.html

Hu said...

Dear Veracity,
Tibet is a part a China for Centuries, earlier than the foundation of USA!
You are an Idiot!
Could you white people withdraw from America firstly?
If you do it firstly, I am sure we Chinese will do.
Do not want to be a judge! In fact, you are nothing to China.

Dalai Lama is a lier. For example, you check this fake news.
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24220325-5005961,00.html

Hu said...

Please search "tibet slave" or "tibet feudalism" using Google. You will know more.
Do not daydream! Thanks!