Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tianamen in Tibet

The past week has seen a uprising by Tibetans against the Chinese followed by a massive and violent crackdown by the occupying Chinese forces. The Western media are just now starting to give these events serious attention. (Forgive them, they were distracted by a hooker scandal.)

This article in the times covers the start of the uprising in the beginning of the week. The unrest began Monday at Drepung Loseling Monastery, where monks staged a sit down strike to protest Chinese regulations forcing them to take "reeducation" courses and write essays denouncing the Dalai Lama. On Tuesday, Monks at the Sera Monestary in Lhasa and the Ganden Monastery nearby staged separate pro-independences rally and waved the Tibetan flag to commemorate the failed 1959 uprising against the Chinese that forced the Dalai Lama to flee his homeland. The Sera protest was broken up by tear gas.

The initial protests were completely peaceful.

By Friday, however, things had turned violent. Yesterday the Times reported one account of how the escalation occurred. Monks from the Ramoche Temple marched to protest the rough treatment of the monks in the earlier protests. Police publicly beat the Ramoche monks. This sparked rioting and violent reprisals from lay Tibetans. Chinese sources report that the lay Tibetans began attacking Chinese shopkeepers without provocation. However the Chinese sources do not seem to be denying that the police used extreme force on the monks. And it would not be surprising that lay Tibetans, who lack the discipline and training in nonviolence of monks and nuns would respond violently to seeing monks beaten.

Now the fighting has spread to areas which were traditionally a part of tibet, but which are not recognized by the Chinese Communist Party as part of the Tibet Autonomous region, including Qinghai, Gansu, and parts of Sichuan. H.H. the Dalia Lama has refused to issue a call for the protests to end. The Dalai Lama does not advocate complete independence for Tibet, merely more autonomy within the Chinese system.

Chinese President Hu Jintao owes his rise in the CCP to his role in orchestrating the violent crackdown on the nonviolent Tianamen Square protesters in 1989. I spent a portion of last summer listening to people argue for the Confucian thesis (shared by Plato) that the key to a good society is to have virtuous rulers. I remain steadfast in my (very democratic) belief that virtuous rulers are too hard to come by, and that the key to a good society is using the rule of law to restrain the rulers. China routinely confirms that belief.

Ok, I need to enter some grades, but I'm also going to go look for alternative sources for information on the uprising.

Update: Good Tibet coverage at Radio Free Asia

This the the blog of Tibet Uprising, a protest movement based in India which has attempted to march to Lhasa to commemorate the 1959 uprising.

Images of protests on youtube. Some peaceful, some not


brightkelly said...

Don't pretend you know Tibet.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Wow, that video is an astonishing batch of bad reasoning. Here's how I reconstruct it.

Thesis (from the title): Tibet is was and always will be a part of China.

Arg 1. China is currently multicultural.

Well, yes, but that says nothing about whether Tibetans should be one of those cultures

Arg 2: Tibet has been a part of China off and on since the Yuan Dynasty

So when Kublai Kahn overthrew the Song dynasty in 1258 to establish the Yuan Dynasty, he was able to add it to the land holdings he already had in tibet by a combination of invasion and strategic marriage. And this established legitimacy how?

Arg 3: Tibet has been a part of china longer than the various English colonies have had their independence.

The issue isn't the age of a country, but the method by which it was established. It may have only been in the 19th century that the Candadians first asked for independence from the Crown (and were granted it in part by the work of philosopher and member of parliament J.S. Mill) but the fact is that this was a peaceful and democratic way to operate.

arg 4: Once you guys free your indigenous people, we will free the Tibetans

Ad hominem tu quoque.

the English colonized tibet, cruelly

Ad hominem tu quoque. I'm going to use these in class tomorrow.

Tibet under the Dalai Lama was a feudal monarchy

Ad hominem tu quoque, with the Tu now being the tibetans.

The Dalai Lama is funded by the CIA to fight against China

Wow, this would be a new high point in the CIA undermining US interest.

Even if true, this would be a total red herring for the issue of the legitimacy of Chinese rule over Tibet. Satan himself could fund the dalai lama, and that wouldn't make China's claim legitimate.

China is building Tibetan infrastructure

Ok, this would a cogent argument, if the benefits of building the infrastructure were benefiting Tibetans, rather than benefiting Chinese migrants and setting up the extraction of mineral wealth from Tibet.