Home > Analysis, culture > (Letter from Otto Kerner, Opposing Viewpoint) The religious politics of reincarnation

(Letter from Otto Kerner, Opposing Viewpoint) The religious politics of reincarnation

Some of the comments to a recent post show what I believe are misconceptions about the religious politics of the Dalai Lama’s putative reincarnations. One commenter writes:

Since the next reincarnation of Dalai Lama supposed to be “discovered” by the current Penchan Lama, how can a democratically reincarnated Dalai Lama have any religious legitimacy?


It is a popular misconception, encouraged not only by the Chinese government but also at times by the government-in-exile, that the Panchen Lama is supposed to find the next Dalai Lama. This is quite an overstatement. In fact, traditionally, each of the reincarnated lamas has his own gang of cronies, known in Tibetan as a labrang (Tibetan: བླ་བྲང་). The Panchen Lama had his own labrang. This gang of cronies almost always has the primary responsibility for finding the new reincarnation of their master. They will typically do so in consultation with other prominent lamas, which is the kernel of truth that leads to this misconception: when searching for a new Dalai Lama, the cronies would normally ask the Panchen Lama for his input. However, this certainly never meant that the Panchen Lama had the final choice in the matter or that they would be unable to proceed with the search if the Panchen Lama is unavailable.

Another commenter writes:

The prestige, power, and institution of the DL was created by the Chinese Central gov’t in Beijing some 3-4 centuries ago. Why is the DL fake if the Chinese central gov’t in Beijing want to change/reform it in any way?

I wonder if someone can provide a reputable historical source which supports this claim, because, to the best of my knowledge, it is incorrect. The Dalai Lamas have been somewhat prestigious since the 15th century, when the first one founded Tashilhünpo Monastery (Tibetan: བཀྲ་ཤིས་ལྷུན་པོ་; Chinese: 扎什伦布寺). The second and third became the most prominent persons at Drepung Monastery (Tibetan: འབྲས་སྤུངས་, Chinese: 哲蚌寺) near Lhasa. The third increased his prestige by making an alliance with a Mongol warlord who gave him the title “Dalai Lama”. In the 1640s, the 5th Dalai Lama established himself as the ruler of Tibet by winning the civil war against the King of Tsang. He had a lot of help from his Mongol buddies but no help from the Chinese empire, which was, after all, busy with the fall of the Ming and the rise of the Qing at that time.

After the Dalai Lama was in power in Tibet and the Qing were in power in Beijing, the Dalai Lama and the emperor forged a close alliance in which the Dalai Lama recognised the emperor as his overlord and the emperor recognised the Dalai Lama’s spiritual primacy. Later, in the 18th century, the Dalai Lama’s position was weaker and the emperor was able to make some political inroads, eventually involving himself in the selection process for the top lamas (although, as I said above, the main responsibility always remained with the gang of cronies).

So, if someone wants to say that the Dalai Lamas and the Chinese emperors had an important, mutually beneficial alliance for a long time, and that the emperor eventually became involved in selecting the new Dalai Lamas, I would certainly agree with that. But the claim that, “The prestige, power, and institution of the DL was created by the Chinese Central gov’t in Beijing” is just not so. Moreover, since the government in Beijing is a very different thing now than it was in the past – in particular, it has been quite secular – I don’t think that the emperor’s previous involvement in religious affairs has anything to do with what should be done today.

  1. bianxiangbianqiao
    August 17th, 2008 at 23:46 | #1

    Otto Kerner,

    “I don’t think that the emperor’s previous involvement in religious affairs has anything to do with what should be done today.”

    I agree. The Tibet issue has nothing to do with past emperors. But is has everything to do with the fact that today China governs Tibet and Tibet is considered Sovereign Chinese Territory. It doesnt matter how this came to be the case.

    [I wrote the following statements a while ago and I stand behind them today.]
    The whole situation is a matter of historical inconvenience. Blaming the Chinese for protecting its ownership of Tibet and Xinjiang is unfair. It is unfair because China did not actively acquire these places. These places ended up in China’s possession as inheritance from the Mongolians and Manchurians who conquered China, along with Tibet and Xinjiang. However once in China’s possession, it is hard to let them go now. Not wanting something and giving up something you already own are completely different situations. The Chinese people will not tolerate a government that gives up Chinese territories (think about the Qing dynasty), no matter how Un-Chinese the inhabitants of these territories are. Beyond nationalism and pride, there is the strategic issue of national safety. Giving up control over Xinjiang and Tibet is not just giving up land, but also giving up a buffer between the Chinese and hostile forces beyond its range of control. If the Chinese leave Xin Jiang tomorrow morning, the Russians, Americans and British will move in tomorrow by noon. If the Chinese leave Tibet tomorrow morning, the Indians will move in tomorrow afternoon. In this sense, the Chinese, Tibetans and Xinjiang people are bound together as hostages of historical events that they had no control. The most productive outcome is for these groups to live together cooperatively, and build a common future.

  2. August 18th, 2008 at 00:17 | #2

    Actually, concerning the dates… Quoting myself:

    … one could argue that it was due to Kubilai Khan and later Yuan emperors showering of favors and prestige that established the lama’s powerful position in Tibetan society. They “gave lamas greater prestige and privilege than any other religious order, alien or native, had enjoyed in Chinese history, and one of the reasons for subsequent Chinese vilification of the Yuan rulers is that they allowed lamas to abuse their privileges and immunities outrageously.”

    I was quoting Charles O. Hucker, China’s Imperial Past, Stanford California, 1975, p 361

    So, we’re looking at the mid 1200’s for the start in the rise of the Dalai Lamas even though #1 was born in 1391. The prestige of the position was established by the Yuan Dynasty, a Chinese dynasty.

    But, I am absolutely no expert on this.

  3. Otto Kerner
    August 18th, 2008 at 01:02 | #3

    Yes, that’s correct: the idea of having a “Grand Lama” with political power over all of Tibet was an innovation of the Mongols in 1240s, although this was before they had conquered China. The grand lama at the time was the Sakya Trizin. The Dalai Lama became part of this pattern much later.

  4. Karma
    August 18th, 2008 at 01:10 | #4

    The following quotes from two articles from N. Ram of India can be helpful:

    First from a 2000 article titled TIBET – A REALITY CHECK

    Historically, from the second half of the thirteenth century when China came under the Mongol Yuan dynasty founded by Kublai Khan, Tibet has experienced the merging of religious and temporal power in a peculiar type of theocracy. With the ascendancy of t he Gelug, or Yellow, sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the honorific ‘Dalai’ (meaning ‘Ocean’), conferred on the leader of the sect by the ruler of a Mongol tribe, appears during the Ming dynasty in the sixteenth century. Historical records show that the institution of the Dalai Lama as an ‘incarnate’ politico-religious supremo – recognised and indeed empowered by the Chinese Central Government – dates back to the middle of the seventeenth century, when the Great Fifth received a formal title and a golden seal of authority from the Qing Emperor whom he visited in Beijing. From that time, there have been Dalai Lamas powerful and inept, ascetic as well as pleasure-seeking, learned as well as shallow, masterful as well as manipulated, long-lived but also cut off in youth (possibly poisoned) in several cases.

    First from a 2007 article titled The politics of Tibet: a 2007 reality check

    Historical records show that the institution of the Dalai Lama as an ‘incarnate’ politico-religious supremo — recognised and empowered by the Chinese central government — began in the middle of the 17th century, when the Great Fifth received a formal title, a golden certificate of appointment, and a golden seal of authority from the Qing Emperor whom he visited, and paid homage to, in Beijing. Interestingly, on February 22, 1940, Tenzin Gyatso was enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama at the Potala Palace after receiving the necessary certificates and seals of approval from the Chinese Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, which in fact allocated 400,000 silver dollars to cover the expenses of the enthronement ceremony.

    N. Ram is a pretty well-regarded journalist – and these two were considered very high caliber reporting.

    I am not a historian – so if someone else have more direct resources, please shoot us the info!

  5. bianxiangbianqiao
    August 18th, 2008 at 01:19 | #5

    “….approval from the Chinese Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, which in fact allocated 400,000 silver dollars to cover the expenses of the enthronement ceremony.”

    I heard a rumor that most, if not all the lamas in Tibet are on the payroll of the Chinese authorities. Is that true? How would they support themselves otherwise?

  6. MoneyBall
    August 18th, 2008 at 02:44 | #6

    Jesus here we go again. Can we talk about something more fun?

    The bottom line is history or religion or cultrue dont matter when your down 30 pts in half time.
    Only thing can deliver changes and get things done in this world is capital&hardworking.
    If you dont want Tibetans go extinct like native Americans give them tools to develop, so they can catch up with the rest of the world.
    No more that shangri-la spiritual sh/t, unless you want them to end up in musems like pandas.

  7. August 18th, 2008 at 03:35 | #7

    No argument here MoneyBall…. I’d just suggest that it is the “Free” Tibetan faction that wants Tibet to crawl into a bottle for preservation. The West is big on this sort of thing – preserve cultures in bottles as though an outdated adaptation is of intrinsic value. While it is a good thing to record culture, it is another thing to expect populations to culturally stagnate to appease our sensibilities.

    (wow… do I sound nasty or what?)

  8. Hemulen
    August 18th, 2008 at 03:41 | #8

    MutantJedi

    The West is big on this sort of thing – preserve cultures in bottles as though an outdated adaptation is of intrinsic value. While it is a good thing to record culture, it is another thing to expect populations to culturally stagnate to appease our sensibilities.

    Good point. But the problem here is not preservation of culture per se, but whether it is right of one people (Han Chinese) to “develop” the culture of another people (Tibetans) against their will. I have no doubt that many Tibetans want their country to develop. They just don’t want Han Chinese to tell them what to do (or what to feel).

  9. Ted
    August 18th, 2008 at 04:01 | #9

    a) Native Americans aren’t extinct.

    b) Tools won’t help if you take away someone’s will to work.

  10. August 18th, 2008 at 04:19 | #10

    Hemulen,

    Yes…. but the reality is the Han aren’t going anywhere. They are a reality as solid as the mountain. Are the Tibetans meeting the challenge or are they hiding behind the monks’ robes? The “Free” Tibet advocates are not much different than drug dealers selling an opiate of false hope or a sedative of stagnation.

    At this point, I would dearly love to have foreign reporters inside the TAR telling even a biased story.

  11. MoneyBall
    August 18th, 2008 at 05:13 | #11

    @MutantJedi,

    The way I see Tibetans’ problem is simple, they just had their very first taste of Capitalism, and they are not up to the test.

    Remmeber in the 2nd half of 19th century, Chinese got exposed to the captialism for the first time, the whole country turned into chaos. Tibetans are going through the same thing. It’s never about religion, nor culture, it’s never about independance either, the poor ass tibetan families barely can put foods on the table, they want their own country to do what? go reincarnation altogether? Capitialism is the only way out, it will be painful for the current generations, but there is no other way. Budism oriented culture is not incompatible with capitalism, see Korea and Japan. They just need to endure, work hard, and get help. With the tremendous cash pile and the huge political stake, China is the only one can and will help. Tibetans at the grass root level may not be able to understand that, but their elite classes should be smart enough to know, unfortunately these people have their own agenda/interest in mind, intead of the future of their people.

    I want to slap their faces when people tell me Tibetans just need to be left alone, build their isolated yet shangri-la fairy land, and live there happily ever after with Dalai lama. What were these people thinking?! are they really that dumb? this is 21st century, young tibetans will start to desert their fairy land to pursue moden life, and dispear forever because of the migration, only old people will be left behind, their lands will become desolating, their race will go semi extinct, their culture will only remain in musems…… which is exactly what’s happening to native Americans.

  12. August 18th, 2008 at 05:14 | #12

    Qinghai-Tibet railway to get six new lines

    The thing too is that there just isn’t the capital in Tibet for infrastructure development. China has already built a rail connection and is committed to building 6 more lines. What would motivate anybody to build railway lines into Tibet if it were independent? One might say that the Tibetans might not want the link to the outside world… but it costs money to build and maintain monasteries, especially if you don’t have a dedicated serf population. Hence the need for the link becomes an economic necessity and a benefit to Tibetans.

  13. August 18th, 2008 at 05:24 | #13

    🙂 spam filter at my posting.

    @MoneyBall,
    I wouldn’t count the native Americans out yet. I’m not sure what’s happening in the States as the history and treatment of natives has been markedly different between Canada and the States. But in Canada, there is crisis but there is also hope.

    Otherwise, I can appreciate the points you’ve made.

  14. Nimrod
    August 18th, 2008 at 05:25 | #14

    Their culture will not only remain in museums. That’s a ridiculous point. In fact, ethnic music, especially Tibetan music, is making great inroads into Chinese mainstream music, just like jazz and other black music created a uniquely American music.

  15. August 18th, 2008 at 05:33 | #15

    Nimrod, what I think MoneyBall meant is that if people just leave them alone they will grow old as the young people migrate away, eager to participate in the future than to be stuck in the past.

    The gist of my lost post was that there isn’t the capital within Tibet to develop their economy and nobody from the outside would spend the money to develop an independent Tibet – at least not to the scale that China has. China is building another 6 railway lines into Tibet.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-08/17/content_9421543.htm

  16. raffiaflower
    August 18th, 2008 at 05:59 | #16

    “Tibetans at the grass root level may not be able to understand that, but their elite classes should be smart enough to know, unfortunately these people have their own agenda/interest in mind, intead of the future of their people.”
    Moneyball is so right. I live in a country where the affirmative action agenda has been compromised (I choose the word carefully) by certain interests. The electorate has finally woken up to this reality, yet the system appears resistant or slow to reform.
    I would say the same could apply to Tibet, if those claiming to fight for the interests of the people are allowed to take power.
    Their own interests lie in gaining power (and perhaps the material benefits that come with it) not empowering the people whose welfare and future they claim to represent.

  17. Karma
    August 18th, 2008 at 06:32 | #17

    We may be getting way off topic here…!

  18. Hemulen
    August 18th, 2008 at 12:21 | #18

    @MutantJedi

    Yes…. but the reality is the Han aren’t going anywhere. They are a reality as solid as the mountain. Are the Tibetans meeting the challenge or are they hiding behind the monks’ robes? The “Free” Tibet advocates are not much different than drug dealers selling an opiate of false hope or a sedative of stagnation.

    Well, if your default position is that “might is right” it kind of hard to have any discussion, which I thought is the purpose of inviting comments to a blog. I don’t see Tibetans hiding in monks robes, I see Tibetans from all walks of life trying to speak out, and being dragged away to prison.

  19. Otto Kerner
    August 18th, 2008 at 12:32 | #19

    Wow, I certainly never said I don’t want Tibetans to change. I’d prefer that they change on their own terms, rather than somebody else’s. Of course, life doesn’t always work that way.

    There seems to be sort of a stereotype that Tibetans are not up to changing themselves and require somebody from the outside to make them change.

  20. Hemulen
    August 18th, 2008 at 13:15 | #20

    @Otto Kerner

    I appreciate your contributions, but the responses to your post are mind-numbingly cynical. There is no point in arguing with them at any length.

    @MoneyBall

    You make it sound as if Chinese rule in Tibet is the same thing as the introduction of a capitalist system. Well, during the first thirty years of PRC rule, the government more or less abolished the existing economy and culture. It replaced traditional serfdom with servitude to the CCP. All positions of real power were and still are in the hands of Han Chinese. Now, Han Chinese are taking advantage of their privileged position to take over the economy. That is not just capitalism, that is colonialism.

    I think I have had it.

  21. Theo
    August 18th, 2008 at 14:29 | #21

    I get so bored reading these discussions about Tibet with no Tibetan voices. Overseas Chinese and westerners can debate until the yaks come home. What’s the point?

  22. Wukailong
    August 18th, 2008 at 14:45 | #22

    Agree with both Hemulen and Theo here. Let’s get some Tibetan voices (and perhaps even American Indian voices), otherwise this will just be the typical stuff with no value whatsoever. Interesting, too, that this question seems so be so much more difficult to discuss than the others.

  23. August 18th, 2008 at 14:48 | #23

    @Hemulen

    There is no point in arguing with them at any length.
    And your solutions is?

  24. August 18th, 2008 at 15:07 | #24

    Hemulen,
    Because of the lack of foreign reporting from within the TAR, I’m actually not seeing anything. But I am hearing about lots – plenty of conjecture, rumor, and propaganda from all sides.

    My question about if the Tibetans are meeting the challenge of their reality head on steps around the question of right/wrong. My question isn’t stating that they are not up to changing themselves but asking are they. I don’t know a lot about the Tibetan culture or people.

    The trains are coming. Standing on the tracks hoping that they aren’t coming is just going to get you squished. So what are the Tibetans doing to participate in the development? Again, it would be helpful to foreign reporters on the ground.

  25. MoneyBall
    August 18th, 2008 at 15:45 | #25

    @ Hemulen

    “Now, Han Chinese are taking advantage of their privileged position to take over the economy. That is not just capitalism, that is colonialism.”

    That’s so not true, if there’s any interefence of the local economic activities there from the SAR goverment, it’s aimed to protect the Tibetans, not to take advantage from them. favorable policies, subsidiaries, tax deductions, you name it, it’s the chinese version of the affirmative action. But there’s only so much the goverment can do to shield them. The next time please verify your western brainwashing china bashing rhetorics first before you spread them. One billion chinese have had it too.

  26. Wukailong
    August 18th, 2008 at 15:52 | #26

    There were some Tibetans discussing on this blog before. It would be nice to get some comments from them on this issue. Otherwise, as I’ve said, it’ll just be angry Han (though not a billion, because most Han, I believe, are doing other things than commenting on this blog 🙂 ) against angry Westerners.

  27. bianxiangbianqiao
    August 18th, 2008 at 17:55 | #27

    Wukailong

    “I believe, are doing other things than commenting on this blog…”

    Are you sugesting that we should all go get a life?

  28. August 18th, 2008 at 19:55 | #28

    Actually MoneyBall, the central government’s action to “shield” them may do more harm than good. Adapting a culture to the idea of entitlement doesn’t help them be self sufficient. Rather, all you do is feed the stereotype of lazy/worthless aboriginal to the point where they begin to believe it themselves. At least that’s my take on the cultural violence against the aboriginal population in Canada, which was most evident in the abhorrent Resident School program.

    Again, because of the lack of credible reporting from the region, we’re all just guessing.

  29. Otto Kerner
    August 19th, 2008 at 00:51 | #29

    Karma,

    N. Ram is a journalist, not a historian, and he seems to be making some fairly subtle but significant mistakes here. He writes, “Historical records show that the institution of the Dalai Lama as an ‘incarnate’ politico-religious supremo – recognised and indeed empowered by the Chinese Central Government – dates back to the middle of the seventeenth century, when the Great Fifth received a formal title and a golden seal of authority from the Qing Emperor whom he visited in Beijing,” implying that the emperor granted the Dalai Lama his political position. But this implication is incorrect. The Dalai Lama was already the most prominent religious and political leader in Tibet before he established his ties with the Qing. He did visit Beijing and did receive a formal title and a seal from the emperor, after he was already in power. He used this alliance to enhance his religious prestige and solidify his political position, so, in that sense, we might say that he was “recognised and indeed empowered by the Chinese Central Government “. But it would also be true in the same sense to say that the Chinese central government was recognised and empowered by the Dalai Lama. I don’t mean to say that their positions were equal, but both were established powers to begin with and their ties were mutually beneficial.

    As for the enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama, Melvyn Goldstein, the most prominent historian of modern Tibet and hardly a China-basher, covers this event in detail in A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951. He says that there was a Chinese representative, Wu Zhongxin, in attendance at the enthronement ceremony, along with representatives from Nepal, Ladakh, and Bhutan (a British representative had an audience the following day). Goldstein writes, “Wu was given a raised seat placed slightly in advance of the seats of the other foreigners and, like the seats of the Dalai Lama and his family, facing south instead of west. The Chinese were also allowed to file before the Dalai Lama’s throne for his blessing just after the Tibetan incarnations, which was earlier than the usual time for foreigners. Beyond these privileges, however, Wu had no special function in the ceremony.” (pp. 325-327) Goldstein mentions nothing about 300,000 silver dollars or any “certificates and seals of approval” or anything about why such certificates and seals would be at all necessary.

    In any event, N. Ram’s description of the enthronement is highly implausible on the face of it. The period 1913 through 1951 was when the Chinese influence in Tibet was at its weakest, and the government in Lhasa was trying to establish itself as an independent state. The central Chinese government was on the ropes fighting Japan. We are supposed to believe that at that time, Lhasa still relied on approval from the central government to select a Dalai Lama?

  30. Karma
    August 19th, 2008 at 01:49 | #30

    @Otto Kerner

    Goldstein mentions nothing about 300,000 silver dollars or any “certificates and seals of approval” or anything about why such certificates and seals would be at all necessary.

    Melvyn Goldstein, the most prominent historian of modern Tibet and hardly a China-basher, covers this event in detail in A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951.

    N. Ram is a journalist, not a historian, and he seems to be making some fairly subtle but significant mistakes here.

    There are so many angles I can respond to your post …

    We can debate the qualification of Goldstein v. Ram.

    We can debate whether Goldstein is sympathetic to the Chinese gov’t or the exiled gov’t in India.

    We can debate whether we should defer to Goldstein’s stories as the authoritative version of Tibetan/Chinese political history.

    We can even debate in general the proper role history ought to play in the “Tibet question.”

    But I don’t know think you should so simply and categorically dispose of one version of history (sorry that’s what I sensed; whether you meant it or not I do not know) … simply because you don’t like it???

  31. Otto Kerner
    August 19th, 2008 at 03:00 | #31

    Well, as I said, in addition to contrary evidence presented by an actual historian, Ram’s account is quite implausible. Quoting myself:

    The period 1913 through 1951 was when the Chinese influence in Tibet was at its weakest, and the government in Lhasa was trying to establish itself as an independent state. The central Chinese government was on the ropes fighting Japan. We are supposed to believe that at that time, Lhasa still relied on approval from the central government to select a Dalai Lama?

  32. Karma
    August 19th, 2008 at 03:29 | #32

    @Otto Kerner,

    Fair enough. But I hope you don’t find me petty by responding that Tibet was so poor and weak at that time, I think the lamas would find the 4000,000 silver – and any sense of support from the central gov’t – much welcomed.

  33. Wukailong
    August 19th, 2008 at 03:36 | #33

    @bxbq: “Are you sugesting that we should all go get a life?”

    Sorry, I realized it sounded like these discussions are unnecessary. Just worrying that this subject is more sensitive than the others, and that it easily descends into shouting matches. Actually, today it looks better than I thought it did yesterday.

  34. Otto Kerner
    August 19th, 2008 at 05:25 | #34

    Karma,

    Well, I will agree that if we are simply talking about a cash payment from Nanking in exchange for a role in the recognition, that would at least make sense ; I have no reason to reject that out of hand as implausible. But “any sense of support from the central gov’t ” … why would that be much welcomed? Is this not the same Tibetan government that resisted unification with the rest of China? What did they need a “sense of support” against except against the central government?

  35. Karma
    August 19th, 2008 at 05:50 | #35

    @Otto,

    At the time, the Lama gov’t was definitely not a strong gov’t. Support from the Chinese central gov’t for legitimacy of a new DL would thus definitely be welcomed. Please note that at the time, the Lama gov’t was probably not concerned about a communist-like takeover – a fight vis a vis the central gov’t – that you may have implicitly assumed in your comment.

  36. Hemulen
    August 19th, 2008 at 13:47 | #36

    @admin

    No, I don’t really have any good ideas how to remedy the situation.

    Actually discussions like these is very good advertisement for the Tibetan or Uighur causes. I have never been particularly interested in Buddhism of any form. When I started studying Chinese many years ago, I used to be more or less indifferent to Tibet and stayed away from pro-Tibet events. I did attend a talk by DL, but I didn’t go through any “conversion.”

    What eventually changed my mind was the encounter with the prevalent prejudice and colonial attitudes towards Tibetans and Uighurs when I stayed in China to study the language. I was shocked to find that many ordinary people who usually were very critical of the government, were ready to suspend their judgement when it came to “minority areas” and happily parroted government propaganda. I also visited Xinjiang and found a place that was a colony in all but name. Tour guides bragged about investment from the interior and how well treated the Uighurs were, but what you saw was a society where Han Chinese were in charge and where Uighurs were pushed out. Every time our group met an Uighur, our guides were extremely condescending towards them. “Do you speak Chineeeeese?” I didn’t find a single Han Chinese who spoke Uighur and it was very hard to even find books about Uighur language and culture.

    In other words, it was not a fascination with minorities that made me conclude that something was wrong with Chinese rule over Tibet and Xinjiang (and Mongolia). Instead, it was witnessing the corrosive effects that any colonial system has on human relations that made me conclude that China would be a better place without its colonies.

    Back then, there was no internet and my experiences were travelers tales for the folks back home. Now, anyone with a computer can witness Chinese colonialism and what it does to its citizens’ minds, and I can assure you that it is not making people more sympathetic to the “Chinese position.” The people who post “pro-China” contributions at the discussion pages of many on-line newspapers are actually creating converts to the Tibetan cause. A disinterested reader seeing contributions such as MoneyBall’s, where he says that Tibetans may go extinct like Native Americans and argues that they are “not up to the test” of capitalism, will wonder why on earth anyone would like to be ruled by a people with that mentality.

    So, if you guys don’t want Westerners to sympathize with Tibet, stop talking about Tibet. Because your own words are some of the best advertisement for a “Free Tibet” that you can find.

  37. August 19th, 2008 at 14:28 | #37

    @Hemulen

    Thank you very much for your reply and sharing your personal experience.

    I hope the simple fact that this submission is featured as a full post on our front page illustrates our honest attempt to address Tibetan or Uighur issues through open discussion.

    I have also attended DL’s talk once (not a political one) and I have to say he is a smart and charming person. However, it always puzzles me that his side never seriously engages with Chinese people (or at least overseas Chinese). Without Chinese support and baring a coming collapse of China, “Free Tibet” is just a day dream. What could MLK have achieved without the support from the whites?

    Speaking of Xinjiang, the founder of 民考汉, a Uighur, (Buxi translated one of his posts, see http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/06/23/dont-indulge-our-race-complex/ ), has just sent us 5 posts in Chinese for us to translate. I would appreciate it very much if you are willing to participate in this undertaking.

  38. Wahaha
    August 19th, 2008 at 15:06 | #38

    Hemulen,

    What you experienced in Tibet and XinJiang maybe is true, the question is that how many Tibetans and Uighurs are educated enough to be in government positions and other important technique position, Very few, even those well educated were educated in Beijing, so they talk and think like Han Chinese.

    Yes, I agree Chinese government should give them more “face” and make them feel better, but it is different from suppression. Yes, very few Han Chinese speak their language, just like 20 years ago, no Americans spoke chinese; you know what ? 20 years ago, very very few people in Hong Kong speak Mandarian, and a lot of people in Mainland were very angry about that. So you see that is universal rule, no discrimination here. For Tibetans and Uighurs, they have to learn Mandarin to live better, as Han Chinese are the only one who help them.

    If in the future, Tibetans and Uighurs are equally well educated as Han Chinese, then you can make the claim that they are pushed off.

    BTW, did you meet a well educated Tibetan or a Uighur in Tibet or XinJiang ?

  39. Hemulen
    August 19th, 2008 at 15:21 | #39

    @admin

    Thanks for the offer, but I don’t have time to translate right now and I think I have said most of the things I want to say.

    I think the DL camp are reaching out to Chinese, but many overseas Chinese are extremely reluctant to even be remotely associated with the DL, even if they are sympathetic to him. I once went to a conference panel, which some some exile Tibetans and Western academics presented their papers on Tibet. There were some Chinese in the audience, but no one spoke. At last, mainland Chinese academic stood up and asked why there were no Chinese on the panel. The answer? The organizers tried, but no one would come forward.

    I have been to other events that follow the same pattern. Absolute silence from the Chinese part of the audience. Then someone stands up and put forward the “Chinese position”, and then continued silence. The contrast with other discussions, where overseas Chinese would engaged on all sides of an issue, is striking. It is like you are thrown back decades in time. I know for a fact that many individual overseas Chinese are sympathetic to DL and Tibet, but they would never say so in public and they don’t run blogs. What the Grace Wang episode has done is to expose to a wider audience how this public uniformity is created and enforced. And I suspect that all this public posturing by CSSAs all over the world have created new converts to the pro-Tibet camp.

  40. Hemulen
    August 19th, 2008 at 15:30 | #40

    @Wahaha

    I’m reluctant to respond, but what can I do. What you are basically saying is that Tibetans and Uighurs should Sinicize themselves in order to prosper. Why can they not be educated in their own languages? Why should you require that a Tibetan should have perfect proficiency in a foreign language in order to get a good job in his own country? Not even the British treated Chinese like that in Hong Kong. What you are suggesting is a “one-way street” arrangement that is not designed to calm their fears that they are being absorbed by the Han Chinese. And yes, I have met Chinese-educated Uighurs and Tibetans, they are sometimes more resentful of what is going on than their less educated counterparts. If you read up on the process of decolonization after WWI, you’ll find that most of the leaders of the independence movement were educated in the colonial metropole and it was precisely that experience that turned them against colonial rule.

  41. Wahaha
    August 19th, 2008 at 16:07 | #41

    Hemulen,

    Let us face the real situation in Tibet and XinJiang, they dont have tibetan teachers and Uighur teachers, most of teachers are from inland China cuz of the high salary, you cant ask Han chinese to spend 2 years learning their language.

    Yes, it is one way solution as the situation over there is 50 years to 100 years behind inland China. I read a report by west media that a tibetan girl who could speak mandarin went to SiChuan make 1500 yuan a month but her sister was left behind as she couldnt speak mandarian. For tibetans to live better, they have to go out to find better job; to find better job, they have to study mandarin. Very unfortunately, there is no other way.

    Have a look of the map, Tibet and XinJiang are so big that there is no way Chinese government can control such a vast territoy if so many people are unhappy. If so many Tibetans were unhappy as west media reported, then at least some Han people would have been killed each month. So obviously, they like something that the goverment did, just not everything, which is what West media should remind Chinese government to pay attention to.

  42. August 19th, 2008 at 16:16 | #42

    @Hemulen

    If you just read the extensive discussions about Tibet on this blog ( http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/tag/tibet/ ), you may want to modify your statement a little bit.

    For one thing, Chinese do participate in such panels discussions you described ( http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/05/14/harvard-tibetanhan-panelists-probe-issues/ ).

    The issue of engagement has been discussed here ( http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/06/21/dalai-lama-tries-speaking-to-the-chinese/ ). DL has recently tried to reach out to Chinese but it is far from enough. And isn’t it a Chinese student who took the initiative and interviewed DL? His interview was well received in the Chinese community.

    As for CSSAs, let’s just say they are less detrimental to the Tibetan cause than the “Students for a Free Tibet.”

  43. Hemulen
    August 19th, 2008 at 16:18 | #43

    @Wahaha

    Are you real, or a troll from the Tibetan Youth Congress that wants to prove that Han Chinese are hopeless colonialists? Sometimes I wonder.

    Most teachers in Tibet are from “inland” China because of the high salary, you say. And Tibetans go to work in China because they earn more, we are told. Obviously no one has thought of the idea of paying Tibetans a decent salary to teach their compatriots their native language.

  44. wuming
    August 19th, 2008 at 16:38 | #44

    “Obviously no one has thought of the idea of paying Tibetans a decent salary to teach their compatriots their native language.”

    Do you have some evidence to back this up?

  45. Wahaha
    August 19th, 2008 at 16:38 | #45

    Hemulen,

    Huh ? what are you talking about ? tibetan language is taught in school, but also lot of classes are taught in Mandarin.

    How can you you randomly puta farmer into a school and ask him to teach kids ? you are not even sure if he can write or not.

    Colonialist ? Han Chinese are not colonialists, never in history can you find colonialists who put so much mony in AND people dont complain.

    What TYC ? I have nothing to do with them. Those monks know no skills of improving Tibetans’ life, all they know is power and want ordinary tibetans bowing in front of them. I am not surprised at all that they are not happy, as they have to earn their own living.

  46. Karma
    August 19th, 2008 at 17:18 | #46

    @Hemulen,

    You seem to be of the Chinese is practicing cultural genocide camp in Tibet.

    Please read http://www.international.ucla.edu/asia/article.asp?parentid=2732.

    There are more in-depth, academic sources – but I think in a forum like this, this suffice.

  47. MoneyBall
    August 19th, 2008 at 19:25 | #47

    “Discussant Nancy Levine said it was her opinion that cultural genocide was not a central focus of exile literature. ”

    That was 2002, so what now in 2008 Nancy? Dalai Lama says the term “cultural genocide” more often than he breathes. But that’s not the problem, he’s a politician after all, lying is part of his job. The problem is our western friends have this childish “hunger for spirituality”, when they see a politician dress funky and za-zen, some funny parts of their brains tell them this is a saint, “his holiness”, go kiss his toes….

  48. Hemulen
    August 19th, 2008 at 22:03 | #48

    @Karma

    No, I don’t subscribe to the idea of cultural genocide.

    @MoneyBall

    If the Chinese government is unable to train and find enough teachers to give the Tibetan language any meaningful function in Tibetan society, then that fact in itself is an indictment of Chinese rule. In the 1980s, even Chinese politicians such as Hu Yaobang reacted strongly against the domination that Chinese cadres in Tibet and tried to strengthen the role of the Tibetan language in Tibet. That policy foundered on the objections of hard-liners in the United Front Department and that is why we have the situation today.

    Sure, China has spent a lot of money on infrastructure in Tibet, but who got the jobs? Who built the railway? Was it Han Chinese or Tibetans? A benchmark characteristic of colonial infrastructure projects is the fact that they primarily benefit the ruling group, not the people being ruled. When the British spent huge amounts of money building railways in India, the main beneficiaries was British industry. No subsidiary native industries sprung up that were able to benefit from the railways.

  49. Karma
    August 19th, 2008 at 22:44 | #49

    @Hemulen,

    It’d be great if you don’t subscribe to the idea of cultural genocide. But sometimes your language makes it sound as if you do. For example:

    I’m reluctant to respond, but what can I do. What you are basically saying is that Tibetans and Uighurs should Sinicize themselves in order to prosper. Why can they not be educated in their own languages? Why should you require that a Tibetan should have perfect proficiency in a foreign language in order to get a good job in his own country? Not even the British treated Chinese like that in Hong Kong.

  50. BMY
    August 20th, 2008 at 00:32 | #50

    @hemulen said “Sure, China has spent a lot of money on infrastructure in Tibet, but who got the jobs? Who built the railway? Was it Han Chinese or Tibetans?”

    we are always trying to tell the one side of the stories. It’s true , for whatever reasons, Han companies ,construction workers got paid . But I doubt those Han infrastructure workers have stayed and are the majority who are using those roads,schools,hospitals,bridges in Tibet.

    for sure there are lot of mismanagement but it’s very strange people don’t see the subsideries,tax deductions, no one child-policy restrictions etc applyed on ethnic groups but not on Han people.

    It would be interested to see how many Uygurs in xinjian speak Han Chinese and how many Uygur or Kazaks in Kazakhstan speak fluent Russian(I am not here to judge weather there was cultural genocide in central Asia during Tsar and USSR days) . I just don’t beleive some culture policies claimed by some people.

  51. Wukailong
    August 20th, 2008 at 00:55 | #51

    @Karma: I don’t see how your quote makes Hemulen support the idea of “cultural genocide.” There do seem to be a lot of people who hold colonialist or semi-colonialist views – it’s just a very uncommon feeling for Han Chinese to be accused of such a thing. As long as one says that a people is backwards and have to be ruled a certain way, one has a colonialist view.

    @BMY: There are two sides of the question, as you point out.

  52. BMY
    August 20th, 2008 at 02:13 | #52

    @wukailong

    “As long as one says that a people is backwards and have to be ruled a certain way, one has a colonialist view.”

    Is this why China often be accused of being backwards and have to be ruled a certain way? 🙂

  53. Wukailong
    August 20th, 2008 at 02:39 | #53

    @BMY: 🙂

  54. MoneyBall
    August 20th, 2008 at 02:39 | #54

    “1980s, even Chinese politicians such as Hu Yaobang reacted strongly against the domination that Chinese cadres in Tibet and tried to strengthen the role of the Tibetan language in Tibet. That policy foundered on the objections of hard-liners in the United Front Department and that is why we have the situation today.”

    Again not true, after Hu’s “Tibetans rule Tibet” policies, Tibetans returned the favor by rioting on the streets in late 80’s, snow-lion flags re-appeared in Lahsa streets for the first time in 30 yrs. That’s why the CCP hardliners called off Hu’s policies and regained the control. CCP made mistakes, so did Dalai, he had listened to some really unwise people, that’s why we have the situation today.

  55. Nimrod
    August 20th, 2008 at 02:48 | #55

    MoneyBall is right on the money. The late 80’s is the beginning of the current episode of distrust. Dalai Lama basically thought that China would collapse and was doing everything with that assumption in mind, and so eventually the riots happened. That was not in good faith, and he overplayed his geopolitical hand. In retrospect, with the example of the USSR collapse, he just gambled wrong, but still, it took him another 10 years to see that, which was a pathetic show of judgement or his supposed “wisdom”.

    He again overplayed his hand with the pre-Olympics protests — it’s pretty obvious he was fed advice by your typical kneejerk anti-China advocacy group that doesn’t actually understand China, that this would just be a swell time to gain some traction. But again, he gambled wrong, though this time, he is a bit more nimble and is coming around to his senses more rapidly.

    But the damage is done. He has a habit of punching China below the belt when China appears to be at its weakest without considering the consequences if Plan A doesn’t work — not the brightest idea, nor the most effective way to win trust.

  56. MoneyBall
    August 20th, 2008 at 02:56 | #56

    “Sure, China has spent a lot of money on infrastructure in Tibet, but who got the jobs? Who built the railway? Was it Han Chinese or Tibetans? A benchmark characteristic of colonial infrastructure projects is the fact that they primarily benefit the ruling group, not the people being ruled. When the British spent huge amounts of money building railways in India, the main beneficiaries was British industry. No subsidiary native industries sprung up that were able to benefit from the railways. ”

    You have to understand one thing, when an undeveloped community moves forward, in whichever ecnomic models, it’s ALWAYS the existing upper classes, the most educated, smartest, most aggressive people gets the benefit first. Then hopefully they will give back to the community, lift everybody up. The concept in your head that the grass root people gets the dough first, everybody prospers altogether, does not work in the real world. The rich-poor gap ALWAYS goes up first, which is where the economic driving force comes from, then hopefully it will come down. I know it’s not perfect, but it’s the only way, either you have some people get rich first, fairly or not, or everybody stays poor.

  57. Lime
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:16 | #57

    @MoneyBall
    “You have to understand one thing, when an undeveloped community moves forward, in whichever ecnomic models, it’s ALWAYS the existing upper classes, the most educated, smartest, most aggressive people gets the benefit first. Then hopefully they will give back to the community, lift everybody up.”

    That argument would set Mao and Zhou Enlai spinning if their graves if they new it was used in defence of their works. But in regards to Hemulen’s analogy to British India, do you think the same thing could also be said in defence of the East India Company’s and the British government’s roles in India?

  58. Nimrod
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:24 | #58

    Lime,

    What was the British in India for besides making a profit? Are you saying it is the same for China? China loses money by having Tibet.

    Even so, Indians today aren’t exactly denying the benefits like infrastructure and railroad.

  59. BMY
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:28 | #59

    @MoneyBall,

    I think you might want to clarify you are not saying Tibetan people are less educated,less smart etc. I know you didn’t mean that.

    I think why Tibet economy is behind JiangSu province is the same reason why economy in GanSu province is behind the coastal province.

  60. MoneyBall
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:45 | #60

    @Lime,

    I don’t know what the Brits did in India. I dont know after 100 yrs Britsh ruling in India (or however long that was), how much the India had progressed(GDP, average life span, infant mortality rate, etc). But I know what they did in HongKong, that’s one of the major reasons Hongkong is Hongkong now. It was a national humiliation for Chinese a 100 yrs ago, it’ is beneficial for every Hongkonger today. History tends to play out in a funny way.

    Another difference is, Brits were in India for adventure, CCP is in Tibet to stay.

  61. MoneyBall
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:53 | #61

    @BMY,

    I was talking about a general model, not neccessarily Tibet.
    To clarify it, I meant to say the most educated, smartest, most aggressive Tibetans gets the benefit first, not everybody altogether.

  62. Lime
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:54 | #62

    @Nimrod
    I’m not trying to argue the benefits of the colonial administration’s infrastructure in either place. I honestly think that both Tibet and India are damn lucky to have railroads. And of course you’re right, the major difference between British India and PRC Tibet is that British India was built and maintained for the practical betterment of Britain, and was cut loose when it stopped being an asset. In contrast PRC Tibet, aside from bianxiangbianqiao’s buffer state-Great Gameian theory and the a concern raised by a few posters I’ve talked to that an independent Tibetan government would embark on a James Bond villainish scheme to divert the Himalayan watershed away from China, has no practical value whatsoever and seems to be maintained either for humanitarian reasons or for the symbolic aggrandisement of the rest of the PRC.

    That said though, there are people in the PRC who are getting rich off of the development of Tibet (at the taxpayer’s expense mostly), and I think Hemulen’s point was that these people are mostly from the PRC proper, and this is comparable to the development of British India. I’m just asking whether MoneyBall thinks that either Hemulen’s criticism or his/her defence of this situation in Tibet could be applied to a parallel discussion of Britain’s role in India, or whether he/she thinks there are yet unmentioned factors that separate the two.

  63. Hemulen
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:59 | #63

    @MoneyBall

    Again not true, after Hu’s “Tibetans rule Tibet” policies, Tibetans returned the favor by rioting on the streets in late 80’s, snow-lion flags re-appeared in Lahsa streets for the first time in 30 yrs.

    Wow. “Returned the favor.” They were supposed to be grateful?

    You have to understand one thing, when an undeveloped community moves forward, in whichever ecnomic models, it’s ALWAYS the existing upper classes, the most educated, smartest, most aggressive people gets the benefit first.

    Thanks for the lesson. Now, it seems that any Han Chinese are doing much better than any former Tibetan aristocrat in this free-for-all.

    @Nimrod

    What was the British in India for besides making a profit? Are you saying it is the same for China? China loses money by having Tibet.

    You are assuming that the British did make a profit, did they? Britain left India mired in debt. One of the reasons why the British empire collapsed was that it was incredibly expensive.

    @MoneyBall

    I dont know after 100 yrs Britsh ruling in India (or however long that was), how much the India had progressed(GDP, average life span, infant mortality rate, etc).

    India has done much better under native rule. Higher economic growth, no major famine. Just read the numbers.

  64. Lime
    August 20th, 2008 at 04:15 | #64

    @Hemulen
    “You are assuming that the British did make a profit, did they? Britain left India mired in debt. One of the reasons why the British empire collapsed was that it was incredibly expensive.”

    Up until about the late 18th century, the East India Company’s holding’s in India were incredibly profitable. Most of the rest of the British Empire was built solely to help defend and facilitate Indian trade. In the 19th century, with the replacement of the East India Company’s rule by direct rule by the British government, it is much more difficult to say, and you’re right if only the 20th century is considered.

    “India has done much better under native rule. Higher economic growth, no major famine. Just read the numbers.”

    The relevant comparison would be pre-British, native (if Mogul is ‘native’) rule in India, and arguing that India did not get superior government from the British compared to what they could have otherwise expected from continuing Mogul rule would be very, very difficult.

    I think you may be taking kind of a one-sided view of colonialism.

  65. MoneyBall
    August 20th, 2008 at 04:20 | #65

    @Hemulen,

    “Wow. “Returned the favor.” They were supposed to be grateful?”

    If you have facts or points, lay them out.
    If you just want a piss-off contest, bring it on. I can’t wait.

  66. Lime
    August 20th, 2008 at 04:23 | #66

    @Moneyball
    Quite agree with everything you say in comment #60, except “Another difference is, Brits were in India for adventure, CCP is in Tibet to stay.”
    British Imperialism in India was often reluctant, but the British were quite convinced they were ‘there to stay’ in Ireland, as were the French in Algeria, and the Soviet Russians seemed to have laboured under this same delusion concerning the Ukraine. Not that I’m saying these are necessarily good prototypes to predict the outcome of PRC Tibet on, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch. It is really funny how history turns out sometimes.

  67. BMY
    August 20th, 2008 at 04:35 | #67

    @hemulen

    “India has done much better under native rule. Higher economic growth, no major famine. Just read the numbers.”

    most of the nations get higher economic growth after 1947 than they did in the 1800s no matter ruled by native or not

  68. MoneyBall
    August 20th, 2008 at 04:49 | #68

    @Lime, yeah I was merely saying CCP aims to stay, not to grab something and run. Whether they can stay or not nobody knows. But I have a joke it goes like this,

    One day this man walks out of his house to go to work. He sees this snail on his porch. So he picks it up and chucks it over his roof, into the back yard. Snail bounces off a rock, cracks its shell all to shit, and lands in the grass. Snail lies there dying. But it doesn’t die. It eats some grass. Slowly heals. Grows a new shell. And after a while it can crawl again. One day the snail up and heads back to the front of the house. Finally, after a year, the little guy crawls back on the porch. Right then, the man walks out to go to work and sees this snail again. So he says to it, ‘What the fuck’s your problem?’

  69. Wukailong
    August 20th, 2008 at 04:55 | #69

    Like MoneyBall says: “It was a national humiliation for Chinese a 100 yrs ago, it’ is beneficial for every Hongkonger today. History tends to play out in a funny way.”

    We probably have to accept that colonialism is a mixed bag with pros and cons.

    One thing in the debate that luckily hasn’t cropped up on this blog is that the railway to Tibet is somehow a bad thing. I can’t see how it is. The idea that Tibet would be better off with less communications is indeed a scary one.

  70. Nimrod
    August 20th, 2008 at 05:37 | #70

    The interesting thing about the recently built Qinghai-Tibet railroad is, it’s entirely within what exile Tibetans call “Greater Tibet”… It goes from Golmud on the northern edge of the plateau to Lhasa in the southern part of the same, with intermediate stops all in Tibetan areas, so I’d say it facilitates travel and communication greatly between what were disparate ethnic Tibetan areas and unifies its people — perhaps even contributing to the large and quick spread of this year’s protests…

    How that gets billed as some colonial project by idiotic Free Tibeters is the greatest mystery. Yes, the railroad has strategic value, but come on, the Han do not want to live in Tibet for fear of altitude sickness. The only Han willing to go to Tibet for somewhat prolonged periods seem to be Sichuanese and Hui, who are not on the path of the railroad. The major “waves” of Han riding the railroad will be inland tourists, who contribute to the Tibetan tourism and prop up its economy, and who leave almost as soon as they get there. So who are actually the major beneficiaries? Ethnic Tibetans.

  71. Ted
    August 20th, 2008 at 07:59 | #71

    @Moneyball #68

    So, who’s the snail?

  72. Hemulen
    August 20th, 2008 at 10:50 | #72

    @Wukailong

    One thing in the debate that luckily hasn’t cropped up on this blog is that the railway to Tibet is somehow a bad thing. I can’t see how it is. The idea that Tibet would be better off with less communications is indeed a scary one.

    I respectfully disagree. When a railroad to Inner Mongolia was built in the 1920s, the demographics changed within a couple of decades. Inner Mongolia is now 70-80 per cent Han. The same thing happened when a railroad was built to Xinjiang, which is now 50 per cent Han.

  73. August 20th, 2008 at 11:08 | #73

    @Hemulen – Settlement of sparsely populated regions always follows the construction of infrastructure – not to be facile, but this was also the case in Australia, Canada, Russia, and the US. The railway is sure to benefit the Tibetans economically, and will also facilitate contacts with the interior – this was why it was built, obviously. Was it built with the specific goal of colonism? I see no evidence of that, and the fact that it might have that effect is not really a valid reason not to build it.

  74. Hemulen
    August 20th, 2008 at 11:45 | #74

    @FOARP

    Well, one definition of colonialism is precisely “settlement”: and domination by one people at the expense of another.

  75. Hemulen
    August 20th, 2008 at 11:49 | #75

    @FOARP

    The railway is sure to benefit the Tibetans economically, and will also facilitate contacts with the interior

    Facilitate contacts with the interior of what? Until 1950, most of Tibet’s exterior trade was with India. Technology is not neutral.

  76. MoneyBall
    August 20th, 2008 at 13:09 | #76

    @Ted, You can interpret it however you want.

  77. August 20th, 2008 at 15:39 | #77

    @Hemulen – By that token, the building of all roads and air travel facilities between Tibet and the rest of China should be blocked also – I don’t think you are proposing this. This is not the 1920’s, when rail was the main mode of transport.

  78. Hemulen
    August 20th, 2008 at 16:09 | #78

    @FOARP

    Railway is the main mode of long-distance transport for most people in China today. Opening a railway facilitates the creation of demographic faits-accomplis that can be used to retain Tibet even after the transition to a more accountable form government. That is how Russia is exercising direct and indirect influence over its neighbors.

  79. starlight
    August 23rd, 2008 at 07:30 | #79

    As a Tibetan, I find this discussion between overseas Chinese and westerners on the Tibet issue stimulating. I find that both sides have interesting points to make. I am also very glad that more and more overseas Chinese talk about this sensitive issue since I believe that only through open and sincere discussion can we find good and sustainable solutions.

    If you want to learn more about Tibetan views on this issue, I can recommend the blog of a Tibetan who lives outside Tibet:
    http://www.jamyangnorbu.com/

    And the blog of one Tibetan who lives in Beijing:
    http://woeser.middle-way.net/

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