Home > human rights, Opinion > Another Tibet Article

Another Tibet Article

November 3rd, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tibetan Chinese
 

What comes to your mind when you look at the population distribution map above? Different people see different things even if it is the same picture or skewed statistic. In case you are new, the standard narrative of mainstream western press is that China invaded Tibet in 1959, and has been committing  genocide on the Tibetan people since then. If you have doubt do a search on mainstream website like ABC, CNN, BBC etc, you would have a single version of the story.

Let’s get back to the map. For me personally, when I first saw the map, my impression was that there are now more Tibetan Chinese living in other part of China than in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). So after 1959 the evil Communist government forcefully removed those people to other Chinese province? If not how does this shift in population happened? There are only 3 million Tibetan Chinese living in TAR while 3.5 million lives in surrounding areas. The fact is, Tibetan Chinese and other Chinese have been living in this region since the dawn of time. This might sound dramatic but I don’t artificially draw a line in the sand and human do live in this region for thousands of years and move about freely.

However, thanks to Nazi like ideology we now have strict border demarcation. For example, the area now termed Tibet Autonomous Region is now strictly exclusive to so-called Tibetan. Gansu for Gansutian, Qinghai for Qinghain, Sichuan for Sichuanese, Yunnan for Yunnanese and so forth. No other ethnicities can legally live in TAR, unless you are some big shot movie star who hold exclusive honourary Tibetan citizenship. Of course this is according to the logic of the so-called Free Tibet groups.

The above map, courtesy of Der Spiegel is actually a sad doctored statistic to support such a claim. I use the word “sad” because if you go visit this region, you will discovered that there are millions of people there. In fact, tens of millions to be correct! Why does this map only show the Tibetan Chinese? In TAR alone, there are not only Tibetan but also Bai, Blang, Bonan, Dongxiang, Han, Hui, Lhoba, Lisu, Miao, Mongols, Monguor (Tu people), Menba (Monpa), Mosuo, Nakhi, Qiang, Nu, Pumi, Salar, and Yi Chinese.

In Qinghai, the ethnic makeup of the population is almost the same except the numbers of each group and totalled 5.6 million people. In Gansu, the population is 25.5 million. In Sichuan, a staggering 80.4 million. Yunann is home 45.9 million people which includes Yi, Bai, Hani, Tai, Dai, Miao, Lisu, Hui, Lahu, Va, Nakhi, Yao, Tibetan, Jingpo, Blang, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Jinuo, Mongolian, Derung, Manchu, Sui, and Buyei. In Xinjiang, 21 million people live there and comprises Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kirghiz, Mongols, Dongxiangs, Daurs, Pamiris, Xibe, Manchu, Tujia, Uzbek, Russian, Miao, Tibetan, Zhuang, Tatar, Salar etc.

I won’t give a historical account of how all these people got there as it would take several books and you might not have the time to read them all. To me, and the government of China, all these people simply live in China and hold Chinese citizenship. The line in the sand is now the border of the different administrative regions. The people there can still move and live freely albeit when certain conditions are met.

So is this another article from the Chinese Communist Party that tried to white wash and gloss over the genocide of the Tibetan Chinese? According to the current Dalai Lama, the barbaric and Godless communist have exterminated over 1 million Tibetan since 1959. God knows how many they have killed before that? They are also moving Han people into TAR to displace the Tibetan. The language, culture and religion of the Tibetan are now at the brink of extinction. All good people of the world must stop this before it is too late. Free Tibet, free Tibet, free Tibet!

What about the other people there? Since we are at it we might as well do it. Unfortunately, if we set up all those Free X movement overseas we might lose focus and exposed the reality on the ground. Sorry, we can only do another one but we won’t call it Free Xinjiang because “Free” doesn’t rhyme with Islam. According to Free Tibet the Chinese Communist Party has been doing a horrendous ethnic cleansing of the people in that region since the PRC was founded. However, if we looked at the census figure, pretty much all the ethnicities have tripled in population since 1949. And if they live in their respective home region, their primary education was also given in their native tongues, to the extent that in China over 50 different languages are taught in the official school system. They are also not restricted by family planning policy applied to the majority Han people.

Of course, not all system is perfect. Neither is the minority or even majority policy of the PRC. But how does its multi-cultural policy compare to other country? Shouldn’t we do a case by case comparative study?

 

  1. N.M.Cheung
    November 3rd, 2013 at 09:29 | #1

    By all standards Chinese minority policies are enlightened compare to other countries. The affirmative action policies, direct subsidies by central government, help from other provinces in building infra-structures and housings, and educational priorities for preserving cultural heritages and languages. In fact those policies sometimes generate resentments from some Han Chinese, especially the additional 20 points on college entrance exam to young students competing for limited spots in prestigious universities no different than in U.S. of crying against reverse discrimination from whites. As for the controversy of forcing learning of Chinese language I suggest those in U.S. first examine their position on English as official language and whether someone speaking only Sioux can find a job in the private sector. I visited Tibet 1 and 1/2 years ago. I felt government in fact subsidize too much in maintaining those religious sites and too slow in modernizing. I visited a school where government donated teas to be sold to tourists and revenues are donated for free school lunch for the students. Anyone studied Tibetan history can’t but feel affinity for the ordinary people there. The government in fact discourage movement of people into Tibet and Xinjiang until recently and try to minimize friction and contacts.

  2. ersim
    November 3rd, 2013 at 18:35 | #2

    When it comes to indigenous rights within the U.S. and Canada, the U.S. based “human rights” outfits like the Gere Foundation are mute, but takes a sanctimonous and hypocritical stance when it comes to Tibet. Is it “spiritual” or political their stance?

  3. November 4th, 2013 at 02:24 | #3

    @N.M.Cheung

    How can you seriously claim that “The government in fact discourage movement of people into Tibet and Xinjiang until recently and try to minimize friction and contacts” when about half the population of Xinjiang is Han? The government has always encouraged Han people to go to Xinjiang.

    As for minimizing contact between the group, is that a good thing? It could be seen as an attempt to prevent the Han from understanding the local people’s point of view on the situation, which is not the same as theirs.

  4. N.M.Cheung
    November 4th, 2013 at 02:46 | #4

    @jixiang
    China has a household registration system where you are restricted to your home area. Until the last 30 years of economic reform, population movement was very much restricted, migrant workers even today can’t enjoy the same privilege as city residents. Xinjiang was a hardship post where government wants educated to volunteer for cadres and officials, demobilized army troops were settled in Xinjiang. Intermarriages were discouraged for fear of causing friction. Recently due to economic and concerns about border security there were large inflows of Han Chinese which worsen the frictions.

  5. Black Pheonix
    November 4th, 2013 at 06:43 | #5

    An interesting comparison of Huis and Uighurs in China.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/10/201210493210185606.html

  6. Black Pheonix
    November 4th, 2013 at 06:57 | #6

    @jixiang

    1 significant reason for limiting contact is Dietary Restrictions due to religious practices.

    I have read anecdotes from Xinjiang based expats talking about how difficult it was to arrange any kind of social gathering, because Uighurs’ strict dietary prohibitions relating to unclean food preparations.

    To the point that many Uighurs can’t even stand being in the same kitchen where pork was cooked previously.

    *
    To that point, I have visited and stayed at a Xinjiang provincial government hostel in Beijing. Uighurs do socially mix with Hans quite a bit.

    It’s more likely to see Uighurs in many Chinese provinces than many other Chinese minorities.

    But I’m not sure that they are entirely happy about the mixing.

    WUC and Kadeer have previously made comments about Han Chinese being “unclean”. Perhaps this was partly based upon their religion. (borderlining on racism).

    Well, in that context, any amount of mixing would be rather offensive to a devoutly religious Uighur.

    Then, what can China or Han Chinese do? Force the Uighurs to mix more with Hans?

  7. November 4th, 2013 at 07:48 | #7

    @jixiang
    “The government has always encouraged Han people to go to Xinjiang.”

    This statement is factually untrue. The central government actually never encourage mass movement of people. The fact that Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou are now strained to almost breaking point is because there are much more economic there. Also why is Han people being half the population a bad thing? Xinjiang was simply know as Western Region since at least Han dynasty. At that time most of the modern minority wasn’t even there yet and only Han people and old minority was there.

    “As for minimizing contact between the group, is that a good thing? It could be seen as an attempt to prevent the Han from understanding the local people’s point of view on the situation, which is not the same as theirs.”

    After the government introduced the household registry system again in the 1950s, it is actually very hard for people to move permanently. The affirmative policy for minority also was introduced during that period, far ahead of any western countries including US, Canada, Australia etc. The reason being the government want to preserve the traditional way of life of the local people and don’t want any interruption. This method is so much better than the placement of minority children into boarding school to train them into servants for the majority in Canada and Australia. Even until today those countries do not have official native tongue education for the First Nation people.

    N.M.Cheung (on #4) actually pointed out the reality on the ground. A mass movement of people, even tourist would caused friction with the locals. One glaring example is HK, where some local view even Cantonese speaking people from the mainland negatively.

  8. Black Pheonix
  9. Black Pheonix
    November 4th, 2013 at 10:07 | #9

    This is a good read on some of the ethnic tensions and kind of segregation that has resulted, NOT from policies:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/23/world/fg-muslims23

    Andrew M. Fischer, a London-based Tibet scholar who is one of the few who has written on the subject, said the Tibetan exile community also was reluctant to publicize incidents that might harm the international image of Tibetans.

    “It is the dark side of Tibetan nationalism,” Fischer said. “It is almost as though the Tibetans are diverting their anger over their own situation towards another vulnerable minority.”

    Most of the incidents involve the Hui, who ethnically are Han Chinese but practice Islam. China’s 9.8 million Hui and 5.4 million Tibetans historically have lived in proximity, at various times fighting, competing or intermarrying and collaborating.

    As Buddhists, the Tibetans don’t like to kill animals, but they do eat meat and wear furs, so they leave it to Muslim butchers and tanners to do the slaughtering. The Muslims also own many restaurants, and they don’t shy away from remote Tibetan areas where other Han Chinese are loath to tread. They often buy products from Tibetan nomads, who have difficulty selling because of their illiteracy.

    “To be honest, the Tibetans don’t have the business savvy of the Hui. The Tibetans have to sell their products to Hui. The Hui have to buy from the Tibetans,” said Genga Jatsi, a Tibetan doctor from Qinghai. “I suppose because we are interdependent we resent each other.”

    The tensions are palpable in Golog, a mountainous prefecture in Qinghai. Along a four-lane boulevard called Tuanjie, or “Solidarity,” Street, a large archway separates the Tibetan town of Dawu from the smaller Muslim town of Guojia.

    Muslim taxi drivers are nervous about crossing into the Tibetan side at night. And since last summer’s restaurant incident, Tibetans have refused to go to the strip of Muslim eateries specializing in lamb and noodles.

    “We’re afraid that there will be more trouble,” said Yun, who sold his restaurant after the incident but still lives in Golog, doing construction work. He sat in an otherwise empty restaurant around the corner from his old place, he and the restaurant owner, Ma Zhongyang, slumped over the linoleum tables, watching a small television in the corner.

    The men said about 800 of Guojia’s 3,000 Muslims had left in recent months, frightened by what had happened in Lhasa. During the mid-March riots, Muslim shopkeepers and their families were badly hurt and some were killed when fires set in their shops spread to upstairs apartments.

    “We saw what happened on television. After that, I sent away my children from here. I fear for their safety,” Ma said.

  10. November 4th, 2013 at 12:03 | #10

    @Black Pheonix
    Thanks you very much for linking to this article.

  11. November 4th, 2013 at 22:50 | #11

    Look at this map of Native Americans – if you want a map to contrast. This is one of those real examples of genocides in history where one would be hard-pressed to find more than 1 or 2 examples of. Actually, Putin made that point not that long ago.

    http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_nhindian.html

  12. Black Pheonix
    November 5th, 2013 at 06:28 | #12

    @YinYang

    Yes. And some of this is clearly “cultural genocide” by forced assimilation.

  13. Black Pheonix
    November 5th, 2013 at 11:03 | #13

    There is a misconception of “China encouraging Han to migrate” to Tibet and Xinjiang.

    This misconception is based upon an erroneous assumption, that those areas were “ethnographically” isolated.

    Indeed, much of the Myth of Tibet was that it was an isolated haven of Tibetan Buddhists.

    Some of this was based upon only a partial reality. When Sir Charles Bell initially visited Lhasa, he wrote that the 5th Dalai Lama generally prohibited foreigners and “Chinese” from visiting, except for traders.

    However, this comment was more applicable to Lhasa itself, not necessarily all across entirety of Tibet, which the Dalai Lama did not have full control (not even the TAR itself).

    Tibetan Warlords generally enforced their own rules, and they were rarely isolated. The various part of Tibet saw massive amount of mixing of different ethnic groups, as evident by massive number of Hui people settling the areas for centuries.

    Hui Warlords also fought against Tibetan Warlords for control of territories before and during the Chinese Civil War.

    BUT, as the recent propaganda has given rise to regional Ethnocentric Nationalism in Tibetans and Uighurs, who are now misled into believing a kind of mythological ethnic identity of “isolation”, as basis of their claim to “self-determination”.

    “Greater autonomy” now comes to mean removal of the mixture with other ethnic groups, and imposing self segregation.

  14. Black Pheonix
    November 6th, 2013 at 18:59 | #14

    Another academic article, on the “ethnographical” symbolisms of the “NEW” Tibetan Nationalism, which was created out of nothing after the Exile.

    In other words, it was made up BS.

    http://astro.temple.edu/~ruby/vatu/visuals/dissertations/dukes.pdf

    After fleeing into exile, the Tibetan community competed with the Chinese
    government in publicizing their own accounts of the political history of Tibet. During the
    next few decades, the Dalai Lama, the government, and the community began
    constructing a new, “national” identity for Tibetans in exile.

    While the multiple
    differences in life experience, education, and social and economic status can create
    conflict and stress in the exile community (Korom 1997), this new group identity entailed
    a rejection of former allegiances to region and religious sect to emphasize a general
    ethnic solidarity.

    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, riots and protests in Tibet itself
    spurred a revitalization of political efforts aimed at independence orchestrated by the
    exile, with TYC one of the prominent actors.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.