Regular readers will know I opposed Kosovo’s Unilateral Declaration of Independce as it was illegal under international law, but what about Tibet?
To me if I start going down the road of supporting Tibet I’ll end up ignoring the Olympics and I LOVE the Olympics. I dont know why but I do. This to me is an moral/ethical dilemma.
Then theres the issue of a friend. A good friend of mine is from Chéngdū and firmly belives that the Tibetans are doing this to ruin the Olympics, and I kind of agree with him. On the other hand though due to the Olympics, China is under the most intense watch of the Foreign Media it has ever known, so the Tibetans are exploiting this.
My question is though, does Tibet have a history of being independent?
So lets take a quick jog through Tibeten history. From Wikipedia
Many parts of the region were united in the seventh century by King Songtsän Gampo. In 1751, the Qing dynasty, which ruled China from 1644 to 1912, established the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of Tibet who led a government with four Kalöns in it. Between the 17th century and 1951, the Dalai Lama and his regents were the predominant political power administering religious and administrative authority over large parts of Tibet from the traditional capital Lhasa.
Tibet proclaimed its independence from China in 1911 on the eve of the fall of the Qing dynasty and it’s subsequent internal turmoil, while China never renounced its claim of sovereignty to Tibet. No country formally recognized Tibet as an independent country from 1912 to 1951. Tibet remained a defacto independent state until shortly after the conclusion of the Chinese civil war, when on October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was formally proclaimed in Beijing and the following year launched an armed invasion of Tibet. The Chinese army of 40,000 men routed the unprepared defending Tibetan army of only 5,000 near the city of Chamdo. The defeat subsequently led to he signing of the Seventeen point agreement by the Tibetan Government. Currently every country in the world recognizes China’s sovereignty over Tibet.
Okay so Tibet was a country though unrecognised from 1912 to 1951 and had existed previous to that as an independent state, granted it was previous to 1751. Now in Ireland we said we were an old country independent till the Birtish rulled us for 800 years etc (yada yada yada!) so Tibet has only been ruled by the Chinese for 250 years (with a short break). Does this give Tibet the right to be a soverign nation? This is a question I am torn on. I’m thinking if we apply that logic to Ireland, which was controlled by the British since 1169, then Tibet has the right to be free.
So another question, does Tibet have a ‘Distinct Cultural Tradition’ from China?
Well Tibet has its own language. Tibet has its own religons, Buddhism and Bön. Tibet uses a Lunar calender and has its own cusine (then again so do many parts of Germany, so cusine will not have a strong weighting in the arguement). Tibet also has its own history in Art, Customs, Dress, Drama, music and Literature. I think it is fair to say that Tibet has a ‘Distinct Cultural Tradition’ which differs from China.
So I think we have shown that Tibet has the historical and cultural differences to be Independent, so why should Kosovo be free and Tibet not?
Well, lets see the bigger question. Kosovo was being ruled over by Serbia who are trying to join the EU. Serbia does not want to upset the EU. The Majority of states supported Kosovo’s Independence. Serbia, did have the backing of Russia though but this was not enough as Kosovo had the support of Germany, France, UK, and the USA.
Now lets look at Tibet. Tibet is currently ruled by China. That country does not want to join the EU (or similar organistaion) so is not looking to placate anyone. China is a diverse country, it comes with being a big country so if it concedes to the Tibetans who else will want to be free? China has a history of using force to get its way in what it sees as internal affairs (Taiwan is an exception, but Taiwan is supported by the US). Is China right to use force to silence these protesters? No, China is limiting their free speech, then again free speech isnt high among the rights given to ordinary Chinese citizens.
This is the important difference, Kosovo: Supported by big states. Tibet: Supressed by a big stare who no one wants to offend.
Thats the crux of it.
So where do I stand in all this? Im still unsure. China claim to soverignity is recognised by nearly everystate in the world. So it is a legal claim under international law. “But what about Tibets history and culture I have been yapping on about?” you ask, well I believe they are stong arguments to why Tibet should be free. For the moment I wont be posting any Free Tibet or Boycott the Olympics stuff.