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Old 12-02-2005   #1
CPT Holzbach
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Default China's Far West provinces (inc. Tibet)

Moderator's Note: This thread is supported by the smaller, main thread on China proper, entitled 'China's internal troubles (not the Far West)':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14737


Yet another potential front in the "global Islamic insurgency"?

China's far west
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Old 12-02-2005   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CPT Holzbach
Yet another potential front in the "global Islamic insurgency"?
I see it more along the lines of the rise of ethno-nationalism and the potential for fragmentation of larger states that we have been seeing since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Xinjiang Problem

Violent Separatism in Xinjiang

Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-02-2005 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 03-19-2008   #3
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Default Insurgency in Tibet?

CTV news had some fairly graphic video of Tibetan "insurgents" operating in Gyanzu (sp?) province last night. What with mass arrests in Lhasa over the weekend and an increasingly nasty dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, it looks as if the younger generation of Tibetans may do more than practice non-violent resistance to the Chinese. Indeed, the Dalai Lama actually offered to resign if things went to open conflict and since his successor was kidnapped by the Chinese quite some time ago, things could get very interesting.
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Old 03-19-2008   #4
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CTV news had some fairly graphic video of Tibetan "insurgents" operating in Gyanzu (sp?) province last night. What with mass arrests in Lhasa over the weekend and an increasingly nasty dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, it looks as if the younger generation of Tibetans may do more than practice non-violent resistance to the Chinese. Indeed, the Dalai Lama actually offered to resign if things went to open conflict and since his successor was kidnapped by the Chinese quite some time ago, things could get very interesting.
I've kind of wondered why no one has taken that issue to the U.N. under the ruberic of decolonization.
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Old 03-19-2008   #5
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Hi Steve,

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I've kind of wondered why no one has taken that issue to the U.N. under the ruberic of decolonization.
That wouldn't work - Tibet was a conquest not a colony of China. Besides that, the entire Free Tibet strategy has been predicated around non-violent global protests (a friend of mine is one of the main organizers).

What I found fascinating with the limited video that they got was that it seemed to be a performance; possibly because of the unique opportunity of having a Western camera crew there (the video is on the CTV site). What with an independence movement starting up in the Uigher province, a lot of social strain between Beijing and Shanghai, radical shifts in the demographic balance and the Olympics coming to town, I suspect that things will get "interesting".
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Old 03-19-2008   #6
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Hi Steve,



That wouldn't work - Tibet was a conquest not a colony of China. Besides that, the entire Free Tibet strategy has been predicated around non-violent global protests (a friend of mine is one of the main organizers).

What I found fascinating with the limited video that they got was that it seemed to be a performance; possibly because of the unique opportunity of having a Western camera crew there (the video is on the CTV site). What with an independence movement starting up in the Uigher province, a lot of social strain between Beijing and Shanghai, radical shifts in the demographic balance and the Olympics coming to town, I suspect that things will get "interesting".

I'm not following--most of the colonies that the UN got hot and bothered about were conquests at some point in time. The fact that Tibet has not been portrayed that way reflects--in my opinion--the idea that only Europeans and people of European descent can be colonialists, racists, etc. So what I'm getting it is a political strategy that would burst out of the mental confines of this old 1960s conceptualization.
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Old 03-19-2008   #7
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Hi Steve,

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Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
I'm not following--most of the colonies that the UN got hot and bothered about were conquests at some point in time. The fact that Tibet has not been portrayed that way reflects--in my opinion--the idea that only Europeans and people of European descent can be colonialists, racists, etc. So what I'm getting it is a political strategy that would burst out of the mental confines of this old 1960s conceptualization.
Ah, okay I see what you are getting at. You are definitely right about the political problems with calling non-Europeans/non-whites "colonizers", but that is only part of the problem. Another part is when the conquest took place - 1950-51, which is not generally accepted as part of the "colonizing period".

Given the convoluted history between China and Tibet, the closest actual analog to a justification for the conquest is exactly the one used by Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Kuwait - "historic association", although Tibet was never actually part of China, while Kuwait was part of Iraq (about 1000 years ago...). This type of post-colonial conquest was pretty much accepted at the time for reasons of political expediency that have not really disappeared (i.e. tensions between the big players).

On another level, there has been a lot of pressure for China to open up for business since the 1970's and, today, too much of the North American economy is built on cheap Chinese goods. Calling for China to "de-colonize" Tibet would a) PO the Chinese for calling them colonialists and b) PO the Chinese for interfering in their "internal affairs" - I doubt that many in the West are willing to do that .

Just getting back to your point about the racialization of the term 'colonialist", you're absolutely right. The Chinese, actually the Han, have been doing this for a long time, including all the usual "worst practices" - e.g. cultural genocide, language imperialism, etc. Take a look at their Anthropology - it's based on that of Lewis Henry Morgan and is decidedly culturally eugenicist in nature.
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Old 03-19-2008   #8
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Default It's only an insurgency if images are available

I am sure that the presence of Western tourists, with camera phones and internet / phone access is the only reason anyone knows quickly of the rioting. Whether the Chinese will review tourist access to Tibet is a moot point. Shutting down internet and phone access I fear would be relatively easy.

Secondly there has been reporting that the native Tibetans are being outnumbered by the incoming Han Chinese. I recall Tibetans may already be in a minority.

Third, any insurgency needs weapons, preferably firearms and I doubt if Tibetans have access to them.

Once the tourists are gone we will rely on press reporting (unlikely) and those who exit carrying stories.

Sadly Tibet is a lost cause and I've not even thought about power politics, Olympics etc.
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Old 03-20-2008   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
I'm not following--most of the colonies that the UN got hot and bothered about were conquests at some point in time. The fact that Tibet has not been portrayed that way reflects--in my opinion--the idea that only Europeans and people of European descent can be colonialists, racists, etc. So what I'm getting it is a political strategy that would burst out of the mental confines of this old 1960s conceptualization.
I think this theory that the UN only gets involved in decolonizing white-owned colonies is pretty wrongheaded. More relevant is the fact that China has a seat on the Security Council, just as Russia does vis a vis a similar "colony" in Chechnya. For examples of UN intervention in a nonwhite colonial situation, see Western Sahara, East Timor, etc.
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Old 03-20-2008   #10
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I think this theory that the UN only gets involved in decolonizing white-owned colonies is pretty wrongheaded. More relevant is the fact that China has a seat on the Security Council, just as Russia does vis a vis a similar "colony" in Chechnya. For examples of UN intervention in a nonwhite colonial situation, see Western Sahara, East Timor, etc.
Did the UN actually call/condemn Western Sahara and East Timor as "colonialism"? I honestly don't know. My point is that how an issue is portrayed plays a major role in how the world sees it and responds to it. China has succeeded in having Tibet depited as a purely "internal" matter. If that could be shifted, Beijing would face different pressures.
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Old 03-20-2008   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Did the UN actually call/condemn Western Sahara and East Timor as "colonialism"? I honestly don't know. My point is that how an issue is portrayed plays a major role in how the world sees it and responds to it. China has succeeded in having Tibet depited as a purely "internal" matter. If that could be shifted, Beijing would face different pressures.
I don't think so, because both Morocco and Indonesia did not view Western Sahara nor Timor-Leste as colonies, but rather as integral parts of the nation - just as Russia views Chechnya and China views Tibet. Britain never viewed Nigeria as an integral part of the United Kingdom, OTOH.

Also as to why no one ever took Tibet to the UN Special Committee on Decolonization - see China's seat on the Security Council.

There is an informative post on tensions within the Tibetan independence movement here. One wonders about the movement's future once its charismatic leader passes on.
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Old 03-20-2008   #12
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I don't think so, because both Morocco and Indonesia did not view Western Sahara nor Timor-Leste as colonies, but rather as integral parts of the nation - just as Russia views Chechnya and China views Tibet. Britain never viewed Nigeria as an integral part of the United Kingdom, OTOH.

Also as to why no one ever took Tibet to the UN Special Committee on Decolonization - see China's seat on the Security Council.

There is an informative post on tensions within the Tibetan independence movement here. One wonders about the movement's future once its charismatic leader passes on.
Most of the "non self governing territories" which the UN Special Committe on Decolonization is concerned with are administered by Security Council members. I mean, there is no value is starting a discussion of the U.N.'s flaws here, but when it is interested in promoting the independence of Bermuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Somoa but is not concerned with Tibet, it's hard to take it terribly seriously.
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Old 03-22-2008   #13
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Default Back to some specifics for a moment...

Savage Minds has an interesting story about the Tibet Resistance.
Quote:
For five decades, the People’s Republic of China has been proclaiming the death of the Tibetan resistance. In the 1950-60s, they discursively denied the existence of the Tibetan resistance army by referring to them as “high class separatists” and “rebel bandits.” Since then, they have attempted to curb any resistance by immediately putting down protests through arrests, beatings, imprisonments, disappearances (remember the 11th Panchen Lama?), and deaths. The PRC has done everything they can to give the impression that resistance in Tibet—armed or peaceful, coordinated or everyday—is a rare and unwise exception to their benevolent rule, is conducted only by monks or members of the “Dalai clique,” and is not representative of the majority of the Tibetan people who love the Chinese motherland.
Much more at the link.
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Old 03-23-2008   #14
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Hey everyone,

Well, the Ottawa Citizen, my main source of news while scarfing down unhealthy amounts of bacon and coffee, said in one of the articles published on Saturday, 23 March, that the Han have moved in massive amounts of settlers into Tibet and now outnumber Tibetans in their own homeland. I think we have a case of English settlers vs. the Catawba Confederation in Virginia c. the 1600's here.

At this point, it's tragic, but what can we really do about it? Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most young Tibetans from a rural, or non-urban, upbringing who are out of tune with the dog-eat-dog rudimentary free market of the new Chinese economy? Adding into that, again correct me if I am wrong, most of the important civil service and police posts are held by Han Chinese, a sign of Beijing's distrust of the indigenous Tibetans and also a sign of their ability to govern and control without a local elite. Does this not meant that Tibet is essentially a lost cause and and is only good for an excuse to chat up some good-looking young woman at a FYSH concert?

Respectfully and humbly,

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Old 03-23-2008   #15
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Sadly, Billy, I do rather fear that you are almost certainly quite correct. Not unlike the Aboriginal peoples of North America, the Tibetans are more or less culturally ill-suited for modern commerical culture. As such, they are in effect altar sacrifices to the idolatry of "success". Or, to very roughly qutoe that famous statement by the British civil servant of the Raj, the poor things "crushed under the wheels of the Juggernaut of progress".

That said, I was quite shocked by the intensity of the feelings towards non-Chinese by the Tibetan rioters. I mean, Han and Hui were deliberately sought out for abuse and killing, and some were even burned to death. That sort of thing leaves permanent scars on the collective consciousness. For those reasons alone - and the factors underlying them -, an insurgency is not entirely out of the question, though most unlikely.

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Old 03-26-2008   #16
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Just speculating!

Tibet maybe a lost cause in the overall context and none may actually care, but the uprising does help to divert China's attention and effort to other issues and manpower from sectors where the manpower was being used for its economic enhancement.

The PLA is known to contribute for economic efforts.

China will have to showcase for the Tibetan that they care for the Tibetans and so more economic sops will have to be diverted to them as also to all the minority areas of China. Such efforts may have to be focussed for the individual and not for national development which is slow to affect the people for them to realise the effort!

Possible?

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Old 03-26-2008   #17
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Hi Ray,

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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
China will have to showcase for the Tibetan that they care for the Tibetans and so more economic sops will have to be diverted to them as also to all the minority areas of China. Such efforts may have to be focussed for the individual and not for national development which is slow to affect the people for them to realise the effort!

Possible?
Maybe, but I think it's unlikely. They already have enough tensions running around what with the Shanghai vs. Beijing tug of war and the Uigher separatists. From what little seems to be coming out, I suspect they will use a terror campaign - it won't be the first time they have done that to the "sub-human barbarians" (i.e. non-Han).
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Old 03-30-2008   #18
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An interesting roundup of blogger coverage including some material on the Chinese media is available here.
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Old 03-30-2008   #19
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Ray: China has targeted Xinjiang and Tibet for massive economic development for decades. This went into overdrive especially in the past 8 years or so, when development of "interior" provinces became a major priority. Per capita, Tibet receives more subsidies from the central government than any other province. Infrastructure and construction investment in the TAR and Qinghai is at roughly 2x the level as in southeastern provinces. It is this massive government spending that has led to the enormous increase in urbanization in Tibet in the past decade, as well as the correspondingly huge increase in the Han population.

Of course this spending has to be seen in the context of China's program of "modernization" of the TAR and the western regions, where modernization brings both economic development but also greater control from the center. As with most "modernization" programs, the indigenous population is marginalized as it doesn't possess the requisite social or economic skills necessary to compete.
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Old 03-31-2008   #20
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I just got asked to sign a petition in support of Tibet that is circulating on the 'Net. Over 1.4 million signatures in 7 days, and growing. The wording is interesting, especially the use of terms like "stability".
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