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As bit of a counter-point, to avoid the simplest mis-readings of the above.

The above is no advocacy of Tibetan separatism. In general, I don't think in drawing borders as a solution to anything. For the population of Tibet, I think the best would be more cultural autonomy, more local government, and an end to settlement policies while infrastructure and other projects of the Chinese central government would continue.

Of course all of this is predicated upon the issue of democracy, which the PRC is not (it is a hyper-capitalist worker-exploiting state and a centralised-top-down-bureaucratic imperium in one), not anymore than the old feudal government of Tibet. Which makes me wince at both you (redstar) speaking about opinion polls to 'believe' that there is popular resentment and FarEasterner claiming wide satisfaction pre-PRC-occupation.

I haven't attacked your (redstar's) point about the economic benefits the PRC brought because even if I am not unreservedly enthusiastic about the changes and less willing to blanket equate them with progress, just these are the reasons I don't think the Tibet case is as clear-cut as in the eye of most Western Free Tibet! campaigners.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 07:30:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well said DoDo.

I myself find redstar's attitude rather interesting. After all, I could equally have said some short years ago "I have no evidence for national aspirations in Ukraine" etc. etc."

Or, one can easily say "I see no reason to believe that the people of Burma are unhappy with their present government, in the absence of a poll that talks to all the people in the country."

And yet, redstar claims to unabashedly believe in "progress." But only economic it seems, not in terms of people's lived political lives...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 08:18:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
can say there are nationalist aspirations in Eastern Ukraine for reattachment to Russia, which would also have the advantage of historical arguments on its side as well. Ukrianian history didn't stop with that turquoise revolution or whatever the American PR firms came up with for Ukraine here, Georgia there et c.

Burma did have a poll, and the Burmese people did speak overwhelmingly against the military regime currently occupying the couutry. That one is pretty clear.

But you are absolutely correct in your take on my view that economic progress and above all equality are far better guideposts to human rights and human gain than simply installing a liberal democracy which can be gamed by the wealthy to their advantage, a regime I lie under (for now) in Amerika.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 09:09:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see I forgot to address this point. To justify the Chinese takeover with economic improvements assumes that an autonomous Tibet would have stayed static.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 01:35:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And given how they select their leader, it can just as easily go backwards as go forwards, can't it?

I wouldn't want the pope running the EU.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 03:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who said internal revolution or less violent change is not a possibility?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 04:38:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
discontent in Tibet regarding rule from Beijing. I just don't have any verifiable way of determining its extent and I just don't trust the Western press on this one, not by a long shot. And I certainly won't take Richard Gere's word for it. I also note that the Chinese press tends to play up the PRC's support for ethnic minorities in the PRC and have no way to evaluate that claim either, really. Surely the truth lies somewhere, but where exactly does it lie? (And my general operating principle - if the originating press is english-language, it almost certainly lies to some extent...)

I also recognize this may be attacked as naive, but as far as I know, the operating governing principle in Beiing is still Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and, if emphasis on markets rather than command and control has taken place, it's also a fact that the Beijing government actively governs with a view towards not just social stability, but also equality and fairness. Whereas in the west discussions of gini coefficients and growing income disparities make the glibertarian elites roll their eyes, these considerations are taken very very seriously, still, in Beijing.

As long as the party hasn't changed its name and the army is still called the People's Liberation Army, I'm going to err on the side of naivete and continue to believe that they are, in the large survey of history, on our side.

That, anyhow, explains what might appear to some to be my apparently curious position here.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 09:02:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your assumptions seem contrary to my own experiences in the region.

Your "naive faith" in the nature of the PLA as a non-imperial instrument seems contrary to a history of a thousand years of popular revolts against "Imperial rule" in many regions of what is now China.

Your assumptions about how seriously the "Gini coefficient" is taken in governing circles in China seems not only contradictory to the experiences of the people I know living there, but also the outcomes of government policies we can see in action.

Distrusting the Western press is a good thing, but you might consider being less certain about "the realities on the ground" if you are claiming a position of "generalised distrust of the propaganda we're being fed."

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 09:44:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
many friends from (and in) the PRC, and in particular the view of Tibet as integral part of China is of a pair with the general view of Chinese people living in the PRC. It's not just the official line.

I am wondering, do you have any numbers, information on the PRC and income inequality that would suggest the Beijing government and the Party do not take this seriously? China is a big place, a bigger place, by most meaningful demographic measures far more socio-economically diverse, to begin with, than Europe is, and so you need to take these differences into consideration. Comparing gini's to Europe's individual nations, or even the US, is therefore not appropriate, as the rapid gains the PRC has made economically are regionally uneven, something the Beijing government actively tries to manage. Rural poverty is quite high, but let's remember that China is still going through the stage of rural to urban migration which largely ended in Europe two or three generations ago, and this process creates havoc in creating income disparities in the short term all the while eventually, if managed well, creating conditions for much greater equality in the medium- and long view. Put another way, I have no doubt the PRC will be a much more equal place than it is today when my grandchildren finish school; as for the "West" (tm), I'm not so sure. That might be an article of faith, but there it is.

And anyhow, the most comprehensive measure of human rights and human gain, produced annually by the UN, has the PRC climbing steadily where it will soon enter the top tier in the UN's Human Development Index's annual rankings. Compare to the other places we are talking about - India, Bhutan, Nepal. Way, way down. For me, it's simply not even controversial to say that the PRC is mankind's most successful poverty alleviation program in history.  

And I do distrust propaganda and take official PRC statements like this one with perhaps less a skeptical eye  as I do the anglo-american press, but a skeptical eye nonetheless. But I will say one thing, and this too may be taken by some as an article of faith and if so, so be it: socialist imperialism is an oxymoron. I don't see the PLA in this sense the same way as you.

All this being said, I suppose we could give Brittany back to the Bretons, it's been part of France for about as long as Tibet has been part of China, and there is a separatist movement there as well, at times in history quite strong.

Plus they have a really cool flag.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 11:38:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While I do not agree with everything you write (especially your esthetic opinion of the Chinese flag design, but that may simply be a question of fashion), I find myself nodding along with most of what you have to say in this comment and much of what you write elsewhere in the thread, albeit I have only been in China for nine months and in the extremely affluent, very sheltered east coastal town of Hangzhou.

There are still things to be very concerned about with respect to China, perhaps even afraid of, including Han nationalism which DoDo (or was it Metatone?) mentioned, corruption, the precarious state of internalized social controls, and a historical self-image which is shockingly grandiose (not to mention favorite Western targets like natural resource consumption, socioeconomic inequality, human rights abuses, information control, pollution, etc.)  But -- and like you, maybe I am being naïve -- overall I am impressed by and optimistic about China's progress.

Oh, reading Western coverage of these riots has been disappointing to say the least -- and in some ways even more instructive about Western media bias than the pre-Iraq war insanity.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 01:39:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that I am daily reevaluating and revising my thoughts and feelings about China, based on personal experiences, observations, readings, conversations, etc.  Who knows, one trip to Tibet and what I see and hear there may completely change my views -- and another trip may do so again.  It's happened before, both here and in other places, as it must happen to many people living overseas, or even within their own countries.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 01:43:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a good point, a very good one.

And perhaps my perceptions are colored by my own experiences, which is far more PRC-oriented (I've probably exchanged 50 ims with one of my best friends from university...her da is a PRC (now retired) diplomat who spent a long time at the UN.) But while dated, I did have contacts on the other side of this argument we are having here as well, not Tibetan, but Bhutanese, also from university days, a woman from my circle of friends who was a daughter of an adviser to the king and also posted for a time at the UN. She went to Scarsdale for high school in America, then the same international university as I (Kofi Annan, among others, was a graduate) at the same time and again in the same circle of friends.

The things she told about Bhutan, and what she would be doing when she graduated, and the typical life of a Bhutanese back then (ie, not going abroad for school in rizty highschools and so on), boggled my mind. I immediately thought of peasant life back in the days of the Shogunate.

I mean, I understand people romanticise this stuff, and I understand also the romanstic appeal of this "national happiness" measure the king of Bhutan has come up with (funny - that's not PR, but "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" somehow is!). But sorry, for me, progress ain't the past, it's now and in the future. Great leaps forward, great enough so that the inevitable steps backward in reaction don't retract the whole of the steps leaped.

   

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 04:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about piles of bodies of killed monks shown on CNN yesterday? Were these photos fabricated, it's also anti-Chinese bias? In fact if Western media is biased it's unabashedly pro-Chinese (savouring how barbarous Tibetans attacked innocent Han settlers) and especially CNN which invested heavily in China and coverage of upcoming Olympics.
by FarEasterner on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 07:41:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not have access to CNN TV here, and I have not been able to find the pictures on their website.  If you have links to those pictures, could you post them here?

I may be naïve and gullible, but I do not believe the weeping Han civilians who were interviewed on Chinese TV news were actors making up stories about how their daughters and sisters were burned to death in stores which were impossible to escape from which were set on fire by Tibetan mobs from which they were hiding.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 12:43:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, the Chinese news keep on reiterating that they have "definite evidence" that the "Dalai clique" was behind all the riots, in Lhasa as well as Sichuan, without bothering to tell us what the evidence consists of.

Of course, one cannot buy the Chinese version wholesale.  But one should not buy the foreign version wholesale either.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 12:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PRC flag (which is fine by me anyhow, I like the dominant color!) but the Bretagne flag:



The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 03:54:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read of widespread worker and peasant revolts in Eastern China over the past five years on (leftist, Mandarin-speaker) blogs before the Western MSM took notice.

The PLA was used to crush the people's uprising in 1989 all across the country (this is not commonly known, the revolt then did not consist of TV-cameraed Beijing students on Tiennanmen Square only).

As an internationalist, I take expressions like "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" as PR hogwash to cloud over the abandonment of real Marxist ideals. (I contend BTW that rejecting internationalism was crucial in the initial split-off of Social Democrats from Marxist socialism, and a similar rejection by Lenin sealed the fate of the Soviet Union.)

In my view, the PRC central government considers social stability a power issue, exploitation of migrant workers is OK as long as discontent doesn't concentrate in a major region. Ths what it does is less programmes for social equality rather than regional equality.

After these critical notes, I submit it may be that, as it often happens in top-down hierarchical systems, the majority may believe that the central government is all good for them, and blame local officials for problems (not recognising this is a systemic problem, and strikers and uprisers against a bad local official who appeal to the central government are in for a rude surprise when armed forces are sent in in support of that official). The example that sruck most in me comes from a source you may term MSM, National Geographic: Northeast of Bejing, a local official embezzled the funds for the big tree-planting project, by sending people to dig the holes but not buying any trees. The author seemed to expect anti-regime feelings, but the locals told him about it all in the explicit hope that he'll relay it into the ears of the top in Beijing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 01:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I contend BTW that rejecting internationalism was crucial in the initial split-off of Social Democrats from Marxist socialism, and a similar rejection by Lenin sealed the fate of the Soviet Union

I'd really like it if you developed this thought into a longer post.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 03:31:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh... I'm supposed to do that about since I wrote this... I shall, eventually :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 03:40:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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