View Full Version : Why Tibet needs China

Dec 7, 2009, 18:55
Westerners who have never been to China are easily fooled by the international, high-profile propaganda of the Dalai Lama into thinking that Tibet has every right and reason to seek its independence. I will explain why this is not the case, and indeed Tibetans are better off within China than as an independent country.

Tibet is one of the poorest places on Earth. The Chinese countryside is already poor, but we are talking about a different level of poverty here. Tibet has no natural resources (beyond yaks and yak dung). Its agriculture is very primitive and limited, and barely meets the need of the population. Modern Tibet is not comparable to Eastern China now, but more like Eastern China in the 1960's or 70's.

It is a common misconception in the West that Tibet was brutally invaded by Communist China, without any reason, in 1959. Tibet had been a vassal state of China since 1720. Imperial China disintegrated after the messed-up revolution of 1912, but Tibet did not declare its independence from China. It was just one of many Chinese regions in a disintegrated country. When China was reunified by the Communists, Tibet found its place back into the country. At first, in the 1950's, Chairman Mao was well disposed towards Tibet, and did not implement the same harsh reforms as elsewhere in China. But the Buddhists couldn't stand any reform and staged an fully-fledged uprising against the Communist regime. Mao had no choice but send troops to crush the rebellion. He would have done it for any part of China. Being Tibetan was not the problem. Rebelling against the government was.

If anything, Buddhist monks are actually responsible for Tibet's sorry economic situation. They rejected modernisation when they had the opportunity in the 1920's, fearful that a modern, Westernised society would become too secular, and monasteries would lose their grip on the populace. They rejected reforms again in the 1950's, despite being granted more autonomy by Mao. Their backward religious dogmatism predestined their misfortunes.

The independent Tibet dreamed up by the Dalai Lama would in effect be an absolute theocracy, a sort of large Vatican were religion governs every aspect of life. Even if you don't have a problem with that (although you should), an independent Tibet would be an isolated and backward place, and with no industry besides tourism and no help from the Chinese government and investment from Chinese companies, the population would starve, decline, and be more miserable than it is now.

China brought Tibet electricity, running water, supermarkets, the Internet, proper asphalted roads, the railway, airports, and most importantly jobs and an abundance of food, clothes and other daily life products that Tibetans would otherwise not have access to.

Half of the Tibetans in China live outside the Tibet Autonomous Region, mostly in the surrounding provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Many have accepted that Tibet will never be independent from Beijing, and have adapted to the Chinese way of life, getting a college education in Mandarin and taking modern jobs in big cities that just don't exist in Tibet itself.

Younger Tibetans use mobile phones, listen to pop music, play video games and surf on the Internet, just like everybody else. They don't want to become monks or lead the nomadic life of their ancestors. They want what modern society has to offer. The Chinese government has well understood now that if they cannot win over Tibetans through ideology, they can with jobs, money and goods to buy with this money.

There are about 150,000 Tibetan exiles around the world, two third of whom live in India. That's a tiny percentage compared to the number of 5 million Afghan refugees worldwide or 2.5 million Iraqi that fled their home country because of the US invasion. If Tibetans were so miserable under Chinese rule, more would cross over the border to India (it's like the border is well guarded, the Chinese have better thing to do).

Most of the pro-Tibetan propaganda in the West is conducted by the few exiles and Western Dalai Lama supporters. I was amazed by the number of Tibetan flags I saw hanging at windows everywhere in Belgium during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. These were not the action of Tibetans themselves (there are just a few hundred of them in Belgium), but of brainwashed Belgians who really thought that China was leading a genocide on Tibet and that all Tibetans wanted their independence. The problem with Tibetans living abroad is that they are a bunch of harden-up extremists ("skinheads" wouldn't be a totally inappropriate denomination for the Dalai Lama's army of monks ;-) ).

The population of Tibet has declined a bit since 1959, but that can be attributed to the rural exodus towards Chinese cities. Go to Shanghai and you will find Tibetans working there. Go to Beijing and you will find more. Go to any big Chinese city and there will be Tibetans who moved there just like millions of Han Chinese left their villages to improve their life conditions in the city. There is no future in nomadism or monastery life. That's just the modern world. That's globalisation, and you cannot blame the Chinese for that. The Han Chinese were the first to throw away their refined culture to adopt Western ways. China is willing to provide the financial support to develop the Tibetan infrastructure and economy. Tibetans are lucky to be part of the world's fastest growing economy. It would be a serious mistake to spit on that and turn their back to modernity.