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China, Tibet, the Olympics and freedom
Posted by: McQ on Monday, April 14, 2008

Matthew Forney writes an op/ed for the NYT in which he discusses the predominant view of the Chinese concerning Tibet:
As is clear to anyone who lives here, most young ethnic Chinese strongly support their government’s suppression of the recent Tibetan uprising. One Chinese friend who has a degree from a European university described the conflict to me as “a clash between the commercial world and an old aboriginal society.” She even praised her government for treating Tibetans better than New World settlers treated Native Americans.
Of course the moral relevance is stunning, but not particularly surprising. The Chinese seem to have a certain way of viewing their country and its actions which Westerners seem to find somewhat disturbing.

In this case, Forney's friend seems to be implying that China is actually doing Tibet a favor.

Forney continues:
Educated young people are usually the best positioned in society to bridge cultures, so it’s important to examine the thinking of those in China. The most striking thing is that, almost without exception, they feel rightfully proud of their country’s accomplishments in the three decades since economic reforms began. And their pride and patriotism often find expression in an unquestioning support of their government, especially regarding Tibet.
Life, at least for the group Forney talks about, is better than it ever has been in the past, and yes, that's directly attributable to the economic success the country has enjoyed. But that is coupled with something much more pernicious, and that is state indoctrination of the masses, but more particularly, the educated elite. And you have to remember, it is this group which will one day take the reigns of power from those holding them now:
The most obvious explanation for this is the education system, which can accurately be described as indoctrination. Textbooks dwell on China’s humiliations at the hands of foreign powers in the 19th century as if they took place yesterday, yet skim over the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s as if it were ancient history. Students learn the neat calculation that Chairman Mao’s tyranny was “30 percent wrong,” then the subject is declared closed. The uprising in Tibet in the late 1950s, and the invasion that quashed it, are discussed just long enough to lay blame on the “Dalai clique,” a pejorative reference to the circle of advisers around Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Then there’s life experience — or the lack of it — that might otherwise help young Chinese to gain a perspective outside the government’s viewpoint. Young urban Chinese study hard and that’s pretty much it. Volunteer work, sports, church groups, debate teams, musical skills and other extracurricular activities don’t factor into college admission, so few participate. And the government’s control of society means there aren’t many non-state-run groups to join anyway. Even the most basic American introduction to real life — the summer job — rarely exists for urban students in China.

Recent Chinese college graduates are an optimistic group. And why not? The economy has grown at a double-digit rate for as long as they can remember. Those who speak English are guaranteed good jobs. Their families own homes. They’ll soon own one themselves, and probably a car too. A cellphone, an iPod, holidays — no problem. Small wonder the Pew Research Center in Washington described the Chinese in 2005 as “world leaders in optimism.”
And small wonder they're more than willing to perpetuate the system that has brought them this material gain and rationalize the oppression of another country and culture and, even, the oppression of their own people. It is a particularly Chinese solution to the problem of retaining power by the old clique. It is one of the reasons, interestingly, that Americans, during the torch run, have been so surprised by the number of young Chinese who are out there waving the PRC flag and vocally supporting their country.

That said, China's growth is not without problems. The Chinese have them in any number of areas, to include currency, fuel, power, infrastructure, food and growing expectations. At some point much of that will come to a head. And at that point, perhaps China's biggest supporters will become its new revolutionaries (since, for the most part, revolutions aren't begun by the poor, but instead by the educated and fairly well off).

Without exposure to different cultures and ideologies, what they might install, if successful, might not look much different than what they presently have. Cultural events like the Olympics (and that's what it is) are critical to broadening this group's understanding of the rest of the world. The torch run, for example, has to have had an impact on at least some of that group, seeing the protests and the condemnation of their country. And it remains a very important reason why the Olympics remain a very important part of helping expose the Chinese - both the elite and the ordinary - to the rest of the world.

It may seem, to some, a "reward" that a totalitarian regime doesn't deserve. But it reality it may be one of the many seeds required to sow their eventual destruction.

But be aware that as it stands now:
Barring major changes in China’s education system or economy, Westerners are not going to find allies among the vast majority of Chinese on key issues like Tibet, Darfur and the environment for some time. If the debate over Tibet turns this summer’s contests in Beijing into the Human Rights Games, as seems inevitable, Western ticket-holders expecting to find Chinese angry at their government will instead find Chinese angry at them.
I can live with that.
 
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And no China story would be complete without a link to shady Clinton machine fundraising. From Sunday’s Los Angeles Times:
NEW YORK — As Chinese authorities have clamped down on unrest in Tibet and jailed dissidents in advance of the 2008 Olympics, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a strong public stance, calling for restraint in Tibet and urging President Bush to boycott the Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing.

But her recent stern comments on China’s internal crackdown collide with former President Bill Clinton’s fundraising relationship with a Chinese Internet company accused of collaborating with the mainland government’s censorship of the Web. Last month, the firm, Alibaba Inc., carried a government-issued “most wanted” posting on its Yahoo China homepage, urging viewers to provide information on Tibetan activists suspected of stirring recent riots.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Aldo!

Where have you been?!
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Hey McQ!

I’ve been working on writing a novel, and I decided that I had to cut back my time on the blogosphere or the thing would never get finished. I’m flattered that you noticed my absence. Maybe I’ll have to check in to Q and O from time to time.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Maybe I’ll have to check in to Q and O from time to time.
Please do. We miss your outstanding comments. And good luck with the novel. I want a signed copy when it’s finished and published.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Thank you very much. I always tell people who are exploring blogs for the first time that Q and O needs to be their first stop every day for political commentary.

If I get published you are welcome to as many signed copies as you want!
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Ditto McQ. I’ve always enjoyed your comments Aldo. I think I may have mentioned that before.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Thank you Tom.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Aldo - I agree, we have missed you. Welcome back and I hope the book goes well. Let us know when she hits the presses.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Tibet - The Myth of Shangri-La
April 14, 2008
C R Sridhar

‘We ought not suffer ourselves to be deluded by unfounded theory or specious argument.’ -Abbe Felice Fontana.


The recent uprising in Tibet, which was crushed by China, reopened old wounds of the Tibetan struggle for independence from China. The international media was quick to highlight the traumatic events of the Chinese crackdown in 1959 in Tibet, which led to the exile of Dalai Lama to India. The international condemnation of the tough action taken on the Tibetan protesters was embarrassing to China as she was to play the host in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The bad publicity came at an inopportune time and blunted the PR exercise mounted by China as an emerging Super Power.

The international coverage of the uprising was to a large extent uniform expressing moral outrage at the Chinese oppression but simplified the complex historical events of the Sino-Tibetan struggle. In the simplification lay the romantic notion that the Lamas (the priestly class) ruled wisely and with compassion. As the Dalai Lama himself stated that "the pervasive influence of Buddhism" in Tibet, "amid the wide open spaces of an unspoiled environment resulted in a society dedicated to peace and harmony. We enjoyed freedom and contentment.”1

Hollywood version of Tibet

The romantic notion of idyllic Tibet where men, women and children lived in perfect harmony was reinforced in the West by Hollywood movies produced by talented directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha (1993) and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997) and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Seven Years in Tibet. In these excellently directed and lavishly produced films there are powerful messages suggesting ‘exaggerated reverence, with heavy-handed depictions of Tibetans, especially Tibetan monks, as solemn, holy and kind instead of as ordinary people who quarrel and joke around.’ The Western World also idealized Tibetan culture as pure and otherworldly. As Jamyang Norbu, a Tibetan immigrant and writer living in Tennessee, said: ’’In the West, the response to Tibetan culture is so worshipful and romantic. There are elements in Tibetan culture that have all this magical, medieval stuff that Westerners love. The New Age thing. The Tibetan thing has style — the color, the costumes. To a great extent, we exist only in the imagination of Western fantasists.’’2

The slavish adoration of all things Tibetan finds articulation in the novel Lost Horizon, written by Ronald Colman who popularized Shangri-La – a place of perfect serenity. The novel tells a story of some Englishmen whose plane crashed in the Himalayas found peace and tranquility in the company of lamas who engaged them with philosophical conversation over endless cups of tea. This myth of Tibet – a veritable Shangri-La - entered Western consciousness and struck a sympathetic chord. This impression of Tibet as a Utopian world untainted by greed or corruption excited the imagination of western people and formed the basis of public opinion supporting the Tibetan struggle against China.


Exploitative class structure

But did the popular opinion about Tibet as a Shangri-La have any basis in reality? Were there any historical records to support the claim that it was Shangri-La ruled by the wise lamas? A careful and scrupulous reading of Tibetan History reveals a radically different picture. Far from being a Shangri-La Tibet was crushed from within by a viciously exploitative class structure. “Until 1959, when the Dalai Lama last presided over Tibet,” writes Michael Parenti, “ most of the arable land was still organized into manorial estates worked by serfs. “3 Even a writer sympathetic to the old order allows that "a great deal of real estate belonged to the monasteries, and most of them amassed great riches . . .. In addition, individual monks and lamas were able to accumulate great wealth through active participation in trade, commerce, and money lending."4

In old Tibet, there were a number of small farmers who eked out a living under extremely difficult circumstances. These were the lucky ones as they were free peasants. The middle class was in the region of ten thousand comprising small traders, merchants, and shopkeepers. Thousands were beggars and some slaves who owned nothing. But staggering parts of the population - some 700000 out of 1250000 were serfs.5 The serfs and other poor peasants had no education or medical care. They slaved for the lama and the secular landed aristocracy. They had no rights and were subject to the whims of the lords. The plight of the serfs is chronicled in the Timely Rain: Travels in New Tibet and also in other scholarly books such as Tom Grunfeld’s The Making of Modern Tibet, M.E. Sharpe, 1996; Anna Louise Strong, Tibetan Interviews, Peking New World Press, 1929.

Hell on Earth


The exploitative regime of the Lamas was enforced through terror and wide spread use of torture. For runaway serfs and thieves the summary punishments were given such as eye gouging, the pulling out of tongues, hamstringing, and amputation. Notes Parenti “ In 1959, Anna Louise Strong visited an exhibition of torture equipment that had been used by the Tibetan overlords. There were handcuffs of all sizes, including small ones for children, and instruments for cutting off noses and ears, gouging out eyes, and breaking off hands. There were instruments for slicing off kneecaps and heels, or hamstringing legs. There were hot brands, whips, and special implements for disemboweling.”6 The testimonies of the victims of torture are heart rending as they are enduring chronicles of man’s inhumanity to man.

The religious teaching of Karma was used to keep the iniquitous social order in place. The pernicious doctrine taught that the poor had themselves to blame as they justly suffered for their sins committed in past lives. The rich enjoyed the affluence and prosperity as a reward for their virtuous deeds in the past. This religious dogma prevented any challenge to the social order and preserved a status quo for the benefit of the Lama elites.

Enter the Red Dragon

In 1950 the Chinese communists occupied Tibet and crushed the ill-equipped Tibetan army. In 1951 the Seventeen Point agreement was signed and Tibet was officially incorporated into the People’s Republic of China. Dalai Lama was given self- government in Tibet with the Chinese government retaining control over military and foreign relations. In Eastern Kham and Amdo (Quingai) considered being outside the purview of the Tibetan Government, the Chinese initiated land reforms. Most lands there were taken away from noblemen and monasteries and re-distributed to serfs. This aroused resentment among the landed class in Tibet. The Chinese accusation was that Tibet under the Dalai Lama was regressive in nature and opposed all attempts to modernize a serf society. The Chinese abolished serfdom and introduced social reforms by reducing usurious interest rates and built hospitals and roads. “Contrary to popular belief in the West," writes Goldstein, the Chinese "took care to show respect for Tibetan culture and religion. No aristocratic or monastic property was confiscated, and feudal lords continued to reign over their hereditarily bound peasants.”7

Meanwhile the relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese communists worsened. In Eastern Kham and Amdo(Qinghai) the landed class with the monks started a rebellion in June 1956, which eventually spread to Lhasa. The Chinese crushed the Tibetan resistance with extreme violence in 1959. After the Lhasa rebellion in 1959, the Chinese government lowered the level of autonomy of Central Tibet, and implemented full-scale land redistribution in all areas of Tibet.

Tibet as a pawn in the Cold War

The American involvement in the Tibetan struggle arose due to geopolitical concerns about the ideology of communism that was hostile to interests of capitalism. American foreign policy strategists, less inspired by thoughts of benevolence, saw a golden opportunity to halt the spread of communism by actively supporting Dalai Lama. The CIA involvement with the bands of Tibetan fighters dates back to 1956 when the Tibetan fighters attacked the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The CIA gave this group military training, support camps in Nepal and supply of arms. A propaganda unit called the American Society for a Free Asia – a CIA front- espoused the cause of free Tibet.

The Dalai Lama’s eldest brother, Thubtan Norbu, played an active role in this society.8 The CIA bankrolled the exiled Tibetan community throughout the sixties to the tune of $1.7 million a year according to the documents released by the State Department in 1998. The CIA also gave the Dalai Lama annual payments of $186000. These facts were reported in the Los Angeles Times (15-9-1998) and also in New York Times (1-10-1998) by the publication of the article ‘CIA Gave Aid to Tibetan Exiles in ’60s, Files Show’ written by Jim Mann. The documents released by the State Department are also analysed in a book written by Morrison titled The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet.

The armed resistance movement petered out in 1972 when the CIA abruptly withdrew support. Both President Nixon and Dr. Henry Kissinger saw that rapprochement with China served US geopolitical interests. The Tibetans were left high and dry. There is another important reason, not discussed in mainstream media, why the resistance failed: because large sections of Tibetan society who were serfs did not join the armed struggle against the Chinese. Unlike other liberation struggles against imperial invasions, the Tibetan resistance was confined to the land owning aristocracy and monks who lost the most during the Chinese occupation. The non- involvement of the class of peasants/ serfs spelt the death knell of the resistance.9

The bitterness of the 14th Dalai Lama was evident, as he knew that the US involvement in Tibet was a game to thwart the expansion of Communist China. It had nothing to do with the plight of the Tibetan people. While thanking the CIA for its support in the Tibetan struggle he told John Kenneth Knaus, an ex-CIA official, that “the U.S. Government had involved itself in his country’s affairs not to help Tibet but only as a cold war tactic to challenge the Chinese.’’


Today the financial support for Dalai Lama flows from the National Endowment for Democracy and other conduits. The US Congress has allotted annually a sum of $2 million for Tibetans in India with additional budget of millions for the democratic activities for the Tibetan Exile Community. Heather Cottin, in "George Soros, Imperial Wizard," CovertAction Quarterly no. 74 (Fall 2002) has also alleged that the Dalai Lama also gets money from financier George Soros, who now runs the CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other institutes.

Writing on the Wall

Beneath the smiling face of the 14th Dalai Lama that we see on TV interviews and at public functions there is a worried man. The worries of Dalai Lama are founded on painful realities confronting Tibet. In recent times the Han Chinese constituting 95% of the immense Chinese population have settled in large numbers dominating the Tibetan economy. The Han Chinese views the Tibetans with contempt. The economic levers are in the hands of the Chinese, which has aroused the antagonism of the local Tibetans. The culture of Tibet is in danger of being effaced by the demographic shift in favour of the Han Chinese.

The dark shadow cast by China as an emerging super power has blunted the bargaining power of Tibet in her quest for independence. In recent times China has meshed with the globalised economy as a supplier of low cost goods to US and the world. With US slipping into recession and real wages declining, the flood of cheap goods to meet declining purchasing power in US may stem the consumer protest in that country. Hence, apart from posturing and making rhetorical speeches, the US establishment may find no reason to rock the Chinese boat. The US occupation of Iraq against international law, which has cost precious lives, has turned public opinion against military intervention in general. Moreover, the financial crisis in US and declining dollar has limited the capacity of US to militarily intervene in Tibet. The Government in exile of Dalai Lama has no support in US to overthrow the Chinese from Tibet and risk the prospect of a third world war.

The option of Dalai Lama is restricted to negotiate with China for autonomy while being a part of China. The conciliatory efforts made by the Dalai Lama to the Chinese leadership in Beijing would be the best step forward to ensure that the freedom of worship and human rights are restored in the best traditions of democracy.

“For every complicated problem,” said Mencken, “there is a solution that is simple, direct, understandable, and wrong.” For the people who support the Free Tibet movement the myth of the Shangri-La must be laid to rest and there must be international pressure to model Tibet as a democracy. Few Tibetans would like the return of the corrupt aristocratic clans who fled with the Dalai Lama in 1959. Many Tibetan farmers would not like to give up the land distributed to them during the Chinese land reforms. Slaves who suffered terribly under the feudal overlords would not like the return to slavery. These voices must be heard and respected. Otherwise the freedom loving people of Tibet would be replacing the yoke of Chinese Occupation with the yoke of theocratic despotism of the Lamas. A fate that must be avoided at any cost.

—————


1 Dalai Lama quoted in Donald Lopez Jr., Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West (Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 1998), 205.

2 Tibet (Hold the Shangri-La)- BARBARA STEWART Published: March 19, 2000- the New York Times.

3 Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth- Michael Parenti.

4 Pradyumna P. Karan, The Changing Face of Tibet: The Impact of Chinese Communist Ideology on the Landscape (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1976), 64.

5 Stuart Gelder and Roma Gelder, The Timely Rain: Travels in New Tibet (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1964) page 110.


6 Anna Louise Strong, Tibetan Interviews (Peking: New World Press, 1929) quoted in Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth.

7 Melvyn C. Goldstein, The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), page 52.

8 Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2002); 9 Hugh Deane, "The Cold War in Tibet," CovertAction Quarterly (Winter 1987).



Sridhar is a Koshy’s regular, a Tinto Brass fan, and a cynical Bangalorean
 
Written By: thetruth
URL: http://
Tibet - The Myth of Shangri-La
April 14, 2008
C R Sridhar

‘We ought not suffer ourselves to be deluded by unfounded theory or specious argument.’ -Abbe Felice Fontana.


The recent uprising in Tibet, which was crushed by China, reopened old wounds of the Tibetan struggle for independence from China. The international media was quick to highlight the traumatic events of the Chinese crackdown in 1959 in Tibet, which led to the exile of Dalai Lama to India. The international condemnation of the tough action taken on the Tibetan protesters was embarrassing to China as she was to play the host in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The bad publicity came at an inopportune time and blunted the PR exercise mounted by China as an emerging Super Power.

The international coverage of the uprising was to a large extent uniform expressing moral outrage at the Chinese oppression but simplified the complex historical events of the Sino-Tibetan struggle. In the simplification lay the romantic notion that the Lamas (the priestly class) ruled wisely and with compassion. As the Dalai Lama himself stated that "the pervasive influence of Buddhism" in Tibet, "amid the wide open spaces of an unspoiled environment resulted in a society dedicated to peace and harmony. We enjoyed freedom and contentment.”1

Hollywood version of Tibet

The romantic notion of idyllic Tibet where men, women and children lived in perfect harmony was reinforced in the West by Hollywood movies produced by talented directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha (1993) and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997) and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Seven Years in Tibet. In these excellently directed and lavishly produced films there are powerful messages suggesting ‘exaggerated reverence, with heavy-handed depictions of Tibetans, especially Tibetan monks, as solemn, holy and kind instead of as ordinary people who quarrel and joke around.’ The Western World also idealized Tibetan culture as pure and otherworldly. As Jamyang Norbu, a Tibetan immigrant and writer living in Tennessee, said: ’’In the West, the response to Tibetan culture is so worshipful and romantic. There are elements in Tibetan culture that have all this magical, medieval stuff that Westerners love. The New Age thing. The Tibetan thing has style — the color, the costumes. To a great extent, we exist only in the imagination of Western fantasists.’’2

The slavish adoration of all things Tibetan finds articulation in the novel Lost Horizon, written by Ronald Colman who popularized Shangri-La – a place of perfect serenity. The novel tells a story of some Englishmen whose plane crashed in the Himalayas found peace and tranquility in the company of lamas who engaged them with philosophical conversation over endless cups of tea. This myth of Tibet – a veritable Shangri-La - entered Western consciousness and struck a sympathetic chord. This impression of Tibet as a Utopian world untainted by greed or corruption excited the imagination of western people and formed the basis of public opinion supporting the Tibetan struggle against China.


Exploitative class structure

But did the popular opinion about Tibet as a Shangri-La have any basis in reality? Were there any historical records to support the claim that it was Shangri-La ruled by the wise lamas? A careful and scrupulous reading of Tibetan History reveals a radically different picture. Far from being a Shangri-La Tibet was crushed from within by a viciously exploitative class structure. “Until 1959, when the Dalai Lama last presided over Tibet,” writes Michael Parenti, “ most of the arable land was still organized into manorial estates worked by serfs. “3 Even a writer sympathetic to the old order allows that "a great deal of real estate belonged to the monasteries, and most of them amassed great riches . . .. In addition, individual monks and lamas were able to accumulate great wealth through active participation in trade, commerce, and money lending."4

In old Tibet, there were a number of small farmers who eked out a living under extremely difficult circumstances. These were the lucky ones as they were free peasants. The middle class was in the region of ten thousand comprising small traders, merchants, and shopkeepers. Thousands were beggars and some slaves who owned nothing. But staggering parts of the population - some 700000 out of 1250000 were serfs.5 The serfs and other poor peasants had no education or medical care. They slaved for the lama and the secular landed aristocracy. They had no rights and were subject to the whims of the lords. The plight of the serfs is chronicled in the Timely Rain: Travels in New Tibet and also in other scholarly books such as Tom Grunfeld’s The Making of Modern Tibet, M.E. Sharpe, 1996; Anna Louise Strong, Tibetan Interviews, Peking New World Press, 1929.

Hell on Earth


The exploitative regime of the Lamas was enforced through terror and wide spread use of torture. For runaway serfs and thieves the summary punishments were given such as eye gouging, the pulling out of tongues, hamstringing, and amputation. Notes Parenti “ In 1959, Anna Louise Strong visited an exhibition of torture equipment that had been used by the Tibetan overlords. There were handcuffs of all sizes, including small ones for children, and instruments for cutting off noses and ears, gouging out eyes, and breaking off hands. There were instruments for slicing off kneecaps and heels, or hamstringing legs. There were hot brands, whips, and special implements for disemboweling.”6 The testimonies of the victims of torture are heart rending as they are enduring chronicles of man’s inhumanity to man.

The religious teaching of Karma was used to keep the iniquitous social order in place. The pernicious doctrine taught that the poor had themselves to blame as they justly suffered for their sins committed in past lives. The rich enjoyed the affluence and prosperity as a reward for their virtuous deeds in the past. This religious dogma prevented any challenge to the social order and preserved a status quo for the benefit of the Lama elites.

Enter the Red Dragon

In 1950 the Chinese communists occupied Tibet and crushed the ill-equipped Tibetan army. In 1951 the Seventeen Point agreement was signed and Tibet was officially incorporated into the People’s Republic of China. Dalai Lama was given self- government in Tibet with the Chinese government retaining control over military and foreign relations. In Eastern Kham and Amdo (Quingai) considered being outside the purview of the Tibetan Government, the Chinese initiated land reforms. Most lands there were taken away from noblemen and monasteries and re-distributed to serfs. This aroused resentment among the landed class in Tibet. The Chinese accusation was that Tibet under the Dalai Lama was regressive in nature and opposed all attempts to modernize a serf society. The Chinese abolished serfdom and introduced social reforms by reducing usurious interest rates and built hospitals and roads. “Contrary to popular belief in the West," writes Goldstein, the Chinese "took care to show respect for Tibetan culture and religion. No aristocratic or monastic property was confiscated, and feudal lords continued to reign over their hereditarily bound peasants.”7

Meanwhile the relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese communists worsened. In Eastern Kham and Amdo(Qinghai) the landed class with the monks started a rebellion in June 1956, which eventually spread to Lhasa. The Chinese crushed the Tibetan resistance with extreme violence in 1959. After the Lhasa rebellion in 1959, the Chinese government lowered the level of autonomy of Central Tibet, and implemented full-scale land redistribution in all areas of Tibet.

Tibet as a pawn in the Cold War

The American involvement in the Tibetan struggle arose due to geopolitical concerns about the ideology of communism that was hostile to interests of capitalism. American foreign policy strategists, less inspired by thoughts of benevolence, saw a golden opportunity to halt the spread of communism by actively supporting Dalai Lama. The CIA involvement with the bands of Tibetan fighters dates back to 1956 when the Tibetan fighters attacked the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The CIA gave this group military training, support camps in Nepal and supply of arms. A propaganda unit called the American Society for a Free Asia – a CIA front- espoused the cause of free Tibet.

The Dalai Lama’s eldest brother, Thubtan Norbu, played an active role in this society.8 The CIA bankrolled the exiled Tibetan community throughout the sixties to the tune of $1.7 million a year according to the documents released by the State Department in 1998. The CIA also gave the Dalai Lama annual payments of $186000. These facts were reported in the Los Angeles Times (15-9-1998) and also in New York Times (1-10-1998) by the publication of the article ‘CIA Gave Aid to Tibetan Exiles in ’60s, Files Show’ written by Jim Mann. The documents released by the State Department are also analysed in a book written by Morrison titled The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet.

The armed resistance movement petered out in 1972 when the CIA abruptly withdrew support. Both President Nixon and Dr. Henry Kissinger saw that rapprochement with China served US geopolitical interests. The Tibetans were left high and dry. There is another important reason, not discussed in mainstream media, why the resistance failed: because large sections of Tibetan society who were serfs did not join the armed struggle against the Chinese. Unlike other liberation struggles against imperial invasions, the Tibetan resistance was confined to the land owning aristocracy and monks who lost the most during the Chinese occupation. The non- involvement of the class of peasants/ serfs spelt the death knell of the resistance.9

The bitterness of the 14th Dalai Lama was evident, as he knew that the US involvement in Tibet was a game to thwart the expansion of Communist China. It had nothing to do with the plight of the Tibetan people. While thanking the CIA for its support in the Tibetan struggle he told John Kenneth Knaus, an ex-CIA official, that “the U.S. Government had involved itself in his country’s affairs not to help Tibet but only as a cold war tactic to challenge the Chinese.’’


Today the financial support for Dalai Lama flows from the National Endowment for Democracy and other conduits. The US Congress has allotted annually a sum of $2 million for Tibetans in India with additional budget of millions for the democratic activities for the Tibetan Exile Community. Heather Cottin, in "George Soros, Imperial Wizard," CovertAction Quarterly no. 74 (Fall 2002) has also alleged that the Dalai Lama also gets money from financier George Soros, who now runs the CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other institutes.

Writing on the Wall

Beneath the smiling face of the 14th Dalai Lama that we see on TV interviews and at public functions there is a worried man. The worries of Dalai Lama are founded on painful realities confronting Tibet. In recent times the Han Chinese constituting 95% of the immense Chinese population have settled in large numbers dominating the Tibetan economy. The Han Chinese views the Tibetans with contempt. The economic levers are in the hands of the Chinese, which has aroused the antagonism of the local Tibetans. The culture of Tibet is in danger of being effaced by the demographic shift in favour of the Han Chinese.

The dark shadow cast by China as an emerging super power has blunted the bargaining power of Tibet in her quest for independence. In recent times China has meshed with the globalised economy as a supplier of low cost goods to US and the world. With US slipping into recession and real wages declining, the flood of cheap goods to meet declining purchasing power in US may stem the consumer protest in that country. Hence, apart from posturing and making rhetorical speeches, the US establishment may find no reason to rock the Chinese boat. The US occupation of Iraq against international law, which has cost precious lives, has turned public opinion against military intervention in general. Moreover, the financial crisis in US and declining dollar has limited the capacity of US to militarily intervene in Tibet. The Government in exile of Dalai Lama has no support in US to overthrow the Chinese from Tibet and risk the prospect of a third world war.

The option of Dalai Lama is restricted to negotiate with China for autonomy while being a part of China. The conciliatory efforts made by the Dalai Lama to the Chinese leadership in Beijing would be the best step forward to ensure that the freedom of worship and human rights are restored in the best traditions of democracy.

“For every complicated problem,” said Mencken, “there is a solution that is simple, direct, understandable, and wrong.” For the people who support the Free Tibet movement the myth of the Shangri-La must be laid to rest and there must be international pressure to model Tibet as a democracy. Few Tibetans would like the return of the corrupt aristocratic clans who fled with the Dalai Lama in 1959. Many Tibetan farmers would not like to give up the land distributed to them during the Chinese land reforms. Slaves who suffered terribly under the feudal overlords would not like the return to slavery. These voices must be heard and respected. Otherwise the freedom loving people of Tibet would be replacing the yoke of Chinese Occupation with the yoke of theocratic despotism of the Lamas. A fate that must be avoided at any cost.

—————


1 Dalai Lama quoted in Donald Lopez Jr., Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West (Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 1998), 205.

2 Tibet (Hold the Shangri-La)- BARBARA STEWART Published: March 19, 2000- the New York Times.

3 Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth- Michael Parenti.

4 Pradyumna P. Karan, The Changing Face of Tibet: The Impact of Chinese Communist Ideology on the Landscape (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1976), 64.

5 Stuart Gelder and Roma Gelder, The Timely Rain: Travels in New Tibet (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1964) page 110.


6 Anna Louise Strong, Tibetan Interviews (Peking: New World Press, 1929) quoted in Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth.

7 Melvyn C. Goldstein, The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), page 52.

8 Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2002); 9 Hugh Deane, "The Cold War in Tibet," CovertAction Quarterly (Winter 1987).



Sridhar is a Koshy’s regular, a Tinto Brass fan, and a cynical Bangalorean
 
Written By: thetruth
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Some Chinese are even accusing CNN of having a liberal bias.
 
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Tibet - The Myth of Shangri-La
April 14, 2008
C R Sridhar
And so the Chinese guv propaganda machine spews forth. :)
 
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Thanks SShiell!!
 
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