(http://360.yahoo.com/captainrat23), or my Rat Now page on my website, I
seldom hesitate to express my opinion on social and political matters.
Most of my editorials are about situations in, or caused by, the
government of my own country, the USA, That is natural, because I know
about its problems, its history, its sociology because I have studied
them, and because I live here. I have the knowledge, the right, and
the responsibility to express my intelligent and well-considered
thoughts about my government and its policies.
The entire world interests me, as it should, because we are all
ultimately citizens of Earth, but because I know less about other nations
than about my own– much less– I don’t feel as qualified to explain to
their citizens how their internal affairs should be run.
China is one of those places that is extremely important to the rest of
the world, but little understood by most. That doesn’t mean that many
politicians, media pundits, organizations, and people in general don’t
claim to know the answer to issues within and about China, often without
bothering to investigate both sides. My fellow Americans in particular
are apt to draw conclusions at the drop of a hat We like to think
we’re the guides to and guardians of freedom for the rest of the world,
and that the only good government for every nation is a democracy much
like ours. We’re a very ethnocentric bunch of people.
Never mind that we’re having a bit of trouble getting our own President
to obey our own Constitution, and that we have fallen far short of our stated ideals right here in our own country.
It is important for Americans, especially our future leaders, to understand that there is more than one valid side to issues regarding China. Whether we agree with that nation’s positions or not, our conclusions at least should be fully informed ones. In that way it is more likely that we can maintain a cooperative partnership with China which will benefit both nations and the rest of the world.
Currently many well-meaning Americans have jumped to the conclusion that China simply annexed an independent Tibet in 1951, and are repressing its culture and people. They see the Dalai Lama as a peaceful, spiritual, heroic leader who should be restored to power in an autonomous Tibet.
China has a very long history, and it is worth knowing, but the most relevant part begins with the ruthless imperialism of the British Empire, along with that of Japan, Russia, and the US. The humiliation and devastation China experienced over the centuries of Western domination was extreme and is never likely to be forgotten When, finally, in 1949, China fully regained self-rule, it naturally sought to consolidate its unity and rebuild the nation in a way that could endure in the modern world. I think that we in the west underestimate the monumental task of doing that, and are too quick to point out mistakes made in the process.
Before debating issues such as Tibet, we must remain fully aware that the Chinese are, for good reason, very sensitive to outside attempts to control or inhibit their policies and internal affairs. They know that we have a history of not only expressing our opinion, but of exerting force both secretly and openly, in the affairs of other countries.
When China annexed (or re-annexed) Tibet in 1951, its people lived under a feudal system in extreme poverty that included slavery as well as serfdom. Illiteracy was as high as 95 percent.
China worked to reform the social and economic system, which naturally caused resentment of the Tibetan aristocracy.
It is important to note that the US CIA at this time sent operatives into Tibet to promote and organize unrest, which it did. The CIA-assisted rebellion continued until 1959, when the Dalai Lama was forced to flee to India. Afterward the rebel forces withdrew to Nepal, where they remained until 1969, many being flown to the US for training in Colorado. This was being done under the guise of ‘anti-communism’.
Would there have been rebellion in Tibet without US instigation? Perhaps, but we cannot ignore our own contribution to the problem, which resulted in government crackdowns and stricter control, which, in turn, caused more Tibetan resentment.
China has spent large amounts of money constructing schools and infrastructure to improve and modernize the economy of Tibet It is not yet economically independent, but it does enjoy a much higher standard of living and opportunity than would otherwise be the case.
Certainly the drive to educate and modernize Tibet has often been seen as insensitive and repressive by Tibetans One might imagine that what most of them seek is more respect for and understanding of their culture and unique needs, and not to be entirely separated from the economic growth and opportunity afforded by Tibet being part of China.
If we outsiders desire a better situation for Tibetans, we would be advised to learn much more about the situation, then being very careful and diplomatic in how suggestions are offered for a solution. We should consider what our own reaction might be if the stuation were reversed.