Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mac-the-Knife in the PRC and Tibet

Introductions to post, especially post about controversial topics are always the hardest part of an essay to write. As a blogger I am, or so I believe lumbered with the triple task of catching the reader's interest, setting out my topic and doing that in a creative, manor that encourages readers to think about their own opinions. Not that those aren't the job of any writer but I think, with so many bloggers posting it is important to kind of have that hook to keep people from cruising on by. However, I also have to be careful lest a reader simply sees that first sentence and says "What a jerk" and then doesn't finish reading. It is a line I don't feel that I walk very well at times. All of that brings me to my topic today which is actually something I've spent several days thinking about. I want those who would have a knee jerk reaction against my topic to take a deep breath, count to 10 and keep reading until the end of the post.

Here is the controversial part:

I believe that the government of China was justified in the way that it controlled the protesters in Lhasa Tibet two weeks ago.


Because I believe that Niccolò Machiavelli was correct when he said that the primary purpose of the state is to ensure that it continues exist. No nation, at any time, not even France last summer will allow citizens to agitate for secession. Notice if you will, that shortly after this tragedy started there were pro-Tibet protest in other Chinese cities, including Beijing. Did the PRC kill those people? No they did not. The issue in Tibet was, at least in part that the racial Tibetans were burning and looting the homes and businesses of Han Chinese that the government had moved into the area. This wasn't a group of monks walking peacefully down the street waving signs.

In this respect, the actions of the PRC mirror those of France last summer when the racial minority North African Youths rioted around Paris. Was the PRC more brutal? Yes it appears so but they also stopped the riots in less time. While the issues involved are different the principle by which both nations responded was the same.

Like it or not, Tibet IS part of China. Whether Tibet was part of China, or an allied power with Imperial China until 1911 is a moot question. In the early 1950's the PRC invaded Tibet, conquered it and assimilated it into to the PRC. Tibet is part of China by law of conquest. I do not necessarily like that. You may not like that. At least some of the Tibetans pretty obviously don't like it but it doesn't matter what any of us like in this case. It only matters that China invaded Tibet, subdued it and added Tibetan lands and peoples to the PRC. This is the way that empires have always been built.

None of this means that I like what is happening in Tibet.

There is another issue involved here which isn't thought about by the protesters either as far as I can tell. If the Chinese give Tibet independence they'd have to do the same for Taiwan. The population in PRC have been taught for nearly 60 years that Taiwan is part of China. They'd never stand for that. Also, if they give Tibet Independence then why not a Free Hong Kong movement? What about all those Western Chinese provinces that would like to become their own 3rd world Muslim slum? Why not "freedom" for the 160 to 200 million Cantonese speakers?

If China were to let Tibet slip from its iron-fisted grasp the whole nation might fall apart. While there are people who think that might be a good thing I doubt the leaders in Beijing would. Indeed, as the US has just spent 5 years learning in Iraq, overthrowing a bad government does not mean the next one will be better.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who doesn't really like to defend the PRC on this issue

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