China and Tibet: A misunderstanding

I don’t claim to know all about the Chinese-Tibetan situation, nor do I necessarily agree with what China has done over the last few weeks, however, I do believe that there is a large misunderstanding of what China is actually doing. Most people don’t understand the Chinese Communist mindset and have responded to the situation as though it was a typical government founded on Western ideals.

On the flipside, the actions of rioters on March 14 was not exactly a pretty sight, shops were trashed and burned down, and cars on the street were overturned. The motivation for this riot has been lost amongst the focus on China. The history between these two nations goes back over a millennia and like most of Asia, probably won’t end anytime soon.

What misunderstanding am I referring to exactly? Quite simply, for the Communist Chinese government, unity is everything. They believe so strongly that Tibet (and Taiwan) are a part of China that they will enforce upon them the very same ideals that they do upon the rest of China. If riots occurred anywhere else in China, the very same thing would happen. While China sees Tibet (and Taiwan) very much a part of China; Tibet, Taiwan and the rest of the world see these two nations as quite politically independent of each other.

The actions of China is to keep the unity over their provinces. As a communist country, China aims at providing for its people. It is not a self-seeking, self-serving government. However, as we are witness to, the policies that are introduced to provide for the people may not always be the most appropriate, rational nor reasonable.

If the Dalai Lama “really wishes to be a simple Buddhist monk it’s high time for him to stop playing politics and cheating people, Westerners in particular, with his hypocritical ‘autonomy’ claims”, it [Xinhua – China’s news agency] said.

Taken from this article, there is a good point to be made. While the Dalai Lama is an exiled spiritual leader, part of his visits throughout the world will bring up the issue of Tibet’s independence. Historically, the Dalai Lama’s role has played a key part in Tibet’s political life and it can be understood that he still sees himself playing a part. For the most part, it seems he is encouraging Tibetans to accept Tibet as a part of China. The issue is more centred around, in my view is the crux of the matter, the protection and practice of the Tibetan culture and spiritual heritage.

Whether Tibet gains independence or not from China is not the first priority, China provides benefits (albeit at the price of independence) to Tibet and its people. The priority should be the preservation and practice of Tibetan heritage and history.

To simply point the figure at China makes a person no different to the riots that broke out in the beginning. China, on the other hand, as a rising international player, needs to understand their culture and how it is perceived by the rest of the world and step into the 21st century. These matters are never simple and never come with a simple solution, one only needs to look back through history.

For a more well-rounded (but still Western understanding) read this article. The world watches China