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Feb 14

Translation: Back to Lhasa (Part II)

Written by Allen on Saturday, February 14th, 2009 at 2:19 am
Filed under:culture, education, religion | Tags:,
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[Editor’s note: Previously we have translated Back to Lhasa (Part I) . The following are translations by Allen of journal entries 回到拉萨之六七八 Back to Lhasa (chapters 6-8)– originally posted on Jan 25, 2009]

Return to Lhasa (6): Drinking with the sky burial masters

North of Lhasa, in the Nyangri mountains, is a famed temple named “Pabongka.” Located on a turtle shaped stone, the temple surprisingly receives few outside tourists these days. According to legend, Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wen Cheng once lived there. The temple is also the birthplace of the Tibetan language. Stored in the temple are the earliest stone tablets of carved Tibetan alphabets known. Although the temple is small, it occupies a special place in Tibetan hearts for its historical importance both in the context of Tibetan language as well as Tibetan Buddhism. 3207332825_c6c2c970ce.jpg

Part of the charm of the Pabongka Temple is the fact that there are so few tourists here – and hence no need to purchase admissions tickets! The old Lama in the temple is very friendly and warmhearted. He even ordered an apprentice to take us to see a cave (normally locked up) where Songtsen Gampo and other Buddhist master had once studied. We felt a special energy here at the Temple. In contrast to the stern life at other monasteries, life at Pabongka seems warm, harmonious, sociable, and even friendly.

After visiting the Temple, we decided to return by descending a steep, unpaved road through a ravine. As we descended, we could see in the distance Nyangri village at the foot of the mountain. Further on, we saw four people – two male and two females – sitting by the side of the road drinking beer. As we got closer, they loudly beckoned for us to join them and, before we had a chance to really greet them, quickly handed each of us a bottle of beer.

Random acts of kindness are not surprising in Tibet. Being offered beer is just another example of Tibetans’ generosity and warm-heartedness. (A political side note: while there are often talks of ethnic tensions between Han and Tibetans, I personally feel the politics of this tension can be overblown. In my experience, Han-Tibetan relations are built, like all other relations, on the edifice of mutual individual respect and friendship. The old saying that the thoughts of Tibetans are pure is not that far off; if you are good to a Tibetan, he will wish you well ten times in return. Walking down a Lhasa street, you might get curious stares if you look to be from outside the area. But if you return their stares with a smile, the stares will quickly turn into smiles and welcomes that are warm, heartfelt, and genuine.)

It turned out the two Tibetan women do not speak Chinese Mandarin well, so we spoke mostly with the men. The two men told us they were just settling down to relax and drink after a day’s work. I asked – perhaps somewhat carelessly – what kind of work they did. The older one replied, “sky burial.”

I thought I misunderstood and so I asked again.

“Sky burial,” he repeated.

Seeing my disbelief, one of the two men went to the vehicle to get his sky burial license to show me. I was still shocked. The two men were dressed in a rather pedantic manner, completely different to what I saw at Drigong Ti Temple five years earlier.

I would learn the older of the man is a sky burial master and the younger one of his disciples.

The younger of the two men spoke the better Chinese Mandarin, having actually joined the army in 1987. After serving four years, he had to find work by himself after retiring from the army. According to the man, since Chairman Mao’s death, the army no longer took responsibility for finding them jobs when they returned to civilian lives. It was then that the younger man became an apprentice of the Sky burial master, , and in this way joined the sky burial ranks. Many Tibetans have a deep reverence for Mao Zedong, and the two with whom we were talking were no different. The older man beamed, in somewhat broken Mandarin, “It would be good if Chairman Mao were still alive!”

The sky burial master and his apprentice described for us in colorful and vivid details a recent event involving a sky burial by a Japanese woman who wanted to know what it was like to be buried celestially. After making arrangements with the sky burial master, she ran up to a sky burial platform, and took all clothes off to lie down. Fresh raw meat and internal organs of a bull were poured over the woman’s body. The vultures from the mountain canyons were aroused by the stench of blood; a few even came close enough to snatch pieces of the meat and organs from the woman. After the burial ceremony was over, the woman got up – with blood and entrails falling off her body – and walked to take a shower. In all his years of service, the Sky burial master had never seen something like this, and both he and his apprentice were excited to retell the story. The imagery and details of this story chilled us both to the bone.

When our conversations turned to topics other than sky burial, the Sky burial master and his apprentice became more like ordinary human beings. We learned that the younger of the two men – the apprentice – liked Korean pop stars! On his cell phone, one screen saver is set to display the Tibetan Buddhist symbol and another to display South Korean star Chang Nara. “She is so white! Her eyes are so big! She is so beautiful!” the younger man said as he looked adoringly at his cell phone screen. The man quickly turned solemn and philosophical, however, observing that “having too much money is not good, but having too little money is also not good; the trick is to have a peaceful, ordinary life.” More local wisdom trickled out during our conversation. “Women who are too rich are not good.” “Being a housewife should be considered a job.” “When the wife quarrels with the husband, the husband should not fight back; he should take a stroll outside and give things a chance to calm down, then things will be good again.”

The income of sky burial masters is decent. But if a poor family could not afford the service, not only would the sky burial masters refuse payment, but they would also use their personal money to subsidize the ceremonies for the poor. All souls should be allowed to ascend to the sky, the celestial master explained. “Success and failures belong to the material world, but so far as the heart is concerned, all humanity is the same.”

As we drank, all of a sudden, a black automobile sped down the mountain road toward us. The car abruptly stopped just as it was passing us. A Tibetan man whom we had seen earlier in the Temple above stepped out. We remember him clearly in part because of his attire, which appeared magnificent, expensive, and definitely not common. Earlier in the temple, while most of the others took out one or two pieces of bills to place before the altar, the Tibetan man and his family instead had taken out huge wads of bills. We remembered him well, having referred to him as “the rich man.”

The rich man greeted our Tibetan friends warmly and gave each a Tibetan hada (long piece of silk used traditionally as greeting gift, for more, click here).

The man also took out some bills and offered them to the Sky burial masters. The Sky burial masters did not decline, and the group continued to exchange more greetings. The rich man paid no attention to us until he was about to leave, when he turned around and smiled to say, in perfect Mandarin: “so you two are here drinking.”

After the rich man has driven off, upon seeing our curious facial expression, the Sky burial master told us: “he is from the People’s Political Consultative Committee.” Suddenly I understood. The rich man did act like a government official. It used to be that no party member, even if he were a Tibetan national minority, could go to the temple to pay respects. It appears they are making exceptions these days.

The topic of our conversation soon turned to Tibetan jewelery as I took note of the beautiful jewelery the Sky burial master and his disciple were wearing. Suddenly, the disciple stood up and said: “you wait for me” and rushed to his vehicle. I thought ominously: is he going to sell me jewelery now? I had heard a friend recount to me how he had once praised the jewelery of a Tibetan lady in Lhasa, after which the Tibetan immediately took off her jewelery and offered my friend the jewelery for “20,000 Yuan!” Knowing how expensive Tibetan jewelery can be, I began to feel a little anxious.

The disciple soon returned and handed me a necklace, saying: “this one is a gift for you. I have another one that looks exactly the same.” He explained that the necklace is a traditional charm amulet that is not sold in the market. Hang the charm amulet around the neck to attract luck and avoid disaster, he instructed me. I expressed my gratitude repeatedly, even as I felt deeply ashamed inside for mistrusting these friends in the first place.

After the last bottle of beer was finished, we set out to leave. Our friends insisted upon driving us down the mountain. We accepted but soon recognized that we had a problem: the seat in the front were taken by the Sky burial master and Mingji, and the back seats were already occupied by the two Tibetan women. Where was I supposed to sit? Just then, the Tibetan women in the back gestured and grinned for me to sit on their knees! So that was the solution? I was embarrassed, but there was no other choice. With some more encouragements, I hopped on, and we slowly but surely made our way down the rough mountain slope.

Return to Lhasa (7): Diaries from Tibet

La Zeng and Gyang Zong giving us hadas the night before we were to leavePerhaps the most unexpected surprise I came upon during the trip was ethnic Tibetan’s affection of “Diaries from Tibet”, a book that Mingji and I have written about our love story.

After I gave a copy of the book to my friend Ah Gang, the owner of Spinn Café, the book was immediately borrowed by a Tibetan female worker from the local Aids and Control Center. Though the worker returned the book within three days, another Tibetan employee from Spinn Café soon borrowed the book – followed by a member of a Tibetan song-and-dance troupe. So all through this time, Ah Gang had not even had the chance to take a look at the book!

Gyang Zong is a third year student from Tibet University, and works in Spinn Café during winters break. She likes “the Diaries from Tibet” so much that she talked with us about it every time we met at the Spinn Café. “The book is just like Korean drama,” she would say (to our dismay)! She recounted plots and scenes from the book in detail. Gyang Zong has an inquisitive mind, with a heart not just set on reading books, but intent to travel and see the world.

La Zeng and Gyang Zong are close schoolmates, but their two personalities could not be any more different. La Zeng is shy, and her head is almost always lowered coyly when she talks. Meanwhile, Gyang Zong is open and opinionated. Asked if she had a boyfriend once, she replied, “we just split.” But she said she had no fears, because to her “there are always plenty of good-looking Tibetan boys in Aba county of Sichuan.” La Zeng and Gyang Zong get off work at 10:00 pm. When we leave, it’s not uncommon for Gyang Zong to holler loudly for her boss Ah Gang to return: “Come back before ten! And don’t be late!”

Gyang Zong can be measured at times though. One evening, we noticed Ah Gang did not come out to the front to receive guests. This was quite rare. We had heard incessant pounding on the back door that day. When we inquired, Gyang Zong only said, grinning, “the kitchen door is broken, Ah Gang is repairing the door.” As it turned out, a thief actually tried to break in, breaking the door and lock in the process! Gyang Zong did not want the visitors and guests to worry though, and hence, omitted certain inconvenient details of the story so we wouldn’t be worried.Group shot of La Zeng, Gyang Zong, Mingji and I

Gyang Zong had asked us where she could purchase “the Diaries from Tibet,” but since we happened to have brought an extra copy, we decided to give it to her. No surprisingly, before Gyang Zong had the chance to read the book, the book was lent first to her friend Agulanzi, who worked in a local travel agent office. When we met Agulanzi later in Spinn Café, she smiled at us: “I read your book. . .the story had made me feel somewhat melancholy. . .”

We sympathized with Agulanzi’s feelings as we knew her story. Agulanzi had met a young guy from Hong Kong called Michael, who was then on a three month trip to Tibet. They quickly fell in love. Michael had returned to Hong Kong just a couple days before we left for Lhasa and had promised to return to Lhasa soon again. It’s an enchanting story. No doubt the relationship will be subject to all sorts of tests – distance, differences in nationality as well as culture, among others. I can imagine the challenges they will face will be many times what Mingji and I faced five years ago.

Nevertheless, while love may be blind, and love may not be easy, we send lovers everywhere like Michael and Agulanzi the very best of wishes…

Return to Lhasa (8): Visiting a Local Technical Welfare School

In the aftermath of March riots of 2008, my husband Mingji had caught the name of a technical welfare school (Xizang Pande Targye Vocational Technical Welfare School, 攀德达杰职业技术福利学校) on the news. As we were finally back in Lhasa, we wanted to pay that school a visit.

We contacted the founder of the school Zhang Li (张莉), but she told us she would not be in town when we visited, though she would ask the Tibetan superintendent to give us a tour instead.Students waiving Hi to us

It turned out the school is an outstanding professional technical welfare school located just outside Lhasa. The entire compound spans six courtyards. Accompanied by a stern-looking superintendent, we visited each compound one by one. As we toured the school, we saw that there were many classes, with each class focused on a single subject area, such as Buddhist weaving, gold-silver engraving, knitting, and so on. The age of the students range from the young to old, but whatever the age, they all appeared very engrossed in and dedicated to their learning. The superintendent told us there were more than 100 students here, most of whom were from orphanages; some were mildly disabled. The school was created in part to help pass on traditional Tibetan culture and arts and in part to provide some of the less privileged children here with a basic education. The school hires some of the best Tibetan traditional arts practitioners from the area. The school also hires teachers who teach Tibetan, Chinese Mandarin as well as English.

As we entered the last courtyard, we could hear the clear, unadulterated sounds of children reciting. When we entered one class and saw the innocent-looking children learning, even the stern-looking superintendent had to smile. After we greeted the children, the children greeted us back by calling out to us in almost perfect unison, in Mandarin, “Ni Hao Ah!”

After touring the school compounds, we arrived at Zhang Li’s office. One thing we noticed first about the office was that there were many pictures, most displaying children from the welfare school. In the pictures, Zhang Li wore simple shirts and jeans and appeared to be younger and more attractive than I had imagined. If pictures can paint a thousand words, they revealed clearly that Zhang Li adored the children, and that the children loved her back.

I know of other professional technical welfare schools in Lhasa that were in actuality facades for sweatshops that exploit child labour. But Zhang Li’s school is different. While the students’ works are often displayed in exhibits, the products are never sold.

Using a few years’ savings that she had, Zhang Li built up this school bit by bit. The school is non-profit and does not depend on charitable foundations for support, yet children can attend free of cost.

More than 100 students attend the school at any one time. Not only is tuition paid for, but so are food and lodging expenses. The superintendent told us that the students here are vegetarian. Nearby residents will sometimes deliver rice, oil, and other goods. Friends and neighbors of the school will sometimes contribute clothing for the students. The government also helps out, although what they get from the government is never enough to sustain them.

We had prepared some money beforehand, and wanted to give the superintendent the money to buy the children something good to eat. However, the superintendent refused. If we wanted to donate, we had to go through formal channels, he told us. So instead of donating, we bought several boxes of milk, fruit and candy the next day and delivered them to the school as gifts. Immediately after the taxi with the goods arrived, the students rushed out to help. The children were shy and didn’t have too many words for us. But from the silent looks of gratitude, we didn’t need them to say much for our hearts to melt. I suspect this is part of what has motivated Zhang Li to start and continue running the school for all these years.

[FM’s note: This is the second part of the two part photo journal written by Zhen Fu. We at Foolsmountain want to take this time to thank Zhen Fu gratefully for sharing with us her beautifully written entries. We also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone -especially our Tibetan friends – a Happy Losar and a healthy and prosperous New Year!]



There are currently 4 comments highlighted: 28723, 28768, 29065, 29674.

151 Responses to “Translation: Back to Lhasa (Part II)”

  1. Charles Liu Says:

    I’m suprised to hear from the burrial master that Tibetans reveered Mao…

    BTW, what’s the proper custom to recipricate the genorosity? Some cultures value guests and you see them in travel show, but they never tell you how to return the favor.

  2. newgenerationtb Says:

    Well, as long as Tibetans agree to be subservient to Chinese Nation, I am pretty sure tones of wonderful articles from Chinese will appear as this one. But the unbiased and real attitude will be dictated whether Tibetans willingly to be subordinated to Chinese rule or not. Otherwise, things will be in negative tone and nature. Therefore, I doubt the sincerety of the writer. Still, hope for the best!

  3. Inst Says:

    There was a semi-embarrassing article around the time of the Lhasa riots where some Chinese academic mentioned how the Tibetans went from worshipping their Lamas to worshipping Mao, and how Mao going belly up restored their faith in HHDL. That one was really embarrassing because it accused the Tibetans of being rural idiots, who need a faith in a God-king to get them through the day.

    It would be nice to find more documentations on the attitudes of Tibetans towards Maoism and Communism, however.

  4. Inst Says:

    One question, regarding Tibetan exiles. I think they’re similar to, say, the Cuban exile movement in that there’s selection bias; if you don’t want Tibetan independence, you are a lot less likely to live overseas. There may also be harassment of non-Free Tibeters living overseas, but how many Tibetans who live overseas do you know that aren’t part of the FT crowd?

  5. wdmc Says:

    In interview with Zhui Rui which appeared on dwnews.com, The Dala Lama quoted Mao somewhat positively: “I often tell people a saying from Mao: criticism and self-criticism. Without these two criticisms, it’s like fish without water.” (http://www.dwnews.com/gb/MainNews/Forums/BackStage/2009_2_12_8_52_6_17.html)

  6. TQ Says:

    “Using a few years’ savings that she had, Zhang Li built up this school bit by bit. The school is non-profit and does not depend on charitable foundations for support, yet children can attend free of cost.”

    This is amazing~! Zang Li’s savings must be pretty substantial. Either that or she is a great fund raiser and has grown a huge network of supporters. Whatever the case, she is one amazing lady.

  7. admin Says:

    @TQ,

    The English section of their web site has a partial list of their monthly expense ( http://www.pandedajie.com/needs.htm ). The original table is hard to read, so I just remade it.

    School Expense

  8. WillF Says:

    Here are some great pics from Tibet, via The Big Picture. No politics in here:

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/tibets_great_prayer_festival.html

  9. Shane9219 Says:

    http://www.amazon.com/Struggle-Modern-Tibet-Autobiography-Tsering/dp/0765605090/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    Here is one intersting book on Tashi Tsering. He was born as a lay people. As a 13-year-old member of the Dalai Lama’s personal dance troupe, he was frequently whipped or beaten by teachers for minor infractions. A heterosexual, he escaped by becoming a drombo, or homosexual passive partner and sex-toy, for a well-connected monk. After studying at the University of Washington, he returned to Tibet in 1964. Now, he is an English professor at Lhasa University .

    “On one of my trips, Tashi surprised me by asking if I could help him publish a book about his life. He thought foreigners needed to know about common Tibetans – that is, Tibetans who were not aristocrats or monastic prelates or incarnate lamas. He felt his story could play a useful role in assisting both Westerners and young Tibetans born in exile to understand the real – non-Shangrila – Tibet.”

    Tibet has been part of China as a special region for hundreds of years. That is undeniable historical fact. The status of Tibet region might not change if Dalai Lama and his upper-class aristocrats did not rebel and bolt to India.

    50 years of absence by DL is a long time, and he did not contribute to the development of Tibet in anyway. So DL and his modern followers should give up their utopian idea and face the world reality

  10. TQ Says:

    Admin

    Thanks so much for post # 7

    What is Zhang Li’s story ? Where is she from ?

    Please highlight post # 9

  11. Yoni Says:

    “Tibet has been part of China as a special region for hundreds of years. That is undeniable historical fact.”

    All arguments about the corrupt aristocracy of the late lamatist state, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A HISTORY BOOK????? Tibet is NOT part of the maps of China for all but two dynasties, both of which were invader (non-Han) dynasties from the north. Try “China’s Imperial Dynasties.”

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Chinas-Imperial-Dynasties/Jonathan-Fenby/e/9780760794616/?itm=3

    Tibet is not on the Chinese map. Tibetans even once invaded China and claimed some territory.

  12. Shane9219 Says:

    To Yoni:

    The history of Tibet and Tibetan people is complicated and old topic. You can’t describe it with a few hundreds words. The common sense is that Tibetan and Han people were interwoven over a long period of time that spanned hundreds of years (REPEAT: hundreds of years). Tibet region was under China’s control since Yuan dynasty.

    It is hard to understand why some westerners keep a fierce attention on Tibet, which was and is under China’s control for hundreds years, while turning a blind eye to Hawaii, oversea territories of GB and France.

    I suspect they are only interested in finding trouble with China, and China has been too soft in the past.

    If you want to look at Tibet on books other than Chinese history books, you may find it was somewhere on the map of India, because both GB and India wanted to, LOL

  13. Yoni Says:

    To Shane9219:

    It’s a complicated topic not only because of the connection between Chinese and Tibetan dynasties but also because people keep publishing history books that say different things to suit their political purposes. I pointed out the map book because you can’t get more basic than a map. For people who have always envisioned China as the size that it currently is, they should look at a map, and see a long, glorious, and ancient history – of a country much smaller than it is today.

    Also, the key difference between Tibet and the Hawaiins is that Hawaii is not filled with desperate people who are being persecuted for their religious beliefs and desperately want to be their own country. If they did have that kind of population, then it would be an international issue.

    If Tibet is really part of China, then why is it filled with Tibetans, who speak Tibetan, have their own non-Asian script, are not classified as “Chinese” by the gov’t, and who only seem to want any part of China when the cameras are on?

    Europe and America have terrible colonial pasts, but they are looking to the PRESENT and the FUTURE. And at the present, we are hearing really bad things coming out of Tibet and Xinjiang.

  14. Steve Says:

    I’ve been reading the arguments back and forth and was wondering…

    In the past, China has exercised sovereignty over Tibet at times and exercised suzerainty over Tibet at others, while there have been periods where Tibet has payed tribute to the Chinese emperor as a sign of respect, and even a time (as Yoni mentioned) when Tibet invaded China and controlled parts of the country for many years. Do some of these back and forth arguments take place because everyone is trying to group the relationship as only one of the three during all this time?

    This is why I thought Shane9219’s remark that “Tibet has been part of China as a special region for hundreds of years” was a fair remark, in that “special region” takes into account all three terms. It seems to me that no matter how you interpret the history, there has certainly been a special relationship between the two.

    @Shane9219: Some people keep a fierce eye on whales, some on killing animals for food or furs, some like Julia “Butterfly” Hill on old growth redwoods, etc. They are a very small percentage of the population so I would not equate the small with the large and apply that to most people in the west. It’s no different than some restaurants in China refusing to serve Japanese. The percentage is so small that it is just an oddity. There will always be people like that in the world, in every country.

  15. TQ Says:

    “It is hard to understand why some westerners keep a fierce attention on Tibet, which was and is under China’s control for hundreds years, while turning a blind eye to Hawaii, oversea territories of GB and France.
    I suspect they are only interested in finding trouble with China, and China has been too soft in the past.”

    Simple is true
    So, here’s the answer for you
    Vampires, like bats only listen to their own echo
    These are ruling elites without a human soul
    Like Empires, Vampires come and go
    Infecting a huge & leaving behind an invisible toll
    Democracy is an ideal for you and me
    Not so vermins could squish us dry you see
    So whether they preach heaven-on-earth or a New World Order
    People red, white, yellow and brown, they’ll send you to the slaugther
    For these are wolves in sheep clothing, parasites and thieves in the night
    And that was why Master Lao Zi hopped on a donkey and went for a long hike
    On a mule, he just rode and rode, decided to walked away – walk away from it all
    Becasue he knew, he knew Vampires are blind and they only listen to their own echo

    Good post Steve:

    “Some people keep a fierce eye on whales, some on killing animals for food or furs, some like Julia “Butterfly” Hill on old growth redwoods, etc. ” — it’s always but a small percentage exploiting the busy-making-an-honest-dollar masses.

  16. Shane9219 Says:

    >> “Hawaii is not filled with desperate people”

    LOL. I have been Hawaii several times. Each time, I heard complaints from aboriginal people about their desperate living situation and how hard to keep up their own culture. Land price in Hawaii has been sky high year after year, and kept in the hand of Japanese and baby boomers. There is an active Hawaii independence movement (read some news last year?)

    In contrast, modern Tibet is in much better shape on preserving its way of life and culture. DL is a taboo subject on worshiping, SIMPLY because he is the head of so-called government-in-exile. That is a political issue, not a religious one. Every year, millions of foreign tourists travel to Tibet, you could be one of them if you want to truly know Tibet’s current situation.

    Why Tibet has been a hot topic lately? It is because some western people wanted to use Tibet as a political card to slam China, and DL wants to restore his old ruling authority. It is simple as that.

    DL claims he does not to play any political role if he returns to Tibet, and only to restore old Tibet’s culture and religion. People, Tibet’s old religion and culture mandate DL as the only master of Tibet.. So you can see his true intent.

  17. Shane9219 Says:

    >> If Tibet is really part of China, then why is it filled with Tibetans, who speak Tibetan, have their own non-Asian script, are not classified as “Chinese” by the gov’t, and who only seem to want any part of China when the cameras are on?

    Tibetan are Tibetan Chinese, just like Han Chinese. Who tells you they are not classified as “Chinese” by Chinese government. That is similar to say Black and Latinos are not American. LOL.

    If you ever know China, you can see China has 56 different races, and many use different languages, even written one. There are different written languages even among Han Chinese. Don’t you know there are different writing and grammar used by Cantonese?

  18. Yoni Says:

    Steve,

    It is true that though Tibet was not formally part of China (and did not consider itself formally part of China), it paid tribute on and off to the final dynasty. It did not, however, pay imperial taxes, as many other areas with a strong connection to China did. One Qing emperor had a particularly close relationship with an early Dalai Lama, who went to visit him in the Forbidden City and pray for his good health.

    In the 1800’s, Chinese nobles (ambans in Tibetan) came to Tibet and became very influential in the political scene but there was a string of Dalai Lamas who died young, so power was essentially in the hand of monk Regents, who could be deposed. Dalai Lamas 8-12 all died either before assuming full power or shortly thereafter. Since the Dalai Lama was the head of the gov’t, there was essentially no gov’t, or a Regent government, with fairly widespread corruption and poverty at a time when the Chinese had a great deal more resources. The 13th Dalai was a very strong-willed person and when he came to power, he drove many of the Chinese out, reformed the government, and even waged war on his enemies. So in the early 1900’s until 1949, you have a period of fairly strong independence from China, and then the invasion while the 14th is still very young and unable to put through the massive reforms that were needed to undo the work of his regents (one of whom was allied with the Chinese and was later deposed). So, the Tibetan social scene was very anti-Chinese and independent when the PRC’s armies invaded in 1949, and it was that generation that was largely killed or forced to flee to India.

    There are Chinese “Tibetologists” who say, “Tibet has always been part of China.” This is just rewriting history; it isn’t true. It is fair to say, “There were periods of several hundred years where China either controlled Tibet or had great political influence over Tibet, including the the Qing dynasty.” The two countries are deeply connected, but the main point is that Tibet was largely independent when the PRC invaded, it resisted attempts to homogenize it with the rest of China, it still resists attempts to be incorporated with the rest of China, and it resents the loss of its independence and the persecution of Tibetan religion and culture.

    Also, the Tibetan exile community is very organized and has excellent PR, which contributes to the disproportionate interest in the region by Westerners.

  19. TQ Says:

    ” I heard complaints from aboriginal people about their desperate living situation and how hard to keep up their own culture. ”

    LOL…that is so true…

    And guess what? Californians are complaining too. About them Mexicans coming over to “their” country to steal jobs that are too cheap and lowly for Americans. But get this, not a couple or so centuries ago, their ancestral White Government stole the very land they think and feel and scream and protest that they’re so entitled to — from the Mexican people!

  20. Yoni Says:

    Also, villianizing the Dalai Lama: Always a bad PR move on China’s part. Last year Xinhua said he was planning suicide bombings. Nobody’s buying it. In fact, we resent being told boldfaced lies.

  21. TQ Says:

    ” In fact, we resent being told boldfaced lies.”

    Don’t we all…..Hahaha…This is too funny.

    Oh, this would be so funny too if it wasn’t so freaking pathetic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZRyry_B7TY&feature=related

  22. Shane9219 Says:

    >> “Tibet has always been part of China.”

    That is a correct statement from international law POV. It is means Tibet is under China’s control for hundreds of years.

    The best to describe those Western people wanting to plays Tibet card: they are the few, with full stomachs, but nothing better to do.

  23. Shane9219 Says:

    >> “villianizing the Dalai Lama: Always a bad PR move on China’s part”

    DL and China are involved in a conflict. DL used CIA and was on CIA’s payroll for a while.

    Just because a few western people wanting to worship DL does not mean DL is right.

  24. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane:
    “Just because a few western people wanting to worship DL does not mean DL is right.” – true enough. But so too that just because some Chinese people want to demonize him doesn’t make him wrong. As if often the case, to each his own.

  25. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Every so often, as if on an orbit around FM, the “discussion” comes back to whether “TIbet has always been a part of China” or not. And as always, it’s not resolvable. And IMO, it’s irrelevant. Nobody’s striving to change the history books, whatever they may say. It’s about what happens tomorrow, and the day after that. And more importantly, to me, it should be about what Tibetans want in that timeframe.

    However, if Hawaiians are looking for more say, social improvements, or effective representation, that is something that I would find interesting, and might perhaps begin to parallel the Tibetan situation.

  26. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, I agree with you the truth is somewhere in between. Also, as much as it is about what the Tibetans want, it is also about what the Chinese want. Grate many of them are already in Tibet, many are even born in Tibet. What about their rights? Should someone born in India have more say about Tibet than someone born in Tibet?

    BTW, the Hawaiians want independence. Should we set a good example for the Chinese by obliging such righteous request?

    IMHO until we take care of our own “Tibet”, eg. Native Americans and First Nation independence, social improvements and effective representation for our own subjugated vassals (Native American is among the lowest economic ranks with shortest life expectancy in US), our collective horse in North America ain’t that high.

  27. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    “Should someone born in India have more say about Tibet than someone born in Tibet?” – absolutely not. To me, a “Tibetan” is someone who resides there (and not just trucked in for show). Ethnicity to me is a distant second.

    Thanks for the Hawaii link. I’ll be checking it out.

    “our collective horse in North America ain’t that high.” – you’re right, and I’ve never disputed this. However, neither should this give China a free pass when it comes to Tibet, IMO. In fact, whether North Americans cast an eye towards Tibet or not should not change China’s obligations to them, just as our obligations to our indigenous peoples are not affected by China’s actions, or inactions.

  28. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, our own transgressions absolutely do not give the Chinese a free pass, and I have never made such claim. And I absolutely agree with you China’s obligation, is their own perogative, just as our own behaviors, past and present, toward our own “Tibet”.

    However IMHO it is duplicitous for us to make demands of the Chinese while we have no intention to live up to it ourselves. If we are so generous with our own transgressions, what right do we have to be less generous with others?

  29. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    “And I absolutely agree with you China’s obligation, is their own perogative, just as our own behaviors, past and present, toward our own “Tibet”.” – agreed again. But that doesn’t inoculate us or China from outside criticism, nor should it.

    “However IMHO it is duplicitous for us to make demands of the Chinese while we have no intention to live up to it ourselves.” – I can’t speak for the US, but in Canada, we’ve made some strides in recent years. And in this day and age, I would think we surely could multi-task and make demands of China and of ourselves at the same time. How generous we are with ourselves as opposed to with others is, at the end of the day, a choice we get to make.

  30. Raj Says:

    26

    BTW, the Hawaiians want independence. Should we set a good example for the Chinese by obliging such righteous request?

    Charles, I think it would be more accurate to say some Hawaiians want independence. But from what I understand, majorities in all the US islands like Hawaii and Guam are satisfied with officially being part of the US.

    But, as I have said many times, the debate over Tibet’s future has moved from independence to autonomy. It would be productive for future discussions if you remembered that, rather than repeating the well-worn comment “why not offer X independence first and then we can talk about Tibet”.

  31. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Raj:
    to be fair, I imagine that some, but probably not all, Tibetans would like to see a change from the status quo. In that sense, probably akin to the Hawaii situation. However, when it comes to “doing the right thing”, I certainly agree that exchanges along the lines of “you first”; “no, you first”… will not be all that productive. And if one group can advocate for a greater Tibetan voice, so too can a group advocate for a stronger Hawaiian one. But those groups do not have to be one and the same. And while some are here doing the former, Charles and others are certainly free to pursue the latter.

  32. Think Ming Says:

    Steve said:

    “In the past, China has exercised sovereignty over Tibet at times and exercised suzerainty over Tibet at others, while there have been periods where Tibet has payed tribute to the Chinese emperor as a sign of respect, and even a time (as Yoni mentioned) when Tibet invaded China and controlled parts of the country for many years. Do some of these back and forth arguments take place because everyone is trying to group the relationship as only one of the three during all this time?

    This is why I thought Shane9219’s remark that “Tibet has been part of China as a special region for hundreds of years” was a fair remark, in that “special region” takes into account all three terms. It seems to me that no matter how you interpret the history, there has certainly been a special relationship between the two. ”

    I don’t get how you leap from ‘a special relationship between the two’ to ‘Tibet has been part of China as a special region’. . .

    What does a ‘special region’ mean?

    What specifically was so ‘special’ about the relationship? Anything that made it more ‘special’ than, say, the relationship between Tibet and Mongolia? Between Tibet and Manchuria?

    How does having various relations (normal for any pair of neighboring states) suddenly transform one state being ‘part of’ the other.

    Some basic facts (Oh. . . should I be PC and use inverted commas?):

    1 – China as a nation state did not exist before the 20th Century.

    2 – Despite exercising no actual control over Tibet the Chinese nationalist government decided to claim Tibet as part of the Chinese nation since that it had been part of the Manchurian Qing Empire they had just overthrown.

    3 – Actual extension of the Chinese nation state into Tibet came only with the CCP invasion.

    4 – Tibet was not ‘historically part of China’ because. . . duh! It was Tibet, not China. I mean really. . . To emphasize the utterly fucking obvious we need a time machine or something to go back in history and poll educated and intelligent Chinese from different dynasties on whether Tibet ‘is part of China’.

    5 – Grasping at trivia like who was sending ‘tribute’ to whom to support or disprove nationalistic territorial claims is a pointless feel-good exercise unless you are prepared to get right into the subject and start understanding the context. Case in point, the Mongols spent much of the Ming dynasty offering to send ‘tribute’ to the Ming Empire. But in the context ‘tribute’ simply meant Mongol trading access.

    Guess that’s all I have to say to the armchair historians. . .

    Now Allen or somebody will surely come along with some trite reply, which will surely involve putting the word facts in inverted commas. Ahh yes. . . It’s all about interpretation you see! One’s man’s truth is another man’s lies. . . All versions of history are equally valid!

    Blah. . . blah. . . blah. . .

  33. TQ Says:

    “It’s all about interpretation you see! One’s man’s truth is another man’s lies.”

    Couldn’t agree with you more with your trite comment….except not all versions of history are equal.

    Today — From Tibet to Hong Kong, from Macao to Heilongjiang is PRC. And that’s the God’s honest truth, recognized by the government of the world at large.

  34. yo Says:

    Going through the comments, I feel like it’s groundhog day…i mean, you are more than welcome to express your thoughts but, it’s just my observation…

    Thanks Allen, good work!

  35. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To TQ #33:
    “Today — From Tibet to Hong Kong, from Macao to Heilongjiang is PRC. ” – I don’t think that’s in dispute either. Please see #25.

  36. Shane9219 Says:

    To Think Ming #32

    You should be commended by your brave argument, but it is also quite native, lacking any notion of international law. especially the concept of state succession. If you are not willing to go all the way to Yuan Dynasty, you at least recorgnize Tibet region was solely controlled by Qing. That gives a wholly legitimate claim of Tibet all the way to current PRC & ROC.

    It may be helpful to take a look this book: International Law By Lassa Oppenheim, Ronald Roxburgh

    It’s on google bookshelf

  37. Otto Kerner Says:

    It’s interesting that this series and its comments remained largely apolitical, then there was one political comment … and it was off to the races …

  38. TQ Says:

    Otter,

    Good call…now can someone enlighten me on Zhang Li’s story, background? Is she very well known in China/Tibet? Is the writer of this diary also a celebrated author or what?

  39. TQ Says:

    Guess who wrote the following quote.

    Dated: 02/06/2009

    I was standing on the Washington Mall on Inauguration Day, alongside nearly two million other people, and proudly watched the first African American take the oath of office in our nation’s history. That alone made the day deeply memorable, joyful, and historic. But I couldn’t help but think – and I’m sure that millions of others had the same thought – that the transfer of power from Bush to President Obama not only tore down a barrier that once was thought near impenetrable, but also signified the fading away of one era and the beginning of another.

    It was hard not to think on that cold day in our nation’s capital that the worst of the past 30 years of right-wing extremist rule is behind us and that an era of progressive change is within reach, no longer an idle dream.

    http://www.cpusa.org/

    Join the Party of change, struggle and commitment to freedom and equality, the CPUSA

  40. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #26:
    thanks again for the Hawaii link. All news to me.

    It looks like at least some Hawaiians want independence. And it looks like various levels of the US government have made some reparations, like the Congressional Apology Resolution for illegally overthrowing the Kingdom of Hawaii, the state supreme court not allowing the state to sell ceded lands. And a website openly touting support of a Hawaiian Constitution and advertising for a concert in support of same are freely accessible for all to see. I’m hoping the concert went ahead as planned without interference. So all in all, it seems like not a bad start, and it’s setting a pretty decent example. And maybe there’s something there for China to learn from after all.

  41. Shane9219 Says:

    # 40

    Hawaii and Tibet are two entirely different cases under both historical contexts and their current situations.

    1) China has a legitimate sovereignty over Tibet for hundreds of years, while US does not have. Moreover, Kingdom of Hawaii was forcefully overthrown by a group of white resident under the support of US government, an inappropriate role that US government admitted only many many years later. PRC central government had a treaty with DL’s Tibet, which he accepted. He even went to Beijing to meet with Mao. But later he and his upper-class dropped the treaty, revolting and bolted to India. Tibet’s status was then changed under such circumstance.

    2) Unlike Hawaii, Tibet’s culture and regilion was well preserved. Of course, the effort of modernozation and enconomic development impact the way of life on aboriginal population. However, the change to native Hawaiian life and environment is so severe and out of proportion under plain eyes, comparing to other areas of polynesian culture. And you don’t see any slow-down on that trend.

  42. may Says:

    I don’t think the authority Qing had over Tibet can be considered “sovereignty” which is after all a modern and western term.

    Elliot Sperling’s “The Tibet-China Conflict: History and Polemics” is one of the best pieces I can find on what the Chinese and the Tibetans claim on the historical status of Tibet and what the facts are.

    http://www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/stored/pdfs/PS007.pdf

    Sperling published a shorter version on the New York Times after the 3/14 Incident last year.

    ——————————————————————————
    **Don’t Know Much About Tibetan History**

    By ELLIOT SPERLING
    Published: April 13, 2008

    FOR many Tibetans, the case for the historical independence of their land is unequivocal. They assert that Tibet has always been and by rights now ought to be an independent country. China’s assertions are equally unequivocal: Tibet became a part of China during Mongol rule and its status as a part of China has never changed. Both of these assertions are at odds with Tibet’s history.

    The Tibetan view holds that Tibet was never subject to foreign rule after it emerged in the mid-seventh century as a dynamic power holding sway over an Inner Asian empire. These Tibetans say the appearance of subjugation to the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries, and to the Manchu rulers of China’s Qing Dynasty from the 18th century until the 20th century, is due to a modern, largely Western misunderstanding of the personal relations among the Yuan and Qing emperors and the pre-eminent lamas of Tibet. In this view, the lamas simply served as spiritual mentors to the emperors, with no compromise of Tibet’s independent status.

    In China’s view, the Western misunderstandings are about the nature of China: Western critics don’t understand that China has a history of thousands of years as a unified multinational state; all of its nationalities are Chinese. The Mongols, who entered China as conquerers, are claimed as Chinese, and their subjugation of Tibet is claimed as a Chinese subjugation.

    Here are the facts. The claim that Tibet entertained only personal relations with China at the leadership level is easily rebutted. Administrative records and dynastic histories outline the governing structures of Mongol and Manchu rule. These make it clear that Tibet was subject to rules, laws and decisions made by the Yuan and Qing rulers. Tibet was not independent during these two periods. One of the Tibetan cabinet ministers summoned to Beijing at the end of the 18th century describes himself unambiguously in his memoirs as a subject of the Manchu emperor.

    But although Tibet did submit to the Mongol and Manchu Empires, neither attached Tibet to China. The same documentary record that shows Tibetan subjugation to the Mongols and Manchus also shows that China’s intervening Ming Dynasty (which ruled from 1368 to 1644) had no control over Tibet. This is problematic, given China’s insistence that Chinese sovereignty was exercised in an unbroken line from the 13th century onward.

    The idea that Tibet became part of China in the 13th century is a very recent construction. In the early part of the 20th century, Chinese writers generally dated the annexation of Tibet to the 18th century. They described Tibet’s status under the Qing with a term that designates a “feudal dependency,” not an integral part of a country. And that’s because Tibet was ruled as such, within the empires of the Mongols and the Manchus. When the Qing dynasty collapsed in 1911, Tibet became independent once more.

    From 1912 until the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, no Chinese government exercised control over what is today China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. The Dalai Lama’s government alone ruled the land until 1951.

    Marxist China adopted the linguistic sleight of hand that asserts it has always been a unitary multinational country, not the hub of empires. There is now firm insistence that “Han,” actually one of several ethnonyms for “Chinese,” refers to only one of the Chinese nationalities. This was a conscious decision of those who constructed 20th-century Chinese identity. (It stands in contrast to the Russian decision to use a political term, “Soviet,” for the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.)

    There is something less to the arguments of both sides, but the argument on the Chinese side is weaker. Tibet was not “Chinese” until Mao Zedong’s armies marched in and made it so.

    ——————————————————————————————————
    In the end, as Sperling said, the Chinese side’s claim is weaker.

    Just as some nationalistic (or ethnocentric) Chinese considered the Mongol and Manchu rule foreign and justified the overthrown of these dynasties on this term, I can well see why many Tibetans consider the Mongol, Manchu, and Chinese rule foreign and ask for an independent state.

  43. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane #41:
    actually, I wasn’t trying to compare Hawaii with Tibet, but Charles brought up the issue of Hawaiian independence, which was news to me, so I went with it, convenient as it was.

    “China has a legitimate sovereignty over Tibet for hundreds of years” – again, that can be debated until the cows come home…without resolution. Let’s just say China has sovereignty over TIbet today, sorta like the US has sovereignty over Hawaii today.

    “Tibet’s status was then changed under such circumstance.” – you’re neglecting a minor invasion that occurred at around the same time.

    Point #2 sounds reasonable, but I’m not sure the relative level of cultural preservation determines whether a group can justifiably seek a stronger voice or not.

  44. Hong Konger Says:

    Back to Lhasa….

    The amazing Ah Gang

    The Generous and friendly Locals

    Zhang Li and the orphanage

    Zhang Li walks out her faith, gives her time, money and life, Zhang Licries like a mother for her Tibet..

    http://blog.ifeng.com/article/1409619.html

    http://blog.ifeng.com/article/1411006.html

    http://qzone.qq.com/blog/5109903-1217065898

    http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4ba1e80d01000b47.html

    Who do y’all think Zhang Li in fact serves? Buddha, Lao Zi, Kong Zi, Jesus, Mohammud, Communism, Democracy, the people ?

    I say she serves all of them by walking the talk.

    Zhang Li is Fujianese (the Chinese province across from Taiwan)…she ‘s a musician, worked in real estates…Beginning in 2001 she started helping the orphans in tibetan regions with their schoolings. Since then she has visited nearly 300 tibetan villages for indepth investigation of the causes that lead to the children’s plights.

      张莉是福建人,学习音乐出身,从事房地产项目策划多年。2001年起,她开始帮助藏区的孩子就学,至今已走访了藏区近300个村庄。在此期间,张莉深入调查了农牧区因家庭特困、失去亲人、被遗弃、身患重病等各种因素造成失学的孩子的就学情况

  45. Shane9219 Says:

    # 42

    I read Sperling’s article on NYT last year. It was not a very impressive piece in my regard. Elloit Sperling is not a Chinese history specialist, first of all. He jumped on last year’s event, wanting to appear impartial, yet use his superficial and incomplete knowlege of Chinese history to tilt a debate towards the direction of Tibet independence. Why, it is a popular show to Western audience.

    A small number of western scholars attempted to re-construct Chinese history from world history. Many of them do not know how to read modern Chinese, let alone ancient Chinese scripts. They intend to fragment Chinese history into pieces, such as Mongol and Manchu Qing emperors are not Chinese dynasties. Those assertion are laugable even to average Chinese.

    While there are many debatable subjects in the history, including Chinese history. China’s sovereignty over Tibet is not one of them, period!

    Even during the late19th and earlier 20th centuries, those invading GB and Russian forces had to handle Tibet affairs through Qing dynasty, forcing Qing to establish a Tibet administration outright. Before that, Tibet had been a quiet Qing subject since 17th century.

    Since most concepts under international laws are shaped by the west, those concepts also evolve to suit the needs of western powers. For example, many adopted during the colonial era were abandoned in favor of new ones when current Europeans want to establish a new boundary between state and natural person under some new fancy ideologies. But regardless how those concepts were established, vanished and changed to West’s favor, Tibet was never a soverign state, a commonly recorgnized fact even during Qing dynasty under invading colonial foreign forces.

    Since I am not a history expert, I, and many Chinese like me, approach the subject of Tibet with common sense — a common sense based on the evolving natural history of thousands of years interwoven between multiple races (Han, Tibet, Mongol and Manchu etc) on a land now called China. When China was strong, nobody can say anything about her territories. When China was weak and bullied by the Western powers, as in the case of late 19th and 20th centuries, yes, many issues came up. After the fall of Qing dynasty, even 13th DL attempted to declare an independence. But no nation recorgnized it. Once Repulic of China was established in 1912, 13th DL was given his official title again by then a very weak central government. He accepted it and did not demand an independence.

    There is no point of making a debate on Tibet if you knew the state of fair in China since 19th century. There are many in the West who did not want to show any contrition to the collective guilt on their colonial past, nor did they have any sympathy to a weak nation like China under colonial invasion. That lasting image of China is still vivid to them, and they still want to make an issue out of Tibet.

  46. Wukailong Says:

    There’s an ongoing debate about the status of Tibet during the Ming dynasty, so I guess you could make a claim that Tibet was not under any Chinese control by then. But whatever position you adopt, it seems quite clear to me that before the dawn of the modern nation state, of which the PRC is an example, there wasn’t the direct control over Tibet that you see today. Same thing for Mongolia.

    @Shane9219: “There is no point of making a debate on Tibet if you knew the state of fair in China since 19th century.”

    Well, whether Tibet was part of China or not for 700 years, and how you interpret is, isn’t altered by China being attacked by Western powers in the 19th century. So as far as I see it’s perfectly reasonable to discuss it. Of course Tibet belongs to China today, it’s just silly to deny that, but that’s not the question at issue.

    “There are many in the West who did not want to show any contrition to the collective guilt on their colonial past, nor did they have any sympathy to a weak nation like China under colonial invasion. That lasting image of China is still vivid to them, and they still want to make an issue out of Tibet.”

    Are you saying that all countries in the West (US, Europe, Australia and New Zeeland) were all participating in waging war on China during the 19th century, or are you saying that all people from these territories now are guilty of what those armies did to China long before they were born?

    There are many examples of bullied countries throughout history. Does that make these countries forever protected from any scrutiny?

  47. TQ Says:

    http://big5.tibet.cn/g2b/info.tibet.cn/zt2007/07zt_lspddjflxx/bd/t20070522_240415.htm

    張﹕我覺得幫助別人僅靠錢真的幫不了什麼﹐想真正的幫助孩子還要靠教育﹐從思想開始吧﹗所以才有了這所學校。
    Zhang Li: I feel to help them money alone is not enough. Inorder to really help these children, we must begin with their education and intellect. This is what this school is about.

      文﹕我聽說維持這樣一所學校每個月需要五﹑六萬﹖
    I hear the basic mouthly overhead is 50 -60,000yuan to run your school.

      張﹕對﹐也不完全是這些﹐但每個月基本上都需要5﹑6萬塊錢。

    Li: Right. That’s just the basic expenditure.

      文﹕這筆錢就算是在北京的高收入階層來說﹐也不算是小數目了﹐這麼龐大的開支﹐你是從哪裡來呢﹖

    That’s quite a substantial amount even for those with high income in Beijing. How do you manage?

      張﹕我有一些積蓄﹐然後拿著這些積蓄我就創辦了這所學校。有整個半年我沒有工作﹐就是專心做這個學校﹐接下來我就必須去掙錢來維持我的學校。現在我依然有工作﹐但不再是公司行為而變成個人行為了。現在我我常常就是在北京﹑上海或者是深圳然後拉薩這些地方往返。

    Li: I have some savings. I stopped working for half a year to build this school. After that I’ve been working to make money to support my project. I don’t have a company, I travel to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and back to Lhasa.

      文﹕你覺得這些錢夠用嗎﹖你個人收入﹖
    Do you think your income is sufficient?
      張﹕夠吧﹐

    I think so…

  48. may Says:

    1. on Sperling’s academic qualifications
    I’d say he is a better “Chinese history specialist” than Goldstein and many other who write about Sino-Tibet relations (btw, I admire Goldstein a lot). Sperling is one of the few scholars who can read both classical Chinese and Tibetan while Goldstein can only read Tibetan. I even came across one of Sperling’s pieces written in Chinese on the internet recently. It’s not bad. Sperling’s PhD dissertation some 20 years ago was on early Ming policy toward Tibet and since then he continues to publish works on Sino-Tibet relations during Ming and Qing dynasties. I don’t think he can do what he does and makes a living without a sound knowledge of classical Chinese, Chinese history in general and Ming/Qing history in particular.

    btw, another scholar I am aware of who uses both Chinese and Tibetan to do research is Gray Tuttle in Columbia.

    all in all, what I am trying to say is that until someone better qualified comes along, I’d trust what Sperling says. 🙂

    2. on 13th DL ‘s official title
    No, the 13th DL did not accept the title. After the 辛亥革命,Yuan Shikai tried to restore the title 诚顺赞化西天大善自在佛 to the 13th DL. But he replied he did not ask for the former title and intended to exercise full authority over Tibet. A few days later he made his famous proclamation many considered declaration of independence of Tibet.

    3. I am fully aware of the complex geopolitical situations surrounding Tibet since the late Qing. And it pains me to read about how China struggled, was invaded and defeated under Western colonial powers in its recent history (yes, I am a Han Chinese who was born, brought up, and educated in China). But I think one thing many Chinese miss in seeing China’s relations with Tibet is that, for some Tibetans, China (or to be more specific: China’s Qing, 国民党,and CCP governments) all behaved and is behaving like a colonial power.

  49. TQ Says:

    http://www.tibet.cn/web/xztzb/xz_tzb/..%5Cxz_tzb/2007020071226131336.htm

    It was by chance that I learned of a non-profit school in Tibet which takes in orphans, physically challenged children and chidren from improverished homes. The school was established two years ago, and I’ve only just learned of it….Seems to me this is something that needs to be made known, looked into and understood. And perhaps as a result lend a helping hand with? From what we can imagine, this an awesome task, not a stroll on the beach kind of thing to start and operate. Sounds like a mission in which
    someone with a rugged and powerful personality would take on. An influential strong woman perhaps.

     一个偶然的机会,从西藏中华职业教育社得知,有个人在西藏办了个福利学校,专门招收贫困家庭的子女、残疾人和孤儿。已经两年了,现在才知道。我们想,应该看一看,说一说,以弥补我们的愧疚,以便让更多的人了解和帮助。在我们看来,这太困难了,太了不起了。在我们的印象中,这个人也许是个五大三粗、风风火火、神通广大的女强人。

    But Zhang Li is nothing like I had imagined. She is petite and soft spoken. Your typical girl next door.

      张莉来了。小小的个子,普通的装束,文静的话语。似乎对不上我们心中已有的女强人形象。这就是张莉,一个现实生活中的张莉,一个看起来与大家没有任何区别的普通人。

  50. may Says:

    4. on Sperling’s term “feudal dependency”
    In his New York Times article, Sperling said Tibet’s status under the Qing was described as a “feudal dependency”. I don’t think “feudal dependency” is an accurate English rendering of the Chinese term.

    In the late Qing, Tibet, along with areas in Xijiang and Mongolia, are considered 属地 (dependent territories). In 清史稿 (Draft Standard History of the Qing), they were described in the 藩部列传. Their status is clearly different from 属国 (dependent STATES) that included 安南,朝鲜,缅甸,琉球. These dependent STATES were described in a separately named set of 列传 in 清史稿 (i.e. 属国列传).

    Qing exerted more authority over its 属地 (dependent territories) than its 属国 (dependent states). It seems to me Sperling’s translation “feudal dependency” glossed over the difference between 属地 (dependent territories) and 属国 (dependent states).

    5. on Tibet independence
    The more I read about the Sino-Tibet relations, the more I understand and sympathize with the Tibetans’ grievances and nationalistic aspirations. But this does not mean I am for Tibet independence or self-determination. I used to support Tibetan self-determination. But after some lengthy debates with my countrymen and some more readings on the subject, I realized an independent Tibet will probably create too much uncertainty in the ethnic relations and geopolitical balance of power in the plateau. And this will not be in anyone’s interests (Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike).

    This being said, I think if China (our government and our people) wants to be a truly great nation one day, it should have the moral courage and responsibility to face and correct the wrongdoings (crimes) it committed upon what we call “ethnic minority brothers and sisters” (少数民族兄弟姐妹).

  51. TonyP4 Says:

    The Mongolians and Manchurians once ruled China. I bet they consider themselves assimilated. The Tibetans could if they are not that isolated and in larger number. The Great Wall worked until Qing (winning without fighting) and the west thru the coastal areas.

    The Qing had at least 2 great emperors. However, when the country was too peaceful, they relaxed and became corrupt that led to the disaster. What do we call a country pushing opium? Unfair treaties is really unfair by any standard – Qing had to pay for the opium burned. Same as asking US to pay for the burned opium in Afghan and cede Hawaii to Afghan if Afghan defeated US.

    Sad to be a Chinese citizen from late Qing, World War 2 to Mao’s era. Now, we just have some peaceful time and the west treats China as a bad guy, not as a victim.

    Besides the brutal force to prevent riots (same to Chinese students in 1989), Chinese government treats Tibetans better than the Hans: no one-child policy, increasing both literacy rate and life expectancy, economical aids, freeing slavery, maintaining the cultures… Let me know what else the government can do besides independency.

    Would some one shed some light on the population of Tibet. It varies greatly from CCP and Tibet exile.

  52. TonyP4 Says:

    @ SKC #25

    Puerto Rico is a better example than Hawaii. There are folks who want to be kings and queens. When they receive so much from the US than giving back, the common citizens do not want to cut off from US and become independent.

    Hawaii has no political soul. It is just a vacation land for Californians and Japanese. It also serves as a port for American offense.

  53. Charles Liu Says:

    SK @ 40, “And maybe there’s something there for China to learn from after all.”

    Yes, I agree China has a lot to learn; just like us they ain’t perfect. Also relative level of cultural preservation means there’s something for us to learn as well:

    – While Tibetan’s average live expectancy is about the same as reset of China, Native American’s life expectancy is 15-20 years less than rest of America.

    – While Tibetans live in one large, contigious, historical territory, the Native Americans are forcibily imprisoned in tiny, desolate parcels of reservation.

    BTW, thank you TQ @47

  54. Steve Says:

    @ Think Ming #32: You wrote, “I don’t get how you leap from ‘a special relationship between the two’ to ‘Tibet has been part of China as a special region’. . .”

    Actually, looking back that’s not what I meant to say. What I meant to say was that there is a special relationship between the two, and not that Tibet has been a part of China as a special region. So I have no idea either how I got from one to the other.

    Now I would say that there were periods when Tibet was a part of China as a special region, but it would include only those times when China exercised sovereignty or suzereinty over Tibet. It would not include the other historical eras. As to your other examples, yes, I’d say that China and Manchuria have had a special relationship with each other. Mongolia is different; they conquered China for a short period but spent more of their history raiding China. I would not categorize it as being similar to China’s experience with Tibet.

    As to your “facts”…

    1 – China as a nation state did not exist before the 20th Century.

    Depends on your definition of a “nation state”. With the usual definition, “nation state” means both a political and cultural identity. In what way was, for instance, the Ming dynasty not a nation state? I’d classify this one as “fiction”.

    2 – Despite exercising no actual control over Tibet the Chinese nationalist government decided to claim Tibet as part of the Chinese nation since that it had been part of the Manchurian Qing Empire they had just overthrown.

    I’d say this is fact.

    3 – Actual extension of the Chinese nation state into Tibet came only with the CCP invasion.

    I’d say this was also a fact.

    4 – Tibet was not ‘historically part of China’ because. . . duh! It was Tibet, not China. I mean really. . . To emphasize the utterly fucking obvious we need a time machine or something to go back in history and poll educated and intelligent Chinese from different dynasties on whether Tibet ‘is part of China’.

    I’d say this is an incredible simplification concerning centuries of history. For instance, it’s been “historically” a part of China for the past 59 years, hasn’t it? Or doesn’t that count?

    5 – Grasping at trivia like who was sending ‘tribute’ to whom to support or disprove nationalistic territorial claims is a pointless feel-good exercise unless you are prepared to get right into the subject and start understanding the context. Case in point, the Mongols spent much of the Ming dynasty offering to send ‘tribute’ to the Ming Empire. But in the context ‘tribute’ simply meant Mongol trading access.

    The “context” was my point, but you seem too argumentative to notice. There were countries in the Middle East who sent tribute to China during the early Ming dynasty, because that’s how it was done at the time. Great countries sent tribute to other great countries. I never said it had anything to do with nationaistic territorial claims.

    You know, your initial point was a valid one. If you had made it to expand the conversation, that would have been fine. But you seem to think that the only way to get your point across is to lecture and insult your audience. I think you’d find that the message is far more likely to be heard and considered when the messenger treats his audience with respect.

    Aren’t we all “armchair historians”? I’m probably the only person on this blog who has stated on a regular basis that I am not that knowledgeable when it comes to Tibetan history. That’s why I phrased it as a question and not a statement. In terms of general world history, I’m very knowledgeable and have had many discussions with academic historians who were surprised I knew what I knew. But maybe I know enough to know what I don’t know and keep an open mind?

  55. Allen Says:

    @Steve #54,

    You wrote:

    Aren’t we all “armchair historians”? I’m probably the only person on this blog who has stated on a regular basis that I am not that knowledgeable when it comes to Tibetan history. That’s why I phrased it as a question and not a statement.

    Well … unlike you, I am an all-knowing historian. In fact I have a time machine model 2000 here on my sofa in my living room. Any question you have about history, just ask. I’ll fire up the trusty model 2000, whip back in time, take a look, and come back with an answer you want – all free of charge!

  56. Steve Says:

    @ TQ #39: The CPUSA has to be just about the most irrelevant organization in the USA. I didn’t even realized it still existed. 🙂

    @ Shane9219 #41: Since you talked about it, a couple of things about Hawaii and about imperialism in general. Until WWII, imperialism was not a “dirty word” and was thought as a natural progression. If the USA hadn’t taken Hawaii, Japan would have. After the USA won the Spanish American war, if it hadn’t taken over the Philippines, another European power would have. That’s just the circumstances of those times. To judge the past with the standards of today is revisionist history.

    Is there a current movement in Hawaii to secede from the United States? Yes. Does it have anywhere near a majority of adherents? No. You can find movements for independence in small towns in Idaho too, but they only represent a few people. For years, there was a movement in Puerto Rico to become independent. Finally the USA held a referendum in PR to let the people decide. They chose to keep their commonwealth status. It wasn’t even close. If they had voted “yes” and the USA would not let them become independent, then a claim could definitely be made for “imperialism”, but the US government had already decided to let the results stand.

    @ Shane9219 #45: As may pointed out, the days of historians writing about China without knowing the language, culture or engaging in direct research are pretty much over. When China was closed to the outside world, some silly books were written that were mostly speculative. These days, historical research by both Chinese and non-Chinese is pretty good and if something is published, it gets debated back and forth by the world historical community. It’s not a one-sided affair anymore, which in my mind is a good thing for China because now China’s historians are also getting the credit they deserve. But your attack against Sperling was mostly ad hominum.

    @ may#50: You wrote, “5. on Tibet independence: The more I read about the Sino-Tibet relations, the more I understand and sympathize with the Tibetans’ grievances and nationalistic aspirations. But this does not mean I am for Tibet independence or self-determination. I used to support Tibetan self-determination. But after some lengthy debates with my countrymen and some more readings on the subject, I realized an independent Tibet will probably create too much uncertainty in the ethnic relations and geopolitical balance of power in the plateau. And this will not be in anyone’s interests (Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike).”

    I’ve come to the same conclusion myself.

    @ Charles Liu #53: You wrote, “While Tibetans live in one large, contigious, historical territory, the Native Americans are forcibily imprisoned in tiny, desolate parcels of reservation.”

    I’m not sure how much you know about Native Americans or the reservation system. My son has both Cherokee and Osage in him and I used to live next to four reservations and had a lot of Indian friends.

    First, no one is forcibly imprisoned anywhere. Most Native Americans don’t live on the reservation. It’s up to them if they want to or not. The ones who live there want to live there. The ones who don’t live on the reservation tend to make fun of the ones living on the reservation, calling them “welfare Indians” and saying they have no self respect.

    Second, most reservations aren’t that tiny. Some of the land is desolate and some is really nice, depends on the tribe. Most of the desolate places are their native lands, or a part of their native lands. But even the term “native” is misleading. For instance, the Navajo nation, which is the largest in the USA, lives on it’s “native” land except it invaded that land about 100 years before Europeans came to their area, displacing the Anasazi who are now known as Pueblo Indians. There is still animosity between the two. The Sioux claim their tribe originated from the Black Hills of South Dakota except that they actually came to the Black Hills about 100 years before Custer, and displaced the Crow which is the reason the Crow hate the Sioux to this day. Most western tribes came from the east and were recent invaders. So there is no historical tradition similar to Tibet. It’s very difficult to compare one region to another historically.

    Third, the reservations are governed by that particular tribe. Many if not most don’t govern very well. The amount of federal aid each reservation receives is very large, and far more aid per individual than non-reservation Indians or other Americans receive. Unfortunately, there is a lot of corruption going on and because they govern themselves, it is harder to root out.

    Fourth, outside of “Native American politicians”, there is no such thing as “Native Americans”. I’ve known many, many Indians and none of them ever referred to themselves as Native Americans. They always talk about their tribe and love to make fun of other tribes. The differences between tribes is as much as the differences between many nations. They look, act and speak completely different.

    I guess my point is that every country, every region is unique with its own unique history and culture. Both China and Tibet have histories unlike any other nation in the world and can’t be lumped in with other examples.

  57. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #55: Hey, I bought one of those myself but it doesn’t seem to work. Every time I fire it up, no matter what date or location I put it, it always takes me to the same place… the late Cretaceous period and all those damn dinosaurs.

    Oh, is that a butterfly caught in my shoe? Hmm… I hoep nutheng baad hapins beekause I wudint wanto aphect tha phucher. Hile Hitlur! 😛

  58. Shane9219 Says:

    # 48

    1. on Sperling’s academic qualifications
    If I were you, I would read western scolars’ work with a critical eye. I will not buy into their argument as they tend to take out bits and pieces from oversea Tibet perspective to suit their needs. Given the complicated history of Tibet and China, and in many cases, incompleted records, leading to hairspliting on Tibet issue. It is okay for western scholar to make a living, but just does not work for common people. Using your common sense, I would urge you.

    2. on 13th DL ’s official title
    Given the state of fair of China in late 19th and earlier 20th century, 13th DL has a troubled relation with central government, first with late Qing rulers and then with several ealier administration. As you knew Yuan Shikai had a short adminitration. The real ROC administration has been Nationalist’s.

    The Nationalist Government, immediately after its founding, made its first article of the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China for the Period of Political Tutelage stated in explicit terms: “The territory of the Republic of China includes various provinces as well as Mongolia and Tibet.” In 1928, the Nationalist Government set up the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan affairs, which operated under the Executive Yuan.

    Those decalaration and action, and the fact that no nation recorgnized Tibet independence, was sufficient to continue China’s soverignty over Tibet, even to West’s standard under international law.

    In 1919, the 13th Dalai Lama told a delegation sent by the Beijing central government, “It is not my true intention to be on intimate terms with the British…. I swear to be loyal to our own country and jointly work for the happiness of the five races.” In his later years (in 1930), he said, “My greatest wish is for the real peace and unification of China.” “Since it is all Chinese territory, why distinguish between you and us?” He further elaborated, “The British truly intend to tempt me, but I know that our sovereignty must not be lost.” He also publicly expressed his determination “not to affiliate with the British nor forsake the central government” (Liu Manqing: A Mission to Xikang and Tibet). The 9th Bainqen noted in his will, “The great plan I have promoted all my life is the support of the central government, the spread of Buddhism, the promotion of the unity of the five nationalities and the guarantee of national prosperity.”

    5. on Tibet independence
    You can hold a sympathetic view to any side by yourself. However, it is often a life-and-death, blood-and-struggle issue when coming to the subject to territory integrity. Childish thinking has no place on it. If Tibet goes independence, do you think India and Russian will sit idle there.

    The debate of territoriral conflict most of time favor western powers. They have been ruling the world during much of 19th and 20th centuries. Estalishing rules for the game, now European attempt to change the rules again under some new form of fancy ideologies.

  59. Shane9219 Says:

    @TonyP4 #51

    “Sad to be a Chinese citizen from late Qing, World War 2 to Mao’s era. Now, we just have some peaceful time and the west treats China as a bad guy, not as a victim.”

    Bravo, well said!

  60. Otto Kerner Says:

    Shane,

    Everyone should read everything critically … “common sense” especially.

    The quotations you give from the 13th Dalai Lama seem very implausible in view of what else we know about his life. Are these all sourced from Liu Manqing? Goldstein writes of Liu (whom he refers to as “Liu Man-ch’ing”) that “it is obvious that she either misunderstood the Dalai Lama or misrepresented him when she presents him as talking of ‘national sovereignty’ as though he accepted Tibet as part of the sovereign Chinese state. As we can even from Chiang Kai-shek’s letter cited just below, this was not the case.” (A History of Modern Tibet, vol 1, pg. 215, footnote).

    That the 9th Panchen’s party was pro-Chinese is well-known.

  61. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve

    “If the USA hadn’t taken Hawaii, Japan would have. After the USA won the Spanish American war, if it hadn’t taken over the Philippines, another European power would have. That’s just the circumstances of those times. ”

    Such thinking was totally false. USA was established as a democratic republic and a beckon for the “free” world, if you still remember US Constitution.

    “To judge the past with the standards of today is revisionist history. ”
    I agree completely. Such statement should be apply towards Tibet issue, and end that debate.

  62. Shane9219 Says:

    # 54

    Agreed on those fair statements. Tibet’s culture and way of life are in much better condition than say, those of Hawaiian and Native American.

    Did China make any mistake on Tibet with wrong policy? Yes. During Mao’s era, Red guards and culture revolution took a severe toll on Tibet, but so did the entire China. We all know it was a very brutual period of time. Those founding generals and leaders were either imprisoned or shot. A piece of dark cloud does not cover the entire sky for too long. Things have moved on and the Time has changed.

  63. Think Ming Says:

    May is talking more sense than most of the other Chinese posters. . . Nice to see somebody born in China who has a brain, some empathy, and the ability to analyze information for themselves. Nice to see somebody of Chinese descent who isn’t here explicitly to wave a little red flag for the oh-so-glorious PRC.

    @ Steve 54

    I believe I have also regularly stated that I know relatively little about Tibetan history (but possibly that was when I was using a previous handle). I have always commented on these things from the position that Tibet does not interest me that much. I just feel the need to remind everyone how pathetically weak the ‘historical’ arguments by Chinese nationalist are.

    As for my ‘point 4’. Perhaps I should have written more clearly? My ‘historically’ meant ‘prior to the PLA invading the place’. As I noted in my earlier points, Tibet clearly became Chinese after the PRC invasion. You call my point simplistic, but really that was sort of the point. . . When something is simple the simplistic approach isn’t such a bad one.

    As for my ‘point 1’. I’d say nation states are really a western and modern invention. I’d personally consider Ming China an empire. I doubt the Ming considered themselves to be sharing a single ‘nation’ with the non-Chinese peoples under their rule. Well, maybe you could argue there was a ‘nation state’ at the core of the ’empire’ or something. I’d still say though that China as a nation state did not exist before the creation of the ROC, and that the idea ‘Tibet, Manchuria and Mongolia are an indisputable part of the Chiense nation’ is modern. Really that is the point I was making.

    As for the stuff about paying tribute. . . that was never intended for you. You never mentioned it. It was intended for the nationalist dummies, since they love bringing these things up as evidence that somewhere ‘has been part of China since ancient times’.

  64. Steve Says:

    @ Shane9219: I’m pretty familiar with the US Constitution but as I said earlier, that didn’t apply at the time to either Hawaii or the Philippines. You have to go back to those times. Governments thought that imperalism was a good thing for the countries they controlled, not something to be avoided. The US has become a beacon for the “free world” since the end of World War II. I could not have been a beacon for the free world in 1787 since there was no such thing as a “free world” back then. The concept of “free world” is a post-war concept.

    I agree with you about applying today’s perspectives to yesterday’s history, including Tibet. As I said in another post, Tibet has been a part of China for at least 59 years so that means anyone under 75 would not remember a time when it was not a part of China. I think we need to deal with the present reality and not past historical events. My gripe with Japan isn’t that the Rape of Nanjing occurred, since the participants are mostly dead and very few Japanese today were of age at that time, my problem is with their revisionist history which tries to make like the events never occurred or were exceedingly mild compared to what actually happened. I don’t blame societies or cultures for past transgressions, but I do look with a critical eye at what they do today.

    But in saying that, it means that dealing with present reality is Han Chinese not constantly bringing up Tibetan independence since no one of any importance in Tibet is suggesting such a thing. It means not bringing up the CIA in Tibet since that was at a time when China sent 300,000 troops pouring into Korea to fight the UN forces. The world has changed and anytime someone brings up a defunct argument to counter a present day reality, the conversation spins off into irrelevance.

    I’ve seen maps in China that were supposedly from the Ming dynasty but showed Tibet as being part of China. Tibet wasn’t a part of China during the Ming dynasty; the map was put in the book for propaganda purposes. That’s what’s annoying. Why the revisionist history? It is what it is so let’s just accept Tibet is a part of China now and go about trying to solve the current situation there.

    I’m sure most Tibetans don’t care about what happened 100, 300, 500 or 800 years ago, they care about what is happening now. That’s why this two part translation is so refreshing; for once on this blog I feel I’m learning about real people and not some obscure political or historical argument.

    Shane, you did it again. You used an ad hominum attack on Sperling and may’s opinions. Your argument is that any “western historian” is subject to skepticism not because of what they wrote but because of where they are from. What “bits and pieces from oversea Tibet perspective” are you actually referring to? Are you saying that if a historian from India writes something about Tibet, because he/she is not a “westerner”, their scholarship is somehow more credible? That’s a pretty poor argument.

  65. Steve Says:

    @ Think Ming #63: Thanks for the explanation. I’ve also been impressed with may’s posts. She’s done her homework and her opinions are well expressed and make a lot of sense to me.

    I also agree with you that some of these arguments about Tibet being an inherent part of China from ancient times are nonsense. That was actually my original point; that the status between the two entities has changed and evolved over time, waxed and waned, so there’s no one definition that applies to their historical status. I also think that the length of time that Tibet was or wasn’t a part of China is mostly irrelevant. I feel the argument, rather than using the past to justify the present, is more like using the past to ignore the present situation and act like nowadays everything just is hunky dory. I also believe that was the story May was trying to tell, that China needs to deal with the present situation rather than worry so much about how that present situation came to be.

    Think Ming, in what way do you think the Ming dynasty was an empire? Present day Xinjiang, Tibet, Mongolia and Manchuria weren’t included at the time. I’d guess at least 90+% of all Chinese territory back then was settled by Han Chinese. Can you mention specifics?

  66. Think Ming Says:

    Steve, I’d have to research this properly. It’s not something I know tons about.

    Some questions though. . .

    Didn’t the Ming state extend up into Manchuria at times? In the late Ming their control there was weak but at previous times presumably stronger?

    Weren’t there Ming colonies in Yunnan, Guizhou and other bits of South-west China? I thought there was also a policy or settling the area with Han to Sinify these ‘non-Chinese’ areas. . . Well, on one level perhaps you can call that building a Ming Chinese nation state (and in the long term it worked since nobody today argues for separating these areas from the Chinese nation). On another level it seems like activities of an expansionist Ming empire. I’m pretty sure the kingdoms subjugated by the Ming would have seen it as colonialist/imperialist expansionism.

    Didn’t the Ming attempt to colonize Vietnam?

    In the early Ming period there are suggestions the emperors (at least initially) saw themselves as rulers of neighboring ‘tributary states’ like Korea. This indicates they saw themselves as playing a larger role than merely the rulers of a relatively homogeneous Chinese nation.

  67. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve #64/#65

    There are lots of contradiction in your statements, and lacking of cohesiveness. I don’t think I would attempt to get into your head to change anything. You are entitled to hold your view.

    Do you know why there were 5 colors on the first national flog of ROC?

    The question of Tibet during Ming Dynasty is a subject best left to history scholars. But how could your understanding of such issue reduced Tibet to be a part of China for only 59 years?

    Under such “creative” thinking that Yuan and Qing Dynasties are not part of Chinese history, DL, oversea Tibetan and his western supportors surely tried to find a legal basis for Tibet independence. Such arugment is just a non-sense. And no purpose served to continue on this Tibet discussion.

  68. Shane9219 Says:

    “wave a little red flag for the oh-so-glorious PRC”

    Of course, PRC is a great nation right now. I am so proud of it is where I come from. In fact, all Chinese, including those born oversea should be proud too. It has been a great tale of history and a long-standing tradition that oversea Chinese made great contribution to their motherland. If you aren’t so sure, you need check out your own root.

  69. Steve Says:

    @ Shane9219: I wasn’t saying that Tibet has been a part of China for only 59 years, I said that Tibet has been a part of China for the last 59 years. There’s a huge difference between the two.

    How many colors there are on the ROC flag is pretty irrelevant.

    From what I’ve read, I think the Yuan and Qing dynasties ruled Tibet, so we agree there.

  70. Shane9219 Says:

    @Think Ming #66

    The basis of your argument is not new, that is Tibetan is not Chinese, Mongol is not Chinese, Manchu is not Chinese, and only Han is Chinese, that modern Chinese nation such as ROC and PRC has no connection to earlier dynasties.

    Under a similar notion, a person’s family name has no real purpose under Chinese culture (and many other cultures), he or she can call himself A today, use B family name tomorrow and C another. Is that laughable.

  71. Otto Kerner Says:

    Do you know why there were 5 colors on the first national flog of ROC?

    Perhaps because Tibet, Xinjiang, and Outer Mongolia were 40% of the Qing’s land area, and the new government wanted to control all that land? Did they ask anyone’s opinions before adding 5 colors?

  72. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve #69

    When the government of the Republic of China was established on January 1, 1912, the “Five-Colored Flag” was selected by the provisional Senate as the national flag. The five colors were to represent the five major races

  73. Steve Says:

    @ Think Ming #66: From the maps I’ve seen, they controlled the Korean parts of China. Places like Harbin were not inside China at the time. Yes, both Yunnan and Guiyang were part of Ming China. I looked it up and you were correct, 200,000 military colonists came first and later another 500,000 settlers. But before they came, 1/2 of the people living there were already Han, so it was to reinforce the existing people. Ming rules only applied to Han, so there was a certain amount of autonomy for the other people.

    China controlled northern Vietnam (in Chinese, Annam) for about 1000 years but that was from 111BCE to 938 CE. China attacked Vietnam at one point during the Ming but it wasn’t very successful and didn’t last long.

    You are certainly correct when you mention that early Ming rulers saw themselves as rulers of “tributary states”, but that was why I mentioned tribute in the first place. The feeling in China at that time was that there was China and the rest of the world were barbarians, who owed the civilized Chinese rulers tribute. So that status doesn’t really have a counterpart in today’s world, and can cause confusion when discussing the past.

    I think you can overlook some cultural and ethnic differences for a nation state to meet the definition. I’d use Bretagne in France as an example. They are Celts and to this day don’t consider themselves French, yet France has been considered a nation state for centuries. I think if the proportion isn’t that great, then it’d be more of a nation state than an empire. I see the Qing as definitely an empire since they considered themselves different from Han Chinese. They forced the queue (hairstyle) on Han Chinese to show submission to the Qing rulers.

  74. Steve Says:

    @ Shane9219: Putting colors on a flag doesn’t mean the ROC actually controlled Tibet, it just means they wanted to. The ROC still claims to be the legitimate ruler of China. Does that make it so? I haven’t heard anyone mention on the blog that the ROC ever controlled Tibet.

    Let’s see, the colors on the American flag are … white, understandable… blue, huh? … and RED???? Is China an American province? After all, “the east is red” and the USA is definitely east of China. 😛

  75. Think Ming Says:

    @ Shane 68

    Why should I and all-overseas-Chinese be proud of the PRC?

    I’ve nothing against China, and I think overthrowing the Qing and establishing the ROC was a good thing for the Chinese people. However, I think the PRC is a flawed and ugly state, ruled by people who in their obsession with control have molded the citizenry into a bunch of xenophobic bigots with massive victim complexes. Basically I just think that China could do a lot better, and would be far better placed now had the CCP never seized control of the joint. I think that the ROC gets an unjustifiably bad rap.

    So no. . .

    I’m not proud of the PRC at all. China is great, but the PRC has marked a real low point in its history.

    Relocate the capital to Nanjing I say. Yeah, so the food sucks there, but do it anyway.

  76. tibetan Says:

    @FM “We also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone -especially our Tibetan friends – a Happy Losar and a healthy and prosperous New Year!”

    Perhaps Foolsmountain is not aware that Tibetans are NOT celebrating Losar (Tibetan New Year on February 25th) this year, in rememberance of several hundreds of tibetans who died last year under chinese guns or in chinese prisons, over thousand tibetans who remain missing, and 50 years of chinese military occupation of Tibet since 1959.

  77. Ted Says:

    @ May

    Have you heard of a book called “the Formation of the Chinese People, an Anthropological Inquiry” by Chi Li (or Li Chi). I just came across it in a used book store and I’m about to give it a read. I think it’s primarily focused on Han Chinese, I’m curious if the scholarship still stands (written in 1928).

  78. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane #61:
    ““To judge the past with the standards of today is revisionist history. ”
    I agree completely. Such statement should be apply towards Tibet issue, and end that debate.”

    Finally, I agree with you. Constant debate about whether Tibet was always a part of China or not is pointless. If your history is that it was, fantastic. If your history is that it wasn’t, terrific. Neither of which matters one iota to what Tibet should be tomorrow.

  79. Think Ming Says:

    Can I mention that this thing of allowing people to ‘rate’ posts is very irritating?

    I don’t see what was so objectionable about my post at 63 that it needed to be shielded from view.

    We appear to have some Chinese nationalists engaging in their usual childish behavior.

    Mind you. . . I haven’t been physically assaulted by Chinese nationalists yet today, so I guess things could be worse.

    Man. . . China has fallen a long way since the Tang Dynasty. . . Instead of gracious scholar-officials lounging around on silken pillows sipping frothy tea with deliciously curvy concubines it’s frustrated cubicle dwellers desperately trying to stop people reading subversive thoughts like “the idea ‘Tibet, Manchuria and Mongolia are an indisputable part of the Chinese nation’ is modern”

  80. Allen Says:

    @tibetan #76,

    Yes – we at FM do know that some Tibetans are making a political statement by not celebrating losar this year. That’s why I did not do a post on losar (learned many interesting aspects about its cultural and historical developments) – and simply asked we append a simple post script sending out some well wishes.

    If you are among those who felt offended, please accept my personal retraction of those well wishes on your behalf.

  81. may Says:

    Ted # 77
    Sorry, Ted, couldn’t be of help there… …I never heard of the book… …

  82. Ted Says:

    @may

    No prob, thanks. I kicked around online and it appears to be out of print, my copy is a 1960’s reprint. Anyway, an interesting read so far.

  83. TommyBahamas Says:

    Hey Guys,

    Take a break already…Things are never what they seem…..we like to complicate simple matters, what, to feel better about ourselves? Take Conspiracy theories, most think that they’re all beloney. Fine. Why don’t all you smart coconuts figure out how this very famous dude did all the things that he did. If none of you can figure them out, then I know I am smarter than y’all. You want to know why? Nah, I’ll let ya scratch your scalp bald before I spoon feed it to ya. OK?

    Now watch, and be humbled:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYxu_MQSTTY

  84. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To TonyP4 #52:
    “When (Puerto Ricans) receive so much from the US than giving back, the common citizens do not want to cut off from US and become independent.”

    I might be misunderstanding your point, so my apologies if I am. But if Tibet is like Puerto Rico in that it has been on the receiving end of such largesse from China, then shouldn’t most Tibetans want to maintain the status quo, much like most Puerto Ricans? But if they don’t, then you have to wonder if this difference is related to the disparate treatment of Tibetans by China versus Puerto Ricans by the US.

  85. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #53:
    how did we get from Hawaiians to Native Americans? Absolutely, I think every country should learn from others what others do better, and try to reproduce those results at home. In general, that should be a two way street. But given how Americans have treated Hawaiians in their quest for independence (at least based on your link), and how China has treated Tibetans, I think the roles of teacher and student are pretty clear in this case.

  86. TonyP4 Says:

    @SKC #84.

    I just responded to the post #21 saying Puerto Rico is a better example than Hawaii. No need to apologize. Both HA and PR do not have a lot parallel to Tibet to me.

    The difference between PR and Tibet is PR can vote to determine their future (they did not want to be independent in their last vote) but Tibet cannot. Yes, Tibetans get a better deal from the Hans (to me Tibetans are one of the minorities). If they do not fight for independency (that is not possible), they will maintain self governance I guess.

  87. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To TonyP4:
    You’re right that every situation, be it Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or Tibet, are unique. So any attempt to draw parallels is probably limited to broad generalizations at best. Besides, this isn’t a blog for Puerto Rico or Hawaii anyway.

    I have no opinion on Tibetan “independence”. I am, however, strongly in favour of Tibetans being afforded a much stronger voice. What they want to do with that is, or at least should be, up to them. To me, a Tibetan call for the status quo is as strong an exercise of such a voice as a call for anything else.

    One thing people often say is that while Tibetans need a stronger voice, so do all CHinese. True enough. Unfortunately, no one knows when that day is coming, if ever, at least given the current CCP regime. But it would seem to me that there is clearly something unique about the Tibetan situation that brings their grievances to the fore. The naysayers might say that’s because of the Dalai Lama and westerners. Maybe so…but if that’s the case, the average PRC citizen might benefit from more “Dalai Lama’s” and westerners, and not less, so that what’s sought for Tibetans might percolate down to benefit everyone else in China.

  88. Oli Says:

    Bloody hell, why must even simple snapshots of genuine social interaction between Chinese Tibetans and non-Tibetan Chinese be twisted into paranoid and partisan political contortions? Comments from TGIE proponents would suggest to have everybody believe that all such interactions are inevitably politically motivated and of undoubted detriment to Tibetans. That ordinary Tibetan and non-Tibetan Chinese are so constantly at each others’ throats that they never, ever socially interact, inter-marry, that there are no Tibetans working in the Chinese government, whether at the provincial or at the central level or that ultimately there is not a single iota of honest goodwill left between the peoples at the most basic of human level.

    The typical TGIE bleeding-heart narrative is that Tibetans are constantly suffering day in day out, like some biblical slaves under the tyranny of a proverbial pharoah. I don’t see any exploitation or conspiracy theoretical agenda here, but rather simply a picture of contemporary Tibetan life and interactions with non-Tibetan Chinese.

    The TGIE and its affliations’ tactics and strategy up to now are so counterproductive to its stated aim of alleviating alleged Tibetan suffering or “cultural death”, that it gives one pause to reconsider whether that is truly their intention. Either that or it is on such a scale of ineptitude that it reminded me of bumbling, cringe-inducing Western businessmen who naively and patronisingly think that what works in the West will automatically and must also apply in the East or anywhere else for that matter. It smacks of an immature and narrow Weltanschaung of limited nuance. Frankly, the TGIE blew their chances with the only people who are of any true relevance, namely the Chinese people as a whole.

  89. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Oli:
    “Comments from TGIE proponents would suggest to have everybody believe that all such interactions are inevitably politically motivated and of undoubted detriment to Tibetans…” – pardon my asking, but this has been suggested where exactly? In this thread?? I haven’t seen anything here that even begins to denigrate the human interaction that’s depicted in the narrative, so I have to assume you’ve just blown a gasket.

    “The typical TGIE bleeding-heart narrative is that Tibetans are constantly suffering day in day out” – and one could similarly say that the typical CCP bleeding-heart narrative is that Tibetans live on a bed of roses, and should be incredibly thankful for same. So perhaps what we need is a little less of the “typical” narrative like yours (and admittedly mine also), and hope that one day an anecdote such as this one can become truly “typical”.

    Until then, your last paragraph applies to you as much as it does to anyone else.

  90. TQ / Tommy Says:

    little less of the “typical” narrative like yours (and admittedly mine also), and hope that one day an anecdote such as this one can become truly “typical”.

    Yes, yes, yes,…Agree both with Pli and SKC….1,000 percent…I have been trying to get you folks BACK on track, i.e. on the topic , which is “BACK to Lhasa,” the author, the people, the good will, the altruism –
    Believe mem I tried David Blaine, even the damn Communist Party USA, but only got a single respond..Thanks Steve….::LOL::”@ TQ #39: The CPUSA has to be just about the most irrelevant organization in the USA. I didn’t even realized it still existed. ” —- and then it’s back to same old misery-go-round and round and round and round of Zzzzz………:-)

  91. Oli Says:

    SKC,

    Nope, gasket firmly in place. All systems pretty much checked. I refer you towards the beginning of this thread.

    “…the typical CCP bleeding-heart narrative is that Tibetans live on a bed of roses…” Eh….are these my words, whether actual or implied? Strangely, I don’t seem to recognise them.

    Fundamentally, from my experience in China and Tibet I do not see Tibetans as any worse or better off than average non-Tibetan Chinese elsewhere in China. I’ve met angry Tibetans and happy Tibetans. I’ve met wealthy Tibetans and desperately poor Tibetans. I’ve met those who firmly grasped their opportunities and those who sit on their asses and bemoan the abolishment of the iron rice bowls or for the return of the DL to solve their problems.

    I’ve met those who happily interact with non-Tibetan Chinese, be they Han, Hui, Mongolian or otherwise and those who would have nothing to do with non-Tibetans and suffer in circumstances of their own making. Its as simple and as complicated as that, so make of it what you will. Personally, I see it as no different from people anywhere else.

    And yes, in many parts of China such anecdotes do occur on a daily basis more than TGIE proponents would have you believe. Just as there are also daily petty arguments between Chinese Tibetans and non-Tibetan Chinese or between and amongst any other ethnic groups, at times they are political or prejudicial, othertimes, trite and mundane. They routinely diss each other and yet also help each other out as friends and relatives or sometimes simply ignore each other and go about their daily errands.

    Likewise, there are just as many charitable orphanges, retirement homes, disability centres and schools, both boarding and day schools set up by Taiwanese, other Overseas Chinese and unlikely foreigners dotted around China. Sometimes they are there because of ancestral ties while others come about purely because of genuine individual altruism, free of political motivation. Just because there is no accompanying song and dance, doesn’t mean that its not out there.

    So consequently what then is and is not “typical” is only limited by ones’ experience and how one chooses to digest and interpret such experience, irrespective of faith, creed, or ethnicity or precisely because of all that.

  92. Steve Says:

    @ TQ/Tommy #90: Back in September when I first found this blog, I used to try to bring the conversation back on track but quickly realized that was an impossible task. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes bad, but it always seems to happen. I guess good news such as this article doesn’t rile people up the way bad news and/or conflict does. I don’t usualy write too much on the Tibet threads because everyone seems so intractable in their positions, so for me this was the most enjoyable thread we’ve run so far.

    @ Oli #91: Nice post! I’ve had the same experience you describe in every country I’ve ever visited. People take care of people in day to day life, we make friends with the people we meet, and only worry about ethnic problems when some organization keeps reminding us that we should. All we really want from the ‘big picture’ is to be able to live out the ‘details’ without interference and with dignity. This article is all about the ‘details’ of life, how we’re all the same inside, and as you said, how we can either create our own limitations or eliminate them when it comes to interacting with others.

  93. Allen Says:

    Oli – nice to see you back! You’ve probably been lurking all these time … but still, hope all have been well – and welcome back!

  94. Oli Says:

    Allen, Steve, Admin and everybody here.

    Thanks and almost forgot, a very belated happy New Year, good health and good fortune to one and all!

    On a side note, things are fine personally, but have been busy living out of the suitcase over the last few months, trying to make sure people don’t loose their heads, physically and euphemistically speaking, which is just about as useful as pissing against the wind in the current economic climate.

  95. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Oli #91:
    nice post. I stand corrected. Comment #2 does question the sincerity of the author. But I’m not sure that justifies the sweeping statements you made.

    “Eh….are these my words, whether actual or implied? Strangely, I don’t seem to recognise them.” – nor should you, for those aren’t your words, actual or implied. Which is why it wasn’t in quotations in #89. They were, however, meant to mirror what you’d written in #88, of which I did quote directly. Those words you should recognize.

    I absolutely agree that what one finds “typical” is informed by one’s experiences, and the interpretations thereof. But owing to the naturally disparate experiences of individuals, and the myriad factors that then impact on one’s interpretation of such experiences, I hope you’d stipulate that what is typical for one may not be for another. Consequently, opinions that run contrary to your own may be no less justifiable than yours.

  96. Shane9219 Says:

    Oli #91

    Interesting narrative. I would be very happy to read if you write that into a novel someday 🙂

  97. Shane9219 Says:

    Scenes from Qinghai, Tibet China (collected recently by Time’s reporter)

    http://www.youtube.com/v/egCKxwg4-Wk&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0

  98. Shane9219 Says:

    The Qinghai-Tibet Railroad by Discovery Channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98zW4NALGxg&feature=PlayList&p=9094FC53421F7916&playnext=1&index=35

  99. may Says:

    Shane #58
    “If I were you, I would read western scholars’ work with a critical eye… … Using your common sense, I would urge you.”

    Noted. I trust my objection of Sperling’s rendering of 藩属 (feudal dependency) has showed you that I did not (and will not) take in every word Sperling said blindly. 🙂

  100. Shane9219 Says:

    The Qinghai-Tibet Railroad by Discovery Channel, the complete 5-part playlist

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98zW4NALGxg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DklOQGoDSsc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z3U531PbPQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pErsvnzcCJg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiY3akyF8sc

  101. Oli Says:

    SKC,

    Whether it justifies my “sweeping statement” or not is a matter of personal opinion and you are welcome to yours. And as you are obviously very much into respecting other people’s opinion, here it is right back at you.

    All too often, rather than simply spouting inane or stock politically correct platitudes by rote (excluding yourself of course, being the rare genuine exception), society and inter-human relationships are likely to benefit more simply by individuals recognising and overcoming the limitation of our own temperament and worldview that underpins the way we digest and interpret our experiences, irrespective of the constraints or dearth of the latter. Consequently, the how is just as important if not sometimes even more so than the what. The latter is a wrestle with your environment, the former is a wrestle with yourself.

    So, that’s my opinion, now let’s see you respect it! 😉

    Till later alligator, got a flight to catch.

  102. Shane9219 Says:

    青藏鐵路(tibet):國父創想,中共製造

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNqK2Btilwk&NR=1

  103. Lobsang Says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/02/18/ST2009021803418.html

    In China, A Different Brand of Buddhism
    Ethnic Han Turning To Tibetan Doctrine For Guidance

  104. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Oli:
    “And as you are obviously very much into respecting other people’s opinion, here it is right back at you.” – and that works perfectly well for me. You’re entitled to your sweeping statements, and I’m entitled to point out the sweeping nature of said statements. And maybe next time, the statements will be less sweeping. I would expect no less from you when I engage in my next sweeping exercise (and I’ll be the first to admit that is a matter of when, and not if).

    “A man’s gotta know his limitations…”: Dirty Harry. Often, I think it’s hard enough to know your limits; harder still to try to overcome them. I think that’s what FM is for.

    Have a nice flight. Look forward to more sweeping and anti-sweeping after I get back from boarding myself.

  105. Allen Says:

    @Logsang #103,

    Thanks for the Washington Post article. It’s not a bad article, and the article – if anything – points out one immutable that to me often gets overlooked: han culture and tibetan culture are not inherently incompatible (in fact they have molded each other throughout the ages, helping each other to become what each is today).

    I’ll contribute a link to another article that points out another immutable: whatever our political differences today, our futures are inexorably linked.

    We have lived together in peace and harmony for millenniums, there is no reason we won’t all be able to do the same in the future.

    Happy private Losar – in case you are not celebrating publicly.

  106. tibetan Says:

    @Allen #80

    “some tibetans”, “some reactionaries”, “some students protesters at Tiananmen”, its always “some” or “few”……

    That apart, it is a strong tradition in Tibetan society and culture, not to celebrate LOSAR (Tibetan New Year on February 25th) if your close relatives have died in the previous year.

    This year, so many tibetans have died and it is only natural that tibetans do not celebrate LOSAR. Tibetans in US, Europe and India will not celebrate LOSAR, and many tibetan inside Tibet do not plan to celebrate LOSAR. Of course, in China, everything related to Tibetan culture becomes political, and Chinese government are now encouraging tibetans to celebrate LOSAR, despite this is going against their culture, tradition and wishes. This is because they want to show happy tibetans on CCTV to chinese audience and the world.

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1880260,00.html

  107. tibetan Says:

    “Happy private Losar – in case you are not celebrating publicly.”

    It shows Allens insensitivity that he keps wishing Tibetans happy losar despite being told that Tibetans are not celebrating losar this year because of the unhappy events last year and so many tibetan brother and sisters who died.

    Allen is the face of COLONIALISM!

  108. Shane9219 Says:

    @tibetan #107

    “… and so many tibetan brother and sisters who died.”
    We heard such accusation times and again since last year from members of Tibet-in-exile community, even DL himself. Yet, TIE community has not come up any concrete and belivable evidence so far.

  109. Allen Says:

    @tibetan,

    I hope those who are abstaining from celebration will pray for all brothers and sisters – han, tibetan, hui, and others – who lost their lives in the tragedy last March.

  110. Allen Says:

    @tibetan #106,

    You wrote:

    [I]t is a strong tradition in Tibetan society and culture, not to celebrate LOSAR (Tibetan New Year on February 25th) if your close relatives have died in the previous year.

    Chinese government are now encouraging tibetans to celebrate LOSAR, despite this is going against their culture, tradition and wishes.

    But you also wrote

    Tibetans in US, Europe and India will not celebrate LOSAR, and many tibetan inside Tibet do not plan to celebrate LOSAR.

    So are you and other Tibetans in US, Europe and India not celebrating losar for cultural reasons (because you have actually lost relatives) or political reasons (because the DL asked Tibetans not to)?

  111. Oli Says:

    To Tibetan, some questions:

    Did the families of those Hui and Han Chinese who were murdered, burnt and hacked alive by their Chinese Tibetan “brothers” and “sisters” celebrate Chinese New Year or the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha too?

    Is that the face of TIBETAN BUDDHISM?

    Buddha abandoned his kingdom to seek enlightenment and to understand suffering, yet for generations you guys perverted that precious wisdom to build a kingdom for “monks” and “nuns”.

    Is that the face of TIBETAN BUDDHISM?

    Buddha gave people wisdom to take into their hearts and to practice in life, yet you guys put it on wheels to be blithely spun by your purposely kept ignorant subjects thereby denying Buddha’s true teachings to your people. For to educate them otherwise would have simply undermined the very foundation of this kingdom of so-call “monks” and “nuns”.

    Is that the face of TIBETAN BUDDHISM?

    Buddha’s “Middle Way” is that of the path of moderation, wisdom and enlightenment, yet your Yishin Norbu’s idea of the “Middle Way” is nothing more than the wishful thinking of and for the ignorant, the naive and the self-obsessed. “Wish-fulfilling Jewel” indeed. Was Buddha ever in the business of fulfilling wishes?

    So, is that’s the face of TIBETAN BUDDHISM?

    Is that the face of the wonderful and “very peaceful” Tibetan culture and people?

    What a load of crock of a hollow edifice that’s only fit for the ignorant, the naive and the self-obsessed.

    There, that’s me showing my “sensitivity”.

  112. Allen Says:

    @Oli #111,

    That was quite an emotional post … though I don’t think you were quite fair.

    In any religion, there are fundamentalist, moderates, as well as liberal perspectives.

    In some countries today, Islamic fundamentalists have perpetrated a particularly conservative strain of Islam. That however does not mean that Islam has to be inherently fundamentalist.

    Christianity itself went through the renaissance and enlightenment and still continually reinvents itself to adapt to a more secular world.

    As recently as 1949 – Tibet was still a serf-based society. With the DL-CCP impasse, many aspects of Tibetan Buddhism have been politicized and have not yet had time to evolve..

    In any case – as China becomes more prosperous and advanced, I have no doubt that Buddhism – including Tibetan Buddhism – will make a great revival and help usher in a chapter of spiritual development and enlightenment for many throughout all of China.

  113. Wukailong Says:

    Obviously 3.14 is being heavily misused to view all Tibetans in a violent light. It reminds me of how the Palestinians are being seen, and their religion is used to portray them as vicious murderers.

    Well, imagine what happened if we asked the same thing about the Communist Party with capital letters. It wouldn’t be difficult to find a lot of cases of violence too.

  114. Wukailong Says:

    Also, how do we know that religion was involved in any way in the riots? Because monks were protesting?

  115. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong,

    If the monks participated in the riots – would you consider religion to be involved?

  116. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen: I’m not sure, actually. It depends on their reason, which I believe was nationalistic.

  117. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong,

    Herein lies the problem. Until we develop brain wave detectors that allows us to determine what the intent of a crowd is … when monks stir up anger and protest using their status as monks and participate in violent acts dressed fully in monk robes … that to me is evidence that religion was deeply involved in the riots of last March.

  118. Tenzin Says:

    To Oli at 111

    On 14 March 2008, some Chinese died at the hands of protesters. It is wrong and no one in the Tibetan world is condoning it. I feel sad and my prayers are with their family. Yet lets put some perspective on it. How many Tibetans have died since the Chinese occupation of 1959? Do you know or care? The difference between the way you Chinese see the protest in 2008 and the way the Tibetans and the rest of the world sees it is completely different. The protest started around 10 march and it spread across the Tibetan plateau. It wasnt concentrated just in Lhasa. Now as a Chinese you can just keep harping on what happened in Lhasa on 14 March because that is the only evidence of violence from the Tibetan side. Yet there were over 100 different protest across Tibet and mostly what the Tibetans did were march with Tibetan national flag on the streets and take down the Chinese flags from various buildings.

    with regard to your perverted way of looking at Tibetan Buddhism, all I can say is to each his own. Yet you also sound disappointed that your illusion about Tibetans were shattered because Tibetans dared to ask for freedom. A famous Tibetan blogger from Tibet recently wrote that as long as the Tibetans remain exotic and are content with being submissive, the tender feelings of Chinese towards Tibetans will remain; just like they are willing to feed cats or dog they like, those Hans will keep on “loving” Tibet.

    Allen
    Here we go again. Your absolute ignorance about Tibet is astonishing as is your absolute confidence in it. Were you in Lhasa or other Tibetans areas when monks “stir up anger and protest”? Why is it so difficult for you to understand that Tibetans might have some genuine reasons to not be happy with teh present situation in Tibet? Just like there are many Chinese unhappy all over Tibet, Tibetans have problems with CCP policies.

    To answer your question about monks, before a monk or a nun, they are Tibetans first. And what you insist on calling “riots”, I call it political protest, a call for liberty, and an end to Chinese slavery in Tibet.

  119. Allen Says:

    @Tenzin #118 –

    You wrote:

    Were you in Lhasa or other Tibetans areas when monks “stir up anger and protest”? Why is it so difficult for you to understand that Tibetans might have some genuine reasons to not be happy with teh present situation in Tibet? Just like there are many Chinese unhappy all over Tibet, Tibetans have problems with CCP policies.

    Please take my comment in #117 in context.

    I was responding to Wukailong’s question in #114 that “how do we know that religion was involved in any way in the riots? Because monks were protesting?”

    You and I disagree based on the principle that one’s guy’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighters. That’s fine… I’d never denigrate your position for what you believe – I simply have my own position also.

    However, when the monks do stir up anger and protest (or participate in political calls for liberty, as you may say) and participate in violent acts (or fight for Tibetan freedom, as you may say) – how do we now separate religion from politics?

    In some ways, I think you confirmed my point when you wrote:

    To answer your question about monks, before a monk or a nun, they are Tibetans first. And what you insist on calling “riots”, I call it political protest, a call for liberty, and an end to Chinese slavery in Tibet.

    With Tibetan monks fomenting, supporting, and promoting Tibetan nationalism to such extents – how do you really separate religion from politics, how can you separate religion from politics when Tibetan Buddhism has become the face of Tibetan Nationalism – how could the gov’t fight Tibetan separatism without being accused of encroaching on “religious” freedom …

  120. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen #119:
    “one’s guy’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighters” – actually, I’d say the disagreement is far more than that. When there’s a “monk protesting”, you see “a religious guy who happens to be protesting”. Others like me would see it as “a protester who happens to be religious”. That’s why you seem to paint most Tibetan discontent as a religiously-motivated grievance, all the more to justify the CCP’s continued “monitoring” of religion. I see it as Tibetans unhappy with their CCP rulers, who could just as well be plumbers as monks or members of any other walk of life.

    “how could the gov’t fight Tibetan separatism without being accused of encroaching on “religious” freedom …” – at the rate the CCP is going, they can’t. Now I’m reading that, ahead of March 10 this year, tourist visas to Tibet are no longer being issued, and news agencies are being asked to withdraw their correspondents. Looks like it’s going to be another happy transparent freedom of expression bonanza again this year.

  121. Shane9219 Says:

    Gyalo Thondup, DL’s brother, on an interview by Wall Street Journal

    On linking up with the Central Intelligence Agency and helping to organize its support for armed resistance inside Tibet that began in the late 1950’s:

    “I never asked for CIA military assistance. I asked for political help. I wanted to publicize the Tibet situation, to make a little noise. The Americans promised to help make Tibet an independent country. All those promises were broken.”

    Feelings after cooperation with the CIA ended (in the late 1960s):

    “American didn’t want to help Tibet. It just wanted to make trouble for China. It had no far-sighted policy for Tibet. I wasn’t trained for this (clandestine operations). We didn’t know about power politics.”

    On the Dalai Lama’s role in the CIA operations:

    “I never involved the Dalai Lama as a person. The Dalai Lama didn’t know anything about (the CIA operation) until after he got to India (in 1959). I never tried to involve my family members in my work.”

    On a conversation with a KGB officer on working with the Soviet Union in Tibet rather than the Americans:

    “He told me you are all in the dark and very soon you will be sold out. If we promise to help, we will help. I thanked them for their interest and told the Americans Russia had offered to help. The CIA must have been shocked, but they kept quiet.”

    In retrospect, the Tibetan armed resistance backed by the CIA:

    “I can’t say the CIA help was useful. Whatever help they provided, it really provoked the Chinese. It led to reprisals. I feel very sorry for this.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123510349274730343.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    More related article:

    “Revolt of the Monks – How a Secret CIA Campaign Against China 50 Years Ago Continues to Fester; A Role for Dalai Lama’s Brother ”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122005956740185361.html

  122. Shane9219 Says:

    In Tibet, a Clash of Approaches
    As Anniversary of Exile — and Protests — Nears, Dalai Lama’s Brother Advises Calm

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123508535435527541.html

  123. Wukailong Says:

    @SKC (#120): Thanks, that was what I was trying to say!

  124. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To WKL:
    hey, no worries. Plumbers get a bad rap…next time I’ll use a different line of work to make an analogy. 🙂

  125. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong,

    I can’t think #120 answered your question at all. But if you somehow think it did … I’ll let it lie.

  126. Allen Says:

    @SKC #120,

    You wrote:

    That’s why you seem to paint most Tibetan discontent as a religiously-motivated grievance, all the more to justify the CCP’s continued “monitoring” of religion.

    Where did you get that?

    CCP is monitoring the monasteries because the monasteries are centers for fomenting Tibetan Nationalism today. CCP is interested in controlling Tibetan Nationalism – notTibetan religion per se.

    Of course, the problem is … because some Tibetan religious leaders are so involved in Tibetan nationalism today … it is truly hard to separate the two a lot of times these days.

    I have never said Tibetan religion or culture must go with Tibetan nationalism. In fact, as a Chinese nationalist, I cannot do so without also advocating the elimination of Tibetan religion and culture as well.

    It is only the Tibetan nationalists who like to equate the Tibetan nationalism with Tibetan religion and culture – not I.

  127. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen #126:
    “Where did you get that?” – gee, I dunno, perhaps I can start with this one in #119, but to me, there’ve been many others:
    “With Tibetan monks fomenting, supporting, and promoting Tibetan nationalism to such extents …”

    “CCP is interested in controlling Tibetan Nationalism – notTibetan religion per se.” – and you said in #119, to which I agreed in #120, that she can’t do the former without being accused of the latter, at least in the CCP’s current paradigm.

    “I have never said Tibetan religion or culture must go with Tibetan nationalism.” – and I never said you did.

    “It is only the Tibetan nationalists who like to equate the Tibetan nationalism with Tibetan religion and culture” – and if they did do such a thing, it would make sense, wouldn’t it? How could you promote a Tibetan nation without a Tibetan culture? And if a Tibetan religion was an intrinsic part of that culture, wouldn’t you have to include that too?

    However, does the Tibetan religion beget TIbetan nationalism? Does Tibetan nationalism beget the Tibetan religion? To me, the answer is no on both counts. You say you don’t equate those things either, but then it’s ok for the CCP to control the religion part as a byproduct or collateral damage to the controlling of the nationalism part. I have no idea how you reconcile those positions…better you than me.

  128. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen (#125): The joy of being unclear. 😉 Well, what I meant was that there isn’t necessarily a connection between monks protesting and religion being used for nationalistic ends. Still, I can’t reject your point either – when religious people are involved, outsiders are bound to see it as a religious manifestation of some sort.

    It’s been almost a year since 3.14. I don’t remember that much but I did follow the news quite attentively, and on CCTV you would mostly see burning buildings and rubble – the aftermath. I’ve read stories on news sites with Tibetan nationalists armed with some sort of sabres stabbing people, and also seen pictures of people hitting a man with some sort of metal rod, but I honestly can’t recall whether they were monks or not. I have the impression they were not, but I’ve realized on several occasions that I have memory is easily flawed…

  129. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To WKL:
    since foreign journalists are restricted from TIbet for the next few weeks, I think you’ll have to rely exclusively on CCTV this year to refresh your memory. And if there are Tibetans with sabres to be found, I’m sure you’ll be seeing it, probably from multiple angles a la NFL broadcasts 🙂

  130. Charles Liu Says:

    WKL, SKC, here’s the orphanage organizer Zhang Li’s account of the riot:

    http://blog.ifeng.com/article/1365946.html

  131. Oli Says:

    Firstly, apologies for a lengthy post, see it as a reflection of my sentiment or even just pure drivel.

    Allen, Wukailong, Tenzin

    Was my posting emotional? Yes, put it down to jetlag fatigue among other things.

    As for all my other comments, I nevertheless stand by them. I was born and raised in a Buddhist family. My general schooling was among Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and students of practically all faiths, races and ethnicity. During every summer holidays I went to Chinese school to study mandarin within a Confucian/Taoist ethos, but also attended Lutheran Sunday school. Through experience and personal relationships I’ve explored and continue to explore most of the world’s major religions. Yet, at this stage of my life I’ve nevertheless come full circle and return to the core Buddhist values that I grew up with because I’ve come to recognise their appropriateness in my personal life and experiences.

    However, within Tibetan Buddhism the many Buddhist values that I recognised I also saw as having been perverted over the centuries for the sake of creating a Buddhist theocracy, which Buddha himself implicitly rejected through his actions.

    Buddha’s belief in the value of reason, thinking and logic was slaved to the needs of the ruling elite to rule. At the expense of the cultivation of the self it led to the breeding of pride, arrogance and hubris in the hearts of “monks” and “nuns”. People no longer become monks because they seek genuine “enlightenment” and the betterment of the self and by extension the society. To be a monk or a nun became a matter of social and economic aspiration and status.

    However, today the monasteries became the refuges of those that are disaffected with or cannot compete in a rapidly changing world brought about by globalisation and the market forces unleashed by the central government. To become a monk or nun no longer held the same social-economic prestige or the status as it did in the past, but is rather simply a mean of garnering ephemeral “merits” for oneself and ones’ family.

    Many discovered that this is on longer sufficient, especially as they see others become increasingly more successful and even more so with those who are not Tibetan. They discovered that the “market” for the skills in Buddhist reason and logic that they have devoted their life to is rapidly diminishing in this brave new world. They’ve failed to realised that the ability to reason is useless without the acquisition of knowledge, for that is precisely the reason for which Buddha went on his journey.

    The emphasis on compassion and non-killing of life was corrupted by the adoption of the ethos of the Hindu caste system for social control that led to hypocritical social discrimination against those who undertake “unclean” professions such as butchers or tanners etc. Yet when non-Tibetans such as the Muslim Huis or others took over such professions to fulfil a nevertheless existing social need or market demand in Tibet and thereby became successful from it, it led to the breeding of widespread resentment, jealousy and unwarranted rumour mongering.

    However, above all, is the perversion of Buddha’s call to do what is “good and right” out of one’s own volition into a system for the pursuit of “merits” on an unwitting society. It became nothing more than the means of social control and exploitation through people’s aspiration for the divine in order to benefit a theocratic elite. Ultimately, where did Buddha ever advocated the creation of a “points system” of merits as a way of achieving enlightenment or reaching “heaven”?

    And please, don’t give me any BS about it being part of the Tibetan culture. It has nothing to do with culture, Tibetan or otherwise, but everything to do with the perpetuation of a theocratic elite through the perversion of Buddhist teachings and application Hindu caste politics, such that the original Tibetan culture was all but wiped out.

    As for why I appear emotional….

    Fundamentally, its because I cannot abide the racist tone and nature of those affiliated with the “Free Tibet movement” and of the rioters/protesters. And yes, Tenzin, I and many other Chinese know full well that many Tibetans, nevermind non-Tibetan Chinese, perished under Communist rule. Indeed there are very few Chinese families, mine included, that did not suffer one way or another under Communism during the years of madness, but is that a good enough reason to attack innocent civilians who were not even born then? Is that really how it’s going to be, an eye for an eye, until the whole world goes blind?

    During the 3.14 incident, the teenage daughter of an acquaintance of mine was assaulted and sexually molested, despite her repeatedly shouting that she is half-Tibetan. Because she and her family have lived in Chengdu all her life, she did not appear nor sounded very Tibetan, so that her attackers, both men and women, did not believe or simply did not care that she is half-Tibetan. Since then according to her Han/Qian Chinese mother, the teenager has at times blamed herself for the attack, as though she was somehow at fault and she refuses to go to the authorities because of the perceived stigma. From a personal perspective, I too have a niece whose mother is Swedish and I would never wish to see such a thing to happen to her or anybody else, ever.

    Furthermore, those affiliated with the “Free Tibet movement” in the West have for a long time been issuing “advisories” to people who travel to Tibet that whilst there they shouldn’t hire “Han” or other non-Tibetan Chinese tour guides, but rather hire only Tibetans. The irony is that in all Western countries it is both illegal and morally unacceptable to discriminate on grounds of race or ethnicity, yet somehow those in the “Free Tibet movement” deemed such “advisories” “appropriate” for people travelling to China.

    It seems that unbeknownst to these “activists” that at any given time there are hundreds of thousands of Tibetans who readily found employment throughout the rest of China. Would it then be appropriate for non-Tibetan Chinese to discriminate specifically against their Tibetan “brothers” and “sisters”? Would it be appropriate for non-Tibetan Chinese to attack Tibetan migrant workers outside of Tibet simply because they are Tibetan?

    During the riots I was in an UK hotel where I also came across a BBC interview with a 60/70-year-old English academic/activist who vociferously asserted that the Han Chinese are just “genetically not meant” for the high altitudes. It was so bizarre and morally repugnant that it was as if Darwin and his theory of evolution, of natural selection and adaptation never existed, but that instead Hitlerite eugenics and race theories held sway. Never mind that annually hundreds of Tibetan infants and children would have regularly died of altitude related sickness but for the application of modern medicine, oxygen tanks and pressure chambers.

    During the riots Tibetan households and businesses were told to hang silk scarves outside for identification purposes so that their families and properties would be spared, but non-Tibetan properties could easier be targeted specifically. While this has the stench of premeditated planning and overt racism, the only saving grace was that there were nevertheless some Tibetan neighbours who went out of their way to tell their non-Tibetan neighbours to do likewise or even to drape silk scarves over their non-Tibetan neighbours’ front door of their own volition. Is it then any wonder that many Chinese do not believe the riots were “spontaneous”?

    It seems that many in the Overseas Tibetan communities who participated in the campaign have become increasingly hidebound to the point of becoming racist in their quest to preserve their identity. They, but especially the younger Western “educated” generation who have never been to China or Tibet, appear to be so full of inordinate hate and bitterness that they fail to distinguish between ordinary non-Tibetan Chinese people and the CCP. They fail to distinguish the CCP from China as a country and as a nation.

    But worst of all, they failed to distinguish the CCP or the China of today with that of twenty/thirty years ago. Their view has become so myopic that they’ve failed to see how China and the world have moved on, while simultaneously they themselves have taken on some of the worst traits of the West such as the pseudo-scientific claptrap of eugenics and race theories. All they are now capable of seeing are only what they want to see, with the irony that as China is opening up, even the Tibetans within China itself are infected with this malignancy.

    Is it then any wonder that many non-Tibetan Chinese in China as well as Overseas Chinese, even those of third, fourth or more generations hold little sympathy for the Tibetan cause, despite their erstwhile ambiguities towards the CCP? Your movement’s biggest mistake was not only your advocacy of independence or “autonomy” instead of better policies or governance, but also your attack on innocent non-Tibetan Chinese civilians simply because of their ethnicity.

    It was precisely because of your attack on China and its peoples as a “race” instead of the CCP or the government that lost you not only any possible sympathy with many Chinese everywhere, but such that even the DL’s subsequent comment that he has confidence in the Chinese people, but increasingly less so with the Chinese government rings particularly hollow. In relentlessly marketing yourself to your Western audience, their media and in not speaking with one voice, with one aim, you’ve lost all credibility at the negotiating table as well as the goodwill of many Chinese.

    Lastly, in Buddhist teachings there are whole volumes on cause and effect. I suggest Tenzin you go and read them.

  132. Ted Says:

    Oli #131:

    It’s certainly odd that activists would send out advisories telling people to only hire Tibetans. When I traveled there a few years back it was required that foreigners traveling outside of Lhasa be driven by a Tibetan driver. I can’t speak to who owned the company we went through, but almost everyone we interacted with on the trip was Tibetan, not by our choice but the Chinese Government.

    The rules changed a little since then, first in response to the Free Tibeters who unfurled the banner at the bottom of Everest. After that incident a complimentary tour guide accompanied all foreign tourists traveling outside of Lhasa. A friend who traveled up there the summer after I went joked that their guide hardly spoke during the trip and every time they stopped the guide would just wander off. She only appeared in one picture. I can’t guess at the additional restrictions imposed after the riots.

    The British activist’s comments are certainly ignorant but I’ve met plenty of Chinese who were convinced that they couldn’t handle the altitude. Before my trip, several people begged me not to go and warned me not only about the altitude but that Tibetans are allowed to carry knives. I hear this over and over again. It seems to me there is ignorance on all sides. I don’t see how closing off access and releasing articles like the Xinhua piece a few days back does anything but perpetuate the ignorance.

    “They fail to distinguish the CCP from China as a country and as a nation.”

    Doing so would be fomenting splittism would it not? This little Catch-22 is wholly of the government’s making. Race aside, who exactly is an aggrieved group supposed to appeal to?

  133. JL Says:

    @ Allen,

    I’m enjoying your posts, thank you. It seems you’re making a real effort to understand Tibet, which is great.

    @ Oli,

    Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about the experiences of your acquaintances, who have suffered at the hands of racist Tibetans. Broadly, I agree with your criticism of Free Tibet, and I also think it would be difficult to argue that the Tibetans are worse off than the average Chinese people.
    But, it seems from your very popular comment above, and from previous comments of yours that I’ve read, that you have trouble seeing good in Tibetan culture. You write:
    “Within Tibetan Buddhism the many Buddhist values that I recognised I also saw as having been perverted over the centuries for the sake of creating a Buddhist theocracy, which Buddha himself implicitly rejected through his actions.”
    In a sense this is true, but all cultures have their nasty sides; pre-twentieth century Han Chinese China wasn’t all that nice either, with the footbinding, concubinage, and all the social problems that drove the Communist Revolution. (Yes, European society was pretty awful at the time). But you have to expect that people are proud of their culture, past and traditions. I’m sure your proud of China’s heritage, I’m proud of my European heritage, and you have to expect that Tibetans will be proud of theirs. Which means that complaining about how awful premodern Tibet was, or how perverted its form of Buddhism was, is unlikely to win you any Tibetan friends.
    Why not adopt Allen’s approach and take an interest in their customs and traditions?
    The denigration of Tibetan culture only gives amunition to those racist, extremist Tibetans, who argue that all Han Chinese are bad for Tibet. As Allen points out, there are Tibetans who feel otherwise, respect them and their religion, and they, rather than the racists, will prosper.

  134. Steve Says:

    @ SKC, Allen, et al: If foreign journalists are being kept out of the Tibetan areas over the next few weeks, how can anyone gauge whether Serf Emancipation Day is supported by the people living there? Wouldn’t it be to the CCP’s benefit to allow as many reporters as possible to witness the celebration? If they are kept out, then won’t they have to present the “balanced view” journalism including the views of the TGIE that annoy so many of our Chinese bloggers?

    I thought the whole idea of this holiday was to show the world that Tibetans actually support the government and are not interested in protesting, except for an insignificant few. I’m a bit confused here…

    I hate to ask this question on this particular thread since it’s such a heartwarming story written by a person without a political or ideological agenda, but the conversation (as it usually does) has moved in that direction.

  135. Allen Says:

    @Steve – you ask good and timely questions…

    Rather than burying an important topic in a somewhat off-topic thread, why not create a thread that directly addresses your question?

    In case you need it, this article http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/12/AR2009021200614.html?nav=timespace may provide you with info to get started…

  136. Wukailong Says:

    @Oli: First of all, I appreciate the honest attitude. I’d be hoping more people actually described their emotions, where they come from and how this all plays into the judgements they make.

    Still, I stand by my comments too. I think 3.14 is being misused to show how Tibetans as a whole are violent “goons and thugs”, and how this shows how evil the cause for independence is (or DL, or Tibetan Buddhism, or whatever your pet peeve is). It’s certainly more understandable when you have relatives that were involved – I won’t argue with that. What happened was a tragedy. What I argue with is that only this violence is condemned, and the rest is being wiped under the rug.

    As for the other points, I would sum them up as follows:

    1. The problem lies with Tibetan Buddhism, which has created a caste system that wasn’t in Tibet before.
    2. The problem also lies with racism from two sources, Westerners that espouse a “Free Tibet” and nationalistic Tibetans.

    As for (1), I mostly agree with Allen. I don’t think Tibetan Buddhism is as horrible as you portray it, and I think the way we ought to look at it is how other predominantly Buddhist societies have evolved. Slavery existed in Thailand well into modern times. I guess I don’t need to mention what social system was in place in China during which time it, too, was deeply shaped by Buddhism, and I would be surprised to find even one country where the social system became very advanced as a result of Buddhism. I personally am very positive towards the religion, more so than towards Christianity, for example, but no religion itself seems to have helped society when it reached a position of power.

    You said that “don’t give me any BS about it being part of the Tibetan culture.” Well, if a religion has been part of said culture for almost a thousand years, wouldn’t that also shape the culture? I think this sort of separation is even more tricky than the one between religion and politics.

    How many people agree with (2)? I certainly don’t, but the Tibetan version doesn’t look too different from the way a lot of Chinese feel about Japanese. The Western version is just stupid.

    Then there are a couple of other things:

    “They fail to distinguish the CCP from China as a country and as a nation.”

    This is, unfortunately, not unique to them. CCP is so ingrained in this society that patriotism has become equivalent to loving the party or political system among some, and that’s certainly the way the propaganda describes it.

    “Indeed there are very few Chinese families, mine included, that did not suffer one way or another under Communism during the years of madness”
    “But worst of all, they failed to distinguish the CCP or the China of today with that of twenty/thirty years ago.”

    Again, this is the majority perspective, where CCP rule was horrible “back then,” during the cultural revolution. Apparently the disgruntled Tibetan voices are from people who are unhappy _today_. If Tibet is much more strictly controlled than the rest of the country, then why does it matter so much that other areas have moved ahead?

  137. Wukailong Says:

    @Steve: I actually saw a short news report about the joy the new Serf Emancipation Day has given the Tibetans in advance. They held huge celebrations with music and dance, and one talkative man jumped with glee, telling the reporter how he wanted to thank the Party and government for the new, great live they are leading. Apparently he, too, made the mistake of confusing the CCP and China, but it’s common boilerplate, so who cares?

  138. Allen Says:

    @Oli #131,

    I too grew up as a Buddhist in a Buddhist family.

    As you know, Buddhism today can be separated into roughly three categories – one that emphasizes reason/Buddhist teachings, another that emphasizes meditations, and yet another that emphasizes on following living teachers in people’s path to enlightenment.

    My Uncle believes in Tibetan Buddhism – because having a living teacher guide his journey to enlightenment is important to and resonates with him – though he doesn’t buy any of the DL’s politics.

    I personally think it’s ok for some Buddhists to emphasize the importance of the living teachers if that works. There are multiple paths to Nirvana, and to each his own.

    But I agree with you. I don’t think a Buddhist theology as practiced in old Tibet (with benefit of hindsight) – or the ideology of Free Tibet was advocated by many of its radical adherents – would be consistent with true Buddhist teachings.

    But that’s just my opinion. If the DL is a black belt Buddhist monk – actually a living Buddha God – who am I to criticize?

  139. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Oli:
    Nice post. I would only say that there’s the odd Chinese person here and there who has difficulty realizing that criticism of the CCP is not the same as criticizing China as a nation, or Chinese as a people. That distinction seems to escape people across ethnic, citizenship, political, and geographic lines.

  140. Otto Kerner Says:

    @Oli #131,

    Geez, you are so quick to see evil in somebody else’s society and slow to see evil in your own. In that regard, I guess, you have a lot in common with the stereotypical “Free Tibet” protestor.

    “Is it then any wonder that many non-Tibetan Chinese in China as well as Overseas Chinese, even those of third, fourth or more generations hold little sympathy for the Tibetan cause”. Indeed, it is not. In my experience, I have found that most people are long on self-love and short on sympathy when there’s any cost to it.

  141. Tenzin Says:

    Thanks Oli for your tirade on Tibetan Buddhism. I have no idea what ‘point system’ ‘caste system’ and ‘heaven’ in your post are in reference to. Just underlines my earlier comment about your “understanding” of my religion and my culture. Anyway as I said before to each his own.

    You see monks and nuns as backward or people who are unable to catch up with the modernisation – basically what an american high school kid might call a ‘loser’. I see them very differently. Yes, even today Tibetans have a lot of respect for monks and nuns.

    I really wonder whether you have even met or talked with any of us that you labelled “racist”, while you continue to call us Chinese. We are not Chinese and this has got nothing to do with politics or racism. You are not Japanese and I wont call you so.

    During what you call ‘the mad years, I lost my grandfather, aunt and an uncle. I dont blame the common Chinese for it, not our of some big-heartedness but simply because they are not to be blamed. Yet I blame CCP and the current regime that is a continuation of it. Yeah CCP may have moved forward from those ‘mad years’ in mainland China, yet they behave exactly the same in my country. Yes, millions of Chinese died in the last few decades due CCP policies. As a Tibetan I will speak against what happen to us.

    Please dont apologise for being “emotional” or being self-righteous in your post. I am used to it in talking/discussing with overseas Chinese. You say that westerners and Tibetan in exile donot understand a crap about Tibet and CHina, yet in the same breath claim to have a better knowledge about Tibetans, their culture, and situation inside Tibet. Do you realise how illogical your declaration is?

    Another punching bag is the contention that Dalai Lama not reaching out to Chinese. How does he reach out to anyone inside CHina or Tibet, while government sends people to prison for having his portrait?

    Anyway Oli I am concerned that the ‘jetlag’ that you often refer to might be having an effect on more than just your emotions.

  142. Wahaha Says:

    ..In my experience, I have found that most people are long on self-love and short on sympathy when there’s any cost to it..

    Otto,

    Indeed, and that is why democracy never deliver in a country that has lot of poor people. With the talent you have, you much have noticed that,…

    and you need tons of wealth before you can build meaningful and sustainable democracy, as by then, government can afford wasting tons of money to satisfy the appetite of those who, RICH OR POOR, dont give a damn about the welfare of others.

  143. Wahaha Says:

    “Another punching bag is the contention that Dalai Lama not reaching out to Chinese. How does he reach out to anyone inside CHina or Tibet, while government sends people to prison for having his portrait..”

    ________________________________

    That is not true with my personal experience, Tibetans are not arrested cuz they have picture of DL, they are arrested cuz they yell “free Tibet” on the street of Lhasa while holding pictures of DL.

    You dont accept you are chinese, but you cant deny we han chinese treat Tibetan as chinese. I like to hear how Tibetans, as long as they dont protest for free Tibet, are mistreated DIFFERENTLY by chinese government.

    Did you watch “slumdog millionaire” ? tell us what do you think those poor indian families want most. Tibetan people are human being as han chinese, white people and black people. Can you tell me what 2 million Tibetan people in Tibet want most ? Yes, they want bless from DL and Panchan, but other than that, they want nothing ? How do you know what those poor Tibetan want, other than blessing from DL ? Simply cuz you are a Tibetan ? That is like the claim that Chinese in HongKong know what poor Chinese in GanSu province want.

    Do you think that Chinese government wouldnt allow DL going back to Tibet if he was a pro-China ?

    You comment sounds like Tibet people ONLY care about getting bless from THE DL and nothing else. You, as a Tibetan, as one of the very very very very few well educated Tibet who have had chance to learn modernization, are obliged to bring the modernization to Tibet, to bring the Tibet into 20TH century first. (then 21st)

  144. Oli Says:

    @Tenzin

    Hmmm, apart from your intemperate personal insults and selective and out of context reading of my last post, are you saying that Tibetans are a totally seperate race and people from the Chinese?

    As for postings made by all the other commentators I hope to respond to them shortly.

  145. Oli Says:

    Firstly apologies for the late replies and another lengthy posting.

    @Ted 131

    In Tibet many jobs that require official licences or permits such as cab drivers or tour guides etc tend to go to local Tibetans as a matter of policy and also because the officials who issue such permits are often Tibetan themselves. With the exception of large-scale works that require capital equipment, organisation or expertise which local firms don’t have, the same tended to apply to small-scale local government contracts that involve civil engineering, construction etc, provided of course that they are competitive.

    Of course in the case of licensed cabs, permit requirement is no bar to the encroachment of unlicensed taxi drivers, whether they are Tibetan or not. Having said that, employment/contracts that do not require permits are then obviously subjected to the same competition as everywhere else in China.

    As for:
    “Doing so would be fomenting splittism would it not? This little Catch-22 is wholly of the government’s making.”

    Well, irrespective of propaganda/marketing/spin from whichever quarter, people have free will. All they needed to do is simply exercise their grey matter and spend a bit of effort on balanced research. And on the by, people in China tended to selectively tune out government propaganda anyway, hence the profusion and popularity of internet access to seek out alternative opinion.

    Finally, I would also say that there is a difference between knowing one’s physical fitness or fear of crime to being a racist who espouses eugenics.

    @ JL 133, Allen 135, WKL 136 et al.

    Actually JL, I believe you and others may have misunderstood or misread my last posting. My criticism was neither about pre-modern Tibet nor Tibetan culture. I regard dissing pre-modern Tibet or pre-modern whichever country/society as a pretty pointless kindergarten exercise and one that I have never engaged in, here or anywhere else. Consequently, in all my postings I’ve never mentioned or criticised pre-modern Tibet.

    In fact my specific criticism concerns the use and abuse of people’s faith in and aspiration for the divine. In other words, I implicitly reject the misuse of religion to achieve political ends. Irrespective of whether it is Islamic extremists’ selective interpretation of the Koran, neo-conservative Christians’ hijacking of US domestic and foreign policies or the twisting of Buddhist teachings to either sustain/perpetuate a theocracy or to achieve independence/autonomy.

    My criticism firstly concerns Tibetan Buddhist practices that are fundamentally contrary to Buddhism in that they serve nothing else other than a political purpose rather than the genuine and actual betterment of the self. My criticism was never about Tibetan Buddhism “in general” or “per se”, for what’s the point in that?

    My second criticism concerns how such practices led to an imbalance in Tibetan Buddhist teachings and the resulting emphasis on the socio-political status of the clergy to the detriment of other aspects of society’s needs. Consequently my criticism of Tibetan Buddhist monks is not because they are monks, but rather that they are undisciplined monks that are not worthy of their status or their robes. Therefore, I have more respect and sympathy for the monks of Myanmar than the stone throwing, rabble rousing monks who participated in the violence of 3.14.

    Furthermore I neither look for the good or the bad in cultures because from experience I’ve learned not to make that kind of value judgement long ago. To me culture is simply a veneer whereby excessive emphasis leads to at best the patronising adoration of the noble savages or at worse, unfounded prejudices, political sensitivity training notwithstanding. Instead, I to look for the good in people whoever and whatever they are, until they prove me wrong. That’s the philosophy I go by and it’s as simple as that.

    In China, as well as patriarchal and matriarchal societies, there are a profusion of non-Han cultures and belief systems, such that the government and many people, including myself, simply find it irrelevant that Tibetans practice sky burial, go on Buddhist pilgrimages or even practice polyandry where father and son or brothers share the same wife. It is simply accepted that it is part of their culture and traditions. Equally in China, unlike the Middle East or parts of SE Asia, non-Muslims who marry a Muslim are not required by law to become Muslim themselves. It is regarded as purely a matter of personal choice, just as uniquely in China there are also female imams and prayer leaders. Similarly, since the reforms there have also been a marked relaxation in public and official attitude and tolerance towards gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

    Finally JL, as for foot binding I suggest you do more research into it. If it was never universally practised in China then is it culture, like Maori facial tattoos, or is it fashion, more akin to 18th / 19th century Western corsets (male and female), Indian nose piercing or elongating female neck rings of Thailand’s hill tribes. All I can say is people’s sense of aesthetics often take some very bizarre forms.

    As for concubinage, is it culture or is it sexual politics? If its culture then I would say that it’s pretty much a human condition that is not unique to China and have existed since the dawn of time and will probably continue to exists so long as there are humans around. However, if it is sexual politics then I would rather discuss it with my girlfriends than with you if you don’t mind. 

    Lastly JL, remember “evil”? 

    @WKL 136

    Yes I would agree with you that pictures of 3.14 violence can be subject to abuse to portray all Tibetans as violent “thugs or goons” or to sweep genuine Chines Tibetans’ grievances under the rug, in particular by internet Chinese nationalists. However, I would also argue that it is doubtful it is in the government’s interest to encourage this perception of Tibetans considering that China is a nation of 56 recognised ethnicities, such that it is not in the nation’s interest to encourage divisiveness based on ethnic differentials.

    Furthermore, during 3.14 there were many Tibetan students who undertook a peaceful demonstration at the University of the Nationalities in Beijing, yet there was no heavy-handed suppression by the police there. Consequently, the leitmotif here for the heavy police and military presence in Tibet is purely down to violence in Tibet since 3.14.

    As for your comments regarding CCP propaganda, I believe you lack contemporary and not very nuance impression of the Chinese people’s ability to discern propaganda. You’ll find that it varies not only demographically, but also raises further question of whether if the people are in agreement with the government is it necessarily attributable to propaganda, particularly when the internet provide alternative opinions.

    From my time in Tibet and from speaking with my Tibetan acquaintances there and in Chengdu, I have the impression that fundamentally the issue of religion and the DL is very much used as a magnifier and rallying point for deeper socio-economic, rather than political, issues. These are issues that are not unique to Tibet but are prevalent throughout the poorer interior regions of central China.

    The fundamental underlying issue with Tibet is how to reconcile development to alleviate these socio-economic issues with a culture’s ability to deal with rapid modernisation and the government’s requirement for political cohesion. For example I know of not a few middle class Tibetans who are devout Buddhist, who desire modernisation, prosperity and stability, yet also the return of the DL, but as a spiritual rather than a politically divisive figure.

    Consequently, this tension of opposing forces is not just between the Chinese government and the DL, but also exists within Chinese Tibetan society itself, which Overseas Tibetan’s often understandably neglect to mention in their desire to present a “united” front. The real picture is in fact far more complex than the way the free Tibeters or the Western media are wont to portray.

  146. Oli Says:

    @Otto Kerner 140

    This thread is about Tibet which is the topic I’ve tried to confine myself to for the sake of focus and clarity, being concepts which you are obviously unfamiliar with. However, if you want to see me criticise modern Chinese society, you are welcome to start a thread on that topic, provided of course it is of even moderate intelligence, worthwhile and serves a purpose.

    But as usual, other than depressingly juvenile sniping, you’ve said little that is of consequence or thought provoking. And there I was forlornly expecting some semblance of an itsy, bitsy spark of intelligence.

    Rather than being a typical troll that is all bluster and no substance, I suggest you perform some of that “self-love” on yourself to alleviate all the hot gas you are obviously suffering from. At the very least it might (fingers crossed) prevent you from fouling up this forum with the noxious effluence that periodically and obviously uncontrollably spews out of that orifice/organ you call a mouth/Otto “central” (I just can’t bring myself to dignifiy it by calling it a brain, it’s too much of an insult to the rest of humanity, nevermind primates or even other complex organisms. Darwin would turn in his grave).

  147. Oli Says:

    Hmmm, those two funny symbols in the middle of 145 are supposed to be smileys….

  148. Shane9219 Says:

    @Tenzin #141

    In my personal opinion, young oversea Tibetans are somewhat a lost generation. It is certainly not their fault. However, it is important for them to put down western ideology when looking at the complicated history and relation between Tibet region and China, and the personal history of DL, as well as being realistic on their worldview.

    6th DL’s birthplace is in Arunachal Pradesh, a region presently occupied by India. 14th DL used to say Arunachal Pradesh is part of China. Yet in recent years, he switches his position by saying the region belongs to India in order to get support from his Indian host.

  149. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Oli #145:
    nice post once again. I must say it is refreshing when someone can speak of Tibet without bringing up pre 1959 history, or starting and ending every statement with serfs and polyandry.

    You mentioned that CHinese are wise to the CCP propaganda, but through the internet can seek out the requisite diversity of opinion that people elsewhere enjoy. You are not the first to bring this up. I don’t know the answer so I’m just asking the question, but how much penetration has the internet made in China, particularly in the poorer western regions or rural environs where there might be more discontent than in the more literate and affluent coastal regions? And how many of those people would have whatever sophistication is required to bypass the firewalls to really access unfettered opinions? I ask this of course because the internet as the antidote to CCP propaganda is only useful insofar as it is available and accessible to the masses.

    I also agree that in all likelihood, Tibetan “opinion” is not uniform. But I think the Chinese government is more responsible for people not having access to the presumed diversity of said opinion than say the TGIE. If the “real picture” is what is sought, then the Chinese government needs to get out of the frame.

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