Apr 01

Translation:Development is the best way to preserve Tibetan culture

Written by Allen on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 5:52 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis, culture, General, media, politics, religion | Tags:, ,
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Since this is the last day of what seems like Tibet month – I figure I’ll squeeze in one more post on Tibet before the end of the month.

Below is a translation by Allen of an article recently published by Han Fang Ming in Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao. Han is a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). CPPCC plays an advisory role to the Chinese government.  Han is a businessman and an investment banker. Currently living in HK, Han specializes in issues involving Tibet, Hong Kong and Macao and overseas Chinese.

By Han Fang Ming (2009-03-11) The Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture has garnered much attention from both abroad and domestically. The government’s publication of a white paper on the Modern Development of Tibet in November 2001 and a white paper on the Preservation and Development of Tibet Culture in September 2008 provide reports, facts, figures, and insights that will allow many to gain a more accurate understanding of the changes going on in Tibet.

China is a nation made up of 56 national minorities. Over time, the various nationalities have mixed and commingled to create a tapestry of cultures and societies that make up China today. While China does have a proud history, China also represent a dynamic, living culture – not a society that is locked in time. As a living society, China – including all her national minorities – must learn to adapt to changing circumstances and meet head on the challenges brought by the modern era.

In times of change, it is inevitable that people’s livelihood will be affected, accompanied by a loss of certain elements of tradition, lifestyles, arts, and culture. Some may think this is sad and cruel, but China cannot afford to fight the times. China must embrace the future and learn to evolve, adapt, and prosper.

In uncertain times like now, we often see two radical camps of approaches to development. On the one hand, we have those who are prepared to welcome everything that is new while denigrating or abandoning everything that is old. On the other hand, we have those holding fanatically onto everything that is old, fighting everything that is new. My take is that what is important is not whether things are new or old, but whether they satisfy the needs of the people and development. Both extremes of blindly chasing after the new or stubbornly holding onto the past are against human nature.

The process of modernization can be compared to a fast moving train. You can try to hide from it, but there is no way to stop it. Like it or not, lifestyles and traditions of all cultures everywhere have always been under pressure to change. For many people, the first instinct may be to resist because it is nature to fear the unfamiliar and the unknown. But we must also learn that peoples and cultures that do not change and adapt ultimately die.

I have been all over the Tibetan Autonomous Region. I have witnessed many forms of traditional lifestyles and cultures. In some places, I see continued hardship and backwardness. In other places, I see entrepreneurship and an open minded willingness to interact with the broader world.

I realized that a diversification was happening in Tibet. I can point to an example involving traditional furniture making. Traditional Tibetan furniture are relatively well made and adapted to last a long time. Because a lot of labor go into the making of traditional furniture, they are also often very expensive. With Tibet’s closer integration with the rest of China, people now have more choices regarding what furniture to buy. People can choose between the old style of furniture – or non-Tibetan machine made furniture that are often more stylish at a fraction of the price. Are some Tibetans’ choice to buy non-traditional furniture threatening Tibetan culture? I don’t think so.

Closer interaction with the world is forcing many traditional Tibetan furniture makers to innovate and adapt. Rather than damaging Tibetan culture, this interaction – traumatic as it may be for some – will ultimately ensure that Tibetan culture will not only survive – but also prosper – in the modern era.

It may be a misnomer to focus single-mindedly on “preservation” of cultures. Tibetan culture is a living culture. Change is part of the evolution of any living culture. Some traditional elements will be kept and embraced as part of daily life; others will be transformed for a new era; yet still others will be relegated to the the museums. Han Chinese have not demanded to wear Han dynasty costumes even though the costumes were an important part of traditional Han culture. Mongolian Chinese will not be giving up their motorcycles simply because Mongolians traditionally rode horses.

I have a few recommendations for the way forward for further Tibetan development.

1. the government should coordinate a more concerted effort at documenting all aspects of traditional art and handicraft. The government should also redouble efforts at creating a directory of living folk artists, artisans, craftsmen, etc. as well as an index of their skill and trade.

2. the government should pass legislation aimed at protecting important aspects of Tibetan culture, providing funds to support cultural activities deemed especially important by the local populace.

3. the government should begin creating a world-class museum of Tibetan culture showcasing all aspects of Tibetan culture, including all styles of art, music, dance, customs found throughout the Himalayan plateau.

4. the government should publish in-depth white papers reviewing the development of Tibet on an annual basis. This will help both people in the country and abroad interested in Tibet to gain a better appreciation of the state of affairs in modern Tibet.

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89 Responses to “Translation:Development is the best way to preserve Tibetan culture”

  1. Steve Says:

    I don’t think the issue is cultural change, I think the issue is forced cultural change. One of the oldest rules in sales is that you don’t want to convince your customer that they should buy your product, you want them to convince YOU that they should buy it. In other words, it needs to be their choice so they don’t feel they were ‘sold’. Tibetans are no different from anyone else; they want change to occur in a natural progression and not feel that ‘big daddy’ told them what to do. The Chinese government has had a history of being paternalistic.

    “Both extremes of blindly chasing after the new or stubbornly holding onto the past are against human nature.”

    Actually, they are not against human nature at all. They always occur in all societies, though the majority of people will fall somewhere in between.Think of it as a bell curve.

    Tibetans are no different from anyone else. No culture is ever stagnant; that is always a myth. Changes might be subtle but are they constantly occurring. To be honest, comparing Han Dynasty costumes to Mongolian motorcycles or present day fashions is ridiculous. This guy must not be married, since if he was he’d know that fashion is the most arbitrary taste there is. Or maybe he is and just doesn’t pay much attention to his wife’s changing tastes. 😉

    The first three recommendations are fine. The fourth should be strictly an internal document or else politics will consume it and it’ll just be another fluff piece. There is no way a “white paper” on Tibet can show anything except exclusively positive developments if it is released to the general public.

  2. Chops Says:

    Han appears to be Han Chinese (no pun intended)

    It would help if a Tibetan native were to propose development, instead of coming from someone living in HK or outside Tibet.

    Happy April Fool’s Day to FM 🙂

  3. pug_ster Says:

    @Steve #1

    I agree, that society changes, culture changes, religion changes and so forth due to modernization. It is an unfortunate fact. It is certainly happening in Dharamsala where TGIE’s strict government couldn’t provide the jobs that could sustain the Tibetan culture in that region.


  4. Shane9219 Says:

    14th DL’s recent interview in India

    14th DL’s position on Tibet has always been in contradictary. He told his supporters that he does not advocate Tibet independence, but “meaningful autonomy” under Chinese political system. Then in the same conversation, he can hardly hide his longing for an independent Tibet nation and self-assured political representation. Here is a recent interview in India.


    Q: The Chinese government’s pre-condition for talks is that you accept the One China policy …

    “We are not asking for separation. We are happy to be a part of China. We just want dignity and respect.”

    Q: So then you might reconsider?

    “I don’t know. It’s up to the people of Tibet. It is the Tibetan nation’s struggle. This is not the Dalai Lama’s struggle. … ”

    Q: The other sticking point is your demand for a Central Tibetan Administration that would be responsible for administering not just the Tibet Autonomous Region but also Greater Tibet [including parts of Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, and Yunnan provinces]. The Chinese government says that this is nothing but disguised independence.

    ” … If I speak for one small portion what will rest of the four million feel? And you must remember these areas have not invaded into Chinese land. For more than 1000 years, this area was Tibetan land. “

  5. Allen Says:

    @Steve #1,

    You wrote:

    I don’t think the issue is cultural change, I think the issue is forced cultural change. One of the oldest rules in sales is that you don’t want to convince your customer that they should buy your product, you want them to convince YOU that they should buy it.

    It’s amazing how just in these two sentences so much information may have been communicated.

    How did you come up with the conclusion that cultural change is “forced”? What is “forced” change?

    Suppose the gov’t of Tibet is a “freely elected” one – and assume all other factors are the same (i.e. riots last March, protests by exiles, closed media) would you say the cultural change is being “forced”?

    If not – are you presuming a lack of legitimacy of the Chinese central gov’t?

    The CCP has liberated the Chinese people from poverty, overpopulation, feudalism, cast system, gender discrimination, superstition – all without “democratic” consultation with the people. Have the Chinese people been “forced” to undergo liberation?

    Perhaps the notion of being “forced” arises because of some sort of hypersensitivity to “religion” and “ethnicity” in the West.

    Does your notion that change is being forced in Tibet come from some unspoken, normative idea that people of one “ethnicity” (i.e. Tibetans – even though there are many subgroups with distinct “subcultures” and languages that are mutually unintelligible to each other) must be allowed to decide certain things by themselves – separate and independent of the Chinese state?

    Many of my friends have that understanding of “self-determination” (even though they would only apply the concept discriminatorily to regions across the world).

    If so – perhaps we need to have a discussion on what “self-determination” actually is?

  6. Otto Kerner Says:


    I don’t see where the Dalai Lama says anything that conflicts materially with his anti-secession policy. However, I do think that he phrases things in a way that could easily make the government and its supporters suspicious. This is one thing that I am hopeful about if and when the Karmapa becomes an exile spokesman — that he would be able to address the same issues but communicate in a way that would build trust rather than suspicion.

  7. Allen Says:

    @Shane9219 #4,

    Good quote.

    The DL wants to have his cake and eat it too. A good leader is someone who can not only speak for his constituents but also can convince his constituents to make compromises and sacrifices.

    It’s often been said that the DL is the only one with the prestige, legitimacy, power, looks, wisdom (etc., etc., etc.) to make the Tibetans return willingly into the fold of the Chinese nation.

    Given your quote above, I highly doubt that assessment…! 😉

  8. Nimrod Says:

    I’ve always got the feeling that DL is at best a lite version of Yasser Arafat, who once said he holds an olive branch in one hand and an AK-47 in another with regard to the Israel-Palestinian issue. Another thing he shares with Arafat: when the chips are down, he won’t be able to make the tough choices, because they are both chameleons when it comes to politics.

    If only Arafat were a Buddhist rather than a Muslim … Image is everything.

  9. Wukong Says:

    “One People, One Nation and One Leader”

    No, we aren’t talking about Nazi Germany and Hitler.


  10. Wukailong Says:

    Actually, if I had the opportunity, I would want to meet Bin Laden because I’m curious. And now that I see that Dalai Lama is like a combination of Bin Laden, Hitler and possibly Darth Vader, I would like to meet him too! 😉

  11. Maybe Enough Says:

    Guys, maybe it’s enough for Tibet talk. However, here is little thought. DL or any Tibetan or any human being would not like to be ruled by someone else. No Tibetan will like to be told how to behave, how to change and how to speak Mandarin; nor any Chinese like to be told what to think and what language to use and what is good for them by some other group who are totally different from them in terms of idea, religion, language, and skin color.
    DL proposed real Autonomy because he thinks that this is least harmful to China so that there can be a chance that Chinese government may consider, and that is best interest to Tibetans next to independence. When he says Tibet will benefit from being part of China he not only means economy development, but also means that this way he can save Tibetan people from being crushed by hi-tech weapons because China is ready to engage in full-force war if Tibetans go for independence and nobody know if a single Tibetan may survive if such war carry on. So, he thinks it’s not worth to sacrifice unimaginable part of his people for something that is most unlikely to be achieved. Hey, but that does not mean he has to deny true historical facts and re-write history like what social science guys in Beijing and Japanese history textbook writers do. DL is accepting what reality can grant, so there is nothing to suspect about. If you are to accuse him for seeking an autonomy for Tibetans under China, then forum is for you, that’s what he does.
    Actually I think Chinese government clearly know that he is not seeking independence at all, but they have to insist on it as long as they want to continue one-party system and block any democracy things in larger area of China so as to save their comrades from being persecuted by new system government and ICC.
    I remember there was a thread about how China would be in the year 2020. Most people wish that China can transform peacefully to more democratic and rules of law country rather than having non-smooth political shift. In this case, I think netizens here should thank Tibet issue and Taiwan issue because only them can make that possible. Why? Because having these issue, the government can always optimize all people’s attention and patriotism on these two potential enemies so that no body really care about their own voting rights and speech freedom etc, and with that the government one side can prepare for more reform while the other side can keep the people quiet and keep the people supportive to them.

    Wukai Long

    ” “One People, One Nation and One Leader”

    No, we aren’t talking about Nazi Germany and Hitler. ”

    Funny for a Chinese guy to say this, having Maos and following all-power-in-hand presidents with only single ideology to be valid citizen of the country. To me, it seems sarcastic.

  12. Wukailong Says:

    Er… I’m Wukailong, the other guy is Wukong. No offense, though. 🙂

  13. Maybe Enough Says:

    “Er… I’m Wukailong, the other guy is Wukong. No offense, though.”

    Nothing much difference, though.

  14. Wukailong Says:

    Well, my post was a joke, Wukong’s wasn’t. 🙂

  15. Maybe Enough Says:

    “And now that I see that Dalai Lama is like a combination of Bin Laden, Hitler and possibly Darth Vader, I would like to meet him too!”

    This sentence would not be a joke if it get translated into Tibetan or Chinese and spread among Tibetan population in China with your background information, or your photo.

  16. Otto Kerner Says:

    Geez, Maybe Enough, mellow out. People who fail to understand the point of the comment you’re referring to might find it offensive, but what’s salient there is that they misunderstand it. Your comment, by the way, could come across sounding like a threat, which would be very inappropriate.

  17. Allen Says:

    @Maybe Enough – please develop some English reading skills and critical thinking skills before continuing to make a fool of yourself …

  18. Wukailong Says:

    Wow… This is not what I imagined when I had breakfast today. I sure hope there won’t be any flesh engine search for me. Also, that was kind of a silly joke that I intended to do very little with, except discourage the Hitler comparison (which I always do, has nothing to do with any stance of the people involved).

    Maybe Enough, just don’t take this too seriously. I’m sure a lot of ugly things could happen if a bunch of people came after me for some misunderstanding…

  19. Maybe Enough Says:

    “please develop some English reading skills and critical thinking skills before making a fool of yourself again…”

    Allen give people advice, haha… haha…

    “Your comment, by the way, could come across sounding like a threat, which would be very inappropriate.”

    There is no more threatening in today’s world than labeling a person or a group of people with “terrorist”. If bashing some nationality and demonizing its outstanding people is what this blog stand for, then I wonder if there is any limit for what people comment.

  20. Maybe Enough Says:

    “I’m sure a lot of ugly things could happen if a bunch of people came after me for some misunderstanding…”

    Be assured, nobody will come after you. Of course with the belief that no Tibetan can do anything led people like to you to make joke of whole Tibetan people in the first place.

  21. Wukailong Says:

    “Of course with the belief that no Tibetan can do anything led people like to you to make joke of whole Tibetan people in the first place.”

    I never made fun of Tibetans. What I made fun of was the comparison of DL to Bin Laden and Hitler, or any such comparison.


  22. Maybe Enough Says:

    @ Wukailong

    Your action of giving continuous explanations makes me feel that I must have misunderstood you, even though I still can not make a different picture out of your original joke. Anyway, thanks for being a gentleman instead of being a smirky like Allen.

  23. Wahaha Says:

    Actually I think Chinese government clearly know that he is not seeking independence at all,….

    Maybe Enough,

    I never bash DL, but he is seeking independence. Yes, he hasnt asked for independence …. yet, but he will, whether he likes or not. Cuz with the presence of China’s influence, Tibetan people will open their eyes to outside world, and those monks will lose their influence and power over Tibetan people (like the churches in Europe gradually lost control in 1400s, 1500s and 1600s); those monks will force DL seeking independence.

    So the first thing those monks would do after gaining power in Tibet is getting rid of anything that is related to China. But it is weak with zero financial power, which makes it impossible to compete with China, therefore they will seek ‘help’ from west society, and west society would wholeheartly support the independence of Tibet, like they did to Russia.

    This is politics, not kids playing games, so dont be so naive.

  24. Wahaha Says:

    One poster mentioned ‘self-determination’ by Tibetan people. so what is ‘self-determination’ ?

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il just won 100% of votes and reelected. is that ‘self-determination’ ?

    Mao had 99.9% of control of China during his time, and most Chinese people wholeheartly loved him. When he died, you could hear crying in every corner. If you had asked people to vote then, he wouldve been elected without doubt.

    Let us say if DL had claimed Tibetan people should be happy with staying together with Chinese, there would be no trouble in China. SO ONE PERSON’S MIND DOMINATES OTHER’S MIND.

    As the examples I showed, when one person’s mind and believes can dominate other people’s mind, there is no real ‘self-determination.’

    It is like kids controled by their parents, kids know little about outside world, most of time, they will stay with their parents even if they are abused by their parents and they will not fight back. So when a group of people are controled by a single person, there is no point to ask them to ‘self-determination’.

  25. JXie Says:

    The 14th DL and Arafat share an important trait in common — not knowing how to play a weak hand. Playing with a weak hand, you ought to know the status quo sucks, and your best hope is landing somewhere between the status quo and a previous high watermark. Arafat was offered in retrospect a remarkably good peace deal before the end of the Clinton presidency, yet he couldn’t pull the trigger. Look at the Palestinians now.

    From a realist’s viewpoint, the 1951 seventeen point agreement would be the best case high watermark. Asking anything beyond that, is in a fantasy land of hoping miraculously a weak hand would turn into a strong hand — China may be a “failed state” for all we know… But in the real world, as it stands now the per capita GDP of TAR is already much higher than the richest state in India. Even with the charity money the 14th DL brings in, the Tibetan community in India is quite a bit poor than their peers inside of China on average. This in all likelihood will get far worse when the inevitable DL reincarnation happens.

  26. TonyP4 Says:

    When I was in China, I saw the Tibet culture was preserved every where esp. in Central China. The theme songs in the movie Red Cliff I & II were sung by Allan with a great voice. She has a Tibetan origin. Is it true Tibetans do not have first name?

  27. Nimrod Says:


    You are right. Honestly, the 17-Point Agreement was agreed to when China was a weakling and a pariah. The same DL tore up that agreement and went to bed with the CIA. For six whole years after DL left, China kept the framework open waiting for DL to return, and only in 1965 I believe was the current governing structure for TAR finally set up in place of the old. Now he has the face to demand that and more? People say the current TAR bureaucrats would never accept a new system of government like “real autonomy” whatever that is. Can you blame them? What place has DL in this at all? He’s long made his bets and gone his way. And Greater Tibet? What right has he to ask for those? Even if it made all the sense in the world, provincial boundaries just don’t change like that. Ask any country. It’s called states rights. That sort of thing needs to be worked out within the country over some time by all provinces involved and has got nothing to do with the exiles who don’t want to be citizens of China.

    And this “real autonomy”, he makes it sound like he made such a compromising sacrifice, but I’m sorry, coming to this after 10 years of armed rebellion for independence failed and another 20 years lobbying for independence failed is not compromise, it’s backpedalling on the obvious. And he needs to keep backpedalling, and fast. If DL cannot be realistic about it, all the sincerity in the world isn’t going to help, not to mention he isn’t even that sincere, always hedging on some kind of chaos or what he thinly veils as “what I cannot control” to happen in Tibet/China.

  28. JXie Says:


    The new Serf Emancipation Day has the fingerprint of Lhasa bureaucrats (mostly ethic Tibetans) all over it. Say whatever you want, the serfdom was real, and there are many ethic Tibetans in TAR government and Regional Congress first or second generation of freed serfs. If the 14th DL was an realist, he might settle for something less than the arrangement under the 1951 17-Point Agreement — well, he would’ve stuck with the 17-Point Agreement in 1959 in retrospect. If that somehow happens, it can’t be good to many of those Lhasa bureaucrats. SED seems to be the way for them to dictate the conversation.

  29. Otto Kerner Says:

    Nimrod and JXie,

    In retrospect, wasn’t it smart for the Dalai Lama to leave China, since the Cultural Revolution was coming?

  30. Nimrod Says:

    Depends on what DL truly wants. If he wants to promote Buddhism and Tibetan welfare like he claims, it would have been much better to have done like the Panchen Lama and stuck it out. (The Panchen Lama’s presence had a real effect on the 80’s reforms. It’s really too bad that he died so early.) On the other hand, if DL wants personal welfare and other benefits instead, of course it was better to go to India and have people fill his coffers and be treated like a celebrity.

  31. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    On the topic of economic development and cultural preservation:

    Badeng Nima is a Tibetan educational specialist who works for the Kham Aid Project – a US-based NGO that has operated for many years now out of Kham, in eastern Tibet (Sichuan Province). In an essay he wrote dealing with preservation issues regarding Tibetan culture, Badeng Nima draws a close connection between language preservation and economic development. It is worth quoting him here at length:

    “Young Tibetans as long as they have knowledge and abilities can generally get satisfactory employment and earn good money. They have studied Chinese and Tibetan and can use both languages. After they left school, they found Chinese was more important than they thought before. In every department of the government most of the documents, informal letters, notes, certificates and so on are in Chinese. It is difficult for them to live without Chinese and easier to use Chinese words to explain modern concepts because often these concepts can not be expressed in Tibetan. It is difficult to tackle problems of a modern society in the Tibetan language because the Tibetan language lacks modern technical vocabulary. The post office requires letters to be addressed in Chinese, long distance calls via the switchboard operator have to be placed in Chinese, and all telegrams have to be sent in Chinese. Electrical appliances have their instructions in Chinese. Young people who are employed often have problems finding Tibetan concepts that can cover all aspects of their work. For this reason, young scholars pay close attention to their Chinese studies, at the same time they are also very worried about the future of their language. They know the advantages of the Tibetan language and that if it was expanded, it could grasp modern concepts like any other language. Young scholars face the challenge of improving the teaching of the Tibetan language in schools.”

    Part of the challenge then, of preserving Tibetan culture in the context of modernisation, is to develop the Tibetan language by infusing it with new vocabulary. As Badeng Nima points out in his essay, “there is a big gap between Tibetan traditional culture and modern culture. When we think of the problems surrounding Tibetan language as the mode of instruction, we should make sure that Tibetan children will not only understand their traditional culture but also gain knowledge from the useful aspects of modern culture. In addition, in order to study at higher levels, students need to study foreign languages depending on their needs and subjects.”

    It is not only Badeng Nima who links economic development and modernisation to cultural preservation, arguing that educational instruction ought to be bilingual, and that the Tibetan language itself needs further development if it is to remain relevant and useful to Tibetans. The anthroplogists Ashild Kolas and Monika P. Thowsen, in their book “On the Margins of Tibet: Cultural Survival On The Sino-Tibetan Frontier”, also raise the importance of language, noting that “economic reforms and marketisation have weakened the role of Tibetan-language education”, though big efforts are in fact being made to expand the Tibetan language so that more subjects can eventually be taught – and these efforts are being largely funded by the Chinese central government. The development and introduction of Tibetan language fonts have also played an important role in preserving the Tibetan language.

    Kolas and Thowsen also emphasise the importance of the tourist industry in allowing a space for Tibetans to exercise agency in preserving traditional aspects of their culture. Tibet’s modernisation and further integration into the global economy has in many ways helped to bring about the revival of Tibetan culture, they argue, rather than destroying it. ‘Entrepreneurs and local culture brokers are manufacturing Tibetan tradition by developing a range of new cultural products for the tourist market’, they say, with local Tibetans ‘eager to take part’ in the economic benefits that tourism offers. This has led to a growing interest by Tibetans in their own traditional culture, including their religious culture, with the number of Buddhist monasteries in many counties now exceeding the pre-1958 figures.

    But as Kolas and Thowsen have also observed (and this is something that I discuss in my essay on globalisation on my China Discourse.net site, for those who are interested), a more modern Tibetan identity is also in the process of being shaped, mainly by Tibetan youths, who are adopting ‘key traditional symbols’ but ‘expressing this identity through such media as popular music and visual arts, creating a kind of Tibetan urban subculture.’ In China’s Tibetan regions, traditional folk songs, some hundreds of years old, are now being revived by young bands with the help of modern recording technology, but in hip-hop and rap styles. Singing in both the Tibetan and Mandarin languages, the Lhasa-based Heavenly Club Band for example, has managed to popularise what had been a largely forgotten folk song, the Chang Wine Toast. According to the lead singer, Tenzin Dawa, a graduate of Tibet University, the ‘Heavenly Club’, which the band takes its name from, is a magical instrument used by Buddhists to defeat evil spirits. Older traditionalists have of course criticised the band for ‘spoiling’ folk songs by producing them in such foreign, Westernised styles, but in response the band argues that ‘this is only their opinion,’ and that they see themselves as ‘carrying forward folk music.’

    As I wrote in conclusion to my essay on globalisation, “Cultural expressions may very well help to define and promote the identity of a group, but as constructions, they are continually contested and made subject to reinvention. Cultures can never remain ‘pure’ or static, and will always be subject to material alteration through both the import of foreign products, and through the creative and technological innovations that occur locally. Survival then, usually depends to at least some degree, on how the new is put to use. As the empirical evidence shows, globalisation has not brought about the homogenisation of Chinese cultures, largely because local producers and consumers tend to appropriate foreign goods, ideas and services in ways that are culturally specific, indigenising the modern. While the results of this process lead understandably to anxieties about cultural authenticity, ‘the source of one individual’s set of cultural anxieties,’ as Michael Hockx and Julia Strauss have pointed out, ‘is often that of another’s enjoyment.’”

    In short, economic development and modernisation is actually helping to preserve many aspects of traditional Tibetan culture, whilst also leading to the development of a more modern and contemporary Tibetan culture, as Tsering Shakya has also observed, and much to his delight in fact – despite his objection to Chinese governance of the TAR as a form of colonialism!

  32. JXie Says:

    @Otto Kerner

    During the Hong Kong handover, there were all sorts of speculations on if PRC would keep its promises. The words of a British business man who had lived in HK for decades stuck in my mind. He said — I am paraphrasing here, since I can’t remember his name nor do I have the original quote any more — in decades, he had been stiffed by all kinds of people, Americans, Japanese, Arabs, you name it. Yet mainland China had always paid.

    If the what-if question is what if in 1959 the 14th DL was a realist, didn’t come to the aid of rebels outside of TAR, and didn’t violate the original 17-Point Agreement, I would say the CR would be limited outside of TAR since in my read PRC would respect the original 1951 agreement.

    But in that what-if parallel universe, the DL would be an obscure Tibetan figurehead who would likely be also a lifetime VP of the NPC of China. You would miss all those colorful quotes by this new age Gucci-wearing Buddhist monk of this universe. In 2009 of that what-if universe though, Tibetans would be better off.

  33. Wukailong Says:

    @MAJ: “as Tsering Shakya has also observed, and much to his delight in fact – despite his objection to Chinese governance of the TAR as a form of colonialism!”

    I don’t think there’s necessarily any contradiction. Like they say in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”:

    “Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
    Attendee: Brought peace?
    Reg: Oh, peace – shut up!”

  34. Wukailong Says:

    By the way, here’s Tsering Shakya’s take on the new “Serf Emancipation Day”:


  35. may Says:

    I followed Wukailong’s link and found this comment under the article. Deep, deep sigh… … I’ve never been to Dharamsala or talk to any Tibetans in exile. I just hope his thinking is not prevalent in the exile community. I knew that some Tibetan Buddhists think violence is justified in protection of their religion (a Khampa fighter said this in a video I saw). But I didn’t know Buddhist doctrine itself can be used to justify killing – sending your enemy into the cycle of reincarnation so that he/she will be reborn a better man/woman.

    “You have correctly identified – battle between Tibet and China is of good vs evil, right vs wrong. It’s a battle closely resembled by Indian epic Ramayan (i grew up watching it on tv in india), where god Ram had to kill Ravan for greater good. China for last 60 yrs has proved nothing less than Ravan – turned Tibet into hell on earth, demonise HHDL every single day, their interest to bring end to suffering in Tibet is zero, they are the people with zero in logic and rationality – its their way or no others way, they feed their citizens since infancy a cooked up graphic history of Tibet and Tibetans to make them hate us when they grow – China is actually world’s largest madrasa. And their rule in Tibet is worse than Taliban’s. In this good vs evil battle any chinese who supports CCP rule in Tibet and share its philosophy, is a ravan. Changing them dont work, i have been there and done it. And a ravan is a ravan, there is no big or small ravan. If you want to leave alone ’small fish’ and go after only ‘big fish’, you do that. I’m a Tibetan and we are basically a warrior race, I know the art of war – am not taking any chances. But i am not that evil either, i am buddhist. Kill them i must, i will pray as i shoot them that they be reborn as a good human beings in their next life with lots of wisdom and serve mankind. Because in this life they have caused so much sufferings. Like the Ravan, killing them is liberating them from this evil body and mind, and for greater good and peace.”

  36. Allen Says:

    @may #35,

    If you look to the exile writings and listen to their discussions, you will know the above is typical of 99% of their attitude and outlook.

    I can quickly adopt the same attitude, too – with the exiles being evil and China being good (of course) – thoughI haven’t seen the need to get to that point yet…

  37. pug_ster Says:

    @34 Wukailong, May

    While the Jamyang Norbu have an interesting op-ed about the situation of why the Serf Emancipation Day is bad, the comments below about having a frank discussion seems to be less than appealing. One of the posters doesn’t seem to have problems posting personal attacks and even death threats against a Poster who disagreed with him. The other posters ignored that fact that this is happening and lambasted against this one poster. Perhaps this discussion with them is already a non-starter.

  38. Wukailong Says:

    Folks, I was going to warn you about the comments but forgot to do so. I don’t know much about the outlook of the general exile Tibetan, but if these are representative it’s quite bad. On the other hand there’s a lot of trash on the Internet.

    Using Buddhism to justify killing was a new one to me, as well as this thing about Tibetans being warriors at heart. Funny enough, it’s quite similar to Scandinavians comparing themselves to vikings even though they have been gone for ages, and with them the warrior culture.

  39. may Says:

    Allen #36
    Sigh, I seldom go to forums of the Tibetan exile community. If the attitude is indeed typical of the community, that’s really tragic.

    I singled out this particular comment because its logic sounds familiar and disturbing to me. In order to make an enemy of out a people (in this case the Chinese under PRC), 1) you first talk about them in collective and absolute terms – US vs THEM, GOOD vs EVIL – so that you don’t regard them as individuals like yourself. That is, they are not individuals with flesh and blood and with family and friends; 2) second, you dehumanize them in some way – they are people with no logic and no rationality. Didn’t this psychological transformation precede most ethnic hatred and violence?

    What worries me more is I am afraid some Chinese (mostly Han) exhibit the same capacity for hatred and violence. I am quite familiar with the abusive (even hateful) comments left by some of the Chinese on Woeser’s blog.

    I just wish all these are just talking. If one day extreme factions of Chinese nationalists and Tibetan nationalists become predominant and come head to head, tragedy will happen. Hope that day will never come.

  40. may Says:

    I have the impression that some of our contributors are legal professionals. I am just wondering if you could help me with a question concerning the legal definition of statehood. I know there are many fields in law, but I just thought maybe by some chance some of you know the answer.

    My question arose when I was reading an article by Dr. Lobsang Sangay entitled “Legal Autonomy of Tibet: A Tibetan Lawyer’s Perspective”. It is an Chinese translation of the article. The translator provided a link to the original English article but it’s not working.

    “《蒙特維迪奧國家權利與義務公約》(the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States),特別是第一條,明定了一個國家的國際成員特徵,其要求是:(1)固定的居民;(2)特定的領土;(3)政府;(4)與他國從事正式關係的能力。[7]

    某些國際法的學者堅持還需加上的標準是「國家僅能透過承認,為,或者成為國際法上之人」(A State is , and becomes, an international Person through recognition only and exclusively)。[8]這個條款是意謂著,要享有國家的地位,該政體必須由他國認知承認。另一方面,美國外交關係法律彚總(the Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law)卻認為任何國家受到他國的正式承認,或者承認他國,並不是最重要的必要條件;只要任何政體符合傳統的蒙特維迪奧標準,亦即該政體擁有與他國從事正式關係的能力,雖然沒有獲得承認,該政體「就必須被認為是一個國家」。[9]

    [7]《國家權利與義務公約》,國際聯盟條約集 (League of Nations Treaty Series.)第十九卷165冊,1933年12月26日。在《美國國際法增刊》(American Journal of Intertional Law Supplement, 1934)第二十八卷二十五冊中重印。

    Here is my question:
    How prevalent in law is the view that “A State is , and becomes, an international Person through recognition only and exclusively”?

    Lobsang Sangay only quotes L. OPPENHEIM (1955, note8) in support the view that international recognition is necessary for statehood. The fact that it is only one author and it was 1955 give me the impression the definition is hold by only a small group of legal scholars.

  41. Nimrod Says:

    Wukailong Says:

    April 3rd, 2009 at 8:04 am
    Folks, I was going to warn you about the comments but forgot to do so. I don’t know much about the outlook of the general exile Tibetan, but if these are representative it’s quite bad. On the other hand there’s a lot of trash on the Internet.

    I’ve read a fairly well researched study of Dharamsala society, and it paints a pretty pathetic account of the sort of education there in terms of tolerance. The exile Tibetan identity is constructed almost entirely based on contrast with Han Chinese, so everything Han Chinese is evil and everything Tibetan is good. This serves a political purpose of course, but in a cheap and irresponsible way, and basically not healthy. I wouldn’t be surprised that exiles turn out to hate Han Chinese guts even if they’ve not interacted much with them. Contrast this with the bending over backwards of the Chinese education system to extinguish any sign of naturally occuring Han chauvenism. You’ll always see Han Chinese people berating each other on account of political correctness and in the name of ethnic harmony. Of course this serves a purpose, too, but who can say it isn’t a positive and results in people with brighter hearts and less hate?

    Nowadays you hear DL and Tibetan lobbyists claiming they aren’t against the Chinese people just the Chinese government. That seems to be a meme since the riots last March, but those are really just empty words at this point. Maybe they realize this kind of animosity actually gets in the way of compromise, but in my experience this sort of thing is impossible to turn around. That’s what I despise most about all these ethnic based independence movements and the DL regime — politics aside, they always turn into unhealthy nastiness.

  42. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #38,

    You wrote:

    Using Buddhism to justify killing was a new one to me, as well as this thing about Tibetans being warriors at heart.

    Well – rather than simply point out Tibetan Buddhists have traditionally engaged in bloody warfare with others as well as within themselves (since that’d be too political) in the name of Buddhism … I’ll simply point generally to a few examples of work on how non-Tibetan buddhists have used buddhism to justify warfare, conquest, and violence.

    P.S. Note I am not bad-mouthing buddhists in general. My family are devout buddhists.

  43. Nimrod Says:

    You can justify pretty much anything using religion. It’s not unique to one religion or one group of people. That’s why the DL theocracy should be called out and denounced rather than romanticized and embraced. No, it’s not less dangerous just because the theocracy is a Buddhist one.

  44. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    The Dalai Lama is a political leader as well as a spiritual leader, yet he certainly doesn’t represent the religious, economic and political interests of ALL Tibetans – as many supporters of the Tibetan Government in Exile like to claim.

    He is, essentially, a political chameleon. Allow me to explain why I think this way.

    In his ‘Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet’, the Dalai Lama described the situation in Tibet under Chinese ‘occupation’ as a ‘holocaust’, accusing the Chinese central government in Beijing of implementing a policy of ‘population transfer’ as part of their ‘final solution to the Tibetan problem.’ Such statements (alluding as they do the horrors of the Nazi regime) are ironic given the Dalai Lama’s continual defense over the years of a number of prominent real Nazis. In 1994 for example, an Israeli minister took offence at the Dalai Lama’s claim that the Nazis had within them a ‘seed of human compassion,’ with the International Campaign for Tibet awarding Heinrich Harrer its ‘Light of Truth’ award in 2002 – five years after Harrer was exposed as having been a Nazi storm trooper and SS-man. (see “Isreali Minister Upbraids Dalai Lama for Finding Humanity in Nazis,” Associated Press, March 12, 1994)

    In 2003, the Dalai Lama’s official website featured a photograph of himself shaking hands with Nazi war criminal Bruno Beger – a Nazi ‘anthropologist’ who conducted experimental ‘investigations’ on over one hundred inmates from Auschwitz. ‘After they had been studied and photographed,’ notes Patrick French, ‘the victims were gassed and their bodies preserved in vats of ethanol.’ (see Patrick French, “The Master Race in the Mountains”, Daily Telegraph, September 1, 2003) The photo of the couple has since been removed from the Dalai Lama’s website, but in keeping with Heinrich Himmler’s deeming of Tibetans as the ‘racially pure’ relatives of the ‘Aryans’, the self-proclaimed Tibetan Government in Exile’s premier, Samdhong Rinpoche, in 2003 denounced intermarriage between Tibetans and others, citing the need ‘to protect a pure Tibetan race.’ (reported by Angus McDonald, “Love Across the Divide”, South China Morning Post, August 30, 2003)

    Keep in my here, that all the empirical evidence to date does not support the Dalai Lama’s claim of demographic annhilation. Quite the opposite in fact. But that’s another thread perhaps!

    The Dalai Lama seems to spend more time moving around the planet with the skilled opportunism of a political chameleon, stirring up controversies and preaching a shallow mysticism to Western New Agers rather than participating in traditional Tibetan religious rituals. Let us not forget that he lent his support to the conservative religious forces of the West by signing the “Seamless Garment” anti-abortion statement, he supports nuclear testing, and he even lent his support to Pinochet – yet another fascist. Think back to April 1999, when His Holiness, along with Margaret Thatcher and the first George Bush, called upon the British government to release Augusto Pinochet, the former fascist dictator of Chile and a longtime CIA client who had been apprehended whilst visiting England. The Dalai Lama urged that Pinochet not be forced to go to Spain where he was wanted to stand trial for crimes against humanity, though he was careful to add to his call that we, the world, should “not forget about what happened.” It should come as no surprise that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should come out and ask the world not to force the ageing Pinochet to stand trial – since he and his self-proclaimed government in exile were both funded by US Congress via the National Endownment for Democracy.

    He also didn’t want to offend his US benefactors when they invaded Afghanistan, and again when they illegally invaded and occupied Iraq. In September 2003, the Dalai Lama said that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan may have been justified to win a larger peace, but that it was too soon to judge whether the Iraq war was warranted. “I think history will tell,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press, just after he met with President Bush.

    “In principle, I always believe nonviolence is the right thing, and nonviolent method is in the long run more effective,” he said, but some wars, including the Korean War and World War II, helped “protect the rest of civilization, democracy.” He said he saw a similar result in Afghanistan – “perhaps some kind of liberation.”

    For somebody who claims to be “half-Marxist and half-Buddhist” and who preaches non-violence, don’t you think it’s very odd and inherently contradictory for the Dalai Lama to be preaching what is essentially a fundamentally violent and therefore immoral Randian “the means are justified by the ends” approach to solving international disputes? Try telling that to the majority of people in Iraq!

    A year later, in November 2004, he visited Stanford University where he addressed (for a price of course – tickets didn’t come cheaply) a large audience on the subject, which the Stanford Review reported on as follows:

    “On the subject of the Iraq war, the Dalai Lama presented a relatively consequentialist view. ‘It is still too early to say whether it is right or wrong. I think another few years, then we’ll see, then history will show whether this war was really justified, because it brought a good result. So, up until now, I think difficult to say. At least the motivation, to bring democracy, freedom, and that goal is right, a right goal.'”

    The American historian Howard Zinn had this to say in response: “I’ve always admired the Dalai Lama for his advocacy of nonviolence and his support of the rights of Tibet against Chinese domination, but I must say I was disappointed to read his comment on the war in Iraq [i.e., ‘Wait a few years’], because this is such an obvious, clear-cut moral issue in which massive violence has been used against Iraqis with many thousands are dead.”

    Adrian Zupp, writing for Thinking Peace, expressed confusion: “So, given his intelligence and enormous sense of compassion, why doesn’t the Dalai Lama question the leader of the free world about the downside of globalisation? About ‘Star Wars II’ and the Bush administration’s flagrant disregard of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty? About the unlawful attack on Iraq? Civilian body counts? Why doesn’t he even pose such questions rhetorically in the media?”

    The Dalai Lama doesn’t want to upset his Indian hosts either, which is why, despite being a man of “peace” he supported their nuclear program – even though he had always spoken out against nuclear proliferation prior to India’s nuclear testing program. Funny that.

    As the British journalist Christopher Hitchens reported in an article titled “His Material Highness”, published in Salon back in July 1998, “The Dalai Lama has come out in support of the thermonuclear tests recently conducted by the Indian state, and has done so in the very language of the chauvinist parties who now control that state’s affairs. The ‘developed’ countries, he says, must realise that India is a major contender and should not concern themselves with its internal affairs. This is a perfectly realpolitik statement, so crass and banal and opportunist that it would not deserve any comment if it came from another source.”

    It is a well documented fact that on the day after the second round of Indian tests, the Dalai Lama immediately held a press conference and made a statement in which he urged the international community not to comment on India’s actions. He said the country had a right to develop nuclear weapons and that it was “not democratic” for the international community to criticise India.

    Then there is the Dalai Lama’s homophobia. As I wrote in my book, Flowing Waters Never Stale: “The more conservative lamas, being the traditionalists that they are, despise the secular developments that the new economy has helped to bring about – their distaste for consumerism, with its more liberal attitude towards sex, is often echoed by the Dalai Lama, who condemns both premarital sex and homosexuality. In an interview he gave for The Telegraph of London back in 2006, he made it very clear that as far as he was concerned, sex is for the purpose of reproduction only, adding that any use of ‘the other two holes is wrong.’ The problem with Westerners, he argued, is that they have too many material possessions, which has ‘spoilt’ them, making their lives too easy.”

    The Dalai Lama doesn’t appear to be very tolerant of rival Buddhist religious movements either, even those that operate from within the exile community. In March 1996, the Dalai Lama decreed that the worship of Dorje Shugden was ‘evil’. In what is believed to have been part of an internal power struggle, the Dalai Lama ordered all worshippers of Dorje Shugden to leave his temple on March 21, 1996. A week later, on March 30, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies passed a resolution banning the worship of Dorje Shugden by all Tibetan government employees and the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a formal decree for everyone to stop practising the Dorje Shugden prayer. The New Internationalist reported that the Lama’s office wrote to every monastery in northern India and Tibet demanding that they ‘ensure total implementation of this decree by each and everyone… If there is anyone who continues to worship [Dorje Shugden], make a list of their names, house name, birth place… Keep the original and send us a copy of the list.’ (see New Internationalist, August 1998)

    According to Brendan O’Neill, in an article he wrote titled “Is the Dalai Lama a ‘religious dictator’?”, by 1998, “two years after the Dalai Lama described Dorje Shugden as ‘evil’ and instructed monasteries to collect the names of those disobedient Buddhists who continued worshipping it, an Indian human rights lawyer, PK Dey, had collected 300 statements from Tibetans in exile in India who had been either threatened or attacked for failing to comply with the Dalai Lama’s orders. ‘Those worshipping Shugden are experiencing tremendous harassment’, said Dey.”

    Not all of the Tibetan Buddhist sects in the TAR and in Greater Tibet support the Dalai Lama either. The Black Hat sect certainly doesn’t support the Dalai Lama for starters. They accuse the Dalai Lama of abducting their spiritual leader, the Karmapa, keeping him in Daramsala as hostage. According to an article published in the Japan Times Weekly back in March of last year, the Black Hats “responded furiously with demands to Beijing that Gelugpa monks should be stripped of their control over the Tibet province budget and other privileges.”

    According to the article, “Feeling sorely betrayed by the Dalai Lama, who had earlier backed the appointment of Orgyen Trinley as Karmapa, Beijing consented to the Black Hat’s harsh demands. Thus ended the Yellow Hats’ monopoly on power inside Tibet. Since then, the local governments of many Tibetan zones have been taken over by laymen loyal to the Black Hats.”

    According to the same journalist, Yoichi Shimatsu, “This realignment of sectarian power in Tibet…can be compared with the Protestant Reformation in Europe…”

    The Dalai Lama isn’t as wise, as peaceful, or as tolerant as many like to make him out to be.

  45. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen: I’m no stranger to Buddhist violence, Tibetan or otherwise (like in Sri Lanka). I just thought that they did what they wanted without needing any religious interference. It was the arguments, not the violence, that was new to me. 🙂

    Also, the infighting between Tibetan monasteries, well, nothing new to me either.

  46. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #45,

    You wrote:

    I’m no stranger to Buddhist violence, Tibetan or otherwise (like in Sri Lanka). I just thought that they did what they wanted without needing any religious interference. It was the arguments, not the violence, that was new to me.

    What about Islamic violence or Christian violence?

    Do you consider those violence without needing any religious interference or religious driven violence?

    Just curious…? 😉

  47. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen: Good question, and one which can’t be answered quickly. This is something that have been bothering me for quite some while, actually – is what we generally perceive as religious violence caused by religion, or not?

    As a start, it seems to me that it’s mostly extremist religions groups that resort to violence (of course what we consider extreme today might have been commonplace a hundred years ago), and among these groups the arguments given aren’t necessarily religious, or based on traditional readings of their scriptures. Al Qaeda, for example, has a nationalistic side to it. The same goes for Ku Klux Klan which could be seen as a sort of Christian terrorism (I don’t think it’s going too far to call them Christian).

    I wonder if the same isn’t true for the crusades.

    I have no better answer at the time, but I’ll certainly come back to this…

  48. Shane9219 Says:



    This is a little moving story about a 99-years old Tibetan lady who lives near the border region of Tibet (with Nepal). She kept a China flag outside her home for 44-years. Recently, she received a giant flag as a gift from Beijing.


  49. colin Says:

    “You have correctly identified – battle between Tibet and China is of good vs evil, right vs wrong. It’s a battle closely resembled by Indian epic Ramayan (i grew up watching it on tv in india), where god Ram had to kill Ravan for greater good.”

    Man… now I know for sure the tibetans are a bunch of loonies. Kind of scary how out of touch with reality some people are.

    All this protect tibetan this and tibetan that. Let’s a step back… WHY DOES TIBETAN CULTURE NEED TO BE PRESERVED AT ALL? What makes them so special? Cultures and languages are disappearing every day. Why do they deserve so much notoriety?

  50. Otto Kerner Says:

    Excellent point, colin. One guy left a comment on a blog, and you have concluded that Tibetans are a bunch of loonies. It is kind of scary how out of touch with reality some people are!

  51. Charles Liu Says:

    Here’s what the French Ambassador to China said:

    many westerners “do not have sufficient understanding of the reality in Tibet”

  52. colin Says:

    @ Otto

    “You have correctly identified – battle between Tibet and China is of good vs evil, right vs wrong. It’s a battle closely resembled by Indian epic Ramayan (i grew up watching it on tv in india), where god Ram had to kill Ravan for greater good.”

    Let’s see, tibetans (minimally TGIE) see their struggle as a fight between good and evil. That’s not loony? Crazy cultists often see their struggle as one between good and evil. Who is so fanatical that they see themselves as pure good fighting against pure evil? Hmm… Al Queada for one.

    Obscenity deleted by admin.

  53. colin Says:

    The more learn and see the reactions on Tibet from the west, the more the CCP’s stance on it makes sense. Tibet is a nuisance, used by the west as a means of diplomacy. The more tibet can be isolated from the world, the more it will be forgotten. After 50 years, who will care what has happened in Tibet. Just get it as topic out of the limelight right now. That includes barring snarky reporters with agendas, and if that means barring all reporters and tourists, fine. Like I’ve said before, the CCP is nothing if not rational. They know what they are doing.

  54. Allen Says:


    While I do agree with you that Tibet has been politicized much more for geopolitical reasons than substantive “human rights” issues – I also do believe that Tibet has a unique history and offers a very important component of the tapestry of cultures we call Chinese culture.

    50 years from now – no one will care about Tibet – not because Tibetan culture will have been destroyed – far from it. Tibetan culture, together will other aspects of China’s cultures, will have entered a great renaissance – and China as a whole will have become a prosperous, stable, developed society that is a shining beacon for the rest of the world.

    (Tibetan nationalism will have been destroyed, but that to me would be great!)

  55. Nimrod Says:


    While I take a very pragmatic view on cultural changes, preferring to let them organically develop rather than have imposed “protection” in some sterilized form (I think that’s just silly and unworkable), I do think that there is merit to leaving enough breathing space for minority cultures to flourish.

    I don’t think there is cultural genocide per se, and I think with a healthy attitude, not only minority cultures but all regional cultures in China can be maintained by interested people. The biggest threat is the people’s own self-conception of their culture. If they think some aspect of their culture is not meeting the needs of modern life, then 10 DL’s cannot help save it by decree. This applies to language, for example — Chinese even have to learn English to survive in the 21st century.

  56. Shane9219 Says:


    “I just wish all these are just talking. If one day extreme factions of Chinese nationalists and Tibetan nationalists become predominant and come head to head, tragedy will happen. Hope that day will never come.”

    The history in recent past has been pretty bloody already, so why need to pretend to be a pacificist. What could Tibetan nationalists do? Get armed up and match to Tibet border ? LoL. They can only try to make political visits as many as they want, and write more articles and post more blogs.

    The Tibet issue is NOT between Chinese nationalists and Tibetan nationalists. It is Tibetan nationalists and 14th DL in particular, vs. 99.99% of Chinese, many oversea Chinese included, period.

  57. Wahaha Says:

    What kind of f@#$ing world are we living in ?


    Sorry, this has nothing to do with Tibet or China.

    This world is insane !!!!

  58. Nimrod Says:


    There is no point in blowing things out of proportion. One thing that all sides can agree on is that something is not working. That something may be what we’ve seen before in which case we can apply experience to resolve it, or it may be unique to the Tibetan situation, in which case it argues for even more careful thinking. We shouldn’t just take it for granted that the problem will go away by itself. Having recognized that, one should be pragmatic and not let rigid ideology get in the way, just as we demand the same of the other side.

    Realistically, stripping away Tibetan ethno-nationalism, the raw demands aren’t excessive: preservation of local culture, language, freedom to practice religion. I don’t believe in using separatism or segregation to achieve those ends, and I don’t believe in the state protecting them like endangered species and making excessively patronizing affirmative action programs. Both of those are degrading just the same even though they seem opposite. I think this is a case where a little bit of balance helps a lot: let it be a mutually beneficial relationship. Tibet needs the rest of China a lot more than China needs Tibet, if clear heads prevail.

  59. Shane9219 Says:

    A Scottish in China

    Here is a blog on BBC by Scotland political correspondent Glenn Campbell. Some part of his entries is pretty funny, I would say.

    “With one fifth of all the people on the planet, China is an enormous potential market for Scottish exports such as whisky, financial services and university degrees. ”

    “Alex Salmond will be promoting all things Scottish in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. There is however one item the Conservatives say he must leave at home – the SNP’s demands for Scottish independence … ”

    “He is less likely to cry freedom in China where the authorities are sensitive about breakaway movements in the context of Tibet and Taiwan.”


  60. Shane9219 Says:


    “Realistically …”

    Why are we still facing this fierce Tibet issue today? You should ask if the true intention from 14th DL and TIE community is to preserve things on “cultural and ethinic” matters.

    14th DL chose to break away from an active talks with China in 90s when Deng was still in power, citing political reasons. Now, they cry foul about “Deng said this … Deng said that”. Perhaps, even better to their argument, they should also include “Mao said …”

    As far as today is concerned, 14th DL and TIE community has not put up any convencing argument on “cultural and ethinic” matters, other than showing their deep-seated political motives.

    It is funny they turned around and ask Chinese to believe in them.

  61. Nimrod Says:

    Well I agree, Shane9219. All I am saying is there are things that need to be done regardless of, or in spite of, DL’s and exiles’ political demands. People in China can always just focus on these. It takes away from arguments that the other side has and is a good thing to do anyway. That’s my view. As for the political situation, it really doesn’t matter as much as the real people’s issues. Actually, it really doesn’t matter at all. Tibet is part of the PRC and nobody can dispute that, even the 100000 people in exile, and that has been the status quo for long enough that there is no point in debating various points of 1959, 1951, 1914, etc. etc., except for the sake of understanding history or shedding light on how reasonable or not DL’s position is. Maybe there will be a change in the political status quo, or more probably not, but who cares? We must believe that we can tune out DL and solve the real people’s issues in the PRC, or else there is really something wrong with the country besides Tibet.

  62. Wukailong Says:

    @Wahaha: No need to apologize, I’m happy to read about other places than Tibet every once in a while. 😉 Though this is scary. For starters, US authorities ought to be more careful with what people are allowed to have guns.

  63. Wahaha Says:

    Dalai Lama called himself son of India,


    Told you, this world is crazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzy.

    Does anyone know any report on this by major West media ? thx.

  64. Shane9219 Says:

    @Wahaha #63

    Here is an article on ifeng.com

    官媒:达赖将入印度籍 中国没必要再与其对话




  65. Shane9219 Says:

    Here is the original article on XinhuaNet. I think this article means to give 14th DL a stern warning: if he accepts India citizenship, there will be no further talk with him, he will also lost his official title and a new DL could be named within Tibet.

    You may use google language tool to translate this article if you need read it in English.








  66. shel Says:

    If western society is sincere in wanting to free their enslaved aborigines in Australia, Canada, and the United States, they should follow the four recommendations mentioned by the writer.

  67. Otto Kerner Says:

    “he will also lost his official title and a new DL could be named within Tibet.”

    I’d like to see them try. Well, I guess I wouldn’t, since they would probably end up hurting people trying to make it work. But they undermine their threat to do something they can do by adding a threat to do something they can’t.

  68. Shane9219 Says:




  69. Shane9219 Says:

    Tibet: a ‘A thorn in India-China relationship’

    On The Hindu

    Using exiled 14th DL as a bargaining chip has been a popular thinking among Indian’s educated population (both younger and older generation). This is a big mistake according to Singapore’s elder statesman and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

    “The continuing presence of the Dalai Lama in India “does not help” in its ties with China, according to Singapore’s elder statesman and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. In a dialogue session, under the auspices of Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diplomatic Academy, he said: “I do not see the Dalai Lama as a bargaining chip [for India] against China. … As long as the Dalai Lama is there [in India], there will be this thorn in their side”


  70. Raj Says:

    I’d like to see them try. Well, I guess I wouldn’t, since they would probably end up hurting people trying to make it work. But they undermine their threat to do something they can do by adding a threat to do something they can’t.

    Otto is right. If the CCP did that….. I wouldn’t like to think what the consequences would be. Does it really think the Tibetans would accept a quisling? If the CCP really understood religion in Tibet (or indeed religion at all) it would know that it isn’t the position that makes the acceptable religious leader, it’s the man in the position. And if that man is seen as a Chinese puppet he will be treated accordingly.

  71. Nimrod Says:

    Raj, while I don’t necessarily disagree with you on this case in particular, you speak as if you understood religion in Tibet (or indeed the religious ecosystem in China). I submit that you do not. In addition, there have been plenty of schisms in the history of religion in which the position (say, in Rome) rather than the person does make a difference.

  72. Otto Kerner Says:

    @Nimrod #30 and JXie #32,

    I don’t claim to know what actions by whom would have resulted in Tibetans being better off. I suppose that the Panchen Lama thought his collaboration with the government in the 1950s and early 1960s would be beneficial to Tibetans, or at least beneficial to himself and his friends. He later discovered that this was a disaster that benefited neither. Still, would choosing a different course really result in the same events not working themselves out? Who knows?


    The Panchen Lama was in prison for 12 years under terrible conditions. Perhaps what you say is true, that the Dalai Lama could have helped Tibet more by staying in the country and putting up with that (although he would presumably have been treated worse that the Panchen Lama — quite possibly killed). This would be a relevant response if the Dalai Lama behaves with 100% altruism, caring only about helping others and doing nothing to save himself. There are some people who believe that the Dalai Lama behaves this way, but I assume you are not one of them. I would never be able to look anyone in the eye and call them selfish or foolish for managing to avoid languishing in Qincheng for years.


    Surely you are aware that the PRC in 1997 had a different sort of government than the PRC in the 1960s had. I have no idea what leads you to the conclusion that Tibet could have avoided being affected by the Cultural Revolution.

    Also, I’m sure you’re aware that both sides blame the other for abrogating the 17-Point Agreement. My opinion is that, by 1959 the agreement had become unworkable and both sides abrogated it.

  73. Wahaha Says:

    The Panchen Lama was in prison for 12 years under terrible conditions.


    What terrible conditions do you talk about ?


    (although he would presumably have been treated worse that the Panchen Lama — quite possibly killed).


    Do you seriously believe this nonsense ?

    Are you thinking Chinese are idiots or are starting losing common sense ?

  74. Nimrod Says:

    The Panchen Lama was not treated well, but treated better than the likes of Liu Shaoqi.

    Otto Kerner: No, for a normal person you cannot blame him for the luck (because this is done in retrospect) of escaping Qincheng and the rest of Cultural Revolution, but you forget that 1) the vast majority of living Chinese people have experienced these tragedies in their family and these victims lived through it out of responsibility to their family, but 2) the DL holds himself up as more than a normal person and wants to claim hefty responsibility over 6 million of “his people”. I cannot honestly say that it was better for his goals that he left. And it is quite hard to duck the accusation that in so doing he washed his hands of direct influence, preferring to set up his own little Indian fiefdom and letting his Western intermediaries do whatever they claim to do “in the interest of the Tibetan people”. So we are then left with the conclusion that DL is no more altruistic than a normal person.

  75. Nimrod Says:

    One more point I’ve been meaning to say is that all of this goes to show even more the dear prices we’ve all paid as members of the PRC — deservedly or not — to break off old ways, to develop, to modernize, to integrate into something actually resembling a multi-ethnic state, to get where we are today. And now that history has thrown us here, a not-too-terrible place to be even if it can’t be called a great place to be, we cannot go back. We can only build on in a positive way, rather than be destructive. Local separatism/nationalism should be dead as everybody should be spending all energy towards securing their rightful place within the multi-ethnic fabric of the country.

  76. Lime Says:

    “Local separatism/nationalism should be dead as everybody should be spending all energy towards securing their rightful place within the multi-ethnic fabric of the country.”


    I mean, if I’m say, a Shandonger, and I think Shandong and my own life would be better if the province left the PRC, or even if I just had a lot of pride in Shandong and didn’t give a wit about ‘China’, why should I accept this? Is there anything that makes this anymore than just your own personal preference?

  77. Nimrod Says:

    Yes, of course. First of all, can’t we agree that “pride” is pathetic and useless, just as “diversity” for diversity’s sake is pathetic and useless? That leaves rational considerations. You could always find people (perhaps those with the resources) who rationally feel they would be better off isolated. However, on egalitarian grounds, people should be able to move where they need to move (physically and mentally) without being shackled to a local consciousness. This is utopian, but at least we have collective units like sovereign countries and free trade blocs and the such within which to access some of the benefits of free movement.

    On a possibly more controversial tangent, I know it’s natural to have the smallest possible unitary nation-state just because it’s a convenient abeit essentially tribalist form of organization. But are there really any concrete negatives to having a multi-ethnic state? “Identity” and “pride” seem completely abstract in the grand scheme of things.

  78. Lime Says:

    I’m not prepared to agree that pride in place or group is necessarily pathetic. A surprising number of people shackle themselves voluntary to nationalistic conciousness (which may allow greater or lesser movement depending on the size of state or the trade blocs its part of). I mean I might be really, really proud to be a Neapolitan, or I might be really, really proud to be a European. Either way, its shackling myself, and either way would be just as pathetic right? If we were truly utopian we would just be really, really proud to be a human.

    As for your possibly more controversial tangent, well the possible negatives are pretty clear. The first is, like you say, potentially losing control of resources; you live on an island that has a lot of oil or spice or something, me, the leader of nearby large multi-ethnic state shows up and says you and your island are now also part of that multi-ethnic state, and everyone now has access to the jobs and resources on this island.
    The second is that you’re potentially vulnerable to misgovernance, and have far less ability to do anything about. Consider the Ukraine in the 1930s, the central USSR government decides it wants to form everybody into collective farms, which turns out to be a terrible idea that causes widespread starvation. Had the Ukraine had its own government, and it decided to embark on the same plan, the individual Ukrainians would have stood a much greater chance of dissuading that government, because it was dependent on their support, rather than the support of everybody in the vast USSR.
    The third reason large multi-ethnic states can be bad for individuals or regional/provincial/tribal groups is that they tend to enforce the moral, cultural, and religious values of the majority. For example, most of the people of Utah might wish to be able openly marry multiple partners, but the rest of the United States thinks that polygamy is immoral, so it prevents them. The majority of people in Hong Kong might want to elect their government, but the majority of people in the PRC think that elections are for suckers. In Britain, certain parts of London might want to practice Sharia Law, but Britain enforces one unified legal code for everybody.

  79. J. Dorjee Says:

    As a Tibetan I feel painful to read the minds of some of our Chinese brothers and sisters who have already decided what is good and bad for us. I remember a Confucius saying “If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it”. Is this what we are supposed to be doing, even in 21st century? Has any one of those who describe the Dalai Lama in so many derogatory terms ever met him? Has any Tibetan ever accused Mao Tsetung, responsible for the death of 17 million Chinese in peace time, with Hitler or Bin Laden, as is done here for the Dalai Lama? Have any Chinese brothers and sisters ever bothered to think why religious sermons, teachings and preaching, important aspect of preservation of religion is banned in TAR. Who said that preservation of religious monuments and festivals means freedom of religion?
    I can understand the rhetoric writings of the 50 cent party propaganda team but I wish if you begin to appreciate the otherness of the other people then real harmony will prevail and that is exactly what the Dalai Lama is appealing.
    I wished to see more writings that binds people and not seperate from each other.

  80. Nimrod Says:

    J. Dorjee,

    Welcome and thanks for joining us. I hope you stick around and contribute your views.

    I remember a Confucius saying “If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it”.
    Confucius didn’t say this. It’s one of those “Confucius says” jokes.

    I think there are many points we can come to some sort of agreement on in terms of social issues. Tibetans should not feel they are being force fed stuff, they should have freedom to practice religion (and freedom not to), they should not be discriminated against (but should be provided the same opportunities and skills training), etc.

    However, when it comes to DL, I think there is some kind of misunderstanding. What is the worst thing that you’ve seen said about the DL here? It is likely something about his political views or those of people who are responsible to him. And if this were a discussion about Mao, his deeds and misdeeds would come up as well — and I doubt people who would level charges against Mao have met him. That’s not the point. We’re not trying to decide whether DL is a nice guy or not and if we should be personal friends with him.

  81. Allen Says:

    @J. Dorjee,

    We’ve had many Tibetans who’s commented here before – Tibetans from China (TAR, Sichuan, Yunnan) as well as exiles.

    Your comment in #79 makes an impression though – esp. the last sentence “I wished to see more writings that binds people and not seperate from each other.”

    I hope you change that to present tense: “I wish to see more writings that binds people and not seperate from each other.”

    That’d be my wish, too…

  82. Wukailong Says:

    I guess I should take the blame for the posting in #10, because the misunderstanding seems to have started there. I’ve seen DL and Bin Laden compared in another post somewhere, so that’s where the idea came for my joke, which was to make fun of this wild comparison.

    Even Allen agreed that vilifying the DL is probably not a good idea in the long run… and neither is it a good idea to vilify Mao Zedong. If there was ever a documentary book about DL like Jung Chang’s about Mao, it would probably be popular in China because it speaks to people’s preconceived notions.

    I’m able to take a step back and watch this whole debate at times, and it just strikes me as weird how someone is seen like Jesus by one part and as Satan by another. That alone is almost comical… if it wasn’t so tragic.

  83. Nimrod Says:

    Not Satan, just not Jesus…
    Maybe you were thinking about a comparison I made between Arafat and DL, but it was only to the extent that they were both Nobel Peace Prize winners and involved in some kind of internationalized political struggle for which their side receives sympathy.

  84. Wukailong Says:

    @Nimrod: No, I’m actually fine with the Arafat comparison, and I think it’s an interesting one. When I grew up I learned to sympathize with the Palestinian cause, and it was only later that I learned the other side of the story.

    As for Arafat, I think Zompist has some good viewpoints. There’s something in there for both sides, as a comparison:

    “It’s hard to think of a modern leader who did so poorly for his people. He neither got them a nation, nor ended their oppression, nor brought them any prosperity, and he left them with little hope for the future. The current warlordism in Palestine is his legacy, not his vindication.

    Just about every strategic decision Arafat made was tragically wrong. First he hoped (with the other Arabs of the time) to get rid of Israel; then he decided on a campaign of terrorism that withered any chance of US support; then he accepted Israeli support in hopes of becoming a local warlord, and spent all his money on guns; then he rejected peace treaties without a counter-offer. And then he couldn’t even keep up with events: the first intifada caught him by surprise; the ’90s wave of terrorism and the rise of Hamas were out of his control.

    Both sides have spent the last 40 years on gambles that never paid off: the Israelis, that someone would come along they could offer land to in exchange for peace, on their terms— too bad for the people living on that land; the Palestinians, that someone would come along and destroy the Israelis, letting them return home without being tempted by new lives rebuilt elsewhere. But the Israelis at least have a country where a more or less normal life can be carried on; the Palestinians have almost nothing.” (http://www.zompist.com/ask.html#20)

  85. J. Dorjee Says:

    Thank you, Wukailong and Allen for understanding my sentiment especially with regards to DL. I also have no intention to vilify Chairman Mao here.
    I completely agree that we should discuss on social issue including respecting the sentiment of the ethnic Tibetans. We respect the resilience of the Chinese people and their great civilization, as the Dalai Lama said in his middle way proposal; we are proud to be a part of that civilization and want to talk within the framework of the constitution of PRC. It is not because, as Namord said” Tibet needs the rest of China a lot more than China needs Tibet, if clear heads prevail” but because the world is interdependent and Tibet’s rich Buddhist cultural heritage can contribute to building a harmonious society in China. As President Hu said recently that Tibet’s prosperity is China’s prosperity.

    The problem, I think is reflected in the thinking of some of our Chinese brothers when they say “We must believe that we can tune out DL and solve the real people’s issues in the PRC, or else there is really something wrong with the country besides Tibet.”
    It is precisely this tuning out DL which is carried out through the patriotic re-education programs to the monks and nuns in Tibet and that is back firing.
    I blame the CPC leadership ( not Chinese people) because they look at him as a political figure at the best and wolf in human form as the worst. They have not taken pain to understand the inner relationship between the DL and Tibetan. As a matter of fact DL is in the DNA of Tibetans and this process started about 300 years back and it is going to take that time to tune out. The Tibetan leadership in PRC is scared to explain this fact to Beijing. They only report the things that the central leadership wants to hear.
    This experiment of isolating the DL from the Tibetans was tried for 60 years in Tibet by the central government, even banning his photographs and still not successful.
    The day this respect to DL is restored, within no time, things will start falling in places.

  86. pug_ster Says:

    @J Dorjee


    The problem is that the Dalai Lama doesn’t practice what he preach. Yesterday I saw an ad of him in the ‘save rainforests’ appeal but he is just a PR man. The Dalai Lama has little respect for Buddhists who practice other sects of Buddhism, Chinese Buddhists, or even Tibetan Buddhists like the Dorje Shugden followers. Furthermore, if the Dalai Lama wants to teach his followers non-violence, how come so many Tibetans in the last year’s protests in Lhasa and elsewhere have to resort to violence? Why doesn’t the Dalai Lama condemn those Tibetans? I recall that the Dalai Lama says violence is justified if it will bring peace, which reminds me of what another ‘peace loving person’ like Bush says justifying the Iraq war. Unfortunately, in both cases, it did not bring peace.

    This reminds me of how you seem to not legitimize the CPC government. Unfortunately, the many of the Han Chinese seems the government as legitimate and sees the Dalai Lama as a destabilizing force behind the Tibetan region. Unless the CPC government sees the Dalai Lama work constructively and not deconstructively toward China, I am afraid the Dalai Lama is always unwelcomed.

  87. J. Dorjee Says:

    pug-star said “This reminds me of how you seem to not legitimize the CPC government”
    I never questioned the legitimacy of the CPC. I only blamed the CPC leadership and not the people because we all know very well what I am saying. If everything was right then charter-08 would not have surfaced. You said “Unfortunately, the many of the Han Chinese seems the government as legitimate and sees the Dalai Lama as a destabilizing force behind the Tibetan region.”, are you serious?, I have no comments.

  88. pug_ster Says:


    The problem is that China is not a democracy, but an authoritarian government. Even democratic governments like here in the US don’t hold the charter 08’s commitments to the T. IE. not every public official are not elected by the people. China already have some sort freedoms described in charter 08 to some extent.


  1. Translation:Development is the best way to preserve Tibetan …

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