Thursday, 31 July 2008


There seems a lot of heated argument these days for and against the idea of self-determination in Tibet; I can agree in part with both sides.

  • Some people say that China is denying self-determination to Tibet, oppressing Tibetans, and trying to settle Tibet with Chinese people in order to outnumber the Tibetans.
  • Other people (mostly Chinese) say that Tibet has been part of China for a long time, that Chinese rule in Tibet is improving the living standards of Tibetans, and that foreigners have no right to criticize because their own countries have denied self-determination to other peoples in the past.

All of these claims by both sides may be true simultaneously. But both sides seem to have blind spots:

  • The Free Tibet crowd seem to be forgetting that the issue of self-determination is world-wide. I support the right to self-determination myself, but I support it for all peoples everywhere, not just for Tibetans. The Chechens and the Palestinians and various peoples of ex-Yugoslavia, for instance, have surely suffered worse than the Tibetans. The Basques are not suffering (except from the excesses of their own extremists), but their position is in principle similar to that of the Tibetans. Spain doesn't accept self-determination for Gibraltar either. Argentina doesn't accept self-determination for the Falkland Islands.
  • The Chinese nationalist crowd seem to rely on the argument that self-determination is a modern right that was never observed in the past. If what we're doing in Tibet is bad, they say, then what your countries have done in the past was even worse. This is true, but irrelevant. By the same argument, China could practise slavery and point out that other countries have done it too. If you're a good person, you act in a good way. If you act in a bad way and try to justify yourself by saying that other people have done it too, the fact remains that you're still a bad person.

1 comment:

veracity said...

It is time for international intervention on the Tibet issue.
Politicians, form every country, and for five decades, have rung their hands in public over the atrocity of the illegal Chinese occupation, but never shown the least bit if courage to make a tangible impact.
Time is fast running out for Tibet under the perverse policies of the occupying Chinese.
Now time has come for righteous politicians from the so called civilized nations to bring this issue to the UN, and as a first step force China to accept at least some semblance of accepted international human rights standards, all of which they’re signatories to.

Every self respecting nation should immediately:

• Declare Tibet an occupied nation.
• Recognize the Tibetan Government in exile.
• Force China to cease its illegal occupation through intense, coordinated international pressure.
• Postulate the issue before the UN and bring about resolutions to the same effect.

The Dalai Lama’s good intentions are being exploited to the full by the CCP and made a mockery of, by resorting to puerile berating of his HH and questioning his legitimacy.

The legitimacy question is China’s alone.
This anachronistic, colonial and thoroughly racist empire is doomed to failure; they rose by, and just manage to hold onto power at the barrel of the gun.
Remove the gun, and with it evaporates their raison d'ĂȘtre, and their perceived ‘legitimacy’ arising from it.
Free Tibet now.