Tibet & Xinjiang: Examples of Chinese “Tough Love”

This once vast empire of 1,200,000 sq km has since the 1951 invasion by the Chinese been reduced to a XXX Autonomous Region and the rest of it has been absorbed into either the Sichuan or Qinghai provinces of China. China tolerates the religious choice of Tibetans but will not entertain any personifying of that religion in the form of the Dalai Lhama or cohorts. Of course this leaves the deeply religious Tibetans embittered but being Buddhists they are non-violent so their form of protest is these self-immolations that then spark mass protests and a heavy Chinese police and army reaction including shooting peaceful protestors.

The other side of this iron fist from the conqueror is the scale of the investment going into education and economic development of Tibet. It’s a replica of what’s the Uyghurs of Xinjiang have been experiencing from their Chinese Masters.

This last week terrorism inside Xinjiang has really spooked the authorities and sparked the “strike hard” reaction. The death last week of 39 people by the suicide bombing from the drivers of two SUVs in Urumchi has resulted in a swift reaction. Increased police and army activism in Xinjiang has been instant; the government has announced compulsory free primary and secondary education for everyone in these provinces, as well as employment schemes to get the youth busy. The theory is that these terrorist activities are dramatic but the work of very young, poor, uneducated Uyghurs and those people need to be forced into the mainstream and fast. To shore up their approach the Chinese will be sending many more enforcement personnel to the province.

It’s an amazingly pragmatic reaction typical of what we’ve seen the Chinese do many times in the past (eg; one child family, electric motor scooters). This authoritarian society is intolerant of political dissent but on the other hand obsessed with material wellbeing as the be all and end all of social, not just economic development. For sure it’s marched a long way since Mao! When we leaned today that a young pregnant Muslim bride got stoned to death by her father, brothers and uncles in front of the Lahore courthouse without consequences and with the father saying how proud he was of his actions, the contrast with the Chinese authorities’ reaction to the barbarism of these primitive uneducated Muslim societies is stark. I wonder whether the religious state of Pakistan knows what it’s gambling with as it invites more and more Chinese investment in its country – to the extent that it’s rapidly becoming a satellite state of the West China economic miracle. Once the Chinese have rail as well as road links down through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea there will be a lot at stake should these primitive, tribal enclaves flex their resistance and dare to damage Chinese prosperity. A good dose of Chinese “strike hard” authority in the valleys of Kohistan will surely provide the mullahs with a challenge to their rule and could be the best thing ever for Pakistani women.


Photos of Tibet

2 Responses to Tibet & Xinjiang: Examples of Chinese “Tough Love”

  1. Brent Leslie June 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I do wonder sometimes… I cannot think of a place where a religiously led government does well for its people. Bhutan would be the closest, though they did happen to expel a quarter of their citizens not so long ago for not being Buddhist enough.

    Maybe I am over simplifying things but why the Dali Lama would want to be a leader of a country when his goal as a Buddhist monk is to seek enlightenment, is beyond me. Personally I think he should have welcomed the Chinese in the 1950’s, said “Yep, you guys run the country, you will do a hell of a lot better than me probably as administration isn’t really my strong point as I am a trained Buddhist monk. My people are suffering a lot and as long as we get freedom of religion and you guys invest economically, I can’t think of a reason not to welcome you. Anyway, I am off with my other Buddhist monks to seek self enlightenment…”. He could have remained the spiritual leader in the province and continued to act as a wise leader if he had done this. Whether he would have survived the cultural revolution and the red guard is a question we can never answer. However, instead he took up arms against an invading force, rejecting a peaceful resolution, which to me seems like a decidedly un-Buddhist thing to do. Taking up arms against China means he is labelled a terrorist, with the same status as say Osama Bin Laden in America. It is no surprise that the Chinese do not want such a person to return and persecute those who still support him when thought about like this. They will also subsequently reject any suggestion that he should have power also or be involved in the provinces affairs. Would America have let Osama Bin Laden come to America and lead the Muslims in America after 9/11? I think not.

    So sure we can harp on about self determination of a people, which makes a lot of sense, but wherever religion and government are combined, the result seems to be outright disaster or teetering on the brink of disaster (think Pakistan/Bhutan/Afghanistan/many of the bad parts of the American system/Malaysia/Aceh province in Indonesia etc etc). Wherever we see a NON separation of church and state we see a society that tends to court fundamentalist religious views which affect the entire country. Wherever we see a clear separation of church and state we end up with a more peaceful and equitable (though not in all ways, economically for example) society where respect of others despite their religion/colour/sex is encouraged.

    Before anyone asks if I am affected or brainwashed by Chinese propaganda since living in China… the whole situation is never even talked about here, so how could I be! But when thinking about the situation critically, with a close look at history and without jumping on the peace/love/hippified band wagon of the Free Tibet movement, I do start to wonder. The above note doesn’t really express how I feel about the situation, I am more moderate, but it does present the other side of the story.

    • Bev June 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

      Good comment, thank you.

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