Beijing’s Claims of an ‘Unwavering Stand’ in Support of Tibet Are Groundless

Howard French writes in the International Herald Tribune:

Count the ways that China has sought to bring to heel since the People’s Liberation Army rolled into the country in 1950, brutally ending a phase of nominal independence.

It has tried decapitation. No, heads didn’t roll, but one of the heads of Tibetan Buddhism has disappeared. Here, I speak of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, a 6-year-old boy who was apprehended by Beijing after the Dalai Lama named him Panchen Lama, the second holiest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, in 1995. Nyima, ostensibly one of the world’s youngest political prisoners, has not been seen or heard from since.

It has tried cartographic dismemberment, gerrymandering western China to place heavily Tibetan areas under non-Tibetan jurisdictions. That is why when protests broke out in Lhasa last week, they were followed quickly by sympathetic demonstrations by Tibetans here in Qinghai Province, and in Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan.

It has tried ethnic drowning, flooding Tibetans with officially encouraged westward migration of members of China’s Han majority, who may already outnumber Tibetans in Lhasa and control both the political administration and every meaningful sector of the economy.

It has attempted suffocation, as well: not literally smothering Tibetans, but rather rewriting the region’s history to take out every politically inconvenient or embarrassing fact. Such ambitious management of history is hard and never-ending work, which partially explains why Chinese news accounts of recent events have been so one-sided, and in the end, believable only to people who have been raised within the intellectual garden zealously roped off and tended by the Chinese state.

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