In the United States, if a public school were to attempt teaching young, deaf and/or disabled students in the art of an intricate dance and required them to drill repeatedly as if they were in the Marine Corps, humanitarians and feminists—due to the attractive young women—would cry foul and soon there would be pressure to cancel it, make it illegal, or hold investigations. There might even be boycotts and protests.
As for autocratic corporate Charter schools that are stealing money from the community-based, democratic public schools in the United States, forget it. Corporations are in it for the higher test scores so they can brag and hijack more children from the public schools to boost profits.
In addition, critics of China infected with the Racist Sinophobia Virus (RSV), a mental illness learned while growing up, might chime in to crucify the Middle Kingdom once again for crimes against humanity reminding us—with more lies and exaggerations—of Tibet, censorship, and more.
From China (Thousand-hand ~ Guan Yin ~ 千手观音 )
But when it was established in 1987, the China Disabled People’s Art Troupe (CDPAT) was an amateur performance troupe supported by the government with members recruited from around the country.
In 2002, that all changed, after the troupe’s first commercial performance. The China Daily reported, “After its first commercial performance, in 2004, the troupe made 10 million yuan (US$1.21 million).”
Tai Lihua, the lead dancer and captain of the CDPAT, has visited many countries with her troupe. For instance, they have performed at the John F. Kennedy Centre in New York City and the Teatro alla Scala in Venice, two of the world’s most prestigious theatres.
The dance of the Thousand-Hand Guan Yin is named after the Bodhisattva of compassion, revered by Buddhists as the Goddess of Mercy, who is a compassionate being that watches for and responds to the people in the world who cry out for help such as the deaf and disabled members of the CDPAT.
Being deaf and mute, these disabled performers endured pain and suffering in vigorous training simply to deliver a message of love, and when you watch the embedded videos and see close ups of the performers’ faces, you will see their dedication.
When I first watched this video, I was reminded of Amy Chua, the Tiger Mother, and how she relentlessly drilled her daughters in piano and violin. US critics raged at this after Chua’s memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was published. However, the oldest daughter, Sophia, went to Harvard and enjoys playing the piano.
Often, the rewards of enduring the pain and suffering it takes to achieve near perfection in an art such as playing piano or learning intricate dances comes only after years of challenging and demanding repetition.
What’s amazing about this dance troupe is that all the performers are deaf, making the choreography to the music even more incredible, and the difficulties encountered in training are beyond imagining.
However, four instructors, who can hear and speak, signal the rhythm of the music from four corners of the stage/room, and with repetition and diligent practice, the performance is nearly flawless.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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You are making a lot of assumptions about my beliefs. I think that the notion of a free and independent Tibet is a pipe dream. Of course, a lot of people thought that the notion of the North American colonies establishing a free nation independent of England was a pipe dream. While I am sympathetic to the desire, I would never, for instance, make a charitable contribution to such a cause. The U.S. will never restore the lands that they stole from Native Americans, or allow them independent rule, but I believe that Native Americans are due considerable reparations, and substantially greater control over self-government within reservltions, and that it is realistic to seek that.
I think the Dali Lana has done a masterful job of playing a very poor hand. And I think he is an enlightened being, and it has been my privilige to be alive and to share space with him during his life time. I am not a Tibetan Buddhist, or a Buddhist, just an observer of life as it unfolds in my back yard. The ancient teachings predicted that the Dharma would be brought to the west, and that is what has happened. The Dali Lama is merely trying to lessen the negative impact that being the vehicle of that change has imposed on his people. That is compassion in action, and I admire him immensely for that.
As for the Tibetans not being that badly off… 149 documented self-immolations within Tibet since 2009 should tell you something.
Setting fire to yourself is a form of suicide, isn’t it. In 2013, for instance, there were more than 40,000 suicides in the U.S. or 13 per 100,000 population but in the U.S. most suicides are caused by slitting wrists, taking poison or shooting yourself.
But Self-immolation is tolerated by some elements of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism, and it has been practiced for many centuries, especially in India, for various reasons, including jauhar sati, political protest, devotion, and renouncement. Certain warrior cultures, such as those of the Charans and Rajputs, also practiced self-immolation.
In fact, A particularly high wave of self-immolations in India was recorded in 1990 protesting the Reservation in India. As many as 1,451 self-immolations in 2000 and 1,584 in 2001 were reported in India.
In 2012 scores of Indians set themselves on fire demanding that a new state, Telangana, be formed within India.Telangana groups claim that over 800 people, mostly students, committed suicide for the cause of Telangana between 2010 and 2013. On the same day that two Indians self-immolated for Telangana’s cause, a Tibetan man set himself on fire during Chinese president Hu Jintao’s visit to India.
Self-immolation also has a long history in Chinese Buddhism. The relevant terms are: wangshen Chinese: 亡身 “lose the body” or Chinese: 忘身 “forget the body”, yishen Chinese: 遺身 “abandon the body”, and sheshen Chinese: 捨身 “give up the body”. James A. Benn explains the semantic range of Chinese Buddhist self-immolation.
Now that we can look at this issue in historical context, what does 149 documented self-immolations within Tibet since 2009 tell us? What it tells me that in India, Tibet, China and other East Asian countries, setting yourself on fire to protest something you don’t like is a common and acceptable method to die. I think I’d rather shoot myself than set myself on fire.
However, in America, protesters often refuse to eat to make their point. I like that method much better than what they do in Asia. Gandhi was smart. Instead of setting himself on fire like thousand have, he decided to stop eating.
As I age my perception of the passage of time blurs, but at some point within the last 15 years, the Chinese government began spending money to restore Buddhist temples through out the country, and stocking them with monks, because this was something that foreign tourists wanted to see. In doing so, they inadvertently stimulated the rebirth of Chinese Buddhism, which never really went away anyway.
I started reading this blog recently, and I have never really explored the entire si t e, and in fact do not consistently read all your postings. But I like the person I have met through your writing, and am interested in your point of view. I adamantly disagree with your position on Tibet.
I also have my doubts on your stance re: tiger moms. I haven’t read the Amy Chua book, but, living in an academic community, have seen tiger momming in action, and find your suggestion that she must have been a good parent because her oldest daughter went to an elite university and enjoys playing piano dubious at best. I think the success of this type of parenting depends on whether the child or children perceive that they are loved. I have seen tiger momming destroy families and break individuals. But it can also produce very successful people, with strong bonds with their mother, at least once they survive their childhood. We used to have Chinese neighbors, and I was concerned because the little girl didn’t have any dolls that looked like her, or in fact, any dolls at all. I will never forget the look of horror on the mother’s face when I helpfully let her know that Chinese Barbie’ s were on sale in a particular store. She told me that her daughter did not have time for play, and after deciding that it would be unwise to talk about the developmental need for play in young children, I refrained from making any more helpful hints. This woman was a tiger mom par excellance, and when their windows were open, or they were outside, we would frequently hear her screaming at her children, berating them for not working harder. Her son’s self confidence was destroyed, and after college he moved as far away from his mother as he could get and still be in the U.S. He stopped speaking to her, refused to have any more contact with her, but did accept furtive visits from his dad. The little girl was more malleable, but I think her mother was pretty disappointed when she dropped out of medical school to decide if she really wanted to become a doctor or not. The mother was rather dismissive of my permissive parenting style, but has watched in silent amazement as my daughter, who aspires to be a doctor, became just as academically successful as her daughter had been. I have to admit that I myself am amazed to have produced such a diligent, responsible child. Such is fate.
Over the years and after several visits to China I discovered that the Chinese people are not all that easy to govern. Many Chinese have a stubborn independent streak and find ways to get around government rules and red tape. And Chinese immigrants to the United States often bring this cultural thinking with them to the U.S. This is also cultural. The reason Mao won the support of the peasants that helped him win the civil war with the Nationalists was because he treated them with respect and made promises that he kept even after he became the leader of China. But those promises meant that the established order had to end and that mean an assault on religion and the capitalist leaders and landowners of the old China that had an elite that made up 5% of the population while the other 95% lived in poverty. Mao promised an end to peasant service to a small number of powerful and wealthy landowners and that meant someone had to die and lose everything they had. To deliver on his promise led to brutality where he allowed the peasants to seek their own form of justice against the wealthy minority.
What you say about the rebuilding of Buddhist temples may be true, but I think the answer is more complicated than that. For one thing, China’s governments for millennia have not been as centralized as one might think. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has more than 80 million members and they are scattered across China in rural villages, cites and provinces. In fact, the governors of provinces rule over their provinces with a lot of power. The same goes for cities.
My wife once told me that if there is a strict rule of law governor in a province, then the people will conduct business with more honesty, but if the governor is corrupt, then the business sector will often be corrupt and find ways to cheat their customers to make more money. For instance, in Shanghai, the city government tends to adhere to the rule of law and businesses tend to do the same. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t frauds and crooks in Shanghai, but they know they have to be more careful in their corruption because the penalty for being caught can be severe. But when you visit a province that is poor and has more poverty, then the governor and his bureaucracy may be open to taking bribes and ignoring businesses that break the rules too. It’s complicated. China is not one big machine ruled by one man at the top. The CCP has several political factions within the party. For instance, one faction, the Maoists, wants to return to Mao’s Cultural Revolution and his form of Communism where the government owns all the businesses and health care is free for most of the people. The faction that has ruled China since Mao’s death wants to continue to rule with a mix of government control and a growing private sector that operates under a blend of capitalism and socialism Chinese style and over the last thirty years, many of the government businesses have been spun off and forced to operate in competition with other private sector business and if they can’t they have to close their doors and fire all their workers.
As for Tiger parents, my wife and I both read Chua’s book and we went to one of her author events held in Berkeley near the university—arguably one of the most liberal cities in America—soon after her memoir came out. The large room was packed with standing room only and the audience was supportive and polite even during the Q & A session. I admit that I thought someone might show up to shoot or harass her because she was receiving death threats through the internet, but nothing like that happened.
We learned that her parents were traditional stereotypical tiger parents and she grew up in Berkeley, California where her father taught at UC Berkeley. She rebelled as a teen just like her younger daughter did and Amy crawled out of her bedroom window a number of times to go party and have fun and then sneak back to bed later through the same window. She’s married to an American born Caucasian Jewish man who doesn’t practice her stricter form of parenting so their two daughters had their father’s parenting style to offset their mother, and Chua’s family of four did things together as a family.
It’s obvious from her memoir and what we heard her say on stage that, as a parent, she wasn’t an exact duplicate of her own strict tiger parents. If I remember correctly, her mother was born in China but was raised in the Philippians where she met Amy Chua’s father who was of Chinese descent. China’s merchants have traded with other East Asian nations for millennia and many of these merchants and their Chinese employees settled in those countries where they did business with and raised their families. They are known as overseas Chinese.
We also learned that tiger parents are not exclusive to China. Chua said at every author event during her tour and during the trauma and death threats soon after the Washington Post (or was it the Wall Street Journal?) published a review of her book with a title that a Washington Post editor came up with—not Amy Chua, she made it clear that she had nothing to do with the title that set off the firestorm of controversy. At every stop and on the internet, she had supporters that practiced a similar style of parenting and they were from all cultures and all races—from the Middle East, Europe, South American, Africa, North America, etc.
In fact, during the controversy that was caused by that review of her book with the incendiary title she had nothing to do with, there was a study that discovered that the ratio of parents who practice the four parenting styles is pretty close in both the United States and mainland China—that there are about the same ratio of parents practicing all four of the main parenting styles: Authoritarian, Neglectful, Indulgent and Authoritative parenting. From what we heard, she was more of an authoritarian parent but her husband was an authoritative parent, but both parents put a heavy emphasis on academics and learning because the importance of education over having a fun all the time with little or no emphasis on a strong inflated false sense of self-esteem runs strong through both the Jewish and Chinese culture. Education is valued more than having a good time all the time.
“Authoritative parenting is the gold standard for parenting. Authoritative parents encourage their children to be independent, but also set limits and boundaries. Discipline is applied, but in a supportive, non-punitive way. Typically, authoritative parents give their children increasing levels of independence as they mature and this leads to higher leadership potential in the children of authoritative parents. Social skills, self-control, andself-reliance are more highly developed, and these are qualities that make ideal employees, leaders, and life partners.”
Amy Chua also said after she finished the rough draft of her memoir, she asked her daughters and husband to read it for accuracy. When they disagreed with something they felt hadn’t happened the way she wrote it, they talked and compromised. But her husband disagreed with her so much about what he felt had really happened and why, she decided to just leave him out of the memoir. Her daughters, she said, cooperated and she revised the book based on their feedback.
As for Tibet, there is no way to change what someone wants to believe about the Tibet issue regardless of the actual facts and history of Tibet. People will believe whatever they want to believe even with they are 100% wrong. It is a fact that Tibet has never been, by definition, a republic or a democracy, and Buddhism was introduced to Tibet by a Mongolian king who conquered Tibet during the 11th or 12th centuries and appointed the first Dalai Lama. Before then, Tibet was an extremely warlike nation that often raided into China, and Tibet was ruled by its own kings and not a Dalai Lama. In 1911, Tibet was clearly a vassal or tributary state owing its allegiance to the emperor or China, who was Tibet’s overlord.
Even in 1907, the governor of Tibet was Han Chinese appointed by the emperor in Beijing/Peking. The governor, in practice, was the political leader and the Dalai Lama was the spiritual leader. In fact, Imperial records show that the Dalai Lama was selected by the Emperors of China and that practice started during Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) that ruled China for less than a century. When the Yuan Dynasty fell, the new emperor of the new Ming Dynasty sent a Han army to Tibet to drive out the last of the Mongol armies stationed there and keep that territory in the empire and from that point forward, Chinese troops were stationed in Lhasa to support the Emperor appointed Han governor of Tibet.
But in 1911, the British Empire, always meddling like all global empires have done, convinced the Dalai Lama to declare freedom from China and to rule Tibet on his own as a theocracy—there were no elections and Tibet has never been a paradise like the mythical Shangri-La that was a fictional invention of an American author. The Qing dynasty was collapsing and China was embroiled by rebellions and civil war. It was easy for the Dalai Lama to split from the Imperial Chinese Empire that was falling apart.
I urge you to educate yourself about the real history of Tibet and to start by reading The Most Extraordinary City in the World written by a Western trained Chinese medical doctor who was sent to Tibet by the Chinese emperor in 1907 to tend to a cholera epidemic. He served in Tibet for two years and wrote about it in the October 1912 issue of National Geographic Magazine. He also had a camera and took many photos. Some appear in the NGM piece. At the time, Mao was 14 years old, the son of a walthy farmer in Shaoshan, Hunan, China. The Communist Party of China wasn’t born until 1919 and didn’t come to power to rule China until 1949.
Less than 1% of all Tibetans live outside of China and the area we know as Tibet. Most of them live in one community in India. That 1% created what we know as the government of Tibet in exile. They claim to be a democracy, but how can they be one when the leaders of Tibet before 1950 were never a democracy or republic. Tibet from 1911 to 1950 was ruled by the Dalai Lama. Tibet, by definition was a theocracy, and most of its people were nomadic and/or were the serfs/slaves of a small number of powerful landowners and of course the Buddhist theocracy that ruled what’s known as Tibet.
I wrote about it here: http://ilookchina.net/tag/tibet-has-never-been-a-republic-or-a-democracy/
In fact, I suggest you read this piece on Wiki about the History of Tibet.
And specifically the section on Tibet’s de facto independence from 1912 – 1951
“The Dalai Lama returned to Tibet from India in July 1912 (after the fall of the Qing dynasty), and expelled the Amban and all Chinese troops. In 1913, the Dalai Lama issued a proclamation that stated that the relationship between the Chinese emperor and Tibet “had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on the subordination of one to the other.” “We are a small, religious, and independent nation”, the proclamation continued. For the next thirty-six years, Tibet enjoyed de facto independence while China endured its Warlord era, civil war, and World War II. Some Chinese sources argue that Tibet was still part of China throughout this period. Some other authors argue that Tibet was also de jure independent after Tibet-Mongolia Treaty of 1913, before which Mongolia has been recognized by Russia.”
There is a HUGE difference between an independent nation that is a theocracy ruled by a living god for life and a real republic and/or democracy.
Having grown up in an academic community, I am well aware that professors who become parents from all cultural traditions of the world exert enormous pressure on their children to succeed academically. My parents were different. They expected their children to do their own homework, for one thing. Education as a tool for bettering your life is one of few options for change in many cultures, not just China.
I think I have overall an accurate over view of Tibetan history. As I mentioned, I agree that Tibet does not have a history of independence , and I am not aware of the Dali Lana ever claiming that Tibet did. So what? It is true that the revolution iof the British colonies of what is now the United States had some legal precedents according ordinarily men some legal rights, including the right to assemble, which made the attempt to create a democracy easier, but that does not mean that other nations cannot achieve some semblance of democracy following other paths. And the United States has hardly been successful in maintaining a democracy; we live in a time period during which there has been an unprecedented assault on civil rights, which has made this country, as Jimmy Carter put it, not a functianing democracy. And it only took us a few hundred years to self destruct. That doesn’t mean that others cannot learn from our mistakes, and forge their way to establishing their own form of democracy. We are not always doomed to repeat history.
Yes, the Tibetans have a longer life expectancy , and now they want more (the ingrates!), such as the right to practice their own way of life without interference. The Dali Lama yields tremendous influence with the CCP, which is why they are actively interfering with the practice of Tibetan Buddhism, and attempting to insert their own puppets into the TB hierarehy, even to the extent of announcing that they will recognize the next reincapnation of the Dali Lama. Of course, the current Dali Lana as already stated that he is the last. The whole notion of the atheist CCP claiming that they will find and recognize the next reincarnation is kind of hilarious, I think.
You have a right to think what you want, but Tibetans will never be allowed to be an independent nation as long as the CCP remains strong and in charge, because the Chinese have a fundamental national interest in retaining Tibet. Tibet is the Chinese anchor in the Himalayas. If that were open, or if Xinjiang became independent, the vast buffers between China and the rest of Eurasia would break down. The Chinese can’t predict the evolution of Indian, Islamic or Russian power in such a circumstance, and they certainly don’t intend to find out. They will hold both of these provinces, particularly Tibet.
That national interest in China to retain Tibet is no different than the United States refusing to allow native Americans to be independent and rule themselves inside their reservations without federal government oversight. Did you know that there are several native American tribes that are active in wanting to secede from the United States and form their own governments in independent nations? Do you think the U.S. will ever allow that to happen?
For instance, the Republic of Lakotah: Technically, members of the Republic of Lakotah movement don’t consider themselves secessionists because they consider themselves part of an independent sovereignty that never belonged to the United States. Proponents of this movement wish to form a Native American homeland within the borders of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which would encompass more than 77,000 square miles in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana.
There area also a number of Hawaiian sovereignty groups who want to be free of the U.S. Do you think the U.S. will give Hawaii back to its native people?
My field for writing comments only showed one sentence at a time, and since I am unable to review what I have written to collect my thoughts, have decided to end my input.for now.
I have the same limited window in WordPress to write comments even on my own WordPress blogs. It know it can be frustrating.
What I do to get around that limitation is to write my longer comments in Word and then copy and paste them into the limited sized WordPress comment window by using the right click on my mouse that offers a shortened menu of functions that allows me to cut, copy and paste.
I have been in a position to watch politics unfold among Tibetan refugees for quite some time, and quickly learned that it can be a very ugly business. I am not Tibetan, and it is my policy to stay the hell out. I could probably spend a lifetime trying to understand the various factions and their positions and history, some of it quite old. I don’t care if Tibet has been an autonomous nation or a troublesome colony, but I have no trouble understanding why a unique minority group, who live in a geographically unique area, would want self rule. I don’t think that that will happen in my lifetime, if ever. I am aware that there is a propaganda war going on between the Chinese and U.S. governments, and I am not interested in getting caught up in it, or trying to white wash China’s policies in Tibet. There are many alternative sources of information about what is happening in Tibet, and your assumption that the Tibetans are not that badly off is laughable. The Chinese government is attempting cultural genocide in Tibet, with brutal suppression of the expression of Tibetan Buddhism, forced relocations of Tibetans out of Tibet, and overwhelming numbers of intOlerance moved in. The fact that it has often been the policy of nations with superior military force to try to destroy the culture of a conquered nationd doesn’t make it ok. Look at the destructive forces that the U.S. unleashed against the original inhabitants of this land to understand what is going on. I am pretty sure that you would not attempt to claim that our native people’s are better off for it. I have met too many ordinary people who resorted to desperate means to escape Tibet, talked to too many rank and file Tbetan Buddhist monks, to blow off their accounts of suffering, repression, brutality and torture in their homeland to blow them off.
I am not aware of the Dali Lama ever claiming that Tibet had a history democracy. In fact, after a strange and lonely childhood, he began to reject the system of feudal
autocracy and corruption that existed in his country, and within his faith. He became uncomfortable being treated as a living god. As the current Dali Lana, he has announced that he is the last Dali Lama, feeling that the station has outlived its usefulness. He is surrounded by people who have much invested in maintaining the status quo, and after his death I expect all he’ll to brake loose. I am so tired of the various attempts to demonize this man. Are you aware that there are large numbers of Tibetan’s furious with him for not advocating violence to over throw the Chinese? That there have been attempts on his life by other Tibetans?
Your implication that the Tibetans who have fled Tibet is ill done. You might as well say that all the refugees who have escaped from Communist China were whining landowners.
I agree that in the larger picture, the communist revolution has benefited the peasantry. But it is hard to deny that the revolution quickly became the change of an old corrupt government with a new corrupt government. I am nit a big one for nationalism. Corrupt governments seems to be a universal in this world. But the changes implemented after the revolution were chaotic and brutal, and I for one am very thankful not to have lived through t h e process.
“But it is hard to deny that the revolution quickly became the change of an old corrupt government with a new corrupt government”
This is correct for most if not all government throught the history of the world. The people rise up in rebellion when they are miseraable enough and throw out the old and in time the new will become as corrupt as the one they got rid of.
In the 18th century, Lord Acton said it best:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.”
Thank you for sharing these beautiful and moving videos. What remarkable achievements occur when you dig deep enough into the infinite soul’s of ordinary people. That is the wonder of China, that vast, ancient, complex and contradictory entity. In a country where ordinary people reject the disabled, and blame them for their genetic bad luck, there are also extraordinary efforts made to bring work and meaning to groups of those same disabled people.
I recall that when I visited Jiangxi, I benefited from a massage from a blind doctor of massage. The massage felt like being worked over by a relentless machine, and the masuesse worked through a dirty rag of a towel, but by God, that massage made it possible to be physically active through out my visit without crippling back pain. Evidently there are schools of massage through out China that train the blind to become massage doctors. These graduates are respected practitioners of considerable skill. What a brilliant use of a debilitating handicap.
I don’t think that it is possible to exaggerate the evils of the Chinese government’s genocidal policy towards Tibetans, but I find it deeply ironic when some self righteous, and usually white, American pontificate on the evils of that government policy, when the United States was founded on principles of racism that justified the exploitation of people of color, and the near extermination of this lands indigenous people.
And how ironic is it that the Chinese government allows a troupe of artists who revere the bhodivattsa Guan Yin to flourish. Of course, the recent re-emergence of Buddhism in China is largely due to the willingness of the soulless to benefit from foreign tourist dollars. I understand that in Burma, individual corrupt government officials seek guidance and spiritual teachings from Buddhist leaders in their private lives. You just have to marvel at the contradictory machinizations of mankind.
Hey, thanks for such a thought provoking post today!
Thank you for your comment. The tourist industry is certainly alive and expanding in China. It seems that almost every major town has some sort of tourist attraction linked to either the beauty of nature or a surviving element of Chinese history. Xian and the Terracotta Warriors is one example and then there is the Great Wall. Heck, there’s even a museum in Zhenjiang that honors Pearl S. Buck.
As for the Tibetans, they are not that bad off. What we hear about Tibet outside of China is mostly propaganda manufactured by 1% of all Tibetans who are living in exile in India with the Dalai Lama—the 1% that fled when the PLA marched in to Tibet in 1950 to reclaim a former territory that Chinese emperors had ruled over and controlled since the 11th or 12th century.
Yes, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries were destroyed by the hundreds if not the thousands but this wasn’t exclusive to Tibet. It was happening all over China and everyone suffered everywhere in China. But after Mao died and Ding Xiaoping ended the Cultural Revolution and opened China to world trade, many of those Monasteries were rebuilt and/or repaired. And the Tibetan landowners and rulers of Tibet who fled to India in 1950 had a good reason to run.
During Mao’s early years of ruling China in the 1950s, he turned justice over to the peasants as he had promised, peasants who had been abused by many of the landowners and the peasants were allowed to accuse landowners of crimes against humanity and then tried for their alleged crimes. Throughout all of China—not just Tibet—almost one million landowners were tried and then executed according to the verdicts of the peasants who tried them.
There is a study out of a university in Australia that was about poverty in China before 1949, and that study reveals what life was like in China before the CCP, and that life was horrible for most Chinese. Somewhere on this Blog that study is mentioned and there is a link. Before the CCP ruled China, 95% of Chinese lived in severe poverty with an average lifespan of 35 years. Today the average lifespan is in the 70s and China’s CCP has done more to reduce poverty in the world than any country in history—-leading to 90% of global poverty reduction in the last 30 years. Even during Mao’s brutal leadership, the standard of living improved for most Chinese and when Mao died, the average lifespan had reached almost age 60.
To discover the real Tibet, one must read beyond the media propaganda designed to demonize the CCP. For instance:
In addition, there are more than 50 letters written by Robert Hart in the 19th century long before the Communist Chinese Party existed that clearly reveals Tibet’s position within the Qing Dynasty.
The I.G. in Peking: Letters of Robert hart Chinese Maritime Customs 1868 – 1907
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England
Then there is The National Geographic Magazine (NGM)for October 1912 that reveals more facts about Tibet’s long history with China, also before there was a Chinese Communist Party. I have an original copy of this issue of NGM that cost me $20 in a bidding war on e-Bay. A more recent NGM piece about China is about earning gold from dead Tibetan caterpillars. Before the PLA marched in to Tibet to reclaim a former territory that had been part of the Chinese empire for almost a thousand years, the average life expectancy in Tibet was 34 years and 99% of the people were no better off than slaves living a miserable existence under the heavy boot of the landowners who lost their land and fled to India along with the Dalai Lama. That 1912 issue of NGM is an eye opener about what life was like in 1907 in the real Tibet. Today, the average life expectancy of Tibetans is close to 70 years. After reading that one magazine, it is arguable that most Tibetans, who still live in Tibet—99% of Tibetans—are living a much higher quality of life with more freedom than they ever had before the PLA marched in.