I read a misleading post at Global Voices that was titled China and Tibet: Democracy in Exile. My first thought was, “When was Tibet ever a Democracy?”
Let’s see, how did the United States become a Republic? The answer is simple: the American colonists rebelled against the British Empire and fought the American Revolution 1775 – 1783. There was the Declaration of Independence and then there was the US Constitution followed by twenty-seven ratified amendments. The 27th Amendment was enacted on May 7, 1992, but was proposed September 25, 1789. It only took two-hundred and three years for approval. Wow!
Tibet does not have a similar history. The only thing that is similar is that some Tibetans took part in an uprising against the CCP, and they lost. The same thing could have happened in America from 1775 to 1783. If the colonists had lost, a reluctant US might still be ruled by the UK.
In fact, it doesn’t matter what the Richard Geres of the world say or want us to believe—Tibet has never been a republic or a democracy.
Here’s what the Global Voices author said in the first sentence, “Being a Tibetan in exile is a loss that manifests in many forms: the loss of homeland and natural rights fall within that.”
What were the natural rights that were lost?
Most Tibetans in exile (represented by about 1% of the total Tibetan population) gave up land and thousands of serfs who were treated no better than slaves. What was lost were positions of power and wealth.
Before 1950, when Mao’s Red army reoccupied Tibet for China, there had been no democracy or republic in Tibet – ever.
The following quotes show us what Tibet was like before 1950.
“Lamaism is the state religion of Tibet and its power in the Hermit Country is tremendous. Religion dominated every phase of life. … For instance, in a family of four sons, at least two, generally three, of them must be Lamas. Property and family prestige also naturally go with the Lamas to the monastery in which they are inmates.
“Keeping the common people or laymen, in ignorance is another means of maintaining the power of the Lamas. Nearly all of the laymen (serfs) are illiterate. Lamas are the only people who are taught to read and write.” Source: October 1912 National Geographic Magazine, page 979.
I’m sure that under Lamaism, there was no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and the people did not vote. Need I saw more?
Between 1912—when those words appeared in National Geographic—and 1950, Tibet did not change, because it stayed the same as it had been for centuries. The only difference was that there was no Chinese governor in Tibet appointed by the Emperor and supported by Chinese troops.
What we have in Global Voices is clever manipulation to elicit support for the Tibetan separatist movement.
There’s nothing wrong with supporting a separatist movement. After all, there are at least eight known and active separatist movements in the United States: the Alaska Independence Party; Hawaiian sovereignty movement; Lakotah Oyate; Puerto Rico Independence Party; League of the South; Texas Secession Movement; Second Vermont Republic and the Cascadia Independence Movement.
In addition, Tibetans have the same odds to be free from China as Hawaiians and the Lakota Sioux have of being free of the United States.
It is a fact that a reluctant Tibet was ruled over by the Yuan (Mongol), Ming (Han) and Qing (Manchu) Dynasties from 1277 to 1913, when Great Britain convinced Tibet to break from China at the same time the Qing Dynasty was collapsing.
Discover Why Tibet?
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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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