Posted by: Shaun | March 21, 2008

World News Weekly 3.21.08

Big Trouble in Little Tibet

It’s been a great week for China watchers everywhere…unless your vantage point happens be somewhere on the Tibetan Plateau. Agitated Tibetans took to the streets this week in protest against the policies imposed upon them by the communist Chinese government in Beijing. The Chinese response was tragic, yet predictable, and exercised with all the finesse of a raging mountain gorilla. Police and paramilitary units descended on the Tibetan Autonomous Region to quash the protesters, leaving an unknown number dead (perhaps a dozen or more) and many others in state custody.

Of course, China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, had a ready explanation for the widespread unrest. It was all orchestrated by that nefarious mastermind of international intrigue, Tenzin Gyatso; better known as the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Yes, how could we have not seen it? It was the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Lamist Buddhism that sparked the revolt, not state restrictions on religious worship, demographic dilution by Han Chinese through official settlement policies, or outright discrimination. That tricky, bald bastard.

Any attempt at achieving true autonomy for Tibet, let alone independence, is almost certainly a doomed enterprise. The PRC is dead set on maintaining its territorial integrity and there are a lot more Chinese with a lot more guns than there are Tibetans. No amount of protest, international scolding, or meditation by Richard Gere is going to change that.

I am, however, curious to see how these events will play out domestically in China. In spite of the government’s best efforts to control internal news coverage of the protests, China is too wired today to keep out reports from the international media. Will this create outrage in China proper? I doubt it. Ever since Tiananmen Square in 1989, Americans seem to think of the Chinese multitude as yearning for freedom within the oppressive constraints of the state. But in reality, Chinese society has become increasingly nationalistic in recent years and many (though not all) have done quite well from its economic boom. Why rock the boat? In fact, why should the Han Chinese reaction to injustice against Tibetans be any different from white America’s reaction to the L.A. riots or the Katrina debacle? I could be wrong, but I’m not holding my breath for any popular Chinese outcry on Tibet’s behalf.

News and Notes

  • Saudi clerics: “So wait, now we aren’t supposed to call for the ritual beheading of heretics and infidels? Time for another sermon revision…”
  • Holy crap, Canada has state secrets? And an “elite counter terrorism squad”!? And a “Department of National Defense”?!?
  • If you’re going to spy on someone, it’s probably not a good idea to carry your CIA buddy’s business card with you at all times.
  • Do I sense a diplomatic cat fight coming on?

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