The flagship newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party called Saturday for efforts to "resolutely crush" anti-government demonstrations by Tibetans, while Beijing urged people to turn in those on a "Most Wanted" list of 21 protesters.It’s been about twenty years since the last big freedom rebellion in China, which ended with the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre.
And exactly like that last rebellion, the U.S. is going to completely ignore this one, too.
President Bush, that ever-shining beacon of Freedom and Democracy (but only for nations with vast oil reserves and shaky dictatorships) will sit listlessly on his hands while thousands of Tibetan protesters are jailed or slaughtered. And China will continue it’s cultural genocide of Tibet with impunity; what’s more, with the implied consent of the United States.
Bush won’t make a memorable speech about freedom for Tibet.
There won’t be the equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s memorable “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!”
Because America has lost her moral standing in the world. We torture. We hold people indefinitely without trials. We have secret prisons, where people are whisked off to in the night. We are like a ship without a rudder, careening waywardly through the waters of international policy. We lurch from one diplomatic disaster to another, and there’s huge icebergs in the darkness up ahead, while our Captain orders full speed ahead.
China will stop at nothing to quash the rebellion in Tibet. They want to use the 2008 Olympic Games as a propaganda machine to show the world that they’re a wonderful worker’s paradise. China has already muzzled the Olympic athletes of their rights to speech. They’ve politicized the event to a degree we haven’t seen since 1980, when the U.S boycotted the Moscow Olympics to protest Russia’s occupation of Afghanistan.
Isn’t it funny how history is a cache of endless irony?
Let’s take a look at the history of this situation. Tibet was a very isolated place up to the mid-20th century. Peaceful, spiritual, unchanging. The people were left alone to live in peace.
It was a spiritual culture, too. For hundreds of years, Tibetans practiced a type of Buddhism that was central to their culture. One in four male children became a Buddist monk. There were thousands of monasteries dotting the landscape in this holy nation.
Then in 1949, Chairman Mao and the fledgling Chinese Communist government decided to invade and occupy Tibet. They sent thousands of soldiers flooding into the towns and villages, killing and jailing those that resisted. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the nation, was forced to flee to India to avoid capture and imprisonment or execution.
The Chinese Air Force bombed the monasteries. Before the invasion there were over 6,000 of them. By 1970, there were nine left. Their interiors were ransacked of gold and jewels left by the faithful, and the buildings were either destroyed or converted to government structures. There used to be over 120,000 monks or "lamas"; less than a thousand remain, and they are forbidden to practice their religion. China has succeeded in erasing nearly every bit of Tibetan culture, save for what lives on in the hearts and minds of the ethnic Tibetans.
China has built railroads and roads into Tibet, always with little or no regard to the environment, and transplanted hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese to live and work there. China also uses Tibet as a dumping ground for hazardous toxins and nuclear waste.
The situation today is no different from any other crisis in history, where an oppressed people stands up against impossible odds. Many will suffer and die. The U.S. won’t do a single thing to try to effect change, because we depend on China for trade and loans.
And the Olympics will go on as scheduled, and it will be a propaganda windfall for China.
(Two books I recommend about Tibet and the oppressive Chinese system: "In Exile From the Land of Snows" by John F. Avadon, and "Across China" by Peter Jenkins)