Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

China, Tibet and Taiwan

OK Folks,

While we've been arguing about which Democrat would be the best person to propose and pass more or less the same batch of policies, East Asia has been dealing with some real divisions. is reporting that Chinese papers are calling for Tibetan demonstrations (which have turned violent in many cases) to be "crushed." The Dali Lama has been calling for the demonstrators to adopt a non-violent approach but they have not been listening. The Chinese response has been to send in the military.

Meanwhile, Taiwan had an election and the Kuomintang candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, was expected to win and did (in a landslide). The Kuomintang is the old mainland Nationalist party of Chiang Kai Shek. Ironically, it is the Kuomintang that is most in favor of eventual reunification with the mainland. But since the Communists on the mainland have abandoned Marxism in favor of a more nationalist approach to government and political economy, the Kuomintang may not see much difference anymore between them and their old nemesis. Mr. Ma has criticised Beijing for their conduct in Tibet but has pledged not to "push things too far."

Chinese nationalists (on the mainland) will try to justify nearly any action they take in Tibet by saying that Tibet is a natural part of China and that Tibet has never really been independent. But of course this is a disingenuous argument. Prior to 1949 China as we know it was not organized as a state the way we think of it now. Prior to that date, China was either ruled by regional warlords or as a feudal empire in which Tibet was at times included and at times not. In any case, even when Tibet was nominally under the suzerainty of the Chinese empire of the time, it was so distant from the centers of power that it was usually functionally independent. Only since 1949 has a central Chinese government been able to impose its authority on Tibet with any consistency.

The problem in Tibet seems to be that after the military conquest of Tibet in the 1940s, the Chinese government first divided some regions of Tibet and attached them to neighboring provinces (like Sechuan). Reports are that anti-government demonstrations have spread to the ethnic Tibetans in these regions. The next thing the Chinese did was to heavily subsidize settlement in Tibet by Chinese from the dominant Han ethnic group from coastal China. This settlement program has resulted in a new local elite in Tibet comprised mainly of non-Tibetans. These measures have caused some resentment among ethnic Tibetans.


007 said...

Wonderful source of information.

The Ever-Present Smile of His Holiness DALAI LAMA is MORE POWERFUL than the 1 million strong Chinese Army -)

Why? Check these out :

Believe me, this uprising is going to spread from Tibet (Xizang Province) to even Sinkiang (Xinjiang Uygur) and others !!!

Dr. Strangelove said...

Thanks for the run-down, RbR. The news from Taiwan is more hopeful, as you indicated, but I have been listening to the news from Tibet (such as we get any news from there) with increasing dismay. The Dalai Lama has far more influence outside his homeland than he does anywhere within China, despite his ever-present smile. And unfortunately, the Chinese Army is probably rather larger than 1 million.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It is also worth noting in this context that Formosa (Taiwan) was conquered and ruled by Japan from 1899-1945, formally turned to Chinese (KMT) rule in 1945, and then of course on its own from 1949-present. So for the last century, it has been ruled form Mainland china for no more than 4 years, and that mostly nominally. So the claim of China that Taiwan or Tibet is integral to the nation is pretty weak.

Besides which, once an area like Taiwan or Tibet has been functionally independent for a significant amount of time, our principles of human rights and self-determination dictate that the people should be permitted to vote on whether they wants to be subject to another country's laws. The issue of whether Taiwan and Tibet should be independent or part of China is not a property dispute about who "owns" the land. The Chinese just don't get this, because they also think they sort of "own" the Chinese people too - that they are subjects of the state who may be controlled, forbidden to travel, and given or denied rights as the government pleases, but not free citizens.

This, of course, is what the American revolution was all about. Sovereignty does not rest in the monarch, the government, or in parliament, but directly in the people, who can create or destroy and governmental institution at will.