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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibet and China: Freedom vs. Survival

October 24, 2007

New America Media
Blog, Peter Schurmann, Posted: Oct 21, 2007

Reports of clashes between possibly hundreds of Tibetan monks and
Chinese police forces near the Tibetan capital of Lhasa is the latest
sign of growing tensions between the two groups. Tensions were
increased as well by the awarding of the US Congressional Gold Medal
to the Dalai Lama, a clear political move on the part of the US to
pressure China.

Arguments on both sides dismiss out of hand opposing views, boiling
the conflict down to a simple black and white issue of bad vs. good.
The reality is far more complicated, and in fact finds an historical
parallel in the case of Japan's occupation of Korea.

In 1910 Japan annexed the Korean peninsula, where for more than three
decades it pursued a systematic program of cultural and ethnic
suppression in the name of "civilization and progress." Koreans
protested to the mostly deaf ears of world leaders, and as in Tibet,
Korea's religious sentiments were instrumental in fanning the flames
of independence.

As China claims for Tibet, Japan asserted historical ownership over
Korea. Again as with China's relationship to Tibet, Korea represented
an integral part of Japan's larger imperial ambitions. Lose Korea and
Japan would lose its foothold on the Aisan continent. Lose Tibet and
China is threatened with the loss of Xinjiang in the northwest,
Taiwan, and a host of other minority dominanted regions.

Beyond these fears of fragmentation China also has good reason to fear
religious movements that go beyond simple Communist ideology. The
Yellow Turban Revolt of the 2nd century, the Taiping and Boxer
Rebellions of the 19th century, all were religiously motivated
movements desgined to topple the government, leaving millions of dead
in their wake.

>From the Tibetan perspective, the issue is simply one of independence
- the freedom to live the way one want's in one's own land. Yet from
the Chinese perspective, religious freedom for Tibetans translates to
religious/ political movements among Muslims, Christians and a host of
separatist groups, threatening the "harmonious development" envisioned
by Hu Jintao. Even worse, it threatens to shatter the 2000 year legacy
of China's existence.

As Japan built its empire in the first half of the twentieth century
Western colonial powers condemned it for its transgressions of
international law while simultaneously pursuing their own expansionist
agendas. Inherent in their attacks was an undercurrent of racism
against a would-be "Oriental" power. There is similarly a strong
anti-Chinese sentiment in promoters of Tibet's cause, something China
is well aware of.

For decades Koreans looked back with hatred and anger at Japan's
colonial rule, a bitterness that is only now beginning to fade. Today
Korea, while divided, remains free (a word used tentatively for the
North), while the Japanese empire is a memory. China is not willing to
take that risk.

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