Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bad timing

Today President Obama met with the Dalai Lama which will no doubt provoke a response from the Chinese government tomorrow. It was interesting reading about the meeting in the news, especially this article. What really struck me was how far Obama is distancing his administration from Tibetan independence and human rights. A little off topic for the blog, but it certainly seems that the president has toned down his optimism after a year in office.

I've discussed Tibet and how it relates to the PRC's concerns about sovereignty and legitimacy to rule, so I won't go there. Instead, I think there are a few points to be made about the recent (read 20th century) events concerning Tibet.
  • A Chinese government never governed Tibet until 1950 when PLA forces entered the territory.
  • Tibet during the early 20th century requested assistance from Britain, India, and the U.S. to maintain its independence in the 1940s, but got nothing.
  • When PLA forces entered Tibet, no nation came to Tibet's defense, even when there was a large uprising in 1958.
With those points taken into consideration, it makes sense that Obama would distance himself from Tibetan independence and make it clear that Tibet is part of the PRC. If the U.S. was really concerned about Tibet, it would have done something about the issue long ago.

I also can't help but feel a little sorry for the PRC. Yes, PLA forces seized control of the territory by force, but let us not forget that the U.S. did the same thing when expanding from 13 states on the east coast to the west by almost exterminating the Native Americans. Unfortunately for the PRC, no previous Chinese government sent in troops to lay claim in the 18th or 19th centuries. If they had, Tibet wouldn't be an issue today. Apparently timing is key not only for jokes and investments, but also seizing territory.

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