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Free Tibet

By Michael Talbot-Wilson
Created 20/08/2012 - 22:20

The outrage of China's stampeding mindless crowd over some Japanese activists visiting an uninhabited Japanese island, Uotsuri in the Senkaku group that China is attempting to grab (as it is attempting to grab all neighbouring islands, perhaps ultimately the outer and main islands of Japan) has an obvious rejoinder.

(I confess to not knowing the history of the Senkaku Islands.  Japan is an archipelago.  If China is attempting to grab outer islands of Japan there is big trouble.  If the Senkakus are a Japanese 20th century conquest of islands that previously were legitimately Chinese China might have a case, though it is hard to see how uninhabited islands could have been legitimately Chinese.  But the neighbouring islands [even Taiwan, which according to Wikipedia was mainly inhabited by an aboriginal race when the Dutch took over in the 17th century], if any neighbouring islands had aboriginal or no inhabitants, are not Chinese by any natural right.  And yes, the Chinese took Taiwan from the Dutch, much as the Indonesians took over from them in West Papua centuries later, and apparently did it before the Japanese, racially closer to the aborigines, came along.  If the Senkakus have a similar history of long Chinese occupation, occupation, mind you, interrupted by a 20th century Japanese conquest, China has something going for it.  Here I assume not.)

China has illegitimately, purely because vastly more powerful, taken possession of Tibet and oppressed the Tibetan race and almost extinguished Tibetan culture for the bogus reason that both Tibet and China were conquests of the Mongol empire.  When Marco Polo visited China it was to the court of Kublai Khan that he gravitated, because China was perhaps the most important part of the Khan's empire and he spent a lot of time there.

That does not mean Tibet is part of China.  That there was a certain historical association for that reason, and because a Mongol Khan in Beijing sent overlords into Tibet, does not give modern China any legitimate claim to Tibet.

Does China have any better, more legitimate claim?  If so, please tell me what it is. 

Culturally, Tibet seems closer to Mongolia than to China.  I've heard of Tibetan Lamas and Mongolian Lamas.  If there were lamas in traditional Chinese Buddhism I haven't heard of it.

So, with the crowds raging across China, there is a golden opportunity for Japan to strike a blow (non-violent) by announcing that it does not recognize Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, and for Japanese protesters to demonstrate in support of Chinese withdrawal from that country.  It would make clear to the Chinese mob that they do not occupy the moral high ground, as they apparently think they do.

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