Stop the bloodlettingOnce again, there has been bloodletting in Lhasa, the traditional capital of Tibet and the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. The latest incident resulted in at least 10 deaths. Tibetans staged a militant demonstration for independence. This occurred just five months before the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The most urgent task now is to prevent any more casualties. The demonstrators should end their militant protest and the Chinese authorities should refrain from violently quelling the protests by gunfire.
We know that most Tibetans are still living miserable lives of oppression because they have lost their country. However, we need to pay attention to China’s position, given the extraordinary circumstances. China forcibly incorporated Tibet 57 years ago, but China is still confronted with the crisis of losing its own national identity. A great number of people have died over the issue. Riots also broke out in 1959 and 1989.
More than 14 countries have territorial and boundary disputes with China. China is a multiracial country, consisting of 55 minorities besides the Han Chinese. China considers its national and territorial integration to be of vital importance, even thinking of it as a threat to the national existence. If China carelessly deals with any one side’s quest for independence, there are possibilities it might separate into many parts. In this regard, if China’s government and the Tibetans lose their self-control, it is inevitable that the situation will get worse.
The Chinese government insists that the Dalai Lama, who serves as the state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and leads the refugee government, is the major culprit behind the riot. The Tibetan leader disagreed, saying “It is a natural manifestation of the distrust held by the oppressed Tibetans against China.” At the same time, he also urged Tibetans not to resort to violence. It is evident he does not want to aggravate the situation.
The riot generated strong momentum for China’s government to stop its oppressive policies over Tibet, including the destruction of Tibet’s unique culture, religion and tradition.
These extreme assimilation policies greatly contributed to this conflict. In addition, China needs to refrain from taking excessive steps against the peaceful demonstrations while Tibetans need to be careful not to overstep their boundaries while expressing their views. That is the only way to prevent a recurrence of the riots.