The People’s Republic of China is a nation of heavy contrast. China portrays itself as a growing unified nation striving towards world dominance. The entire population of China, including its autonomous regions, is living in prosperity and growth.
The 1.386 billion people residing in China is made of the ethnic majority of Han Chinese and 55 other ethnic minorities. The Han Dynasty people amount to 98% of the entire population. This majority resides in mainland China and enjoys dominance over minorities.
The government of China, discreetly but definitely, considers only the Han Chinese as the true citizens of China. Among these, some minorities have been recognized by China against their will through invasion. These invaded minorities have a pseudo-status of Chinese citizens but, in reality, are denied the basic of human rights.
The Tibet Autonomous Region of China is major area of land claimed by China as its property. The inhabitants of Tibet have been a victim of the power play of China. Tibet makes up for one sixth of the entire land of China and is the house to various natural resources needed by China, especially freshwater.China portrays the region of Tibet as the home of very peace loving, culturally rich people who are always busy singing and dancing. This is assumed to be China’s plot to show the world how internally unified its population is.
Once or twice a year, China invites cultural groups from this minority to perform on national and international TVs. The Tibetans are shown as peaceful singing and dancing troupes on TV by the Chinese Government. What goes on in their lives the rest of the year? China has made sure you do not have an idea.The former home of the Buddhist spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is inhabited by Tibetan Buddhists. The Tibetans in the Autonomous region of China have been demanding independence throughout the whole of the 60 years of China’s rule in Tibet. Invaded in 1959, Tibet is struggling to keep their tribe and culture alive under the Chinese rule.The conditions under which the Tibetan locals in China live are below humanity. Tibetans in China are denied the very basic of human rights. Nomadic Tibetans are forced out of their pasture lands. Families are forced to relocate to fenced houses. Lands are forced to be given up to the government. Men and women are forced into labor for Chinese industries. Women are forced into sterilization in order to control the Tibetan population. Parents are forced to part from children. All this is happening in the TAR by force and journalists are forced to write about the great that China’s rule is doing for Tibet.
China firmly shows the world that its relationship with Tibet is a harmonious one. But away from the world media, Tibet is a living hell for the locals left behind in Tibet. Many Tibetans have fled Tibet and are now taking refuge in Nepal, Pakistan and India.
The Dalai Lama has taken refuge in Dharamsala of India, where the Central Tibetan Administration has been established under him. It acts as the government for Tibetans in exile. Children as young as 7 or 8 years old leave their homes and parents behind in Tibet for a better life in India or Nepal. A month long trek through the Himalayas by foot brings these Tibetan children to the Nepal border, from where they are flown to Dharamsala for better opportunities of care and studies.
Back in Tibet, the Chinese rule continues regardless of who flees and who stays behind. One pro-Tibetan word uttered can lead to years in prison, brutal torture or disappearance from the world itself. There is no right of expression or speech for Tibetans in China. There have been reports of people being arrested and tortured for distributing pro-Tibetan leaflets, for using pro-Tibetan slogans and participating in protests against the invasion. This protest for Free-Tibet is now the longest in world’s history and is expected to continue for many years before a solution is established.
Tibetans need to free Tibet to save their dying population of less than 10 million worldwide. They must gain independence to preserve their culture and ancestry of hundreds of years from perishing under the rule of China. The huge international protests against Chinese rule on Tibet by Tibetans in exile is a matter of fear for the Chinese government. China, on the other hand, needs to keep Tibet under its rule. China needs Tibet to prevent its own invasion.
The geographical location of Tibet is between mainland China and its long-term southern threat of India. Tibet borders the Chinese front with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and India. It is the gateway of China to South-East Asia and vice versa. China has been highly doubtful of the relationship between Tibet and India after the Tibetans were allowed refuge in Dharamsala. This is why China is reluctant to initiate dialogues of negotiation with the CTA for a free Tibet.If China were to loosen control over Tibet, China fears Indian troops will move to Tibet and invade the mainland of Sichuan and Yunnan. The mountainous region of Tibet acts as a barrier of protection for China from any invasion by South East Asian nations. On any day, if Tibet was free and no military control was deployed over movement on the Tibetan land, southern forces could easily advance towards China through route of Tibet.
Moreover, losing Tibet would mean losing 13% of its land area. The area of China would decrease dramatically. Tibet is considered Asia’s water tower with over twenty rivers flowing across its land. China needs access to Tibet’s water resources for fulfilling the freshwater demands of its growing population. They are also required for potential hydro-power projects planned by China.
The threat of invasion, the fear of losing land area and water resource scarcity has forced China to make sure that its grip on Tibet is very tight. It is, indeed, going to be a long tedious fight against China for Tibetans and we pray that a revolution is near to help them.