The future of Tibet

Thisanjali Gangoda

Tibet is a high-altitude plateau that has sat peacefully between the countries of China and India for centuries. It has always been known for its deep-rooted traditions in Buddhism, monkhood, farming and nomadic indigenous culture. Despite the centuries of political and territorial struggle that occur around them between the powers of Russia, India and China, Tibet was left alone. It was only until after the Communist Party took tight control of the Chinese government in 1949 that Tibet became an annexed state of China. Since the early 1950s, China has maintained complete control over military and external affairs of Tibet, declaring that they are doing so in order to safeguard Tibet’s “unstable” political system. For years, this has been a farce in order for China to exploit the people of Tibet for labor, profit, amassing territory and spreading the Communist Manifesto.

During China’s Cultural Revolution, Tibet suffered greatly as the Communist viewed Tibetan Buddhist culture to be a threat. As a result, many historical artifacts, buildings and monuments were destroyed. Many Tibetans were thereafter displaced and now live in India. Despite all that Tibet has endured by the will of China, many other countries and their governments acknowledge China’s sovereignty over Tibet, and do not acknowledge the Dalai Lama as head of the Tibetan government.

The Dalai Lama, who is exiled in India, travels the word as a global figurehead for peace and well-being. The international community regards him as being a great spiritual leader, but still can’t acknowledge him as the political figurehead for Tibet. Why is this so? The international community is at the whim of China and its plastic products. Because of China’s strong influence on the global economy in terms of finance, exports, investment and management, there are few countries that raise their voice in protest and disagreement about the status of Tibet.

What could we have done to prevent the complete and total isolation of Tibet from the global community and China’s iron grip on the sovereignty of the country? It’s interesting that the global community is so set on allowing countries to maintain their own sovereignty on issues of economics, politics and culture; but if a country infringes on the sovereignty of another, then what? Do we let the two countries fight it out on the streets? Do we send in peacekeepers to facilitate discussion or add a measure of security to the situation?

If we look at China as a whole, the government and country is riddled with human rights abuses, corruption, political oppression and intolerance. Yet again, few countries take a stance against the country because of their own economic dependency on China. There are numerous non-governmental agencies and non-profits worldwide that work solely on behalf of finding freedom and justice for Tibet. Many of them are located and supported within countries that take no governmental action against China.

It seems that because the Western world lacks interest in the status of Tibet, and the Eastern world continues to deal with their own issues of socio-political and economic unrest, the conflict between China and Tibet will remain stagnant. There will be a few bouts of violence that will occasionally end up scrolling at the bottom of CNN newscasts, but other than this, the fate of Tibet lies solely with the interests of China.

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