Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Liberated or Subdued?

Recent Immolation in Lhasa
If you speak about 'liberation' to a Frenchman, he will immediately think of General de Gaulle's speech at the Hotel de Ville of Paris on August 25, 1944.
The French troops had just entered Paris and chased away or arrested the remnants of the Nazis in the French capital.
De Gaulle pronounced one of his greatest speeches: “Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its own people!"

After reading this speech, it is difficult to understand what the Chinese meant by ‘liberating Tibet’.
On January 1, 1950, a day after the Government of India had decided to hurry the recognition of the Communist regime, a broadcast of the New China News Agency (Xinhua) proclaimed: "the task for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) for 1950 are to liberate Taiwan, Hainan and Tibet... Tibet is an integral part of China. Tibet has fallen under the influence of the imperialist."
During the following months, China never missed a chance to assert again and again that Tibet was part of China's territory and it was "China's sacred duty to liberate Tibet."
On January 22, an interesting conversation took place in Moscow between Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin:

Mao Zedong: I would like to note that the air regiment that you sent to China was very helpful. Let me thank you Comrade Stalin, for the help, and ask you to allow it to stay a little longer so it could help transport provisions to (Chinese Communist Central Party Committee member and commander of the PLA’s 2nd Field Army). Lui Bocheng’s troops, currently preparing for an attack on Tibet.
Joseph Stalin; It’s good that you are preparing the attack. The Tibetans need to be subdued. As for the air regiment, we shall talk this over with the military personnel and give you an answer.
This was 10 months before the 'liberation' began; Stalin said ‘subdued’, not ‘liberated’. These two words have an opposite meaning.
At that time, the only detail that the Chinese were not sure about was the degree of resistance of the Tibetans. Would the second Army of Marshall Lui Bosheng enter Tibet in a triumphal way (by being invited by the some Tibetans ‘friends’, for example) or would force be required?
It is to be noted that Deng Xiaoping, the man who did not care if a mouse was black or white as long it could catch mice, was the Political Commissioner for China's South-Western Region based in Sichuan and was over-all responsible for the 'liberation'.
During all these months the Chinese leaders, particularly the mild-mannered Zhou Enlai kept on assuring India through Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador in Beijing, that "China has no intention of using force against Tibet".

Another discussion took place in Moscow in September 1952; this time between Joseph Stalin and Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier.

Stalin. Tibet is a part of China. There must be Chinese troops deployed in Tibet. As for Burma, you should proceed carefully.

Zhou Enlai says that the Burmese government is concealing its true position with regard to China, but is actually maintaining an anti-China policy, orienting itself with America and Britain.
[Then] Zhou Enlai explains that Chinese troops were deployed in Tibet a year ago, and are now at the Indian border. The question of whether there should be Chinese troops in Tibet is moot.
Emphasizes that maintaining communication with Tibet is difficult. In order to communicate with Lhasa one needs 4-motor transport planes, equipped with oxygen tanks and de-icing devices. Could not the Soviet Union provide such planes? 2-motor planes can go 3/5 of the way, but that’s as far as they’ll go.

Stalin replies that Soviet Union can assist with this.

Zhou Enlai. In that case could China request 20 4-motor planes from the USSR?

Stalin replies that first we will provide 10, and then another 10. Points out the importance of building a road to Tibet.

Zhou Enlai says that such a road is being built, but that its construction will take up all of next year and part of 1954.

Stalin notes that without a road it’s difficult to maintain the necessary order in Tibet. Tibetan Lamas are selling themselves to anyone - America, Britain, India - anyone who will pay the higher price.

Zhou Enlai says that, indeed, the Lamas are hostile. This year (February, March, April) they were planning a rebellion, but the Chinese People’s Government was able to suppress the rebels. Notes that as a result of this, the Dalai Lama’s brother fled abroad.

Stalin says that a road to Tibet must be built, and that it is essential to maintain Chinese troops there.
Note that Zhou Enlai does not speak of ‘liberation’, but ‘suppression of the Lamas’.
Sadly 60 years later, it is still what is happening.
Two months after the entry of the ‘Liberation’ Army in Kham province of Eastern Tibet, Jawaharlal Nehru the Prime Minister of India made that candid remark during a debate in the Lok Sabha (December 6, 1950): “From whom they [the Chinese] were going to liberate Tibet is, however, not quite clear.”
It is still not clear!

China Cracks Down Following Tibetan Immolations
May 29, 2012
VOA News
Reports from Chinese-ruled Tibet say government forces have clamped tight controls on community life in Lhasa, after two young men set themselves on fire there Sunday afternoon, the first such incident to take place in the heavily guarded Tibetan capital.
The reports said one of the protesters, a 19-year-old male, died at the scene outside the Jokhang Temple, while the other remains hospitalized.
Sources told VOA's Tibetan service Monday there have been an undetermined number of arrests since the incident, as Chinese authorities seek to control the spread of anti-government self-immolation protests. Those protests have rocked southwestern China and the neighboring Tibetan Autonomous Region for the past 14 months, as Buddhist monks, nuns and their supporters push their demands for freedom and the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Tibetan sources also said that eyewitnesses have photographed the latest protest, but they could not be forwarded because Chinese authorities immediately cut information links to the outside world.
There have been at least 37 self-immolations since March 2011.
China says the immolations incite separatism and are directed from outside the country. However representatives of the Dalai Lama say Tibetans who carry out immolations are driven to do so because they can no longer live under Chinese rule. They accuse China of using separatism as an excuse to crack down even harder on Tibetan culture and religion.
Sunday's protest is the most dramatic act of defiance in Lhasa since a 2008 uprising, when Chinese security forces placed the city in a permanent state of lockdown. 
It follows a new Chinese move to ban Tibetan Buddhists, including current and former government officials, students and party members, from engaging in religious activities during the sacred month of Saka Dawa, which began May 21. Saka Dawa commemorates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death.

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