Inspired by the Tibet experience
Most of the time, I am reading. I read more than I write.
Today, one particular post had me in deep thoughts, and I would like to share them with Taiwanese all over the world, especially those who live on the island once exclaimed by the Portuguese sailors as ‘Ihla Formosa’.
Will this island remain beautiful a few years from now? That will depend on you and me, and I think I have done all I can and to the best that I can possibly do.
I just read an interview of Pico Iyer by another author, Jon Wiener.
Pico Iyer was born in Oxford, raised in California, and a resident of Japan, sort of like a global resident just like me. He has a new book called, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
The interviewer, Jon Wiener asked Pico Iyer why in his book, he described the Tibetan population as being “slipping ever closer to extinction”.
And these were the words of Pico Iyer:
I wish they were overstated words, but they’re not. The Tibet autonomous region is more and more a Chinese province. Lhasa is now 65 percent Han Chinese, so Tibetans are a minority in their own country. The Chinese are practicing what the Dalai Lama has called “demographic aggression”—trying to wipe out Tibetan culture through force of numbers. Two years ago they set up that high speed train, which allows 6,000 more Han Chinese to come to Tibet every day. I first saw Lhasa in 1985 just when it opened up to the world.
The railway represents an overtly political project by China to facilitate its control over Tibet. Tibetans are already a minority in their own country and the railway has further marginalized them. It has allowed China to deploy troops and missiles to the Tibetan plateau more effectively, and has also enhanced China's ability to extract and remove Tibet's vast mineral wealth. The Dalai Lama has referred to the railway as "some kind of cultural genocide".
Sadly enough, this is what many western businessmen have said about more engagement with China will make China more open and democratic.
And some country who had tried to “help” Tibet had its own agenda.
The CIA had “helped” them during the cold war era as Pico Iyer said…
Yes. The CIA really moved in during the 1960s, when they trained Tibetans in Colorado, of all places, and set them up in Nepal. The CIA wasn’t concerned about Tibet; they were only concerned about trying to foil their great communist enemy China. It was a fitful resistance but the CIA was more than ready to help—until Nixon and Kissinger went to Beijing. At that point, the Dalai Lama realized that violent resistance would only bring more suffering to his people, so he sent a taped message to the guerillas in Nepal and told them to lay down their arms. They did, but some of them were so heartbroken that they took their own lives.
And this reminds me of the dark days of the martial law era in Taiwan when the US administration supported the Chiang Kai-Shek’s rule over Taiwan in order to block the red communism from spread out but did not care much about the human rights records of the KMT regime.
When their interests changed as the cold war ended, again our concern was never their concern!
Did the US administration help the Taiwanese society democratize? The recent Taiwanese history taught us that the democratization of Taiwan came gradually with the help of its own people’s struggle against authoritarian rule coupled with the timing of the rise of their former president Lee Teng-hui, a Taiwanese native, within the KMT party.
And now the US federal deficit (and China being their major creditor) has kept me worrying about what’s next for Taiwan. Why doesn’t the US administration encourage domestic production and domestic consumption to counter the trade imbalance instead of having to exchange favors with the Chinese authority, and in the process concede to Beijing’s requests on the Taiwan issue?
Back to the Tibet interview…
The Chinese Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s was a turning point for Tibet. Pico Iyer said
They tried to destroy Tibetan culture—much as they tried to destroy their own culture, but even more brutally. According to Tibetan estimates, 1.2 million Tibetans died—that’s 20 percent of the population. All but 13 of the 6,000 monasteries were destroyed. Little kids were asked to shoot their parents. Most violently, the Chinese sought to tear apart every last shred of Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Monks were asked to use sacred texts as toilet paper. It was a brutal thing, which the Chinese government has since repudiated.
Dalai Lama’s fear…
He knows that as soon as he dies, the Chinese government will alight on an amenable little boy, probably the child of Communist cadre, and reenact a kind of monastic search and declare “This boy is the fifteenth Dalai Lama.” Of course he will be completely loyal to the communist party and probably be an enemy of Tibet.
Do you have any fear as a Taiwanese? Or do you care only if you have a bowl of rice on your table today?
And this is what I think…
Every little action in your daily life counts, it does not matter how insignificant it may look such as speaking to your children using your mother tongue, or buying your country’s products instead of the cheapest ones, or loving and caring for your environment.