Half a century ago today, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces were launching their final assault on Lhasa, forcing the Dalai Lama and eventually hundreds of thousands of Tibetans to flee their homeland. Fifty years ago, Tibet as a free state was disappearing, engulfed by China, which expanded its empire dramatically.
During the last 50 years, the Dalai Lama has become a symbol of peace, religious wisdom and self-determination, welcomed by crowds and governments alike, praised and showered with honorifics.
Still, the reality is that the Dalai Lama’s charisma and universal appeal, as well as the peaceful resistance that he espouses, have failed. Today, generations of Tibetan exiles are no closer to going home than they were when the tanks first turned their turrets toward the old capital. In fact, the tanks are still there. Half a century of occupation and repression has taken its toll on symbols of Tibetan religion and culture, while society has become polarized between the subjugated and those who, out of self-interest or for other reasons, are now repeating the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) line that the PLA “liberated” Tibet.
Facing growing criticism within his ranks, the Dalai Lama has himself admitted that peaceful resistance — or the “middle way” — hasn’t worked, that the CCP has been a dishonest negotiator and that hope is dwindling. So humiliating has been Beijing’s lack of response to the Dalai Lama’s call for “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet that other, younger generations have been wondering if means other than pacifism might not be the solution. That this implies taking on China’s formidable tool of repression, the PLA, shows the level of desperation and frustration — and hope — that flows in their veins.
Despite its success in crushing rebellion and peaceful resistance, Beijing has failed to understand one precious lesson of history — “the indestructibility of man’s yearning for freedom,” as Soviet war correspondent and author Vasily Grossman, who was among the first to report on the Nazi extermination camps, wrote in his critique of Fascism and totalitarianism, Life and Fate.
A totalitarian or authoritarian regime’s ability to control the masses is contingent on the use of force or the threat of the use of it. Either it uses “eternal violence” until a point is reached where there is no one left to kill, or it dies of its own choosing by relinquishing its prerogative to violence. The CCP not only faces this challenge with Tibetans, but also with Uighurs in Xinjiang, Falun Gong practitioners, ordinary Chinese who strive for freedom and, should it come to this, Taiwanese.
By making force the principal agent of its legitimacy and its primary means to remain in power, the CCP is ensuring its eventual demise. For while it can use or promise “eternal violence,” the human thirst for freedom will always be stronger — as strong as life itself. It is this spirit of hope, of unremitting resistance to oppression even when the odds are bad, that we cherish today as we remember the terrible events of half a century ago.
“Man’s fate may make him a slave,” Grossman wrote, “but his nature remains unchanged.”
As China’s economy was meant to drive global economic growth this year, its dramatic slowdown is sounding alarm bells across the world, with economists and experts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his unwillingness or inability to respond to the nation’s myriad mounting crises. The Wall Street Journal reported that investors have been calling on Beijing to take bolder steps to boost output — especially by promoting consumer spending — but Xi has deep-rooted philosophical objections to Western-style consumption-driven growth, seeing it as wasteful and at odds with his goal of making China a world-leading industrial and technological powerhouse, and
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
During a news conference in Vietnam on Sept. 10, a reporter asked US President Joe Biden about the possibility of China invading Taiwan. Biden replied that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is too busy handling major domestic economic problems to launch an invasion of Taiwan. On Wednesday last week, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office published a document outlining 21 measures to make the Chinese-controlled Fujian Province into a demonstration zone for relations with Taiwan. The planned measures would expand favorable treatment for Taiwanese people and companies, and seek to attract people from Taiwan to buy property and seek employment in Fujian.
More than 100 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessels and aircraft were detected making incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday and Monday, the Ministry of National Defense reported on Monday. The ministry responded to the incursions by calling on China to “immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions,” saying that Beijing’s actions could “easily lead to a sharp escalation in tensions and worsen regional security.” Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that the unusually high number of incursions over such a short time was likely Beijing’s response to efforts