Why is it that the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, does not live in Tibet? Many people are aware that the Dalai Lama lives in exile and that he has done so for 51 years, but surprisingly few in Taiwan are familiar with the story of why he was forced to flee 51 years ago.
Recently, a Chinese-language version of the Dalai Lama’s autobiography My Land and My People was published in Taiwan and it is an absolute must for anyone curious about that time in history. More importantly, the book also provides many lessons for Taiwan today as it faces the formidable challenge of rapprochement with China.
What happened in Tibet half a century ago? Why did the country not enjoy peace after signing a “peace agreement” with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a document that is better known as the Seventeen-Point Agreement, in 1951?
Why did Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, later erupt into mass riots and why was the Dalai Lama forced to flee his homeland?
The Seventeen-Point Agreement not only failed to facilitate a sustainable peace, it resulted in exile for many, with more than 100,000 people losing their homes and thousands more their lives.
In My Land and My People, the Dalai Lama says that when he accepted an invitation from India to take part in the 2,500th Buddha birthday celebrations in 1956, he did not want to return to Tibet.
However, then-Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru persuaded the first premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou Enlai (周恩來), to personally guarantee that the CCP would not enforce its “reforms” on the Tibetan people.
That was the reason the Dalai Lama was willing to return to home.
However, after only a few years, the situation deteriorated so badly that he had no choice but to flee for India.
If we look at more recent history, in 1979, when paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) said that everything other than independence was open for discussion, the Dalai Lama decided to start negotiations with the CCP for the welfare of his 6 million countrymen in Tibet.
To that end he asked for a high degree of autonomy and gave up on ever gaining independence.
However, in 30 years of China-Tibetan talks, little of substance has been achieved and the CCP still accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist.
The CCP has also not wasted time, seizing more and more land in Tibet, encouraging “Han” Chinese immigration and promoting large-scale sinification.
Today there are more “Han” Chinese residents in Lhasa than Tibetans and Tibet is becoming a second Mongolia, where not even 20 percent of the population is Mongolian.
Tibet’s experience in negotiating with the CCP has been a bloody one and this is an experience that Taiwanese must not forget in their own dealings with China.
Some people in Taiwan propose signing a “peace agreement” with China, but with no war between the two countries, why do we need to sign a peace agreement?
If there is a war, how is it that the governments of Taiwan and China continue to exchange friendly words with one another?
The lessons of history are there to be learned: A “peace agreement” with China failed to save the Tibetan people and that is something the Taiwanese public needs to think about long and hard.
Chow Mei-li is chairperson of the Taiwan Friends of Tibet.
TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON
Although internal Chinese politics are largely defined by meticulously concocted mysteries, it is an open secret that the battle for who will ascend to the highest echelons of Zhongnanhai is decided at the Beidaihe resort. It is where factions within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) engage in horse-trading over leadership selection and delegate appointments long before the party’s national congress. What unfolded at last month’s 20th National Congress was predetermined at the Beidaihe gathering in August. In this context, the CCP, and particularly Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), used the event to project power and party unity.
The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau and the New Taipei City Prosecutors’ Office recently uncovered misconduct by Kaohsiung news outlet China VTV Co (中華微視公司). The company is being investigated for allegedly having financial connections with China without the approval of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission. China VTV also allegedly conducted an information campaign by creating videos in line with Chinese propaganda and posting them on social media, aiming to foment social division and mistrust in the government, prosecutors said. This is nothing short of exhilarating, as it means that the government is finally using legal means to stop pro-China “accomplices”
Over the past few decades, only judges have been the triers of fact and law in Taiwan’s judiciary. Nevertheless, ordinary people are from next year to have the opportunity to be take on that role in criminal cases, a milestone in Taiwan’s history. The Citizen Judges Act (國民法官法) was passed by the Legislative Yuan on July 22, promulgated by the president on Aug. 12 and is to be implemented on Jan. 1 next year. Under the act, lay people are to be randomly selected as citizen judges who would participate in trial proceedings and adjudicate cases alongside professional judges in
The strategically vital city of Kherson is back in the hands of Ukrainians, albeit under threat of Russian shelling and attacks on its electricity supply. However, as combatants on both sides of an increasingly static firing line prepare for a winter war, there are effectively two separate conflicts emerging — one on the land, the other in the air. What can the West do to help Ukraine meet the immediate tactical challenges, and ultimately seize the longer-term advantage? On land, the arrival of a wet, rainy fall and a harsh winter should lead to a decrease in operations. Both Russia and