The whole disucussion thread is introduced to me by netizen Willy, originally from a closed PBS discussion forum with title In response to Tony Martin (in relation to the Tibet issue). That’s a very long thread and below is excerpt of Jones’ summary on his position. Although there is only statements below, you can easily find more “empirically verifiable research data of both a quantitative and qualitative nature” in the thread.
I agree the overall frame of his position but disagree on several points. In general, I think that’s a good starter for Tibetan issue.
BTW, I can’t contact M.A.Jones at the moment. So the post is here w/o his permission.
Let me summarise my overall position on the Tibetan issue, so as to help those of you who are interested in producing a rebuttal. My arguments are as follows:
1. Human rights abuses have and continue to occur in Tibet, but the extent of these abuses has been and continues to be greatly exaggerated by the Tibetan Government in Exile and by its Western supporters in the so-called “pro-Tibet lobby”.
2. The human rights conditions and overall living standards of the majority of Tibetans has been and continues to improve under Chinese rule, and this has been the case since the Deng reforms were first introduced.
3. Most ill-feelings towards the Han Chinese and towards Chinese rule reflect the collective memory of the Cultural Revolution experience. The strength of these feelings is now beginning to fade as more and more Tibetans are drawn into the middle class, and their lives made more comfortable. Tibetans are thus becoming increasingly divided on their attitudes towards Chinese rule, and their feelings more complex and open to flux.
4. Tibetan culture is not, contrary to the propaganda of the pro-Tibet lobby, in any danger of disappearing. Quite the opposite in fact – Tibet, over the past few decades, has been and continues to experience a cultural renaissance, spurred on partly by financial grants and encouragement from Beijing, and partly through the initiative of ethnic Tibetans themselves, as they seize on the opportunities that increasing tourism brings to share their cultural life in newly commodified forms.
5. Rather than being “Sinocised” urban Tibet is being Westernised. Tibet’s transition from feudalism to modernity has been a painful one, but one that many Tibetans are now embracing as they see the benefits filtering through. Young Tibetans are thus becoming increasingly less interested in religious and independence issues as they discover and embrace more de-sublimated forms of pleasure through shopping, the internet, discos, kareoke bars, and, for the smaller but growing number of wealthier bougeois individuals among them (most of whom are drawn, not surprisingly, from the families of religious tulkas) the joys of both domestic and international travel and study.
6. The traditional political activities of organised Tibetan religious intitutions throughout the TAR have been restrained, and continue to be restrained (often brutally) under Chinese governance, but generally speaking lamaism is thriving – not only throughout the TAR, but also throughout greater China (even in Beijing) and internationally too for that matter. Considerable religious freedom then, despite claims to the contrary, exists in Tibet.
7. The Tibetan Government in Exile mislead the world about the true nature of the majority of those Tibetans who journey to Dharmasala each year – most are not refugees, but religious pilgrims. The Tibetan Government in Exile has both financial and political incentives to do so.
8. The Tibetan Government in Exile and its Western supporters in the pro-Tibet lobby are funded mostly by those whose economic and political interests view China’s rise as a threat. The U.S. State Department is the major contributor of funds to both the Government in Exile and to the Tibet lobby. Considerable funds are also raised through commercial activities, like international Dalai Lama lecture tours, and through the sale of Buddhist kitsch to Western New Age consumers.
9. Pro-Tibetan lobby groups essentially parade as “non-profit” human rights organisations, registering themselves as charities to encourage businesses and individuals to make tax-deductible donations – which essentially means that they are a drain on the public purse. They also have a vested interest in grossly exaggerating their claims in order to excite the sympathies of the public so that they can attract public donations and political support.
10. That by failing to present a fair and more realistic picture of what is happening in Tibet, both the self-proclaimed Tibetan Government in Exile and their supporters actually cause far more harm than good to the plight of the Tibetan people, especially for those living within the TAR. Their propaganda and support encourages hardliners within the ethnic Tibetan community living within the TAR to promote resistance and separatism, which in turn adds to the anxieties and security concerns of those hardliners within the Chinese ruling elite, who then in turn respond by introducing and enforcing more strictly those public security laws that restrict politico-religious activities – which as I said earlier, often do in fact result in brutal punishments by over-zealous enforcers. Such instances, not surprisingly then, tend to occur in waves, rather than on a regular day to day basis.
11. The main long-term political goal of the former ruling theocratic elite, now based in Dharmasala, is to regain their political control of Tibet. Their international campaign against China therefore, rather ironically, does more harm to their own cause than good, and only decreases their likelihood of ever being able to cut a deal with Beijing. The watered down goal of the Dalai Lama now, is the establishment of self-government for the TAR whilst remaining a part of China – in the same way that Hong Kong operates. Ironically, this is EXACTLY what China originally offered the Tibetan ruling elite, but by rejecting the offer in favour of supporting a separatist movement for full independence, they have now lost out completely. Easily the single biggest political mistake of the Dalai Lama’s career – as A. Tom Grunfeld has convincingly pointed out.