Tibet and Xinjiang in China

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:


    Tibet, the high-altitude Himalayan plateau associated in popular memory with meditation and Buddhist serenity, has been the scene of periodic strife ever since it was seized militarily by China in 1951.

    China’s government regards Tibet as an integral part of China and is sensitive to expressions of support from Tibet’s former ruler, the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in 1959, after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He has accused China of stifling Tibetan culture. The Chinese consider the Dalai Lama a subversive advocate of Tibetan independence, although he has said he only wants greater autonomy for Tibet.

    In March 2011, the Dalai Lama announced what he called his retirement, as he prepared to relinquish political power. The next month, Tibet’s government announced the election of a Harvard legal scholar, Lobsang Sangay, as its new prime minister, a choice signaling a generational shift within the Tibetan movement.

    Analysts said the Dalai Lama would continue to be recognized as the leader of the Tibetan cause since he alone can unify and mobilize Tibetans inside and outside of China. But by formally giving up political power, the Dalai Lama was trying to deepen the authority of the movement’s democratic government, according to analysts.

    The Dalai Lama and many older Tibetan exiles were born inside Tibet and fled in 1959. But Mr. Sangay is part of the younger generation born outside Tibet, many of whom are eager for a more confrontational approach with China.

    An Exile’s Self-Immolation Galvanizes a Movement

    Nearly 50 Tibetans have set fire to themselves since 2009 in what appear to be protests against Chinese rule. In the first three weeks of March 2012 alone, seven Tibetans chose an agonizing, self-annihilating protest.

    As a result, Chinese security forces clamped down across the plateau, so only a handful of the self-immolations have been recorded and transmitted, and only in grainy cellphone photographs or video.

    That changed on March 26, when Jamphel Yeshi, a Tibetan exile in New Delhi, India, set himself alight in front of hundreds of people during a protest before a visit by President Hu Jintao of China, who was scheduled to attend an economic summit meeting in New Delhi. Mr. Yeshi was taken to a hospital with burns over 98 percent of his body, and died two days later.

    The shocking images of Mr. Yeshi’s self-immolation provided the Tibetan exile movement with a rallying point. Within hours, the pictures had been posted on blogs and social-networking Web sites.

    In August 2012, a Tibetan woman, Dolkar Kyi, 26, killed herself through self-immolation at a monastery in a Tibetan area of China, according to Free Tibet, an advocacy group based in London.

    Also, a Tibetan monk from Kirti Monastery self-immolated in the town of Ngaba, according to reports by Free Tibet and Radio Free Asia, which is financed by the United States government.

    The monk appeared to be alive and badly burned when he was taken away by security forces after the self-immolation, the reports said. Radio Free Asia gave his name as Lobsang Trinlay, while Free Tibet identified him as Lobsang Tsultrim.

    Many self-immolations have taken place in Ngaba, called Aba in Chinese, where there is a market street now known as “Martyrs Road” because of the number of self-immolations that have taken place there.

    2008: Uprising Across Tibet

    Rioting in 2008 convulsed Tibetan areas of China, and rights groups said scores of artists, intellectuals, students and businesspeople were detained and sentenced to prison on charges of subverting state power or seeking to “split” Tibet from China.

    A report on the 2008 riots by Human Rights Watch, released in July 2010, said Chinese security forces violated international law in suppressing the protest by indiscriminately beating, detaining and fatally shooting civilians in towns across the vast Tibetan plateau in western China.

    Disturbances broke out on March 10, 2008, the anniversary of the failed uprising against Chinese rule. The protests turned violent and were described as the largest since 1989, which ended in a bloody clash with Chinese security forces and the imposition of martial law.

    The 2008 disturbances were a public relations nightmare for the ruling Communist Party, which held its annual meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March of that year. Harried by pro-Tibet demonstrations around the world, China was hard pressed to present a harmonious image to the world when it played host to the Olympic Games in August 2008.

    Han Migration

    Han Chinese workers, investors, merchants, teachers and soldiers are pouring into remote Tibet. After the violence that ravaged this region in 2008, China’s aim is to make Tibet wealthier — and more Chinese.

    Chinese leaders see development, along with an enhanced security presence, as the key to pacifying the Buddhist region.

    Simple restaurants located in white prefabricated houses and run by ethnic Han businesspeople who take the train have sprung up even at a remote lake north of Lhasa. About 1.2 million rural Tibetans, nearly 40 percent of the region’s population, have been moved into new residences under a “comfortable housing” program. And officials promise to increase tourism fourfold by 2020, to 20 million visitors a year.

    But the increased ethnic Han presence — and the uneven benefits of Han-led investment — have kept the region on edge.

    2009: Words From the Dalai Lama

    In 2009, the Dalai Lama delivered one of his harshest attacks on the Chinese government in recent times, saying the Chinese Communist Party had transformed Tibet into a “hell on earth” and that the Chinese authorities regarded Tibetans as “criminals deserving to be put to death.”

    The spiritual leader of the Tibetans spoke in Dharamsala, India, the Himalayan hill town that is the seat of the Tibetan government in exile. Tibetans outside of China and their supporters held rallies around the world marking the uprising’s anniversary.

    The furious tone of the speech may have been in reaction to the clampdown. The Dalai Lama may also have adopted an angry approach to placate younger Tibetans who have accused him of being too conciliatory toward China. The Dalai Lama advocates genuine autonomy for Tibet and not secession, while more radical Tibetans are urging him to support outright independence.

    Imposing More Control Over Clergy

    Communist Party leaders have also introduced a “monastic management” plan to more directly control religious life. As part of the plan, 21,000 party officials have been sent to Tibetan communities with the goal of “befriending” monks — and creating dossiers on each of them. Compliant clergy are rewarded with health care benefits, pensions and television sets; the recalcitrant are sometimes expelled from their monasteries.

    At some temples, monks and nuns have been forced to publicly denounce the Dalai Lama, whose name is often invoked by self-immolators. The freedom of movement that allowed monks to study at distant monasteries across Tibet and four adjacent provinces has been curtailed.

    Senior officials have trumpeted the new approach, which includes the distribution of one million national flags and portraits of Mao Zedong and other party leaders. But such measures may be having the opposite intended effect.

    The antipathy, never far beneath the surface, is erupting into plain view with greater frequency. In one week in March 2012, several protests broke out, including two in Qinghai Province that were led by students angry over the introduction of Chinese-language textbooks for subjects like chemistry, math and geography. In January, exile groups said 31 people were shot, at least one fatally, when police opened fire on demonstrators in Drango County, in Sichuan Province. In Diru County, in the Tibet Autonomous Region, 20 of the 22 monasteries have been closed, according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

    Spasms of unrest have coursed through modern Tibetan history with some regularity. In 1959, thousands perished when troops violently quelled an uprising against Chinese rule that spurred the Dalai Lama to flee to India. Between 1987 and 1989, the region was rocked by protests that were brutally crushed. The most recent crackdown began in March 2008, when rioting in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, led to the death of at least 19 people, most of them Han Chinese. In the weeks and months that followed, exile groups say a far greater number of Tibetans died.

    But Tibetan scholars and exiles say the current resistance campaign is unlike anything seen before. The tactic — public, fiery suicides that do not harm bystanders or property — has profoundly moved ordinary Tibetans and bedeviled Chinese officials. Just as significant, they note, is that the protesters are mostly young.

    Technology Helps Fan Unrest

    The technology revolution, though slow in coming, has penetrated the most far-flung corners of the Tibetan plateau, transforming ordinary life and playing an increasingly pivotal role in the spreading unrest over Chinese policies that many Tibetans describe as stifling.

    Despite government efforts to restrict the flow of information, citizen journalists and ordinary monks have gathered details and photographs of self-immolators, pole-vaulting them over the country’s so-called Great Firewall. In some cases, blurred images show their final fiery moments or the horrific aftermath before paramilitary police officers haul the protesters out of public view.

    News accounts, quickly packaged by advocacy groups and e-mailed to foreign journalists, often include the protesters’ demands: greater autonomy and the return of the Dalai Lama.

    The awareness is influencing a generation raised under Chinese rule but skeptical of official propaganda that maligns the Dalai Lama or brands the self-immolators as terrorists.

    Many analysts say the contrast between 2012 and the aftermath of unrest in 2008 is striking. It is still difficult to know exactly what happened during and after the 2008 rioting that started in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibetan advocacy groups say hundreds across the region died at the hands of the police. The government acknowledges only two dozen deaths, most of them of Han Chinese killed by rioters and several of Tibetans convicted and executed for their role in the violence.

    Tibetan exiles and advocacy groups say they increasingly receive calls during impromptu street rallies. Such activity, however, can be perilous. Exile groups say government efforts to choke off information have been largely successful in much of the Tibet Autonomous Region, where security is draconian and foreign journalists are forbidden to go.

    But to the east, in predominantly Tibetan areas that until recently were more lightly administered, the fear of retribution has yet to stanch the sharing of information.

    Tibet News - Breaking World Tibet News - The New York Times

    It would be interesting for all to learn more about Tibet and the contentious relationship with China.

    To keep the issue level, I have used a neutral source.

    Some of the issues that is causing the friction has been mentioned, but basically it is all about Tibetans dying to preserve their singular identity in all it facets that the Han Chinese are equally adamant to wipe out is the cause of the problem.

    For China 'harmony and stability' are the two principles that they are keen to ensure throughout China so that there are no dissipation of single national identity which in turn wipes out all desires to maintain one's roots.

    It has been a historical phenomenon of the Chinese.

    The Uighurs and Tibetans it appears do not subscribe to China's views and hence the problems.

    The Chinese have poured much money into Tibet and Xinjaing, of course to improve their own (Han) existence, but that does not seem to have impressed the Tibetans or the Uighurs.

    While Uighur protests have been insurrection, the Tibetans have done it the Buddhist way - pacific protest and self immolation.
  3. Tianshan

    Tianshan Regular Member

    Jun 2, 2011
    Likes Received:
    chinese is not the same as han.

    maybe for foreigners, all chinese people look like han, but in fact we have 56 different races that make up chinese people.
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:
    An Online Plea to China’s Leader to Save Tibet’s Culture


    BEIJING — Nearly 90 scholars of Tibet at universities and institutes around the world, from Melbourne to Warsaw to Vancouver, have issued a plea to Xi Jinping, China’s new Communist Party leader, to reverse state language policies and practices that “jeopardize the continuing viability” of Tibetan civilization, something many experts say is stoking resentment of Chinese rule in Tibet.....

    “Over the last several years, the authorities have been trying to institute new measures that eliminate or severely restrict the use of Tibetan as the language of instruction in Tibetan-speaking areas,” they wrote.

    “We know the value of Tibet’s civilization and we regret that the Tibetan language, which is its fundamental support, is seemingly marginalized and devalued in the TAR,” or the Tibet Autonomous Region, as Tibet is known in China, “and in various other Tibetan autonomous administrative units at the same time that it is increasingly being taught and studied in universities around the world.”

    The policy “has already been active in the Tibet Autonomous Region for several years and has led to well-known results: students destined for senior positions in the public or private sectors now have only a superficial knowledge of their own language and civilization,” said the scholars.

    More at:
    An Online Plea to China's Leader to Save Tibet's Culture - NYTimes.com


    Chinese Court Said to Punish Tibetan Students with Prison Terms

    BEIJING — A Chinese court has sentenced eight Tibetan students to prison for their role in street protests last month that unnerved security forces already coping with a wave of self-immolations, many of them by young people who have become increasingly radicalized in their opposition to Chinese policies in the region, a Washington-based advocacy group reported Wednesday...

    The student demonstrations in Tsolho Prefecture, known in Chinese as Hainan, began late last month after the authorities distributed the pamphlets. Infuriated by several passages, students from the Tsolho Professional Training School marched to a government building chanting slogans that called for “freedom” and Tibetan language rights, according to Radio Free Asia.

    At one point, some protesters burned the pamphlets, drawing a violent response from the paramilitary police who arrested a number of participants. “They beat up the students, hurled tear gas at them and there was also some kind of explosive used on the student crowd,” according to an account published by Radio Free Asia, quoting a local source. More than 20 students were injured, several critically, the report said.

    More at
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Tibet Is Burning
    Published: December 12, 2012

    Beijing AROUND noon on Feb. 19, an 18-year-old named Nangdrol set himself on fire near the Zamthang Monastery in the northeast Tibetan town of Barma. In a note left behind, he wrote, “I am going to set myself on fire for the benefit of all Tibetans.” Referring to China’s ethnic Han majority as “devils,” he added, “It is impossible to live under their evil law, impossible to bear this torture that leaves no scars.”

    Over the last three years, close to 100 Tibetan monks and laypeople have set themselves on fire; 30 people did so between Nov. 4 and Dec. 3. The Chinese government is seeking to halt this wave of self-immolations by detaining Tibetans it accuses of being instigators. Meanwhile, the scarless torture continues.

    I first visited China’s far west 21 years ago with college friends. Back then it at least looked peaceful, but now, sad news arrives daily. When I returned in October, a young monk invited me to visit his monastery. Passing a checkpoint where a red banner read, “Stability Maintenance Calls for Fast Response to Emergencies,” he told me how he hated the sight of armed soldiers.

    Because a road was closed for construction, I had to wait until evening to hitch a ride to Barma, where Nangdrol had lived, about 30 miles away. I was the third passenger in the car; the other two were young Tibetans.

    “Are you Buddhist followers?” I asked them. One of them showed me a pendant portrait of the Dalai Lama that he pulled out from his chest. “He is our true Holiness,” he said.

    “Have you heard about the self-immolations? Like, burning oneself?” I asked tentatively, finally broaching the topic. They knew about it.

    “Pardon me, but do you hate the Hans?” I asked them because Nangdrol had used the term “Han devils” in his suicide note. They’d heard about Nangdrol. When I told them I was there to visit Nangdrol’s parents to express my sadness, they told me more.

    They said they’d been to the site, as hundreds of Tibetans had. People had set up white tents at the intersection where he died. “He is our hero,” one said.

    It was dark when we arrived in Barma. At a lamppost, one of my fellow passengers asked a man for directions but was waved off. At a crossroads, he asked two men on motorcycles and an argument broke out. A monk came to the window to examine me.

    “Sorry,” my fellow passenger said, “they scolded me for taking you here.” A minivan approached. Two men jumped out of it and upbraided him indignantly. Fear and hostility shrouded the place like night.

    “We are Tibetans,” he said all of a sudden as we left Barma in silence to spend the night in a nearby town. “We are Buddhists, but we can’t go to Lhasa without a permit.” Years ago, you could see many Tibetans on their pilgrimage to Lhasa, but not anymore.

    The next day, I returned to Barma. I asked a young monk, on his way to fetch water, about Nangdrol. He took me to a hall where a middle-aged monk sat cross-legged in a corner. Since I didn’t have Nangdrol’s photo with me, he said he couldn’t help me.

    A teenage monk asked several of his peers but got no answers. Passers-by shook their heads. At a construction site, no one had heard about him either. In the town’s elementary school I asked an armed soldier guarding the gate. I’d read that Nangdrol was a student. The soldier suggested that I check out the nearby compound where a Chinese flag flew, but people told me the town had no secondary school.

    The road back from Barma was open only from noon to 1 p.m. I had to leave. Along a creek, a row of poplars basked in the golden sun, and a group of young monks in crimson robes were holding a class. Reluctantly, I climbed into a cab. I had been to many places over the years but never felt so lost.

    I stopped the driver a mile or so down the road when we passed by a village on a slope. After my repeated pleadings, the roadside shop owner gave me directions to Nangdrol’s home. Up on the slope, an old couple pointed to the house.

    It was a small mud-plastered house enclosed in mud-brick walls, and five tall sutra streamers flew on one side of the property. The iron gate was locked.

    A middle-aged woman with a boy, passing by, said she had known Nangdrol. His parents now live on a faraway cattle farm, she said. The day of his death, she told me, he wore new clothes, and he was freshly bathed, with a fresh haircut. He asked people whether he was handsome.

    I didn’t know how else to express my sorrow. I asked the woman to give 500 yuan (about $80) to Nangdrol’s parents, letting them know that a Han Chinese man had come to pay his respects.

    I am sorry we Han Chinese have been silent as Nangdrol and his fellow Tibetans are dying for freedom. We are victims ourselves, living in estrangement, infighting, hatred and destruction. We share this land. It’s our shared home, our shared responsibility, our shared dream — and it will be our shared deliverance.

    Xu Zhiyong, a lawyer and human rights advocate, is a founder of Gongmeng, the Open Constitution Initiative. This essay was translated from the Chinese by Yaxue Cao.



    But China does not believe that Tibet is burning.

    Is Tibet really burning?
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:


    Since 1965 Tibet has been administered by the Chinese government as the Tibet Autonomous Region. The government is led by the regional Communist Party secretary, the most powerful figure in Tibet who is sort of like a state governor in the U.S. He is appointed by the Communist Party in Beijing. The Communist Party, aware that Buddhism is central to Tibetans, has tried to select and prop up lamas who will support the government while still retaining legitimacy among the people.

    The governor is the figurehead regional leader in Tibet. In January 2010, Beijing announced it choice for the new governor of Tibet, Padma Choling, an ethnic Tibetan who served for 17 years in the People’s Liberation Army. Qiangba Puncong, the governor of Tibet during the uprising in 2008, was also a Tibetan.

    About 90 percent of the Tibetan budget is covered by the central government. Many towns and cities have military garrisons on the outskirts of towns manned by soldiers ready to respond if trouble erupts. One high-level official told Reuters, “All the people of Tibet, especially the Tibetans, say that social stability is the best thing. Only with stability can there be development.”

    China tries to keep control in Tibet by making sure there is at least one Chinese official in even the most remote corners of Tibet. Even though Tibetans make up about two thirds of the government employees in Tibet, Chinese officials hold all the important administrative positions. The Chinese government demands loyalty among its Tibetan employees. Tibetan officials that speak up for the use of the Tibetan language or cultural or religious rights run the risk of being labeled as separatists and being demoted, fired or even arrested. Every March Tibetan work units are ordered to warn people not to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Employees that don't go along risk being fired from their jobs. Government employees also can not display pictures of the Dalai Lama without risk of being dismissed.

    Chinese propaganda often refers to Tibet as “a once remote and backward place.” Videos show Tibetans singing in Mandarin of their love for the Chinese motherland. Pictures of Chinese President Hu Jintao have been Tibetanized with the Chinese President wearing a khatang, superimposed over images of Potala Plaza and enthusiastic Tibetan dancers in traditional costumes. The phrase ‘parent of all gods’ entered the news during the crisis in Tibet in 2008, when the ‘autonomous region's’ party secretary declared that the Communist Party was the ‘real Buddha’ for Tibetans.

    Hannah Beech wrote in Time, The Chinese government’s efforts to tame the Tibetans, ranging from brutal crackdowns to economic enticements, have failed. Despite decades of so-called patriotic education, Tibetans still revere the Dalai Lama and see themselves as “completely Tibetan, not even 1 percent Chinese,” as one Kardze resident tells me. Access to the region’s plentiful natural resources go to Han migrants. Police officers tend to be Han, as are many bureaucrats. “If we don’t do something, our Tibetan culture will be extinguished,” says a high-ranking monk at a Kardze monastery popular with Han tourists. “That is why the situation is so urgent. That’s why we are trying to save our people and our nation.” [Source: Hannah Beech, Time, November 15, 2011]

    Tibetans traditionally celebrate the arrival of the new year a month later than the Chinese, with New Year’s Day usually falling in March, a month that has many political associations. Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “The month of March is a delicate time in China-Tibet relations. The Dalai Lama fled to India in March 1959, after the Chinese Army quashed a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, during the initial Chinese occupation there. There has been a history of Tibetans protesting Chinese rule on the anniversaries of the Dalai Lama’s flight, and one such protest by monks in 2008 in Lhasa, and the suppression of it by security forces, led to the widespread uprising that enveloped much of the Tibetan plateau that spring. Since then, the Chinese government has increased the presence of security forces across the plateau each March and has barred foreigners from traveling to many areas there during that month.

    Good Websites and Sources: Central Tibetan Administration (Tibetan government in Exile) - Central Tibetan Administration ; Chinese Government Tibet website eng.tibet.cn/; China and Tibet : Tibet China Conflict PDF file eastwestcenter.org ; Tibet and China, Two Distinct Views Rangzen Means Independence ; Chinese Government’s Take on Tibetan History index-china.com White Paper on Tibetan Culture english.people.com.cn ; Tibet Activist Groups: Tibet Online tibet.org ; Students for a Free Tibet studentsforafreetibet.org ; Students for a Free Tibet UK /sftuk.org ; Friends of Tibet friendsoftibet.org ; Tibetan Review tibetan.review.to ; Campaign for Tibet (Save Tibet) savetibet.org ; Tibet Society tibetsociety.com ; Free Tibet freetibet.org ; Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy tchrd.org ; Links in this Website: TIBETAN GOVERNMENT Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINA AND TIBET Factsanddetails.com/China ; PRESENT DALAI LAMA Factsanddetails.com/China ; DALAI LAMA’S CURRENT LIFE Factsanddetails.com/China ; DALAI LAMA AND POLITICS Factsanddetails.com/China ; TIBETAN HISTORY Factsanddetails.com/China ; TIBET UNDER CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ;TIBETAN UPRISING IN 2008 Factsanddetails.com/China ; FALL OUT OF TIBETAN UPRISING IN 2008 Factsanddetails.com/China THE 2008 OLYMPICS IN BEIJING AND POLITICS Factsanddetails.com/China

    Chinese Position on Tibet

    The government in Beijing claims that Tibet (whose name in Chinese is Xizang, or "Western Treasure") has been an "inalienable" part of China since the 13th century. See History

    In the early 20th century, Tibet became important to China for nationalist reasons as Chinese battled imperialism and foreign occupation. Many Chinese intellectuals believed China's historical claims on Tibet were being usurped by Europeans, particularly Britain which invaded Tibet in 1904.In this way Tibet was viewed in the same light as Japanese-occupied Manchuria and British-occupied Hong Kong.

    The pioneering, early 20th century Chinese leader Sun Yat-sen described China’s main ethnic groups—the Han, Manchu, Hui, Mongolian and Tibetans—as the “five fingers” of China. With one of these five fingers missing the Chinese feel their nation is not whole.

    Most Chinese have long since absorbed the government side of the Tibetan issue promulgated in textbooks, on television and in newspapers. Orville Shell told Atlantic Monthly, "I don’t think there is any more sensitive issue with the possible exception of Taiwan, because it grows out of the dream of a unified motherland—a dream that historically speaking has been the goal of almost every Chinese leader. The issue touches on sovereignty, it touches on unity of Chinese territory, and especially it touches on the issue of the West, a predator, the violator of Chinese sovereignty."

    The Chinese insist that their army freed Tibetans from theocratic slavery and that Tibet is inseparable from China. The Chinese government has released a series of papers on how its rule has created a safer and more prosperous Tibet.

    Some Chinese have admitted that maybe they went too far in Tibet and say it was a mistake to invade Tibet. Others believe that China has been too soft on Tibet. Many officials in Beijing believe that liberal cultural polices have only encouraged the Tibetans to more actively seek independence. By limiting cultural and religious expression, many Chinese believe, they also limit calls for independence. See Religion.

    Chinese know little about the Tibetan interpretation of Tibetan history because their textbooks only present the Communist Party’s interpretation of events. They also feel that Tibetans receive special subsidies and benefits that other groups in China don't receive and for the Tibetans to complain is seen as ingratitude.

    The Chinese believe they have brought progress to Tibet. A show at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing called Tibet: Past and Present was divide into two parts: the first, called The History of Tibet and Feudal Serfdom in Old Tibet featured images of peasants maimed and crippled by lords and Buddhist lamas; the second, New Tibet Changing With each Passing Day showed modern Tibet in all its glory. Tibetan Buddhism is dismissed by the Chinese as an “outmoded superstition.”

    Evan Osnos wrote in The New Yorker: “China has narrowed its own options: by educating its citizens to perceive any concession where Tibet is concerned as an existential threat, China has left itself little room to bargain. So, for the moment, the two sides remain locked in a war of patience: the Dalai Lama waiting to win over enough ordinary Chinese followers to alter Chinese policy, and the Chinese government waiting to win over enough ordinary Tibetans to keep Lhasa stable. Chinese leaders are betting that, if they wait for the Dalai Lama to die, whoever comes after him will be less galvanizing...and they are probably right. [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, October 4, 2010]

    How China’s View on the Collapse of the Soviet Union Shapes Its Hardline Tibet Policy

    Beijing’s hardline towards Tibet is based partly on its analysis of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they partly blame on a policy of granting too much ethnic groups there too much autonomy. When protesters in Kazakhstan took to the streets in 1986 to declare that “Kazakhstan belongs to Kazakhs,” Mikhail Gorbachev first sent in the military but then tried to appease the rioters by installing a Kazakh apparatchik and changing unpopular language laws. Other ethnic groups then demanded more freedoms and concessions. [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, October 4, 2010]

    Ma Rong, an influential sociologist at Peking University told The New Yorker the chain of events “reminded the P.R.C. leaders of the political risk in managing ethnic relations, and made them very cautious.” “The former Soviet Union took a great risk by handling its nationality/ ethnicity issues the way it did,” Ma wrote in an academic journal in 2007. The Soviets wrongly assumed that Communism would bind their ethnicities together, but the “nation was at risk of disintegrating if the ideological linkage among the ethnic groups collapsed.” [Ibid]

    In 2008, when President Hu Jintao said, “Stability in Tibet concerns the stability of the country’ he had China’s 56 officially recognized ethnic groups in mind not only Tibetans. Chinese arguments that cracking down on Tibet are necessary to maintain national security and stability make sense to a population that recalls the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

    Tibetan Position on Tibet

    The Tibetans, on the other hand, claim that Tibet is an independent country, which until recently has had a limited Chinese presence.

    There has been some discussion of creating a Greater Tibet made up of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) plus Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan Provinces. Many feel this claim is stretch. It is true that many Tibetans live outside TAR and Tibetan influences have gone far beyond TAR boundaries but the Tibetan leadership has never held political control much beyond the borders of the TAR. Plus it is unrealistic to think that China world ever consider giving up control to what amounts to 2.4 million square kilometers of land.

    Peter Hessler wrote in Atlantic Monthly, Tibetan history is so muddled that one can see in it what one wishes. The Chinese can ignore some periods and point to others." The Chinese, for example, base part of their claim on Tibet on a marriage in A.D. 641 between Songsten Campo, the king of Tibet, and princess Wen Cheng, the daughter of the Tang emperor Taizong. The king it turns out was also married to three Tibetans and a Nepalese princess.

    Many Tibetan believe that the clampdown on Tibet culture and religion only breeds resentment and doesn’t quell ambitions of independence at all it only temporally buries them. One monk told Reuters, “We’re a people with no rights and freedoms.” Others disagree. Some Tibetans have said they happier being materially better off under Chinese rule.

    The Han Chinese have felt a resurgence in national pride as the fortune of China has improved. Tibetans can only share in these sentiments if they embrace the idea that they are Chinese and forsake their own identity. Many Tibetans view Tibetans who cooperate with Han Chinese as collaborators. One monk told Reuters, “The Tibetans who work for the government here are bad people. They are working with the Han to suppress our culture and religion.”

    See Separatism and Terrorism, Government; See Dalai Lama and Politics, Dalai Lama; See China, Mongolia and Tibet, See History

    Cultural Genocide in Tibet

    Many Tibetans feel that ethnic inequality, discrimination and cultural extinction fueled by the Chinese government—more than any other human rights issues—are at the root of Tibetans‚ and Uighurs‚ resentment toward Chinese rule. “People around the world often condemn the Chinese government for human rights abuses in Tibet, but we Tibetans do not care so much whether we live well in Tibet,”an envoy of the Tibetan government-in-exile Dawa Tsering told a forum in Taipei organized by the Taiwan New Century Foundation. “What we care most about is whether the Tibetan nation and culture will survive,” he said. [Source: Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times, July 26 2009]

    Dawa has also argued that Tibetans never had a sense of statehood, which is why many did not oppose the PLA invasion. It has only since their culture has come under threat that have started to speak out. Throughout history, Tibetans were not a unified people and the concept of a sovereign state in the modern sense never existed in the minds of Tibetans before the People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in the 1950s, he said. “The reason why most Tibetan civilians did not resist when the Chinese army entered Tibet in 1951 was because the concept that 'our country is being invaded,' did not exist for them,’ Dawa said. ‘However, Tibetans rose against Chinese rule in 1959 because the Chinese were touching on something that Tibetans felt closely attached to,’ he said.

    The Dalai Lama has called Chinese policy in Tibet "cultrual genocide." Many think that traditional Tibet is unlikely to survive in a meaningful way simply because there are too many Chinese and too few Tibetans. The historian Ian Buruma wrote in the Los Angeles Times:“Are the Tibetans doomed to go the way of the American Indians? Will they be little more than tourist attraction, peddling cheap mementos of what was once a great culture? “

    Some Chinese argue that the Chinese have more of claim on Tibet than Americans have on much of the United States. China and Tibet have a relationship that goes back centuries which is more than Americans can say about their relationship with native Americans. In the 1940s, native Alaskans made up more than half of the population of Alaska. Now they make up about 15 percent as a result of migration of people from the people from the lower 48 states. Does that mean that the United States practices "cultural genocide."

    Buruma wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “By forcing the Dalai Lama into exile the Chinese have ensured the establishment of a highly traditional Tibetan diaspora society that might well survive at a level that would have been unlikely even in an independent Tibet. Diaspora cultures thrive on nostalgic dreams of return. Traditions are jealously guarded like precious heirlooms to be passed on as long as those dreams persist. Who is to say they never come true? The Jews managed to hang on to their's for more than 2,000 years.”

    In China’s defense, over the last 20 years China has jailed several hundred people in Tibet while other nations have committed worse atrocities against minorities on their soil. In Cheychna, the Russian army killed about 75,000 civilians and destroyed its capital.

    People also pin their hopes on the Dalai Lama’s return to save their culture. One monk in the village of Wutig told the Washington Post, “We long for the Dalai Lama to come back to solve the issue of religious freedom and help Tibetan culture come back. If we look ahead 10 or 20 years, if the Dalai Lama fails to come back, I do think Tibetan culture will die.”

    In response a Chinese official said, “There’s been the cry ‘the world is coming’ in and damaging Tibetan culture and religion. The undeniable fact is that the Tibetan traditions are prospering because of the joint efforts of the Chinese government and the Tibetan people.”

    Beijing Statements Regarding Tibet

    One of the key elements of the 15-year plan for Tibet released by Beijing in 1996 was the silencing of the Dalai Lama, who is accused of trying "to overthrown the people's government and split the motherland." In a chapter concerning "The Struggle against Splitism," the plan proclaimed: "A great number of facts testify that the Dalai is the chief villain of the political clique that is promoting Tibetan independence...We must expand and deepen and publicly expose and criticize the Dalai Lama, stripping away the cloak of being a 'religious leader.'"

    The plan continued: "We must ensure that the broad masses of the people clearly understand that what he is advocating with his so-called 'Tibetan independence' 'high level autonomy' and 'greater Tibetan region' is really opposition to the Communist Party."

    Strike Hard, a law and order campaign launched by Jiang Zemin in 1996, not only targeted criminals it also crackdown on "splittists" in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. The Tibetan Daily warned "a long-term, bitter, complex, 'you die. I live' political battle with no possibility of compromise."

    The Communist Party has used nationalism as an ideology to keep China together.” When Tibetans and other groups question or attack the nation," Tibetan scholar Dibyesg Anand of Westminster University in London told the New York Times, Chinese see it “as an attack on their core identity...an attack on what it means to be Chinese. Even if minorities don’t feel like part of China, they are part of China’s nationality.”

    Before the riots in March 2008, Chinese President Hu Jintao said, “Tibet’s stability has to do with the entire country’s stability. Tibet’s safety has to do with the entire country’s safety.”

    Efforts by the Chinese to Help Tibetans

    Since 1959 the Chinese government has spent more than $30 billion in Tibet and increased life expectancy from 35.5 to 67 years and raised GDP from 142 yuan to 13,861 yuan.

    The government has built hundreds of villages outfit with modest but relatively comfortable homes that cost around $7,500 and are vast improvement over the houses villagers lived in before.

    Tibetans are allowed to ignore the one-child policy and have three children. They pay virtually no taxes, receive tax-free leases on land, low-interest loans are duty-free imports from Nepal.

    Tibetans have also been afforded the same affirmative action policies afforded other minorities: in some cases they have been given preferences for university admission and government promotions. In recent years a program to resettle Tibet’s nomads into apartments or cinder-block houses and fence off their vast grasslands has gathered pace.

    See Development, Government

    Rebuilt Village of the Dalai Lama

    “Beijing has recently rebuilt the Dalai Lama's birth village—Takster in Qinghai Province — with modern houses. All 54 houses in Taktser have been rebuilt at state cost, and in an attempt to win the hearts of the Dalai Lama's followers, the new homes have been designed with traditional Tibetan flourishes. Every Tibetan household was consulted for its requirements before the overhaul, said Dong Jie, head of the Civil Affairs Bureau of Ping'An County, who oversaw the project.”[Source: Saransh Sehgal, Asia Times, October 5, 2010]

    “Chinese officials boast of how the place has improved since the time the Dalai Lama lived there. The old Tibetan homes have been replaced with modern structures of brick and strong timber, says Xing Fuhua, chief official of Shihuiyao township, which administers Hong'Ai. The village now has roads and a stable power and water supply, although it is still not connected to the world via the Internet.” [Ibid]

    “One of the rebuilt homes is that of Gongpo Tashi, a Tibetan whose main job is to maintain the birthplace of his uncle, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. A state media report quoted Gongpo, who still awaits the Dalai Lama to return Tibet, as saying, ‘If I call him some day, I will definitely tell him of the changes at home.’ Gongpo has visited the Dalai Lama twice in India, but says he has not contacted his uncle for a while. He is not sure the Dalai Lama will ever see the changes. ‘Am I waiting for his return? Well, if he is back, all problems will be solved,’ Gongpo said. [Ibid]

    Chinese Migration into Tibet

    There have been mass migrations of Han Chinese into Tibet. "The Chinese keep coming," one Tibetan told Newsweek, "especially those who can't find jobs anywhere else." Many of them are natives of Sichuan province or Hui Muslims from northwestern China. “Why did I come here? To make money, of course!” Xiong Zhahua, a migrant from Sichuan Province, told the New York Times. He spends five months a year running a restaurant on the shores of chilly Nam Tso, the lake north of Lhasa. [Ibid]

    Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “Han Chinese workers, investors, merchants, teachers and soldiers are pouring into remote Tibet . They come by new high-altitude trains, four a day, cruising 1,200 miles past snow-capped mountains. And they come by military truck convoy, lumbering across the roof of the world...Simple restaurants located in white prefabricated houses and run by ethnic Han business people who take the train have sprung up even at a remote lake north of Lhasa.”[Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, July 24, 2010]

    Some of the Chinese that have come to Tibet have come with a frontier spirit comparable to that of Americans heading West in the 19th century. Some are escaping the law in their home provinces. The Washington Post talked with one man who came to Tibet from Gansu Province after stabbing a man in a drunken brawl.

    Critics charge Chinese with conspiring to gain control of Tibet by outnumbering the Tibetans, a policy that served the Han Chinese well throughout its history of conquest. The Dalai Lama says that the massive "population transfer" of migrating Chinese to Tibet is one of his primary concerns. He has called China’s immigration policy “demographic aggression” and an element of China's "cultural genocide" in Tibet.

    Some argue that Beijing if unfairly blamed for the influx of immigrants. In many ways the government has little control over the situation unless it wants to close the borders into Tibet and if they did that Western human rights groups would make a fuss.

    Chinese Migration Policy in Tibet

    The migration policy has changed over the years. Until fairly recently few Chinese had any interests in going to Tibet. In the 1960s and 70s, ordinary Chinese were banned from moving there. In the 1980s, Beijing dispatched work teams to Tibet to build roads and other infrastructure projects and work in mines. The Hong Kong-based South China Post reported in 1996 that a half million Chinese laborers had been brought the Tibetan plateau to work in copper mines.

    Beijing later loosened immigration rules and offered monetary incentives to encourage Han Chinese to head to Tibet. In the 1990s, authorities dismantled checkpoints to the region and encouraged Chinese who had lost their jobs to move there. The Chinese government offered tax breaks and gave low interests loans to Chinese entrepreneurs who started businesses such as noodle shops, convenience stores and souvenir shops in Tibet. By 2003, according to the official count, 212,000 Chinese had moved to Tibet. The actual number was believed to be two or three times higher. See Population

    The World Bank had planned to provide a $160 million antipoverty loan to resettle 58,000 Chinese farmers on traditional Tibetan lands. The plan was scuttled due to efforts by the Tibetan lobby in Washington, U.S. Senator Jessie Helmes and the rap group, the Beastie Boys. Beijing then went ahead with a similar project, beginning with settlement of 20,000 Han and Hui Chinese in the traditionally Tibetan Dulam region of Qinghai Province.

    Chinese Migrants in Tibet

    No one is sure how many Han Chinese are now living in Tibet, but the number is increasing all the time. Beijing says that Han Chinese make up 3 percent of the population of Tibet Autonomous region while Tibetan exiles say the figure is around 50 percent. The Beijing figures do not include the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have come to Tibet and failed to register. Nor does it include soldiers, minors or road crew workers.

    Chinese officials say Tibetans make up more than 95 percent of the region 2.9 million people, but refuse to give estimates on Han migrants, who are not registered residents. In the cities of Lhasa and Shigatse, it is clear that Han neighborhoods are dwarfing Tibetan areas. [Op Cit, Wong ]

    Most Chinese have flocked to the cities and large towns to make money and could care less about politics. They work as taxi drivers, own souvenir shops, run vegetable stands in the markets, dominate guide operations at major monasteries, work in government offices, and operate Chinese restaurants, Tibetan restaurants and karaoke bars decorated with prayer flags. Outside the cities there are few Chinese. Those that work there are truck drivers, miners and construction workers building roads and railroads.

    The invasion has included businessmen form Sichuan, prostitutes from Hunan, bureaucrats from Beijing and shopkeepers from Yunnan. Many of the Chinese migrants are Sichuanese. Some neighborhoods are made up of 200 Sichuanese from the same hometown. Some businesses are controlled by Sichuanese from the same family. A typical Sichuanese migrant has come to Tibet after being laid off from his job in Sichuan. After using up his meager severance pay he has purchased a plane ticket to Lhasa, leaving behind his wife and children, to come to Lhasa and start a small business. One Sichuanese migrant told the Washington Post, in Tibet “there are fewer people, and there’s less competition. It’s wide open if you are willing to work.”

    Between the early 2000s and the mid 2000s Lhasa has gone from being a largely traditional Tibetan city of 250,000 to a modern Chinese city of 500,000, with more than half the population now Chinese. Many Chinese live in neighborhoods that are separate from the Tibetan neighborhoods. The number of brothels and karaoke bars has increased greatly since the Chinese began arriving in large numbers. Chinese vendors sometimes sell dog meat on the streets (killing dogs is an abhorant idea to Tibetans) and dominate the booths selling prayer scarves at the gates of Jokhang temple.

    In the early 2000s many of the Chinese that lived in Lhasa left during the winter. They got terribly homesick, didn't like Tibet and had a problem with the climate—the cold, the dry air, the altitude. They usually left Tibet for good after two or three years. Many Chinese believe that spending time at altitude seriously damages the lungs, enlarges the heart and shortens a person's life.

    Now many Chinese in Lhasa stay year round. Even so few have bothered to learn anything more than the most basic Tibetan language. Entire neighborhoods of traditional Tibetan buildings have been replaced by hastily-built office buildings and shops with signs in Chinese rather than Tibetan.

    Resentment Towards Han Migrants in Tibet

    “But if the influx of money and people has brought new prosperity, it has also deepened the resentment among many Tibetans. Migrant Han entrepreneurs elbow out Tibetan rivals, then return home for the winter after reaping profits. Large Han-owned companies dominate the main industries, from mining to construction to tourism. One high school student complained that Tibetans could not compete for jobs with Han migrants who arrived with high school diplomas. Tibetans just get low-end jobs, he said. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, July 24, 2010]

    “Some Chinese officials acknowledge the disenfranchisement of Tibetans, though they defend the right of Han to migrate here. The flow of human resources follows the rule of market economics and is also indispensable for the development of Tibet, Hao Peng, vice chairman and deputy party secretary of the region, said at a news conference with a small group of foreign journalists. But the current system may have caused an imbalanced distribution, he said. We are taking measures to solve this problem. “ [Ibid]

    Housing construction for Chinese has destroyed available cropland. Prices for tsampa has risen from 14 cents a pound to 60 cents a pound after the train began operating. Many Tibetans feel that the Chinese migrants have taken jobs from the Tibetans. One Tibetan told Newsweek, “We thought there’d be employment, but now even the cleaners are Chinese.”

    Cultural Difference Between the Tibetans and Chinese

    Most Tibetans can't speak very good Chinese and most Chinese can't speak Tibetan. The two groups often view each other with disdain and suspicion and define the other with stereotypes and prejudice.

    Many Chinese consider Tibetans to be uncivilized, superstitious, hostile, lazy, ignorant, dirty, unpredictable and a bit savage, and regard the Tibetan religion as examples of "false consciousness" and "incorrect thinking." Most Tibetans view the Chinese as greedy, moneygrubbing, manipulative, arrogant, unwanted house guests. One nationalist Tibetan told the Los Angeles Times, "We believe in Buddhism, they're atheists. They think only of making money." Tibetans are particularly suspicious of Sichuanese, whose women are regarded as loose and who men are thought of as tricky and sly.

    The Chinese have a reputation for being more industrious than the Tibetans. A successful Tibetan businessman told the Washington Post, "The Tibetan people and the Han Chinese people are very different. The Han Chinese are very clever, they think more broadly than the Tibetans. Tibetan people are easily satisfied; the Chinese are never satisfied."

    "Even Tibetans like to hire the Chinese because they have more modern methods and they work harder," one Tibetan man in Lhasa told the Washington Post. "Tibetans would rather give their money to a beggar or to a monastery in hopes of earning merit for next life than put it in the bank or invest it,” he said.

    To illustrate the difference between traditional nomadic Tibetan thinking and Chinese thinking, a western analyst told the Washington Post, "If you got eight yaks what's the next best thing. The nomads would say, 'Nine yaks.' The Chinese would say, "No, sell a yak, then you get money. With money, you can build a house."

    Tibetan Views on Chinese

    A 27-year-old Tibetan in Xining in Qinghai told the Washington Post, “Economically speaking, Tibetans are doing okay. But spiritually, we are not. Our feeling is like Chinese people’s feeling when Japan invaded China...It’s as if you were born in a very poor family but you were taken away to live with a rich family. Although you’d be better off, which family would you want to really belong to?”

    One Tibetan student told the New York Times, “The reality is that we are controlled by Chinese, by the Han people. We don’t have any say; so in my family we don’t even talk about it.”

    One Tibetan man told the New York Times, “We are unhappy that the state suppresses us, and as long the Dalai isn’t allowed to return we will remain unhappy.” Another said, “All Tibetans are the same:100 percent of us adore the Dalai Lama

    A Tibetan woman who sells Tibetan jewelry in a Beijing subway station told Newsweek, no Han Chinese “wants to be mistaken for a Tibetan...No one wants to be seen [even] speaking with Tibetans.”

    Tibetans used to refer to Chinese with an affectionate honorific but now they often use the term gyaro, meaning “Chinese corpse.”

    Some Tibetans are truly grateful for the material program that Chinese have brought. One man, who lives in a new $7,500 village house with pictures of Mao and Zhou Enlai on the wall, told the Times of London. “They are like parents, and you love your parents.”

    A Tibetan yak trade told the Washington Post, “Compared with Han Chinese and Hui Muslims, Tibetans lead harder and poorer lives. The Han and the Hui both go to school, but many Tibetans can’t read and write and they can’t find jobs. I feel regret for not learning anything in school.”

    Chinese Views on Tibetans

    The vast majority of Chinese have little sympathy for the Tibetan cause. Many feel that if anything the government is too soft on Tibet and Tibetans themselves are large seen as ungrateful recipients of Chinese efforts to bring development and civilization to them. One Chinese woman told Chinese TV, Tibetans “don’t want to work, They just want to destroy our property.” A half-Han, half-Tibetan government official who grew up in Tawu, told Time that Tibetans are greedy. The government gives them everything from preferential loans to new infrastructure, but still they want more. “If we were to give the Tibetans independence,” he says, “they would starve and have no clothes on their back.”

    A Chinese taxi driver in Lhasa told the New York Times, “The relationship between Han and Tibetan is irreconcilable. We don’t have a good impression of them, as they are lazy and hate us, for, as they say, taking away what belongs to them. In their mind showering once or twice in the life is sacred, but to Han it is filthy and unacceptable....We believe in working hard and making money to support our family, but they might think we’re greedy and have no faith.”

    Many Chinese in Tibet feel the Tibetans are ungrateful for the development China has brought to Tibet. After the uprising in 2008 one Chinese man told the New York Times, “Our government has wasted our money in helping these white-eyed wolves. Just think of how much we’ve invested in relief funds for monks and for unemployed Tibetans. Is this what we deserve?”

    In the United States, hundred of Chinese protesters showed up at the University of Washington where he Dalai Lama was giving a speech, chanting “Dalai your smiles charm, your actions harm.”

    "The Dalai Lama group and some Westerners see Tibet's peaceful liberation and development through a tinted glass," Du Yongbin, a scholar at the China-Tibetology Research Centre in Beijing, said in a commentary in the China Daily. "They either ignore the unprecedented development that Tibet has experienced or think Tibet's development threatens traditional Tibetan culture. Their logic seems to be to treat Tibet like a museum piece," he said.

    The Western image of Tibet as the victim of aggression is incomprehensible to most young Han. "Part of the Western romanticisation of Tibet juxtaposes a spiritual and pure Tibet against the forces of power, materialism and oppression embodied by [Beijing] and the Chinese presence in Tibet," Elliot Sperling, an associate professor at Indiana University, told the South China Morning Post. "The lack of this part of the image of Tibet - a result of government strictures on what can be said about the Tibetan situation - is significant. It cuts the dissident, even counter-culturally subversive, part of Western interest in Tibet out of its Chinese manifestation." [Source: Dinah Gardner,South China Morning Post, November 20, 2011]

    Serf , a 1963 Chinese government film depicting the misery of feudalism, was widely seen on the mainland. "Tibet has always been part of China, at least since the Ming and Qing dynasties," one China traveler to Tibet told the South China Morning Post> "Before liberation, Tibetans were all serfs, and then the Communist Party liberated them so they could be their own masters. In the old days, they had horrific practices like skinning people alive."

    How the 2008 Tibetan Riots Shaped Han Chinese Views of Tibet

    The other factor shaping Han perceptions of Tibet are the 2008 anti-government protests, which started in Lhasa in March that year and spread across the Tibetan region. They were portrayed by domestic media as violent riots - several Han Chinese in Lhasa were killed - instigated by separatist forces from abroad. As a result, many on the mainland perceive Tibetans as aggressive and anti-Han. [Source: Dinah Gardner, South China Morning Post, November 20, 2011]

    Says Sautman: "Many younger Han people do romanticise Tibet, chiefly as a place of exceptional spirituality, in contrast to most of the rest of China. But this age cohort is, of course, huge, so there are still many younger Han who think of Tibet as still relatively backward and, after the racial killings in Lhasa in 2008, as harbouring some people very hostile to Han generally."

    "Even Han who romanticise Tibet deplore the murders of 2008, but are perhaps more understanding of the demonstrations that took place." Sperling suggests: "Even though interest in Tibet within China is still a minority taste, it may well happen that an interest in a romanticised Tibet will lead a few who hold that interest to confront very real Tibetan discontents."

    "There is an estrangement between Tibetans and us Han Chinese, but I'm not afraid," says Ran. "There are lots of police around." Since the troubles of 2008, People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police camps have been positioned next to or close to monasteries in many towns across Kandze (two among the recent spate of self-immolations took place in the county). Over the summer, the sound of monks praying was frequently drowned out by the sharp bark of military orders and the crunch of soldiers marching.

    Friction Between Chinese and Tibetans

    Tibetans complain that they are second-class citizens in their own country. They complain about the mass migrations of Han Chinese into Tibet and the fact that the Chinese get all the best jobs, forcing their unemployed children to turn to crime to survive. Even jobs for tour guides require fluency in Chinese and tend to focus more on Chinese history than Tibetan history.

    The Tibetans are also annoyed that Chinese eat dogs (animals believed to be the last reincarnation before humans in Tibetan Buddhism); they don't walk clockwise around temples and monasteries; and they smoke everywhere and toss away their cigarettes at wooden temples and "even under the holy trees."

    Communist officials and workers are often rude to Tibetans and more polite to Chinese. Tibetans claim the Chinese legal system and law enforcement discriminates against them. They inevitably lose legal disputes involving Chinese. The New York Times described one man who whose house was burned down for no apparent reason. When he tried to seek help, the authorities said, "What race are you? Tibetan? Go ask the Dalai Lama for help."

    Tibetans are often the victims of Chinese corruption. In recent years, for example, Tibetans have found it easier to obtain passports but they are required to fork over $300 in bribes in addition to the $30 passport fee.

    Chinese also complain of poor treatment. One Chinese man told the Los Angeles Times, "The Tibetans say to us, 'This land is ours—get out. What am I supposed to say that?"

    Segregation and Integration of Chinese and Tibetans

    It not clear which direction Tibet will take in the future. Urban Tibetan youths in Lhasa seem be absorbed in making money and enjoying nightclubs, karaokes and Western and Chinese culture while young people outside of Lhasa seem to be holding more to their Tibetan heritage, maintaining their reverence of the Dalai Lama and making pilgrimages

    Young Tibetans mix Chinese words with Tibetan words. Well-to-do Tibetans send their children to schools in Beijing and Shanghai.

    See Economic Improvements

    Modern Mandarin-Speaking Tibetans

    Describing his Tibetan taxi driver in Xining near the Dalai Lama’s birthplace in Qinghai Province, Evan Osnos wrote in The New Yorker, “Jigme wore green cargo shorts and a black T-shirt with a mug of Guinness silk-screened on the front. He was an enthusiastic travel companion. His father was a traditional Tibetan opera musician who had received two years of schooling before going to work. When his father was growing up, he would walk seven days from his home town to Xining, the provincial capital. Jigme now makes the same trip three or four times a day in his Volkswagen Santana. A Hollywood buff, he was eager to talk about his favorites: “King Kong,” “Lord of the Rings,” Mr. Bean. Most of all, he said, “I like American cowboys. The way they ride around on horses, with hats, it reminds me a lot of Tibetans.” [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, October 4, 2010]

    “Jigme spoke good Mandarin. The central government has worked hard to promote the use of standard Mandarin in ethnic regions like this, and a banner beside the train station in Xining reminded people to “Standardize the Language and Script.” Jigme was married to an accountant, and they had a three-year-old daughter. I asked if they planned to enroll her in a school that taught in Chinese or in Tibetan. “My daughter will go to a Chinese school,” Jigme said. “That’s the best idea if she wants to get a job anywhere outside the Tibetan parts of the world.” [Ibid]

    When Osnos asked him how the Han Chinese and the Tibetans were getting along, he said, “In some ways, the Communist Party has been good to us. It has fed us and made sure we have a roof over our heads. And, where it does things right, we should acknowledge that.” After a pause, he added, “But Tibetans want their own country. That’s a fact. I graduated from a Chinese school. I can’t read Tibetan.” But even though he didn’t know the town of Takster was the birthplace of the Dalai Lama when he visited the Dalai Lama’s house he asked if he could pray inside the threshold, where he “fell to his knees and press his forehead to the cobblestones.” [Ibid]

  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:
    We are all aware of the fact that all Chinese are not Han.

    We are aware that there are 56 minorities and that was first recgonised by the Chinese Communist Govt when Mao was the Great Helmsman.

    We are aware of how the Han from North of the Yellow River expanded their territories by war and converting what they called were 'barbarians' of the South and West. It is well recorded by the Grand Historian Sima Qian of China.

    And that is the policy that is still in vogue as we see the events in Tibet and Xinjiang.
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Shiji 123: The Account of Dayuan

    After the Han had sent its envoy to open up communications with the state of Daxia [Bactria], all the barbarians of the distant west craned their necks to the cast and longed to catch a glimpse of China. Thus I made The Account of Dayuan.

    Zhang Qian was the first person to bring back a clear account of Dayuan [Ferghana]. He was a native of Hanzhong and served as a palace attendant during the jianyuan era [140-135 B.C.]. At this time the emperor questioned various Xiongnu who had surrendered to the Han and they all reported that the Xiongnu had defeated the king of the Yuezhi people [Indo-scythians] and made his skull into a drinking vessel. As a result the Yuezhi had fled and bore a constant grudge against the Xiongnu, though as yet they had been unable to find anyone to join them in an attack on their enemy.

    The Han at this time was engaged in a concerted effort to destroy the Xiongnu, and therefore, when the emperor heard this, he decided to try to send an envoy to establish relations with the Yuezhi. To reach them, however, an envoy would inevitably have to pass through Xiongnu territory. The emperor accordingly sent out a summons for men capable of undertaking such a mission. Zhang Qian, who was a palace attendant at the time, answered the summons and was appointed as envoy.

    He set out from Longxi, accompanied by Ganfu, a Xiongnu slave who belonged to a family in Tangyi. They traveled west through the territory of the Xiongnu and were captured by the Xiongnu and taken before the Shanyu. The Shanyu detained them and refused to let them proceed. "The Yuezhi people live north of me," he said. "What does the Han mean by trying to send an envoy to them! Do you suppose that if I tried to send an embassy to the kingdom of Yue in the southeast the Han would let my men pass through China?"

    The Xiongnu detained Zhang Qian for over ten years and gave him a wife from their own people, by whom he had a son. Zhang Qian never once relinquished the imperial credentials that marked him as an envoy of the Han, however, and after he had lived in Xiongnu territory for some time and was less closely watched than at first, he and his party finally managed to escape and resume their journey toward the Yuezhi.

    After hastening west for twenty or thirty days, they reached the kingdom of Dayuan. The king of Dayuan had heard of the wealth of the Han empire and wished to establish communication with it, though as yet he had been unable to do so. When he met Zhang Qian he was overjoyed and asked where Zhang Qian wished to go.
    "I was dispatched as envoy of the Han to the Yuezhi, but the Xiongnu blocked my way and I have only just now managed to escape," he replied. "I beg Your Highness to give me some guides to show me the way. If I can reach my destination and return to the Han to make my report, the Han will reward you with countless gifts!"

    The king of Dayuan trusted his words and sent him on his way, giving him guides and interpreters to take him to the state of Kangqu [Trans-Oxiana]. From there he was able to make his way to the land of the Great Yuezhi.

    Since the king of the Great Yuezhi had been killed by the Xiongnu, his son had succeeded him as ruler and had forced the kingdom of Daxia [Bactria] to recognize his sovereignty. The region he ruled was rich and fertile and seldom troubled by invaders, and the king thought only of his own enjoyment. He considered the Han too far away to bother with and had no particular intention of avenging his father's death by attacking the Xiongnu. From the court of the Yuezhi, Zhang Qian traveled on to the state of Daxia, but in the end he was never able to interest the Yuezhi in his proposals.

    After spending a year or so in the area, he began to journey back along the Nan-shan or Southern Mountains, intending to reenter China through the territory of the Qiang barbarians, but he was once more captured by the Xiongnu and detained for over a year.

    Just at this time the Shanyu died and the Lu-li King of the Left attacked the Shanyu's heir and set himself up as the new Shanyu [126 B.C.]. As a result of this the whole Xiongnu nation was in turmoil and Zhang Qian, along with his Xiongnu wife and the former slave Ganfu, was able to escape and return to China. The emperor honored Zhang Qian with the post of palace counselor and awarded Ganfu the title of "Lord Who Carries Out His Mission."

    Zhang Qian was a man of great strength, determination, and generosity. He trusted others and in turn was liked by the barbarians. Ganfu, who was a Xiongnu by birth, was good at archery, and whenever he and Zhang Qian were short of food he would shoot birds and beasts to keep them supplied. When Zhang Qian first set out on his mission, he was accompanied by over a hundred men, but after thirteen years abroad, only he and Ganfu managed to make their way back to China.

    Zhang Qian in person visited the lands of Dayuan, the Great Yuezhi, Daxia, and Kangqu, and in addition he gathered reports on five or six other large states in the neighborhood. All of this information he related to the emperor on his return. The substance of his report was as follows:

    Dayuan lies southwest of the territory of the Xiongnu, some ten thousand li directly west of China. The people are settled on the land, plowing the fields and growing rice and wheat. They also make wine out of grapes. The region has many fine horses which sweat blood; their forebears are supposed to have been foaled from heavenly horses. The people live in houses in fortified cities, there being some seventy or more cities of various sizes in the region. The population numbers several hundred thousand. The people fight with bows and spears and can shoot from horseback.

    Dayuan is bordered on the north by Kangqu, on the west by the kingdom of the Great Yuezhi, on the southwest by Daxia, on the northeast by the land of the Wusun, and on the east by Yumi and Yutian [Khotan].

    West of Yutian, all the rivers flow west and empty into the Western Sea, but east of there they flow eastward into the Salt Swamp [Lob Nor]. The waters of the Salt Swamp flow underground and on the south form the source from which the Yellow River rises. There are many precious stones in the region and the rivers flow into China. The Loulan and Gushi peoples live in fortified cities along the Salt Swamp. The Salt Swamp is some five thousand li from Chang'an. The western branch of the Xiongnu occupies the region from the Salt Swamp east to a point south of the Great Wall at Longxi, where its territory adjoins that of the Qiang barbarians, thus cutting off the road from China to the west.

    The Wusun live some two thousand li northeast of Dayuan, moving from place to place in the region with their herds of animals. Their customs are much like those of the Xiongnu. They have twenty or thirty thousand skilled archers and are very daring in battle. They were originally subjects of the Xiongnu, but later, becoming more powerful, they refused any longer to attend the gatherings of the Xiongnu court, though still acknowledging themselves part of the Xiongnu nation.

    Kangqu is situated some two thousand li northwest of Dayuan. Its people likewise are nomads and resemble the Yuezhi in their customs. They have eighty or ninety thousand skilled archer fighters. The country is small, and borders Dayuan. It acknowledges nominal sovereignty to the Yuezhi people in the south and the Xiongnu in the east.

    Yancai lies some two thousand li northwest of Kangqu. The people are nomads and their customs are generally similar to those of the people of Kangqu. The country has over a hundred thousand archer warriors, and borders a great shoreless lake, perhaps what is known as the Northern Sea [Caspian Sea?].

    The Great Yuezhi live some two or three thousand li west of Dayuan, north of the Gui [Oxus] River. They are bordered on the south by Daxia, on the west by Anxi [Parthia], and on the north by Kangqu. They are a nation of nomads, moving from place to place with their herds, and their customs are like those of the Xiongnu. They have some one or two hundred thousand archer warriors. Formerly they were very powerful and despised the Xiongnu, but later, when Maosun became leader of the Xiongnu nation, he attacked and defeated the Yuezhi. Some time afterwards his son, the Old Shanyu, killed the king of the Yuezhi and made his skull into a drinking cup.
    The Yuezhi originally lived in the area between the Qilian or Heavenly Mountains and Dunhuang, but after they were defeated by the Xiongnu they moved far away to the west, beyond Dayuan, where they attacked and conquered the people of Daxia and set up the court of their king on the northern bank of the Gui River. A small number of their people who were unable to make the journey west sought refuge among the Qiang barbarians in the Southern Mountains, where they are known as the Lesser Yuezhi.

    Anxi is situated several thousand li west of the region of the Great Yuezhi. The people are settled on the land, cultivating the fields and growing rice and wheat. They also make wine out of grapes. They have walled cities like the people of Dayuan, the region containing several hundred cities of various sizes. The kingdom, which borders the Gui River (Oxus), is very large, measuring several thousand li square. Some of the inhabitants are merchants who travel by carts or boats to neighboring countries, sometimes journeying several thousand li. The coins of the country are made of silver and bear the face of the king. When the king dies, the currency is immediately changed and new coins issued with the face of his successor. The people keep records by writing horizontally on strips of leather. To the west lies Tiaozhi [Mesopotamia] and to the north Yancai and Lixuan [Hyrcania].

    Tiaozhi is situated several thousand li west of Anxi and borders the Western Sea [Persian Gulf?]. It is hot and damp, and the people live by cultivating the fields and planting rice. In this region live great birds which lay eggs as large as pots. The people are very numerous and are ruled by many petty chiefs. The ruler of Anxi gives orders to these chiefs and regards them as his vassals. The people are very skillful at performing tricks that amaze the eye. The old men of Anxi say they have heard that in Tiaozhi are to be found the River of Weak Water and the Queen Mother of the West, though they admit that they have never seen either of them.

    Daxia is situated over two thousand li southwest of Dayuan, south of the Gui River. Its people cultivate the land and have cities and houses. Their customs are like those of Dayuan. It has no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs ruling the various cities. The people are poor in the use of arms and afraid of battle, but they are clever at commerce. After the Great Yuezhi moved west and attacked and conquered Daxia, the entire country came under their sway. The population of the country is large, numbering some million or more persons. The capital is called the city of Lanshi [Bactra] and has a market where all sorts of goods are bought and sold.

    Southeast of Daxia is the kingdom of Shendu [India]. "When I was in Daxia," Zhang Qian reported, "I saw bamboo canes from Qiong and cloth made in the province of Shu. When I asked the people how they had gotten such articles, they replied, 'Our merchants go to buy them in the markets of Shendu.' Shendu, they told me, lies several thousand li southeast of Daxia. The people cultivate the land and live much like the people of Daxia. The region is said to be hot and damp. The inhabitants ride elephants when they go into battle. The kingdom is situated on a great river.

    "We know that Daxia is located twelve thousand li southwest of China. Now if the kingdom of Shendu is situated several thousand li southeast of Daxia and obtains goods which are produced in Shu, it seems to me that it must not be very far away from Shu. At present, if we try to send envoys to Daxia by way of the mountain trails that lead through the territory of the Qiang people, they will be molested by the Qiang, while if we send them a little farther north, they will be captured by the Xiongnu. It would seem that the most direct route, as well as the safest, would be that out of Shu."

    Thus the emperor learned of Dayuan, Daxia, Anxi, and the others, all great states rich in unusual products whose people cultivated the land and made their living in much the same way as the Chinese. All these states, he was told, were militarily weak and prized Han goods and wealth. He also learned that to the north of them lived the Yuezhi and Kangqu people who were strong in arms but who could be persuaded by gifts and the prospect of gain to acknowledge allegiance to the Han court. If it were only possible to win over these states by peaceful means, the emperor thought, he could then extend his domain ten thousand li, attract to his court men of strange customs who would come translating and retranslating their languages, and his might would become known to all the lands within the four seas.

    The emperor was therefore delighted, and approved Zhang Qian's suggestion. He ordered Zhang Qian to start out from Jianwei in Shu on a secret mission to search for Daxia. The party broke up into four groups proceeding out of the regions of Mang, Jan, Xi, and Qiong and Po. All the groups managed to advance one or two thousand li, but they were blocked on the north by the Di and Zuo tribes and on the south by the Sui and Kunming tribes. The Kunming tribes have no rulers but devote themselves to plunder and robbery, and as soon as they seized any of the Han envoys they immediately murdered them. Thus none of the parties were ever able to get through to their destination. They did learn, however, that some one thousand or more li to the west there was a state called Dian-Yue whose people rode elephants and that the merchants from Shu sometimes went there with their goods on unofficial trading missions. In this way the Han, while searching for a route to Daxia, first came into contact with the kingdom of Dian.

    Earlier the Han had tried to establish relations with the barbarians of the southwest, but the expense proved too great and no road could be found through the region and so the project was abandoned. After Zhang Qian reported that it was possible to reach Daxia by traveling through the region of the southwestern barbarians, the Han once more began efforts to establish relations with the tribes in the area.

    Zhang Qian was made a subordinate commander and sent to accompany the general in chief Wei Qing on expeditions against the Xiongnu. Because he knew where water and pasture were to be found in the Xiongnu territory, he was able to save the army from hardship. He was enfeoffed as Bowang or "Broad Vision" marquis. This occurred in the sixth year of the yuansuo era [123 B.c.].
    The following year he was appointed colonel of the guard and sent with General Li Guang on an expedition out of Yubeiping to attack the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu surrounded Li Guang's army and wiped out most of the men. Zhang Qian was accused of having arrived late at his rendezvous with Li Guang and was sentenced to execution, but on payment of a fine he was allowed to become a commoner. This same year the Han sent the swift cavalry general He Qubing against the Xiongnu. He defeated and killed thirty or forty thousand of the Xiongnu in the western region and rode as far as the Qilian Mountains. The following year the Hunye king led his barbarian hordes and surrendered to the Han, and the Xiongnu completely disappeared from the region from Jincheng and Hexi west along the Southern Mountains to the Salt Swamp. Occasionally Xiongnu scouts would appear, but even they were rare. Two years later the Han armies attacked the Shanyu and chased him north of the desert.

    During this time the emperor occasionally questioned Zhang Qian about Daxia and the other states of the west. Zhang Qian, who had been deprived of his marquisate, replied, "When I was living among the Xiongnu I heard about the king of the Wusun people, who is named Kunmo. Kunmo's father was the ruler of a small state on the western border of the Xiongnu territory. The Xiongnu attacked and killed his father, and Kunmo, then only a baby, was cast out in the wilderness to die. But the birds came and flew over the place where he was, bearing meat in their beaks, and the wolves suckled him, so that he was able to survive. When the Shanyu heard of this, he was filled with wonder and, believing that Kunmo was a god, he took him in and reared him. When Kunmo had grown to manhood, the Shanyu put him in command of a band of troops and he several times won merit in battle. The Shanyu then made him the leader of the people whom his father had ruled in former times and ordered him to guard the western forts. Kunmo gathered together his people, looked after them and led them in attacks on the small settlements in the neighborhood. Soon he had twenty or thirty thousand skilled archers who were trained in aggressive warfare. When the Shanyu died, Kunmo led his people far away, declared himself an independent ruler, and refused any longer to journey to the meetings of the Xiongnu court. The Xiongnu sent surprise parties of .troops to attack him, but they were unable to win a victory. In the end the Xiongnu decided that he must be a god and left him alone, still claiming that he was a subject of theirs but no longer making any large-scale attacks on him.
    "Now the Shanyu is suffering from the recent blow delivered by our armies, and the region formerly occupied by the Hunye king and his people is deserted. The barbarians are well known to be greedy for Han wealth and goods. If we could make use of this opportunity to send rich gifts and bribes to the Wusun people and persuade them to move farther east and occupy the region which formerly belonged to the Hunye king, then the Han could conclude an alliance of brotherhood with them and, under the circumstances, they would surely do as we say. If we could get them to obey us, it would be like cutting off the right arm of the Xiongnu! Then, once we had established an alliance with the Wusun, Daxia and the other countries to the west could all be persuaded to come to court and acknowledge themselves our foreign vassals."

    The emperor approved of this suggestion and, appointing Zhang Qian as a general of palace attendants, put him in charge of a party of three hundred men, each of which was provided with two horses. In addition the party took along tens of thousands of cattle and sheep and carried gold and silk goods worth a hundred billion cash. Many of the men in the party were given the imperial credentials making them assistant envoys so that they could be sent to neighboring states along the way.

    When Zhang Qian reached the kingdom of the Wusun, the king of the Wusun, Kunmo, tried to treat the Han envoys in the same way that the Shanyu treated them. Zhang Qian was greatly outraged and, knowing that the barbarians were greedy, said, "The Son of Heaven has sent me with these gifts, but if you do not prostrate yourself to receive them, I shall have to take them back!"
    With this Kunmo jumped up from his seat and prostrated himself to receive the gifts. The other details of the envoys' reception Zhang Qian allowed to remain as before. Zhang Qian then delivered his message, saying, "If the Wusun will consent to move east and occupy the region of the Hunye king, then the Han will send you a princess of the imperial family to be your wife."
    But the Wusun people were split into several groups and the king was old. Living far away from China, he had no idea how large the Han empire was. Moreover, his people had for a long time in the past been subjects of the Xiongnu and still lived nearer to them than to China. The high ministers of the king were therefore all afraid of the Xiongnu and did not wish to move back east. The king alone could not force his will upon his subjects, and Zhang Qian was therefore unable to persuade him to listen to his proposal.

    Kunmo had over ten sons, among them one named Dalu who was very strong and skillful in leading the people. He lived in a separate part of the realm and had over ten thousand horsemen under his command.
    Dalu's older brother, who had been designated as heir to Kunmo, had a son named Cenqu. The heir apparent died early and on his deathbed he begged his father, Kunmo, to make Cenqu the new heir. "Do not allow anyone to take his position away from him!" he pleaded. Kunmo, moved by grief, gave his permission and designated his grandson Cenqu as the new heir apparent.
    Dalu was furious that he himself had not been appointed heir and, persuading his other brothers to join him, led his forces in a revolt, planning to attack Cenqu and Kunmo. Kunmo, who was old and lived in constant fear that Dalu would attack and kill his grandson, gave Cenqu a force of over ten thousand horsemen and sent him to live in another part of the realm, while he himself kept over ten thousand horsemen for his own protection. Thus it happened that when Zhang Qian arrived the Wusun people were split into three factions, though the large part of them acknowledged the leadership of Kunmo. Kunmo for this reason did not dare make any promises to Zhang Qian on his own authority.
    Zhang Qian dispatched his assistant envoys to Dayuan, Kangqu, the Great Yuezhi, Daxia, Anxi, Shendu, Yutian, Yumo, and the other neighboring states, the Wusun providing them with guides and interpreters. Then he returned to China, accompanied by twenty or thirty envoys from the Wusun and a similar number of horses which the Wusun sent in exchange for the Han gifts. The Wusun envoys thus had an opportunity to see with their own eyes the breadth and greatness of the Han empire.

    On his return Zhang Qian was honored with the post of grand messenger, ranking him among the nine highest ministers of the government. A year or so later he died.

    The Wusun envoys, having seen how rich and populous the Han was, returned and reported what they had learned to their own people, and after this the Wusun regarded the Han with greater respect. A year or so later the envoys whom Zhang Qian had sent to Daxia and the other states of the west all returned, accompanied by envoys from those states, and for the first time relations were established between the lands of the northwest and the Han. It was Zhang Qian, however, who opened the way for this move, and all the envoys who journeyed to the lands in later times relied upon his reputation to gain them a hearing. As a result of his efforts, the foreign states trusted the Han envoys.

    After Zhang Qian's death the Xiongnu learned that the Han had established relations with the Wusun and, infuriated by the news, decided to make an attack on the Wusun. By this time the Han had already sent envoys to the Wusun, as well as to Dayuan, the Great Yuezhi, and the other states to the south, and the Wusun, frightened by the threat of a Xiongnu attack, sent an envoy with a gift of horses to the Han court to ask that a Han princess be granted to the Wusun leader and an alliance of brotherhood concluded. The emperor referred the matter to his ministers for debate, and they all replied, "The princess should not be sent until the betrothal gifts have been duly received."

    Sometime earlier the emperor had divined by the Book of Changes and been told that "divine horses are due to appear from the northwest." When the Wusun came with their horses, which were of an excellent breed, he named them "heavenly horses." Later, however, he obtained the blood-sweating horses from Dayuan, which were even hardier. He therefore changed the name of the Wusun horses, calling them "horses from the western extremity," and used the name "heavenly horses" for the horses of Dayuan.

    At this time the Han first built fortifications west of the district of Lingju and established the province of Jiuquan in order to provide a safe route to the lands of the northwest, and as a result more and more envoys were sent to Anxi, Yancai, Tiaozhi, and Shendu. The emperor was very fond of the Dayuan horses and sent a constant stream of envoys to that region to acquire them.

    The largest of these embassies to foreign states numbered several hundred persons, while even the smaller parties included over a hundred members, though later, as the envoys became more accustomed to the route, the number was gradually reduced. The credentials and gifts which the envoys bore with them were much like those supplied to the envoys in Zhang Qian's time. In the course of one year anywhere from five or six to over ten parties would be sent out. Those traveling to distant lands required eight or nine years to complete their journey, while those visiting nearer regions would return after a few years.

    At this time the Han had already overthrown the kingdom of Yue in the southeast, and the barbarian tribes living southwest of Shu were all filled with awe and begged to be ruled by Han officials and to be allowed to pay their respects at court. The Han therefore set up the provinces of Yizhou, Yuesui, Zangge, Chenli, and Wenshan, hoping to extend the area under Han control so that a route could be opened to Daxia. The Han sent Bo Shichang, Lü Yueren and others, over ten parties in the space of one year, out of these new provinces to try to get through to Daxia. The parties were all blocked by the Kunming barbarians, however, who stole their goods and murdered the envoys, so that none of them were ever able to reach Daxia.

    The Han then freed the criminals of the three districts of the capital area and, adding to them twenty or thirty thousand soldiers from Ba and Shu, dispatched them under the command of two generals, Guo Chang and Wei Guang, to go and attack the Kunming tribes that were blocking the Han envoys. The army succeeded in killing or capturing twenty or thirty thousand of the enemy before departing from the area, but later, when another attempt was made to send envoys to Daxia, the Kunming once more fell upon them and none were able to reach their destination.

    By this time, however, so many envoys had journeyed to Daxia by the northern route out of Jiuquan that the foreign states in the area had become surfeited with Han goods and no longer regarded them with any esteem. After Zhang Qian achieved honor and position by opening up communications with the lands of the west, all the officials and soldiers who had accompanied him vied with one another in submitting reports to the emperor telling of the wonders and profits to be gained in foreign lands and requesting to become envoys. The emperor considered that, since the lands of the west were so far away, no man would choose to make the journey simply for his own pleasure, and so when he had listened to their stories he immediately presented them with the credentials of an envoy. In addition he called for volunteers from among the people and fitted out with attendants and dispatched anyone who came forward, without inquiring into his background, in an effort to broaden the area that bad been opened to communication.
    When the envoys returned from a mission, it invariably happened that they had plundered or stolen goods on their way or their reports failed to meet with the approval of the emperor. The emperor, who was very practiced at handling such matters, would then have them summarily investigated and accused of some major offense so that they would be spurred to anger and would volunteer to undertake another mission in order to redeem themselves. Thus there was never any lack of men to act as envoys, and they came to regard it as a trifling matter to break the law. The officials and soldiers who had accompanied them on a mission would in turn start at once enthusiastically describing the wealth to be found in the foreign nations; those who told the most impressive tales were granted the seals of an envoy, while those who spoke more modestly were made assistants. As a result all sorts of worthless men hurried forward with wild tales to imitate their example.

    The envoys were all sons of poor families who handled the government gifts and goods that were entrusted to them as though they were private property and looked for opportunities to buy goods at a cheap price in the foreign countries and make a profit on their return to China. The men of the foreign lands soon became disgusted when they found that each of the Han envoys told some different story and, considering that the Han armies were too far away to worry about, refused to supply the envoys with food and provisions, making things very difficult for them. The Han envoys were soon reduced to a state of destitution and distress and, their tempers mounting, fell to quarreling and even attacking each other.

    The states of Loulan and Gushi, though very small, lay right across the path that the envoys traveled, and they attacked and plundered the parties of Wang Hui and other envoys with extreme ferocity. In addition, raiding parties of Xiongnu from time to time appeared in the region to swoop down on the envoys to the western states and block their advance. The envoys hastened to the emperor with complaints of all the hardships which they suffered and suggested that, although the inhabitants of the western regions lived in fortified cities, they were poor in combat and could easily be attacked.

    As a result of their complaints, the emperor dispatched Zhao Ponu, the former Congpiao marquis, with a force of twenty or thirty thousand troops recruited from the dependent states and the provinces. He advanced as far as the Xionghe River, hoping to attack the Xiongnu, but they withdrew.
    The following year an attack was made on Gushi. Zhao Ponu, with a force of seven hundred or more light horsemen, led the attack, captured the king of Loulan, and succeeded in conquering Gushi. At the same time he used his armies to intimidate the Wusun, Dayuan, and the other states in the region. On his return Zhao Ponu was enfeoffed as marquis of Zhuoye.

    Wang Hui, who had several times acted as an envoy and been mistreated by the people of Loulan, took his complaint to the emperor. The emperor called out a force of troops and appointed Wang Hui as aide to Zhao Ponu, in which capacity he attacked and defeated Loulan. He was enfeoffed as marquis of Hao. After this a series of defense stations was established from Jiuquan west to the Jade Gate Pass.

    The Wusun sent a thousand horses to the Han as a betrothal gift for the Han princess whom they had been promised. The Han then sent a princess of the imperial family, the daughter of the king of Jiangdu, to be the wife of the Wusun leader. Kunmo, the king of the Wusun, made her his Bride of the Right. The Xiongnu also sent one of their women to marry Kunmo, and he made her his Bride of the Left. Later, saying that he was too old, he gave the Han princess to his grandson Cenqu to be his bride. The Wusun have a great many horses, the wealthy men among them owning as many as four or five thousand!

    When the Han envoys first visited the kingdom of Anxi, the king of Anxi dispatched a party of twenty thousand horsemen to meet them on the eastern border of his kingdom. The capital of the kingdom is several thousand li from the eastern border, and as the envoys proceeded there they passed through twenty or thirty cities inhabited by great numbers of people. When the Han envoys set out again to return to China, the king of Anxi dispatched envoys of his own to accompany them, and after the latter had visited China and reported on its great breadth and might, the king sent some of the eggs of the great birds which live in the region, and skilled tricksters of Lixuan, to the Han court as gifts. In addition, the smaller states west of Dayuan, such as Huanchian and Tayi, as well as those east of Dayuan, such as Gushi, Yumi, and Suxie, all sent parties to accompany the Han envoys back to China and present gifts at court. The emperor was delighted at this.

    The emperor also sent envoys to trace the Yellow River to its source. They found that it rises in the land of Yutian among mountains rich in precious stones, many of which they brought back with them. The emperor studied the old maps and books and decided to name these mountains, where the Yellow River has its source, the Kunlun Mountains.

    At this time the emperor made frequent tours east to the seacoast, and at such times he would take all the visitors from foreign lands along in his party, passing through large and populous cities on the way, scattering gifts of money and silk among the visitors, and supplying them with generous accommodations in order to impress upon them the wealth of the Han empire. He would hold great wrestling matches and displays of unusual skills and all sorts of rare creatures, gathering together large numbers of people to watch. He entertained the foreign visitors with veritable lakes of wine and forests of meat and had them shown around to the various granaries and storehouses to see how much wealth was laid away there, astounding and overwhelming them with the breadth and greatness of the Han empire. After the skills of the foreign magicians and tricksters had been imported into China, the wrestling matches and displays of unusual feats developed and improved with each year, and from this time on entertainments of this type became increasingly popular.

    In this way party after party of envoys from the foreign lands of the northwest would arrive in China and, after a while, take their leave. Those from the states west of Dayuan, however, believing that their homelands were too far away from China to be in any danger,
    continued to conduct themselves with great arrogance and self-assurance; it was impossible to make them conform to proper ritual or to compel them to obey the wishes of the Han court.

    The lands from that of the Wusun on west to Anxi were situated nearer to the Xiongnu than to China, and it was well known that the Xiongnu had earlier caused the Yuezhi people great suffering. Therefore, whenever a Xiongnu envoy appeared in the region carrying credentials from the Shanyu, he was escorted from state to state and provided with food, and no one dared to detain him or cause him any difficulty. In the case of the Han envoys, however, if they did not hand out silks or other goods they were given no food, and unless they purchased animals in the markets they could get no mounts for their riders. This was because the people considered the Han too far away to bother about. They also believed that the Han had plenty of goods and money and it was therefore proper to make the envoys pay for whatever they wanted. As may be seen, they were much more afraid of the Xiongnu envoys than of those from the Han.

    The regions around Dayuan make wine out of grapes, the wealthier inhabitants keeping as much as ten thousand or more piculs stored away. It can be kept for as long as twenty or thirty years without spoiling. The people love their wine and the horses love their alfalfa. The Han envoys brought back grape and alfalfa seeds to China and the emperor for the first time tried growing these plants in areas of rich soil. Later, when the Han acquired large numbers of the "heavenly horses" and the envoys from foreign states began to arrive with their retinues, the lands on all sides of the emperor's summer palaces and pleasure towers were planted with grapes and alfalfa for as far as the eye could see.

    Although the states from Dayuan west to Anxi speak rather different languages, their customs are generally similar and their languages mutually intelligible. The men all have deep-set eyes and profuse beards and whiskers. They are skillful at commerce and will haggle over a fraction of a cent. Women are held in great respect, and the men make decisions on the advice of their women. No silk or lacquer is produced anywhere in the region, and the casting of coins and vessels was formerly unknown. Later, however, when some of the Chinese soldiers attached to the Han embassies ran away and surrendered to the people of the area, they taught them how to cast metal and manufacture weapons. Now, whenever the people of the region lay their hands on any Han gold or silver they immediately make it into vessels and do not use it for currency.

    By this time a number of embassies had been sent to the west and even the lesser attendants who went along on the expeditions had become accustomed to appearing before the emperor and relating their experiences. "Dayuan has some fine horses in the city of Ershi [Sutrishna]," they reported, "but the people keep them hidden and refuse to give any to the Han envoys!"
    The emperor had already taken a great liking to the horses of Dayuan, and when he heard this he was filled with excitement and expectation. He dispatched a party of able young men and carriage masters with a thousand pieces of gold and a golden horse to go to the king of Dayuan and ask him for some of the fine horses of Ershi.

    But Dayuan by this time was overflowing with Han goods, and the men of the state therefore plotted together, saying, "The Han is far away from us and on several occasions has lost men in the salt-water wastes between our country and China. Yet if the Han parties go farther north, they will be harassed by the Xiongnu, while if they try to go to the south they will suffer from lack of water and fodder. Moreover, there are many places along the route where there are no cities whatsoever and they are apt to run out of provisions. The Han embassies that have come to us are made up of only a few hundred men, and yet they are always short of food and over half the men die on the journey. Under such circumstances how could the Han possibly send a large army against us? What have we to worry about? Furthermore, the horses of Ershi are one of the most valuable treasures of our state!"

    In the end, therefore, they refused to give the Han envoys any horses. Enraged, the Han envoys cursed the men of Dayuan, smashed the golden horse with a mallet, and departed.

    The nobles of Dayuan were furious, complaining that the Han envoys had treated them with the utmost contempt. After the Han party had left, therefore, they sent orders to the people of Yucheng on the eastern border of the kingdom to attack and kill the envoys and seize their goods.

    When the emperor received word of the fate of the envoys, he was in rage. Yao Dinghan and others, who had acted as envoys to Dayuan in the past, assured the emperor that the kingdom was militarily weak and that it would not require a force of more than three thousand Han soldiers equipped with powerful crossbows to conquer it and take the entire population captive. Earlier, when the emperor had dispatched Zhao Ponu to attack Loulan, Zhao had led an advance party of only ten hundred horsemen and had taken the king of Loulan prisoner. The emperor therefore believed the assurances of Yao Dinghan and others, wishing to have some excuse to enfeoff the relatives of his favorite, Lady Li, he honored her brother Li Guangli with the title of Ershi General and dispatched him with a force of six title horsemen recruited from the dependent states, as well as twenty or thirty thousand young men of bad reputation rounded up from the provinces and kingdoms, to launch an attack on Dayuan. The title of Ershi General was given to Li Guangli because it was expected that he would reach the city of Ershi and capture the fine horses there. Zhao Jicheng was appointed director of martial law for the expedition, and Wang Hui, the former marquis of Hao, was ordered to act as guide. Li Che was made a subordinate commander and put in charge of various military affairs. This was in the first year of the taiyuan era (104 B.c.) At this time great swarms of locusts rose up in the area east of the Pass and flew west as far as Dunhuang.

    General Li and his army passed the Salt Swamp and were advancing west when they found that the inhabitants of the small states along the way, terrified by their approach, had all shut themselves up tightly in their walled cities and refused to supply any food to the army. Even attacks on the cities did not always prove successful. The army was able to obtain provisions from some of the cities that submitted, but in the case of others, if a few days of attack did not bring capitulation, the army would move on its way. Thus by the time Li Guangli reached Yucheng he had no more than a few thousand soldiers left, and all of these were suffering from hunger and exhaustion.

    He attacked Yucheng, but was severely beaten and a great many of his men were killed or wounded. General Li then consulted Li Che, Zhao Shicheng, and his other officers and decided that, if they could not even conquer the city of Yucheng, there was absolutely no hope that they could make a successful attack on Ershi, the king's capital, farther to the west. They therefore decided to lead their troops back to China. The journey to Dayuan and back had taken them two years, and by the time they reached Dunhuang they had no more than one or two tenths of their original force left.

    Li Guangli sent a messenger to the emperor explaining that the distance had been so great and he had been so short of provisions that his men, though brave enough in battle, had been defeated by hunger and not enough of them had survived the journey to make an attack on Dayuan possible. He asked that the army be disbanded for a while and a larger force recruited for another expedition later on.

    When the emperor received word of this, he was enraged and sent an envoy with orders to close the pass at jade Gate, saying that anyone from General Li's army who attempted to enter the country would be cut down on the spot.

    General Li, afraid to move, remained for the time being at Dunhuang. This same summer over twenty thousand Han soldiers under the command of Zhao Ponu were surrounded by the Xiongnu and forced to surrender.

    The high ministers and court advisers all wanted the emperor to disband the army that had been sent to attack Dayuan and concentrate the strength of the empire on attacking the Xiongnu. But the emperor had already undertaken to punish Dayuan for its outrage and he was afraid that if his armies could not conquer even a small state like Dayuan, then Daxia and the other lands would come to despise the Han. No more fine horses could ever be obtained from Dayuan, the Wusun and Luntou people would scorn and mistreat the Han envoys, and China would become a laughingstock among the foreign nations. He therefore had Deng Guang and the others who were most outspoken in their opposition to the Dayuan campaign handed over to the law officials for investigation, freed all the skilled bowmen who were in prison, and called out more young men of bad reputation and horsemen from the border states. By the end of a year or so he had sent sixty thousand new men to Dunhuang to reinforce the army there, not counting porters and personal attendants. The army was provided "with a hundred thousand oxen, over thirty thousand horses, and tens of thousands of donkeys, mules, and camels, as well as plentiful provisions and a great number of crossbows and other weapons. The whole empire was thrown into a turmoil, relaying orders and providing men and supplies for the attack on Dayuan. Over fifty subordinate commanders were appointed to direct the army.

    It was known that there were no wells in the capital city of Dayuan, the city drawing its water supply from rivers that flowed outside the walls. The emperor therefore sent water engineers to join the army so that when the time came they could divert the streams which flowed by the city and deprive the inhabitants of their water. A force of a hundred and eighty thousand soldiers was also dispatched to garrison the districts of Quyan and Xiutu, which had been established north of Jiuquan and Zhangye in order to provide greater protection for Jiuquan. All men in the empire who came in the seven classes of reprobated persons were called out and sent to transport supplies of dried boiled rice to Li Guangli's forces. The lines of transport wagons and marching men stretched without a break all the way west to Dunhuang. In addition, two men who were skilled in judging horses were appointed as commanders in charge of steeds so that, when the conquest of Dayuan had been accomplished, they would be on hand to select the finest horses to take back to China.

    When all of this had been done, Li Guangli set off once again. This time he had far more men, and in every little state he came to the inhabitants came out to greet him with gifts of food for his army. When he reached Luntou, however, the people there refused to submit. He besieged the city for several days and, after taking it, massacred the inhabitants, and from there on west to Ershi, the capital of Dayuan, his advance was unhindered.

    He reached Ershi with a force of thirty thousand soldiers. The men of Dayuan came forward to attack, but the Han soldiers overwhelmed them with their arrows and forced them to flee into the city, where they mounted the battlements and prepared to defend the city.

    General Li's men had wanted to attack Yucheng on the way, but he was afraid that if he halted his advance it would only give the men of Ershi more time to think up plots to save their lives. He therefore pressed on to Ershi, where he broke down the banks of the rivers and springs and diverted them from their courses so that they no longer supplied water to the city. This move caused the inhabitants of the city extreme distress and hardship.

    After surrounding and besieging the city for over forty days, he managed to break down the outer wall and capture one of the enemy leaders, a noble of Dayuan named Jinmi who was noted for his bravery. The inhabitants were thoroughly terrified and fled within the inner wall, where the nobles of Dayuan gathered to plot the next move.

    "The reason the Han has sent troops to attack us is simply that our king Wugua hid his best horses and killed the Han envoys," they said. "Now if we kill the king and hand over the horses, the Han troops will most likely withdraw. Should they refuse, that will be the time to fight to the death for our city!"

    All having agreed that this was the best plan, they killed the king and sent one of the nobles to carry his head to General Li and ask for an agreement. "If the Han soldiers do not attack us," the nobleman said, "we will bring out all the finest horses so that you may take your pick, and will supply food to your army. But if you refuse to accept these terms we will slaughter all the best horses. Moreover, rescue troops will soon be coming to aid us from Kangju, and when they arrive the Han will have to fight both our men within the city and their forces on the outside. You had better consider the matter well and decide which course to take!"

    At this time scouts from Kangju were keeping a watch on the Han troops, but since the latter were still in good condition, the Kangju forces did not dare to advance against them.
    Li Guangli consulted with Zhao Shicheng, Li Che, and his other officers on what to do. "I have received word," he said, "that the people within the city have just obtained the services of a Chinese who knows how to dig wells. Moreover, they still seem to have plenty of food. Our purpose in coming here was to punish the chief offender, Wugua, and now that we have obtained his head, our task has been accomplished. If under these circumstances we refuse to withdraw our troops, the inhabitants will defend the city to the last man. Meanwhile the scouts from Kangqu, seeing our soldiers wearied by the siege, will come with troops to rescue Dayuan and the defeat of our army will be inevitable."
    His officers all agreed with this opinion, and General Li sent word that he was willing to accept Dayuan's proposal. The men of Dayuan then brought out their finest horses and allowed the Han officers to choose the ones they wanted. They also produced large stores of provisions to feed the Han army. The Han officers selected twenty or thirty of the choicest horses, as well as over three thousand stallions and mares of less high quality, and set up one of the nobles named Micai, who had treated the earlier Han envoys with kindness, as the new king of Dayuan, promising that they would withdraw their troops. In the end the Han soldiers never entered the inner wall of the city, but withdrew according to their promise and began the journey home.

    When Li Guangli first started west from Dunhuang, he considered that his army was too numerous to be provided with food by the lands along the way and he therefore divided it up into several parties, some of them taking the northern route and some the southern. One of these separate groups, comprising a thousand or more men and led by the subordinate commander Wang Shensheng, the former grand herald Hu Chungguo, and others, arrived at Yucheng. The men of Yucheng withdrew into the city and refused to provide any food to Wang Shensheng soldiers. Though he was two hundred li away from the main army of General Li, Wang Shensheng examined the city and, deciding that he had nothing to fear, began to berate the inhabitants for failing to give him any food. The inhabitants could see that Wang Shensheng's army was growing smaller day by day, and finally one day at dawn they sent out a force of three thousand men who attacked and killed Wang Shensheng and the other commanders and defeated his army. Only a few of the Han soldiers managed to escape and flee to the army of General Li.

    General Li thereupon dispatched Shangguan Jie, his chief commandant in charge of requisitioning grain, who attacked and conquered the city of Yucheng. The king of Yucheng fled to Kangqu, where Shangguan Jie pursued him. When the men of Kangqu heard that the Han armies had already conquered Dayuan, they handed the king of Yucheng over to Shangguan Jie. The latter ordered four of his horsemen to bind the king and take him under guard to the headquarters of the commander in chief, General Li.
    The four horsemen consulted together, saying, "The king of Yucheng is the archenemy of the Han. Now we have been given the task of escorting him alive to the general's headquarters, but if he should suddenly escape it would go very badly with us!" They therefore decided to kill the king, but none of them dared to strike the first blow. Finally one of the horsemen from Shangguei named Zhao Di, the youngest of the group, drew his sword and cut down the king. Then, bearing the king's head, he and Shangguan Jie and the rest of the group set out after and overtook General Li.

    Earlier, when General Li started out on the second expedition against Dayuan, the emperor sent envoys to announce the fact to the Wusun and ask them to send a large force to cooperate in the attack. The Wusun did in fact send two thousand horsemen but, not willing to alienate either party, they held back and refused to join in the attack.

    When General Li and his army returned east, the rulers of all the small states they passed through, having heard of the defeat of Dayuan, sent their sons or brothers to accompany the army to China, where they presented gifts, were received by the emperor, and remained at the Han court as hostages.

    In General Li's campaign against Dayuan, the director of martial law Zhao Shicheng achieved the greatest merit. In addition, Shangguan Jie won distinction by daring to venture far into enemy territory and Li Che by his skill in planning. When the army reentered the jade Gate Pass, it numbered something over ten thousand men, with over a thousand military horses. During General Li's second expedition the army had not suffered from any lack of provisions, nor had many of the soldiers been killed in battle. The generals and other officers, however, were a greedy lot, most of them taking little care of their men but abusing and preying upon them instead. This was the reason for the large number of lives lost.

    Nevertheless the emperor, considering that it had been such a long expedition, made no attempt to punish those who were at fault, but enfeoffed Li Guangli as marquis of Haixi, and Zhao Di, the horseman who had cut off the head of the king of Yucheng, as marquis of Xinzhi. He appointed Zhao Shicheng as superintendent of the 'imperial household, Shangguan Jie as privy treasurer, and Li Che as governor of Shangdang. Three of the officers who had gone on the campaign were appointed to posts ranking among the nine highest ministers; over a hundred were enfeoffed as marquises or appointed as chancellors, governors, or two thousand picul officials; and more than a thousand were appointed to posts paying a thousand piculs or less. Those who had volunteered to join the army were given posts which far exceeded their expectations, while the convicts who had been pressed into service were all pardoned and released from penal servitude. The common soldiers were rewarded with gifts valued at forty thousand catties of gold.

    The expedition against Dayuan required four years to carry out, after which the army was disbanded. A year or so after the Han conquered Dayuan and set up Micai as the new king, the nobles of Dayuan, considering Micai a servile flatterer who had brought about the destruction of his own country, joined forces and murdered him. In his place they set up Jianfeng, the brother of Wugua, the former king. Jianfeng sent his son as a hostage to the Han court, whereupon the Han dispatched an envoy to Dayuan to present gifts to the new ruler and make sure that he restored peace and order to the kingdom. The Han also sent over ten parties of envoys to the various countries west of Dayuan to seek for rare objects and at the same time to call attention in a tactful way to the might which the Han had displayed in its conquest of Dayuan.

    The government set up a chief commandant of Jiuquan in Dunhuang and established defense stations at various points from Dunhuang west to the Salt Swamp. A force of several hundred agricultural soldiers was sent to set up a garrison at Luntou, headed by an ambassador who saw to it that the fields were protected and stores of grain laid away to be used to supply the Han envoys who passed through on their way to foreign countries.

    The Grand Historian remarks: The Basic Annals of Emperor Yu records that the source of the Yellow River is in the Kunlun Mountains, mountains over twenty-five hundred li high where the sun and moon in turn go to hide when they are not shining. It is said that on their heights are to be found the Fountain of Sweet Water and the Pool of Jade. Yet, since Zhang Qian and the other envoys have been sent to Daxia, they have traced the Yellow River to its source and found no such Kunlun Mountains as the Basic Annals records. Therefore, what the Book o f Documents states about the mountains and rivers of the nine ancient provinces of China seems to be nearer the truth, while when it comes to the wonders recorded in the Basic Annals of Emperor Yu or the Classic of Hills and Seas, I cannot accept them.

    Shiji 123: The Account of Dayuan


    I think you are aware that Siji ( 史記) in Chinese means Historical Record.

    How this historical record of Sima Qian (the Grand Historian )proves:

    1. Non Han who were conquered and converted were called 'barbarians'.

    2. Unlike the belief that 93% of China is Han, it is not so. It includes those who were subjected to forced assimilation by various means including inter marriage and through destroying their identity in all its facets so that they forgot there roots.
  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:
    China: Continued Erasure of Uyghur Identity

    For many Chinese, the recent new year celebrations symbolise a new beginning. It is the celebration of an ongoing journey and is held synonymous with advancement, progress and improvement. But the sad reality for many people is that the New Year signals nothing more than the continuation of their suffering. Tyranny and oppression are obstacles to progress and advancement, starvation and conflict banish hopes for improvement, and a context of stagnation and isolation suffocates any attempts at movement and development.

    My first article for The Platform pilot project in 2010, on the Uyghur people of North-West China’s Xinjiang Province, detailed how the Chinese government was attempting to dilute Uyghur identity in Xinjiang and homogenise the region in line with the Han Chinese ideal of the ‘motherland’. Two years later, this article which I am writing does not, I regret to say, contain anything more positive. The campaign of the People’s Republic of China to homogenise the Uyghur population and to destroy their cultural, religious and ethnic identity is, with each passing year, proving more successful. If we measure progress in terms of the advancement of oppression, then the case of the Uyghurs in China is a fine example of progress in the new year. In fact, the only thing that seems to have remained the same is the lack of interest from the outside world.

    The destruction of East Turkistan as it is known by the Uyghurs, and the erasure of the Uyghur culture and language, has been an ongoing policy of the Chinese state since Chinese nationalists overthrew the Manchu Empire to take control of Xinjiang in 1911. Historically, East Turkistan has always been outside the borders of China, as marked by the Jade Gate, which people passed through when leaving civilised China to enter the ‘wild west’ of Central Asia and Mongolia. Records show that the Uyghurs have a history of more than 4000 years in East Turkistan and Uyghur dynasties such as the Karakhanids have played major roles in Asian and Middle Eastern history. An independent East Turkistan Republic was set up in 1933, with Isa Alptekin as its Secretary General, and again in 1944 with help from the Soviet Union. However as the historian Hugh Pope has shown, after the Turkic nationalist group, ‘of which Isa Alptekin was a leading member, won the region’s last free local election in 1947’, Mao-Tse Tung’s communist party moved in; by 1949 they had re-established complete control over the area. Any attempts at resistance were brutally subdued and many Uyghurs including Isa, as well as other Central Asians, fled the country.

    Since then, the population of East Turkistan has lived in a constant atmosphere of fear, oppression and isolation. Internet and telephone lines are cut for months on end at the slightest hint of unrest, mosques are summarily closed and the Uyghur language is banned in universities. Uyghurs are constantly subjected to imprisonment, torture and executions without fair trial, and Uyghur homes and historic buildings are being destroyed on a daily basis. Even books on Uyghur history and culture are attacked by the Chinese state as attempts at separatism. According to a report by the Uyghur American association, ‘In May 1991… “The Hun”, “Ancient Uighur Literature”, and, “The Uighur People”…although printed by a government publishing house…were banned’. The author of The Uighur People, Turghun Almas, was even put under house arrest.

    Other attempts at homogenisation and isolation have been particularly successful. Whereas the population of ethic Han Chinese in Xinjiang was only six per cent in 1949, as a result of government policies that number has now risen to just over 40 per cent. Despite the majority of East Turkistan’s population being ethnically Turkic, very few Turks can be found in any higher and mid-level government jobs. Even the written script of the Uyghurs is a product of China’s isolationist tactics, with China having; ‘phased out the traditional Arabic script in 1962 in favour of Latin letters, to wean the Uygurs off their old, Islamic identity. But when Latin-script books started flowing in from Turkey, China moved the language to a unique modified Arabic script in 1980’. Not only did this serve to isolate them off from the rest of the world and other Turkic states, but it also meant that, two generations in a row were cut off from their parent’s written culture.

    Whilst most people know the issue of Tibet and support for Tibet is widespread with powerful, well-organised lobbies in the UK, America and around the world, the situation of the Uyghurs goes largely unnoticed and unquestioned. Whilst it is true that human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Xinjiang, international pressure and condemnation is almost non-existent. There have been attempts by Turkey to draw attention to the plight of their ethnic cousins. Following the Urumqi riots of July 2009, in which many Uyghurs were killed or imprisoned, hundreds in Turkey gathered in protest outside the Chinese embassy in Ankara. It was also reported that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled the incidents in China as genocide, and announced he would be willing to approve a visa for Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled Uyghur activist currently residing in the United States. However despite continuing public condemnation of China, on an international and political level even Turkey seems to have quietened it stance on the issue, prioritising strengthening trade links with China over support for the Uyghur struggle for human rights.

    The lack of recognition for human rights is down to a number of factors. One of the most important is the stranglehold that the Chinese government has on freedom of speech and freedom of the press (this applies throughout China). This does, of course, make it very difficult to obtain information and figures regarding human rights abuses and the detainment, torture, and killing of Uyghurs. This was illustrated powerfully in the coverage we received on the Urumqi riots, where official government figures and explanations of the events of 5 July 2009 and its aftermath, completely conflicted with independent sources. Despite calls from human rights groups for an independent investigation, Chinese officials have flatly refused to allow such an investigation.

    As well as restricting the flow of information from Xinjiang, the Chinese have also continued a propaganda campaign that has vilified the Turkic peoples, continuously falsified the Uighur history, undermined their belief and exploited their culture’.

    After 9/11 the Chinese state used the fear of Islamic fanaticism to their advantage, continually portraying Uyghurs that expressed a desire for self-determination not only as separatists, but also as Islamic terrorists. This has of course been predictably successful in curbing sympathy from a number of countries, who were anyhow, prior to 11 September, not particularly interested in the injustices committed against a an isolated, Turkic Muslim community far away in the East.

    Perhaps the most important reason for the lack of interest in the Uyghur cause is the art of turning a blind eye to the inhumane actions of superpowers. Just as with America, China’s economic power has meant that the international community, either in the hope of strategic and commercial alliances, or in the fear of confrontation, has kept quiet.

    However, remaining ignorant of injustices does not mean they are not happening. Reports dated as recent as 29 December 2011 detail the killings of seven Uyghurs in Pishan County, trying to leave China via the border with Pakistan. The Chinese policy of isolation, oppression and assimilation of the Uyghurs shows no sign of slowing down, and until people stand up and take notice, there is no hope that it ever will. This is why I urge ‘everyday’ people, like us, to make an active effort to educate ourselves on the situation, and to spread the message in the hope that, one day, just maybe, our governments might follow our example.

    China: Continued Erasure of Uyghur Identity | The Platform
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:
    China steps up campaign against Ramadan in Xinjiang

    Beijing accused of misguided attempt to secularise minority Uighurs by banning or discouraging civil servants, students and others from fasting

    China is discouraging some Muslims in Xinjiang from fasting during Ramadan. The government says the move is motivated by health concerns.

    Several city, county and village governments in the far-western region have posted notices on their websites banning or discouraging Communist party members, civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the religious holiday.

    A regional spokeswoman, Hou Hanmin, was quoted in the state-run Global Times on Friday as saying authorities encourage people to "eat properly for study and work" but would not force anyone to eat during Ramadan.

    Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic group. Long-simmering resentment over the rule by China's Han majority and an influx of Han migrants has sporadically erupted into deadly violence.

    Those familiar with the region say attempts to restrict participation in Ramadan are not new, but this year's campaign is more intense.

    There is "a much more public and concerted effort" than in previous years and in some cases Communist party leaders are delivering food to village elders to try to get them to break their fast, according to Dru Gladney, a professor of anthropology at Pomona College in California and an expert on China's Muslim minorities.

    "I think it is a misguided effort to try to secularise the Uighurs and my feeling is it will backfire," said Gladney. "It makes the Uighurs even more angry at the party for not honouring their religious customs."

    Separatist sentiment is rife in Xinjiang, with some Uighurs advocating armed rebellion. A smaller fringe has been radicalised and trained in camps across the border in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    In July 2009, almost 200 people were killed during rioting between Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. Uighur activists say the riots were the result of decades of pent-up frustration with Chinese rule.

    China has responded by boosting police presence and restricting the practice of Islam – moves that have increased tensions.

    Over the last few months, authorities in Xinjiang have stepped up a campaign against illegal religious schools, which they believe are fomenting extremism and separatist thought.

    Hou said battling religious extremism and terror in the region remained a priority.

    "Religious extremism is closely related to violence and terrorism, and cracking down on these is one of our top priorities," the regional spokeswoman was quoted as saying.

    Ilham Tohti, a Beijing-based Uighur economist, said this year's campaign against participation in Ramadan was being more strictly enforced, with officials in some areas requiring people to sign pledges that they will not take part in religious activities.

    Tohti said the campaign appeared to be aimed solely at Uighurs in Xinjiang, noting that Kazakh and Hui Muslims in Xinjiang, as well as Uighurs outside the region, face no such restrictions.

    At the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing, where he teaches, there have been no warnings against taking part in Ramadan and up to 70 Muslim students, including about 10 Uighurs, gather nightly at a local restaurant next to campus to break their fast, he said.

    He said officials may be particularly nervous about potential unrest in Xinjiang in the lead up to a once-a-decade leadership transition in Beijing in the autumn.

    "As a result they are tightening control measures in many areas, not just religion, but this could give rise to new problems and they may end up with an outcome that is the opposite of what they were seeking," he said.

    On Monday, the US state department released a global report on religious freedom that criticised the authorities in Xinjiang for their "repressive restrictions on religious practices" and failure to "distinguish between peaceful religious practice and criminal or terrorist activities".

    China's foreign ministry dismissed the report as biased and called it interference in Chinese affairs.

    China steps up campaign against Ramadan in Xinjiang | World news | guardian.co.uk

Share This Page