I am what academics call a Sinophile – a lover of all things Chinese. Food. Culture. History. Even language. I was a Sinophile before I became a Nipponophile – a lover of all things Japanese. I am also an Anglophile for what it’s worth.
I like to think I know a thing or two about China, and one of those things is that the invasion of Tibet in 1959 stands out as one of recent history’s great wrongs. According to The International Campaign to Save Tibet, over a million people have died since the Chinese first invaded Tibet in 1949. Over 6000 monestaries have been looted and priceless antiquities have simply vanished. While resistance to the occupation continues, it is limited to civil disobedient acts such as hanging a Tibetan flag from a radio tower.
From the Chinese perspective, the invasion of Tibet is viewed as a “peaceful liberation” and China has attacked any and all who claim otherwise. Over the past half-century the occupation government has instituted a policy of resettlement of Chinese from the east into Tibet, thereby making Tibet as more of a home to ethnic Chinese than to the native Tibetans.
Saving Tibet from this fate has been a liberal cause celebre for over a generation, yet Beijing’s destruction of Tibet continues apace. While cars in America sport “Save Tibet” bumperstickers, the resistance against the Chinese occupation continues to dwindle.
The conquest of Tibet stands as a perfect example of the failure of non-violence and good intentions to overcome brute force and bullets. No amount of Buddhist prayers or Save Tibet bumperstickers will dislodge a single Han Chinese from Tibet – nor will it bring back the million people they failed to save in the first place.