Saturday, March 25, 2006

Introductory Notes: The Dragon in the Land of Snows

Introductory Notes:
The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A Modern History of Modern Tibet Since 1947
Tsering Shakya (1999)
This title appealed immediately not necessarily because I have read a few of the Dalai Lama's books. It is a historical perspective and the author notes early on that it might necessarily hold great appeal neither to adherents of Chinese suzerainity nor supporters of independence and the the Dalai Lama. This being said Professor Shakya also notes that the period of his exploratory research has never previously been addressed.
Tibet as a nation has held the focus of the mass media credibly through the efforts of exiled Tibetans like the Dalai Lama. However the message is often filtered through the medium. And the message of mass media is once again, always skewed, while the message is also often adapted to suit the medium. Such are the challenges facing proponents of Tibetan independence.
In his introduction, the author notes that Tibet historically was a peripheral nation loosely and liberally draped under the fringe of a distant domain of China which existed itself as a loosely aligned number of kingdoms and local domains previous to 1913 when Britain attained considerable influence thereabouts through its interest in providing a buffer zone for its colonial interests in India versus the Chinese as a resolution of border issues prior to the First World War.
Following the Second World War and the Birth of Indian Independence from 1947, the British lost their immediate mandates for maintaining a presence in Tibet. Furthemore, the disevolving nationalist governments and battles in China destabilised particularly through popular Communist Revolution threatened the independent sovereignty of the Tibetan nation. The Tibetans began repeated appeals for political and military assistance from western nations, particularly the US and Britain, and India. However, none could willingly ratify or secure Tibetan nationhood out of deference to possible Chinese repercussions.
During this period the Communists in China were wedding a fierce nationalism to their desire to sublimate peripheral former vassel territories. Ultimatums issued directly and indirectly with the leadership of Tibet came about prior to the expulsion of Guomindang Government Officials in 1934 and were further driven by Communist fears that Tibet would succeed in developing solid political ties to the outside world.
The Tibetans naturally did their best to negotiate UN resolutions and effective international condemnation of Chinese aims within their nation. However the British repeatedly deferred the issues of Tibetan sovereignty to India, while India refused to address the issue out of concerns of appearing aggressive to the Chinese. The Americans appeared willing to take symbolic and concrete actions, but repeatedly deferred to British and Indian status quo. Quite simply, these not only prevented UN resolutions from being tabled, their efforts in preventing direct Tibetan negotiations apparently infuriated Chinese authorities, which perpetuated their first military attacks from May, 1950.

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