Beginning with the illegal annexation of the monasterial town Chamdo, in which 40,000 PLA troops hurriedly invaded and subsequently occupied Eastern Tibet, tensions have run high between Beijing and Lhasa ever since. Yet decades after the PRC’s iniquitous conquering of the small Himalayan Theocracy, a disquieting sense of rebellion still permeates the formerly independent region.
From subtle policies of cultural dilution to the widespread allegations of physical genocide, over one million Tibetans are said to have either been murdered or forcibly expatriated since the inception of Chinese rule. Even the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, has long remained in exile during a sixty-one year tenure in which he has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and is consistently seen as a bastion for non-violent protest around the world.
Such actions were, of course, condemned by Premier Hu Jintao…
It is of little surprise, therefore, that the recently found ubiquity of social media sites, communications networks and the internet in general has helped to elucidate the long-standing plight of indigenous Tibetans to the international community. With hundreds of ‘Free Tibet’ groups in a variety of different locations across the world, the struggle for independence has gained new momentum in previous years, albeit in the face of increased oppression.
2008 witnessed a cohesive global effort by pro-independence groups, culminating in a multitude of sanguinary riots and civil disturbances ranging from Sichuan to San Francisco. Such actions were, of course, condemned by Premier Hu Jintao, who boldly described the events as being carefully orchestrated by the Dalai Lama and powers within the Central Tibetan Administration.
…pro-Tibet demonstrators were accused of acts of vandalism totalling $600,000 in damages…
Now, amid the turmoil of recent uprisings throughout pro-Lamaist areas in the southwest, PRC officials have begun an unrelenting campaign of heavy-handed clampdowns within the region. Roadside checkpoints, interrogations and the immediate stifling of any separatist activity are all part of Hu Jintao’s modus operandi when dealing with the tactics of Tibetan dissidents.
For it is in recent years that protestors have also become increasingly belligerent towards the presence of Chinese rule, thus resulting in spates of violent attacks upon ethnic Han citizens and the wanton use of shock tactics such as the self-immolation of 16 Buddhist Monks within the last twelve months. Only last week, pro-Tibet demonstrators were accused of acts of vandalism totalling $600,000 in damages, alongside injuring 24 police officers after several protesters were killed when local law enforcers opened fire on an unarmed crowd.
…are we on the verge of witnessing the Tibetan Spring?
As the prevalence of technological globalisation heightens, therefore, we are witnessing more and more ways in which increasingly partisan pro-Tibet groups can organise, liaise and premeditate concerning a unified plan of action. Beijing has gone so far as to even state that such coordination indicates the introduction of sophisticated combat training to a movement once thought of as generally quite disparate. Thus, by continuing down the path of harsher and harsher measures, it is evident that the reactionary forces of the PRC will further antagonise the already bellicose Tibetan separatist groups.
Such actions could indeed catalyse an unprecedented wave of even more aggressive rioting, producing a new generation of dissatisfied Tibetans, who feel with some justice, that independence is a right. Such thinking would certainly mirror the protesters’ Arab counterparts, whose cause was readily disseminated and spread by the prevalent use of communication technology. The question begs, therefore, in an age where the world is at one’s fingertips, are we on the verge of witnessing the Tibetan Spring?