The real question is the same one that African-Americans faced as the protests of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. met with initial failure in the US South, that is, whether or not to abandon the principle of engaged negotiation and peaceful protest or resort to more confrontational, possibly even violent, tactics. Proponents of a more aggressive confrontational-style in the 50s and 60s, like Malcom X and the Black Panthers, pushed for immediate change and came to embody these ideas.
The Tibetans, faced with stonewalling from the Chinese and the failure of the Dalai Lama to extract something, anything from the Chinese side, combined with the huge influx of ethnic Han Chinese, has led to similar sentiments, and we are seeing the effects of it now in this explosion of pent-up tension.
Will the Tibetans continue to pursue their political, social, and economic grievances with the Chinese peacefully as the Dalai Lama has attempted, or are we entering a new phase of Tibetan-Chinese history where the Tibetan people are more aggressive and confrontational?
I think that question has yet to be answered, and it may not be until the Dalai Lama passes away and leadership of the movement passes into new hands or splinters into different factions, each following separate policies.
I think the Chinese are quietly waiting and hoping the Dalai Lama’s death will lead to the sapping of the movement’s energy, but it could also represent the dam breaking, allowing all Tibet’s rage and frustration to flow.
Filed under: Asia, China, History, Tibet | 1 Comment