While I think that some Chinese there and abroad are being overly sensitive about criticism from outside China (you realize the West is not ganging up on you, right? We worry about your government, but we worry more about our own governments and the forces of evil within our own borders, and we talk shit about every country), I never understood until recently the complexity of the Tibet issue, and the many valid concerns people in China have regarding Tibet, not the least of which is that possession is nine tenths of the law. And there is reason to feel that Tibet has been a part of China for centuries, and that Tibet before the 50′s had its own share of human rights abuses, even quasi-slavery in the form of feudalism (perhaps even some sex slavery), so perhaps the Westerners chanting “Free Tibet!” at the Olympic Torch rallies don’t really know the history of the issue they’re fighting.
On the other hand, the quelling of dissent in Tibet does seem to me a bona-fide human rights issue, even if independence is going to be considered off the table. And Tibet’s perceived past does not necessarily mean China should be forgiven for indiscretions and abuse now, nor does the ethnic Tibetans’ one slightly out-of-hand protest at an embassy in Nepal mean that Tibet is at all violent in the way the Communist Party in China has been, especially in our parents’ lifetimes.
In fact, the issue is so complex that the best summary of each position’s stance is this bizarre YouTube video I found. It’s by what seems to be a Chinese American student who’s really upset but who also has Tibetan friends and wants to ask if we can’t all just get along. If you can sit through it, he gives all the arguments and passionate emotions of the Chinese diaspora and then attempts to give the opposing side’s viewpoint (or she, it could be a female yootoober):
P.S. In other news, my sympathies go out to those in China who today suffered from the brutal earthquake that hit the Sichuan province. It’s so catastrophic in scope that I don’t know what to say. Hopefully the help on the ground is adequate to help the survivors find shelter, food, and emergency services.