Learning about Tibet IV

Lots of stuff out there on Tibet. Maybe most interesting to me is the blog of 江达三, a 72 year old former PLA flyer who spent time in Tibet and is now blogging about the events there. China Digital Times translated one of his posts on the time in the 50’s when they rounded up a bunch for Tibetan troublemakers and demonstrated airpower to them by having planes fly over and blow up some drums of gasoline and drop a few bombs

This frightened “the spectators” like they’d never been frightened before, particularly the superstitious lammas and living Buddhas, who’d never seen planes before and, out of fear and respect, referred to the bombers as “spirit eagles” (神鹰; note: this is the Chinese phrase for condor, the birds involved in Tibetan sky burials). At that point they really believed the PLA was “Heaven’s Army” (天兵天将) A few people couldn’t take it and fainted, some pissed in their pants, and others shouted slogans at the top of their voice: “Long live the Communist Party! Long live Chairman Mao!” A truly strange and ugly scene.

That’s how to do shock and awe. One thing I found interesting is how he, like a lot of other Chinese commenters, links Old Tibet to feudalism. He compares it to Taiwan, of course, as another version of split-ism, and he hates the worthless Dali Lama and his clique 达赖集团又疯狂地唆使顽固不化藏独份子. Unlike Taiwan, however, Tibet is easier to link to Feudalism, and given the CIA connection in the 50’s, to Imperialism. It is easy to say that China wants to keep Tibet because of “Nationalism” but I think it helps a bit to think about what aspects of Chinese nationalism. If you learned in school the old May Fourth catechism that China was weakened in the 20th century by the evils of Warlordism, Feudalism, and Imperialism it is easier to see these things in Tibet. Before being “liberated” Tibet really was a theocracy, and the CIA really was involved there. If you want to fight the evil forces you found in your schoolbooks, Tibet is the place to see them. It’s a bit harder to call Taiwan feudal.

Some of the methods for fixing problems are old too. Jiang is big on the railway to Tibet as an important strategic link that will make it easier to control the place. (It’s railway imperialism!)

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