The Herald and other commentators have suggested Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is afraid to damage trade links by criticising China’s regime in Tibet. See: ‘Tibet campaigners accuse SNP of ‘cosying’ up to China’ (link below).
While the Chinese regime is undeniably oppressive toward minority groups, it’s less so than many of the UK’s trading partners such as Saudi Arabia or Indonesia. However, there’s another reason. The current situation in Tibet is, for the majority, better than it was under the previous feudal regime. See this extract, from a rarely heard story, with the link to the full piece below:
‘What we don’t hear about Tibet’ by Sorrel Neuss
While the world moralises over China’s occupation, feudalism and abuse in Tibetan culture has been conveniently forgotten.
Han Chinese guards deliberately obstruct the pilgrim route through Lhasa to the holy Jokhang temple by sipping tea at strategically placed tables in the middle of the road. In front of the Potala, the Dalai Lama’s former seat of power, an imposing guarded concrete square glorifies China’s occupation.
Tibet seems like as a celestial paradise held in chains, but the west’s tendency to romanticise the country’s Buddhist culture has distorted our view. Popular belief is that under the Dalai Lama, Tibetans lived contentedly in a spiritual non-violent culture, uncorrupted by lust or greed: but in reality, society was far more brutal than that vision.
Last December, Ye Xiaowen, head of China’s administration for religious affairs, published a piece in the state-run China Daily newspaper that, although propaganda, rings true. “History clearly reveals that the old Tibet was not the Shangri-La that many imagine”, he wrote “but a society under a system of feudal serfdom.”
Until 1959, when China cracked down on Tibetan rebels and the Dalai Lama fled to northern India, around 98% of the population was enslaved in serfdom. Drepung monastery, on the outskirts of Lhasa, was one of the world’s largest landowners with 185 manors, 25,000 serfs, 300 pastures, and 16,000 herdsmen. High-ranking lamas and secular landowners imposed crippling taxes, forced boys into monastic slavery and pilfered most of the country’s wealth – torturing disobedient serfs by gouging out their eyes or severing their hamstrings.