Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tibet independence?

When I think about Tibet, I am reminded of the British Empire and the numerous calls for freedom from its members and I think, well okay, those people wanted an autonomous, representative state and that's a reasonable request. However then I think of Scotland's SNP calling for independence and I'm less cheerful. If Scotland left the UK our international political power would crumble away.

So how does this relate to China and Tibet? In the UK, Scotland and the other non-English members are subsidised by us through the Barnett Formula. Though the amount given is gradually declining, it is still significant at this time. This gives them an incentive to remain in the UK, and China is investing in Tibet to achieve the same end.

Imagine for a moment the consequences of Tibet being granted independence from China.

1) Geographic size

Tibet is very large in size and has several natural resources. China has a high population. Any land loss would weaken China's political power. (map)

2) Political Precedent

If Tibet can have independence, why not Hong Kong or Taiwan?

3) Possible instability

The region could become destabilised if a suitable government was not established. Is Tibet ready for a democracy? Would the west compel it to be one?

4) Border disputes

There have been numerous disagreements over where Tibet's borders should be. What event in history do you use to determine the true borders?

Of course leaving Tibet under the control of China is also a danger. They have a poor human rights record and disallow any political dissent. The population is clearly not going to passively accept Chinese rule and increased resistance is likely.

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