Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and what is in store for the Red Nation
Relentless courage, determination and sacrifice there is nothing more I have to say to the brave protestors in Hong Kong that gave nostalgic feelings to the year of 1989. This parallel is important to look at, both instances recount democratic protests that were supported by the West, but one ended with violence and broken hopes of democracy. Yet with this large similarity, there is one glaring difference, influence. The events of Tiananmen Square marked 18 years since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) admission into the UN, at this time China was growing into an economic superpower due to Chairman Deng’s capitalist reforms, but now we see China as the second-largest economy in the world and a nation with widespread influence in every continent.
China’s rise to stardom has been in my opinion predominantly due to the Nixon administration’s willingness to accept China much to the distaste of Taiwan. Former National Security Adviser was one of the first diplomats to openly accept China into the diplomatic world, forgoing the numerous human rights atrocities that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has committed. Since then, China is now considered a superpower equal to the United States and this means that there are frequent occurrences of conflict of interest in Asia, Africa, and Oceania. It is unnerving that many nations are succumbing to the temptation of China’s wealth in exchange for deals that undermine the security and stability for certain nations. Take the small nation of Djibouti as an example, since 2017 China has operated on a military support base in Djibouti a vital geographical point as it is near the Horn of Africa, but what is hardly mentioned is the fact that Djibouti owes China about $1 billion dollars and China has paid for 40% of the funding of projects such as the Doraleh Multipurpose Port, the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway, and the Ethiopia-Djibouti Water Pipeline. This a common strategic ploy that China has put on nations not only in Africa but in Oceania to not only keep a tight leash on them and manage their internal affairs from the outside, but to also ensure that if ever foreign superpowers object to China’s policies or affairs, China will have a large support group of nations that will stand by them. An article by the Telegraph talks about China and Australia’s ongoing fight over influence in Tuvalu an island nation with less than 12,000 inhabitants. A looming point that I would like to bring up is the reason that China looks to nations like Tuvalu is that during the voting session in the United Nations every nation holds one vote, this means that a nation like Tuvalu can just as much change the outcome as a nation like the United States and if China is able to become strong allies with nations that are similar to Tuvalu this entails them to perform any action with little resistance from the United Nations. The turn of the century has seen China use its economic power to bolster nations towards their side, a similar tactic the US implemented in the 20th century, but with this new set of allies there is growing resentment in the West and internally that the actions undertaken by the CCP have to come to a halt.
What is apparent in China is that minorities will never feel part of the nationalistic identity that so many Han Chinese resonate with and this creates the sentiment for greater autonomy or independence. There are 3 regions in China that continue to oppose the policies from the mainland (4 if you count Taiwan), Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang and this is not only because they do not feel included in Chinese policies it is also because their lives are subject to constant unwanted change, surveillance and violence simply because they are different. The ongoing protests in Hong Kong are just another example of the deep divides China still faces, along with the 2008 Tibetan Protests and ongoing humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang. What is extremely disheartening is the few nations to come out and support the struggle of each of these regions and acknowledge the human rights abuses that China has committed in all 3 regions. The top 4 countries with the largest Muslim populations that being Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh did not sign the joint statement criticizing China’s treatment of Uyghurs showing a reluctance to unite with their Muslim brothers yet when Israel commits horrendous acts against Palestinians they are more than ready to go to war. Unfortunately, the despairing truth is that nations that were once unbreakable allies choose to forgo their dignity in favor of economic benefits. If we see these same type of responses to Hong Kong and Tibet as we have seen in Xinjiang the respective problems will not be solved any time soon.
Many of you may know Tibet from the Dalai Lama or it being referred to as the land of snow, monasteries and peaceful people, similarly you may also know Xinjiang for being the heart of the Silk Road. As I am half-Tibetan I take the subject of Tibet very sternly when discussing the seriousness of the issue there. Since the 1959 Revolution, Tibetans have seen their culture, religion, history slowly being wiped out, additionally the numerous human rights abuses that Chinese soldiers commit is on staggering feats. There is widespread support for the Tibetan independence movement and that has been because of western governments publicly sympathizing with the Tibetan cause and denouncing China for their human rights abuses there, this same energy is required from all countries in order to support the Uyghur cause. The reason Tibet is so vital to China is that it supports freshwater to half the world’s population giving China huge leverage with South Asian nations. Furthermore, Tibet is extremely rich in minerals, thereby with control over Tibet, this allowed China to be much more self-sufficient. Before moving to my last point on why Tibet is vital to the stability of the CCP, I would like to go back to the year 1950 when Tibet a sovereign state was invaded by the newly formed PRC, China’s purpose for Tibet was to use it as a strategic geographical location which military exercises could be performed on. With its valuable land border with the Indian subcontinent and its harsh environment made for a perfect buffer state between the Soviet Union, India and the Chinese mainland. The future for Tibet is in a precarious place, as every year passes Tibet loses more and more of its unique culture and China becomes more and more stronger, but hopefully with the rise of an aggressive west a socialist state like China will allow a degree of freedom in Tibet.
It is no secret that India and China are bitter rivals, each one vying for influence in the Asian continent, a battleground between these two nations is the region of Kashmir and this is where Pakistan also comes into the picture. Again like Tibet, Kashmir is an important strategic location for all three of these nations, additionally the region also is a popular tourist destination and has several rivers such as the Sutlej and Indus rivers. The Kashmiri conflict is nowhere close to being resolved and ever since the intervention of the Chinese during the Sino-Indian War in 1962 tensions remain extremely high. Access to Kashmir allows one nation to have a military advantage over the other as the high altitude region provides a great location for military bases.
It is undoubtedly hard to make the CCP change, international condemnation from the Tiananmen Square Massacre has done nothing to make China change, but to ensure the CCP changes from its authoritarian ways, it should be every country’s forefront mission to support those oppressed whether it be the Uyghurs, Tibetans, or people of Hong Kong. This will be the only way for China to change and for the world to regain its cowardly face in the image of the Red Wall of China.