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To see who China fears and tortures, visit Tibet

To see who China fears and tortures, visit Tibet

Author: Maura Moynihan
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: July 6, 2009
URL: http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/opinion/op-ed/to-see-who-china-fears-and-tortures,-visit-tibet.aspx

When Americans discovered that the Bush administration replicated torture techniques described in a Chinese Communist military manual from the 1950s, citizens and legislators across the nation were outraged and demanded an investigation. Torture is illegal in the United States, and President Barack Obama has stated that torture does not reflect American values.

In the People's Republic of China there is no such public debate, for in China's totalitarian dictatorship, soon to celebrate 60 years in power, torture is an integral part of governance.

If you wish to study the grotesque particulars of Communist China's torture techniques, study Tibet. Human rights researchers have for decades reported that China uses Tibet as a laboratory to develop and practice torture methods of extreme cruelty, which, in the judgment of the Chinese state, are a reminder that the totalitarian order prevails and anyone who challenges it will be shackled, whipped, beaten, starved, even killed, for such crimes as waving the Tibetan flag or proclaiming allegiance to the Dalai Lama. Pause at a Tibetan chai shop anywhere in India and you will hear stories and see scars and wounds of torture survivors. You will also hear the Tibetan refugees express profound gratitude to the people of India for their generosity and kindness.

Why do the politburo's cadres become hysterical at the mere mention of Tibet, as they shamelessly bully anyone who has the temerity to show respect to the Dalai Lama, the distinguished Nobel laureate, stateless refugee and spiritual citizen of Mother India? Clearly they are terrified of having to explain and defend their plunder of their most treasured colonial possession, the vast and bountiful Tibetan plateau.

The Chinese Communist Party has for decades dismissed all discussion of their conduct in Tibet as "an internal affair of the state", but to ignore Tibet is to misread the many ways China's capture of Tibet contributes to military and ecological instability in Asia and beyond.

China's policies now threaten neighbouring states: population transfer, urbanisation and forced resettlement of nomads has disrupted the delicate ecosystem of the vast Tibetan plateau, the source of Asia's major rivers, the Yellow, the Yangzi, the Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy, Brahmaputra, Ganga, Sutlej and Indus, which provide water for three billion people. China has launched a multi-dimensional development strategy, which includes a vast development campaign entitled "Xi bu dai fa" (the "Opening and development of the Western Regions"), to develop Xinjiang and the Tibetan Autonomous Region, which together comprise one-half of China's land mass. China's Great Leap West is thrusting towards the oil fields of Kazakhstan, and yoking Tibet's rivers with dams and underwater drains.

China is building a vast hydroelectric dam and water diversion scheme on the bend of Tibet's Yarlong Tsangpo River, with twice the hydropower of the Three Gorges Dam. The project will steer the waters of the Brahmaputra towards China's drought-stricken northern plain, and will cause untold disaster for the people of India, Bangladesh and Burma.

In 2008 the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that 80 per cent of Himalayan glaciers will be gone in 30 years. Isabel Hilton, editor of China Dialogue, a London think tank researching China's environment, has launched a campaign to address climate change in the Tibetan plateau, stated earlier this month: "In a region that is already fractured and unstable, the melting of the 'third pole' glaciers is one of the most important challenges facing humanity in the 21st century".

A heavy Chinese troop deployment in Tibet has pressed into South Asia since the 1962 war. Beijing has aggressively backed the homicidal Maoist rebels in Nepal, which has fed Maoist violence in India. Diplomats express alarm over recent People's Liberation Army incursions into Ladhak, and China's new campaign to claim large swaths of Arunachal Pradesh. China rudely pressured the Asian Development Bank to cancel a grant to India for development in Arunachal Pradesh, and vociferously protested against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's campaign visit to the region.

China's ambitions are no longer confined to Asia. The Pentagon just revealed that cyber hackers had penetrated America's new fleet of fighter jets; analysts strongly suspect a Chinese link. In March 2008, the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada, issued a detailed report on "GhostNet", a vast Chinese cyber espionage network which has infiltrated 1,295 computers in 103 countries over the past 22 months. Researchers first discovered GhostNet in the Dalai Lama's private office in Dharamsala, India.

Despite half-a-century of Communist rule and indoctrination, ethnic identities in China's western possessions, Tibet and East Turkistan, have persisted, much to the alarm of the politburo. The collapse of the Soviet Union shattered the primary tenant of Marxist theory, that socialism would vanquish the stratifications of class and ethnicity. The 2008 populist uprising inside Tibet exposed China's failure to integrate the Tibetan populace into their vast development scheme. China's barbarous treatment of helpless Tibetan civilians exposes the uncomfortable truth that China remains an unreformed totalitarian state, which declares Buddhism a "disease to be eradicated", excises the bloodstains of the Tiananmen Square massacre from all textbooks and televisions and tosses its critics into jail.

Think about it: There has not been one general election in China since 1949. India just completed yet another general election, with an open press providing comment along the way. The Chinese Communist Party, soon to celebrate 60 years in power, marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre by sealing Beijing under paramilitary commandos. Elections would, indeed, prove fatal to a leadership that fears above all else the Tank Man and the Dalai Lama.

- Maura Moynihan is a writer and Tibet expert based in New York and is currently researching a book on America's failed China policy. She has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years.

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