Tibetan Self-Immolations and China’s Growing Problem

Published on Author caplan

Recently a former Buddhist monk became the 100th person to self-immolate since 2009 for the purpose of publicizing Chinese abuse of Tibet.  Self-Immolation is hardly a new concept of civil disobedience.  However, the increasing amount of Tibetans lighting themselves on fire has gotten the attention of the Chinese government.  It is a problem that brings up nature of the strained relationship between Tibet and China.  Clearly if Tibetans feel as though their only chance at bringing attention to their issues is to light themselves on fire, then there is a large problem at hand.  China has recently been increasing their regulations on Tibetan monasteries. Tibetans see these new regulations as personal attacks on Tibetan culture.  Due to this, many Tibetans have no choice but to do something as drastic as self immolation because there are no other options for media attention.  I find it interesting the China feels the need to pressure Tibet even more.  Tibetans are not going to change their customs or stop their fight for independence and Chinese pressure is only going to create more of a media frenzy surrounding the dispute.  I wonder if China is going to try and adopt of a different strategy of indifference (which seems unlikely) or find another plan.  The amount of self-immolations is only going to rise and China is in a precarious position.  The current strategy to blame the Dalai Lama and Tibet for the self-immolations is clearly not changing the frequency of these acts. I am quite interested to see if they change their stance in the coming months/years.  


Source: WSJ

One Response to Tibetan Self-Immolations and China’s Growing Problem

  1. Remember that those in charge of Tibet are thinking of whether they can win promotions to somewhere (anywhere?!) else. Dead monks don’t protest, self immolation may be newsworthy in the US but loses its novelty and potentially weakens opposition.

    I don’t know enough of Tibet to know why repression is more prominent that co-optation. However, Tibetan history includes worse under Buddhist monks, so the idea that autonomy would be beneficial has to be treated cautiously. From an economic perspective independence seems to offer little, given that geography means trade is perforce with China, and more ethnic Tibetans probably live outside of Tibet proper than within.