The State Visit of Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, to Britain in October 1999 gave rise to enormous publicity for the imperialist-inspired ‘human rights’ protesters calling for Tibet’s independence from China on the grounds of China’s supposed oppression of the people of that region of China. As if to ensure that this motley handful of protesters got maximum publicity for their counter-revolutionary cause, the police, in full view of TV cameras, made a show of ‘cracking down’ on the demonstrators, leading the British bourgeois media to speculate that if the bobbies were so uncharacteristically stamping down on our traditional right to ‘free speech’, it must be because China had insisted the government suppress all demonstrations in favour of Tibet’s independence. All this is designed to reinforce the absurd propaganda that China won’t tolerate even the smallest and most harmless bit of dissent, not only in China but even in the streets of London!
In other words, the State Visit was used not only as an occasion to sign China up to lucrative contracts worth £3.5 billion with British industry, but also to indulge in an orgy of anti-China and anti-communist propaganda.
We will return in our next issue to write in some detail about the question of Tibet, giving the facts about life in Tibet now and prior to the Chinese Revolution, so that our readers can judge for themselves whether in that country human rights are faring better than they did under the theocracy that the Dalai Lama and his imperialist backers would like to restore. In the meantime, however, we cannot fail to express our astonishment that even such reactionary outfits as Amnesty International – who naturally figured prominently in the anti-China demonstration – would have the sheer brazen effrontery to attack China’s record on Tibet and express sympathy for the representatives of the anachronistic and barbaric theocracy overthrown in 1959, the year democratic reform was inaugurated in Tibet by the Chinese state. Incidentally, this reform, though state-led, was carried through by the masses of the Tibetan people, who enthusiastically welcomed the magical transformation that it brought to their wretched lives in the course of very few years.
Is Amnesty International so ignorant that it does not know that before this democratic reform was inaugurated in Tibet, 95% of the population were either serfs or outright slaves, with no personal freedom and no rights of any kind? Are they unaware that the Tibetan aristocracy were entitled to buy and sell serfs and slaves at any time they cared to do so, and had power of life and death over them, which they readily exercised to subdue rebellion against this harsh regime. Barbarous punishments – death, mutilation, flogging, etc., were routinely inflicted. There were no schools, and 95% of the population was totally illiterate. Medical facilities were also virtually non-existent.
The exploited masses had to work without payment for the aristocracy and the monasteries. In addition, they were crushed by the burden of debts incurred when crops failed, on which they generally had to pay interest at some 40% a year to the unworldly monks who were the country’s usurers. Production methods were primitive and harvests often failed, leading to thousands of poor peasants dying of starvation.
The democratic reform instigated by the Chinese state put an end to all that. Enlightenment replaced ignorance, as schools were introduced everywhere. Health replaced sickness as medical facilities were created. Security and well-being came to the masses Tibetan people after 1000 years groaning under extreme feudal oppression. Dignity replaced servility. Civilisation took the place of barbarity. And, contrary to imperialist propaganda, religious feelings and beliefs were and continue to be fully respected – even if reactionary, feudal-minded, venal clerics are not allowed to get in the way of progress.
Anybody who supports the Dalai Lama’s dreams of returning to the past is no friend of the Tibetan people. Western imperialism, of course, has never given up its hopes of detaching Tibet from China, and will make use of anybody opposing Chinese sovereignty over the territory, however unsavoury. Religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama are ideal propaganda tools for imperialism as their humbly clad public persona oozes other-worldliness and lack of interest in material things, providing the perfect cover for the sordid commercial interests that these grasping clerics share with the multinationals.
We will return to this subject in our articles on Tibet starting with the next issue of
, the first of the new millennium.