“The Xinhai Revolution And Tibet”

Tibetan writer Woeser, still stuck in Beijing, writes about the Xinhai Revolution (translated by High Peaks):

Hence, it is possible to argue that the Xinhai Revolution represented an opportunity for Tibet at the time. The 13th Dalai Lama sensed this very clearly and also almost managed to seize this opportunity. After returning from exile he took over the office of the several hundred years old Kashag (government of Tibet) and in 1913, officially declared Tibet an independent country. However, such a major announcement is really worth nothing if it does not gain recognition from the international community.

On the other hand, the Xinhai Revolution had long-lasting, profound and intense impacts upon Tibet. I am referring to the period after the revolution when first Yuan Shikai raised his notion of “Five Nationalities as One Family” and later, when Sun Yat-sen was the temporary President of the Republic of China and proposed his notion of the “Republic of Five Nationalities”, meaning that the “unification of lands inhabited by the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan people into one country means the unification of the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan races”. From this moment, the saying of “Tibet has always been a part of China” was born, completely ignoring the fact that Tibet and Mongolia had already declared independence and were mutually recognising their independent nations.

Sun Yat-sen is not only the founding father of the Republic of China, his portrait was also exhibited on Tiananmen Square during the national celebrations of the People’s Republic of China, together with that of his counterpart Mao Zedong. This shows that regardless of whether we look at the Kuomintang or the Communist Party, they have all carried on this legacy of thought, especially the notion of the “Republic of Five Nations”. What sounds like equality, harmony and beauty, is in fact not like that at all; regardless of whether we take the “five nationalities” from back then, or the 56 minorities from today, at the end of the day, we are only talking about one single ethnic group.

So, Tibetan people should always try and look far ahead. For a weak and vulnerable group of people, it is extremely important to be clear about which path to take in the future, otherwise it will be impossible to turn back.

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Filed under history, Tibet

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