Sunday, April 13, 2008

A bit of a corrective about Tibet...

Since Danny Fisher has been strongly for advocating for the Dalai Lama's position in the recent Tibet brouhaha (e.g., here, here, here and here) I thought it would be good to add a bit of perspective to this, and so revising my diary from Kos a few days ago might help in this regard:

So the Dalai Lama's in the US, the Chinese are claiming that theocracy is over and done within Tibet, and they also don't like a recent resolution passed by the US House of Representatives which asked China to end its crackdown on protests in Tibet and to enter directly into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Now, here's the rest of the story...

As well as being ridiculously well educated in communication theory and other aspects of electrical engineering, I like to follow popular science & history.

It's well known among earth scientists that the Himalayas started to get that way when the Indian subcontinent slammed into the rest of Asia a few million years ago (they are among the youngest, if not the youngest mountain range in the world.)

Now what that means is that the earth's crust has been pushing upward as these two massive land masses (and tectonic plates) keep pushing up against each other.

Which got me thinking...

I'd bet that means that hard to get mineral deposits - you have to go miles deep for some mines in the world - are probably not miles deep in some regions of the Himalayas.

And sure enough...

BEIJING: Chinese geologists have found deposits of copper, iron, lead and zinc ore along the Qinghai-Tibet Railroad route, the state news media said Thursday, adding that the area may also have petroleum potential.

China opened a railroad to Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, in 2006, paving the wave for an influx of Chinese investment in the poor remote region but also prompting warnings from some that such development could endanger the plateau's fragile environment and undermine Tibetan culture.

Already, mining firms have permanently booked cars on the train to ferry employees to Qinghai and Tibet, Chinese media reported last year.

Total possible reserves could equal more than 20 million tons of copper and 10 million tons of lead and zinc, the official Xinhua press agency said, citing the country's top geological surveyor, Meng Xianlai. Meng is director of the China Geological Survey, under the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Deposits include the Yulong copper find in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with a proven reserve of 7.89 million tons, Meng said, second only to the country's largest copper mine, operated by Jiangxi Copper...

Yulong Copper's major shareholders are Zijin Mining Group, the second- largest Chinese gold miner, and Western Mining, one of the largest Chinese mining and development companies.

Now I'm not one of those folks who believes that one side (e.g. the Chinese) is all evil and the other side (the Dalai Lama) is all good. And vice versa. And I'm a Buddhist. And I think it'd be a good thing for China to have open discussions with HH the Dalai Lama.

Having said all that, the main reason I've written this is simply to note, yet again, how our media has left out - like the Chinese media - a key component of the story, which is kind of obscene given the recent worldwide issues with natural resources such as mineral ores. And frankly, I've not heard this from HH the D.L. himself.

When you also consider, besides the rich mineral resources in Tibet the fact that poverty is still a huge problem in all of China, even by the way in which they measure it, it's clear that different reasons begin to emerge for this whole Tibetan thing that have little to do with the Dalai Lama or "cultural genocide," or anything like that.

The vast, vast majority of the Chinese that I speak with view the Dalai Lama as a cat's paw for the US and other western powers (though many don't put it that politely). They don't do this because they're "fooled" by Chinese propaganda, which they view more cynically than we view our media, generally. They're just more inclined to "follow the money" and see the reason-behind-the-reason in their own media as well as the US media. (Nota bene: I'm leaving out the folks from Falun Da Fa that I've spoken with, for the same reasons that in forming an opinion of Tom Cruise, I'd likely not weight opinions from Scientologists very heavily.)

The Dalai Lama's been reasonable representative for Tibetan Buddhism, I think, but in this whole thing not to have mentioned the issues of resources in China and poverty in China just ain't very Mahayana of him, and I'm sure not mentioning the mineral resources issue strikes his negotiating competitors as disingenuous to say the least.

And if I know about the above, you can be damned certain that he knows about the above, or certainly should know about the above.

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