ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

China's Olympic Troubles

China cannot escape from addressing the Tibetan demand for autonomy.

The protests over the past month, first within Tibet and then the disruptions by the exiles and their supporters to the movement of the Olympic torch across the world, leave no doubt whatsoever that China continues to face a major challenge in its Tibetan Autonomous Region. A good part of the opposition outside China is certainly fuelled by countries and groups eager to find causes to embarrass the country. Yet it would be far-fetched to claim that the Tibetan protests are being driven solely by such groups or by the power of Hollywood celebrities, however fashionable Tibet and Buddhism may now be in the west. Clearly, half a century after China established its control over the region, the Tibetans are far from accepting Chinese governance. The issue will not go away, much as China continues to derisively dismiss the “Dalai Lama clique”. The resentment in Tibet towards Beijing (and the Communist Party of China) is in that sense very similar to the resentment in Kashmir towards New Delhi.

It is apparent that the recent events in China (in Tibet and elsewhere where the Tibetans are in sizeable numbers) and across the world (the actions by the “Free Tibet Movement”) were carefully planned – and very successfully at that – to embarrass Beijing in the year of its Olympics. But what next for Tibet and China? The question of whether Tibet was ever fully free or always under some form of Chinese suzerainty is entangled in the shadows of history and no definitive interpretation of the past that will yield a political solution will ever be possible. The Tibetans themselves have different perspectives – there is the Dalai Lama with his “middle path”, the Free Tibet Movement with its demand for indepen dence and the far larger Tibetan population living in China whose views are not fully known because of the restrictions in that country.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top