Kin-ming Liu at PostGlobal

Kin-ming Liu

Hong Kong

Former Washington-based columnist for The Hong Kong Standard, The New York Sun, and Insight on the News, an online weekly published by The Washington Times. Covered economic and political relations between the United States and East Asia, with an emphasis on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Former chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists' Association. Currently a business executive at a Chinese-language newspaper in Hong Kong. Close.

Kin-ming Liu

Hong Kong

Former Washington-based columnist for The Hong Kong Standard, The New York Sun, and Insight on the News, an online weekly published by The Washington Times. more »

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One Compromise Could Win Tibetan Independence

HONG KONG -- Tibetan independence, as well as Taiwanese independence, are not lost causes, though their chances for success are very dim, at least for now. But Tibetans could make one fundamental compromise that would greatly enhance their chance of getting rid of Chinese rule: deal with what Tibet is today, and don't get bogged down in history.

In the Soviet Union's heyday, anyone who dreamed of the independence of any of the republics was considered insane. Then the USSR collapsed; today, Russia doesn't control any of the former republics. I certainly thought Indonesia would have never let East Timor go free, but I was very glad to be proven dead wrong. And Kosovo, amid very daunting circumstances, has recently declared its independence. China certainly won't give up Tibet given China’s current state of mind and status. But who knows what China will become in future?

In theory, Tibet is entitled to self-determination. A censored article written by a well-known human rights lawyer in Hong Kong presents a sound case for self-determination under international law. The question, as the current PostGlobal discussion is asking, is what its supporters should do to win it.

China claims that Tibet has always been part of China according to "history." Whether or not that is true is irrelevant: historical claims don’t always justify the current state of affairs, which are constantly changing and developing. National boundaries are not fixed forever. Otherwise, Queen Elizabeth the Second, not George W. Bush, should have been the head of state of the land we now call the United States of America.

According to the Government of Tibet in Exile: "Tibet is comprised of the three provinces of Amdo (now split by China into the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu & Sichuan), Kham (largely incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai), and U-Tsang (which, together with western Kham, is today referred to by China as the Tibet Autonomous Region). The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) comprises less than half of historic Tibet and was created by China in 1965 for administrative reasons. It is important to note that when Chinese officials and publications use the term 'Tibet' they mean only the TAR."

In the same vein, whether or not this claim is true is also now irrelevant. No government of China, whether Communist or democratic, could afford to lose such a gigantic chunk of land. Insisting on a historical Tibet will get the Tibetans nowhere in their negotiation with the Chinese. And like it or not, negotiating with China would be the solution for Tibet. In the absence of NATO or any other foreign forces, the Tibetans won't be able to follow the footsteps of the Kosovars. This is the sad truth.

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