2005 Abstracts Stage 2

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Occupation of Tibet by China with Reference to Three Philosophical Concepts

Amelia Henderson, 2005, Stage 2

Tibet is situated alongside the mountain range of the Himalayas and consequently it has an average land height of 10,000 ft above sea level. The large plateaux is largely uninhabitable, however for thousands of years the Tibetan people, who are partially nomadic have made Tibet their home. The climate and landscape make life hard, with a limited diet and primitive technology the Tibetans rely heavily on their Buddhist religion which permeates every part of life. Tibet has had a chequered history with other countries however it is widely agreed that in 1950 when Chinese forces invaded the northern region of Amdo, Tibet was a free, independent country. The Communist Chinese government believed that Tibet in fact was part of “The Motherland” and was in need of “liberation.” Over half a Century later, and 1.6 million Tibetans have been killed by starvation, imprisonment and torture, conflict, execution and forced abortions. The Chinese all but wiped out any evidence of the once integral Buddhist religion during the “Cultural Revolution” and imprisoned any Tibetans who were suspected of “holding on to the past.” The spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his country in 1959 fearing for his life at the hands of the Chinese and has lived in nearby Dharamsala in India ever since. During their occupation the Chinese have made very good use of the new territory they now occupy, the Tibetan people are now outnumbered by Chinese settlers, valuable mineral resources have been exploited to the Chinese benefit and nuclear weapons tests have been carried out on Tibetan soil. One of the most important factors in Buddhism is the belief in reincarnation, all our actions in this life go towards determining the kind of life we will have next and it is this reason that the Chinese were able to take over Tibet so easily. The Tibetan people believe that to obtain a favourable rebirth they must respect every other living creature, from a worm in the ground to a Chinese soldier. They are a peaceful people and even when looking in the face of their oppressors remain composed and dignified. In my project I will be referring to the ideas of religious fundamentalism, and what the implications have been for the Tibetans during the Chinese occupation. At what point do the losses of military conflict outweigh the gains of following a doctrine? Also has the Dalai Lama done enough for his people? I will also be looking at the power of testimony in my project, comparing that of Robert Antelm and a Tibetan monk Palden Gyatso. How did they relate to their tormentors and using Hegel’s master and slave dialectic, can we learn anything from them? Finally I will be looking at the invasion itself with reference to Max Weber’s “Theodicy of Domination.” Is there evidence to confirm his ideas and can Tibet use his findings to try to rectify their situation. I hope to give a detailed insight to the plight of the Tibetan people, how they came to be in this situation and how we might be able to help.

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