Why China will never allow a free Tibet

Why China will never allow a free Tibet

Why China will never allow a free Tibet

Why would China continuously send troops to the area and face decades of international backlash? Every time the Dalai Lama meets with a world leader, these issues are brought up, not a good look for China. So why would China continue to endure this political tension?

As it turns out, the Chinese Communist Party’s interests are more than to make the people of Tibet ‘Happy’ and liberate them from the cruel, oppressive ‘dictator’ that was the Dalai Lama. Fortunately, they were ‘freed’ by the great leader that was Chairman Mao in 1959. (This is obviously in the words of the Communist Party)

Controlling Tibet is seen by the CCP to be essential to the maintenance of China’s natural security

The most important factors are

-          Borders

-          Minerals

-          Water

(Funny how people are not a priority)

Tibet accounts for 13% of all the landmass of China but with only a mere 0.2% of China’s population

The main feature of Tibet is, of course, the Himalayan Mountains which borders Nepal and India. This natural border consisting of the world’s highest mountain range acts as a natural barrier with steep slopes and harsh climatic conditions.

China and India have historically been rivals, fighting over the borders between them. This tension has not seemed to die down as border disputes still occur today E.g. Doklam in the Summer of 2017. But if Tibet becomes an independent nation, which country do you think it would trade with and carry out military drills with?

While the Himalayas account for one side of Tibet, the East of Tibet facing China is much more easy to build infrastructure on. There is already a railway connecting Tibet to the rest of China meaning that China can easily move troops to the stabilise the area.

The Tibetan plateau also stores $130bn worth of mineral reserves including key manufacturing materials such as Iron, Gold and Lead. There are also potentially stores of Mercury, Lithium and Uranium.

While China can import raw materials much cheaper from abroad, there is a threat that foreign countries may decide to preserve minerals by imposing tariffs, therefore the CCP has been incentivising companies to mine in Tibet (Cough* Environmental Rules * Cough). Resulting in parts of Tibet becoming environmentally damaged with water pollution, air pollution and soil pollution.

The final reason is water. Most of the key major rivers in Asia originate from Tibet or the Tibetan Plateau (Including the Mekong Shakeel). The two main rivers that sustain China, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. An independent Tibet could decide to dam the river or change the course of the river, resulting in disastrous agricultural implications for China.

The Brahmaputra River runs through India and Bangladesh | Source: Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The Brahmaputra River runs through India and Bangladesh | Source: Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

In fact, right now the opposite is happening. The Brahmaputra River that flows down through India and Bangladesh. It’s a really important river for the two countries in terms of fertile alluvial deposits as well as sediment deposition for additional defence against tropical storms and potential storm surges. In fact, it has already built the Zangmu Hydroelectric Power Station and is planning a few dozen more along the same river. The CCP also has plans to divert this river to some dry parts of Northern China.

The major advantage is that neighbouring countries cannot do anything about it as the CCP controls the source which can also affect Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

As you can see, Tibet is essential to helping China gain a political advantage in the area. There is little hope that China will one day give this up as it has too much to lose.