Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Trouble in Tibet

Here's a link to the Register's editorial on the crackdown by mainland China in Tibet. Bloody and tragic. The editorial makes a point I haven't seen made elsewhere, namely that nation-states can sometimes be downright insane when it comes to the lust for control over territory. Tibetans are ethnically distinct from Han Chinese, and while it paid tribute to some Chinese emperors in timess past, it was essentially autonomous because of distance, and for most of the 20th century because of troubles in China that were something of a distraction. The Tibetans hate Chinese rule and give the Chinese nothing but trouble and grief, and there's no economic benefit to China from controlling Tibet -- quite the contrary. Hanging on to Tibet wrecks China's image in the world, which for the first time in a while it cares about. If Chinese leaders were thinking rationally they'd let Tibet (and Taiwan) have uncontested independence, ridding nthemselves of headaches. But they're in charge of nation-states, which tends to reduce one's IQ by at least 50 points.

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