March 22, 2008


Kosovo, Taiwan, Tibet rattle China (Wen Liao, Mar 23, 2008, Taipei Times)

Why is China behaving as it is in Tibet? What makes Tibet so important to the government in Beijing? At the heart of the matter is the fact that nothing worries China's rulers more than when the country's unity is called into question. And nothing makes them more anxious than their fear that a regional dispute might, if not brought to an end quickly, steamroll into national disintegration.

Kosovo's recent declaration of independence sharpened the Chinese government's anxieties over the protests in Tibet. Although supporters of Kosovo's independence argue that it sets no international precedent, China's rulers fear otherwise. Moreover, Taiwan's presidential election has further ratcheted up the tension for China's government.

It may sound strange to the outside world that China, which has known nothing but economic success for three decades, should feel its unity to be so fragile. But China's history, both ancient and modern, suggests that there is nothing permanent or stable about the country's current unity.

There's no question of the current China remaining whole, only the matter of how big the rump state will be when all the sorting is done.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 22, 2008 7:55 PM
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