Environment and Democratization
Michael Buckley, the Canadian Tibetologist has witnessed the mass deforestation of Tibet where “half the forests of eastern and southern Tibet” have been eviscerated by its Chinese denizens. Buckley continues: “…over 50% of Tibet’s forests have disappeared since China invaded Tibet” …while “over 50 billion worth of oak, pine, larch, and rhododendron has been logged and hauled out to mainland China.”1 Given the vast amount of resources shipped out of Tibet as Buckley notes, consideration must be accorded to mining, and the loss of employment opportunities to native Tibetans due to the sinicization of Tibet since the occupation. As mentioned earlier, China has invested 100 billion in the region through subsidies, though, it is the present damage and long term consequences of its actions that are difficult to calculate. As Tibet is native to “46,000 glaciers” it has the third largest cluster of ice in the world after the north and south poles, thereby earning the title of Third Pole.
Capitalism is the antecedent economic structure to communism dating back to the Middle Ages in Western Europe. However, as Capitalism has evolved and innovation advanced rapidly, the difficulties associated with technological innovation have laid waste to the environment that protects humans and provides for our sustenance. In the 21st century, particularly in North America and notably in Ontario (including China’s Socialist command economy), the notion of a kleptocracy or envocracy 2 ,within those economic structures is prevalent. Ontario Canada is a good example of a burgeoning envocracy with the provincial government having wasted millions of tax payer dollars on the purported switch from coal to gas powered plants and now a looming carbon-tax. The notion of a kleptocracy in Capitalist states is perhaps a bit pedantic, though the notion of pork-barrel politics lends some credibility to American and Canadian politics.The strength of a kleptocracy can be found in Russia today as President Putin has amassed large sums through state coffers.Indeed, the Panama Papers suggest that Putin and his associates have benefited from 2 billion through off shore activities. Talk about pork. Yet, to keep those Russian denizens on his side, he annexed Crimea to speak to former Russian pride, real or imagined. So, the reality of politics and the benefits of working within that sphere are unmistakable in cosmopolitan centres, no matter the continent. The basis or crux of this discussion is the effect of China’s occupation of Tibet on its environment and culture. As mentioned above Buckley notes well of China’s plundering of Tibet’s resources for economic gain in China (I don’t consider Tibet part of China, though that it is, is accepted in the international community) and will continue to build rail links and provide employment opportunities for Han Chinese that choose to migrate to Tibet for the vast enjoyment of state benefits at the expense of compromised health due to the high altitude. Instances of women returning to mainland China to complete their pregnancies due to the effects of high altitude difficulties are well documented. One has to be born into these circumstances in order to adjust to the environment. Everest is a prime example where sherpas are employed as guides to those individuals who chose to scale the mountain. Everest has a Nepal side and a Tibet (China) side, so, the economic advantages prevail for both parties. In fact, these same Panama Papers have implicated President Xi and other members of the Politburo for hiding assets in off-shore accounts. Ironically, Xi came into office on the promise to eradicate the graft and prosecute those public officials “capitalizing” on Chinese resources on the mainland or Diaspora. The system is heavily weighted in those command economies or a managed democracy such as Russia’s for mass corruption by public officials.
In order to mitigate against supporting these regimes, the difficult decision to attach conditions reflecting human rights through trade agreements with these states, seems be the only way to catch their attention. Currently, the quagmire of trade and political associations can be found through Brexit and the separation of state from union. No doubt Britain will be ostracized within the EU and will need to forge new trade deals outside of this zone in order to revitalize it’s economy and strengthen their voice once again, in foreign policy decisions. Streaming away from Chinese goods towards Britain and other nation-states without human rights issues provides Canada, in particular, a great opportunity to expand its foreign policy without curry favouring to the UN for a seat on the Security Council, which is long overdue for expansion from a post WW2 club of five permanent members, that remains in this form to the present day. Canada, though still a crown nation-state would do well to create a Department of Collective Security whose sole purpose would be to collaborate with the United Nations P5 in order to find Canada a seat on the UN in a permanent role, alongside the United States. After all, Canada will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2017. What better way to illustrate to the world a stronger and more independent Canada, that can flex its foreign policy muscles in order to affect positive change in other parts of the world, including the Near East and Tibet. In the meantime, consumers ought to purchase American, Canadian or goods from nation-states that pursue freedom of speech as the vanguard of human rights and utilize this as a potential pressure point to work with the Tibetan Government in Exile on a power-sharing doctrine that is meaningful. In this way, the Chinese envocracy can be minimized in Tibet and China, while pushing innovation to protect the environment and the public purse.While China has invested heavily in Tibet, it has taken out more in resources for the mainland while a floating population of between 150,000 – 200,000 Tibetans have left for larger urban centres in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to pursue new opportunities, according to CRIENGLISH.COM.3 The traditional Tibetan way of life for centuries has been circumvented due to China’s occupation and oppression. To further illustrate this case, a Chinese work-team surfaced at Larung Gar, the largest Buddhist teaching facility in Tibet on July 20 with heavy equipment to demolish parts of the monastery and academy because they feel overcrowding is an issue, “with only 1,500 monks and 3,500 nuns allowed to live on the site” by October 2017. A student at Larung Gar disputed the authenticity of China’s claims with overcrowding that already exists in towns and cities across China.4
1.Buckley, Michael. “Meltdown in Tibet.” New York: Palgrave/McMillan. 2014.
2.Kieswetter, Kevin. I define an Envocracy as “a nation-state that advocates democratic principles for its subjects in the realm of the environment; though, eschewing in practise those very elements that underlie good and fair governance in the name of environmental protection, and/or urbanization.”
3.Zhou Yan and Sun Yang.”Tibetans Leave Home to Seek New Opportunities.” 03.14.2012. 02.07.2016. <http://english.cri.cn/6909/2012/03/14/3123s686949.htm>.
4.Demolitions Begin at Larung Gar. freeTibet. 21 July 2016. 28 July 2016. <http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/demolitions-begin-larung-gar?mc_cid=e5d205c329&mc_eid=4ff30258c7>.