If you answered a, your reasoning might be,
Any nationality trapped inside a larger nation-state should become a free nation. It's only natural that every nation have it's own state. After all, if the French have France, the Japanese have Japan, then why not let the Tibetans have Tibet?
All of these are examples of two or more nations successfully mingled in the bosom of a single state with wealth, stability and freedom. So there's nothing unusual about a country having more than one official language, culture, and ethnicity.
However, notice that all the countries just listed are democracies. The citizens of those countries are there by choice, not held by an iron grip. Voters in Quebec, for example, have exercised their choice twice, and both times voted to remain a part of Canada.
Also, most muliti-nation states are federal, where different regions have some self-rule but still within a larger country.
China doesn't play by those rules. Tibetans do not have the freedom to choose their government whether it be independent or within a greater China.1 China, Indivisible
Now, if you picked option b, you may be afraid that:
If Tibet separates, what's to stop a domino effect from tearing all of China apart completely? The country I know and love will be Balkanized into a patchwork of micro-states and the whole region will be thrown into chaos.
This idea has merit. China has several disparate regions, (bestowed with the progressive-sounding but constitutionally impotent title of "Autonomous Region") where there is not only a unique culture or religion, but downright hostility toward the ruling Han majority. Tibet is one example, but the western Uighur province in another. And here is what one learned world affairs analyst, Robert D. Kaplan, wrote about it in The Coming Anarchy:
Having traveled through much of western China, where Muslim Turkic Uighurs (who despise the [Han] Chinese) often predominate, I find it hard to imagine a truly democratic China without at least a partial break-up of the country. Such a break-up would lead to chaos in western China, because the Uighurs are poorer and less educated than most Chinese and have a terrible historical record of governing themselves.Kaplan goes further, wondering if the student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in '89 had led to democracy, could China manage the same astounding levels of economic growth that it does:
I am not certain, because democracy in China would have ignited turmoil not just in the Muslim west of the country but elsewhere too; order would have decreased but corruption would not have.The Dalai Lama himself basically agreed with Kaplan's assessment when he said in an interview with Time:
Tibet is a landlocked country, a large area, small population, very, very backward. We Tibetans want modernization. Therefore, in order to develop Tibet materially as a modern nation, Tibet must remain within the People's Republic of China.1 Country, 2 Systems
Notice that Kaplan's statements above deal with democracy, not self rule. It's one thing to say that China is not ready for federal democracy, or that its provinces shouldn't become independent republics. It's another thing to say Tibet can't have some form of autonomy within China. This already exists in Hong Kong where China holds power over defense and foreign affairs while legal, economic and immigration policies are under local control. The same idea exists in Macau, and if China had it's way it would exist for Taiwan too.
For Tibet, the Dalai Lama favours this policy of "one country, two systems" over full independence, to the chagrin of Tibet's government-in-exile. In the interview with Time he declared that Tibet should accept a partnership with China if it improves the standard of living of Tibetan people:
...In order to develop Tibet materially as a modern nation, Tibet must remain within the People's Republic of China. Provided Chinese give us a full guarantee of preservation of Tibetan culture, Tibetan environment, Tibetan spirituality, then it is of mutual benefit.In other words, if China was to create a parallel system for Tibet within China, not unlike that of Hong Kong and Macau, it would be a workable, peaceful solution to allow Tibetans to exercise their religion and unique way of life--including control over immigration--in a way that keeps the greater China politically stable and economically prosperous.
The photo above is a collection of stamps celebrating China's ethnic diversity.
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