The Chinese 3 T syndrome

(To Gino Lanzara)

The focus of geopolitical attention cannot be fixed; Ukrainian drama aside, Asia continues to arouse more than one interest, despite China adopting the posture of a stone guest. There is a principle to clarify to audiences unaccustomed to the absence of projects projected into the future: each state pursues its own objectives with strategies conformed to its own cultures and histories to be remembered in the analysis of political relations.

The silence of Beijing does not prevent the Tibetan question from assuming a contemporary double political role, internal and external, for the Dragon, to be connected to the Taiwanese claim, given that the concessions granted to Lhasa would constitute a further leverage in the relationship with Taipei; all this considering Xinjiang1 Uyghur and secessionist linked to the dynamics of Central Asia, and the high altitude political case Nepalese. In this context it must be considered that the Tibetan plateau, which allows China to access the resources of the Pacific Ocean and those of the Indian Ocean by land, is located on the border between the two most populous nations in the world, therefore everything that happens in Tibet, a region in economic expansion, it has not only a local echo.

A new Tibetan crisis it would have devastating impacts on the entire international community. It is no coincidence that Beijing, the subject of the 3 T syndrome (Tienanmen, Tibet, Taiwan), has entered into the Agreements of Shanghai group2, binding the adherents to the contrast to the terrorist and separatist movements, while Obama launched a policy of (attempted) containment and isolation with the Pivot to Asia. In fact, China has not deviated from its tradition: not only does it aim to maintain strategic depth, but it intends to rebuild the imperial geopolitical space: sovereignty cannot be questioned and does not exclude the use of repression.

According to Freedom House, China is conducting the most sophisticated, global and comprehensive transnational repression campaign in the world. China is upgrading, including with a 5G telecommunications unit, the infrastructures along the Line of Actual Control3 between Indian Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, in order to set up advanced logistic nodes and allow rapid mobilizations.

After Spring of blood of Tiananmen, China has placed the protest on three interconnected lines: terrorism, separatism, religious extremism, the latter aspect which, like a wave, has long since reached the Petrine throne. If the legitimacy of the party is inherent in the principle of stability, and if the party is unique, it is the very stability of the state that risks being endangered.

According to the Stalinist / Maoist party-state system, the party affirms the legitimacy of the dominant power, therefore national security guarantees the continuation of the leadership of the Party against any internal or external vulnerability, thanks also to the budgetary resources in which the expenses necessary to maintain stability exceeds those for national defense.

The Chinese obsession with any dissonance in Tibet, as everywhere, betrays the confidence that the Communist Party's version will continue to hold up. The state is everything, individual rights are not, also because with Tienanmen the threat appeared from within to then update itself over time with other challenges; only now, outside its borders, has the Dragon rediscovered both the maritime and terrestrial confrontation, and the asymmetrical one offered by the economic levers of loans.

If the 2008 Olympics had engendered the unreasonable hope of political liberalization, those of 2022 proclaimed Xi's strength, based on the centrality of the Party, according to an authoritarian and nationalist model that sees any request as an attempt to colored revolution.

The political demands that have hit Beijing since 1996 are linked to three regions with a high density of minorities: Tibet4, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, to add the wildcard of Hong Kong5, from which the political bargaining power has been removed, and where the Dragon could exercise preventive strategic action by looking at Taiwan.

The biggest Chinese fear is fragmentation, an existential threat; the remedy is the modeling of a Chinese national consciousness, the consolidation of internal power and the projection of external power. The American dream before Ukraine called for Chinese disintegration with the end of the regime, with independent Tibet and Xinjiang, with Shanghai, Macao and Hong Kong connected to the world trade network, with independent Taiwan and the two Koreas united.

Official iconography insists that present-day China is a reflection of a historical condition that has existed for centuries, but overlooks the fact that current geography was only decided upon after Mao Zedong's rise to power in 1949. But there are those who say no, and despite the ban on any celebration of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Hong Kong police have failed to dissuade from commemorating June 4, a date that marks the end of the utopian and impossible principle one country two systems.

Both in Tibet in '59 and in Hong Kong in 2019, dissent was the point of no return for an autonomy that had to give in to an iron fist. As in Tibet in '59, Hong Kong is witnessing a new wave of migration, with pro-democracy leaders on the run.

The main levers of Beijing are economic, and support long-term actions in areas traditionally considered as strategic courtyards of other geopolitical subjects such as India, undermined in its projects in Nepal with tools that, over time and also in other area countries , are diversifying by resorting to the alternation of soft power, coercive threats and with the use of debt trap, to which several states have nevertheless resisted6, rejecting projects deemed unsustainable.

From the point of view thalassocrat7, China is not currently seeking conflict with the US, as political survival, social order and economic growth are ensured by a peaceful and stable context, but the expansion of sovereign interests to areas such as the South China and East China Sea will create new faults: the assertive attitude of Beijing, with the stability of the economic system, will guide the future of Asia-Pacific in the face of the sharing of global interests8.

What Washington is obliged to consider are the three asymmetries that favor Beijing: distance from its bases, time available and above all what is at stake, all factors that will make American strategy in Asia risky. A separate analysis must be made for Taiwan, an island that the USA cannot abandon for reputational reasons and that China must keep among the objectives to be achieved as the reason for its political and territorial resurgence indispensable for the stability of the Party, for the political survival of Xi, and its hold in and over the country.

The Chinese problem is that the planned unification with Taiwan by 2049 highlights an erroneous strategic perception, lacking the tactical preparation necessary to correct it, given that the balance of power in China is prevalent only in an internal version. In short, Taiwan, in the Asian context, is not and will not be the ultimate geographical border of the Sino-American conflict.

Within the Asian continental mass, other elements of interest must be considered, starting with Nepal9, a country characterized by Maoist ideology, subject to revision even in China, and yet facilitated by the slowness of the historical evolution of South Asia, which favored the clash between Nepalese feudalism, ancient Chinese communism and the Indian attempt not to lose control nor land.

As always, the great powers look to the resources of their neighbors: Nepal is no exception given its geostrategic position between India and China, given its foreign policy of non-alignment, and given both the lack of access to the sea and the burning Tibetan border. .

Despite the transition from monarchy to republic, Nepalese institutions were unable to draft a constitutional charter in 2015, at which time the country from Hindu it has become secular, and unable to guarantee a painless transition, so much so as to give rise to a political fragmentation that has allowed China and India to interfere frequently. The Nepalese region of Madhesh has formed a political laboratory in which India10 he intended to guarantee the eligibility of the holders of his nationality, reaffirming his influence, but nevertheless generating widespread hostile sentiments very useful for the purposes of Beijing.

While New Delhi has land, Kathmandu has water, with Indian demographics set to soon guarantee a higher shock mass than China, but still in need of constant and certain water supplies now controlled by Beijing's dams.

La Nepalese syndrome on the Indian side it will take action if Kathmandu continues to lend itself to raising issues on behalf of China, thus igniting the Indian competition involving the economic, technological and military domains. It is no mystery that Beijing is trying to erode Indian influence in the region with investments and military presence between Kathmandu, Dhaka and Colombo; Nepal is among the signatories area of Belt and Road Initiative with projects related to connective and hydroelectric infrastructures; However, financing methods and long-term feasibility remain to be defined: illusory promises between Indian ire, American financing and difficult Nepalese repayments envisaged?

Inevitable for Modi11 having to make decisions and position net of non-alignments troops difficult to maintain, and in the light of Western political and economic entrances into the Nepalese arena12; if for India Nepal is an indicator of risk, the Indo Pacific marks red, given that in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives there may be permanent interests but no friends, and where the Islamic religious aspect begins to weigh. Mind you, there is little mystical, very political real-political, as evidenced by parallel and secret diplomatic relations and agreements between the Holy See and China for the appointment of bishops in the light of the schism between the Clandestine Catholic Church and the Patriotic Church of faithful party obedience. to the Maoist assumption that national sovereignty extends to the kingdom of heaven; in fact it is a dispute that brings to mind the friction between the Church and the Holy Roman Empire.

The agreement should guarantee independent Vatican accreditation at the Forbidden City with cascading geopolitical effects on the western balance of power. For Beijing, compliance with the treaty is functional both to internal reasons and to geopolitical interests, in consideration of the fact that the Holy See is seen as an additional diplomatic means for the Taiwanese solution, with abrupt returns to the actual political reality determined by the arrests13 of clergymen; the vision global In approaching China, the Vatican opposed that of J. Mearsheimer who, on the peaceful rise of the Dragon, has always harbored more than one doubt, supported by the persecutory attitude towards Uyghur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists.

The risk of creating a precedent that other states can draw inspiration from exists; in the meantime, while the apostolic nuncio to Taiwan was sent to Rwanda (a worrying and controversial signal), China, regarding the arrest of the ninety-year-old cardinal Zen, insisted that no one can consider himself above the law, which he knows well another Holiness, the Buddhist Dalai Lama, who has always been considered a political as well as a spiritual leader (ah, the reality..).

Since 195914, following the flight to India in Dharamsala following the Lhasa revolt15 with its 65.000 dead, the Dalai Lama's policy was aimed at regaining the independence of Tibet, a land rich in water and natural resources16However, this option is no longer feasible. Implement a policy similar to that proposed for Hong Kong - one country two systems - given the results obtained, it does not seem to attract too much since, moreover, the Chinese interlocutor does not intend to recognize any political role to the Dalai Lama.

Beijing, Tibet, has strengthened its military presence by launching an infrastructure modernization program, and by settling a large number of Han Chinese and Hui Muslims. useful to make the Tibetans minority at home own.

Chinese intransigence and the colonization of Tibet, for which the Hindu nationalists have asked for disavowal as an integral part of China, have led both to a radicalization of the younger Tibetan generations, convinced of the need to embark on a new armed struggle for independence, and by the Dalai Lama , to steal the appointment of his successor from Beijing, identifying him anyway Extra limits Chinese17.

This is why New Delhi has embarked on two political processes: on the one hand, it has prevented Tibetan refugees from bringing violence to the Chinese on Indian territory, and on the other, it has called for a dialogue that will prevent the outbreak of clashes.

As we have mentioned, the Dalai Lama, however followed by the Tibetan faithful, has a geopolitical significance, since it undermines the legitimacy of the Communist Party up to Mongolia, Siberia, Korea.

Closing with Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom allied with India attracted by possible Chinese investments, which wants to exploit its geostrategic position between the two Asian powers, one cannot but stigmatize the occupation model adopted in Tibet, a model that obliges the USA to do not divert attention from the area in order not to incur other Afghan debacles.

The religious value of some of the actors concerned must not distract from the political dimension that is affected by the temporal dimension: the perpetuation of situations can only lead to either the acceptance of the status quo or the evaluation of events without subjecting to particular deadlines but neglecting contingent aspects. of the moment; aspects that are difficult to remember over long periods but still capable of marking them, as in the case of the disorientation produced by the Sino-Vatican agreements on the faithful to the traditional Roman dictate, or as in the interpretation of Tibetan pacifism, for which the 13th Dalai Lama had to say use peaceful methods, when appropriate, but do not hesitate to resort to force if they prove to be insufficient.

1 The Japanese Diet's resolution on the human rights situation in Xinjiang and other areas was passed almost unanimously. The reaction from the Chinese foreign ministry was swift and attacked Japan claiming that Tokyo does not have the authority to comment on the human rights of other countries.

2 China-Russia-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan


4 Beijing has invested over $ 50 billion in more than 400 development projects in Tibet over the course of several decades. If it is true that Beijing complains of dissent, it is equally true that ethnic Han Chinese, encouraged to move to Tibet, are the main beneficiaries of development. Even as Tibetan living standards have risen, discrimination in favor of the Han is evident.

5 Recently in Nepal, the Chinese embassy asked the media to contain independent reports on Tibet or Hong Kong.

6 When China offered Bangladesh financing for several large infrastructure projects in 2015, the government decided to compare the offer against those of other partners such as Japan and India. Nepal has turned to the World Bank several times for COVID assistance. 

7 Maritime power

8 Trade, stability, energy security, nuclear control

9 The late King Prithvi Narayan Shah observed that Nepal was a yam (climbing plant) between two boulders.

10 India has created a strategic link road through Lipolekh for trade with Tibet and for the pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar. In response, Nepal has published a new political map that includes the areas of Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipolekh, territories historically claimed by Nepal but remained under Indian control after the Sino-Indian War of 1962.  

11 Narendra Modi, Indian premier

12 See the Chinese contrast to the US sponsored Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), accused by China of coercive diplomacy, for Nepal and approved in February by Kathmandu

13 Cardinal Joseph Zen, aged 90, was arrested by the Hong Kong authorities as he was accused of collusion with foreign powers; he condemned the removal of crosses from outside the churches and always celebrated masses in memory of the fallen in Tiananmen. Zen is against the agreement between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops and has taken the defense of the Uighurs.

14 Il 7 October 1950 Mao Zedong ordered to take control of Tibet. The pretexts were the unification of the Chinese people (although the Tibetans are of different ethnicity) and the liberation from the yoke of British imperialism, when British influence had actually already ended with the Indian independence of 1947. At the foot of the Palace del Potala, residence of the Dalai Lamas, there is a large square in Tiananmen with Chinese flags and a monument dedicated to the peaceful liberation of Tibet

15 The uprisings of 1989 and those followed Olympic Part 2008

16 Only the Arctic and Antarctica have more water than the Tibetan glaciers vd. hydrostrategy and the definition of China which water super power which affects the policies of neighboring countries; then there are huge deposits of copper, lithium, gold, silver, uranium, quartz

17 The whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, are currently unknown since his forced disappearance in 1995 by the Chinese authorities.

Photo: Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China