Why China Won’t Leave Tibet Alone
Have you ever wondered why China’s is so desperate to hold on to Tibet?
Despite much international objection, China’s persistent control of the underpopulated, highest-altitude country in the world has stayed aggressively consistent. The Chinese have little interest in mountain climbing, so we can assume there’s a strategic reason for their stubborn pursuit.
This article will reveal the economic and geopolitical intentions behind China’s fixation on Tibet.
China’s eastern border was created through blood and tears. Historically, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar all fought the encroaching empire. China learned the hard way: It’s always better to have the higher ground.
Tibet is a 13,000 foot high plateau overlooking the rest of Asia. This makes it a crucial watchtower. It also serves as a buffer zone, separating China from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Control over Tibet successfully secures China's western flank.
The Himalayan mountain range provides security as well as a military advantage. Any attack on China from the East or North would be an uphill battle. Not to mention, an attacking army would need to overcome freezing temperatures, blizzards, and fierce mountain terrain. It’s unlikely any state would find the risks worth it (well, maybe France under Napoleon).
And what goes up, must come down. The Yellow River and the Yangtze river headwaters are located conveniently in Tibet. The snow melt gives way to an abundant water source, which China has captured.
China’s occupation of Tibet is therefore much more than a military maneuver. It’s the claim to a powerful resource. This water can be used for hydropower and as a political weapon. Many nations downstream, like India, Myanmar and Thailand, depend heavily on these water sources.
As water is life, countless nations will have no choice but to bow to Chinese authority. The alternative would be forsaking their share of the precious resource. It’s also convenient that regulating resources creates less international stir than stockpiling nuclear weapons. Yet, the effect is the same. And in actuality, China wields more influence from its ability to change water policy than its military might.
Indeed, the Chinese could fulfill their threats while simultaneously increasing water availability to their citizens and agriculture. China’s Eastern region has a suitable climate, but it lacks a sufficient water supply. By diverting water, crops would flourish.
In June and October of last year, Chinese crop outputs doubled. Chinese productivity even surpassed its European counterparts. The crop yield for one acre of Chinese land was significantly higher than Europe’s. It’s now estimated that China could produce 11 million calories while Europe would be limited to 4 million calories. This is an enormous advantage both domestically and internationally.
It’s not surprising that a nation known for its mountain range is full of mineral wealth. China therefore has one last trick up its sleeve when dominating Tibet. The nation possesses a lucrative mining industry. With Tibet in its realm, China is like a dragon sitting on a prized pile of gold and treasure. Recently, China has become the world’s leading exporter and producer of gold. Look out: This may cause a shift in the world’s top choice for reserve currency.
So, controlling Tibet gives China a lot of benefits. China’s intentions in Tibet are becoming clearer every day. And with a growing population and a widening global influence, we don’t expect China to soften its grip on the roof of the world anytime soon.