Hope Fades as Self-Immolations Rise in Tibet
From the outside it would appear that China pulled off a seamless transition of power. On November 15th China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, strode confidently out onto the world stage. In his first public remarks as the anointed head of China’s Communist Party, he denounced corruption and vowed to work for the people. Behind him the six new members of the Standing Committee, the governing body that essentially rules the country, stood at attention wearing dark suits and dull, thin smiles.
But on the inside, and far off the front pages, turmoil is intensifying in Tibet. Self-immolations in protest of Chinese rule now constitute, as Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “one of the largest such phenomena anywhere in the world in recent memory.”
The situation in Tibet is not the only example of potential chaos under the calm. Corruption, scandal, territorial disputes with its neighbors, and a slowing economy are all issues that will occupy the new government’s working hours. But Tibet stands apart. It is the thorn in China’s side that will not go away despite the government’s vast and violent attempt to make it so.