CHINA has invaded and occupied its western neighbor Tibet twice, once in the 1271-1368 rule of the Yuan dynasty to annex or “assimilate” it, and again in 1958-1959to subjugate its self-governance under the current 14th Dalai Lama.
Today’s column is the outcome of my research on Tibet, an educated guess on why China is holding Tibet with an iron grip or a vise. Naturally, I expect Beijing will either outrightly deny, or ignore this as inconsequential.
Geography shows Tibet is the world’s highest plateau sitting next to Nepal, reputedly the “roof” of our planet, housing the tallest mountain Mt. Everest.
Science tells us that Tibet “holds a very large volume of water-rich air currents” that pass over the Tibetan plateau daily but it gets only 10 centimeters of rain water each year. By the US Geographical Survey, any area on earth that gets less than 25 cm of rainfall a year is considered a “desert”—extremely dry and treeless. (Rain is formed when moist or “wet” air cools and collides with particles known as “diatoms” in the atmosphere and create raindrops.)
It is also a truism that water “seeks its own level” and the more mountains or elevated places there are in a given area, rivers or streams flow down to the sea.
Tibet is the source of the following great rivers of Asia: 1) the Indus of India and Pakistan; 2) the Sutlej of Pakistan and India; 3) the Ganges of India; 4) the Yellow of China; 5) the Yangtze of China; 6) the Brahmaputra of India and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan); 7) the Mekong of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma; 8) the Karnon of Nepal and 9) the Irrawaddy of Myanmar.
Since the source of China’s two major riversis Tibet, the first reason China will never let go of Lhasa is water. China needs at least 10 billion cubic meters of rainfall annually. That will surely increase as the Beijing regime consistently tries to increase its gross domestic product to replace the US as the top international economic, and by 2049, the top military power as well.
(The second world war enabled the 13th Dalai Lama to revolt and drive out the last of the Qing dynasty emperors out of Lhasa, and the Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek regimes did not recognize nor “reassimilate” Tibet after 1945. Mao Zedong’s communist China did, installed the puppet Pachen Lama after the 14th Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959, and declared Tibet an autonomous region of China.)
Currently, reliable sources in China claim it is “experimentally operating hundreds of chambers or burners of silver diodes that will form raindrops from the heavy clouds in the atmosphere. The heavy or rain clouds extend up to five square kilometers in size. Using the silver diodes chambers is equivalent to cloud-seeding, when copper particles are fed into the heavy clouds by aircraft to produce rain.
China calls this the Sky River project which will certainly modify the weather patterns in Tibet.
Cloud seeding by aircraft is reportedly costlier and covers less area than the $8,000 per unit cost of building and operating a silver diodes burner. But without the wind currents that will carry the rain clouds to Chinese inland areas, these chambers will produce rain instead for India.
China needs the Indian monsoon wind current to carry the rain into Chinese territory.
Another problem China has to overcome is the altitude of Tibet. Its elevation renders it less endowed with oxygen than most part of the world. Less oxygen means less fire or inefficient silver diodes chambers.
Another puzzle for China’s Sky River project is that climate simulator tests predict that Tibet may likely experience severe droughts in the coming decades due to the earth warming.
Sky River’s total size and expenses still have to be approved by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, and no launch date has been even rumored yet.
The other reason China will never let Tibet go is the natural resources of the country. It is rich in minerals, gold, silver, copper, uranium, iron, etc. which Beijing needs to beef up its military arsenal and “defense” capabilities.
As far back as a decade ago, China topped the list of importers of minerals it needs for its manufacturing/export-based economy and armed forces buildup. This includes its reclamation and militarization of the South China Sea reefs and atolls in what is international waters under international laws but which Beijing claims as its “territories” in excess of the land mass areas it governs and controls.
One solution to China’s Sky River concerns/problems is to dam or control the nine Asian rivers’ sources in Tibet to ensure more water for Chinese agriculture, fisheries manufacturing, extractive industries and human consumption. But that will be raising hell from its neighbors, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, and a major portion of Asean.
People can still be alive without food for 30 daysbut human beings—people—will surely be dead, lifeless, without water for a few days, especially in this modern century. When it becomes an issue of national survival, it may even trigger wars—in any form.
And it is a reason for Asean concern because obviously there is no relaxation nor change in Beijing’s strategic and tactical plans to obtain its national goal to restore China to its “old glory” when it was the “Middle Kingdom.”
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