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The insecurity dilemma and the Sino-Tibetan conflict

Topgyal, Tsering (2011) The insecurity dilemma and the Sino-Tibetan conflict. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Noting the inadequacies of existing IR theories to explain the security policies of states in the global south and the frequent intra-state conflicts there, this research demonstrates the analytical capacity of the insecurity dilemma as an alternative framework. The research develops the insecurity dilemma first and then applies it on the Chinese-Tibetan conflict. Over sixty years of violence and dialogue has brought the Chinese and the Tibetans no closer to a resolution of their conflict. The insecurity dilemma provides a nuanced understanding of the underlying reasons for this protracted conflict. This research argues that, conscious of its weakness as a state, which has implications for state, regime and ‘national’ security, China has pursued state-building through its policies on religion, language, education and economy in Tibet. Beijing has also denied the existence of a ‘Tibet Issue’ and rejected a number of Tibetan proposals for autonomy out of fears that they threaten their state-building project in Tibet. Conversely, Tibetan identity insecurity, generated by the Chinese policies, migration and cultural influences inside Tibet, explains both the Dalai Lama’s unpopular decision to give up his erstwhile aspiration for Tibetan independence as well as his steadfast demands for autonomy and unification of all Tibetans under one administration. Identity insecurity also drives the multi-faceted Tibetan resistance both inside Tibet and in the diaspora. Although the intentions of both Beijing and the Tibetans are to increase their respective securities identified above, the outcome is greater insecurity for both, plunging them into dilemmatic cycles of state-building and hardening of policies on the Chinese side and strengthening of identity and resistance on the Tibetan side. This study gives play to a multiplicity of actors, objectives and strategies on both sides and examines the feed-back effect that exists between the Sino-Tibetan conflict and the regional and global political strategic and ideological competitions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Tsering Topgyal
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Haacke, Jürgen

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