China, Tibet and the Colonial Question

Associate Professor Dibyesh Anand, Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London

Co-presented with the Sydney Democracy Network and the China Studies Centre


9 March, 2016

China sees itself as a victim of imperialism and colonialism. The modern Chinese nationalism, including the one adopted and promoted by the Chinese Communist Party, is defined through this. International scholarship on China often takes this narrative of China as anti-imperialist for granted.

Dibyesh Anand interrogates this narrative and argues that there is a fundamental disjuncture at the heart of the modern nation-state project in China. China is anti-imperialist in its foreign policy rhetoric while being beneficiary and even practitioner, rather than victim, of imperialism and colonialism. The modern nation-state of the People’s Republic of China is colonial in what it sees as its periphery.

Asymmetry of power relations, militarisation, political control, development as a mechanism of assimilation, divide and rule, demographic transformation, presenting occupation as liberation, denial of agency, cultural genocide, suppression of rights, dehumanisation, and other features of colonialism are present in China’s rule over Tibetans. Focusing on Tibet, and to an extent Xinjiang, he argues for conceptualising and understanding China as a colonising power.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:

Professor Dibyesh Anand

Associate Professor Dibyesh Anand is a Reader in International Relations, the Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations and Director, Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London. His research focus is on the emergence of China and India as major non-Western powers. He is especially interested on China’s public diplomacy and its relation with Tibet and India, and other countries in the Himalayan region, particularly Bhutan and Kashmir.

He is also interested in issues concerning Islamophobia in India, majoritarian nationalisms, politics of security and representation, ethnic relations in Zanzibar. Anand is the author of monographs “Geopolitical Exotica: Tibet in Western Imagination”, “Tibet: A Victim of Geopolitics”, and “Hindu Nationalism in India and the Politics of Fear” and has published a number of chapters in edited collections and articles in journals on varied topics including Tibet, China-India border dispute, Hindutva and Islamophobia, identity politics in Tanzania, and nationalism. He is an avid Facebooker and available at www.facebook.com/dibyesh.