It is an undeniable fact that China has used Tibet’s environment endlessly for their socio-economic growth since the illegal occupation that happened in the 1950s. China has led large excavation and mining projects to rob Tibet off its abundant source of natural resources. The excessive mining projects have not only lessened the existence of precious resources but have also resulted in the land and the soil in losing their quality.
Another such expedition that has grown popular over the years is China’s interest in Archaeology. One can see the s gnificance raised in the communist government’s five year plan from 2021 to 2025. Li Qun, the head of China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration announced on 17th January, 2022 that China will lay out and administer plans for archaeological works in the 14th five-year period plan as well. The Chinese Communist party lays much emphasis on the history of their land as a political aspect and also considers it an important part to keep a tight hold on how the past is understood and interpreted.
President Xi, unlike Mao, deems it delightful to promote the history of China rather than being fearful of the past. He seems to support and practice the idea that one’s history and especially China’s will act as the dynamic force for its future. The Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is at the top in the list of institutions who conduct ambitious excavations in China as of now. Gu Jiegang, a Chinese philosopher recommended the need for archaeological evidence to come to a legit stand and proof to classify China’s history. Li Ji, another Chinese scholar is however known as the “father of Chinese archaeology” and is given the credit for taking the lead of the Yin ruins excavation that confirmed the existence of the Shang dynasty capital.
Archaeological discoveries are being made in China every month and like many other aspects, this is also being used as a political venture by the Chinese Communist Party. Discovery of archaeological sites in Tibet from pre-historic periods are being used by the State institutions to use it as proof to lay emphasis on the fact that Tibet was always an integral part of China and in distorting any suggestions of Tibet having their own history.
The excavations and the findings are conveniently used as political tools by the Communist government. President Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) endorsesthe idea of a “new silk road”. This in turn restores the old historical connections that linked Beijing to the rest of the world and archaeology in this case, plays a major role in providing significant and legit proof for China’s claims regarding their stand and its importance in the history of the world. Archaeology in Tibet provides its linkage to
civilizations of its neighboring countries and regions which also acts as a major part of the cultural pattern that the Belt and Road project focuses on. Huo Wei of Sichuan University’s Tibetology Institute commented on how the findings of these excavations in Tibet will be substantial in having stark resultant on Chinese civilization and world civilization.
In recent information from Tibet, it has come out in the open that the Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China has revealed new archaeological discoveries. Certain claims have also been made regarding how these provide insights into the prehistoric civilization on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. A cave named Dingqiong located at an altitude of 5000 metres in Zhongba County, Shigatse City is considered as one of the historic discoveries of the Neolithic Age. At an event held in Lhasa, the capital city of
Lhasa, the 46 findings were released. Numerous bones of human and animal along with some cultural relics have been found up until now. A staff member of the region’s Cultural Relics Protection Research Institute, Trinley Tsering has stated, “It’s quite rare to find so many human and animal bones in one cave like this in the archaeological history of Tibet.” and also that “We call it the remains of a cave burial complex”.
China leads such excavations in Tibet and still plans to use these archeological expeditions to use the findings to link Tibet to their own predominant history. Even imple findings will prove essential in their favor to strengthen the claims that they have made from the beginning regarding how Tibet was never a separate country but a part of the Chinese mainland. Similar to Tibet’s case, China is also trying to use the same method to also link the history of the Uyghurs to their own history. The fact that China is sending teams worldwide to lead excavations at major sites proves how their plan is not just to trace their own history but to find its relevance with the histories of other nations as well. Archaeology has become a tool for the communist government to not just understand their past history but also to translate the prehistory of the rest of the world. The excavations being led for the restoration of the new Silk Road is also China’s plan to widen their power grab. Their usage of archaeology in Tibet might be to strengthen their power hold and to help their ultimate goal of the complete sinicization of Tibet. Finding proof during these excavations to even provide small linkages would be used on the international platform to defy Tibet’s claims about their sovereignty and to mark their claims till now as the ultimate truth. Tibet might be a mere pawn but China’s new Silk Road as pointed by Ai Weiwei, a leading contemporary artist, activist and advocate of political reform in China, is the communist party’s counterattack in a global game of chess.