This is something of an update to a previous post we wrote on the subject. Prompted by the fact we just received a report from Science Daily on the subject of genetic traits that enabled Tibetans to adapt and thrive in the extreme conditions that apply in Tibet. On the face of it another scientific paper saturated with jargon that offers a balanced and impartial analysis. But as subscribers to this Blog will be aware whenever the Chinese regime’s involved a particularly careful scrutiny needs to be applied. especially on matters relating to Tibet. So with that in mind take a look at the following:
“Further analysis showed that Han Chinese and Tibetan subpopulations split as early as 44 to 58 thousand years ago, but that gene flow between the groups continued until approximately 9 thousand years ago.“ (Emphasis added) Source: Hu H, Petousi N, Glusman G, Yu Y, Bohlender R, Tashi T, et al. Evolutionary history of Tibetans inferred from whole-genome sequencing. PLOS Genetics, April 2017
Now away from the rarefied exactitude of genetic science, what is being implied by the comments above regarding the Tibetan population? Maybe you see it differently but we’re reading that Tibetan DNA has been associated with the Han Chinese population since very ancient times indeed. A curious assertion, and a touch misleading, after all there was not existing at that time period a ‘Han’ society, nor such an entity as ‘China’. These are political and cultural terms, which we should remind ourselves are actively promoted, exploited and enforced by no less than the propaganda ministry of China’s regime. Indeed the idea that Tibet has been ‘part of China since ancient times’ is a recurring and bogus claim made by the Chinese authorities to attempt to legitimize and justify its rule over Tibetans.
Any supplementary material which could bolster such fact-free assertions would be of service to China’s government, especially if it had the seeming authority of an independent and objective study! Does this perhaps explain the puzzling presence, in an otherwise dry research on genetic adaptations, of comments that carry more resemblance to political disinformation than empirical neutrality? Are academics being manipulated? Or is it a willing complicity from researchers who have compromised in order to service and progress their academic status and opportunities of working within China and occupied territories such as Tibet?
We’ve raised such questions before and there’s a history of scientific papers on Tibet that slyly promote the official dogma of China’s regime on the matter of Tibet. A 2014 Chinese academic study concluded ancient migrations into Tibet came from an area known as the Loess Plateau, which just happens to be within contemporary Chinese provinces!
“This study reconstructs the history of human migration to the Tibetan Plateau (sic) and discusses the possible mechanisms involved. We propose that humans first arrived in the relatively low elevation Northeastern Tibetan Plateau (sic) from the adjacent Western Loess Plateau via the He-Huang Valley, and then moved further south to the central plateau.”
Source: D. Zhang, G. Dong, H. Wang, X. Ren, P. Ha, M. Qiang, F. Chen, History and possible mechanisms of prehistoric human migration to the Tibetan Plateau, Chin. Sci. Bull. (2016)
No surprise that this paper seeks to legitimize, through dubious claims and flawed science, that Tibetans are derived from Chinese territory, politics and the demands of China’s propaganda saturate any academic activity regarding Tibet. Of course the distant time of such migrations was, if it occurred, long before Han Chinese culture, or the territorial entity of China existed. Such facts though are not allowed to obstruct the covert objectives of this study. To promote the falsehood that Tibetans, their culture, history and lands are derived from and part of China.
Genetic anthropology is the new kid on the breaking-science block, a mixture of hard laboratory research, spiced with statistical extrapolation and sometimes reaching conclusions that are supported more by affirmation than objective and empirically verifiable evidence. It’s smoke and mirrors, given a sexy make-over by the gleam of 21st Century genetic pioneering. However unlike its older scientific brothers and sisters its findings, particularly relating to ancient genetic histories are open to question and cannot be as easily or conclusively proved through regular scientific process.
This enables considerable space for speculation and assertions, that while attracting media attention, in themselves should be treated with caution, especially when such studies seek to ascribe a particular ethnological origin to a present day people. Our genetic heritage on a personal and collective level derives from a vastly rich and diverse source, through countless generations we have received numerous ethnological inputs, while ancient migrations traversed the continents carrying an admixture of Haplogroups, Successive contacts between differing groups and later cultures combined to ensure that we are more ‘children of the universe’ than belonging to one particular ethnic culture. Long live that variety!
Researchers in the field however seem to take a different view and invest considerable time and effort in claiming that the genetic origins of a present day population group can be determined, innocent enough you may think. What though if such claims could serve a political agenda, or perhaps an even darker motive?
Ms Anna Di Rienzo, a Professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago has just released the findings of a study in which she claims: “Modern Tibetans appear to descend from populations related to modern Sherpa and Han Chinese. Tibetans carry a roughly even mixture of two ancestral genomes” (Editorial Note: Why she implies Sherpas are a distinct people from Tibetans is curious as it is considered that they are originally a group from Tibet who about 500 years ago migrated to the area now claimed by Nepal)
No doubt such a claim will delight the propaganda ministry of China’s regime which is un-sleeping in its efforts to convince the world that Tibetans are Chinese and Tibet historically a part of China. The assertions made by Ms Di Renzio refers to ‘two ancestral gene pools – one belonging to a group that migrated 30,000 years ago and adapted to high altitudes’. Now while China’s antiquity is given special emphasis
“Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The written history of China can be found as early as the Shang Dynasty (c. 1700–1046 BC),” (Source;Wiki)
It’s cultural identity and territorial existence most certainly did not exist in the time frame of the supposed migration referred to by the study, indeed it appears that evidence of any remotely ‘Chinese’ culture made its first appearance during the Neolithic, which began around 10,200 BC, nearly 20, 000 years AFTER the claimed migration of the claimed ancestral gene-pool migration that Ms Di Rienzo suggests party formed the present Tibetan population!
It would be like an Archeologist describing the recently discovered 900,000 year-old foot prints in England as being made by a group from France!
Equally it’s a touch misleading to describe a mysterious and unverifiable population group that seemingly existed, some 20, 000 years (prior to even the emergence of the Neolithic) as ‘Han-Chinese’! That being so just why has this respected and experienced academic’s findings been phrased in such a way as to suggest that Tibetans are genetically part Han-Chinese? At this point the question is which party would most benefit from claiming that Tibetans partly are genetically derived from the Han-Chinese?
The answer is of course China’s Regime. Now nobody is saying that Ms Di Rienzo is part of an orchestration designed to promote the propaganda claims of the Chinese authorities. Yet the presentational wording of her study could be very easily seen in that light. Such an interpretation is given additional credibility by those troubled to see the involvement of Case Western Reserve University, whose anthropology department has a long association with China, lead by Melvyn Goldstein a figure who divides opinion within the Tibetan movement and has been criticized as an ‘anthro-apologist’ for China’s rule in Tibet. His writings on Tibet have attracted serious concern, notably from Tibetan author Jamyang Norbu
“Beijing appears to regard Goldstein as the premier Tibet scholar on its side. If one goes into the Chinese government white papers on Tibet and checks out The Historical Inevitability of Tibet’s Modernization, The first and key reference cited is Goldstein’s History of Modern Tibet: the Demise of the Lamaist State. This book is extremely important to China’s propagandists, because it is the only extensive account of pre-invasion Tibet and its government that is not only harshly condemnatory of Tibetans, but presents a very convincing appearance of meticulous research and authentic scholarship” (Source: http://www.jamyangnorbu.com/blog/2008/07/13/running-dog-propagandists/ )
Whatever the facts the manner in which these researches have been presented has the appearance of a political gloss, yet they are factually misleading and lack any verifiable empirical testing to conclusively prove the claims made. Would it not have been possible for Ms Di Rienzo and her academic partners to have outlined the results in the following, more neutral fashion?
‘The data our research has produced suggests that Tibetans are genetically linked to a possible migration that could have occurred some 30, 000 years ago, the precise location of a source point is unknown’
We leave it to our subscribers and visitors here to judge if this study constitutes independent science or propaganda disguised as bona-fide research?