Friday, 1 July 2011

CASE 217 - The history of Tibet

Status : Occupied Territory
Population : 6 million (Tibetans) & 7,5 million (Chinese)
Areas : 2.5 million km2
Language : Tibetan
Religion : Tibetan Buddhism

2 different views of the history of Tibet

The Chinese History of Tibet

Tibet has been part of China since the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Centuries ago Mongol and Manchu Emperors ruled or influenced large parts of Asia. During the Tang period (618-907), the Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo, married Princess Wen Cheng. The Princess is thought to have had alot of influence in Tibet. During the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), Tibet was part of the Mongol Empire which was under Yuan rule. At this time, the Yuan Government implemented residence registration, levied taxes, and imposed corvee duties in Tibet. China's "White Paper" claims that the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) "replaced the Yuan dynasty in China and inherited the right to rule Tibet." During the Manchu rule (1644-1911), the Qing army on a number of occasions entered Tibet to protect it. Finally, in 1951, China and the Tibetan Local Government signed a 17-point agreement concerning the peaceful liberation of Tibet. During this time, The 14th Dalai Lama supported this liberation and acknowledged Tibet is one part of China.

The Tibetan History of Tibet

Tibet has a recorded history of statehood extending back to 127 B.C. In the seventh to ninth centuries, the Tibetans often bested the Tang dynasty in battle. Additionally, during this dynasty, the marriage of Princess Wen Cheng and King Gampo was viewed as a strategic move to achieve cooperation and peace between Tibet and China. In 821, after centuries of periodic fighting, China and Tibet signed a treaty where boundaries were confirmed, and each country promised respect for the other's territorial sovereignty. During the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), the Mongol leader, Genghis Khan, conquered most of Eurasia including China. Thus, instead of China claiming a right to Tibet, Mongolia could assert claim to both China and Tibet. There is no historic evidence to support the assumption that the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) ruled Tibet. In fact, the Qing Emperor in 1652 not only accepted The Fifth Dalai Lama as a leader of an independent state, the Emperor also treated Him as a Divinity on Earth. During this period, Tibet was known in Chinese as Wu-si Zang or Wu-si Guo (guo meaning country). During the Manchu rule (1644-1911), the Qing army was asked by Tibetans to settle disputes. But, this does not support China's right to Tibet. If it did, then the U.S.A. should claim Kuwait and Haiti since it assisted these countries. In fact, on a number of occasions, Tibet exercised power over China, suggesting that perhaps Tibet should claim China! At the time of China's invasion in 1949, Tibet possessed all the attributes of an independent country recognized by international law, including a defined territory, a government, tax system, unique currency, unique postal system and stamps, army, and the ability to carryout international relations. Two years later, the 17-point agreement was imposed on the Tibetan Government by the threat of arms after 40,000 PLA troops had already seized Tibetºs eastern provincial capital, Chamdo. The Tibetan delegates were threatened. The seal of the Tibetan Government was forged by Peking. In Tibet, The 14th Dalai Lama could not freely express His disapproval. However, soon after arriving in India, He repudiated this Agreement stating it was "thrust upon the Tibetan Government and people by the threat of arms." If Tibet had always been a part of China, why was there a need for the 17-point agreement? Finally, the Atlas of Chinese History Maps (published by Chinese Social Science Institute in Beijing) depicts Tibet as an independent country that was never part of China at least before 1280.

Chinese History of Tibet | Tibetan History of Tibet
World Governments Do Not Recognize Tibet | World Governments Do Recognize Tibet Tibet Was Liberated | Tibet Was Not Liberated

World Governments Do Not Recognize Tibet: China's Perspective
China asserts that no country has ever recognized Tibet. China also contends that Britain masterminded the Simla Conference (1913-1914) in collusion with Tibetan pro-British individuals. Both wanted to separate Tibet from China. At the time of the Simla Conference, even though the "McMahon Line" was negotiated between Tibet and Britain, at the end of the tripartite conference on Tibet's status and boundaries, Chinese officials who were present refused to recognize the "Line" on the grounds that Tibet was subordinate to China and had no power to make any treaties.

World Governments Recognize Tibet: The Tibetan Perspective
International law states that recognition can occur by explicit or implicit acts including treaties, negotiations, and diplomatic relations. Mongolia and Tibet signed a formal treaty of recognition in 1913. Historically, Nepal and Tibet had peace treaties. Tibetºs independence was also confirmed at the Treaty of Simla (1914) which was concluded by Tibet and British India. In 1949, Tibet maintained diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations with such countries as Nepal, Sikkim, Mongolia, China, British India, and to some extent, Russia and Japan. Further, Nepal maintained an Ambassador in Lhasa and told the U.N. in 1949 that it conducted international relations with Tibet. In fact, Britian, Bhutan, India, and even China also maintained diplomatic missions in Tibet's capitol, Lhasa. The Tibetan Foreign Office conducted talks with President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he sent representatives to Lhasa to discuss the allied war effort against Japan during World War II. In 1950, El Salvador formally requested that China's aggression against Tibet be placed on the agenda of the U.N. General Assembly. The issue was not discussed. However, during four U.N. General Assembly debates on Tibet (1959, 1960, 1961, & 1965), many countries (e.g., Philippines, Nicaragua, Thailand. United States, Ireland) openly stated that Tibet was an independent country illegally occupied by China. In fact, the U.N. passed three resolutions (1959, 1961, & 1965) concerning Tibet stating that Tibetans were deprived of their inalienable rights to self-determination. Even Mao Zedong during the Long March admitted that Tibet was an independent country when he passed through the border regions of Tibet remarking, "This is our only foreign debt, and some day we must pay the Mantzu (sic) and the Tibetans for the provisions we were obliged to take from them." Tibetans clearly constitute a people under international law, as described, for instance, by the UNESCO International Meeting of Experts on Further Study of the Concept of the Rights of Peoples. They are a distinct people and fulfill all the characteristics of this concept: commonality of history, shared language, culture, and ethnicity.

Chinese History of Tibet | Tibetan History of Tibet
World Governments Do Not Recognize Tibet | World Governments Do Recognize Tibet Tibet Was Liberated | Tibet Was Not Liberated

Tibet Was Liberated: Chinaºs Perspective
China states that its invasion and occupation of Tibet was designed to liberate Tibetans from medieval feudal serfdom and slavery. Tibetan serfs were thought to have no freedoms. They were regarded by their masters as talking animals. China argues that the masses of Tibetan serfs lived in extreme poverty. Since the liberation in 1959, China asserts that Tibetans have enjoyed all rights of equality and they have embarked on the road of freedom and happiness. China claims that Tibet is now a modernized community benefitting from economic growth and social progress. Millions of serfs are now the masters of their fate, and large numbers of Tibetan workers, intellectuals, and officials have taken up the task of building and managing Tibet. China argues that all Tibetans now have equal rights in politics, the economy, and in their daily life. Tibetans are also thought to enjoy full religious freedom. China claims that Tibetans have greatly benefitted from their presence. There are now over 2,500 primary schools in Tibet. Moreover, according to Chinaºs White Paper, China has invested 1.1 billion yuans to develop education in Tibet. Big strides have been made in education, science, culture, and public health. For instance, China argues that it has rebuilt Tibetan Monasteries, Nunneries, and monuments. Further, it asserts that the Tibetan population has soared to 2 million from 1 million in the 1950's. China also claims that the Tibetans fully support the Communist Party and Government officials in Tibet. China argues that negotiation is the only solution for Tibet, stating that The 14th Dalai Lama should size up the situation, go with the tide of historical development and make a correct choice.

Tibet Was Not Liberated: The Tibetan Perspective

Old Tibet was not perfect. The current Dalai Lama has admitted this. However, The 14th Dalai Lama initiated far-reaching reforms in Tibet as soon as He assumed temportal authority. Throughout Tibet's history, the mistreatment of peasants was forbidden by law and social norms. The largest portion of land in Tibet was held by peasants. Famine and starvation were unheard of in Tibet. The "liberation" has resulted in the death of over 1.2 million Tibetans and the destruction of over 6,000 Tibetan Monasteries and cultural centers. Before the "liberation" in 1959, the population of Tibet was 6 million. Prior to the invasion, Tibet was a simple and self-reliant nation with a very rich cultural heritage. Tibetºs citizens, in comparison to its' neighbors, enjoyed much greater freedom. Currently, Tibetans have become veritable serfs. In independent Tibet, over 6,000 Monasteries and Nunneries served as schools. Most were destroyed, and many have been reconstructed as result of Tibetan finances and labor. The teachers in China's "new schools" are unqualified to teach the Tibetan language, culture, or history. Chinese students are the main beneficiaries of these schools. Since 1980, over 15,000 Tibetan children have fled Tibet to receive education in India.The primary beneficiaries of Chinaºs presence in Tibet have been the Chinese settlers, their government and military, and their business enterprises. Former Communist Party Secretary, Hu Yaobang, even admitted in 1980 that the living standard of Tibetans had declined since 1959 and that the large Chinese presence was an obstacle to development. China's policies in Tibet do not even receive full support from Tibetan cadres, let alone the Tibetan people. China has never found a trustworthy Tibetan to serve in a key government post in Tibet. For the past 21 years, The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government In-Exile have offered a number of proposals for negotiations for the mutual benefit of Tibet and China. All have been ignored or rejected by China.

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