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history.T I B E T


History (7th - 10th century)
Chinese Sovereignty (17th century - 20 century)
Nominal Independence (1910s - 1940s)
Reincorporation into China (1950)
Chinese Activities (1950s)
Tibetan Revolt (1960)
Present Status
(sources from Microsoft ENCARTA97, and I ll not hold any responsibiliy for the content! So to chinese spy, please don't come and look for me.)
H i s t o r y
Before the 7th century AD, when Buddhism was introduced into Tibet, the history of the region is legendary and obscure. Buddhist missionaries developed an alphabet for the Tibetan language, initiated translations of the Buddhist sacred books, and conducted a relentless struggle against shamanism, the indigenous religion. In the period of Buddhist penetration, which led to the development of Lamaism and a powerful Lamaist hierarchy, Tibet was a strong kingdom. Toward the close of the 10th century the kingdom began to disintegrate, eventually splitting into a number of petty principalities. The Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan incorporated the area into his empire in 1206. In 1270 political power was bestowed on the head of the Lamaist hierarchy.
C h i n e s e . S o v e r e i g n t y
The Chinese Empire acquired sovereignty over Tibet in the 17th century but in the course of the following two centuries Chinese authority steadily diminished. Meanwhile, British colonial officials in India, initially Warren Hastings, attempted to secure a foothold in the region. These efforts were fruitless, mainly because of Tibetan resentment over a Nepalese invasion in 1790, which the British supported. In 1904 Tibet, then virtually independent of Chinese authority, was invaded by the British, who were alarmed over purported Russian influence in the country. The expedition laid the foundations for an Anglo-Chinese convention of 1906. By the terms of this agreement, the Chinese Empire acquired recognition as the sovereign power in Tibet. The agreement also provided for the payment of a large indemnity to the British, who subsequently withdrew their troops. In 1907 the British and Russian governments concluded an agreement pledging noninterference in Tibetan affairs.
N o m i n a l . I n d e p e n d e n c e
Tibet attained nominal independence from China following the revolutionary overthrow of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty in 1912. All Chinese officials and troops were expelled from the country by 1913. In 1914, at a conference held at Simla of representatives of the British, Chinese, and Tibetan governments, tentative agreement was reached on a convention regulating mutual relations and, specifically, boundaries. Among other things the convention provided for an autonomous Tibet and for Chinese sovereignty in the region called Inner Tibet, which is contiguous to China proper. The Chinese government subsequently repudiated the convention, which was signed by Great Britain in July 1914. In 1918 the strained relations between Tibet and China culminated in armed conflict. A truce was arranged, with British help, in September of that year. Subsequent efforts to conciliate the dispute were unsuccessful.
R e i n c o r p o r a t i o n . i n t o . C h i n a
in October 1950, little more than a year after the Communists gained full control of mainland China, their troops invaded Tibet. To rally the nation against the advancing invasion force, the regency in November invested the 14th Dalai Lama, although he was only 15 years old at the time, with full authority. The Tibetan government capitulated in May 1951, however, signing a treaty that provided for the maintenance of the power of the Dalai Lama in domestic affairs, for Chinese control of Tibetan foreign and military affairs, and for the return from China of the Lamaist spiritual leader, the Panchen Lama, reputedly a partisan of the Communist regime. Communist military units reached Lhasa in October. The Panchen Lama arrived there in April 1952.
C h i n e s e . A c t i v i t i e s
During 1952 the Chinese, accelerating a program to improve communications, completed airfields in various parts of Tibet and continued the construction of military highways. A purge of anti-Communists was reportedly carried out early in 1953. The following year India recognized Tibet as part of China and withdrew the garrisons it maintained at two Tibetan frontier trading posts. The Dalai Lama was subsequently elected a vice president of the National People's Congress, the Chinese legislative body. Under terms of an agreement signed in April 1955, India relinquished to China its control of the Tibetan telephone, telegraph, and postal systems. A committee was established in 1956 to prepare a constitution for Tibet; the Dalai Lama was named chairman and the Panchen Lama first vice chairman.
T i b e t a n . R e v o l t
In 1956 Indian and Nepalese sources reported Tibetan uprisings and guerrilla activity against the Chinese regime. Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) declared a few months later that Tibet was not yet ready for the establishment of a Communist regime. In the latter half of 1958 widespread anti-Communist guerrilla activity was reported in eastern Tibet. It was believed that the rebellion was provoked by attempts to institute so-called people's communes, similar to those established in other parts of China, in which people labored under quasi-military discipline in order to increase production. Although the Chinese announced that the establishment of the communes in Tibet had been postponed, the rebellion was not contained, and in March 1959 it flared into a full-scale revolt in Lhasa. The Dalai Lama fled to India at the end of the month and subsequently established a community of Tibetans there. The Chinese then crushed the revolt and made the Panchen Lama head of state. On October 21 the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution deploring the suppression of human rights in Tibet. A similar resolution was also passed on March 9, 1961.
P r e s e n t . S t a t u s
Of the tens of thousands of Tibetans who fled abroad after the Chinese invasion, most settled in India, while most of the others took refuge in the Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan. In 1965 Tibet was formally established as an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, and Beijing announced that the region would undergo steady socialist transformation. The Panchen Lama, who had been removed from his post in 1964, was readmitted to the regime in 1978. He repeatedly appealed to the Dalai Lama to return. The Chinese in 1980 admitted that Tibet had been misgoverned and announced reforms for the region. Violent demonstrations protesting Chinese rule occurred in October 1987 and May 1993. In August 1993, for the first time in a decade, talks were held between the Chinese and representatives of the Dalai Lama. The talks stalled over conflicts such as the Dalai Lama's refusal to move to Beijing and China's refusal to budge on the issue of greater autonomy for Tibet. A new conflict emerged in 1996 when the Chinese government rejected its own committee's choice for the next Panchen Lama after the Dalai Lama approved and blessed the six-year-old boy, named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. Instead the Chinese, citing the importance of the government's role in choosing religious leaders, inaugurated their own newly chosen candidate, six-year-old Gyaincain Norbu. They subsequently held Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family in detention and began a renewed campaign to discredit the Dalai Lama. Fresh rumblings among the independence movement in Tibet erupted and by May 1996 the Chinese began a crackdown on Tibetan monasteries that resulted in the injury and death of several monks.
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