Saturday, May 09, 2020

Tibet According To Richard Gere And The Dalai Lama

tibetoffice |  Tibet’s status following the expulsion of Manchu troops is not subject to serious dispute. Whatever ties existed between the Dalai Lamas and the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty were extinguished with the fall of that empire and dynasty. From 1911 to 1950, Tibet successfully avoided undue foreign influence and behaved in every respect as a fully independent state.

Tibet maintained diplomatic relations with Nepal, Bhutan, Britain, and later with independent India. Relations with China remained strained.

The Chinese waged a border war with Tibet while formally urging Tibet to “join” the Chinese Republic, claiming all along to the world that Tibet was one of China’s five races. In an effort to reduce Sino-Tibetan tensions, the British convened a tripartite conference in Simla in 1913 where the representatives of the three states met on equal terms. As the British delegate reminded his Chinese counterpart, Tibet entered into the conference as an “independent nation recognizing no allegiance to China.” The conference was unsuccessful in that it did not resolve the differences between Tibet and China. It was, nevertheless, significant in that Anglo-Tibetan friendship was reaffirmed with the conclusion of bilateral trade and border agreements. In a Joint Declaration, Great Britain and Tibet bound themselves not to recognize Chinese suzerainty or other special rights in Tibet unless China signed the draft Simla Convention which would have guaranteed Tibet’s greater borders, its territorial integrity and full autonomy. China never signed the Convention, however, leaving the terms of the Joint Declaration in full force.

Tibet conducted its international relations primarily by dealing with the British, Chinese, Nepalese, and Bhutanese diplomatic missions in Lhasa, but also through government delegations traveling abroad. When India became independent, the British mission in Lhasa was replaced by an Indian one. During World War II Tibet remained neutral, despite combined pressure from the United States, Great Britain, and China to allow passage of raw materials through Tibet.

Tibet never maintained extensive international relations, but those countries with whom it did maintain relations treated Tibet as they would any sovereign state. Its international status was no different from, say, that of Nepal. Thus, when Nepal applied for membership in the United Nations in 1949, it cited its treaty and diplomatic relations with Tibet to demonstrate its full international personality.

The turning point in Tibet’s history came in 1949, when the People’s Liberation Army of the PRC first crossed into Tibet. After defeating the small Tibetan army and occupying half the country, the Chinese government imposed the so-called “17-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” on the Tibetan government in 1951. Because it was signed under duress, the agreement lacked validity under international law. The presence of 40,000 troops in Tibet, the threat of an immediate occupation of Lhasa, and the prospect of the total obliteration of the Tibetan state left Tibetans little choice.

As open resistance to the Chinese occupation escalated, particularly in Eastern Tibet, the Chinese repression, which included the destruction of religious buildings and the imprisonment of monks and other community leaders increased dramatically. By 1959, popular uprisings culminated in massive demonstrations in Lhasa. By the time China crushed the uprising, 87,000 Tibetans were dead in the Lhasa region alone, and the Dalai Lama had fled to India.

In 1963 the Dalai Lama promulgated a constitution for a democratic Tibet. It has been successfully implemented, to the extent possible, by the Government-in-exile.