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"Tibetan Issue": Evolution and Way Out
SHEN JIRAO

The "Tibetan issue" which we will discuss today has a history of more than 100 years. With 1949, the year the People's Republic of China was founded, as the demarcation line, the segment of history can be divided into two stages: the first stage which saw its creation by the British with the British East India Co. as the pioneer, and the second stage which saw its creation by the United States with the CIA as the manipulator.

BRITISH ENDEAVOR. When the British East India Co. had annexed the Bengal, it directed its spearhead toward Tibet in the north. It made effort to do "business"with Xigaze, which, however, met with objection from the Panchen Erdeni in 1774 and 1783. Before long, the Qing court sent troops to Tibet, driving the Korgas invaders out of the region. In 1793, the Qing court promulgated and enforced the 29-article Ordinance for the More Efficient Governing of Tibet, stemming the British invasion of Tibet.

1814-1864: The British sent troops northward, turning Nepal, Sikkim and Bhuttan into the British India's protectorates, and provoked conflicts with the Tsarist Russia.

1888: On the excuse of border conflicts and border trade, the British launched their first large-scale war of aggression against Tibet. The Qing court was forced to signed with the Great Britain the Anglo-Chinese Convention Relating to Sikkim and Tibet in 1890, and the Regulations Regarding Trade, Communication, and Pasturage to Be Appended to the Sikkim-Tibet Convention of 1890 in 1893. Yadong and Gyangze were forced to become trade marts open to all British subjects.

1903-1904: The British launched their second large-scale war of aggression against Tibet. When the aggressors reached Gyangze, the Tibetan army and militia fought the historically known Zongshan Battle. When the British occupied Lhasa, they forced the local government of Tibet to sign the Treaty of Lhasa. The Qing court objected to this treaty, and the Tsarist Russia launched a protest too. Between 1905 and 1906, the British invited the Panchen Erdeni to visit India. The purpose was to highlight the role of the Panchen Erdeni and make him replace the Dalai Lama before their seeking final control of Tibet. Their plot fizzled out in the face of an international situation which was not in their favor.

The Revolution of 1911. The Republic of China was founded in 1912. Cashing in on the chaos in China, the British worked out a new policy geared to split Tibet. According to a memorandum signed by the British and Indian government departments concerned, China would hold the right of "suzerainty" over Tibet; Tibet would become its protectorate; the Chinese and Russians would not have a finger in the pie; areas inhabited by the Tibetans in Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan Provinces would be incorporated into the "grand state of Tibet". All in all, this was geared to pave the way for "Tibetan independence".


In March 1904, the British aggressors slaughtered some 1,000 Tibetans in Qumei Xanggor north of Yadong. Here is a picture taken by a British showing the British troops and Tibetans they captured. Here is a picture taken by a British showing the British aggressors ready to attack Lhasa in 1904

1912: Acting in accordance with the memorandum, British Minister in Beijing John Jordan issued a five-point note geared to tear Tibet away from China. From 1913 to 1914, China was forced to send delegates to attend the tripartite conference at Simla in north India, which was attended by representatives of China, Tibet and Britain. Sir Henry McMahon, the British representative, and Shagra Paljor Dorje, the Tibetan representative, working hand in glove with each other, fought Chinese Representative Evan Chen. Under the pressure of and with support from the public opinion in China, Evan Chen refuted the proposals made by that two persons which were geared to support "Tibetan independence".

When the British failed to achieve their goal at one step, they decided to do it in two steps. Responding to the fact that Mongolia was divided into Inner and Outer Mongolia following the Russian invasion, the British attempted to divide the areas inhabited by the Tibetans into "outer Tibet"which was Tibet, and "inner Tibet"which was composed of areas inhabited by the Tibetans in the four provinces neighboring Tibet. China would administer "inner Tibet" for the time being, but refrain from meddling with the affairs of "outer Tibet" which would follow the system of autonomy. The British controlled "outer Tibet" in a short period of time, and those who stood for "Tibetan independence" lauded the British occupation as "Tibetan autonomy" and even a period of "Tibetan independence".

Following the Simla Conference, the British supported the pro-British elements on the upper ruling class in Tibet in a big way, and incited the Tibetan army to invade Sichuan and Qinghai. In 1920, the British troops invaded Tibet, and sow bad blood between Lhasa and Beijing. Four years later, the pro-British Tibetan armymen plotted to topple the 13th Dalai Lama. When the 13th Dalai Lama died in 1933, the Central Government sent Huang Musong into Tibet for the funeral ceremony. In the winter of 1937, when Lhamo Toinzhub, a 3-year-old boy from Qinghai, was enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama in Lhasa, the Central Government dispatched Wu Zhongxin into Tibet to preside over the enthronement ceremony.

The British Foreign Office's report titled Tibet and the Issue on China's "Suzerainty", issued in March 1943, proposed depriving China of its suzerainty over Tibet. Fearing that China would resort to force, the British Foreign Office consulted with the Indian Affairs Office and decided not to do that.

On August 5, 1943, the British Foreign Minister sent a memorandum to KMT Foreign Minister Song Ziwen, reaffirming the "autonomous status of Tibet" and calling for the convocation of a conference similar to the Simla Conference. China turned a deaf ear to it. As the Second World War was about to end and the British Empire was about to fall, the British-engineered plot of "Tibetan independence" fizzled out.

US PLOT. Following the end of the World War II, the Cold War began. The United States and the Soviet Union represented two antagonistic camps.

During this period, the United States replaced Great Britain to become the leader of the West, and followed the British toe to engage in "Tibetan independence" with a view to using Tibet as the springboard in its fight against the Soviet Union and China.

Following the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, New China emerged as an enemy of the imperialist camp. The CIA took over the work of the British and began to work for "Tibetan independence".

Actually, the CIA had since its founding in 1947 been eyeing Tibet. When US President Rosefelt presented gifts to the Dalai Lama on the excuse of inspecting a highway being built for shipment of war materials, he wished Tibet would be able to "maintain its position as a weak and small independent state".

In June 1950, when the Korean War broke out, the Chinese People's Volunteers fought the US troops. At the same time, the People's Liberation Army marched into Tibet, where they liberated Qamdo. Under the situation, the Gaxag government of Tibet sent a delegation headed by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei to Beijing for peace negotiations. The Central Government and the local government of Tibet signed the Agreement on Methods for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, known as the 17-Article Agreement, on May 23, 1951.

During this period of time, the United States lost no time to contain China. The United States sent its 7th Fleet to the Taiwan Straits to defend Taiwan, and the CIA redoubled efforts to contact Gyaile Toinzhub and other brothers of the 14th Dalai Lama, and Tubdain Norbu.

Acting in accordance with an order from the US State Security Committee, the CIA worked in 1956 to promote underground guerrilla war in Tibet. For this purpose, the "Yushan Aviation Co." and the "US Aviation" were formed, and the "Taiwan Civil Aviation Co." was mobilized to help deliver supplies. In the meantime, a work station was set up in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, to aid the Tibetan guerrillas. When all done, US war began in Tibet.

The CIA left no stone unturned to train Tibetan guerrillas first in Taiwan and then in a Pacific island and finally in the Colorado State of the United States. More than 300 special agents were trained in the Camp Hale.

In August 1957, the United States airdropped two Tibetan guerrillas to Sangri County in southern Tibet. Early in the next year, the two sneaked into Lhasa for contacts with Enzhubcang Gongbo Zhaxi, who later became major leaders of the Tibetan rebels, and reported the result to the CIA.

Close to 5,000 leaders of Tibetan armed forces and representatives of the three major monasteries of Zhaibung, Sera and Gandain held a secret meeting on April 20, 1958 and signed an agreement on the construction of a guerrilla base in Shannan. On June 24, the "religion protection army" with Enzhubcang Gongbo Zhaxi as the commander was founded. Large amount of food grain, weapons and munitions were airdropped to the "religion protection army" with the US approval.

On the morning of March 10, 1959, rumors went in Lhasa that the Chinese People's Liberation Army troops was to arrest the 14th Dalai Lama and officials with the Gaxag government of Tibet. Misled by these rumors, thousands of Tibetans swarmed to the Norbu Lingka, and refused to let the 14th Dalai Lama go out to watch a theatrical performance given by the literary and art troupe of the PLA Tibet Military Area. This was followed by the spreading of another rumor that "some Tibetans have been killed". Misled by this rumor, some Tibetans organized a parade, shouting such slogans as "independence for Tibet" and "Hans no". More than 2,000 rebels occupied the Jokhang Monastery, and a conference for "Tibetan independence" was held in the Potala Palace in the afternoon of the same day. The PLA troops stationed in Lhasa maintained high vigilance, but were ordered not to fire the first shot.

Early on the morning of March 17, the 14th Dalai Lama, then aged 23, disguised himself as a farmer, left the Norbu Lingka together with his mother, brothers and all those who could follow him. They started to flee under the guidance of CIA member Tony Poe. This was followed by more than 7,000 armed rebels launching an attack against some 1,000 PLA men and the Central Government representative offices. The armed rebels were routed in two days, and the armed rebellion was suppressed.While the 14th Dalai Lama and his men were fleeing, the CIA airdropped food to them, and ordered various CIA stations in the area to give them needed aid and support. The process was recorded in great detail, and when the report was sent to Dullas, the CIA chief in the United States. Pointing at the map of Central Europe, he asked: "Is Tibet here?" This took place on March 19.

On April 18, the 14th Dalai Lama arrived in India. the CIA station in New Delhi required Indian Prime Minister Nehru to give political asylum to 37 of the 14th Dalai Lama's party, and the later agreed. On May 20, the highly confidential US Committee 303 earmarked a handsome sum of allowances to the 14th Dalai Lama and his party. Closely following this, "the Tibet refugees emergency committee" proclaimed inauguration in the United States to aid the Tibetan exilers.

Following the suppression of the armed rebellion in Lhasa, some 2,100 armed rebels won support from the CIA in fleeing to Mustang, Nepal, where they set up guerrilla bases. They received special training and supplies of weapons and munitions, and food from the CIA before sneaking back into Tibet for sabotages and information. When China succeeded in its first nuclear test in Lopupu, they supplied information to the CIA. In eight years, these guerrillas were either arrested by the PLA or committed suicide themselves. In July 1974, the 14th Dalai Lama delivered a 20-minute recorded speech instructing remnants of these guerrillas to surrender.

The "Tibetan government in exile" was formed in north India in May-June of 1959. In the following year, it moved its headquarters to Dharamsala, where the "Tibetan people's congress" was held, and a "constitution" adopted and promulgated stipulating that "all ministers shall be appointed by the Dalai Lama" and "all government work shall have to seek approval from the Dalai Lama". Given these, the 14th Dalai Lama served as the spiritual and political leader. However, the world refused to admit the "Tibetan government in exile".

However, the United States took the lead to list the "Tibetan issue" into the agenda of the United Nations in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1965, and with efforts made by the United States, the United Nations adopted the anti-China motions on the "Tibetan independence" in 1961 and 1965.

According to American sources, the bulk of the 1960s saw the CIA provide the Tibetan separatists with US$1.7 million per year. The sum included US$500,000 provided to aid over 2,100 Tibetan guerrillas in Nepal (including 800 armed ones) and US$180,000 for the 14th Dalai Lama as his personal allowance. The sum was reduced to US$1.2 million after 1968, as the guerilla training base had been closed in Colorado State. And the United States stopped providing with this sum when President Nixon paid a visit to China in 1972, and China and the United States established diplomatic relations in 1979.


In 1959, the PLA was ordered to suppress the armed rebellion staged by those on the upper echelon of the ruling class in Tibet. Pictured here are PLA men issuing money to those rebles who had laid down their arms for them to go back home. Former Tibetan serfs and slaves celebrating their emancipation.

However, the United States continued its support for the "Tibetan government in exile"with income from singing performances and the show of Seven Years in Tibet and Kundon starred by Richard Gere.

In the mid-1980s, a number of youths who received education in the West gradually took up major posts in the "Tibetan government in exile" They worked hard to internationalize the "Tibetan issue" and seek international support and aid. In the meantime, they sent people back into Tibet for harassment. Following the April 1984 meeting of high-ranking leaders of the "Tibetan government in exile"in Dharamsala, which failed to achieve more, various separatist organizations sent people to the West to preach "Tibetan independence" and accuse the Central Government of violating human rights in Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama won the Nobel peace award in 1989. From then on, the 14th Dalai Lama visited 50 countries and regions, and countries with diplomatic ties with China received him in a low tone as they knew he was nothing but a chess in the CIA's chessboard.

The same period saw the US Administration and the US Congress perform duels. A resolution on the "Tibetan issue" the US Congress adopted in May 1991 and the fiscal year decision it passed in October all pointed out that Tibet "was a state which has been occupied". The US Senate proposed establishment of "a US news office in Tibet" in 1993. On the evening of June 11, 1997, the US House of Representatives (which in the past paid not much attention to proposals made by the US Senate) demanded the US president nominate "a Tibetan affairs coordinator". Two days after Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to Washington DC, the United States did nominate a "coordinator", a move which met with stern criticism from the Chinese Government.

The US Administrations has over the years, especially since May 16, 1994, reaffirmed that Tibet is part of China and it will not admit the "Tibetan government in exile" In recent years, President Clinton often said that the United States will not seek to tear Tibet away from China, and just wants to be a coordinator for the unique Tibetan religion and culture. The "Tibetan issue" produces no result over the past 100 years. Today, when China is growing up, the "Tibetan issue" masterminded by the United States is merely a farce which has come to an end.

CHINA: PEACE-LOVING COUNTRY. For thousands of years, Chinese defence remains to be defensive in nature. A case in point was the construction of the Great Wall. In the early 15th century, Zheng He made seven trips to more than 30 countries in Southeast Asia. However, China refrained from setting up colonies there. This compares sharply with Portugal, Spain and Great Britain, which worked hard to carve up the world. Over thousands of years, many ethnic groups made inroad into the Central Plains, where they were assimilated however. Han is the crystal of the repeated assimilation.

China is a country which practices freedom of religious belief. The Chinese have never fought for religious belief, and, because of this reason, think it hard to understand the religious war which lasted 30 years in Europe. In a Chinese family, Confucianism may coexist with Taoism and Buddhism; and Catholicism and Christianity may coexist, too. This can hardly be seen in the West. Whether the Tibetans today enjoy freedom of religious belief, one can come to a conclusion only when he/she goes to see with his/her own eyes.

China cherishes cultural relics. The Twenty-Four Histories is a book which is still cherished today. The Tibetan writing is much in use, and the Tibetan culture and art are being carried forward. Tibetan medicine has been inherited and developed in the modern sense. Anti-China elements turn a blind eye to these facts.

In China, all the 56 ethnic groups live in harmony. Han is the dominant group, which makes up 95 percent of the Chinese population. Ethnic minorities, however, do not suffer from discrimination in the country. On the contrary, they enjoy preferential treatment in many ways. For instance, the Chinese Government called on various provinces, municipalities directly under the Central Government and autonomous regions, and departments under the Central Government to render aid to Tibet in 1994; and they aided 62 projects in total. Ethnic minorities in other parts of the world should have more than one reason to admire the treatment enjoyed by ethnic minorities in China.

Since 1959 when the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India, Tibet has eyewitnessed great changes. The temporal and religious administration has been overthrown. And the serfs and slaves who used to groan under the merciless rule by the three estate-holders have won emancipation. They enjoy personal freedom, are given land to till, and enjoy various political rights. The emancipated Tibetan serfs and slaves enjoy more benefits than the black people in the United States, who won emancipation in 1863. At that time, the blacks in the United States had just won personal freedom; they enjoyed not much economic benefits, not to say political rights. The blacks didn't won the right to vote and stand for vote until in 1963, when Martin Luth King launched the movement for civil rights. Only at that time, they were given a small number of relief and other welfare benefits.Over the past 40 years, the 14th Dalai Lama and the "Tibetan government in exile"he leads say nothing about the fact that the Tibetans were divided into nine grades in three classes and the broad masses of the Tibetans enjoyed no human rights at all. Turning a blind eye to social and economic progress in Tibet, they say the Tibetans enjoy no human rights and freedom of religious freedom today. They even announce that 1 million Tibetans have been killed following the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951.

If the 14th Dalai Lama does want to return, he should announce disorganization of the "Tibetan government in exile" and say no more about "high autonomy in Tibet". He should see the fact that in 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded in accordance with the Chinese Constitution with Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei serving as its first Chairman.

China and the United States represent two different cultures. Each exerts profound influence on the world and has made contribution to the mankind. One should understand the fact: in the 20th century, the United States was the oppressor and one who benefitted from what it did; China was the oppressed and exploited. Now, we are in the 21st century. The United States should refrain from engaging in hegemony, and meddling with the internal affairs of China by working for the "Tibetan issue" and the "Taiwan issue". The United States should know that the Chinese Government and the Chinese people will defend its territory and sovereignty at any cost. The Sino-American relations should proceed in accordance with the five principles of peaceful coexistence. Only in this way will the Sino-American ties develop friendly and peacefully.