TIBET UNDER CHINA
Tibetan flag Since 1950 Tibet has been gradually incorporated into the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Since 1959, it has been designated an “ethnic autonomous region” within the control of the People’s Republic of China. Since 1965 Tibet has been administered by the Chinese government as the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Chinese military and the Communist Party of China control Tibet through a series of regional assemblies. Subsidies from Beijing make up a large portion of local government revenues.
A report issued by the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Center in March 2009 said that more than more than 90 percent of Tibet's financial revenue and over 70 percent of its fixed assets input rely on the central government's financial transfers, as well as assistance from other provinces and cities. [Source: Xinhua News Agency March 31, 2009]
According to the Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments: “The Chinese government attempted to introduce a system of reforms that would gradually reduce the power of the theocracy and introduce communist leadership through state assemblies. Conflict between native Tibetans and the Chinese military became more frequent after 1956, culminating in marches, protests, and public demonstrations. In 1959, amid rumors that the Chinese government was planning to remove or even assassinate the Dalai Lama, pro-independence supporters rebelled against the Chinese military. Thousands of Tibetans were killed in the uprising while thousands more fled to neighboring countries. The Dalai Lama and a small entourage escaped to India. [Source: Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments, Thomson Gale, 2008]
The Chinese government in the Tibet Autonomous Region is led by the regional Communist Party secretary, the most powerful figure in Tibet who is sort of like a state governor in the U.S. He is appointed by the Communist Party in Beijing. The Communist Party, aware that Buddhism is central to Tibetans, has tried to select and prop up lamas who will support the government while still retaining legitimacy among the people.
Tibet Autonomous Region is not a province but is an autonomous region as its name says. It is made up of the municipality of Lhasa and six prefectures — Ali, Shigatse, Nagchu, Shannan, Nyingtri and Chamdo. These in turn are divided into 70 counties. The Tibetan area known as Kham is now part of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan The Tibetan area known as Amdo is now part of Gansu and Qinghai.
See Separate Articles: TIBET AND TIBETAN AREAS: MAPS, PREFECTURES, COUNTIES factsanddetails.com; TIBET-IN-EXILE ELECTIONS, PRIME MINISTER, AND THE TIBETAN YOUTH CONGRESS factsanddetails.com; JUSTICE, CRIME AND TERRORISM IN TIBET factsanddetails.com; CHINESE GOVERNMENT POLICY AND DEVELOPMENT IN TIBET factsanddetails.com; EDUCATION IN TIBET factsanddetails.com; TIBETAN HISTORY factsanddetails.com; CHINESE GOVERNMENT POLICY AND DEVELOPMENT IN TIBET factsanddetails.com ; CHINESE INVASION OF TIBET IN 1950 AND ITS AFTERMATH factsanddetails.com ; TIBETAN REVOLT IN 1959 AND THE CHINESE TAKEOVER OF TIBET factsanddetails.com ; CHINESE REPRESSION IN TIBET IN THE LATE 1950s AND EARLY 1960s factsanddetails.com ; CHINESE POLICY TOWARDS IN TIBET UNDER XI JINPING factsanddetails.com; articles under TIBETAN GOVERNMENT factsanddetails.com
Websites and Sources: Official Dalai Lama site dalailama.com ; Central Tibetan Administration (Tibetan government in Exile) www.tibet.com ; Chinese Government Tibet website eng.tibet.cn/; Wikipedia article on Tibet Wikipedia ; Tibet Activist Groups: Free Tibet freetibet.org ; Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy tchrd.org ; Friends of Tibet friendsoftibet.org
Chinese Take on Tibetan Government
Lian Xiangmin wrote in the China Daily: Until its peaceful emancipation in 1951, Tibet was a typical feudal hierarchical society in which people were divided by its 13-Article and 16-Article codes into three classes and nine ranks. The two statutes stipulated that different people enjoyed a different status. Tibet was a politico-religious feudal serfdom in which the serf-owning stratum of society, which comprised upper-level monks and priests and secular aristocrats, comprised only 5 percent of the region's population. This powerful minority controlled all of the land and resources. The serfs were deprived of any means of production and denied their freedom and political rights. [Source: Lian Xiangmin, China Daily, May 26, 2011]
“On May 23, 1951, the Chinese central government signed an accord with Tibet's local government on the latter's peaceful liberation, explicitly stipulating and guaranteeing Tibetan people's right to self-autonomy under the leadership of the central government. However, a fierce confrontation erupted between Tibet's upper-class serf owners and the Tibetan people over whether the region should reform its politico-religious feudal serfdom after 1956. To maintain the old system intact, some serf owners plotted an all-out armed revolt in March 1959. After the failed rebellion, the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India and established a so-called government in exile with the promulgation of a pseudo constitution.
Tibetan people after 1959 carried out a series of sweeping democratic reforms aimed at smashing the past autocratic regime, separating religion from politics and extricating all serfs from dependence on serf owners. The formation of an all-inclusive electorate political system at various levels of local government symbolized the birth of democratic politics in the region. By 1961 a total of 283 district-level and 1,009 township-level local governments had been set up via people's elections.
On Aug 25, 1964, the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, approved the State Council's proposal of setting up the Tibet autonomous region. In September the same year, the first session of the Tibetan people's congress was held in Lhasa, symbolizing the formal establishment of the autonomous region.
Chinese Leaders in Tibet
Communist Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region is the top official in Tibet. Being Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region People's Government is equivalent of being governor. The position is subordinate to the TAR Communist Party Chief. New officials are often named at regional parliamentary session. The regional parliament is made up of representatives approved by Beijing.
Wang Junzheng (born 1963) has been the Communist Party Secretary of Tibet since October 2021. He was head of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of Xinjiang. Between 2016 and 2019, he was the Communist Party Secretary of Changchun, a city in Jilin Province far away from Tibet in northeast China. Prior to his position in Changchun, he served in a variety of posts, as vice-governor of Hubei, the Party Secretary of Xiangyang, and the mayor and party chief of Lijiang.
Wu Yingjie (born 1956) is was Communist Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region from August 2016 to October 2021. Originally from Shandong province, Wu grew up in Tibet and worked for his entire career in the region. He became Deputy Party Secretary of Tibet in 2011 and served in the post for nearly five years before being elevated to party chief. Wu leaped directly from the deputy party chief position into the office of the party secretary, breaking a tradition that TAR party chiefs would be appointed from other regions in China.
Padma Choling (born October 1952) is a Chinese politician of Tibetan descent. He was President of Tibet Autonomous Region People's Congress Standing Committee from January 2013 to January 2017 and Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region People's Government from January 2010 to January 2013. As Chairman of TAR, Choling was the "most senior ethnic Tibetan in the regional government", though he was subordinate to the TAR Communist Party Chief Zhang Qingli, and later his successor Chen Quanguo. Padma Choling is a native of Dengqen in Qamdo Prefecture. He served 17 years in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) between 1969 and 1986, before he became an official in Tibet's regional government. He was named vice-chairman of the regional government in 2003.
Tibetan Representation in the Tibetan Regional Government
According to Xinhua: At the end of 2009, Tibetans and people from other ethnic groups made up 70.42 percent of all officials serving in the regional government. In addition to the regional government chairman and parliament leader, Tibetans have other top jobs, including chairman of the regional committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and president of the regional high court. [Source: Xinhua, January 15, 2010
At city and county levels, officials of Tibetan or other ethnic groups account for 86.4 percent, according to figures provided by the regional government. Meanwhile, Tibetans make up more than 70 percent of all the deputies to the regional parliament and members of the political advisory body. Most of them are from local peasants and herders' families but have obtained a global vision.
Dorje Tsedrup, mayor of the regional capital Lhasa and a native of Ngari Prefecture, has dedicated himself to improving the city's environment. "We have built 26 ecological preservation zones and 46 downtown parks in Lhasa," he said. "In a few years, we hope to build Lhasa into one of the most beautiful and inhabitable cities in the world," he said. In 2009, China's central government announced a plan to train 600 more senior professionals among Tibet's ethnic groups in five years. They will specialize in medicine, science and technology, economics, culture, tourism and environment protection.
But according to Save Tibet: An analysis of the individuals holding leadership positions at the prefectural level and above in Tibetan areas indicates that while numerically Tibetans have some level of representation, in practice power is deeply tilted toward non-Tibetans. Throughout Tibet, the most critical and strategically important positions are not in the hands of Tibetans. This contradicts the official line espoused by China’s leadership, claiming that “people from all walks of life in Tibet have gained the right to participate in the administration of state affairs,” as well as the claim that “a large number of minority cadres are in leading posts at all levels.” [Source: International Campaign for Tibet, October 15, 2020]
According to an analysis by the International Campaign for Tibet, in a Chinese system where the Chinese Communist Party wields all the power, non-Tibetans hold every party position at the provincial level in Tibetan areas. Non-Tibetans also hold the majority of party positions at the prefectural level of administration, the analysis shows. Of the 17 prefectural-level and two county-level administrations, only four have Tibetans as party secretaries.
Traditional Tibetan Government
Tibetans traditionally have merged politics and religion. Before China took control of Tibet, monasteries played major roles in administering Tibet and the monasteries and their leaders often fought among one another for political dominance. The Tibetan government at that time was a theocracy controlled by lamas and monks from their monasteries. The monasteries ran schools, managed health and street cleaning services, organized festivals, provided money for the poor and collected taxes. Lamas presided over marriages, divorces and disputes. "Police monks" kept order.
Rebecca R. French wrote: Much of the Tibetan plateau has been governed, since as early as the seventh century, by a central dynasty or theocracy with a small administrative bureaucracy. This bureaucracy was supplied with officials from the elite nobility and the monasteries in exchange for intermediate title to estates of land. For 300 years prior to 1950, the government was headed by a Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama. Under his leadership, the bureaucracy was divided into an ecclesiastical branch and a secular branch that handled a redistributive economy based on taxation by household. Networks of monasteries controlled by sects of Tibetan Buddhism were also important political players. Local authority was placed in the village headman or estate steward, who coordinated tax collection and corvée and handled local disputes. Historically, Tibetans have embraced the union of religion and politics and left the functions of the military, thought to be irreligious, to foreign groups such as the Mongols or Chinese. [Source:Rebecca R. French, e Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF) World Cultures, Yale University]
The feudal aristocracy and the monasteries were often interwtined. Administration was taken care of by a small bureaucracy made up of officials from the aristocracy and the monasteries who were given title to land in exchange for their services. The bureaucracy was under the control of the Dalai Lama. It had a religious branch and a secular branch which collected taxes and provided government services. The Dalai Lama was assisted by an appointed desi (prime minister), who served as head of government. Beneath the executive department was a system of religious and military leaders who functioned as regional governors. Local governments were run by village headmen and estate stewards. They collected taxes and settled disputes. Tibetan style government still prevails in remote areas of Tibet.
Structure of the Traditional Tibetan Government
According to the Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments: The Tibetan theocracy was organized around the state’s powerful lamaseries. A lama, or spiritual leader representing the state’s leading Buddhist sect, served as head of state and leader of the armed forces. Under the Gelupa (Yellow Hat) sect, which supplanted the Sakyapa sect in the seventeenth century, the leader of the state was the Dalai Lama — a spiritual leader believed to be the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, a Buddhist saint representing mercy and compassion. Each newly appointed Dalai Lama, found and trained by leaders of the sect, was believed to be the reincarnation of the former Dalai Lama. [Source: Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments, Thomson Gale, 2008]
“The leading lama had the power to appoint a desi (prime minister) to serve as the nominal head of government assisted by an informal “cabinet” of military, business, and religious leaders. Regional districts were placed under the control of local lamaseries and wealthy clans of landowners with ties to the government. |~|
“Tibet supported a system of serfdom, in which most of the population lived and worked on land belonging to one of the nation’s lamaseries or to wealthy political, religious, or military leaders. Members of the serf class transmitted their caste to their offspring, constituting a system of hereditary servitude. Above the serf class was the “middle” or “citizen” class, consisting of individuals with sufficient wealth to purchase or lease property. Popular representation for both the serf and middle class was possible only by directly petitioning local leaders or by joining influential secular or religious societies. |~|
“The Tibetan judicial system was based on Buddhist law and enforced by the military. Both the military and some of the larger lamaseries maintained courts and prisons. Leading lamas, appointed by the central government, served as justices for civil and criminal proceedings.
The main political players and factions traditionally were main Tibetan Buddhist schools in Tibet, the Dalai Lama and other powerful lamas and the monasteries.
See Separate Articles: HISTORY OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM factsanddetails.com; TIBETAN BUDDHIST SCHOOLS (SECTS) factsanddetails.com; DALAI LAMAS Factsanddetails.com/China ; PRESENT DALAI LAMA Factsanddetails.com/China
Tibetan Government in Exile
Tibet’s government-in-exile — now called the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)— was formed in 1959, the same year the Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India. It has executive, judiciary and legislative branches, with candidates for the office of sikyong, or president, elected since 2011 by popular vote.
The Tibetan government in exile has a constitution and an elected government headed by a quasi-prime minister, known as the kalon tripa, who administers the day to day affairs of the government in exile. The Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies is the government in exile’s parliament. The government-in-exile has a stated mandate to rehabilitate Tibetan refugees and restore "freedom and happiness" in Tibet. The government-in-exile is not recognized by any foreign governments, China refuses to acknowledge it, and its legitimacy in the eyes of Tibetans in Tibet might be questioned without the Dalai Lama's patronage.
In 1960, a year the Dalai Lama’s arrival in India, a parliament in exile was set up in Dharmasala, India. Three years later a draft constitution was introduced. Largely subordinate to the Dalai Lama in matters of major policy, the organization’s main focus is on the welfare of the Tibetan exiled community in India, running schools, health services and cultural activities.
In 2006, 80,000 Tibetans in India voted for their government in exile. Members of the Tibetan diaspora in India, Nepal, Bhutan, the United States, Europe and Australia that pay voluntary taxes to the government in exile have the right to vote.
In 2001 the first election for a prime minister, known as the Kalon Tripa, was held. The status of the Kalon Tripa among the Tibetan community and international supporters is way below that of the Dalaia Lama. Few people even know who he is. Before 2011 the Tibetan government was headed by Samdhong Rinpoche, a lama based in Bangalore India. He won 81 percent of 38,793 votes cast among Tibetan voters in elections held in 2003. In earlt Tibetan elections, only half of eligible voters turned out.
Dalai Lama and Tibetan Leadership
The present 14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the head of the government-in-exile of Tibet. The Dalai Lama spends much of his time traveling the world to raise support for the Tibetan cause. He participates in meetings with religious leaders, presides over ceremonies for Tibetan Buddhists living abroad, appears at mass rallies, lectures businessman on "Ethics and the Bottom Line," attends fund raisers with Hollywood celebrities, and gives lectures on Buddhism ethics and religious practices. When he speaks at public gathering he usually speaks in Tibetan, which is translated into English by his translator, but occasionally he breaks into English himself.
According to the regulations stipulated by the Qing government (1644-1911), the final step of confirmation of the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama was the "drawing of lots from a golden urn" ceremony in the presence of the Resident Official of the Qing government in Tibet. The Chinese claim that the Dalai Lama has traditionally regarded the Chinese emperor as the Son of Heaven, which "proves" Tibet's traditional suzerainty to China, and they assert that visits by the 5th Dalai Lama and the 13th Dalai Lama to the Forbidden Palace to visit the Chinese emperors are "proof" of Tibetan recognition of Chinese rule.
The Dalai Lama has been officially recognized by the Chinese government since 1653, when Emperor Shunzhi of the Qing Dynasty officially gave the Fifth Dalai Lama his title. The present Dalai Lama voted on the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and was elected a vice-chairman in the First National People's Congress in 1954, when his picture was taken with Chairman Mao.
See Separate Articles: DALAI LAMAS factsanddetails.com; DALAI LAMA AND CHINA factsanddetails.com;
The Tibetan government in exile has been accused of being “directionless” in trying to “reorient their objectives around other issues such as the environment, world peace, religious freedom, Cultural preservation, human rights — everything but the previous goal of Tibetan independence.”
On the issue of a greater Tibet, embracing Tibetan areas in Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan, some have called for a regional Authority for Tibetan Affairs that would deal with issues like education, religion and culture for Tibetans regardless of what province they lived instead of each province having their own policies.
Other issues of importance to Tibetans include stopping the flow of Han Chinese immigrants to Tibet, perhaps by stopping the practice of issuing residency permits in Tibet to non-Tibetans; giving more Tibetans government jobs; and easing restrictions on monasteries.
Woeser (See Tibetan Literature) is a Tibetan writer and blogger who arguably speaks to more loudly on Tibetan affairs than anyone else in China. She is under constant surveillance and has had her blog closed down several times. Even posting her blog from overseas has not protected it from being shut down by hackers.
Tibetan Position on Tibet
The Tibetans, on the other hand, claim that Tibet is an independent country, which until recently has had a limited Chinese presence. China says Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries until Chinese troops invaded in the 1950s.
There has been some discussion of creating a Greater Tibet made up of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) plus Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan Provinces. Many feel this claim is stretch. It is true that many Tibetans live outside TAR and Tibetan influences have gone far beyond TAR boundaries but the Tibetan leadership has never held political control much beyond the borders of the TAR. Plus it is unrealistic to think that China world ever consider giving up control to what amounts to 2.4 million square kilometers of land.
Peter Hessler wrote in Atlantic Monthly, Tibetan history is so muddled that one can see in it what one wishes. The Chinese can ignore some periods and point to others." The Chinese, for example, base part of their claim on Tibet on a marriage in A.D. 641 between Songsten Campo, the king of Tibet, and princess Wen Cheng, the daughter of the Tang emperor Taizong. The king it turns out was also married to three Tibetans and a Nepalese princess.
Many Tibetan believe that the clampdown on Tibet culture and religion only breeds resentment and doesn’t quell ambitions of independence at all it only temporally buries them. One monk told Reuters, “We’re a people with no rights and freedoms.” Others disagree. Some Tibetans have said they happier being materially better off under Chinese rule.
The Han Chinese have felt a resurgence in national pride as the fortune of China has improved. Tibetans can only share in these sentiments if they embrace the idea that they are Chinese and forsake their own identity. Many Tibetans view Tibetans who cooperate with Han Chinese as collaborators. One monk told Reuters, “The Tibetans who work for the government here are bad people. They are working with the Han to suppress our culture and religion.”
Tibetans traditionally celebrate the arrival of the new year a month later than the Chinese, with New Year’s Day usually falling in March, a month that has many political associations. Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “The month of March is a delicate time in China-Tibet relations. The Dalai Lama fled to India in March 1959, after the Chinese Army quashed a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, during the initial Chinese occupation there. There has been a history of Tibetans protesting Chinese rule on the anniversaries of the Dalai Lama’s flight, and one such protest by monks in 2008 in Lhasa, and the suppression of it by security forces, led to the widespread uprising that enveloped much of the Tibetan plateau that spring. Since then, the Chinese government has increased the presence of security forces across the plateau each March and has barred foreigners from traveling to many areas there during that month.
See Separatism and Terrorism, Government; See Dalai Lama and Politics, Dalai Lama; See China, Mongolia and Tibet, See History
Independence and Displeasure with Dalai Lama's Middle Way
On how ordinary Tibetans view the independence issue, Tibetan filmmaker Losang Gyatso told the Los Angeles Times: “: The Dalai Lama has made clear from the mid-1980s that he was not pursuing independence for Tibet, that he is pursuing a policy that sees Tibet within the Chinese constitution and the Chinese state. But this Tibet must have a larger say in its religious and cultural and linguistic affairs. It’s wrong to say that all would be happy with a solution within China, but they would accept the Dalai Lama’s position. [Source: Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2013]
Tseten Dorjee, a member of Tibetan Youth Congress, told Newsweek, “Look at what the Dalai Lama’s middle way has brought us in the last 50 years. He got a few medals, some awards and Western followers. But what did we get? Nothing! ... If someone in desperation picks up arms to fight for his freedom, I am all for it.”
Sherab Wosar, a leader in the Tibetan Youth Congress, told Newsweek, “If you look at history, we’ve had great warrior kings, It was only after Buddhism came that the Tibetan people started being more spiritual and began thinking twice about even killing a mosquito. I won’t be surprised if the Tibetan people decide to take up arms to fight for their land. Free Tibet is our aim and we’ll employ any means to achieve it.”
New Strategy in Tibet?
The Dalai Lama said the conciliatory approach with Beijing “has failed.” He said, “the Chinese leadership had so far not responded to our overtures and does not seem interested in addressing the issue in a realistic way.” He called for a special meeting of Tibetan exiles to talk about the lack of progress made with the Chinese and future actions.
In late November 2008, 500 Tibetan exile leaders met for six days in closed-door discussions in Dharmasala to map a strategy for Tibet’s future. Samdohing Rinpoche, the prime minister of the exiled government, pushed for independence and abandonment of the Dalai Lama’s conciliatory “middle way” approach. The meeting began with the singing of the Tibetan anthem accompanied by pipes and drums and a moment of silence for the victims of the Tibetan uprising. In the discussions 15 groups with about 40 members each were formed to brainstorm ideas and present the conclusions to the exile government.
The discussions were said to be sometimes heated and emotional. In the end the Tibetan exiles decided to go stick with the “Middle Way.” Karma Choepla, speaker of the Tibetan parliament in exile, said, “We will continue with the Middle Way approach, and if there is no progress within a short period we will consider other options, including independence.” A minority, mostly young Tibetan leaders, called for pursuing independence. Many conceded the Middle Way had achieved little and holds little promise for achieving much in the future but saw few other options. Analysts and many Tibetans felt the Dalai Lama called the meeting to unite the Tibetan exile government around a common approach, give more power to the exile government and prepare the way for his gradual retirement, especially if his health becomes an issue.
International Relations and Tibet
The Tibetans have a well-financed lobby group in Washington. The United States has appointed a special coordinator for Tibetan issues. Several countries have taken a strong position supporting Tibet. In 1996, Germany froze official contracts with China in a dispute over Beijing's human rights record on Tibet. The Taiwanese government has approved the establishment of a de facto mission for Tibet in Taipei. Indian support of the Tibetan government is a point of contention between India and China (See India and China, International Relations).
In January 2006, a Spanish court said that it would consider lawsuit a by a human rights group — the Madrid-based Committee to Support Tibet — that accused of leaders of China of committing genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and state terrorism in Tibet. In 2014, a Spanish judge sought to arrest of China's former president and premier over accusations of genocide in Tibet dating back the time of the 2008 Tibetan uprising. Reuters reported: “High court judge Ismael Moreno asked Interpol to issue orders for the detention of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, ex-premier Li Peng and three other officials for questioning on charges brought by Tibetan rights groups in Spain. However, the case may not progress as Spain's ruling People's party is pushing rules to limit judges' ability to pursue cases under universal jurisdiction – the principle that crimes against humanity can be prosecuted across borders. “This is the same concept used by former judge Baltasar Garzón to bring about the arrest of Chile's ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998. [Source: Reuters, February 10, 2014]
In 2002, U.S. President George Bush signed the Tibetan Policy Act urging a negotiated settlement on Tibet. In 2005 U.S. Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice asked China’s leader to “reach out to the Dalai Lama.” In March 2008, the Obama government issued a statement on the 50th anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising that said: “The United States respects the territorial integrity of the People’s republic of China and considers Tibet to be part of China...At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the humans rights situation in Tibetan areas.”
U.S. attention on the Tibet issue diminished somewhat under the administrations of U.S. Presidents Barrack Obama (2009- 2017) and Donald Trump (2017-2021). Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R.-Va., 1981-2015), an advocate for Tibetans for years in Washington, said, “There is a greater crackdown by China in many areas of human rights.“There is nobody speaking out for any of them. There’s silence here in Washington. That’s your biggest problem.”
In 2014, a U.S. State Department spokesman said that the United States remains “deeply concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China” and that it will continue to urge the Chinese to “address the policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people.” The Trump administration mainly viewed Tibet as tool to antagonize Beijing but didn’t like its association with liberals.[Source: Annie Gowen, Washington Post, October 19, 2014]
See Separate Articles: DALAI LAMA, POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS factsanddetails.com; DALAI LAMA'S CELEBRITY AND HOLLYWOOD FRIENDS factsanddetails.com
Tibet, the West and China
Some have argued that Americans and European support for Tibetans ultimately hurts Tibetans more than it helps them because the support triggers feelings of nationalism and being unfairly accused among Chinese that manifests itself in anti-Tibetan feelings and hostility towards Tibetans and a lack of conciliatory moves by the government towards Tibet.
In the eyes of many Chinese Tibet has has been part of China longer than the United States has even been a country. They also take a dim view of the United States getting involved in the Tibetan issue in light of CIA support of anti-government Tibetan rebels in the 1960s and British adventures in Tibet as well in China during the Opium War period.
Money from Westerners has become an important source of income for building new temples and monasteries. Lamas that have followings overseas gain more prestige in Tibet. Many Chinese view Western sentiments towards Tibet as based more on a desire to weaken and break up China rather than doing the morally right thing in Tibet.
Rigzel Losel is the director of the Research Institute for Contemporary Tibet at the China Tibetology Research Center, “Like any scholar, I value academic freedom. I am concerned that some Western scholars of Tibet do not practice genuine academic research. Instead, they come with preconceptions.... A case in point is an American scholar I recently encountered at a forum in Tibet. When asked about China’s plan to invest 300 billion yuan in Tibet for the next five years, he immediately dismissed it as beneficial to the local Chinese population and unhelpful to the Tibetans. How could a serious scholar make such a foregone conclusion before he understands the details of the investment, and before it even starts?
Western Romanticized Views of Tibet See TIBET, SHANGRI-LA MYTH AND WESTERN ACTIVISM factsanddetails.com
Image Sources: Julie Chao , Tibet Train.com
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated September 2022