In the “Contra Costa Times” this morning, I read Tibetan leaders seek East Bay help by Doug Oakley, a politically correct news piece that’s partially accurate because Oakley only shares part of the history between China and Tibet—the part that favors Tibet’s so-called government in exile, which represents about 1% of all Tibetans—the rest still live in China.
Oakley writes that, “Tibet was invaded by the Chinese army in 1950. After the Tibetan army was defeated, both sides signed a 17-point agreement in 1951 recognizing China’s sovereignty over Tibet.” These facts are correct, but they do not tell the whole story.
Any historian who checks primary sources that exist outside of Communist China will discover that Tibet was ruled by three Chinese dynasties: The Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties from 1277 – 1911. Even after Sun Yat-Sen’s so-called Republic replaced the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Tibet was considered part of China.
Primary sources like the October 1912 issue of The National Geographic Magazine and more than fifty letters written by Sir Robert Hart during the 19th century support the fact that Tibet was part of China for more than six centuries prior to 1913 when the British Empire convinced Tibet to break free for political reasons.
The so-called Tibetan government in exile says they are seeking autonomy within China. In fact, China does offer a form of autonomy to the 56 minorities that live in China, but this isn’t the level of autonomy that the Dalai Lama demands, which is a return to the old Tibetan ways described in that 1912 issue of National Geographic, which is unacceptable to China.
Discover more about today’s Tibet by reading Chinese Gold from Dead Tibetan Caterpillars, Buddhism in China, The Tea Horse Road, Water – Two Countries Tell a Tale and About Tibet.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.
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