Tibet Inside China (Viewed as Single Page)

January 28, 2010

In 2008, I wrote a post about Tibet on another forum. Someone with a Tibetan sounding name left a comment in crude English calling me a “Communist rabbit”.

Name-calling seems to be popular these days. In America, people like Glenn Beck (FOX network), Rush Limbaugh (600 radio stations), Ann Coulter and the Tea Baggers have developed name-calling into an art form—not much substance but disguised racism, colorful and angry.

The Tibetan government in exile’s Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche was quoted in “Good” magazine’s May/June 2008 Issue that six-million Tibetan Buddhists still lived in Tibet. He also said that Tibet has never historically been part of China. That isn’t true. Tibet was ruled by three of China’s Imperial Dynasties.

Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty 1277 – 1367

Tibet was first ruled by China during the Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367). Then, when the Ming Dynasty (1368-1643) reclaimed China, a Ming Imperial army was sent to Tibet to drive out the last of the Mongols–holdovers from the Yuan Dynasty. The Ming emperor ordered his army to stay.

When the Ch’ing (Manchu) Dynasty (1644-1911) came to power, the Chinese empire expanded further and Tibet remained in China. Later, I’ll provide evidence from a 1912 National Geographic magazine as proof.

I previously quoted the Tibetan government in exile’s Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche claiming that six million Tibetan Buddhists still lived in Tibet.

China, on the other hand, reports that Tibet’s population was 2.84 million at the end of last year, 31,500 more than at the end of 2006. Among its permanent residents, more than 2.5 million, or 95.3 percent, were Tibetans. (Tibet’s population was 1.14 million in 1951.)

1910 Map of Qing (Manchu) Dynasty – China

More evidence that is interesting comes from the CIA World Factbook. It seems that there are about 80,000 Tibetan refugees living outside Tibet/China. Wikipedia estimates about 5,000 to 9,000 live in the United States. The rest live closer to the Tibetan government in exile.

There were no Tibetans in America prior to the 1950s. Chinese first immigrated to America in the 18th century, and Chinese Americans make up the largest Asian population in America today—more than three million.

The most damaging evidence against Rinpoche’s claims come from the October 1912 issue of The National Geographic Magazine (I have a copy—it cost me $20 on e-bay). Since the earliest evidence of Communists in China was about 1920, and it wasn’t until 1949 that the Communists came to power under Mao, there is no way the Chinese doctor who wrote that 1912 piece could have lied for the Communists.

Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD)

In the 1912 issue of The National Geographic Magazine on page 979, Dr. Shaoching H. Chuan wrote, “Tibet is governed by the Dalai Lama as politco-religous head and two “Ambans” as the political dictators. The Ambans are appointed by the Chinese Emperor every four years. All governmental affairs have to undergo examination by the two Ambans, and all government policy must be sanctioned by them before it can be put into operation. Literally, the Dalai Lama is under the authority of the two Ambans…” (Page 979)

From recent news, it appears that rough times may be ahead for the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In China sees US as hedge for Taiwan, Tibet (Asia Times) by Peter Lee, the author says, “After the Dalai Lama is gone, there is a strong possibility that motivated and organized pro-independence activists (militants) will be able to win power in the Tibetan government in exile.”

Chinese Protesting Against Tibetan Separatists

Militant Tibetan separatist groups have not been happy with the Dalai Lama’s call for autonomy talks with China instead of calling for a fight to gain independence. Tibetan militant groups want Tibet to break from China even if it means taking a violent path—one the Dalai Lama does not advocate.

What would Tibet be like if the separatists had their way and broke free from China?

Would they return to the system of landowners and serfs (slaves)?

Would the Tibetan Buddhists require that every family send at least one son to become a Buddhist monk as before?

Would mandatory schooling (as we have in the United States) be shut down so the literacy rate would plummet from the high 90% back to a single digit like it was prior to 1950?

Would the wealth and the land be returned to the one percent that had it all before Mao’s troops occupied Tibet?

Regardless of the evidence that proves the Tibetan government in exile is not telling the truth about Tibet being part of China for centuries before declaring independence in 1913 (when the Ch’ing Dynasty was collapsing and the British Empire urged Tibet to break free for political reasons), the Dalai Lama and his Prime Minister represents less than 100,000 Tibetans outside China.

Robert Hart’s (1835 – 1911) letters supports one side of this argument.

If Rinpoche’s figure of six million is correct, that means the Tibetan government in exile represents about 1% of the Tibetan population. If China’s 2.5 million is correct, the percentage goes up to 3.2%. Not much of a base to wage a violent rebellion. There are more troops in the PRC’s army than the entire Tibetan population inside and outside of China.

I also wonder if that 1% in exile were the Tibetan landowners. Did they leave most of the serfs/slaves behind when they fled?

Maybe the Tibetan separatists/rebels (whatever term you like), with help from the CIA, should join the American Tea Bagger movement and gain the support from the likes of Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

They could sit around the campfire during protests and sing hymns about marching into battle to take back the wealth and return to the good-old-days, which would be the opposite of Robin Hood. In this case, the landowners that fled old Tibet (1% of Tibet’s population) would take back what they owned when they left and restore Tibet to the way it was.

In fact, The steady improvement of health care and living standards has raised the average life expectancy of Tibetans from 36 years in the old Tibet to the present 65 years.… It is recorded that during the 150 years before Tibet was (returned to China) there were four pandemic outbreaks of smallpox, one of which, in 1925, killed 7,000 people in the Lhasa area alone. Outbreaks of typhoid fever in 1934 and 1937 carried off some 5,000 people in Lhasa. Source: China-un.ch, which is supported by the facts in the 1912 piece published in the National Geographic Magazine.

Here is a suggested slogan for the Tibetan separatists (former landowners) living in India. “Freedom for landowners, illiteracy for serfs and life expectancy of 36 again!”

Originally posted as a five-part series starting on April 11, 2010 at Tibet Inside China – Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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