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Chinese Occupation of Tibet and Indian Response

By: Dr.Dipak Basu
Apr-16-2008
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(The author is a Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University, Japan)
 


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The Chinese Olympic is going to be almost a replica of Hitler"s Olympic in 1936 to demonstrate the raw power of an imperialist and fascist state, where all the heads of state, barring possibly the French president, will arrive to pay their tribute to a brutal country that has subjugated not only Tibet but also East Turkistan, Mongolia, Manchuria. Their cousin Kuomintang Chinese also have colonized Taiwan since 1949. Although China is still occupying a vast part of India in Jammu & Kashmir and supplied nuclear weapons and missiles to Pakistan, India is trying to glamorize the Chinese Olympic by all means as a placid client state.

China"s recent demand that Arunachal Pradesh of India is a part of China has provoked a very wrong kind of reaction from the government of India and the Indian media in general. Once again India has failed to turn the table against China. India should have said, China has no border with India at all, but Tibet has. By not recognizing the fact that China is occupying Tibet illegally India has once again in practice accepted the Chinese occupation. India has in practice also accepted Chinese occupation of Eastern Turkistan and Manchuria and Chinese demand for Taiwan. India has recognized as well Pakistan"s occupation of Balochistan and N.W.F.P (North West Frontier Province).
There is no evidence that Tibet was a part of China before China colonized it in 1949. Same is true about Taiwan, and Eastern Turkistan. If the Manchu are not Chinese, as Sun Yat Sen declared in 1911, Manchuria was never a part of China either.

Ancient Tibet:

Tibet has a history of at least 1300 years of independence from China. The first recorded contacts between Tibetans and Chinese took place in the 7th century, following the unification of Tibet under King Songtsen Gampo and the establishment of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. Two incidents are regularly mentioned during discussion of this period: the marriage of a Chinese princess to Songtsen Gampo in 641, and a peace pledge signed between the two countries in 821.

The Chinese claim that through this marriage and a series of meetings and alliances, the Tibetans and Chinese cemented political and kinship ties of unity and formed close economic and cultural relations, laying a solid foundation for the ultimate founding of a unified nation (Tibet: Its Ownership and Human Rights Situation, China White Paper, 1992, p.3).

In fact, these incidents show that at this time Tibet and China were independent states of equal strength. The Chinese sought the marriage alliance of 641 after Tibetan armies had captured towns in Sichuan province (Tibet: A Political History, Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa, 1967, p.26). The treaty of 821, despite its familial language (the so-called uncle-nephew relationship), actually defined relations between two fully sovereign states (Tibet and Imperial China, Josef Kolmas, 1967, p.11).

In 821 China and Tibet ended almost 200 years of fighting with a treaty engraved on three stone pillars, one of which still stands in front of the Jokhang cathedral in Lhasa.
The treaty reads in part: Both Tibet and China shall keep the country and frontiers of which they are now possessed. The whole region to the East of that being the country of Great China and the whole region to the West being assuredly the country of Great Tibet, from either side there shall be no hostile invasion, and no seizure of territory... and in order that this agreement establishing a great era when Tibetans shall be happy in Tibet and Chinese shall be happy in China shall never be changed, the Three Jewels, the body of Saints, the sun and the moon, planets and stars have been invoked as witness.
The three stone pillars were erected, one outside the Chinese Emperor"s palace, one on the border between the two countries, and one in Lhasa.

Tibet During the Middle Ages:

During the 13th and 14th centuries both China and Tibet came under the influence of the Mongol empire. China claims today that Tibet and China during that time became one country, by virtue of the Mongols domination of both nations. However, the Mongols under Kublai Khan and his successors, who had the largest empire in human history, dominated virtually all of Asia.

Both Tibet and China fell under the control of this empire: the Tibetans after peaceful submission in 1244-47, and the Chinese following the defeat of the Jin Dynasty in northern China (1234) and the subsequent Mongol conquest of the southern Song Dynasty (1235-79). Chinese historians now claim that Tibet was thus officially incorporated into the territory of China"s Yuan Dynasty (China White Paper, p.3). They then go on to argue, somewhat inexplicably, this unification of the whole nation conformed to the advance of history and the desire of all nationalities (Highlights of Tibetan History, Wang Furen & Suo Wenqing, 1984, p.57).

The fact that Tibet and China both came under the political influence of the Mongols does not indicate unification of the two countries. Iraq, Turkey, most parts of Russia and Eastern Europe, Indian subcontinent, Northern Burma, North Vietnam, and Korea were all part of the vast Mongol Empire. Would that mean these areas belong to China! India was occupied by the British Empire, who used to control Malaysia, Iraq, and Burma. Is that mean India should legitimately claim Iraq, Malaysia and Burma as its integral parts? Such is the absurdity of the Chinese claim.

Mongols and Tibet:

Tibet came under Mongol influence before Kublai Khan"s conquest of China and regaining complete independence from the Mongols several decades before China regained its independence. While the Mongols militarily conquered China, the Tibetans and the Mongols established the historically unique priest patron relationship, also known as CHO-YON. The Mongol aristocracy had converted to Buddhism and sought spiritual guidance and moral legitimacy for the rule of their vast empire from the Tibetan theocracy. As Tibet"s patrons they pledged to protect it against foreign invasion. In return Tibetans promised loyalty to the Mongol empire.

The Mongol-Tibetan relationship was thus based on mutual respect and dual responsibility. In stark contrast, the Mongol-Chinese relationship was based on military conquest and domination. The Mongols ruled China, while the Tibetans ruled Tibet. The Mongol empire ended in the mid-14th century. Today Mongolia is an independent country, not a part of China.

By the 15th century, political authority in Tibet had passed into the hands of contending religious hegemonies, which were eventually replaced by a system of rule under the Dalai Lamas. In China, the native Ming Dynasty overthrew the Mongols, and then concentrated much of its attention on economic expansion and maritime exploration.

Ming Dynasty and Tibet:

One of the most incredible arguments from the Chinese side is that the Ming Dynasty somehow inherited a territorial claim to Tibet from the Mongols. But there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Tibet was subordinate to China at this stage. Communication did continue between the Ming emperors and Tibetan lamas, but there is some contention about its level and significance. Again, during this period both Tibet and China existed as separate and fully sovereign states.

Tibet and Machu Empire:

In 1639, the 5th Dalai Lama established another CHO-YON (priest- patron) relationship, this time with the Manchu Emperor, who in 1644, driven out of Manchuria by the Russians, occupied China and established the Manchu Qing Dynasty. Over the course of the next 50 years, the Manchus were able to exploit differences between rival groups within the Tibetan Government, and so established some degree of influence in Lhasa.
Manchu officials called "Ambans" were stationed there from 1728 until the fall of the dynasty in 1911. There is, however, much disagreement over the actual extent of their power. Chinese claims that the "Ambans" enjoyed equal standing with the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni (Panchen Lama) (China White Paper, p.8) are exaggerated. Even during a period of Manchu expansion under the Qianlong Emperor (1736-95), Ambans were instructed not to interfere in the internal policies of Tibet and to refrain from exploitation (Tibet: A Political History, p.148).

However, the most important point is that Manchus, like Mongols, are not ethnic Chinese and suggestions that Tibet became an integral part of a Chinese empire during this period are just absurd.

In 1911 the CHO-YON relationship came to its final end with the fall of the Manchu Dynasty in the hands of Sun Yat Sen, who had declared Manchus as foreigners. . In 1912 the last of the Chinese troops were expelled from Tibet and Dalai Lama proclaims Tibet Independence. Tibet continued to conduct itself as a fully sovereign nation until its occupation by Communist China in 1949. Manchu emperor has lost even Manchuria, when the Soviet Union occupied Manchuria in 1945 and gave it away to China in 1950.

Tibet and the British:

The British after 1911 were able to gain some advantage, and so convened a tripartite conference to discuss Tibet"s status at Simla in 1914. The Tibetans arrived at the conference with written evidence proving the historical independence of Tibet. The Chinese delegation, who were present only to witness the treaty between Britain and Tibet, argued that Tibet"s subjugation by the Mongols and the Manchus proved it had become an integral part of China, and should therefore now be ruled as part of the new Republic of China of Sun Yat Sen from Peking.

China thus disputes the legal status of the Simla Convention and the resultant McMahan line - the border between India and Tibet accepted by the British, who"s true significance lies in its recognition of Tibet as an independent nation with which binding agreements could be negotiated (for example the Lhasa Treaty of 1904). Throughout the Nationalist (Guomindang) period from 1912 to 1949, no Chinese government was able to exert any influence over Tibet.

During the Second World War Tibet remained neutral, despite strong pressure from the USA, Britain and China to allow the passage of raw materials through Tibet. When Nepal applied for membership of the United Nations in 1949, it cited its treaty and diplomatic relations with Tibet to demonstrate its full international personality.

Chinese invasion of Tibet:

The invasion of Tibet by troops from the People"s Liberation Army in 1949-50 is described in official Chinese histories as a peaceful liberation. A 17 Point Agreement was signed between the Communist Government and Tibetan officials in May 1951, which apparently enjoyed the approval and support of the people from every ethnic group in Tibet (China White Paper, p.14). If Tibet was part of China, then there was no need for the 17-point agreement, which was forced upon the Tibetan delegation to sign in China in 1951, and then China announced to the world that Tibet was liberated (but from whom?).

Human Rights Violations in Tibet by China:

In fact, discrimination and the suppression of traditional practices in eastern Tibet drove hundreds of Tibetans up into the mountains to conduct guerrilla warfare, while thousands more fled west to Lhasa to escape Chinese persecution. In March 1959, growing Tibetan resistance exploded in an uprising against the Chinese occupation. The 14th Dalai Lama fled into exile in northern India, and the subsequent Chinese crackdown in Tibet was brutal. Tibetan sources suggest as many as 430,000 were killed in the Uprising and subsequent years of guerrilla warfare.
From 1951 to 1959 China broke every promise that she made towards Tibet, resulting in the Tibetan uprising against China in March 1959. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 100,000 Tibetans escaped into exile. From that day onwards Tibet affectively became an occupied country.

China"s Claim on Tibet is based solely on the alleged subjection of Tibet to a few of China"s strongest foreign rulers in the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. How can China - one of the most ardent opponents of imperialism and colonialism - excuse its continued presence in Tibet, against the wishes of Tibetan people, by citing as justification Mongols and Manchu imperialism and its own colonial policies?

By the 17-Point Agreement of 1951 China undertook not to interfere with Tibet"s existing system of government and society, but never kept these promises in eastern Tibet and in 1959 reneged on the treaty altogether. China has renamed two out of Tibet"s three provinces as parts of the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan, and renamed the remaining province of U"Tsang as Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
28th October 1991, US Congress under a Foreign Authorization Act passed the resolution wherein they recognized Tibet, including those areas incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai, AN OCCUPIED COUNTRY under the established principal of international law. The resolution further stated that Tibet"s true representatives are the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in exile as recognized by the Tibetan people.

Some 1.2 million Tibetans are estimated to have been killed by the Chinese since 1950. Reprisals for the 1959 National Uprising alone involved the elimination of 87,000 Tibetans by the Chinese count, according to a Radio Lhasa broadcast of 1 October 1960. Tibetan exiles claim that 430,000 died during the Uprising and the subsequent 15 years of guerrilla warfare.

The International Commission of Jurists concluded in its reports, 1959 and 1960, that there was a prima facie case of genocide committed by the Chinese upon the Tibetan nation. These reports deal with events before the Cultural Revolution. Chinese Justice: Protest and Prisons

Exile sources estimate that up to 260,000 people died in prisons and labour camps between 1950 and 1984. Some 3,000 people are believed to have been detained for political offences since September 1987, many of them for writing letters, distributing leaflets or talking to foreigners about the Tibetans" right to independence.
Detailed accounts show that the Chinese conducted a campaign of torture against Tibetan dissidents in prison from March 1989 to May 1990. However, beatings and torture are still regularly used against political detainees and prisoners today. Such prisoners are held in sub-standard conditions, given insufficient food, forbidden to speak, frequently held incommunicado and denied proper medical treatment.

Beatings and torture with electric shock batons are common; prisoners have died from such treatment. In 1992, Palden Gyatso, a monk who had been tortured by the Chinese for over 30 years, bribed prison guards to hand over implements of torture. The weapons, smuggled out of Tibet, were displayed in the west in 1994 and 1995.

Despite China having ratified a number of UN conventions, including those relating to torture, women, children and racial discrimination, the Chinese authority has been repeatedly violating these conventions in both China and Tibet.

Nearly all prisoners arrested for political protest are beaten extensively at the time of arrest and initial detention. Serious physical maltreatment has also been recorded in a significant proportion of cases. In the period 1994-1995, three nuns died shortly after release from custody as a result of ill treatment and torture in detention.
The Chinese have refused to allow independent observers to attend so-called public trials. Prison sentences are regularly decided before the trial. Fewer than 2% of cases in China are won by the defense.

Chinese replaced Tibetan as the official language. Despite official pronouncements, there has been no practical change in this policy. Without an adequate command of Chinese, Tibetans find it difficult to get work in the state sector.

Secondary school children are taught all classes in Chinese. Religious practice was forcibly suppressed until 1979, and up to 6,000 monasteries and shrines were destroyed. In 1995 the Chinese authorities rejected the child recognized by the Dalai Lama as the rebirth of the Panchen Lama, and installed their own candidate.

Three nuclear missile sites, and an estimated 300,000 troops are stationed on Tibetan territory. China has admitted to dumping nuclear waste on the Tibetan plateau. There is a 20-sq.km dump for radioactive pollutants near Lake Kokonor, the largest lake on the Tibetan plateau.

Chinese Railway to Tibet and its effects:

As with previous railways built by China in Mongolia and East Turkistan, the Tibet railway would greatly speed colonization of the area. It would allow vastly increased numbers of Chinese settlers and military troops to be brought in, and more natural resources to be exploited and removed from Tibet, with most economic benefits bypassing the many Tibetans who live on the outskirts of Tibet"s centrally controlled economy, beyond the reach of the railway. The railway will improve China"s military maneuverability, enable rapid troop deployments, and facilitate the expansion of People"s Liberation Army bases and increases in nuclear weapons stockpiles and missile deployments on the Tibetan plateau. The cost of the railway is almost triple the amount Beijing spent in the Tibet Autonomous Region on healthcare and education between 1952 and 2000.

Demographic change in Tibet:

China is filling up Tibet with ethnic Chinese in an attempt to destroy the ethnicity of Tibetans. This policy has much more impact to destroy the Tibet as a nation than the million who have died from Chinese policies, the destruction of more than 6,000 Buddhist monasteries, the arrest and torture of Tibetan monks, the destruction of Tibetan forests, and the stationing of nuclear weapons and waste dumps in Tibet.

Samdhong Rinpoche, 64, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile estimates that 7 million ethnic Chinese now live in Tibet. There are only 2.3 million Tibetans. In towns like Lhasa and Chengdu, 75 percent of the people are ethnic Chinese, says Rinpoche. [Soon] we may become just like the Mongolians. Our culture and heritage will be completely lost.

The influx of Chinese nationals has destabilized the economy. Forced agricultural modernizations led to extensive crop failures and Tibet"s first recorded famine (1960-1962), in which 340,000 Tibetans died. Tibetan farms and grazing lands have been confiscated and incorporated into collectivized and communal farms.

Resettlement of Chinese migrants has placed Tibetans in the minority in many areas, including Lhasa, causing chronic unemployment among Tibetans.

Official figures put the number of non-Tibetans in the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) at 79,000. Independent research puts the figure at 250,000 to 300,000, and for the whole of Tibet 5 to 5.5 million Chinese to 4.5 million Tibetans. In Kham and Amdo the Chinese outnumber Tibetans many times over.

UN"s betrayal of Tibet:

At the time of the invasion of Tibet in 1949/1950 by Chinese forces, Tibet was an independent State. In October 1950 the Tibetan Government maintained its international character as a "State" by sending a plea to the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The plea inspired the United Nations Member State of El Salvador to enter the issue "Invasion of Foreign Forces Into Tibet" on the First Committee Agenda for November 1950. This meeting, though convened, was postponed due to "insufficient information
The Secretary General did not distribute the Tibetan plea to Members of the General Assembly, although he was obliged to do so under the UN Resolution 378 V, "Duties of States in the Event of the Outbreak of Hostilities", declared at the 3 08th UN Plenary Meeting, 17th November 1950. The Secretary General was repeatedly requested, at least on three separate occasions, to distribute the Tibetan plea.

The United Nations has recorded the territorial invasion of Tibet, by Chinese forces, as a "Dispute", filed in June 1959. The "Dispute" file was officially handled at least 16 times, according to the file roster. There is no indication that this initial "Dispute" file has been reviewed since October 1968. Identification of the file is made by reference to "P0 240 Tibet".

In the United Nations Charter, Chapter Five, The Security Council, Article 27, Paragraph 3, decisions under Chapter VI (Pacific Settlements of Disputes), in paragraph 3 of Article 52 (Regional Arrangements) it is clearly written: "A Party to a Dispute shall abstain from voting"

As China is clearly a "Party" to the Dispute with Tibet, China is obligated under the United Nations Charter to abstain from vetoing on any issue related to the Tibet Dispute.
However, China, as Parties to the Tibetan Dispute, has been allowed inappropriate influence considering the outstanding and unresolved nature of the "Dispute". China changed the title of reference from "Tibet", to "Xizang" in all UN documents and in United Nation"s yearbooks. In the similar way the United Nations now describe Taiwan an independent country and former member of the U.N Security Council as Taiwan province of China.

India"s betrayals to Tibet:

Recently India, too, has forsaken the Tibetans to pursue its own interests.
Though India remains a safe harbor for Tibetan refugees, most of whom live
in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, and hosts the Tibetan
government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India has been distancing itself from
the Tibetan struggle as it builds closer ties with China under pressure from the Indian business community.

When Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China last he dropped
the earlier Indian stance that maintained Tibet as an autonomous region of China. Instead Vajpayee declared, The Tibet Autonomous Region is part of
the territory of People"s Republic of China.

By accepting China"s limited definition of Tibet and by saying TAR was
Chinese territory and not an autonomous region, India was, in effect,
accepting China"s key positions on the issue.

The next day the Chinese gave de facto recognition to India"s sovereignty
over the disputed Himalayan state of Sikkim, which India took over in 1975. United States dropped support for Tibetan militants as it moved closer to China.

Comments:

The history of Tibet, dating back more than two thousand years, has been one of independence. At no time, since the founding of the nation in 127 BC, have the Tibetans conceded their sovereignty to a foreign power. As with all nations, Tibet experienced periods in which - Mongol, Manchu, Chinese, British and the Gorkhas of Nepal - sought to establish influence over Tibet. These eras have been brief and the Tibetan people have never accepted them as constituting a loss of our national sovereignty. In fact, there have been occasions when Tibetan rulers conquered vast areas of China and other neighbouring states. This, however, does not mean that the Tibetans can lay claim to these territories.

On June 15, 1988 Dalai Lama elaborated on his earlier Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet in an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He said:

"In 1949 the People"s Republic of China forcibly invaded Tibet. Since that time, Tibet has endured the darkest period in its history". More than a million of our people have died as a result of the occupation. Thousands of monasteries were reduced to ruins. A generation has grown up deprived of education, economic opportunity and a sense of its own national character. Though the current China leadership has implemented certain reforms. It is also promoting a massive population transfer onto the Tibetan plateau. This policy has already" reduced the six million Tibetans to a minority". Speaking for all Tibetans, I must sadly" inform you, our tragedy" continues."

India had the prime responsibility towards Tibet. It has failed so far to pursue. India"s peculiar stand towards China cannot be explained in anyway. China had invaded India in 1962; supplied every kind of weapons including nuclear weapons and missiles to Pakistan since 1963; gave sanctuary to the terrorists of the North Eastern States of India, opposed India in every international matter, opposed India"s possible permanent membership of the U.N Security Council or possible membership of the ASEAN, has tried successfully to encircle India with naval bases in Sri Lanka, Burma and Pakistan. Despite of all these hostile acts of China, India has so far learned any lesson. Indian prime ministers have visited China gain and again. Indian business community has invested billions in China and is ever so interested to import from China although it would mean destructions of India"s own manufacturing industries.

As a result of pressures from the business community of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) India government now following the same appeasement policy that India has followed since 1949. India so far has refused to stand against Chinese imperialism in Tibet, Eastern Turkistan and Manchuria and Pakistan"s imperialism in Balochistan, Kashmir and North West Frontier Province.


Dr.Dipak Basu

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