Tibet’s isolation and unique religious practices
have made it the focus of many Western myths.
by Foster Stockwell
Western concepts of Tibet embrace more myth than reality. The idea that Tibet is an oppressed nation composed of peaceful Buddhists who never did anyone any harm distorts history. In fact the belief that the Dalai Lama is the leader of world Buddhism rather than being just the leader of one sect among more than 1,700 “Living Buddhas” of this unique Tibetan form of the faith displays a parochial view of world religions.
The myth, of course, is an outgrowth of Tibet’s former inaccessibility, which has fostered illusions about this mysterious land in the midst of the Himalayan Mountains — illusions that have been skillfully promoted for political purposes by the Dalai Lama’s advocates. The myth will inevitably die, as all myths do, but until this happens, it would be wise to learn a few useful facts about this area of China.
First, Tibet has been a part of China ever since it was merged into that country in 1239, when the Mongols began creating the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). This was before Marco Polo reached China from Europe and more than two centuries before Columbus sailed to the New World. True, China’s hold on this area sometimes appeared somewhat loose, but neither the Chinese nor many Tibetans have ever denied that Tibet has been a part of China from the Yuan Dynasty to this very day.
The early Tibetans evolved into a number of competing nomadic tribes and developed a religion known as Bon that was led by shamans who conducted rituals that involved the sacrifice of many animals and some humans. These tribes fought battles with each other for better grazing lands, battles in which they killed or made slaves of those they conquered. They roamed far beyond the borders of Tibet into areas of China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, Xinjiang, Gansu, and Qinghai. Eventually one of these tribes, the Tubo, became the most powerful and took control of all Tibet. (The name Tibet comes from Tubo.) During China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907), Emperor Taizong improved relations with the Tubo king, Songtsen Gampo, by giving him one of his daughters, Princess Wenzheng, in marriage. The Tubos, in response to this cementing of relations, developed close fraternal ties with the Tang court, and the two ruling powers regularly exchanged gifts.
The princess arrived in Tibet with an entourage of hundreds of servants, skilled craftspeople, and scribes. She was a Buddhist, as were all of the Tang emperors, and so Buddhism entered Tibet mainly through her influence, only to be suppressed later by resentful Bon shamans. Some years later another Tang princess was married to another Tubo king, again to cement relations between the two rulers.
The fact that the Tibetans and the Chinese had united royal families and engaged actively in trade (Tibetan horses for tea of the Central Plain) didn’t mean an absence of conflict between them. Battles occasionally occurred between Tang and Tubo troops, mostly over territorial issues. At one point in the 750s, the Tubos, taking advantage of a rebellion against the Tangs by other armed groups in China, raced on horseback across China to enter the Tang capital of Chang’an. But, they couldn’t hold the city.
In 838, the Tubo king was assassinated by two pro-Bon ministers, and the Bon religion was re-established as the only acceptable religion in Tibet. Buddhists were widely persecuted and forced into hiding.
Trade between Tibet and the interior areas continued during the Five Dynasties (907-960) and the Song Dynasty (960-1279) that followed the collapse of the Tang, although relations between the two ruling powers were limited. During this time Buddhism revived in Tibet as a result of the Buddhists’ willingness to accommodate some Bon practices. The form of Buddhism that resulted from this merging of the two religions was quite different from that of China and other countries in Southeast Asia, as well as from the form that had been practiced previously in Tibet.
Tibetan Buddhism, often called Lamaism, appealed to the Mongols, who conquered most of Russia, parts of Europe, and all of China under the leadership of Genghis Khan. The Mongols, like the Tibetans, were tribal herders who had a religion of animism similar to Bon.
When Kublai Khan, the first Yuan emperor, appointed administrators to Tibet, he elevated the head of the Tibetan Buddhist Sakya sect to the post of leader of all Buddhists in China, thus giving this monk greater power than any Buddhist had ever held before - and probably since. Needless to say, the appointment irritated the leaders of the other Buddhist sects in Tibet and the much larger group of non-Tibetan Buddhists in China. But, they couldn’t do anything to counter the wishes of the emperor.
The Yuan Dynasty divided Tibet into a series of administrative areas and put these areas under the charge of an imperial preceptor. Furthermore, the Yuan court encouraged the growth of feudal estates in Tibet as a way to maintain control there.
When the Yuan Dynasty collapsed, it was replaced by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which wasn’t composed of persons of Mongolian heritage. Tibet then became splintered because the Ming court adopted a policy of granting hereditary titles to many nobles and a policy of divide and rule.
Although the Ming court conferred the honorific title of Desi (ruling lama) to the head of one of Tibet’s most powerful families, the Rinpung family, they also bestowed enough official titles to his subordinates to encourage separatist trends within the local Tibetan society. One of these titles was given to the head of the newly founded Gelugpa sect, better known as the Yellow sect. He later took on the title “Dalai Lama.”
Tibet During the Qing Dynasty
The next and last dynasty, the Qing, came to power in 1644 and lasted until 1911. At the time of its founding, the most prominent Tibetan religious and secular leaders were the fifth Dalai Lama, the fourth Panchen Lama, and Gushri Khan. They formed a delegation that arrived at the Chinese capital, Beijing, in 1652.
Before they returned to Tibet the following year, the emperor officially conferred upon Lozang Gyatso (the then Dalai Lama), the honorific title “The Dalai Lama, Buddha of Great Compassion in the West, Leader of the Buddhist Faith Beneath the Sky, Holder of the Vajra.” (Dalai is Mongolian for “ocean”; lama is a Tibetan word that means “guru.”)
The fifth Dalai Lama pledged his allegiance to the Qing government and in return, received enough gold and silver to build 13 new monasteries of the Yellow sect in Tibet. All successive reincarnations of the Dalai Lama have been confirmed by the central government in China, and this has become a historical convention practiced to this very day.
A later Qing emperor suspected the intentions of the seventh Dalai Lama, so he increased the power of the Panchen Lama (also of the Yellow sect). In 1713 the Qing court granted the title “Panchen Erdeni” to the fifth Panchen Lama, thus elevating him to a status similar to that given to the Dalai Lama (Panchen means “great scholar” in Sanskrit, and Erdeni means “treasure” in Manchu.)
The largest part of the Tibetan population (more than 90 percent) at that time was composed of serfs, who were treated harshly by the landlords and ruling monks. All monasteries had large tracts of land as well as a great number of serfs under their control. The ruling monks’ exploitation of these serfs was just as severe as that of the aristocratic landlords.
Serfs had no personal freedom from birth to death. They and their children were given freely as gifts or donations, sold or bartered for goods. They were, in fact, viewed by landlords as “livestock that can speak.” As late as 1943, a high-ranking aristocrat named Tsemon Norbu Wangyal sold 100 serfs to a monk in the Drigung area for only four silver dollars per serf.
If serfs lost their ability to work, the lord confiscated all their property, including livestock and farm tools. If they ran away and subsequently were captured, half their personal belongings were given to the captors while the other half went to the lords for whom they worked. The runaways then were flogged or even condemned to death.
The lords used such inhuman tortures as gouging out eyes, cutting off feet or hands, pushing the condemned person over a cliff, drowning and beheading.Numerous rebellions occurred over the years against this harsh treatment, and in 1347 alone (the seventh year of Yuan Emperor Shundi’s reign), more than 200 serf rebellions occurred in Tibet.
Foreign nations made numerous attempts to invade Tibet and take it away from China. These were repulsed by Chinese troops and Tibetan fighters. The first such invasion took place in 1337 when Mohammed Tugluk of Delhi (in what is now India) sent 100,000 troops into the Himalayan area.
During the second half of the 18th century, troops from the Kingdom of Nepal invaded Tibet twice in an attempt to expand Nepal’s territory.
During the 19th century, Britain competed with Russia in pouring large sums of money and many spies into a struggle to see which of the two might eventually occupy and control Tibet. When the British finally invaded Tibet, first in 1888 and again in 1903, the Russians were so involved in conflicts at home that they couldn’t stop the British troops from pushing all the way to Lhasa. And the Qing government, having recently lost the Opium War to the British, did nothing either.
The Tibetans, using spears, arrows, catapults and homemade guns, fought valiantly but to no avail against the invading British army and its big cannons and machine guns. The British withdrew after imposing “peace” terms and before the harsh winter began because they feared the Tibetan resistance would prevent supplies from getting through to the occupying troops, thereby causing them to starve to death.
The British signed a Convention with China in 1906, the second article of which stipulated that the British would no longer interfere with the administration of Tibet and that China had sovereignty over Tibet. But, they conveniently forgot the terms of this agreement when, the very next year, they signed a Convention with Russia that specified British “special interests” in Tibet. It would probably fill a book to detail the many ways the British from that point on tried to take over Tibet and make it a part of their colony of India.
Yet, something needs to be said about the conference held at Simla, India, in 1914. Conference participants included representatives of the new Nationalist government of China that had overthrown the Qing Dynasty just two years before, plus Tibetans, and British-Indians. The British had blackmailed the Chinese into attending by threatening to withdraw their recognition of the new nationalist government and by saying they would work out an agreement with the Tibetans alone if the Chinese didn’t participate.
The Simla Conference failed because the Chinese and the 13th Dalai Lama both opposed the British plan to divide Tibet into two parts (Inner and Outer Tibet). The conference, however, did produce one document that since has caused dissension — a map drawn by the British representative Arthur H. McMahon that never was shown to the Chinese, although it was revealed secretly to the Tibetan delegates.
McMahon’s map showed a new boundary line that included three districts of Tibet — Monyul, Loyul, and Lower Zayul — within the territory of British- India. This so-called “McMahon Line” first became public 23 years later when it appeared in a printed set of British documents related to the conference and other diplomatic matters. The McMahon Line became the basis for India’s failed attempt to take over this part of Tibet in 1962. The British, who made a great show of their desire to have “independence for Tibet” at the Simla Conference, in drawing this map were adding 90,000 square kilometers (an area three times the size of Belgium) from Tibet’s natural territory to their own Indian colony.
During and after World War II and shortly before Britain’s departure from India, the American Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S., the forerunner of the C.I.A.), operating under Cold War guidelines, joined the British Foreign Office as the instigator of the Tibetan “freedom movement.”
Much of what the O.S.S. did in Tibet remains hidden in secret files at C.I.A headquarters near Washington, D.C., but one of their plots has been widely reported. It involved a smear campaign launched against the regent who had been appointed to act for the young 14th Dalai Lama after the 13th Dalai died in 1933. The regent was hostile to U.S.-British intrigues in Tibet, so the O.S.S. spread rumors about his alleged incompetence and criminal activities. Eventually these charges led to the regent’s arrest and murder in a Tibetan prison. The 14th Dalai Lama’s father subsequently was poisoned because he was a friend and supporter of the regent.
Before considering Tibet today, some words should be said about Tibetan Buddhism as a religion. The accommodations it made with Bon resulted in its becoming very different from other forms of Buddhism, particularly from the more common and much larger Chan Buddhism of China (called Zen in Japan). Images found in Tibetan Buddhist temples are much fiercer than those found in other Buddhist temples, and some Tibetan ceremonies that once used human skulls, human skin, and fresh human intestines clearly reflect the animistic elements of Bon.
Also, Tibetan Buddhists rely a great deal on prayer wheels, which most other Buddhists scorn. These are mechanical devices with prayers written on them that are constantly turned by water or wind so the forces of nature do the work of sending prayers to heaven.
The reincarnation of Living Buddhas, which is unique to this form of Buddhism, began as early as 1294 with the Karma Kagyu sect, a sub-sect of the Kagyu sect (known as the black hats). It then spread to all of Tibetan Buddhism’s other sects and monasteries, but it didn’t reach the Gelugpa sect (the one that includes the Dalai and Panchen Lama lines) until after 1419.
From the beginning, the system of selecting Living Buddhas was open to abuse because it was easy for clever members of the monk selection committee to manipulate the objects presented to potential child candidates in order to make sure a particular child was chosen. In the case of the fourth Dalai Lama, the child selected was the great-grandson of the Mongolian chief Altan Khan. He was chosen at a time when the Gelugpa sect badly needed the protection of the Altan Khan’s followers because the Gelugpa were being persecuted by the older Tibetan sects, who were jealous of the Yellow sect’s rapid growth.
Tibet Since 1949
In 1949, the Chinese Communists won the revolution and overthrew the Nationalist government. But they didn’t send their army into Tibet until October 1951, after they and Tibetan representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama and 10th Panchen Lama had signed an agreement to liberate Tibet peacefully. The Dalai Lama expressed his support for this 17-point agreement in a telegraphed message to Chairman Mao on October 24, 1951. Three years later the Dalai and Panchen Lamas went together to Beijing to attend the first National People’s Congress at which the Dalai Lama was elected vice-chairman of the Standing Committee and the Panchen Lama was elected a member of that committee. After the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet, they took steps to protect the rights of the serfs but didn’t, at first, try to reorganize Tibetan society along socialist or democratic lines. Yet, the landlords and ruling monks knew that in time, their land would be redistributed, just as the landlords’ property in the rest of China had been confiscated and divided among the peasants.
The Tibetan landlords did all they could to frighten the serfs away from associating with the PLA. But, as the serfs increasingly ignored their landlords’ wishes and called on the Communists to eliminate the oppressive system of serfdom, some leaders of the “three great monasteries” (Ganden, Sera, and Drepung) issued a statement, in the latter half of 1956, demanding the feudal system be maintained. At this point, the PLA decided the time had come to confiscate the landlords’ property and redistribute it among the serfs. The landlords and top-level monks retaliated by announcing, in March 1959, the founding of a “Tibet Independent State,” and about 7,000 of them assembled in Lhasa to stage a revolt. Included were more than 170 “Khampa guerrillas” who had been trained overseas by the O.S.S. and air-dropped into Tibet, according to a former C.I.A. agent. The O.S.S. also gave them machine guns, mortars, rifles and ammunition.
The PLA put down the revolt in Lhasa within two days, capturing some 4,000 rebels. The rebellion had the support of the Dalai Lama, but not of the Panchen Lama. After it failed, the Dalai Lama, along with a group of rebel leaders, fled to India.
The most disruptive event of recent years was the “cultural revolution,” which lasted from 1966 to 1976. It turned most of Tibet’s farm and herding areas into giant communes and closed or destroyed many monasteries and temples, just as it did elsewhere in China. At its end, the communes were disbanded and the temples and monasteries were repaired and reopened at government expense.
The idea that most Tibetans are unhappy about what has happened in Tibet and want independence from China is a product manufactured in the West and promoted by the dispossessed landlords who fled to India. Indeed, to believe it is true stretches logic to its breaking point. Who really can believe that a million former serfs - more than 90% of the population - are unhappy about having the shackles of serfdom removed? They now care for their own herds and farmland, marry whomever they wish without first getting their landlord’s permission, aren’t punished for disrespecting these same landlords, own their own homes, attend school, and have relatively modern hospitals, paved roads, airports and modern industries.
An objective measure of this progress is found in the population statistics. The Tibetan population has doubled since 1950, and the average Tibetan’s life span has risen from 36 years at that time to 65 years at present.
Of course some Tibetans are unhappy with their lot, but a little investigation soon shows that they are, for the most part, people from families who lost their landlord privileges. There is plenty of evidence that the former serfs tell a quite different story.
You will find some Tibetans who hate the Hans (the majority nationality of China) and some Hans who hate the Tibetans, a matter of ordinary ethnic prejudice something any American should be able to understand. But, this doesn’t represent a desire for an independent Tibet any more than black- white hostilities in Washington, D.C., Detroit, or Boston represent a desire on the part of most African-Americans to form a separate nation.
Tibetan Culture Today
The final part of the Tibetan myth has to do with Tibetan culture, which the Dalai Lama’s supporters say has been crushed by “the Chinese takeover of Tibet.” Culture is an area that requires great care because it is fraught with biases and self-fulfilling judgments. The growth of television in America, for example, is cited as killing American culture by some and as enhancing it by others.
Regarding the field of literature, prior to 1950 Tibetans could point with pride to only a few fine epics that had been passed down through the centuries. Now that serfs can become authors, many new writers are producing works of great quality; persons such as the poet Yedam Tsering and the fiction writers Jampel Gyatso, Tashi Dawa, and Dondru Wangbum.
As for art, Tibet for centuries had produced nothing but repetitious religious designs for temples. Now there are many fine artists, such as Bama Tashi, who has been hailed in both France and Canada as a great modern artist who combines Tibetan religious themes with modern pastoral images.
Tibet now has more than 30 professional song and dance ensembles, Tibetan opera groups, and other theatrical troupes where none existed before 1950.
No, Tibetan culture is not dead; it is flourishing as never before.
Foster Stockwell is an American writer who grew up as the son of missionaries in southwestern China (Chengdu) near Tibet, and has visited China many times in recent years. His several books include Religion in China Today (New World Press) and Mount Huashan (Foreign Languages Press)
Where Did All The Tibetans Go?
I'm a Mongolian Chinese American. My 26th generation grandfather had been a prime minister to Kubilai Khan's grandson in the Yuan Dynasty. Ever since two years ago, I have been trying to call America's attention to the real minorities in China, who live in central China instead of in the bordering autonomous regions.
When I first began telling people about the forgotten minorities in China, some people reacted with skepticism. They thought that only a handful of minorities lived in central China. It was difficult for me to convince them that their concept is wrong.
Many of them base their impression of minority population in China based on academic figures from books they read, which cite anywhere from 6% to 8.9%, "with the majority of the population in autonomous regions". I have to say this runs totally contradictory to most of the Chinese people's real experience in China. If you ask any Chinese who grew up around central China, or Taiwan they will tell you, "Minority people are everywhere in China!"
In my experience, it wasn't at all uncommon to run into minorities in Taiwan. In my first grade class of 32, our teacher was Manchurian, I was Mongol, and another girl was Miao. That's one incident of 10% minority. One can say it's a fluke; 3 out of 32 isn't that hard to happen by accident. Yet I know in my heart it is probably closer to the norm. Very often, newspaper articles about movie stars, writers, and politicians would include a brief word about their minority blood. This isn't the focus of those articles, but comments in the passing. Do luminaries tend to be minority? Certainly not true. Among the ordinary people, we would hear someone say, "I'm tall because my parents were Manchurian." And we won't even blink, because we know minorities are everywhere.
Most of us are quite desensitized toward minorities around us. I recently walked into an overseas Chinese bookstore, chatted with a clerk for 20 minutes, and finally mentioned I am a Mongol, to which she replied, "I'm a Manchurian." This was in the United States! Neither of us blinked at all.
As I mull over the census figures, I know they don't sound right. If indeed there are only 6% to 8% minority people, and most of them are in bordering regions, then the central area should have only 1% to 2%. Somehow 1% to 2% sounds too low.
Why is there such a discrepancy between real experience and "census" figures?
Finally, I began to work out a set of figures based on my own family, which helped me understand the situation. I began with a mathematical calculation. According to my family tree, including my children, there have been 27 generations since the Yuan Dynasty days. Assuming 2 children who reach adulthood per generation, then from 1290 A.D. there are now 67 million descendants. Astounding? Here is the math:
Yes, 67 million from one family.
Yet, most of these descendants would NOT be counted in a Chinese census for minorities, due to two factors:
China is a patriarchal society. All children follow their fathers' line of family. Of the 67 million possible descendents, half of them may very well be female. Of the 27 tiers of this family tree, any node with a female child ends, as far as the census is concerned, thereby eliminating her branch of future generations of BOTH male and female descendants. That cuts drastically from any survey China may hold on the minorities populations.
However, many people in China will tell you, "My grandmother is a Manchurian." It is quite normal for ordinary people to run into minorities. This is why the ethnic survey in China yields a deceivingly less minority population. But the people in China run into minorities everywhere.
Here in the U.S., most people judge their own ethnicity based on their skin color. Anyone with either an African American father or mother tends to be viewed as African American. Their children and grandchildren are often viewed as minority for generations. In China, minority census is hampered by the patriarch system.
In China, the ethnic groups' autonomous regions also qualify as geological locations. Identification records do not ask for "ethnicity" but the geological location of family origin. In over 700 years of integration, many people have migrated. The records of the first few generation of migrants will reflect that they came from "Mongolia". After a few more generations, the records tend to reflect the newer geological location.
In my 1st grade class of 32 or so, there were three minority people. The Manchurian was registered as "from Beijing". The Mongol was "from Canton" (actually my grandfather didn't even live in Canton, but was in Hainan, an island off Canton.) The Miao was registered as from another province. None of us were registered as minorities. Yet we all know our own heritage. Wu Ur Kai-Xi, one of the student leaders in Tienanmen Square, is a minority from Xinjiang province. But he is now registered as a Taichung resident in Taiwan.
Despite that we don't show up on the census, many of us minorities in central China belong to family associations with people sharing the same last name. In China, our ancestors define who we are. Heritage is very important to us.
We should keep in mind: In the autonomous regions such as Tibet, nearly every one of the whole population is counted toward "minority population". This is why textbooks all over the West show a negligent number of minorities in central China, and contend that the vast minorities are "concentrated" in Tibet, Mongolia, Xinjiang.
The above figure of 67 million is assuming no war, nor epidemic, which central China did suffer some.
The Tibetan movement claims Tibet was a "peaceful country that had no disease, no hunger, until the Chinese invaded her." Common sense should make people ask, "Why is the Tibetan population only 6 million when a SINGLE family of Tibetans alive during the Yuan Dynasty days may have 67 million descendants now under such peaceful conditions?"
Where did all the Tibetans go?
The fact is: Many Tibetans-like migrants in the U.S. who had moved west to a better land-have migrated east into central China in a continuous integration process over the last 700 years. The move did not happen overnight. This is why Tibet is an inseparable part of China. Due to the number of mixed marriages in central China, people with Tibetan blood are everywhere. Tibetans are integral to the Chinese heritage.
Tibetans are part of the Chinese people.
This is why a Chinese student from the mainland tried to tell the Americans: "There are Tibetans all over China. One of them is a top general in the Chinese army. Another is a household name singer." It takes a base of many average people to produce a top general, and a household name singer. There are also people like the famous dissident Wei, who has never set foot on Tibet, but met a Tibetan girlfriend in central China. Evidence that Tibetans are all over China is prevalent.
The lies spread by the Tibetan movement can not be sustained. There are millions of Tibetan Chinese people in central China who will one day speak openly, and be heard. Right now some Tibetans have tried to speak, but they have been labeled as "Chinese propaganda".
One of my foremost concerns is for the Tibetan Chinese children who live in central China. They are like me. When I was growing up, I used to enjoy looking at the map of China while sitting in a geography class in China. I smiled when I saw how big Mongolia-my part of the country-was. I knew Mongolia was the autonomous home region for my ethnicity, and looked forward to going there to meet all my fellow Mongolians.
Outer Mongolia became independent under the Russians' engineering, and nobody in the world realized what it did to me. I was saddened, sitting in my classroom, feeling my part of the country just became small. Had Inner Mongolia left China, too, I can't imagine how lost I would have felt.
We must realize, the Tibetans and Mongolians living in their autonomous regions had never lived as the minority, but rather as the MAJORITY dominant forces in those regions.
But the Tibetans and Mongolians in central China, despite their massive numbers, are scattered, and sometimes isolated. The minority people in central China need all the support they can get.
I find it sad that while the Hans saluted Genghis Khan, and encouraged my heritage, the Tibet Movement denies minorities even exist in central China. Instead, the movement continually pushes the notion that China is a mono-ethnic Han nation. It finally came to me what is going on. There is something very wrong here. The minorities in central China are the real minorities, in terms of being a small percentage of the local population. But they are forgotten.
The Dalai Lama and his group are willing to erase the existence of vast minority people in China, including the majority of the Tibetans, who live in central China. These Tibetans in central China are now non-existent in all of the Tibetan movement's literature.
We must not forget this reality: The Dalai Lama and his group had lived as the MAJORITY in terms of the percentage of the local population in the bordering regions.
They now take advantage of the term "minority", and kick the real minorities into oblivion by declaring to the world that we are assimilated "Han" now. They care little what will happen to the real minorities in central China.
As an American now, married to a spouse with Native American blood, with two children, and looking forward to grand children, I love this country. I can't help but wonder what an American will think if one of our own minority independence group here declares the rest of us Americans, be we Chinese American, African American, Native American, are all "assimilated European Americans now".
Just as the minorities in America will be offended by this notion, so are the real minorities in China. I feel very bad that the Tibetan movement is attempting to erase our identities. Is this how we want their Tibetan children in central China to feel?
I hope all the people who support the "Free Tibet movement" will think twice on what you are really doing to the real minorities in China.
Ask yourselves, "Where did all the Tibetans go?"
I hope you will support the real minorities across China, be we Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchurian, or other, in keeping our heritage, rather than support a group that is out to deny our existence.
more will come in the future
Tibet, the 'great game' and the CIA
Given the historical context of the unrest in Tibet, there is reason to believe Beijing was caught on the hop with the recent demonstrations for the simple reason that their planning took place outside of Tibet and that the direction of the protesters is similarly in the hands of anti-Chinese organizers safely out of reach in Nepal and northern India.
Similarly, the funding and overall control of the unrest has also been linked to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and by inference to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) because of his close cooperation with US intelligence for over 50 years.
Indeed, with the CIA's deep involvement with the Free Tibet Movement and its funding of the suspiciously well-informed Radio Free Asia, it would seem somewhat unlikely that any revolt could have been planned or occurred without the prior knowledge, and even perhaps the agreement, of the National Clandestine Service (formerly known as the Directorate of Operations) at CIA headquarters in Langley.
Respected columnist and former senior Indian Intelligence officer, B Raman, commented on March 21 that "on the basis of available evidence, it was possible to assess with a reasonable measure of conviction" that the initial uprising in Lhasa on March 14 "had been pre-planned and well orchestrated".
Could there be a factual basis to the suggestion that the main beneficiaries to the death and destruction sweeping Tibet are in Washington? History would suggest that this is a distinct possibility.
The CIA conducted a large scale covert action campaign against the communist Chinese in Tibet starting in 1956. This led to a disastrous bloody uprising in 1959, leaving tens of thousands of Tibetans dead, while the Dalai Lama and about 100,000 followers were forced to flee across the treacherous Himalayan passes to India and Nepal.
The CIA established a secret military training camp for the Dalai Lama's resistance fighters at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado, in the US. The Tibetan guerrillas were trained and equipped by the CIA for guerrilla warfare and sabotage operations against the communist Chinese.
The US-trained guerrillas regularly carried out raids into Tibet, on occasions led by CIA-contract mercenaries and supported by CIA planes. The initial training program ended in December 1961, though the camp in Colorado appears to have remained open until at least 1966.
The CIA Tibetan Task Force created by Roger E McCarthy, alongside the Tibetan guerrilla army, continued the operation codenamed "ST CIRCUS" to harass the Chinese occupation forces for another 15 years until 1974, when officially sanctioned involvement ceased.
McCarthy, who also served as head of the Tibet Task Force at the height of its activities from 1959 until 1961, later went on to run similar operations in Vietnam and Laos.
By the mid-1960s, the CIA had switched its strategy from parachuting guerrilla fighters and intelligence agents into Tibet to establishing the Chusi Gangdruk, a guerrilla army of some 2,000 ethnic Khamba fighters at bases such as Mustang in Nepal.
This base was only closed down in 1974 by the Nepalese government after being put under tremendous pressure by Beijing.
After the Indo-China War of 1962, the CIA developed a close relationship with the Indian intelligence services in both training and supplying agents in Tibet.
Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison in their book The CIA's Secret War in Tibet disclose that the CIA and the Indian intelligence services cooperated in the training and equipping of Tibetan agents and special forces troops and in forming joint aerial and intelligence units such as the Aviation Research Center and Special Center.
This collaboration continued well into the 1970s and some of the programs that it sponsored, especially the special forces unit of Tibetan refugees which would become an important part of the Indian Special Frontier Force, continue into the present.
Only the deterioration in relations with India which coincided with improvements in those with Beijing brought most of the joint CIA-Indian operations to an end.
Though Washington had been scaling back support for the Tibetan guerrillas since 1968, it is thought that the end of official US backing for the resistance only came during meetings between president Richard Nixon and the Chinese communist leadership in Beijing in February 1972.
Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer has described the outrage many field agents felt when Washington finally pulled the plug, adding that a number even "[turned] for solace to the Tibetan prayers which they had learned during their years with the Dalai Lama".
The former CIA Tibetan Task Force chief from 1958 to 1965, John Kenneth Knaus, has been quoted as saying, "This was not some CIA black-bag operation." He added, "The initiative was coming from ... the entire US government."
In his book Orphans of the Cold War, Knaus writes of the obligation Americans feel toward the cause of Tibetan independence from China. Significantly, he adds that its realization "would validate the more worthy motives of we who tried to help them achieve this goal over 40 years ago. It would also alleviate the guilt some of us feel over our participation in these efforts, which cost others their lives, but which were the prime adventure of our own."
Despite the lack of official support it is still widely rumored that the CIA were involved, if only by proxy, in another failed revolt in October 1987, the unrest that followed and the consequent Chinese repression continuing till May 1993.
The timing for another serious attempt to destabilize Chinese rule in Tibet would appear to be right for the CIA and Langley will undoubtedly keep all its options open.
China is faced with significant problems, with the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province; the activities of the Falun Gong among many other dissident groups and of course growing concern over the security of the Summer Olympic Games in August.
China is viewed by Washington as a major threat, both economic and military, not just in Asia, but in Africa and Latin America as well.
The CIA also views China as being "unhelpful" in the "war on terror", with little or no cooperation being offered and nothing positive being done to stop the flow of arms and men from Muslim areas of western China to support Islamic extremist movements in Afghanistan and Central Asian states.
To many in Washington, this may seem the ideal opportunity to knock the Beijing government off balance as Tibet is still seen as China's potential weak spot.
The CIA will undoubtedly ensure that its fingerprints are not discovered all over this growing revolt. Cut-outs and proxies will be used among the Tibetan exiles in Nepal and India's northern border areas.
Indeed, the CIA can expect a significant level of support from a number of security organizations in both India and Nepal and will have no trouble in providing the resistance movement with advice, money and above all, publicity.
However, not until the unrest shows any genuine signs of becoming an open revolt by the great mass of ethnic Tibetans against the Han Chinese and Hui Muslims will any weapons be allowed to appear.
Large quantities of former Eastern bloc small arms and explosives have been reportedly smuggled into Tibet over the past 30 years, but these are likely to remain safely hidden until the right opportunity presents itself.
The weapons have been acquired on the world markets or from stocks captured by US or Israeli forces. They have been sanitized and are deniable, untraceable back to the CIA.
Weapons of this nature also have the advantage of being interchangeable with those used by the Chinese armed forces and of course use the same ammunition, easing the problem of resupply during any future conflict.
Though official support for the Tibetan resistance ended 30 years ago, the CIA has kept open its lines of communications and still funds much of the Tibetan Freedom movement.
So is the CIA once again playing the "great game" in Tibet?
It certainly has the capability, with a significant intelligence and paramilitary presence in the region. Major bases exist in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and several Central Asian states.
It cannot be doubted that it has an interest in undermining China, as well as the more obvious target of Iran.
So the probable answer is yes, and indeed it would be rather surprising if the CIA was not taking more than just a passing interest in Tibet. That is after all what it is paid to do.
Since September 11, 2001, there has been a sea-change in US Intelligence attitudes, requirements and capabilities. Old operational plans have been dusted off and updated. Previous assets re-activated. Tibet and the perceived weakness of China's position there will probably have been fully reassessed.
For Washington and the CIA, this may seem a heaven-sent opportunity to create a significant lever against Beijing, with little risk to American interests; simply a win-win situation.
The Chinese government would be on the receiving end of worldwide condemnation for its continuing repression and violation of human rights and it will be young Tibetans dying on the streets of Lhasa rather than yet more uniformed American kids.
The consequences of any open revolt against Beijing, however, are that once again the fear of arrest, torture and even execution will pervade every corner of both Tibet and those neighboring provinces where large Tibetan populations exist, such as Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan.
And the Tibetan Freedom movement still has little likelihood of achieving any significant improvement in central Chinese policy in the long run and no chance whatever of removing its control of Lhasa and their homeland.
Once again it would appear that the Tibetan people will find themselves trapped between an oppressive Beijing and a manipulative Washington.
Beijing sends in the heavies The fear that the United States, Britain and other Western states may try to portray Tibet as another Kosovo may be part of the reason why the Chinese authorities reacted as if faced with a genuine mass revolt rather than their official portrayal of a short-lived outbreak of unrest by malcontents supporting the Dalai Lama.
Indeed, so seriously did Beijing view the situation that a special security coordination unit, the 110 Command Center, has been established in Lhasa with the primary objective of suppressing the disturbances and restoring full central government control.
The center appears to be under the direct control of Zhang Qingli, first secretary of the Tibet Party and a President Hu Jintao loyalist. Zhang is also the former Xinjiang deputy party secretary with considerable experience in counter-terrorism operations in that region.
Others holding important positions in Lhasa are Zhang Xinfeng, vice minister of the Central Public Security Ministry and Zhen Yi, deputy commander of the People's Armed Police Headquarters in Beijing.
The seriousness with which Beijing is treating the present unrest is further illustrated by the deployment of a large number of important army units from the Chengdu Military Region, including brigades from the 149th Mechanized Infantry Division, which acts as the region's rapid reaction force.
According to a United Press International report, elite ground force units of the People's Liberation Army were involved in Lhasa, and the new T-90 armored personnel carrier and T-92 wheeled armored vehicles were deployed. According to the report, China has denied the participation of the army in the crackdown, saying it was carried out by units of the armed police. "Such equipment as mentioned above has never been deployed by China's armed police, however."
Air support is provided by the 2nd Army Aviation Regiment, based at Fenghuangshan, Chengdu, in Sichuan province. It operates a mix of helicopters and STOL transports from a frontline base near Lhasa. Combat air support could be quickly made available from fighter ground attack squadrons based within the Chengdu region.
The Xizang Military District forms the Tibet garrison, which has two mountain infantry units; the 52nd Brigade based at Linzhi and the 53rd Brigade at Yaoxian Shannxi. These are supported by the 8th Motorized Infantry Division and an artillery brigade at Shawan, Xinjiang.
Tibet is also no longer quite as remote or difficult to resupply for the Chinese army. The construction of the first railway between 2001 and 2007 has significantly eased the problems of the movement of large numbers of troops and equipment from Qinghai onto the rugged Tibetan plateau.
Other precautions against a resumption of the long-term Tibetan revolts of previous years has led to a considerable degree of self-sufficiency in logistics and vehicle repair by the Tibetan garrison and an increasing number of small airfields have been built to allow rapid-reaction units to gain access to even the most remote areas.
The Chinese Security Ministry and intelligence services had been thought to have a suffocating presence in the province and indeed the ability to detect any serious protest movement and suppress resistance.
Richard M Bennett is an intelligence and security consultant, AFI Research.
wow u must have a lot of free time.
OMGWTFBBQ >_< Alliance FTW
who is going to read that entire essay???
maybe u should shorten it and just give us the general idea..........
I is finally back :]
who is going to read that entire essay???
maybe u should shorten it and just give us the general idea..........
..i agree with you, why not just give us a point by point outlined material of the really important details? that way, we'd immediately get your point across and refer to the other articles for more detailed info...
i am addicted. and i have no plans to go to rehab soon ;p [on semi-hiatus]
Tibet: Myth vs. Reality.
• Myth 1: “The 1951 invasion by the Han Chinese.”
Fact: Tibet has been part of China since Yuan Dynasty (13th Century). The
sovereignty was particularly consolidated after Qing Dynasty (17th Century).
• Myth 2: “Tibetans are demographically marginalized in Tibet.”
Fact: Tibetans are allowed to have 3 children (or more with small fines)
whereas Han Chinese are allowed to have only one child. Four-fifth
population in Tibet now are Tibetans, and non-Tibetans on average stay there
for only 2-3 years.
• Myth 3: “The Han Chinese are conducting a cultural genocide in
Fact: Education in Tibetan language is fully funded by the Chinese
government. A series of affirmative action policies are in place in Tibet:
Tibetans can go to colleges at a much lower grade than Han Chinese; the
proportion of employment of Tibetans in public service is guaranteed;
Tibetans pay much less tax than Han Chinese and enjoy a better health care
package than Han Chinese.
• Myth 4: “Tibetans are economically exploited for the benefit of
Fact: The GDP growth of Tibet in the past few years has been on average 14
percent, higher than the national growth rate. The per capita subsidy the
central government gives to the Tibetans is in 6 figures
• Myth 5: “Tibetans don’t have religious freedom.”
Fact: Practicing Buddism is not only allowed, but also subsidized by the
government. What is NOT allowed is separatism in the NAME of religious
freedom, which is not tolerated even by many democratic countries.
• Myth 6: “Tibetan monks are the most peaceful people in the world
Fact: The Tibetan monks were engaged in armed fighting funded by CIA from
1959 to 1969. They stopped the armed struggle only after CIA stopped funding
them due to the changed sino-US relations. In the so-called “peaceful
protest” of March 14 2008, more than a dozen of people (including Chinese
and Tibetans) were beaten or burned to death by Tibetan mobs on the spot.
• Myth 7: “The 1959 Uprising was a national struggle against
Fact: The 1959 uprising was a violent reaction of monks, who monopolized
power, land and education under the traditional theocracy, against the Land
Reform, which redistributed land from monks to ordinary Tibetans.
• Myth 8: “1.2 million Tibetans were killed due to the Han Chinese
Fact: The total population of Tibetans in the mid-1950s were only 1.3
million or so. If 1.2 million were killed, the whole Tibet would have been
depopulated. The Tibetan population today is, however, 6-7 million. By the
way, the life expectancy of Tibetans has risen from 35 or so since the “
invasion” to 67 today.
• Myth 9: “What the Tibetans want is only autonomy, not
Fact: The “autonomy” faction is just one faction of Tibetans whereas the
“independence” faction is more and more influential. Even the “autonomy”
faction, the “conditions” of “autonomy” they propose essentially amount
to de facto independence in the NAME of autonomy.
• Myth 10: “The struggle of Tibetans represents the struggle for
Fact: Before the exile, the political form of Tibet was theocracy on the
base of serfdom. After the exile, the serfdom was abolished, but the
theocracy is maintained even till now. The principle of democracy is
essentially against combining political with religious power.
SO MUCH READING CAN U SHORTEN IT UP A BIT
seriously dude lol
What are your wishes for 2011?
lol. i'm speechless.
Anyways this is so unrelated but... isn't it funny how the US media criticize china for being a warmonger, selling arms to Darfur, while at the same time, they fund and trade arms with Israel for god knows how long? They also want to criticize China's action regarding Tibet and Taiwan (which is their territory in the first place). But they also invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in the pretense of fighting "terrorism".
hmm.. hypocricy? ^^
i'm a bamf!! *rawrr*
Tibetans and the Cultural Revolution
Tibetans and the Cultural Revolution
It is important to understand the involvement of Tibetans during the Cultural Revolution.
I have done some research on the subject of Tibetan involvement during the Cultural Revolution. One informative book is "The Struggle for Modern Tibet, the Autobiography of Tashi Tsering", by one of the foremost American scholars on Tibet, Melvyn Goldstein, and William Siebenschuh, and Tashi Tsering.
Melvyn Goldstein had known Tashi Tsering for over two decades, and finally helped Tsering write an autobiography which is now an important record of one Tibetan's life through the old Tibetan society to the modernization of Tibet.
This book also happens to relate many details about the life of a Tibetan serf boy who worked for the Dalai Lama, came to the U.S. to study, then returned to China to end up participating in the Cultural Revolution. I will attempt to give a brief overview of the riveting accounts given by Tashi Tsering in his book.
Tashi Tsering is quite an ordinary and common name in Tibet. Many boys have this name. In Tibetan, "Tashi" means "good luck", and "Tsering" means "long life". One boy given this name was born a serf in the traditional Tibetan system. At the age of ten, he became his village's tax to the Dalai Lama's ceremonial dance troupe. He said, "In our village everyone hated this tax, as it literally meant losing a son, probably forever." (p. 11, The Struggle for Modern Tibet.)
His mother cried for days, and tried to bribe the village elders to spare him from being chosen, to no avail. Tashi himself was actually happy at the prospect of joining the troupe. For him, the task was a chance for education. He wanted very much to learn how to read and write.
At the dance school, Tashi quickly learned that "the teachers' idea of providing incentives was to punish us swiftly and severely for each mistake." (p.17)
"They constantly hit us on the faces, arms, and legs. When we ran to line up at the beginning of morning, for example, the first boy in line got to punish the later-comers with a slap across the face. Each boy got to punish the one below or behind him. It was terrible. I still have some of the scares from the almost daily beatings." Tashie soon learned that, "the teachers' methods had been used for centuries. They did exactly what their teachers had done to them, so these methods were considered perfectly normal and reasonable." (p.17)
Once, when Tashi missed a performance, he had to strip off his trousers, and was stretched to the ground to be lashed across his bare buttocks with long thin switches made from tree branches. "This centuries-old Tibetan punishment was the most painful kind of beating." (p. 4)
In addition to being physically beaten, he was also sexually assaulted by monks in the monastery that schooled him to dance. He said, "The incident reawakened my ambivalent feelings toward traditional Tibetan society. Once again its cruelty was thrust into my life. I wondered to myself how monasteries could allow such thugs to wear the holy robes of the Lord Buddha. When I talked to other monks and monk officials about the dobods, they shrugged and said simply that that was the way things were." (p. 29)
Tashi was not the only one suffering. The old China was a feudal society with many landlord taking advantages of the poor peasants. All across China, the rich abused the poor; the landlords often owned servants whom they beat and raped. And the peasants across China revolted.
China was trying to fight her way out of feudalism.
However, having lived for all of his life in Tibet, Tashi did not know much about central China. Being uneducated, some local Tibetans believed in rumors. They heard that the communists were atheists and enemies of the rich. "Rumors of all sorts flew everywhere; some even said that the Chinese were cannibals." (p. 36)
This is only thing I do not like about this book. I noticed that, to the local Tibetans, the people from central China were considered to be "Chinese". The reality is in central China, there are many different ethnics of people, including Tibetans who had migrated there. However, I can see "the Chinese" as a provincial term used by the Tibetans.
According to Tashi: by 1952, the PLA were more of a presence in Lhasa. His account of the beginning is quite interesting:
"The first troops had appeared in the city in September 1951, but initially they kept a low profile. However, as their number increased, they became more active and visible. I became fascinated by the ways they did things, which were so different from our ways. They fished in the rivers with worms on a hook and set out to become self-sufficient in food by using dog droppings and human waste they collected on the river. These were things we would never have thought of doing and, to be honest, found revolting. The Chinese wasted nothing; nothing was lost. So despite the revulsion, I was also overall fascinated by the extent of their zeal for efficiency and their discipline. They would not even take a needle from the people." (p. 40)
Tashi observed a difference between the traditional Tibetan bureaucracy, filled with embezzlement, and the way the early PLA functioned in Tibet. Some passages of Tsering's book reminds us that the early Communists were idealistic:
"I was attracted not only by their efficiency and energy but also by their apparent idealism". (p. 41)
"The Chinese worked tirelessly and with a sense of dedication and purpose. Soon after arriving, they opened the first primary school in Lhasa and a hospital as well as other public buildings. I had to admit that I was impressed by the fact that they were doing things that would directly benefit he common people. It was more change for the good in a shorter period of time than I had seen in my life - more changes, I was tempted to think, than Tibet had seen in centuries." (p. 41)
While a few young Tibetans decided to join the communists, others were not so sure. Tashi himself chose to go to India for an education.
Tension increased in 1956 when China launched social and agrarian reforms. "The changes angered the regional landowners and the lamas, and they rose up in arms." People began to wonder what it would all mean to the religion. The monks and aristocrats and even most commoners resisted any change. Anti-Han sentiments grew. The Dalai Lama fled to Inda. During his absence fights broke out, rebellion erupted. Other aristocrats and monk officials poured out of the country to join the Dalai Lama.
Tashi was already in India, studying, but his studies were interrupted when he, too, joined the force to help the Tibetans.
He was proud of his work for the Dalai Lama's government in exile, because for him, who had been born a serf, it was a real honor and prestige to be able to work alongside some noblemen.
One of his tasks was to interview refugees to record Chinese atrocities. He spent two weeks in a camp going from tent to tent interviewing every refugee he could, but found very little. "It turned out to be more difficult than I expected. Most of the people I spoke to were illiterate and did not have an orderly or logical way of controlling and expressing their thoughts. Moreover, their experiences were quite varied. Many had not even seen the actions of the Chinese army in Lhasa. They had simply been a part of the general panic that gripped the country, and their stories were of the sufferings they had incurred on the journey through the mountains, not at the hands of the Chinese. I had a hard time getting concrete evidence of Chinese atrocities." (p. 57)
"We put the materials we were translating together with similar eyewitness accounts from other refugee camps, and eventually they were presented to the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1960. The commission wrote a famous report condemning the Chinese for their atrocities in Tibet." (p. 57)
I found this part of the book very interesting. It points out the potential unfairness of certain respectable reports. Other articles have since pointed out that CIA originated many aspects of the Tibet movement.
Tashi Tsering's book is a fascinating account of one Tibetan's soul searching. His disenchantment grew when he realized that the noblemen never treated him as one of them. He was denied an opportunity for education which he desperately wanted. He was simply expected to work as a clerk for the elite.
Eventually he left the Dalai Lama's government in India as he found his own way to study in America, where he met Melvyn Goldstein.
As I read this book, I felt Tashi Tsering has one of the most interesting lives, and the most painful. While he could have stayed comfortably in America, he made the mistake of returning to China to work for a better Tibet right before the Cultural Revolution broke out. He spent some time studying at an university in northwest China along with many other Tibetans who were being trained to develop Tibet. The day the Cultural Revolution touched his campus, it was an exciting day for Tashi. The Tibetans in his school made the Han teachers kneel. And all the punishment the Tibetan students dealt the Han teachers were approved by the communist government, who viewed it as part of the cleansing of class structure. (For lengthy details of this day, see p. 102 of Struggle for Modern Tibet.)
It would be a mistake for anyone to think that only Han people punished Tibetans during the Cultural Revolution, that no Tibetans burned down temples. Many Tibetans had participated in the Cultural Revolution actively.
The madness of the Cultural Revolution meant that anyone who was an agent of persecution on one day could easily become the target of persecution on the next day. This eventually happened to Tashi. He became a prisoner. Of this part of his life, he wrote:
"My fellow prisoners were mainly teachers, writers, intellectuals, and officials from the school. There were both Han Chinese and Tibetans there. The Cultural Revolution did not let ethnic background influence the targets." (p. 121)
One of the passages in Tashi's book recounted that, during an interrogation on Tashi, a Tibetan interrogator repeatedly hit him. (P. 137)
Please cross reference this with Dorje Shugden Buddhist James Burns' discovery that "the beating so graphically shown of Tibetan Monks in these monasteries in the late 80's were not being carried out by the Chinese as was being suggested but were actually carried out by Tibetans". http://x41.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=371629091&CONTEXT=937187734.285933704 &hitnum=3
Tashi Tsering's life in prison in central China was terrible, yet when he was eventually transferred to a prison in Tibet, food and facility became better.
"In spite of the extremely small cells, the physical conditions here were better than those of any of the prisons I had known in China. There were dim electric bulbs in each cell, and the walls and floors were concrete and a good deal warmer and drier than anything I had seen before. We got more food and freedom, too. There were three meals a day here, and we got butter tea, tsamba, and sometimes even meat,".. "Compared to what I'd been experiencing, these conditions amounted almost to luxury." (p. 132) He was given both Tibetan and Chinese newspapers while in the prison cell.
This is not to say China was reasonable during the Cultural Revolution, only that the CR was ethnic blind. Many bad things happened, and Tashi Tsering offered accurate accounts of many details.
Reading this book had helped me tremendously in understanding some realities of the Tibetan participation during the Cultural Revolution.
I would like to point out also, that this book is very riveting. Tashi's thirst for education came from a time when many in Tibet were uneducated. It saddened me to read how hard he struggled in his attempts to learn, and joined unfortunate events such as the Cultural Revolution.
Tashi gave an adventurous account of his youthful bravado, about a feud in his village that he later realized could have been avoided if people had better education. His longing for education eventually led him to his current task.
Here are some of Tashi Tsering's words: (p. 200)
"I don't pretend to have answers to the big questions anymore. I am in my sixties now, and as I look at the faces of the children at one or another of my schools, I worry about things that I didn't even think about when I was younger and had more energy and less experience. Who? or What? I sometimes ask myself now is the Tibet I am trying to help? Who represents Tibet? The Dalai Lama? The old elite now living in exile who made people like me wait outside the door when it came time to discuss important issues? The more progressive intellectuals in Tibet, or those in exile in India, America, and Europe?"
"I adamantly do not wish to return to anything like the old Tibetan theocratic feudal society, but I also do not think the price of change of modernity should be the loss of one's language and culture. The Cultural Revolution taught me how precious those things are." "Education is the key to these goals."
He is now over 60-years old, and living in Tibet, building schools for the Tibetan children to learn the Tibetan culture and language with the help of the Chinese government. At last count that I'd read in a news article, he's built 46 elementary schools in Namling, a county of 70,000 where he had been born. I have nothing but awe and respect for this man.
I highly recommend everyone who is interested in the Tibetan issue to buy and read this autobiography.
The Tibetan Movement propaganda claims that 1.2 million Tibetans were killed by "the Chinese". The reality is, not only did they exaggerate the number of deaths - a study on the Tibetan population showed the exaggeration; the violence had happened during the Cultural Revolution. Furthermore, Tibetans had participated actively during the CR.
What had happened in China was a class struggle. Millions of peasants chose communism to revolt against the landlords. This revolution was across China. Ethnic cleansing was never its purpose.
Tibet's history during Tang Dynasty
Tibet's history during Tang Dynasty
16:23, May 12, 2009
The Tibetan ethnic group living on the Tibetan Plateau has close links with the Chinese nation, no matter in blood relationship, culture, economics, or in religion and history. If China prospers, Tibet will also flourish; however, if China declines, Tibet will fall off too. A Tibetan official, who used to be a serf, said that both the Tibetan people and Han people are members of the Chinese nation.
Speaking of Tibet's history, it is simple yet complicated.
In plain terms, Tibet has been part of China since ancient times. The 1,000-year Tibetan-Han relationship covers two stages: in the Tang Dynasty, Tibetans and Han people formed an alliance; since the Yuan Dynasty, they have belonged to the same country.
Tibet's history is complicated because, on the one hand, the Dalai Clique has been conducting propaganda since fleeing abroad, alleging "Before 1959, Tibet was an independent country". Their point of view has been supported either overtly or covertly by many Western countries, especially those anti-China forces, which has made the Tibet issue international. On the other hand, the Dalai Clique's absurd statement meets the strategic intention of Western anti-China forces, which makes the relationship between the Tibet local government and China's Central Government a sharp public opinions weapon of the anti-China forces to demonize, contain and separate China.
Disregard of the fairness and justice of history has resulted from the bias brought by the fundamental ideological difference between China and imperialist countries. Since the bias runs against a complex political and historical background, it will exist as long as the People's Republic of China led by the Communist Party of China exists.
The history, however, can not be changed after all.
Tang Dynasty: the Tibetan-Han relationship was alliance; Tibetan people and Han people started exchanges
The official exchanges between the Tibetan people and Han people can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty. According to both the old and new history of the Tang Dynasty, the Tibetan-Han relationship was alliance. Tibet, at that time, was called "Bo" or "Tubo". The present-day Tibet in English is the transliteration of "Tubo".
Before the 7th century, there were many different tribes on the Tibetan Plateau. During the reign of Srongtsen Gampo, an ancestor respected by the Tibetan ethnic group, he unified major tribes on the plateau and founded the Tubo Kingdom. Then the Tang Dynasty was one of the most developed countries in the world, exerting a great influence on other countries. Therefore, the neighboring countries called the king of the Tang Dynasty "Heavenly Khan", meaning the son of the heaven who was empowered to rule the whole world.
To pursue stability and development, Tubo allied with the Tang Dynasty to establish a stable political relationship. As for the harmonious coexistence of Han people and Tibetan people, peace-making marriage was one of the most important means of people-to-people exchanges. The close blood relationship between these two ethnic groups has been developing since then.
During the time-honored history of China, peace-making marriage was a link between the Central Plains and other minority-inhabited areas. In 641, Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty married Srongtsen Gampo. She brought to Tibet advanced cultures such as astronomical reckoning, agricultural techniques, medicines, paper making and sculpturing, as well as agricultural technicians, painters and architects, thus promoting the economic and cultural development in Tibet. Even now, some cultural relics featuring the characteristics of the Tang Dynasty can be seen in Tibet, such as Tibetan scriptures carved on wooden blocks, paper making tools in rural areas, architecture of monasteries and the Tibetan costumes.
Making a pet of Princess Wencheng, Srongtsen Gampo had the Potala Palace built for her on a mountain along the Lhasa River. The existing Potala Palace was rebuilt in the 17th century, with Princess Wencheng's earliest palace of repose and statues of Srongtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng.
Both Princess Wencheng and Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti, the other wife of Srongtsen Gampo, brought to Tibet a Buddhist statue, and Srongtsen Gampo had two monasteries built to worship these two statues. The life-size statue of Sakyamuni at the age of twelve is still enshrined in the most scared Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa.
During his reign, Srongtsen Gampo sent a prestigious and intelligent minister to India, who created the Tibetan language based on Sanskrit. The earliest historical documents written in the Tibetan language began with the exchanges between the Tibetan people and Han people. In 100 years after Princess Wencheng came to Tibet, the Tibetan-Han relationship was even closer. In around 700, Princess Jincheng of the Tang Dynasty married a Tibetan king. The first farmland cultivated by Princess Jincheng in Tibet's Shannan Prefecture has been kept till now. Tibet's agriculture was developed in its exchanges and communication with the Tang Dynasty.
During the period between Princess Wencheng and Princess Jincheng, Tibet and the Tang Dynasty held eight alliance talks with 191 envoys involved. Whenever a bilateral talk was held, a monument was built in Chang'an, then capital of the Tang Dynasty, and another erected in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, in order to record the friendly exchange history of Han people and Tibetan people. With the passage of time, most of the monuments are nowhere to be found, except the one established in front of the Jokhang Monastery on February 14, 823.
The Changqing Alliance Monument is a witness to the Tibetan-Han alliance during the Tang Dynasty. It is also called "nephew-uncle alliance monument", because after the marriage of Srongtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng, the Tibetan kings set themselves up as the nephew of the emperor of the Tang Dynasty.
In the early 1970s when I lived in the Barkhor Street, I ever saw the monument and the willows planted by Princess Wencheng herself.
With the Tibetan-Han alliance during the Tang Dynasty, a solid foundation was laid for incorporating Tibet into China's territory.
In the last years of the Tang Dynasty, Tibetan monks had even greater influence, affecting the power of local aristocrats. Therefore, the last Tibetan king did his utmost to weaken the influence of Tibetan monks by closing down monasteries, burning Buddhism scriptures and unfrocking monks. Since the movement accelerated the uprising of the Tibetan people, descendants of Srongtsen Gampo fled to the remote Ngari Prefecture in western Tibet. The Tubo Kingdom collapsed as a result.
Tibet seperatists threatened to carry liquid bomb into China during the 2008 Beijing Olympic periods....
Tibetans also beat and vandalized Chinese people and property in the name of independence...
but US didn't say shit to that~ haha... hypocrites...