The Riots in Lhasa by Eirik Granqvist

The Riots in Lhasa   by Eirik Granqvist, a foreign expert in Shanghai who visited Tibet in 2006

“The western medias announced that China had cut all information and that articles about the riots could not be sent out! I got mad about all the apparently incorrect information and wrote this article and two other similar ones although I am not a journalist but just because I could not stand all the bad things about China that was told. I sent them by e-mail without problems and they arrived well but two newspapers did neither respond neither publish what I had written. The third answered and wanted a shorter version that was published many days later as a normal ‘readers voice’. What Dalai Lama had said was largely published every day together with a real anti-China propaganda. What I had written was apparently too China friendly for the ‘free press’.”I was very shocked by what I had seen in the television and been reading in China daily about the riots in Lhasa. The most that shocked me was anyhow may be not the cruel events by themselves but how the medias in my country of origin, Finland, reported the events. A friend ha**canned and sent me articles and I have checked also myself what can be found at Internet.Very few Finnish people have ever visited Tibet, but I was there together with my wife in 2006. This was private persons and not as a part of a group-travel. I have seen Lhasa with my own eyes. I have been talking and chatting with people there. This was without any restrictions. Okay, we had a lovely and very competent guide that helped us much and took us where we wanted to go in the mornings but in the afternoons we were alone. Therefore I think that I have something to tell.

I am also interested in history and know more than people in general. When writing this, I do not have any reference books so I write out of my memory. If I do a small mistake somewhere, I beg your pardon. Anyhow, I think that this gives my writing an objectivity. I am well aware of that I will be accused for this and that for writing what I think is the truth. I will be accused by those who think that they know but do not know and by those that haven’t seen by their own eyes.
Tibet was for centuries an autonomous concordat between Nepal and China. Sometimes China ruled Nepal as well. The king of Tibet used therefore to have one Chinese wife and one Nepalese and then a number of Tibetan ones.   With the fifth Dalai Lama, the religious and the political power were unified under the rule of one person, The Dalai Lama. Tibet became a theocratic dictatorship and closed itself for the rest of the world. No foreigners were anymore allowed in.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the famous Swedish traveller Sven Hedin made an attempt to reach Lhasa but wa**ent politely back, out of Tibet by Dalai Lama.

A French woman, Alexandra David-Néel was more successful. She visited Lhasa dressed as a Tibetan pilgrim and she was fluent in the Tibetan language. She told how she was afraid many times that she should be discovered and then she knew that she like other suspects or opponents should “happen to fall down” from the walls of the Potala palace.
Tibet was not a paradise. Tibet was an inhuman dictatorship!

The weakened Chinese Qing Dynasty had more and more lost its influence in Tibet. Tibet became more and more interesting for the Russian empire in the north and the Britis***he south.

In 1903 a British army expedition directed by the colonel Younghusband reached Lhasa. The British lost 4 soldiers but slaughtered more the 700 Tibetans that tryed to stop them, mainly by magic. The Britis***alled “a commercial representation” in Lhasa. The Chinese evacuated Dalai Lama to the Qinghai plateau where he hade limited rights of move, probably for preventing him from having contacts with the British occupants.

The Finnish national hero, Marshal Mannerheim, visited him there in 1907 during his famous horseback trip through central Asia. He was then a colonel in the Tsar Russian army and his trip was in reality a spy trip. Therefore the 13th Dalai Lama was interesting.

The power of Dalai Lama was weakened. In 1950 the PLA marched in to Tibet without war. The 14th Dalai Lama seems at the beginning to have accepted this just as a security for his power as the theocratic dictator he was. He enlarged and restructured the Norbulingka Summer Palace in a luxury way in 1954.

The Chinese decided anyhow to finis***he cruel theocratic dictatorship under which the opponents fell down from Potala. The borders where during this dictatorship closed for all foreigners and the only schools where the religious ones. It is well known that it is easier to rule a population with a low education and is ignoring the outside world. In Tibet, about 5% of the population owned everything and the rest literally nothing. About 40% of the Tibetans were monks and nuns living as parasites on the rest of the population that had to feed them. Tibet was not a paradise!

Now China decided that the Tibeta**hould have the same rights and place in the society as the rest of the country’s population. The monasteries should be emptied from their excessively large monk and nun populations.

Tibet could earlier be reached only by some horse trails and was for the rest insulated. The Chinese built rapidly a trafficable road. The insulation was broken.

In 1959, the young Dalai Lama caused a peoples upraising, using the religion as power since he was loosing his own powerful position. The upraising was however stopped, may be in not a too clever and smooth manner. Dalai Lama then left Tibet and his fellow citizens and escaped to India wherefrom he has continued to fight for his come back and reinstall the theocratic dictators***hat China will never allow again.

Then followed the ten years of Cultural Revolution that was an unhappy time for all China that closed itself to the rest of the world.

Now Lhasa has a modern airport and a railway. China has invested a lot in Tibet. The standard of living has been raised a lot in Tibet and last Xmas I have seen Tibeta**pending sun-holidays on Hainan Island! Very lucky looking old women in traditional dresses walking on the beach with their husbands and the youngsters dressed like other young people enjoying the beach life.

The possibilities for Dalai Lama to take back his power has diminished and he does not anymore have the population with him. China and India are developing their cooperation and with the closer friendship, India will for sure also not more admit Dalai Lama to disturb this development. His possibilities to act against China will be diminished.

Therefore he undertook recently an around the world diplomatic travel since he ha**een the possibility of harming the now good international image of China and provoking boycotts of the Olympic games in Beijing.

The Lhasa riots where very well prepared. Curriers where crossing the borders illegally for to see Dalai Lama and get his orders. A group of foreign mountain climbers filmed recently across the border an unlucky incident when one of these curriers got shot and another that crossed the border openly declared that he wanted to go to see the Dalai Lama. I have seen that in television just before I left for China in November.

China is no longer a closed country. There is no need for illegal border crossings if you are not doing something illegally! You just ask for a pa**port and take the necessary visas and cross the border at a legal border crossing or better, just take a regular flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu!

There where no peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa that where brutally knocked down! Young men went to action after a well prepared scenario at many places at the same time so that police and fire brigade should be taken by surprise and unable to act everywhere at the same time. This wa**uccessful! People where just knocked down without differences and all what could be broken was broken in the shortest possible time. With Molotov cocktails, fires where lit and fire cars where stopped. 18 normal citizens where killed without feelings and one police. The police had order to not respond with firearms for not being internationally blamed!

When I have seen the filmed riots in television, my diagnosis was immediately clear. The scenario was the same that I had seen many times of organized riots in France since more the forty years of tight familiar contacts and 21 years of living there. The difference was only that less ordinary people seemed to take part in Lhasa. The rioters where surprisingly few but well organized! China’s positive image in the world should be damaged!

Dalai Lama is acting as the friendly and peaceful father. This is an old trick that also dictators like Hitler and Stalin used. I am not comparing him with them but he is acting like a demon when he tries to take back his power at any cost, not once caring for human lives and against Buddhistic non-violence principles. It was a try to do a coup d’ètat that failed. Now he is asking for international help for to stop the violence that he, himself had planned!

When I visited Tibet in 2006, I wa**urprised by the relaxed atmosphere and the few policemen in Lhasa. All that I have seen were Tibetans. Not the Han-Chinese. The atmosphere was remarkably peaceful and gave a picture of general well living. There was no oppressed feeling like I had seen so many times in the Soviet Union and its satellites before all that non-human system collapsed. People in Lhasa where friendly and wanted to speak to me, mostly without success since I do not speak Chinese nor Tibetan but up and then somebody could speak some words in English. Their wish for contact was just out of normal curiosity towards the foreigners.
I had heard that the religious life should been oppressed but it was flowering! I had also heard that so many Han Chinese where moved in that the Tibetans where now very few in Lhasa. I did however see much more Tibetans there. May be that the Han Chinese where hiding?
The western medias announced that China had cut all information and that articles about the riots could not be sent out! I got mad about all the apparently incorrect information and wrote this article and two other similar ones although I am not a journalist but just because I could not stand all the bad things about China that was told. I sent them by e-mail without problems and they arrived well but two newspapers did neither respond neither publish what I had written. The third answered and wanted a shorter version that was published many days later as a normal “readers voice”. What Dalai Lama had said was largely published every day together with a real anti-China propaganda. What I had written was apparently too China friendly for the “free press”.

93 Responses to “The Riots in Lhasa by Eirik Granqvist”

  1. Santa Claus is not from Finland Says:

    Some time little knowledge is dangerous. We think we traveled, saw (mostly on surface level) and read then we know it all. Excuse me but where did you learn that Nepal was ruled by China once? This is typical hegemony and imperialistic attitude of Caucasian folks. Off course Nepal and Tibet fought many wars sometime Nepal would win and Tibet would pay annual royalties to the Nepal king and some time Tibet would win but it is not a claim to rule each other.

    Instead of supporting to liberate Tibet and her people you are writing a shameful article to please masters in Beijing – sad to your ignorance and sad to your respect for inhumanity. However everyone of us has right to voice our concern in a free and democratic world EXCEPT in China where millions of Voices are silently killed and still weeping over Tianmein square……Thanks to the die hard Chinese supporter it can find in other disguise such suppression and killing will go for ever and in not too far in future a culture, religion and language called Tibet and Tibetans would be wipe out through systematic invasion and cultural imperialism and for us to see and study Tibet we will have to visit foreign museum only. I will know tell my 4 year old daughter “Santa Claus did not came from Finland—I am sorry I lied to you my daughter” because my and your Santa Claus can never support killings.

  2. big al Says:

    Genocide, even Dalai won’t claim that. Tibetans are not comply with one child policy which applies to majority Han Chinese. In 1953, there are about 2mil Tibetans, and now it is about 6mil.
    90% of population are Tibetans. As for the culture, it is urbanization, civilization and globalization, no parts of the world could be spared. Plus, it is more westernize. The buildings and clothes are not Han Chinese styles, they are western styles. Look at Cocacola in Tibet.

  3. big al Says:

    90% of population are Tibetans in Lahsa, sorry for the mistake

  4. Neil Says:

    This is a good article which tells the truth with different voice. I think for those people who have not been there to China and to Tibet and have not studied the history of the Tibet, it is better to calm down and to study first.

    It is quite normal for those people like Dalai Lama and other similar people who had slaves before after lost their power and lost their slaves would do this kind of riot. But for those people who were slaves and their children they are happy with their current lives.

    Should Dalai Lama tell the world how many slaves died under his leadership when the time he was ruling Tibetan with his power in Tibet? How could he be awarded the Nobel Peace Price?

    There is another fact which is for the monks they have their salaries and free medicare from the Chinese government. Is this a good human right too good to be true?

    For Tibetan and other minority Chinese people they have more benefit and better policy than other majority Chinese people have, such as they can have more than one child and can go to university in high priority. Do they have more human rights than normal majority Chinese people? Do they have more human rights than the time the Dala Lama gave to them?

    There are nearly 1/3 out of Tibetan men are monks. Without good policy it is very hard to imagine Tibetan can still survive with more and more population.

    For those people who called the word “Free Tibet”, do they know there are more than 20 nationality minority Chinese people living there in Tibet? Do they know there are only less than 50% Tibetan living in Tibet but more than 50% Tibetan living outside Tibet in other areas in China? Is it possible to move out other people out of Tibet or even move out all people from the land where they have been living there for hundred of years or longer since there are some Tibetan also there?

    Many things show that Dalai Lama is a liar. If people consider something carefully or logically they could get this conclusion. Complaining is much easier than trying to find out the fact.

  5. Santa Claus from Finland Says:

    Hi “Santa Claus is not from Finland”: you blamed Mr. Granqvist know “nothing” about Tibatan history. Could you tell us what you know about the history of Tibat, and write an article with your real name instead of criticizing other people without any evidence.

  6. Cipher Says:

    To reply Santa Claus is not from Finland

    Why do you hate China so much? Why don’t you even want to listen to Prof. Granqvick’s view at all? You only picked up a word among this long article and spread your limited knowledge about it and then start to curse China. Don’ you know there is 1.5 billion people living there? Don’t you think you should listen to their voice? Don’t you think you actually don’t have the right to talk the national affair of China since obviously you are not a Chinese? So please shut up your mouth. Besides, I am sorry for your poor little girl, because she has such a shameful and full fater/mother who doesn’t know things properly and teaches kids with hates and prejudices.

    After all, it doesn’t matter where Santa Claus comes from. It doesn’t matter if he comes from Finland, Sweden, or Norway, because he loves all kids without hates and prejudices, and you don’t even deserve to say his name. You are suck!

  7. Cheng Says:

    To “Santa Claus is not from Finland”, you need to be educated!

  8. Jack Says:

    To Cheng:

    A Chinese government propaganda film posted on YouTube may qualify as education by your standards………

  9. Seb Says:

    TO Santa Claus is not from Finland


    Dont limit your knowledge to spread the all over the world. This make you no difference from the WESTERN MEDIA

  10. IrieSven Says:

    Thanks, Jack!

    Silly propaganda might count as education in China but, fortunately, not in the rest of the world. As much as most other comments here seem to be by Chinese people (the way people make linguistic mistakes often tells of their own language background, e.g. Neil, tigerloong), it is telling that Chinese people cannot live with criticism regarding their nation – as brainwashed and arrogant as you can be! No, there was and is not justification for China to having marched into the sovereign state of Tibet and kill innocent people. Not for the sake of the idea of Tibet being part of Chinese culture etc! No, and there is no justification for China to stay there! Get out, take your Chinese propagandists with you and leave Tibet alone! Freedom for Tibet or boycott the Olympics!

  11. c2car Says:

    And the U.S. should leave Iraq alone. And wait, we should boycott everything from the U.S. for hundreds of thousands of civilian Iraqi casualties directly and indirectly from the war. Oh wait, we should also boycott the U.S. for violating human rights in guantanamo and through rendition. Let’s boycott Europe too, because states like France have perpetrated injustices toward Muslims.

    Hold on, IrieSven, we are talking about sovereign nations right? I think one of the most valued concepts in the West is this concept of sovereignty. Okay, then why doesn’t the West butt out of Chinese sovereign issues? Do you know any history of Tibet? Before you accuse other people of brainwashing and arrogance, evaluate yourself.

    You represent the perversion of Western reason. You accuse without facts. You denounce without reason. You attempt impose upon the Chinese your version of righteousness. Is that not arrogance? Is that not a manifestation of your brainwashing?

    You proclaim the grandeur of democracy, yet you have probably never realized the reason why democracy exists. There are certain conditions which MUST be met. That’s why Iraq is not a democracy right now despite U.S. attempts.

    I’m sorry if I have offended you. But you have offended me. Because you are representing me in front of the Chinese. And certainly, you won’t be changing the Chinese government’s attitude toward human rights and Tibet, it’s going to be the diplomats who will be doing that. But while they are trying to pursuade China to become more liberal, they’ll also be busy trying to cover your idiotic rantings that only serve to corner the Chinese.

  12. Kevin Woo Says:

    Interestingly, vast majority of media outside China and their audience with little own judgment have been talking about “cruel crackdown” of China police. But I’ve never seen such pictures or videos related to the so called cruel crackdown. Instead, what I can only see are Tibetan murder on Han-Chinese, Tibetan vandalism to the shops, they burnt the cars and even burnt the people (18 innocent civilians death so far. I also saw the funerals for the 5 girls who lost their young lives in a shop fire caused by the rioters. Even the monks, who said they were non-violent protesters, also took an active part in the riot, to attack truck and vandalized the banks. They even didn’t know they were already filmed and continued to lie. One young monk, the one who pretended to cried and shouted “no freedom in Lhasa” in front of foreign journalists invited by China government end of last month, was already identified by the public that he ever took part in the attack to a police car with violence and hatred on his face. He was filed but seems he didn’t know that. But I know, I saw that, everyone can saw that in the Internet. What a shame, what a plot! Too many liars who just care about how to create stories against to China and Chinese people. No freedom? What freedom they want? They didn’t tell because they couldn’t tell. In the slavery times, the monks had huge power over the civilians that far beyond the human rights of international standards. They juts want to pursue personal power. They didn’t work at all and waited to be fed the best things at the expenses of the majority civilians and slaves. China government has been giving everything to the minority. Han Chinese is generally welcome to the policy because we think they deserve them. We are all in one family! But to the slavery, there is no way to compromise. The system before 1959 in Tibet was well below the basic human right. Imagine what power Dalai Lama was holding at that time! It was a combination of political and religious superpower. So he lived just like a king, a king who didn’t care about at all the life of the civilians of his own regime. He signed an agreement with Beijing government in 1951 and when the slavery system was abolished in 1958, all the objection was from the monks, the highest hierarchy of then Tibet society. Why? Simple because they were afraid of losing their superior political power and social status. And then you may well know, Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 to establish the Tibet-in-exile government funded and backed by CIA. The funniest thing was the Dalai Lama denied the agreement he signed on June 20, 1959. What a shame, what a liar without the basic integrity! But it was very easy to understand. He lost everything at one single night. He must be very sad. But he did it for himself. No one else to blame. How many people were killed under his dictatorship? Hundred of thousands!!
    The riot timing, just right before the Olympics torch relay. Coincidence? Nonsense! The China police just did the right things. I saw the video they were forced to retreat as the rioters fiercely attacked them by throwing stone and pushing very hard. They kept restrain and didn’t fight back at all. What would have happened if the US or German police were attacked in this way? Another scene was a soldier hugging a dying victim seriously injured by the rioters. The soldier was crying with murmuring to the man in his hands, “keep up, there would be fine to you…” What a sad moment! Did any western media report the truth? They didn’t because they don’t dare. They have long been reporting bad things against China. If they report the truth this time, how could their loyal audience think? Between the truth and eliminating the risk of their own “trustworthy” image to be damaged, they chose the later. But most people are not blind, the truth is the truth. It can not be hidden in the flat world.

  13. e somen Says:

    I have the same feeling as you do. At last I hear someone speak from his heart. I encourage more people visit China, and visit Tibet province if possible. To SEE and FEEL China.

  14. Yang Liu Says:

    I ‘m a Chinese who live in U.K. When i read the news from BBC, i was cried. Coz i don’t believe that is ture. I haven’t been to Tibet,but some of my friend went to Tibet to help them children to learn Chinese ,Math, English. Every year Chinese goverment invest millions RMB in Tibet. They have some special liberty that i could never have. People talk about human rights all the time, but do they really understand that? There are too many things i want to say, but i only one thing i want everybody to know is come to China and see what really happened here. We are getting strong, but we are friendly. Chinese people love peace!
    To Mr & Mrs Granqvist,
    I couldn’t found your E-mail address, but i left my. all i want to say is :
    Thank you so much!
    Wish you all the best.
    Yang Liu

  15. Steven Victac Says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Please do not use any impolite words like prejudice, brainwashed or arrogant. Please do not just criticize by guessing something. Silly propaganda is from everywhere (Chinese government, Dalai Lama, western media). If you really want to help both sides, you should do your research. This issue is so completed that it can not be fixed up quickly by saying boycott or shut up.

    We only care about the fact and the solution. Isn’t it?

  16. louis Liu Says:

    Can any westerners tell the differences between Han and Tibetan apart from dressing?
    When I met people accusing China, I always tell them to visit China first. It’s ok to blame China. China is not a perfect country. But how can people criticize something which they have never seen? From media? Can anyone really believe media?

  17. louis Liu Says:

    to Mr & Mrs Granqvist,

    Thanks for telling something you see with you own eyes.

  18. Wu Says:

    “Santa Claus is not from Finland”, if you do not agree with Prof. Granqvist, pls provide your own research/evidence. Your attitude resembles those who only want to hear what they like to hear. Do your own research instead of repeating views by your so-called mainstream media. In the meantime, be kind to freedom of speech and let people tell their true experiences instead of your own fictional belief.

    • tussi Says:

      About Eirik Granqvist

      Eirik Granqvist has a low grade education, only competence to teach children. He has studied how to stuff animals. He has founded Diorama museum in France. After controversy with French authority, he has return back to Finland. Later he has been teaching the Chinese to stuff animals.

      Finnish people do not admire Eirik Granqvist at all. He wants always to impress his own different opinion about everything without really knowing the facts and tries to get everybody to believe that he is right. Granqvist manages to quarrel about almost every subject with almost everybody In Finland. He has also been disliked in other countries in Europe.

      Only Chinese people call him professor.
      Eirik Granqvist has not studied politics and is not an expert or authority on the problems of Tibet.

      Everything he says or writes about the Tibet problem is coloured by his Chinese employer. He is totally blinded by chinese ideology. The Chinese employer arranged and paid Eirik Granqvist´s visit in Lhasa and Tibet. Granqvist has a strong wish to be something. By writing about Tibet irritatingly without caring if it is true or not: he got at last the attention he secretly desired.

      Eirik Granqvist has very much harmed the Tibetan people and the nation of Finland.

      I can only regret that personal desire of Eirik Granqvist to be admired is stronger than the mental truth.

      Human Rights Watch July 2010 :

      China has rejected an independent inquiry into the March 2008 protests and their causes,
      and has made serious efforts to conceal details of its related security operations.

      China has also barred foreigners-including many media organizations-from freely traveling
      in the region, further preventing investigation into allegations of brutality and abuse.

      China has refused to admit UN human rights rapporteurs and-with some rare exceptions-foreign diplomats and, despite a long history of abuses in its detention system, continues to block the International Committee of the Red Cross from visiting its prisons, arguing the government-controlled Chinese Red Cross fulfills this mission. There are no known public Chinese official reports about prison conditions in Tibet.

      Sincerely Yours
      A voice from independent Finland

  19. Kevin Woo Says:

    To Steven Victac,

    I agreed your point, “We only care about the fact and the solution.”
    But the fact has been largely distorted by western media. Without the true fact to be known, how can we come out with solution? Based on biased media’s solution? Not fair enough. It is behaving totally against the one of top fundamentals, to listen to Chinese voice.

  20. plummie Says:

    hmm, i have several points:
    1. is Eirik Granqvist really a professor in Finland? his writing here is not quite up to the par, :), but then again, i’m not sure if english is the 1st language of finnish people.
    2. i think it’s pretty messed up for all the china haters to jump out now to boycott olympics now, after chinese gov and people spent so much time/effort/money in preparing it. it’s like a big slap in the face to chinese. that’s just not right.
    3. personal attacks are not cool, physical attacks are not cool, physical attacks against innocent bystanders (like some rioters in tibet did) are not cool at all. if they were brave enough, they should go and attack government properties, not civilians. otherwise, what difference is there between them and bin laden?
    4. i think china’s crackdown is not harsh enough. anyone found burning properties, beating and killing people should be shot on site, like anywhere in the world.
    enough is enough!

  21. skyfolly Says:


    you wrote the best article on current tibet i have ever read, very Neautral, informational and accurate, i really appreciated yr efforts.

    should there be more insightful people like you, there won’t be much faslely claimed facts.

    i am chinese myself, i must say CCP is not a good government on human rights, sometimes evil, even on their own people, the Hans. few days back, Hu Jia, human rights activist has been sentenced to jail for 3.5 years just because of his political views.

    westerners should not just focus on tibet, they should focus on China as a whole. otherwise, most Chinese would just think they wanna undermine the power of the Chinese motherland. Many Chinese see terriotry integrity very seriously after centuries of humiliation, when the west ate up China like cakes.

    Many of overseas Chinese used to long for western style democracies, but after this riot, 99% of them have lost faith, some of those overseas Chinese human rights activists even feel ashamed of it.

  22. weissman Says:

    Just read all the comments. I am a man of science, empirical observation is essential to form my judgments. Just like Kevin Woo, I only saw burning, looting and attacks by the lamas and a wild (Tibetan) mob. I also saw a crying lama in a temple. If the temple is a “prison” with maltreatment of the lamas, then I must say that this lama seemed to be really healthy and brave for a prisoner. If the Chinese has allegedly tortured him on a daily basis, then either that lama is too thick to understand the purpose of torture or he deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor.

    Everything aside, I made some inquiry. According to the Dutch government 82,000 Tibetans in exile have voted for a cabinet and PM in 2005 in Nepal, outcome unknown according to the document (can be downloaded from the Dutch embassy in Beijing website). Given Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is still the undisputed leader of the Tibetans in exile, the reason for the election totally escapes me.
    That number of 82,000 intrigues me a lot. If that is the number of Tibetans in exile, then on a population of 3 to 6 million it represents 1.4% to 2.8% of the total Tibetan population.

    From the different comments above, I have derived two different views:

    1) Tibet is being oppressed by the domination of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and ordinary Tibetans are suffering on a daily basis without freedom.
    2) Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and his entourage represent the top minority of Tibetan social pyramid. They had oppressed the Tibetan population who lived in dire poverty while the elite class enjoyed a luxurious life style of opulence.

    So, I guess the Tibetan people is always scr..ed.

    Come to think of it, there is some truth on both side. First of all, there is no democracy in Tibet. But there is no democracy in China. As part of China, it would seem odd if otherwise. This is a larger debate about democracy in China, not the purpose here. So, I drop it.

    But empirical observation tells us that standing at less than 3% of the total population, Tenzin Gyatso, the DL, and his entourage seem to fit the definition of an elitist class. However, Tenzin and his entourage claim to represent Tibet and all Tibetans support him. Well, it has been almost 50 years since Tenzin’s flight to India in 1959 and since then Tibet seemingly had been peaceful and no revolt of any significance were reported or claimed. If CCP is evil in its purest form and oppresses Tibetans because of their race and religion, then the 6 million Tibetans would have revolted a long time ago and thrown those “evil” Chinese out of Tibet. Given their obsession with the word “people”, I guess CCP knows the power of the people. From the reasoning above my interpretation of the continued exile of Tenzin the Dalai Lama is precisely the lack of support from the Tibetan people.

    Contrary to believes of all the fanatics here, I would be more concerned of the daily toil of life instead of consulting some political legitimacy. Clashes of political ideologies only lead to unrest and conflict. Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t want to live in a war zone, nor would I want to live under fear. To me, stability in which I can live my life to the fullest is the only blessing I need or want. All the rest is just gibberish with a false aura of moral ascendancy. So, go right ahead with pointless debates that will never influence your life in any way.

  23. GunsNRoses Says:

    I read “The Riots in Lhasa” by Eirik Granqvist the other day, given to me by Chinese friend. I read only first 3 pages and I could tell by then that so called Eirik Granqvist writing is nothing but pages ripped straight from the Chinese propaganda materials published by Chinese Ministry of Propaganda.

    Mr Eirik Granqvist is a Chinese propagandist masquerading as foreign tourist.

  24. Kevin Woo Says:

    To GunsNRoses,

    Only one word did I read your note I can definitely tell you are one of the terrorists and followers of Dalai Lama.

  25. Yuan Says:

    For those guys who even don’t know Finnish is the first lauguage in Finland, u should shut up! Don’t talk about anything u don’t really know!
    I should thank Eirik for giving the differnet voice from the western media.

  26. Jan Eggen Says:

    The British Invasion of Tibet

    This year marks the centenary of one of the most shameful acts of British imperial history: when a British army invaded Tibet and shot its way through to Lhasa, forcing its leaders to agree to a punitive treaty that the British Government almost immediately repudiated. The adventure came to be known as the Younghusband Mission, after its leader, a 40-year-old political officer and explorer named Colonel Francis Younghusband.

    The invasion had been sanctioned by a British Government worn down by months of lobbying by the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, obsessed by what he saw as Russia’s inexorable advance into Asia and determined to ‘frustrate their little game’. Knowing Francis Younghusband to be a ‘fellow-traveller’ who shared his views on Russia’s ambitions, Curzon had earlier selected him to negotiate with the Tibetans at Khamba Dzong – and Younghusband, while protesting all the while at the Tibetan’s refusal to negotiate, had at the same time done his best to provoke them into an act of hostility that would force the Government of India to intervene. In late October 1903 a trivial border incident involving some Nepalese yak-herders had been declared by Curzon to be ‘overt act of hostility’ on the part of the Tibetans, and a rattled British Cabinet had given permission for Younghusband’s mission to advance to the Tibetan fortress-town of Gyantse – to obtain reparation and then make an immediate withdrawal.

    With the appointment of Brigadier General James Macdonald as the escort commander tensions began to develop between Younghusband and Macdonald. Overriding the General’s sound advice to wait until spring, Younghusband pushed forward over the Tang La to establish himself and a small escort in the remote settlement of Tuna at an altitude of 15,000 feet, where he sat out two months in appalling conditions until Macdonald had built up sufficient supplies from India to enable the advance on Gyantse to proceed. Had the Tibetan forces made a night attack on his camp, the mission and escort would certainly have been overwhelmed, since the cold froze the oil on the rifle-bolts and caused the two Maxim guns to jam.

    Fortunately for Younghusband the seniormost Tibetan military commander, Depon Lhading, was under orders to halt Younghusband’s advance but not to offer any violence. Instead of attacking, he divided his army in two and took up positions on either side of the lake of Bam Tso to block the British advance. On 30 March 1904, his supplies now in place, Brigadier General Macdonald brought the main bulk of his forces up to Tuna. On the following day the Maxim gun and the matchlock or mendah – the ‘fire arrow’ faced each other at the hot springs of Chumik Shenko, resulting in some 500 Tibetan dead and the loss of the Daily Mail correspondent’s left hand.

    The Tibetans attempted a brave stand at the Red Idol Gorge and were again shot to pieces, after which the invaders proceeded unopposed to Gyantse and its great fortress. Leaving Younghusband’s mission ensconced at Changlo Manor, in the shadow of Gyantse Dzong Macdonald returned to Chumbi to build up supplies. An attack on the mission on the night of 5 May took the garrison by surprise but was driven off at the cost of three dead on the one side and 140 on the other. In response to Younghusband’s urgent appeal, reinforcements were called in. A battalion of the Royal Fusiliers happened to be stationed near Darjeeling and they were rushed up together with other Indian army units and more field guns, arriving in Gyantse on 28 June. A week later, after Younghusband engineered a break-down in negotiations with the Tibetans, the great rock fortress of Gyantse Dzong was stormed under a barrage of artillery and Maxim gun fire. Two weeks later, in what was for many years the highest military engagement ever fought, the Gurkhas destroyed the last Tibetan opposition up in the snows above the Karo La. When the invading army reached the great lake of Yamdok Tso the Tibetans attempted to reopen negotiations but were rebuffed time and again by Colonel Younghusband. The Tsangpo was crossed in late July and on the afternoon of 3 August 1904 the army pitched its tents outside the gates of the fabled city of Lhasa.

    To Younghusband’s great disappointment he learned that the young Dalai Lama, had fled. Nevertheless, on 4 September a convention was signed in the Potala. Among its nine articles was one requiring the Tibetans to pay an indemnity of half a million pounds over 75 years, during which time the Chumbi Valley was to be occupied by Britain, and a ‘separate agreement’ giving the British Trade Agent to be based at Gyantse the right to visit Lhasa for consultations. These two clauses were inserted by Younghusband in defiance of orders, and concealed from his Government until the Treaty had been signed. They were immediately repudiated and Younghusband was ordered to stay on and renegotiate the treaty, which order he ignored.

    When Younghusband returned to England in December 1904 he was lauded by the British press, received in private audience by the King, greeted with rapturous applause when he lectured at the Royal Geographical Society in London and at the Scottish Royal Geographical Society in Edinburgh. He received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Edinburgh, Bristol and Cambridge. Everywhere he went he was seen as a hero. This was a view shared by nearly all the British officers on the Younghusband Mission. To his aide and interpreter, Captain Frederick O’Connor, Younghusband was ‘one of the few specimens of the typical “strong silent man” whom I have ever met. Very quiet, very laconic . . . at once a philosopher and a man of action . . . I never once saw him for a moment even ruffled, far less discomposed or perturbed, by any circumstance or crisis which we had to encounter. An imperturbable exterior covered a strong and steadfast character and a most equable temperament.’

    Even after Patrick French’s rightly acclaimed biography, published in 1994 Younghusband continues to be perceived as a fundamentally humane, decent man, who, as far as the Tibet adventure is concerned, made one silly mistake: in negotiating with the Tibetans he tried too hard to please his master, Lord Curzon, and asked for too much.

    What is so repugnant about the Younghusband Mission is not the botched treaty but the fact that one man could do so much short-term and long-term damage, not out of patriotism – although undoubtedly a part of him did believe that he was acting in Britain’s imperial interests – but for essentially selfish motives. As a 20-year-old junior subaltern newly arrived in India Younghusband had vowed ‘to make a name for myself’, and over the next ten years he went a long way towards fulfilling that ambition, blazing trails in the Western Himalayas and winning the Royal Geographical Society’s Founder’s Medal. But one goal eluded him: Lhasa – the ultima thule of every self-respecting explorer in the West, what one of his junior officers would later call ‘the long-sealed Forbidden City, the shrines of the mystery which had so long haunted our dreams’. Only one Englishman had ever reached Lhasa – the eccentric Thomas Manning in 1811 – and in the previous sixty years almost a score of daring travellers from the West – Russians such as Colonel Prjevalsky, Count Szechenyi, Ruborosvsky and Kosloff; the Americans Rockhill and the Littledales; the Frenchmen Prince Henri d’Orleans, Bonvalot and the ill-fated Duteuil de Rhins; Englishmen such as Deasy, Carey, Wellby and Bower; and, most recently, the great Swedish explorer Sven Hedin – all had dreamed of reaching Lhasa, and none had got within ten days’ march of the holy city. FrancisYounghusband had himself planned to journey to Lhasa in disguise in 1889 only to foiled by his commanding officer who had refused to give him any more leave. So when the call came to lead this Tibet political mission Younghusband’s twin ambitions – to be somebody and to reach Lhasa – suddenly became possible. Right from the start of the border negotiations, and whatever his orders had to say on the matter, Lhasa became the unstated goal of the mission. What is more, both Younghusband’s political assistants on the Tibet Frontier Commission, Claude White and Frederick O’Connor, had also tried and failed to penetrate to Lhasa. So too had the expedition’s leading expert on Tibet, Dr Austine Waddell. So the four key men at the sharp end of the Mission were all desperate to get to Lhasa – and that lure of Lhasa spread right through the army. It can be found in practically every diary or contemporary account of the expedition. Captain Arthur Hadow, for example, wrote to his parents of his delight at being selected for the mission: ‘I believe we shall march over the Himalayas into Thibet, and possibly to Lhasa, the city of Thibet, in which no white man is allowed to set foot… I am delighted with the whole thing.’ Henry Newman of Reuters later wrote: ‘We were all delighted to hear of these messages, for we wanted to get to Lhasa, and if the Tibetans caved in and made a treaty there would be no hope of getting to that romantic city.’ Lieutenant Bethell of the Gurkhas wrote of the ‘psychological push behind us. . . by mid-August the Press was beginning to say, “Well, what are you going to do next?” and to ask for news of Lhasa itself. Not to have gone there would have involved anti-climax; and though this aspect was never, at the time, openly admitted, looking back on it now there seems little doubt that it was a strong factor’.

    The ‘Lhasa factor’, combined with personal ambition drove Younghusband to deceive both himself and his masters, and with hugely damaging consequences for Tibet and its peoples.

    What also helped to make this invasion easier was the British perception of Tibet at that time, largely shaped by the writing of Dr Waddell, the expedition’s Tibetologist, and the author of The Buddhism of Tibet or Lamaism: a groundbreaking study but one that created an image of Tibetan Buddhism as a perversion of the original teachings of Gautama Buddha and of the priest-monks of Tibet as a corrupt body of devil-worships exercising a malign influence over the country. ‘A parasitic disease,’ he calls it, ‘a cloak to the worst forms of oppressive devil-worship, by which the poor Tibetan was placed in constant fear of his life from the attacks of thousands of malignant devils both in this life and in the world to come, and necessitating never-ending payments to the priests of large sums to avert these calamities’. This negative judgement undoubtedly helped to fuel the prejudices of Younghusband and many of his officers, making it easier for them to treat the Tibet lamas sent to negotiate with contempt.

    Dr Waddell’s other contribution to the expedition was his role as the chief looter. For example, After the fall of Gyanste Dzong the commissariat department searched all the buildings at Pelkor Chode and found three thousand maunds of atta or ground flour hidden in the main monastery – a much-needed addition to the army’s fast dwindling supplies. But according to Major William Beynon, its officers also unearthed a cache of hidden treasure. ‘Yesterday I got two really good things,’ wrote Beynon to his wife on 7 July

    Ross 2nd Gurkhas was in the big monastery here and was looking for grain with his coolie corps when one of his men was stoned by a Lama. They caught the beggar and tied him up & gave him 20 lashes on the spot and then told him if he didn’t show where the grain was hid he would be shot. So he showed them two places very cleverly hidden – but when Ross began to get the things out he found instead of grain that the man had shown him where the monastery’s plate & robes were kept. Ross reported to the General who told him he might keep what he liked and to send the rest to the man who collects for the British Museum. Ross & Wigram who were working together took something and asked me to help myself, so I selected a very nice hanging silver censor and a gilt one – neither of them very valuable but very quaint design – and I also took two lamas’ robes & some silk embroidery, which I am sending home to you through King Hamiltons.

    This sanctioned plundering was subsequently hushed up, and no wonder, for it is difficult to square it with the claims made by Dr Waddell and General Macdonald that monastic sites were ‘most religiously respected’. But yesterday’s plunder is today’s research material, and ironically, that plundering undoubtedly helped enlarge the outside world’s understanding of Tibet’s Vajrayana religion. It also has to be seen in context: nasty as that invasion was it pales into insignificance when compared with the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army’s intervention in 1951 and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-67.

    Far more serious is the claim that the British invasion did incalculable political damage by laying Tibet open to a reassertion of Chinese authority. Its leading proponent was Charles Bell, an assistant political officer in Sikkim under Claude White who later became an administrator of the Chumbi Valley during its brief period of British rule. Bell also became a close friend and ally of the 13 Dalai Lama and it was his belief that ‘By going in and then coming out again, we knocked the Tibetans down and left them for the first comer to kick. We created a political vacuum, which is always a danger. China came in and filled it, destroying Tibetan freedom, for she feared that if we came again we should keep the country. And Russia, in conformity with her warning, advanced into Mongolia, without any intention of retiring as we had retired from Lhasa.’ The opposing argument put forward by Bell’s critics is that the political vacuum created by the British invasion ended with the 13th Dalai Lama’s final return to Lhasa in 1910. The Tibetans then turned against the Chinese, threw out the Amban (Chinese Resident in Lhasa) and declared their country independent. Tibet’s real tragedy is that it then failed to build on that independence. Despite the 13th Dalai Lama best efforts, Tibet’s monastic and aristocratic hierarchies refused to modernise, clinging to their privileges and their isolationism. During the later years of the 13th Dalai Lama’s rule Britain came to be seen as a friend of Tibet and her influence was maintained through the person of the Trade Agent in Gyantse. But after the 13th Dalai Lama’s death in 1933 the old Tibet very quickly reasserted itself and the links with British India were cut. A series of ineffectual regents who ruled Tibet during the 14th Dalai Lama’s infancy and minority allowed China to reassert its control, culminating in the ‘liberation’ of Tibet by the Chinese People’s Army in 1951.

    • Soong Chiang Says:

      To Ms. Eggen:
      Thank you. I am a Chinese American, and a Buddhist. I appreciate your article very much. It shows what we think was right by historical facts, and what we perceive to be right from our emotions. Sadly, this is what has happened here.

  27. ChineseHeart Says:

    Dear Dr.Granqvist

    I really appreciate your voice to bring the justice on this Tibet issue.

    I am a Chinese student in US. I feel so sad that the whole world is rumoring China. Very few people has been to Tibet not even China. What they learn about China or Tibet is from these shameless media.

    One thing confuses so much is that the country like Germany, UK, of course US, has a notorious history of invading other nations. On contrast, China in the recently 300 years history, China never invaded any other country. During the WWII, millions of Chinese people died to defeat the Japanese Fascism. The recently 20 years’ development of China, which lead by CCP, has been proved to be successful. We solved the problem of survive for a population as 1.3 billion. Is there any nation ever achieved that? Is it a big contribution to the human right around the world? Chinese labors work diligently to provide cheap products to the world. That’s one reason that a lot of western people can live in high standard level. Isn’t it a contribution to the world? Why everybody is blaming China for taking away jobs while forgets the benefit they are enjoying? Why the whole world hates China? What have we done wrong to the world?

    I have to admit that we still need to ask for more media freedom in China. However, the situation is changing towards a positive direction. But, after all, this is an internal issue within China. If we are comfortable with that, why people outside so much “anxious” as to spread rumors about China to express their eagerly concern?

    Some country can find any excuse to invade other countries while using the media to tell their people how dangerous other nation is. They can find target one after another. They are trying to provoke the conflicts between races again and again just try to break the country into pieces, so none can challenge their position. They dropped nuclear bombs in other country but now they can use the excuse of nuclear development attack any nation. Any country doesn’t listen to them will be put a tag as supporting terrorism. The media will again tell the people around world that these countries are terrorism countries and they will have nuclear weapon if we don’t eliminate them. So, attack!!!

    What’s going wrong with the world?

    Again, thank you very much to give the world a truth.

  28. Unity Says:

    It shows how we live in a bubble fabricated by the media…
    We need to go and see to know the truth.
    I don’t simply trust the big fancy reports from mass-media.

  29. Kevin Woo Says:

    To Chinese Heart,
    My feeling is that the truth is being gradually known to many. So you should not overworry about the media bias anyhow. I am so proud of the young Chinese generation like you loving so much our country and our people. Please keep your passion.

  30. Gary David Says:

    What a conjob! What a fraud!

    Is anyone gullible enough to believe this “neutral” report written by our friends at the Ministry of Information Industry? I see some of the commentators are.

    It has so many obvious, biased non-neutral phrases “cruel theocratic dictatorship” , “parasitic”, “Chinese evacuated Dalai Lama to the Qinghai plateau where he hade limited rights of move, probably for preventing him from having contacts with the British occupants” [this last one is like the Burmese Junta claiming they have Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for all these years to protect her from bad people!!!!]

    Take an intelligent second to read this objectively, then ask yourself “is this really a neutral observation as claimed?” Maybe like me you can spot all the unfounded pro-China subjective comments.

    This is a Chinese government amateur fabrication. The author is State Council PRC, don’t be conned by the photo.

  31. Katri Mehto Says:

    There is a person in Finland with the name of Eirik Granqvist but he is a zoologist, a museum conservator who, according to his CV, has never been in Tibet.
    There is not much chance for mistake, as the first name Eirik is very rare.
    Seems to me that this article by “Eirik Granqvist” is totally fabricated.

  32. N. Huang Says:

    Hi, Katri Mehto
    There is only one Eirik Granqvist all over the world???? And will you write all your private travels in your CV???? Do you have a normal human brain????

  33. N. Huang Says:

    Hi, Gary David

    For you, every different voice is “Chinese government amateur fabrication”, so 1.5 billion people’s voices are “Chinese government amateur fabrication”s, too???? Does your attitude a good example of Freedom of speech? How naive you are…, I don’t know what to say.. But you just have to know that if one day, 1/5 of the world’s people are “lying”, that’s not a lie!

  34. Linzi Says:

    i am a chinese but i am not belong to the majory population, Huan. We are just like Tibetan with a very small pupolation in China (less than 0.1%).
    i would like to tell you that we are enjoying in the freedom and we are very happy.
    if you are really interested in discussing about china or tibet, you might go there and ask people there.
    do not leave at home, and then get lots of ideas then say whatever you are thinking.
    in my memery, eight western country tried to invase china in 1800, and did kill lots of chinese. just like in africa and american. the native people were killed. why that time, your guys’ grand father never talked about HUMAN RIGHT?

  35. Kevin Woo Says:

    Hi Gary David, Katri Mehto
    Really thanks for your show-up to act an excellent example how the guys like you are least intelligent. Thanks for you fully disclosing your weakness to make me moe determined to take you down in the way forward. Again, thank you courage to present how stupid you are.

  36. Someone Says:

    It saddens me to know that someone regards tibetan monks and nuns as parasides. Without knowing what they do and what Tibentan buddhism is, one has no rights to make such a claim. The prayers sent by these powerful
    monks and nuns benefit many sentient beings including you and me for many life times. Such benefit can not be understood by those who only know and care about the material lives in the present life time.

    From the English written by this Finnish person who claims to be a China-expert, I can tell that he is Neither a scholar about Tibet Nor proficient in the English language.

    I am a Chinese living in the US. I love China as it is my mother country. I know how important the Olympic game is for China. I don’t want any disturbance to the Olympics either. However, I also love Tibet and its culture. Tibetan buddhism is a world treasure that should be well-preserved. The freedom of practicing Tibetan buddhism is limited in China. Please do not judge Tibet (its culture, its religious pursuits, and its value systems) with your own limited experiences and belief systems. Part of your limited experiences and belief systems may be due to the
    censorship of the Chinese government (speaking mainly to the mainland Chinese here). Every government, including the US, has some forms of censorship. The difference is in the scope of the censorship.

    I don’t know what exactly was going on in Tibet regarding the riot. With limited and conflicted media coverages from the Chinese and Western media, I won’t draw any conclusions. Time will tell, I hope.

    Think twice of what you say. Be careful not to create bad karma for your own sake.

  37. chineseJoe Says:
  38. jigsaw puzzle Says:

    If someone understands that keeping things covered is of Chinese culture for coping with private or internal affairs, it is not hard to understand why Chinese government employ this strategy to keep bad news from leaking out from its control. Apparently, China is paying the price for doing so, giving whatever media the scope to guess. It is interesting that most of Western media turn to speak ill of China. There must be something. However, given so little information known, China is a mystery. How can we imagine a country with a continuous history of like 5000 years? Seems not so easy. How could China survive and develop so fast in terms of economy, science and technology by suffering from the invasion 150 years ago and the so called cultural revolution about 40 years ago? Too complicated to pinpoint the real image of China with rather limited pieces of jigsaw. So, why should people bother? One thing people care about is: What if China grows to a superpower like the US? Seems like not a happy ending for most of the people apart from Chinese. So now it is a perfect time to expect something to happen in China. Surprisingly, you see, something indeed happened. Thanks god! It might take some time for China to regain the momentum for developing, hopefully.

  39. Jim Says:

    Dear Eirik,

    I am a scientist in Florida State University. Thanks for your article. The truth will be known by western people, although the media has been demonizing China for many years. No Chinese thinks China is a perfect country, and there are many problems to be solved. But as a nation long be humiliated from the mid-19th century, China is and will be better than any period before. Chinese are proud of the 2008 Olympics, not for that they think China is rich and strong, but for that it means China is admitted as respectable family memble of international community. Chinese people are not waiting for showing its strength, but eagle to show their hospitability to the honored guests from all over the world.

    To those who want to boycutt 2008 Olympics and compare China with Hitler : How can you insult the most peaceful people on the world in such a way? It is a sin, some years later, you must learn that.

  40. To Someone Says:

    Hi Someone,
    You like Buddhism like many Chinese do even here in Australia. But you should understand that Buddhism is not only a symbol represented by an individual people.

    For those sanctimonious monks who did crimes and killings must be not only punished by the law but also exiled out of the sanctorium.

    On the Australia ABC TV channel I watched the violent protest done by those Tibetan here in Sydney. They even attacked a policeman only because his face looks like a Chinese. Three Tibetan were arrested and later two were released. I also watched on ABC that a policeman pushed one Tibetan woman with her head hitting down to the ground in Melbourne. What would those unfair media say if this was done by a Chinese policeman? I believe no people and no policeman like to see this kind of violent protest.

    Till now I have not seen that as a spiritual leader Dalai Lama saying stop doing violence to his monks and to his supporters. He only said this kind of words to the Chinese policemen and to the Chinese government. I do not think he is a real Buddhist. In fact he likes to see the violence.

    There is no doubt. Together with most of the kind people around the world I strongly support all the policemen to stop any violence done by any people for any reason.

  41. Kevin Woo Says:

    Please check it out. Why don’t the protesters even know where Tibet is? It is ridiculous that you are demonstrating against something that you don’t know its basic at all. This must blame to the distortion of the media. Mecdia distortion only creates more and more ridicules like that. We need the public to know the truth.

  42. Yong Says:

    > Jack Says:
    > April 3, 2008 at 5:35 pm
    > To Cheng:
    > A Chinese government propaganda film posted on YouTube > may qualify as education by your standards………

    To Jack:

    Unfortunately, you’ve been brainwashed. You think anything that says Tibet is part of China is government propaganda?

    This video is actually made by a student studying in the US.

  43. Alice Says:

    Gary David Says:
    Is there any evidence other than your unproved “intellengce” to say “fraud!”. Do you think that if people are not talking the way you would expect then their voices shouldn’t be counted?

  44. Jan Eggen Says:

    WEB SITES ON ANCIENT AND MODERN CHINA, on this site would you find a lot of information, pictures and more; related both to ancient and modern China:

    Living next to china, PowerPoint Presentation:

    Today, Thursday April 10, 2008 does the Chinese Ambassador Mrs. Gao Jian of Norway answer questions online, from the readers of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten , related to the China-Tibet issue.

    Please read the answer of Chinese Ambassador in Norway Mrs. Gao Jian below.

    Do You consider it realistic that there will be a solution on the Taiwan-issue in the near future? And do the Chinese government have an official opinion of the newly elected Kuomintang-president on Taiwan?
    Bjorn, Rogaland

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I think this election demonstrates that “Taiwan-independence” goes against the will of the people. I am sorry I have to stop now since time is running out. Thank you for your interest in China. See you next time!
    Why is it that China seems to release news about “cathing terrorists”, “revealing terrorist-plans”, everytime the country is under great pressure from the rest of the world?
    Dorothy, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Countering terrorism is a common task for all of us and it requires international cooperation. China has been all along committed itself to bringing terrorists to justice.
    Nearly 35 million Chinese have publicly denounced their membership in CCP, The Chinese Communist Party, due to ill-treatment and torture against their fellow citizens. The communist parties in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe crumbled from within. Many think that the same can happen in China. What is your comment on this?
    Kari, Norway

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: How did you get this figure?
    Hello Gao Jian! I have been working in Yantai in chipping for awhile at Yantai Raffles shipyard. 1)How do you see the future for Norwegian companies to build their off-shore plattforms in china? 2)There should be exchange of knowledge in energy production between Norway and China – to take more care of the environment according to energy production change from coil to other sources – do you agree? Do you know – approximately – 3)How many chinese tourists there are in Norway every year, 4)How many chinese are studying or working here today and 5)How many chinese are living in Norway in 2008? Have a nice day !
    Svein K, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I am sure that with our joint efforts, the trade between China and Norway will expand in the days to come. There will be more Chinese tourists coming to Norway, and vice versa. As for how many Chinese people living in Norway, according to the statistics provided by the Norwegian side, there are around 8000 people of Chinese origin in Norway if my memory does not fail.
    Dear Ambassador I hope you have been well received by the Norwegian people. My question to you is: Why does China still feel a need to censor the Internet and control the media? Do you still not trust the judgement of your own population?
    Martin, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Dear Martin, your question has already been answered. Takk.
    When are China going to release the imprisoned Panchen Lama, the rightly successor chosen by H.H.Dalai Lama? As the Ambassadeur will know, Panchen Lama and his family was kidnapped by the Chinese authorities, in 1995, when he was 6 years old. And Panchen Lama are the person who will chose the next incarnation of The Dalai Lama when he dies, and be the religious leader until the next Dalai Lama grows up. ?And don`t the ambassador think it`s embarrassing that China has chosen 搃t`s own Panchen Lama?- since the Communist Party don`t believe in such religions values?
    AHB, Stavanger

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I am afraid you’ve got the wrong information. Banchan Lama has never been imprisoned.
    Dear ambassador Gao Jian, I will not ask about Olympics or Tibet, but another important issue; the relationship between Taiwan and China. Is there any official political contact between the governments? How do you recognize Taiwan? And if Taiwan declare independence, how will China react then?
    Hans Hansen, Bergen

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: The mainland and Taiwan are separated only by a strip of water. We belong to one family.
    Why can’t chinise people see the same pages as I do on the internet?
    Magen Hansen, Stockholm

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Just a few years ago, we had a very small number of people who could get access to Internet. Now we have the largest population of “netizens” in the world.
    Your excellency: what are your thoughts on the proposed missile defence system for Europe, does China regard this as a strategic threat? secondly; how does china feel about the increased amount of US bases placed around their territory after the invasion of Afghanistan?
    Anton, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I think whatever actions or policies adopted, it should be in the interests of the people of the world, and it should be helpful to world peace and stability.
    What do you think of chairman Mao ? During his reign millions of people were killed, or sent to camps. The picture of this massmurderer is still hanging on the walls in Beijing. Are going to take this pictures down before the olympic games ?
    Jan Nordum, Asker

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: He is regarded as one of the greatest statemen in the Chinese contemporary history.
    Dear Jian How much of the daily resistance in the Norwegian news are you reporting back to your principals in China about (included the demonstrations outside your Embassy? And what is the reaction then form the Chinese governments about it?
    Kim Nordquelle, B鎟um

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I report back as it is.
    What effect could a potential Norwegian boycott of the opening ceremonies have on Norwegians living and working in China? Hope to stay here many years, and really looking forward to the Olympics! Hopefully they won’t get hijacked by protesters…
    Concerned citizen, Beijing

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Norwegian friends will always be welcome to China!
    Dear Mrs Gao Jian. This is not a question but a comment. Thank you for answering questions like you do today! Many of my friends and people I meet are very critical to the Chineese political regime. I think the “roaring silence” that your embassy or goverment has been practising until now, has made people make up even more stories about China and has created a greater negative attitude towards your country. Dialog is a good way to peoples hearts.
    Arnt S鎡her, H鴑efoss

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: You are right. Dialog is the best way to win people’s heart, that is what we are trying now.
    Madam Ambassador, I am one among so many in the world who are shocked at the P.R. of China’s cruel treatment of dogs and of bears in cages for years. Is kindness to inocent animals not included in the Chinese culture. These animals suffer!
    J M Thorsen, Halden

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Like the people in Norway, Chinese people love animals and pets. They are our friends. For example, we have established laws and set up special foundations to protect panda and other endangered species.
    Dear Mrs Ambassador. I think China is a beautiful country, and my experience with chineese people in Norway has been pleasant. 1. Why do you think politicians are so busy saying that The Olympic Games has nothing to do with politics, if it has nothing to do with politics?
    Arnt S鎡her, H鴑efoss

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Thank you for your compliment on China. I am very proud of my country. I don’t think that the Olympics should be politicized. It does not seem to go along with the Olympic spirit.
    Madam – congratulations on your wise decision to participate in this open dialog with Norwegian citizens. What do you think about the outlook for an international treaty to follow the Kyoto Protocol on climate change? Is China ready to commit itself to any kinds of limits to the growth in greenhouse gas emissions over the coming years?
    Petter T, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Thank you for encouraging me. As for the climate change issue, we attach great importance to it. We joined in and honored the Kyoto Protocol. China will do its part to contribute to the environmental protection. It takes more in-depth discussions on this subject. Takk.
    Why do you not put forward the evidence you and Wen Jiabao and others say you have linking the Dalai Lama to the planning of the demonstrations in Tibet? Is it because you have no evidence. And how can you say evidence are available at the PRC Oslo Embassy web-site, when no such evidence is available there? How can you accuse a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the only one born withing the areas ruled by China, without putting forward any evidence?
    Stine Kongelstad, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I suggest that you visit our
    Ms Ambassador, To what extent is the Chinese public informed about demonstrations and critical foreign press regarding Tibet and recent olympic torch relay?
    John Rambo, Bergen

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: The Chinese people are well informed of what is going on. We condemn the violence.
    Madame Ambassador My impression is that China is a much more liberal and free country today than twenty years ago. Does China have a long-term-plan for becomming a democracy and implementing Human Rights into her juridical system, or will the Chineese liberation stop here? How far do you think China will be, in terms of Human Rights, in twenty years time? Thank you
    Alexander Huth, Arendal

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Thank you for your kind words about China. You can be rest assured that China will continue to stick to the road of democracy and rule of law. I am optimistic and confident.
    Why do about 2.800 Tibetans flee Tibet to Nepal and India every year, risking their lives crossing the Himalayan mountains in the winter to get out?
    Stine Angela Kongelstad, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I am not sure how and where you got this figure.
    How can you say that human rights are “internal affairs” for China when you have signed UN treaties that declare all human rights as universal?
    貀stein Alme, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: The value of human rights should be well respected. We are only opposing those who try to intervene in other countries’ internal affairs under the disguise of defending human rights.
    Mrs. Ambassadeur! The chinese authorities have had almost two decades to learn the lessons of Tienanmen Square, why do you once again handle a crisis with massiv force? You had to know that it would cause you trouble in the international opinion?
    Lucius, Buskerud

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: The law-breakers should be dealt with according to the law. It is the practice of the countries which stand for the rule of law.
    Simpel question: Why does China respond with violence against peaceful activists, and accuse them of “crimes against China”, “destructive acivities” and other ridiculous things? In my countries (Norway, USA)we believe that individuals have the right to demonstrate against governmental policies as long as they do not commit violent acts. We do not jail journalists who speak against the government.
    Jon-Richard Knoff, Vermont, USA

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: My question is: Are they “peaceful” demonstrators?
    Why are the Chinese Army spending so much money on new equipment and a higher military strength? What are you afraid of? Who are your enemies?
    stein, bergen

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: We have nothing to fear. However, we should be fully prepared in order to defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We need to upgrade our equipment like other countries would do and improve the living standards of the military staff in light of the inflation.
    Hello Is it true that the best chinese food is served in Canton?
    Frode Hesten, Trondheim

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Cantonese food is delicious. But I am not sure whether people living in other parts of China would agree it is the best of all.
    Dear ambassador Gao Jian. When will China ratify the Convention for Civil and Political Rights, and will China use its role as a strong economic power more actively in the UN to push for human interventions in cases where the state breaches its citizens human rights, or still remain passive and respect ‘internal affairs’? I hope you will take time to answer my question.
    Line Begby, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: The Convention is under the review of the National People’s Congress. We are making great efforts to improve our society. And we are working closely with other countries in seeking dialogues rather than confrontation in solving the differences among the nations.
    1) When I was reading the press releases from the Chinese authorities during the riots in the Tibetan Autonomous region I got a flashback from the last Iraq war. Iraq’s propaganda minister maintained that Iraqi forces had full control while the explosions could be heard in the vicinity. He clearly made a bad figure. How can the Chinese goverment hope to maintain credibility when coming with claims to the world, while refusing any 3rd party access to investigation?
    Andreas, Trondheim

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: We welcome fair and unbiased press coverage.
    Dear Ambassador. Why is it so impossible for the Chinese leaders to meet with the Dalai Lama?
    Heidi , Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: Our policy towards him is consistent. If he truly abandons “Tibetan independence” and recognizes Taiwan is part of China, the central government would be willing to talk with him about his future and his followers’ future. We hope that in his life time, he would do things beneficial to the country. In fact, ever since 2002, the central government held 6 rounds of talks with private representatives sent by him.
    How do you define democracy? How do you define dictatorship?
    arne storvig, br鴑n鴜sund

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: We all pursue democracy. However, each country has its own condition, and it is up to the people to decide their system. No country should impose its own system on others.
    What do you think about the authoritarian government of China, the fact that there is only one party and no real democracy? Also, the fact that the government attacks people who disagree with them and even tortures them. Doesn’t this make you sad as a human being? Do you really feel good about representing that kind of a government? I understand these questions are hard for you to answer freely, but I hope you’ll try to answer them. Thanks
    Hannah, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I would suggest that you take some time to read more about our political system. It is not correct to say that we have only one party in China. There are other political parties and we have the Political Consultative Conference as well.All the major decisions should go through the Conference.
    How big is China’s influence in African countries when it comes to ownership of resources?
    Ketil, Asker

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: The relations between China and African countries have always been good,ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It was the African countries that helped us restore our seat in the UN. When it comes to the question of resources, the truth is, the US imports around 33% of the oil from African continent, and EU countries 38%. China has only 8%.
    Have you read “Mao, the unknown story” written by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday? If so, what do you think about this book?
    Jan 豯mheim, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: I am sorry I haven’t read this book.
    What do you mean when you say that China is backed by the Norwegian people?
    John Martin, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: We received a large number of e-mails, letters and phone calls from our Norwegian friends who render their support and send their best wishes to Beijing Olympic Games.
    Why do yo block foreign journalists out of Tibet? Why can’t they go to see Tibet for themselves in order to find the truth? Can we trust the Chinese media to be honest? We know that the torch relay has not been accurately portrayed by the Chinese media. Why should we then trust what they write about Tibet?
    Petter Walstr鴐, B鎟um

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: We welcome foreign journalists. As a matter of fact, many Norwegian correspondents have been to Tibet. The torch relay is a joyful event for the Chinese people, and we want to share our joy with the people of the rest of the world. I think the Chinese people know the truth, they will draw the conclusion by themselves and independently.
    Question 1: Why is it so hard for China to accept the human rights, and give people of China the freedom to speak and have their own meaning, and among this also to be free to criticize the government and system? Question 2: About Tibet, it seems like China is doing a terrible mistake, and have been attacking the people of Tibet on the place they are most vulnerable, their religion. Why can not China accept Tibet to become a free nation in a union with China?
    Reidar Jonassen, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: It is an undeniable fact that over the last 30 years or so, China has made tremendous progress in human rights. We managed to lift over 2.5 million people out of poverty. This is a miracle and also the greatest contribution China made to the world. However, I think we still have a long way to go. No society is perfect. We will make even greater efforts to improve it with the help of the people from all over the world, including that of Norway. We invite criticisms out of good intention. I have answered the question about Tibet many times on the Norwegian media. I think it is obvious who stirred up all these troubles, and who the mastermind is behind them. Tibet is part of China. That is the fact.
    I was in China a few months ago and experienced the media censorship on the Internet and on TV. What is it that China is so afraid of showing?
    Audun, oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: We have nothing to hide and nothing to be afraid of.
    Why does not the Chinese ambassy answer my emails? I have written twice with questions concerning the situation in Tibet. You have not answered. That is not very polite.
    Janne Waage Berset, OSlo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: We have received lots of e-mails. we try our best, but sorry, we are not able to answer all of them. I suggest that you visit our website at and you can find some information there.
    Hello! First of all let me say that you seem like a nice person :-). My question is as follows: What is the justification for China’s occupation of Tibet?
    Geir, Oslo

    Ambassadør Gao Jian: There is no question of “occupation” of Tibet. Tibet was, is and will always be part of China.

    Facts and Figures on Tibet in 1999

    The Statistics Bureau of Tibet releases the following facts and figures about the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1999. The gross domestic product (GDP) of Tibet reached 10.335 billion yuan last year, up 9.1 percent over 1998, and surpassing the national average for six consecutive years.
    The average per capita income of farmers and herdsmen in Tibet reached 1,250 yuan (151 U.S. dollars) in 1999, an increase of 7.9 percent over 1998.
    Some 180,000 people from overseas visited Tibet in 1999, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year, and foreign exchange earned from tourism amounted to 36 million U.S. dollars, up 9 percent.
    In 1999, the industrial output value of Tibet rose by an estimated 7.8 percent over 1998, with large increases in the output of gold, cement ,and electricity.
    Tibet’s tertiary industry is expected to achieve 4.585 billion yuan in added-value in 1999, up 12.7 percent over 1998, thanks to the measures taken to stimulate domestic demand and consumption.
    The import and export volume of Tibet is expected to reach 166 million U.S. dollars in 1999, a rise of 51 percent over the previous year, with export volume surging by 87.6 percent.
    Last year, Tibet introduced 6.48 million dollars of foreign funds.

    China’s sovereignty on Tibet for over 700 years
    Millions of files in both Chinese and Tibetan recording historical facts over more than seven centuries are being kept in the archives of Beijing, Nanjing and Lhasa. No government of any country in the world has ever recognized Tibet as an independent state.
    British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne, in a formal instruction he sent out in 1904, called Tibet “a province of the Chinese Empire.”
    In his speech at the Lok Sabba in 1954, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Over the past several hundred years, as far as I know, at no time has any foreign country denied China’s sovereignty over Tibet.”
    In Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a statue of the Tang Princess Wen Cheng, who married the Tubo tsampo, king of Tibet, in 641, is still enshrined and worshiped in the Potala Palace. The Tang-Tubo Alliance Monument erected in 823 still stands in the square in front of the Jokhang Monastery. The monument inscription reads in part, “The two sovereigns, uncle and nephew, having come to agreement that their territories be united as one, have signed this alliance of great peace to last for eternity! May God and humanity bear witness thereto so that it may be praised from generation to generation.”
    The following map (From “Historical Atlas” by William R. Shepherd,1923.) had shown Tibet part of Yuan Dynasty. No one can deny that Tibet is always a part of China. Tibet is never an independent country. None of the Chinese government has ever surrendered the sovereignty of Tibet to others.

    Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)
    The Yuan emperor established the Xuanzheng Yuan or Ministry for the Spread of Governance to directly handle important military and political affairs of the Tibet region. Choice of its members lay with the emperor and its reports were submitted directly to the monarch.
    The central government of the Yuan Dynasty sent officials into Tibet to set up post stations, whose size varied according to the local population, topography and resources. These post stations were linked up in a communication line extending from Tibet up to Dadu (present-day Beijing).
    The central government of the Yuan Dynasty also dispatched officials into Tibet to conduct censuses, establish the number of corvee laborers in areas under various wanhu offices and decide the number of corvee laborers, provisions and animal transport the areas along the post route had to supply. Such censuses were conducted three times in Tibet, in 1268, 1287 and 1334..
    Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
    In 1368 the Ming Dynasty replaced the Yuan Dynasty in China, and inherited the right to rule Tibet.
    The central government of the Ming Dynasty retained most of the titles and ranks of official positions instituted during the Yuan Dynasty. In the central and eastern parts of present-day Tibet, the Dbus-Gtsang Itinerant High Commander and the Mdo-khams Itinerant High Commander were set up respectively. Equivalent to provincial-level military organs, they operated under the Shaanxi Itinerant High Commander and, at the same time, handled civil administration. In Ngari in west Tibet, the E-Li-Si Army-Civilian Marshal Office was instituted. Leading officials of these organs were all appointed by the central government.
    The Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Lama are the two leading incarnation hierarchies of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Gelug Sect rose during the Ming Dynasty, and the 3rd Dalai Lama was the abbot of one of the sect’s monasteries. The central government of the Ming Dynasty showed him special favor by allowing him to pay tribute. In 1587 he was granted the title of Dorjichang or Vajradhara Dalai Lama.
    Any official of the Tibetan local government who offended the law was punished by the central government.
    Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
    When the Qing Dynasty replaced the Ming Dynasty in 1644, it further strengthened administration over Tibet.
    In 1653 and 1713, the Qing emperors granted honorific titles to the 5th Dalai Lama and the 5th Bainqen Lama, henceforth officially establishing the titles of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni and their political and religious status in Tibet.
    The Qing emperor made a young Living Buddha of the Xikang area the 7th Dalai Lama and had him escorted into Tibet, and appointed four Tibetan officials renowned for meritorious service “Galoins” to handle Tibet’s political affairs.
    In order to perfect Tibet’s administrative organizations, the Qing Dynasty on many occasions enacted “regulations” to rectify and reform old systems and establish new ones. The Authorized Regulations for the Better Governing of Tibet, promulgated in 1793, had 29 articles. Their major purport was:
    The Qing government holds the power to confirm the reincarnation of all deceased high Living Buddhas of Tibet including the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni.
    The high commissioners will supervise the handling of Tibetan affairs on behalf of the central government, enjoying the equal standing with the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni. All the Galoins and those below them are subordinates.

    Republic of China (1910-1949)
    In 1913, the British government forced the Beijing government to participate in a tripartite conference of China, Britain and Tibet, namely the Simla Conference held at the behest of the British government.
    On July 3, 1914, the Chinese government representative Chen Yifan upon instruction refused to sign the Simla Convention. In his statement, Chen said, “Government of China refuses to recognize any agreement which His Majesty’s Government and Tibet might conclude independently either now or in the future.” The Chinese government also sent a note to the British government, reiterating its position.
    In the summer of 1942, the Tibetan local government, with the support of the British representative, announced the establishment of a “foreign affairs bureau,” and openly carried out “Tibetan independence” activities. These actions, as soon as they were made public, were condemned unanimously by the Chinese people. The national government also issued a stern warning. Under this pressure, the Tibetan local government had no choice but to withdraw its decision and reported the change to the national government
    People’s Republic of China (1949 – now)
    After a long civil war and the World War II, Chinese people finally established Peoples’ Republic of China on October 1, 1949. All foreign powers had been driven out of China. PRC continued in recovering the rest of Mainland China and its army entered Tibet in 1951.
    Tibet is one of the Autonomies in China. So far no country in this world ever raised doubt in China ‘s sovereignty right over Tibet. Any claim of Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 is nonsense. There are no historical evidences or legal positions that China has lost its sovereignty over Tibet. “Invasion” has no meaning to a country exercising its sovereignty right on its own land.
    Freedom and Human Right
    Before 1951, Tibet was under a feudal serfdom characterized by the dictatorship of upper-class monks and nobles. The feudal lords who constituted only five percent of the population possessed 95 percent of the means of production. Tibet serfs were even more miserable than the black slaves in the United States before the civil war. Tibet was at that time not peaceful at all because the struggles between the slaves and their lords were very fierce.
    Before 1951, there were no other religions allowed in Tibet. There were evidences that missioners were killed in Tibet in the past.
    Tibetans now enjoy their freedom of religions and are liberated from the feudal serfdom system. They live in a much better society than before.
    It is obvious that British and America support to Tibet independent movement is not for freedom or human right. It is purely a political game. It shows again and again their ambitious in taking over China and their continuous anti-Chinese sentiment, which has been exercised for a few hundred years.

  45. Alice Says:

    Santa Claus is not from Finland

    Some time little knowledge is dangerous.
    Please read yourself again and again this sentence and let me know how much knowledge do you have and how you get it?
    This is a voice cried out “MEDIA is cheating as I have seen”.
    Are you saying I myself who has never been to the far far away land know more than this guy who has been there because MEDIA told me so?
    If you miss the point here again it is really ashamed of you.

  46. Alice Says:

    It is your right to believe or not. But this author here showing pictures in Tebit gives evidence of one step further than you if you foot have never touched this ground.

  47. Bin Tian Says:

    Talking about being brain washed. In the face of a well written article based on one individual’s personal experience, many of the readers resort to empty statement such as “severe human right issues” as a defense. To to understanding, being brain washed means ignoring facts and rational arguments, refuting any and everything not in one’s favor with empty slogans. Accusing any person who dares to defend his country as brain washed is the ultimate form of being brain washed.

  48. Jan Eggen Says:

    Santa Claus is not from Finland, the North Pole or any other cold place. He is from Norway.
    In the beginning, Santa Claus was just an ordinary guy who accidentally began delivering gifts for Christmas, and thereafter got his nickname Santa Claus. Here-after we will call him by his right name, Julenissen (the yule elf).
    Julenissen has helpers who live all over Norway in their own farmhouses with their own toolsheds. Julenissen himself lives in Drøbak [see map on page 5]. Although he also has his own toolshed, he does not have much time to make gifts because he is busy in his post office, which has its own postmark. Each year Julenissen receives thousands of letters from kids all over the world. These letters often contain a wish list. Julenissen is very busy answering them.
    Transporting the gifts is a big job and makes the main thoroughfares in Drøbak very congested at times. Julenissen uses every means of transportation, from horse-drawn sleigh and sledge to trains and planes. After all, this is 1995! Because of the traffic, highway authorities in Norway have posted road signs around Drøbak saying “Watch out for Santa Claus.”
    Each November Julenissen invites all his helpers from all over Norway to a party, actually a pep rally of sorts. This is to raise everyone’s spirits for the coming month of hard work. The main activity at the party is lifting bags and practicing techniques for Christmas Eve delivery. There is a competition in which Julenissen and his helpers jump into hay and race on the sledge.
    After Christmas, Julenissen is so exhausted that he can barely walk. He sleeps for weeks to regain his strength for next year.
    See Related Story:
    Santa Roams the Streets of Drøbak
    News of Norway has the honor to reveal one of life’s biggest secrets: Julenissen is Norwegian. Many of our readers have wondered about this best-kept secret of all time, but after intensive investigations, there is no doubt. The facts have been confirmed and the truth can finally be reported.
    Santa Claus, or Julenissen, as this figure is called in Norwegian, established formal residency in Drøbak, about 20 miles south of Oslo on the Oslofjord, in 1989. That’s when municipal authorities decided that Julenissen was born there – until someone proves otherwise, which has not happened yet.
    We had been led to believe for generations that Julenissen’s workshop was some vague place near the North Pole. Drøbak hardly seems polar. The Tregården Julehus (“Wooden Christmas House”) is where Julenissen has his main workshop. The operation is owned by Eva and Willy Johansen. Eva designs santas sold both at the Tregården Julehus and at 350 other locations worldwide.
    You might wonder why you have never heard of this operation before, although CNN and French fashion magazines have covered this story. Just the other day, Eva told us on the phone that the Japanese Ambassador to Norway accompanied some of her people into the woods to cut the big Christmas tree that will be placed at Expo-Land in Osaka, Japan.
    Another Norwegian Christmas tree is ready to be sent to Monaco as part of a big Norwegian marketing project hosted by Prince Albert of Monaco. The last Christmas tree sent from Drøbak went to Berlin. For five years running, a Norwegian tree has stood in the place of honor before the Brandenburg Gate.
    Japan’s largest newspaper (circulation 14 million) has interviewed the Norwegian Julenissen. Judging from the thousands of cards received from Japanese children, Japan really was in the need of a santa. Other international media are showing similar interest as interviewers have arrived from Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.
    The principal julenisse, Kjell Morten Gustavsen, is certified by Drøbak authorities and by Norway Post as well. He runs the post office. But, he says “I do not want to win over other countries’ Santas. All Santas should be friends.”
    Julenissen is going to Japan to Expo-Land December 21, wearing a knitted sweater and short pants (for skiing) to distribute gifts to children. The Japanese will be able to taste Norwegian porridge and herring and seven kinds Christmas cookies.
    Norwegians in the meantime are trying to teach the Japanese that Julenissen is different from his more flashy American counterpart, since the Norwegian julenisse still prefers using horse and sledge. However, this does not mean that he is old fashioned, as he already has his World Wide Web home page on the Internet. Julenissen’s address is http:// For those of you who are not on the Internet, the conventional address is Julenissen, P.O. Box 200, 1441 Drøbak, Norway.

  49. Maria Says:

    I read this So all riots and violence are well-planned with some politicians involved. Dirty! First of all, free the world of selfish and evil politicians, who make the world never better but only worse. Congratulate Chinese: it doesn’t matter that you’re not so skilled linguistically, for you can make yourself understood; it doesn’t matter if you lose the sense of right judgement if only you can afford to pay the cost resulting from it. It does matters that you don’t lose your heart. A nation can still stand after so many disasters of all kinds tells that it will prevail in the end. Because it has so many hardworking people with true human hearts. Good luck, China!

  50. Kevin Woo Says:

    To western friends,

    What do you want from us?

    When we were called “sick man of Asia”, we were called peril.
    When we billed to be the next superpower, we’re called the threat

    When we closed our doors, you smuggled drugs to open markets.
    when we embrace free trade, you blame us for taking away your jobs.

    when we’re falling apart, you marched in your troops and wanted your fair share.
    when we’re putting the broken pieces together, “Free Tibet” you screamed! “it was invasion.”

    So we tried communism, you hated us for being communist.
    So we embraced capitalism, you hate us for being capitalist,

    Then we have a billion people, you said we’re destroying the planet.
    Then we limit our numbers, you said it was human rights abuses.

    When we were poor, you think we’re dogs,
    When we loan you cash, you blamed us for your debts.

    When we build our industries, you called us polluters.
    When we sell you goods, you blamed us for global warming,
    When we buy oil, you called that exploitation and genocide.

    When we were lost in chaos and rampage, you wanted rule s of laws for us.
    When we uphold law and order against violence, you called that violation of human rights.

    When we were silent, you said you want us to have free speech.
    When we were silent no more, you say we were brainwashed.

    Why do you hate us so much? We asked. “No”. You answered, “we don’t hate you”.
    We don’t hate you either Bud, do you understand us?? “of course we do”, you said, “We have CNN, BBC, and CBC”.

    But why, we still feel, your western people are not happy with us.

    What do you really want from us??

    My friend, What do you really want from us??

  51. karma Says:

    media too some degree is always biased…

    if only the CCP allowed the likes of CNN and BBC to go there, they would get more stuff to report…

    as for the police in Nepal beating protestors instead of China, what is the difference? China is bullying Nepal and India to do as it says or… I am from Nepal, I know this. Nepal is supposed to close Mount Everest during the busiest tourist season, so Pro-Tibet demonstrators don’t go there during that time…

    How far will they spread their dictatorial and brutal reach?

    I understand the Chinese people’s anger over death in Lhasa. That is truly sad. However, I don’t remember White Americans threatening to kill and do bad things to Blacks after the L.A. riots. Everyone understood why they were angry even though rioting is wrong. Han Chinese saying Tibetans are happy is like the Whites saying to me “you don’t understand how much our government spends on minorities, they are just lazy and ungrateful!”

    No amount of money can buy someone’s dignity, pride and freedom period. I don’t care that one fifth of the world is Chinese, this blatant disregard for anyone other than Chinese is going to backfire. Some of it is probably incited by the CCP, but some of it could be genuine Chinese nationalism.

    Everyone in the world naturally wants to be free, free to practice their religion, etc.. etc…


  52. Lei Says:

    For questions about Mr. Eirik Granqvist, following the link and search for his name.

    I strongerly recommend everybody here to ready through this discussion happend a year ago, if you want to get some deep understanding what was and is going on in Tibet. There are plenty of souces there.

    Furthermore, Prof. Melvyn C. Goldstein is academically recognized as the expert about the history of Tibet (yes, he can read and speak Tibetan). Reviews of his books are availabe at

  53. Lizzie Says:

    To Santa Claus is not from Finland:

    Please, find out who were the killers in Tibet first?

  54. Kevin Woo Says:

    I just like to recommend to see, how ordinary Tibetans respond. They hang national flag outside their houses to say their support. Tell me, if you have something more convincing than these.

  55. SChu Says:

    re: Kevin Woo Says:
    April 15, 2008 at 5:22 am

    To western friends,

    What do you want from us?

    Very well said. When a prejudice has been ingrained into a person so firmly from family, society, long before he or she has the ability to judge right from wrong, he may not even know he’s prejudiced. That is brainwashing.

    And to westerners who claim all chinese who speak out on supporting their own people are ‘brainwashed’, think again. A lot of chinese people chose to live overseas because our ancestors were suppressed by the communist government during the Cultural Revolution. But times have changed for the better now, and China has improved in many ways. So if WE, who went through it ‘first-hand’, are willing to be impartial and listen to both sides of the story to find out the truth, why can’t you?

  56. Anonymous Says:

    This is clearly fabricated. The standard of English-language education is at such high level that the average English-speaking Finnish citizen – and certainly any University Professor – can speak English with near-native proficiency. There are so many basic, simple grammatical errors in this it could not possibly have been written by an academic. On the contrary, it sounds distinctly “Chinglish”, that curious confusion of grammar most Chinese students of English seem to develop.

    Also, I am unable to find any information about an Eirik Granqvist related to any University anywhere in the world. I don’t believe this is genuine at all.

  57. Timo Riikonen Says:

    As a Finnish man I did not find any clues to this being fabricated. Since there were still those who thought differently, I checked this out, traced the writer. He has worked in Helsinki and Bergen Universities and in a Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. A man born in Finland, answered in Finnish etc.
    So if someone is claiming this to be fabricated, then he is denial mode and should read this again and focus as to what is true here.
    I don’t have background myself to comment on that side.

  58. To Someone Says:

    Whatever pure English or Chinglish does not matter. The most important thing is the truth.

    In Tibet the standard of people’s life has been becoming better and better. They are enjoying the better policies that the Chinese government gives to them which are not given to other Hen Chinese.

    Their culture is protected very well. They can even use their own Tibetan language to send emails on internet and to send SMS on their mobile phones. The monks do everyday whatever they like and enjoy food and nice environment provided by the government.

    The only thing is that DaLai Lama did not like to go back to Tibet even he claimed independence he was still welcomed back by the previous Chinese government.

    A lot of western people are so innocent and so ignorant. Sorry for that I use these two words. They just simply believe their media and do not justify by themselves.

    Time will tell the truth.

  59. Peter Jackson Says:

    Looking at this from a third person’s view.

    In 2006, if you had a visa in to China, you were free to travel to Tibet without an additional visa. Because of some activists/separatists who were causing trouble – which from memory their intention was violence through weapons, a visa was required in later 2007 to go to Tibet. This meant you could still travel, but had to state a reason for travel. Normally, tourist would suffice. However still many foreigners including my friends were able to enter without a tour guide. You could go as a self-organised group of 2 or more. This is how students who could not afford a tour guide could travel cheaply.

    Tibet is a wonderful place. It appears to be peaceful, even in 2007. I could not imagine it to have turned violent. It felt particularly free, also majority of the people are Tibetan which supports what Eirik has mentioned.

    However, media control is an issue. However it’s the same issue an any other part of the world. In China you can clearly surf CNN, BBC, YouTube etc I have seen bogus reports saying this is not possible. That’s crazy.

    On the other hand, Eirik has a lot of grammatical errors, so he is probably not native English speaking. Which explains why he is Finish. His article is supported officially by the government of Finland:

    I don’t see any reasons why he would make up his story.

    The real issue is, it is a terrible shame that such a peaceful place has had more security placed on it.

    The lifestyle of Tibetans has greatly increased for the average person.

    I think Buddhism can be a wonderful peace loving thing. However, I think kicking out monks may have taken place. That’s a sad reality.

    In the past Tibet was a very dangerous place, as you can imagine. The wild wild west. Where a few ruled by the sword and controlled everything. It’s now a lot safer.

    If the objective is freedom. Then would you obtain it through force? All that would do is restrict your freedoms you had with more police.

    At the end of the day, for the local Tibetan, it would be in their interest for stability, peace, and education that could lead to prosperity.

    At the end of the day, for the local Tibetan, who owns the land does not really affect their daily life. Leave politics and ownership out of it. As long as you have a place to live which you can call your own that’s fine. Taxes will end up in someone else’s hands anyway. You end up fighting more on ideology of naming rights to a land which is still just a piece of land. For most people and Tibetans, I’m sure they just want to survive and be happy.

    I don’t know about holidays in Hainan island. However, they are a lot better off in general, unless you were a monk that was kicked out, or one of the few warlords who was rich. Then you would have a grudge. Remember, from history that some of the warlords and nobles were the ones who requested the Chinese to come help free their lands and provide stability and education. They are seen either as heroes or traitors. Depends which side you see it from. However, their intentions were good for the many at the time.

    I’m a firm believer that through education, you can then make your own decisions.

  60. Jerry S Says:

    Lets look at the facts from the average Tibetan people’s perspective.

    What they want is happiness like everyone else and to survive and be happy in safety i.e. freedom.

    Freedom and safety:
    They are more free and safe than ever before. Before this, Tibet in those days was dangerous with bandits and warlords that ruled those areas. Imagine what it was like back then. A few of the rich and nobility ruled the rest by force.

    China equalised this, and like the rest of their country back then thought it would be good to make everything equal. i.e. the idea of communism. Power to the people. For better or for worse. Some might argue that this caused a lot of people to starve with some of the ideas…. most people see this as definitely true. It must have been cruel and harsh to live fighting for survival.

    Having traveled to Tibet and Chengdu. People in Chengdu died from starvation as the result of some of these policies. They even mentioned this on some of the official tours I was in – where they have a registered tour guide. So there must be some freedom to be able to say this, else you would get arrested etc for saying the wrong thing. But people seem to say whatever they like or feel.

    Times were seriously tough in the cultural revolution, even before that too people were starving the rich were really rich and the poor really poor, which is what lead to the revolution. Like all revolutions, a lot of people suffered or died. However, things have changed dramatically for the better.

    Freedom of Religion:
    What I learnt in high school was that China has no religion. The Official religion was Communism. Official language: Mandarin. However, this might have been official true, in reality the people there speak a huge number of dialects. Religion seems to be more important for families there and is openly practiced. Temples are growing larger and larger. Many people are Buddhists, Taoists, or Islamic. Quite surprising there are more than 1 million Muslims in China. I only found it out when I got there. Many Chinese also may not look typically Chinese or ethnic Han, there are many ethnics there including Arabic looking people. Although sometimes walking in Arabic areas, we got a little scared because it appeared that everyone in that region look Arabic, and carried knives… but it was a problem mainly because of our cultural bias and media… in reality they were not dangerous… neither were they overly friendly… (who knows really if they were dangerous or not unless you stay overnight on your own in the dark street waving foreign money around – but it’s probably dangerous to do that anywhere)

    People now can afford more. People can afford education. People can afford to eat. People can afford to donate to the temple and monks. People can wear whatever they want. Traditional clothes or modern. So it kind of reminded me like Japan where some people prefer to wear kimonos etc.

    People have now improved conditions.

    Destruction of temples:
    Bad side:
    Temples may have been destroyed. It is also rumored that people may have been injured in the process. I’m guessing this is probably fact more than fiction.

    Good side:
    Through education. They realized tourism brings them $. Temples are now flourishing as tourism dollars attract more people. More preservation of culture and relics. The local friends said that if they are local they get special benefits to help preserve their way of life. The officials made up of mainly ethnic Tibetans want more tourism dollars to come.

    Education of even Buddhism is growing. That’s good rather than blind faith. However, it also means monks are getting more clever. i.e. they just can’t make stuff up. Just like they did in the old days of Christianity. They are being educated to read and write and they should refer to the scriptures or text. The root of Buddhism comes back to Do Good, Avoid Evil and Purify the Mind. So it’s kind of easy to remember, and you know that if someone is telling you to go kill people in the main shopping district and riot that it is completely wrong and not in the name of Buddhism.

    The Tibetans who are worried about things changing too fast are more worried about their kids turning Western too fast, e.g. clothes, food, basketball etc. as opposed to Chinese. I couldn’t imagine anyone there wanting to wear Chinese costumes! For others, wearing Western clothes was more of a status symbol. Just like Japan if you can imagine.

    Tourism is so important. It would not make sense to affect the lives of so many Tibetans by rioting and killing others. All that would do is lower tourism spending. It would also lead to less freedoms. e.g. when there’s a riot, police are called in to ensure there is stability and safety. However, this may also mean less freedoms. e.g. possible curfews at night.

    Freedom to travel:
    This used to be no issue at all, since you could walk in and out as you felt. In 2007 this changed after some people caused some issues. This restricted the freedom for all. It meant you had to apply for a visa if you were a foreigner, but for my friends and I, It was pretty easy to obtain by stating you were a tourist. You also had to be on a tour. This was pretty easy to go around. All you had to do was say it was a self tour and list a few places you wanted to go to. We had expected a big check at the border, in reality, the border crossing was just like a toll gate. No real checks. We didn’t even have to get off the bus. However, the bus did stop so that people could use the toilet etc. We were free to roam around on our own all day, every day. The locals were also friendly, and didn’t try to over sell you touristy things. Tibet and Chengdu was a really nice place to travel.

    Freedom of press:
    There were plenty of foreign press who were roaming about on their own when I was in China. They could also take pictures of whatever you wanted. However, in temples, they had signs of respect to not take pictures of the Buddhist statues inside buildings. Outside was ok. It’s like that almost everywhere else in China.

    Internet freedom:
    Yeah, it’s true what people say. You can surf any sites you like, just like at home. There’s real freedom. However sometimes the net is a little slow depending if you were using cable or shared. However, we did find that adult oriented sites were not always available. So that was a bit of a bummer. We did all kinds of tests on different sites… cause of all the stories we heard back at home about websites being restricted… but our friends who had gone there to live or work or travel always told us it was a load of BS. However CNN, and BBC, and all the usual news groups were available. But adult oriented sites were not…. so if you like those adult sites then it would have been a little repressive, which is ironic because you could buy it from video stores there if you wanted to… So I can verify it felt pretty free.

    So are Tibetans free:
    Well – they think so.

  61. Jan Eggen Says:

    The History/Background of Tibet

    Shamanism was the predominant religion before the introduction of Buddhism in the 7th century. Buddhist missionaries from India came to Tibet and started an alphabet system for the Tibetan language and started translations of Buddhist texts. During this time Tibet was a strong kingdom but by the 10th century, things began to fall apart with Tibet separating into several principalities. In 1206, Genghis Khan included Tibet in his empire and in the mid-1600’s, the Mongols allowed the Dalai Lama (monk filled with wisdom) to have political power within Tibet. This was done after he was named the head of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism in the 15th century.

    China came to control Tibet in the 18th century, but they didn’t maintain their authority for many years. In 1911, Tibetan’s rebelled and started asserting their authority and independence by trying to get rid of China’s officials and military stationed in Tibet. This was completed by 1913, but a meeting was held with Britain, China and Tibet to come to an agreement regarding Tibet’s borders and their status as an independent region. China never came to an agreement and the situation became tense finally culminating in an battle in eastern Tibet in 1918. The British attempted to settle the dispute with a truce, but they were largely unsuccessful.

    Qamdo (Chamdo) was invaded by Communist Troops not more than a year after their control of mainland China. This occurred in October 1950, and by May 1951 the Tibetan government conceded to the Chinese and gave up their independence. They signed a treaty that gave the Dalai Lama (who was 15 at the time) domestic power, but any affairs related to foreign matters or the military was to be deferred to the Chinese government. Improvements were made to communications in Tibet, as well as improving transportation – military highways and airfields were built in a number of areas in the region.

    Thing began heating up around 1956, when a committee was established to plan for Tibet’s constitution as an autonomous region of China. This caused some rebellions in Sichuan province against the Chinese by ethnic Tibetans. The Dalai Lama was in India at the time and threatened to stay away from Tibet. When the Chinese government halted the process of transferring Tibet into a socialist region, the Dalai Lama returned, even though the eastern rebellion hadn’t been stopped. Things didn’t improve, especially with the US’s CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) involvement. By 1959, with the CIA’s help, the rebellion escalated into a revolt in Lhasa that lasted until 1971. Although it lasted over 10 years, after 1959 it wasn’t really considered to be a threat by the Chinese, just an annoyance. During this time the Dalai Lama went back to India, and the acting head of the region became the Panchen Lama. Tibetans fled the region in the tens of thousands, with most going to India and others going to Nepal and Bhutan. Tibet formally became an autonomous region of China in 1965 and was reorganized to become a socialist region.

    The Panchen Lama was released from jail in 1978, after serving 14 years for criticizing China’s rule over Tibet, and was put back in his former position. Surprisingly, the Chinese government agreed that Tibet hadn’t been managed well and stated they would be making reforms. Tibetans weren’t satisfied with the reforms and showed their distaste by giving violent protests in 1987. Negotiations failed in 1988 to resolve the conflict when the Dalai Lama wouldn’t renounce the independence of Tibet and China wouldn’t budge on giving Tibet more autonomy.

    1993 brought about more demonstrations with the addition of terrorism and in 1995 things escalated with the selection of a new Panchen Lama. The Tibetans sent their selections to the Dalai Lama in India, who selected a boy named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year old. Not pleased with their authority being overlooked, the Chinese came up with their own candidate another six-year old by the name of Gyaincain Norbu. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was held in detention with his family and in 1996 they came down on Tibetan monasteries, which caused the injury and death of some monks. The drama ended in late 1996 with the government putting the Panchen Lama leader in prison.

  62. Tony Says: History of Tibet From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia • Ten things you may not know about Wikipedia • Jump to: navigation, search It has been suggested that Tibet#History of Tibet be merged into this article or section. (Discuss) Tibet is situated between the two ancient civilizations of central China and India, but the tangled mountain ranges of the Tibetan Plateau and the towering Himalayas serve to distance it from both. The Tibetan language is a member of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Tibetan history is characterized by a special dedication to the Buddhist religion, both in the eyes of its own people as well as for the Mongol and Manchu peoples. Tibet is nicknamed “the roof of the world” or “the land of snows”. Contents [hide] * 1 Prehistory o 1.1 Archaeological record o 1.2 Mythological origins * 2 Early History o 2.1 Founding of the dynasty * 3 Tibetan Empire o 3.1 Reign of Songtsän Gampo o 3.2 Reign of Mangsong Mangtsen (650-676) o 3.3 Reign of ‘Dus-rong Mang-po-rje (677-704) o 3.4 Reign of Mes-ag-tshoms (704-754) o 3.5 Reign of Trisong Detsän (756-797 or 804) o 3.6 Reign of Mune Tsenpo (c. 797-799?) o 3.7 Reign of Sadnalegs (799-815) o 3.8 Reign of Ralpacan (815-838) o 3.9 Reign of Langdarma (838-842) * 4 Tibet divided (842-1247) * 5 The Mongols and the Sakya school (1236-1354) * 6 Rise of the Phagmodru (1354-1434) * 7 The Dalai Lama lineage * 8 The origin of the title of ‘Dalai Lama’ * 9 Rise of the Geluk school o 9.1 Khoshud, Dzungars, and Manchu * 10 18th and 19th centuries o 10.1 Removal of the Regents and establishment of the Kashag * 11 British invasions of Tibet (1904-1911) o 11.1 British invasion * 12 The Tibet-Mongolia Treaty of 1913 * 13 Chinese military expelled * 14 The Simla Convention of 1914 * 15 Rule of the Chinese Communist Government * 16 Tibetan Government in Exile * 17 Footnotes * 18 Bibliography * 19 Further reading * 20 See also * 21 External links [edit] Prehistory Construction of an early history of the Tibetan region relies primarily on ancient Chinese histories supplemented with limited archaeological findings.[1] Chinese and “proto-Tibeto-Burman” languages may have split sometime before 4000 BC. The Chinese began growing millet in the Yellow River valley and the Tibeto-Burmans remained nomads; Tibetan split from Burmese circa 500[2]. [edit] Archaeological record Megalithic monuments dot the Tibetan Plateau and may have been used in ancestor worship. It is unknown whether these monuments were built by ancient Tibetans.[1] Prehistoric Iron Age hill forts and burial complexes have recently been found on the Tibetan plateau but the remote high altitude location makes archaeological research difficult. The earliest Tibetan historical texts identify the Zhang Zhung culture as a people who migrated from the Amdo region into Western Tibet.[1] [edit] Mythological origins The first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsanpo (Wylie: Gnya’-khri-btsan-po), is supposed to have descended from the sky, or immigrated to Tibet from India. Because of his strange physical features such as having webbed hands, and eyes which close from below, he is supposed to have been greeted by the locals as a god. The king remained connected to the heavens with a rope, and rather than dying, ascended the same rope again. The legendary King Drigum Tsenpo (Dri-gum-brtsan-po) provoked his groom Longam (Lo-ngam) to fight with him, and during the fight the King’s heaven-cord was cut, and he was killed. As a result, Drigum Tsenpo and subsequent kings left corpses and were buried.[3][4] In a later myth, first attested in the Maṇi bka’ ‘bum, the Tibetan people are the progeny of the union of a monkey and rock ogress. The Monkey is in fact a manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Tib. Spyan-ras-gzigs) and the ogress in fact the goddess Tara (Tib. ‘Grol-ma).[5] [edit] Early History The Chinese, from the 7th century CE, rendered Bod as 蕃 – pinyin: fan or bo (pronounced at that time something like p’i̭̭wǎn).[6] “Was this because Tibetans sometimes said ‘Bon’ instead of ‘Bod’, or because ‘fan’ in Chinese was a common name for ‘barbarians’? We do not know. But before long, on the testimony of a Tibetan ambassador, the Chinese started using the form T’u-fan [吐蕃 – also transliterated in pinyin as Tubo], by assimilation with the name of the T’u-fa, a Turco-Mongol race, who must originally have been called something like Tuppat. At the same period, Turkish and Sogdian texts mention a people called ‘Tüpüt’, situated roughly in the north-east of modern Tibet. This is the form that Moslem writers have used since the ninth century (Tübbet, Tibbat, etc.). Through them it reached the mediaeval European explorers (Piano-Carpini, Rubruck, Marco Polo, Francesco della Penna).”[7] The first externally confirmed contact with the Tibetan kingdom in recorded Tibetan history occurred when King Namri Löntsän (Gnam-ri-slon-rtsan) sent an ambassador to China in the early 7th century.[8] [edit] Founding of the dynasty Tibet began at the castle named Taktsé (Stag-rtse) in the Chingba (Phying-ba) district of Chonggyä (Phyongs-rgyas). There, According to the Old Tibetan Chronicle “A group of conspirators convinced Stag-bu snya-gzigs [Tagbu Nyazig] to rebel against Dgu-gri Zing-po-rje [Gudri Zingpoje]. Zing-po-rje was in turn a vassal of the Zhang-zhung empire under the Lig myi dynasty. Zing-po-rje died before the conspiracy could get underway, and his son Gnam-ri-slon-mtshan [Namri Löntsen] instead led the conspiracy after extracting an oath of fealty from the conspirators.”[9] The group prevailed against Zing-po-rje. At this point Namri Songtsen (Namri Löntsän) was the leader of a fledgling clan which prevailed over all his neighboring clans, one by one, to finally control all the area around what is now Lhasa by 630, when he was assassinated. This new-born regional state would become the Tibetan Empire. The government of Namri Songtsen sent two embassies to China in 608 and 609, marking the appearance of Tibet on the international scene.[10] [edit] Tibetan Empire Map of Tibetan Empire in 820 in relation to other significant powers Map of Tibetan Empire in 820 in relation to other significant powers As has been noted, traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification by the seventh century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of emperors ruled Tibet – see List of emperors of Tibet. Throughout the centuries from the time of the emperor Songtsän Gampo the power of the empire gradually increased over a diverse terrain so that by the reign of the emperor Ralpacan in the opening years of the ninth century its influence extended as far south as Bengal and as far north as Mongolia. The varied terrain of the empire and the difficulty of transportation, coupled with the new ideas that came into the empire as a result of its expansion, helped to create stresses and power blocs that were often in competition with the ruler at the center of the empire. Thus, for example, adherents of the Bon religion and the supporters of the ancient noble families gradually came to find themselves in competition with the recently-introduced Buddhism. [edit] Reign of Songtsän Gampo Songtsän Gampo (Wylie: Srong-brtsan Sgam-po) (born ca. 604, died 650) was the great emperor who expanded Tibet’s power, and is traditionally credited with inviting Buddhism to Tibet. When his father, Namri Löntsän died by poisoning, circa 618,[11] Songtsän Gampo took control, after putting down a brief rebellion. A statue of Emperor Songtsän Gampo in a cave at Yerpa A statue of Emperor Songtsän Gampo in a cave at Yerpa Songtsän Gampo proved adept at diplomacy, as well as in combat. The emperor’s minister Myang Mangpoje (Wylie: Myang Mang-po-rje Zhang-shang) defeated Sumpa ca. 627.[12] Six years later (c. 632-3) Myang Mangpoje was accused of treason and executed.[13][14][15] He was succeeded by minister Gar Songtsän (Mgar-srong-rtsan). The Chinese records mention an envoy in 634. On that occasion, the Emperor requested marriage to a Chinese princess and was refused. In 635-6 the Emperor attacked and defeated the Azha (Tibetan: ‘A zha; Chinese: Tüyühün) people, who lived around Lake Koko Nur in the northeast corner of Tibet, and who controlled important trade routes into China. After a Tibetan campaign against China in 635-6,[16] the Chinese emperor agreed to provide a Chinese princess to Songtsän Gampo. Circa 639, after Songtsän Gampo had a dispute with his younger brother Tsänsong (Brtsan-srong), the younger brother was burnt to death by his own minister Khäsreg (Mkha’s sregs) (presumably at the behest of his older brother the emperor).[14][17] The Chinese princess Wencheng (Tibetan Mung-chang Kung-co) departed China in 640 to marry Songtsän Gampo. She arrived a year later. Peace between China and Tibet prevailed for the remainder of Songtsän Gampo’s reign. Songtsän Gampo’s sister Sämakar (Sad-mar-kar) was sent to marry Lig-myi-rhya, the king of Zhang Zhung. However, when the king refused to consummate the marriage, she then helped her brother to defeat Lig myi-rhya and incorporate Zhang Zhung into the Tibetan Empire. In 645, Songtsän Gampo overran the kingdom of Zhang Zhung in what is now Western Tibet. Songtsän Gampo died in 650. He was succeeded by his infant grandson Trimang Lön (Khri-mang-slon). Real power was left in the hands of the minister Gar Songtsän. [edit] Reign of Mangsong Mangtsen (650-676) The minister Gar Songtsän died in 667, after having incorporated Azha into Tibetan territory. Between 665-670 Kotan was defeated by the Tibetans, and a long string of conflicts with the Chinese T’ang Dynasty over territories in the Tarim Basin began in 670 and lasted until 692.[18] Emperor Mangsong Mangtsen (Trimang Löntsen or Khri-mang-slon-rtsan) married Thrimalö (Khri-ma-lod), a woman who would be of great importance in Tibetan history. The emperor died in the winter of 676-677, and Zhang Zhung revolts thereafter. In the same year the emperor’s son, ‘Dus-rong Mang-po-rje (Tridu Songtsän or Khri-‘dus-srong-rtsan), was born.[9] [edit] Reign of ‘Dus-rong Mang-po-rje (677-704) Tibet’s Empire in 700 AD. Tibet’s Empire in 700 AD. Emperor ‘Dus-rong Mang-po-rje or Tridu Songtsän ruled in the shadow of his powerful mother Thrimalö on the one hand and the influential Gar (Mgar) clan on the other hand. In 685, the minister, Gar Tännyädombu (Mgar Bstan-snyas-ldom-bu) died and his brother, Gar Thridringtsändrö (Mgar Khri-‘bring-btsan brod) was appointed to replace him.[19] In 692, the Tibetans lost the Tarim Basin to the Chinese. Gar Thridringtsändrö defeated the Chinese in battle in 696, and sued for peace. Two years later in 698 emperor Tridu Songtsän invited the Gar clan (over 2000 people) to a hunting party and had them executed. Gar Thridringtsändrö then committed suicide, and his troops loyal to him joined the Chinese. This brought to end the power of the Gar family.[9] From 700 until his death the emperor remained on campaign in the north-east, absent from Central Tibet, while his mother Thrimalö administrated in his name.[20] In 702 China and Tibet concluded peace. At the end of that year, the Tibetan imperial government turned to consolidating the administrative organization (Tibetan: khö chenpo; Wylie: mkhos chen-po) of the northeastern Sumru (Wylie: Sum-ru) area, which had been the Sumpa country conquered 75 years earlier. Sumru was organized as a new “horn” of the empire. During the summer of 703, Tridu Songtsän resided at Öljag (‘Ol-byag) in Ling (Gling), which was on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, before proceeding with an invasion of Jang (‘Jang) or Nan-chao. In 704, he stayed briefly at Yoti Chuzang (Yo-ti Chu-bzangs) in Madrom (Rma-sgrom) on the Yellow River. He then invaded Mywa (probably = the Miao people)[21] but died during the prosecution of that campaign.[20] [edit] Reign of Mes-ag-tshoms (704-754) Gyältsugru (Wylie: Rgyal-gtsug-ru), later to become King Tride Tsuktsän (Khri-lde-gtsug-brtsan), generally known now by his nickname Mes-ag-tshoms (“Old Hairy”), was born in 704. Upon the death of ‘Dus-rong Mang-po-rje (Tridu Songtsen), his wife Thrimalö ruled as regent for the infant Gyältsugru.[20] The following year the elder son of Tridu Songtsen, by the name of Lha Balpo (Lha Bal-pho) apparently contested the succession of his one-year-old brother but, at Pong Lag-rang, Lha Balpo was “deposed from the throne”.[20][22] Thrimalö had arranged for a royal marriage to a Chinese princess. The Princess Jincheng (金成) (Tibetan: Kyimshang Kongjo) arrived in 710, but it is somewhat unclear whether she married the seven year old Gyältsugru[23], or the deposed Lha Balpo.[24] He also married a lady from Jang (Nanzhao) and another born in Nanam.[25] Gyältsugru was officially enthroned with the royal name Tride Tsuktsän in 712,[20] the same year that dowager emperess Thrimalö died. The Arabs and Turgis became increasingly prominent during 710-720. The Tibetans were allied with the Arabs and eastern Turks. Tibet and China fought on and off in the late 720s. At first Tibet (with Turgis allies) had the upper hand, but then started losing battles. After a rebellion in southern China, and a major Tibetan victory in 730, the Tibetans and Turgis sued for peace. In 734 the Tibetans married their princess Dronmalön (‘Dron ma lon) to the Turgis Qaghan. The Chinese allied with the Arabs to attack the Turgis. After victory and peace with the Turgis, the Chinese attacked the Tibet army. The Tibetans suffered several defeats in the east, despite strength in the west. The Turgis empire collapsed from internal strife. In 737, the Tibetans launched an attack against the king of Bru-za (Gilgit), who asked for Chinese help, but was ultimately forced to pay homage to Tibet. In 747, the hold of Tibet was loosened by the campaign of general Gao Xianzhi, who tried to re-open the direct communications between Central Asia and Kashmir. By 750 the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian colonial possessions to the Chinese. In 753, even the kingdom of Little Balur (Gilgit) was captured by the Chinese. In 755 Tride Tsuktsän was killed by the ministers Lang and Bal. Then Tagdra Lukong (Stag-sgra Klu-khong) presented evidence to prince Song Detsän (Srong-lde-brtsan) that “they were disloyal”, were causing dissension in the country, and were about to injure him also. … Subsequently, Lang and ‘Bal really did revolt, they were killed by the army, their property was confiscated, and Klu khong was, one assumes, richly rewarded.”[26] [edit] Reign of Trisong Detsän (756-797 or 804) In 756, Prince Song Detsän was crowned Emperor with the name Trisong Detsän (Wylie Khri sron lde brtsan) and took control of the government when he attained his majority[27] at 13 years of age (14 by Western reckoning) after a one-year interregnum during which there was no emperor. In 755 China had been greatly weakened by internal rebellion, which would last until 763. In contrast, Trisong Detsän’s reign was characterized by the reassertion of Tibetan influence in Central Asia and against China. Early in his reign regions to the West of Tibet paid homage to the Tibetan court. From that time onward the Tibetans pressed into the territory of the Tang emperors, reaching the Chinese capital Chang’an (modern Xian) by 763/764. Tibetan troops occupied Chang’an for fifteen days and installed a puppet emperor while Emperor Daizong of Tang was in Luoyang. Nanzhao (in Yunnan and neighbouring regions) remained under Tibetan control from 750 to 794, when they turned on their Tibetan overlords and helped the Chinese inflict a serious defeat on the Tibetans.[28] In the meantime, the Kyrgyz negotiated an agreement of friendship with Tibet and other powers to allow free trade in the region. An attempt at a peace treaty between Tibet and China was made in 787, but hostilities were to last until the Sino-Tibetan treaty of 821 was inscribed in Lhasa in 823 (see below). At the same time, the Uyghurs, nominal allies of the Tang emperors, continued to make difficulties along Tibet’s Northern border. Toward the end of this king’s reign, in fact, Uyghur victories in the North caused the Tibetans to lose a number of their allies in the Southeast.[29] Recent historical research indicates the presence of Christianity in as early as the sixth and seventh centuries, a period when the White Huns had extensive links with the Tibetans.[30] A strong presence existed by the eighth century when Patriarch Timothy I (727-823) in 782 calls the Tibetans one of the more significant communities of the eastern church and wrote of the need to appoint another bishop in ca. 794.[31] [edit] Reign of Mune Tsenpo (c. 797-799?) The reign of Mune Tsenpo (Wylie Mu ne btsanpo) is scantily recorded. [edit] Reign of Sadnalegs (799-815) Tibet’s Empire in 800 AD. Tibet’s Empire in 800 AD. Under Tride Songtsän (Khri lde srong brtsan – generally known as Sadnalegs) there was a protracted war with Arab powers to the west. It appears that Tibetans captured a number of Arab troops and pressed them into service on the eastern frontier in 801. Tibetans were active as far west as Samarkand and Kabul. Arab forces began to gain the upper hand, and the Tibetan governor of Kabul submitted to the Arabs and became a Muslim about 812 or 815. The Arabs then struck east from Kashmir, but were held off by the Tibetans. In the meantime, the Uyghur Empire attacked Tibet from the northeast. Strife between the Uyghurs and Tibetans continued for some time.[32] [edit] Reign of Ralpacan (815-838) Ralpacan (Wylie Khri gtsug lde brtsan) is important to Tibetan Buddhists as one of the three Dharma Kings who brought Buddhism to Tibet. He was a generous supporter of Buddhism and invited many craftsmen, scholars and translators to Tibet from neighbouring countries. He also promoted the development of written Tibetan and translations, which were greatly aided by the development of a detailed Sanskrit-Tibetan lexicon called the Mahavyutpatti which included standard Tibetan equivalents for thousands of Sanskrit terms.[33][34] Tibetans attacked Uyghur territory in 816 and were in turn attacked in 821. After successful Tibetan raids into Chinese territory, Buddhists in both countries sought mediation.[35] The Sino-Tibetan treaty completed in 821/822, which established peace for more than two decades.[36] A bilingual account of this treaty is inscribed on a stone pillar which stands outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa.[37] Ralpacan was apparently murdered by pro-Bon supporters who then placed his anti-Buddhist brother, Langdarma, on the throne.[38] It was under the reign of Ralpacan that the political power of Tibet was at its greatest extent, stretching as far as Mongolia and Bengal, and entering into treaties with China on a mutual basis. [edit] Reign of Langdarma (838-842) The reign of Langdarma (Wylie Glang dar ma), whose regal title was in fact Tri Uidumtsaen (Khri ‘U’i dum brtsan), was plagued by external troubles. The Uyghur state to the north collapsed under pressure from the Kyrgyz in 840, and many displaced people fled to Tibet. Langdarma himself was assassinated, apparently by a Buddhist hermit, in 842.[39][40] [edit] Tibet divided (842-1247) Upon the death of Langdarma, there was a controversy over whether he would be succeeded by his alleged heir Yumtän (Wylie: Yum brtan), or by another son (or nephew) Ösung (Wylie: ‘Od-srung) (either 843-905 or 847-885). A civil war ensued, which effectively ended centralized Tibetan administration until the Sa-skya period. Ösung’s allies managed to keep control of Lhasa, and Yumtän was forced to go to Yalung, where he established a separate line of kings. [41] In 910 the tombs of the emperors were defiled. The son of Ösung was Pälkhortsän (Wylie: Dpal ‘khor brtsan) (either 893-923 or 865-895). The latter apparently maintained control over much of central Tibet for a time, and sired two sons, Trashi Tsentsän (Wylie: Bkra shis brtsen brtsan) and Thrikhyiding (Wylie: Khri khyi lding), also called Kyide Nyigön [Wylie: Skyid lde nyi ma mgon] in some sources. Thrikhyiding emigrated to the western Tibetan region of upper Ngari (Wylie: Stod Mnga ris) and married a woman of high central Tibetan nobility, with whom he founded a local dynasty. [42] After the breakup of the Tibetan empire in 842, Nyima-Gon, a representative of the ancient Tibetan royal house, founded the first Ladakh dynasty. Nyima-Gon’s kingdom had its centre well to the east of present-day Ladakh. Kyide Nyigön’s eldest son became ruler of the Mar-yul (Ladakh) region, and his two younger sons ruled western Tibet, founding the Kingdom of Guge and Pu-hrang. At a later period the king of Guge’s eldest son, Kor-re, also called Jangchub Yeshe Ö (Byang Chub Ye shes’ Od), became a Buddhist monk. He sent young scholars to Kashmir for training and was responsible for inviting Atisha to Tibet in 1040, thus ushering in the so called Chidar (Phyi dar) phase of Buddhism in Tibet. The younger son, Srong-nge, administered day to day governmental affairs; it was his sons who carried on the royal line. [43] Central rule was largely nonexistent over the Tibetan region from 842 to 1247, yet Buddhism survived surreptitiously in the region of Kham. During the reign of Langdarma three monks had escaped from the troubled region of Lhasa to the region of Mt. Dantig in Amdo. Their disciple Muzu Saelbar (Mu-zu gSal-‘bar), later known as the scholar Gongpa Rabsal (Dgongs-pa rab-gsal) (832-915), was responsible for the renewal of Buddhism in northeastern Tibet, and is counted as the progenitor of the Nyingma (Rnying ma pa) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Meanwhile, according to tradition, one of Ösung’s descendants, who had an estate near Samye, sent ten young men to be trained by Gongpa Rabsal. Among the ten was Lume Sherab Tshulthrim (Klu-mes Shes-rab Tshul-khrims) (950-1015). Once trained, these young men were ordained to go back into the central Tibetan regions of U and Tsang. The young scholars were able to link up with Atisha shortly after 1042 and advance the spread and organization of Buddhism in Lho-kha. In that region, the faith eventually coalesced again, with the foundation of the Sakya Monastery in 1073.[44] Over the next two centuries, the Sakya monastery grew to a position of prominence in Tibetan life and culture. The Tsurphu Monastery, home of the Karmapa sect of Buddhism, was founded in 1155. [edit] The Mongols and the Sakya school (1236-1354) Tibetans learned in 1207 that Genghis Khan was conquering the Tangut empire. The first documented contact between the Tibetans and the Mongols occurred when Genghis Khan met Tsangpa Dunkhurwa (Gtsang pa Dung khur ba) and six of his disciples, probably in the Tangut empire, in 1215. [45] After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, the Tibetans stopped sending tribute to the Mongol Empire. As a result, in 1240, the grandson of Genghis Khan and second son of Ögedei Khan, Prince Köden, invaded Tibet killing some 500 monks and destroying and looting monasteries, villages and towns. Prince Godan asked his commanders to search for an outstanding Buddhist lama and, as Sakya Pandita was considered the most religious, Godan sent a letter of “invitation” and presents to him. It is also said that after the Mongol Köden took control of the Kokonor region in 1239, he sent his general, Doorda Darqan, on a reconnaissance mission into Tibet in 1240 to investigate the possibility of attacking Song China from the west. During this expedition the Kadampa monasteries of Rwa-sgreng and Rgyal-lha-khang were burned and 500 people were killed. The death of Ögödei the Mongol Qaghan in 1241 brought Mongol military activity around the world temporarily to a halt. Mongol interest in Tibet resumed in 1244 when Köden sent an invitation to Bengali scholar Sakya Pandit’ta, the leader of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, to come to his capital and formally surrender Tibet to the Mongols. Sakya Pandi’ta arrived in Kokonor with his two nephews Drogön Chögyal Phagpa (‘Phags-pa; 1235-80) and Chana Dorje (Phyag-na Rdo-rje; 1239-67) in 1246. This event marks the incorporation of Tibet into China, according to modern Chinese historians.[citation needed] However, because China was not yet conquered by the Mongols at that time, Tibetan historians argue that China and Tibet remained two separate units within the Mongol Empire.[46] It may therefore be more accurate to characterize this as first Tibet and then China being incorporated into the Mongol Empire, which became the Yuan Dynasty after Kublay Khan conquered China and created the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. In a delicate balance aimed at ruling both territories while preserving Mongol identity, Kublai Khan prohibited Mongols from marrying Chinese, but left both the Chinese and Tibetan legal and administrative systems intact.[47] Tibet never adopted the Chinese system of exams or Neo-Confucian policies. Kublai Khan Kublai Khan When Möngke became Qaghan in 1251, he assigned the various districts of Tibet as appanages to his relatives. Kublai Khan was appointed by Möngke Khan to take charge over the Chinese campaigns in 1253. Since Sakya Pandit’ta had already died by this time, Kublai took Drogön Chögyal Phagpa into his camp as a symbol of Tibet’s subjugation. After the death of Sakya Pandita, Phagpa remained at the camp of Prince Godan and learned Mongolian langage. Five years later, Kublai Khan asked Godan to give him Chögyal Phagpa, who was then 23, and converted him to Buddhism. Shortly after, Kublai Khan in a succession fight, took over his brother, Möngke, and became the khan, the ruler of the Mongols and even later on became emperor of China. Kublai Khan in turn appointed Chögyal Phagpa as his Imperial Preceptor in 1260 the year when he became emperor of Mongolia. Phagpa was the first “to initiate the political theology of the relationship between state and religion in the Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhist world”.[48][49] With the support of Kublai Khan, Chögyal Phagpa established himself and his sect as the preeminent political power in Tibet. Kublai Khan commissioned Chögyal Phagpa to design a new writing system to unify the writing of the multilingual Mongolian Empire. Chögyal Phagpa in turn modified the traditional Tibetan script and gave birth to a new set of characters called Phagspa script which was completed in 1268. Kublai Khan decided to use the Phagspa script as the official writing system of the empire, including when he became emperor of China in 1271, instead of the Chinese ideogrammes. The script was used for 110 years and is thought to have influenced the development of modern Korean script. However, it fell into disuse after the collapse of the Mongol Empire and the associated Yuan Dynasty in 1368.[50][51] Kublai was elected Qaghan in 1260 following the death of his brother Möngke, although his title was not uncontested. At that point he named Drogön Chögyal Phagpa ‘state preceptor’. In 1265 Drogön Chögyal Phagpa returned to Tibet and for the first time made an attempt to impose Sakya hegemony with the appointment of Shakya Bzang-po (a long time servant and ally of the Sakyas) as the Dpon-chen (‘great administrator’) over Tibet in 1267. A census was conducted in 1268 and Tibet was divided into thirteen myriarchies. In 1269 Drogön Chögyal Phagpa returned to Kublai’s side at his new capital, Khanbaliq (modern day Beijing). He presented the Qaghan with a new script designed to represent all of the languages of the empire. The next year he was named Dishi (‘imperial preceptor’), and his position as ruler of Tibet (now in the form of its thirteen myriarchies) was reconfirmed. The Sakya hegemony over Tibet continued into the middle of the fourteenth century, although it was challenged by a revolt of the Drikung Kagyu sect with the assistance of Hülegü Khan of the Ilkhanate in 1285. The revolt was suppressed in 1290 when the Sa-skyas and eastern Mongols burned Drikung Monastery and killed 10,000 people.[52] [edit] Rise of the Phagmodru (1354-1434) Further information: Tibet during the Ming Dynasty The Phagmodru (Phag mo gru) myriarchy centered at Neudong (Sne’u gdong) was granted as an appanage to Hülegü in 1251. The area had already been associated with the Lang (Rlang) family, and with the waning of Ilkhanate influence it was ruled by this family, within the Mongol-Sakya framework headed by the Mongol appointed Pönchen (Dpon chen) at Sakya. The areas under Lang administration were continually encroached upon during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Janchub Gyaltsän (Byang chub rgyal mtshan, 1302-1364) saw these encroachments as illegal and sought the restoration of Phagmodru lands after his appointment as the Myriarch in 1322. After prolonged legal struggles, the struggle became violent when Phagmodru was attacked by its neighbours in 1346. Jangchub Gyaltsän was arrested and released in 1347. When he later refused to appear for trial, his domains were attacked by the Pönchen in 1348. Janchung Gyaltsän was able to defend Phagmodru, and continued to have military successes, until by 1351 he was the strongest political figure in the country. Military hostilities ended in 1354 with Jangchub Gyaltsän as the unquestioned victor. He continued to rule central Tibet until his death in 1364, although he left all Mongol institutions in place as hollow formalities. Power remained in the hands of the Phagmodru family until 1434. [53] [edit] The Dalai Lama lineage [show] Part of a series on Tibetan Buddhism History Timeline · Related-topics Schools Nyingma · Kagyu · Sakya · Gelug · Bön Key Concepts Three marks of existence Skandha · Cosmology Saṃsāra · Rebirth · Bodhisattva ·Dharma · Dependent Origination · Karma Major Figures Gautama Buddha ·Padmasambhava·Je Tsongkhapa · Dalai Lama · Panchen Lama · Lama ·Karmapa Lama · Rinpoche · Geshe · Terton · Tulku Practices and Attainment Buddhahood · Avalokiteśvara Four Stages of Enlightenment · Tantric yoga · Paramitas · Meditation · Laity Major Monasteries Changzhug · Drepung · Dzogchen · Ganden · Jokhang · Kumbum · Labrang· Mindroling · Namgyal · Narthang · Nechung · Palcho· Ralung · Ramoche · Sakya · Sanga · Sera · Shalu · Shechen · Tashilhunpo · Tsurphu · Yerpa Major Festivals Chotrul Duchen· Dajyur· Losar · Monlam· Sho Dun Texts Kangyur ·Tengyur ·Tibetan Canon ·Mahayana Sutras Art Sandpainting ·Thangka ·Tree of physiology Comparative Studies Culture · List of topics Portal:Tibetan Buddhism This box: view • talk • edit Altan Khan, the king of the Tümed Mongols, first invited Sonam Gyatso to Mongolia in 1569. Sonam Gyatso, the head of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism and the third Dalai Lama, apparently refused to go and sent a disciple instead, who reported back to him about the great opportunity to spread Buddhist teachings throughout Mongolia.[54] In 1573 Altan Khan took some Tibetan Buddhist monks prisoner.[55] He invited the Sonam Gyatso to Mongolia again in 1578, and this time Sonam Gyatso accepted the invitation. They met at the site of Altan Khan’s new capital, Koko Khotan (Hohhot), and the Dalai Lama gave teachings to a huge crowd there. Altan Khan had Thegchen Chonkhor, Mongolia’s first monastery built in what is now modern Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.[56] Also, the ruler of the Khalkha Mongols, Abtai Sain Khan, rushed to Tumet to meet the Dalai Lama.[citation needed] The Erdene Zuu monastery (Mongolian: Эрдэнэ Зуу) was built by Abtai in 1586, at the site of the former Mongol capital of Karakorum.[57] This was the first monastery built within the present independent nation of Mongolia.[58] and it grew into a massive establishment. In 1792, it contained sixty-two temples and some 10,000 lamas.[59] A massive program of translating Tibetan (and Sanskrit)[60] texts into Mongolian was commenced with the letters beautifully written in silver and gold and paid for by the Dalai Lama’s Mongolian devotees. Within fifty years, virtually all Mongols had become Buddhist, with tens of thousands of monks, who were members of the Gelug order, loyal to the Dalai Lama.[61] Chinese authors sometimes insist that Altan Khan was a tributary of China, or even allude to him being a subordinate. This, however, not only ignores the often merely symbolic nature of the Chinese tributary system during the Ming and Qing dynasties (see for example a very short discussion on pp. 140ff. of J. K. Fairbank, S. Y. Tseng,On the Ch’ing tributary system, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 6, No. 2. (Jun., 1941), pp. 135-246), but also the fact that by the end of the 1570’s, the relations between the Ming and Altan Khan were once again marred by border raids (for this and the meeting between Altan Khan and Södnam Gyatso: Micheal Weiers, Geschichte der Mongolen, Stuttgart 2004, p. 175) Sonam Gyatso’s message was that the time had come for Mongolia to embrace Buddhism; that from that time on there should be no more animal sacrifices; the images of the old gods were to be destroyed; there must be no taking of life, animal or human; military action must be given up; and the immolation of women on the funeral pyres of their husbands must be abolished.[62] He also secured an edict abolishing the Mongol custom of blood-sacrifices.[63] Sonam Gyatso publicly announced that he was a reincarnation of the Tibetan Sakya monk Drogön Chögyal Phagpa (1235-1280) who converted Kublai Khan, while Altan Khan was a reincarnation of Kublai Khan (1215-1294), the famous ruler of the Mongols and Emperor of China, and that they had come together again to cooperate in propagating the Buddhist religion.[64] While this did not immediately lead to a massive conversion of Mongols to Buddhism (this would only happen in the 1630’s), it did lead to the widespread use of Buddhist ideology for the legitimation of power among the Mongol nobility. Last but not least, the Yonten Gyatso, the fourth Dalai Lama, was a grandson of Altan Khan.[65] [edit] The origin of the title of ‘Dalai Lama’ Hayagriva (guard of the doctrines: dharmapala), fine copper, 15th-16th century Hayagriva (guard of the doctrines: dharmapala), fine copper, 15th-16th century It has been commonly wrongly believed that Altan Khan “bestowed” the “title” Dalai Lama on Sonam Gyatso, and placed him in a reincarnation line with Gendun Drup and Gendun Gyatso in 1578. “More confusing in our time is that many writers have mistranslated Dalai Lama as “Ocean of Wisdom.” The full Mongolian title, “the wonderful Vajradhara, good splendid meritorious ocean,” given by Altan Khan, is primarily a translation of the Tibetan words Sonam Gyatso (sonam is “merit”).” The 14th Dalai Lama added: “The very name of each Dalai Lama from the Second Dalai Lama onwards had the word Gyatso (in it), which means ‘ocean’ in Tibetan. Even now I am Tenzin Gyatso, so the first name is changing but the second part (the word “ocean”) became like part of each Dalai Lama’s name. All of the Dalai Lamas, since the Second, have this name. So I don’t really agree that the Mongols actually conferred a title. It was just a translation.”[66] [edit] Rise of the Geluk school Yonten Gyatso (1589 – 1616), the fourth Dalai Lama and a non-Tibetan, was the grandson of Altan Khan. He died in 1617 in his mid-twenties. Some people say he was poisoned but there is no real evidence one way or the other.[67] Lobsang Gyatso (Wylie transliteration: Blo-bzang Rgya-mtsho), the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, (1617-1682) was the first Dalai Lama to wield effective political power over central Tibet. The fifth Dalai Lama is known for unifying Tibet under the control of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating the rival Kagyu and Jonang sects and the secular ruler, the prince of Shang, in a prolonged civil war. His efforts were successful in part because of aid from Gushi Khan, a powerful Oirat military leader. The Jonang monasteries were either closed or forcibly converted, and that school remained in hiding until the latter part of the twentieth century. In 1652 the fifth Dalai Lama visited the Manchu emperor, Shunzhi. He was not required to kowtow, and received a seal. The fifth Dalai lama initiated the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, and moved the centre of government there from Drepung. The Potala Palace in Lhasa The Potala Palace in Lhasa The death of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1680 was kept hidden for fifteen years by his assistant, confidant, and possibly son, Desi Sangay Gyatso (De-srid Sangs-rgyas Rgya-‘mtsho). The Dalai Lamas remained Tibet’s titular heads of state until 1959. During the rule of the Great Fifth, two Jesuit missionaries, the German Johannes Gruber and Belgian Albert Dorville, stayed in Lhasa for two months, October and November, 1661 on their way from Peking to Goa in India.[68] They described the Dalai Lama as a “powerful and compassionate leader” and “a devilish God-the-father who puts to death such as refuse to adore him.” Another Jesuit, Ippolito Desideri, stayed five years in Lhasa (1716-1721) and was the first missionary to master the language. He even produced a few Christian books in Tibetan. Capuchin fathers took over the mission until all missionaries were expelled in 1745. In the late seventeenth century, Tibet entered into a dispute with Bhutan, which was supported by Ladakh. This resulted in an invasion of Ladakh by Tibet. Kashmiri helped to restore Ladakhi rule, on the condition that a mosque be built in Leh and that the Ladakhi king convert to Islam. The Treaty of Temisgam in 1684 settled the dispute between Tibet and Ladakh, but its independence was severely restricted. [edit] Khoshud, Dzungars, and Manchu In the 1630s, Tibet became entangled in the power struggles between the rising Manchu and various Mongol and Oirad factions. Ligden Khan of the Chakhar, retreating from the Manchu, set out to Tibet to destroy the Yellow Hat sect. He died on the way in Koko Nur in 1634 [69]. His vassal Tsogt Taij continued the fight, even having his own son Arslan killed after Arslan changed sides. Tsogt Taij was defeated and killed by Güshi Khan of the Khoshud in 1637, who would in turn become the overlord of Tibet, and act as a “Protector of the Yellow Church”[70]. Güshri helped the fifth Dalai Lama to establish himself as the highest spiritual and political authority in Tibet and destroyed any potential rivals, like the prince of Tsang. The time of the fifth Dalai Lama was, however, also a period of rich cultural development. The fifth Dalai Lama’s death was kept secret for fifteen years by the regent (Tibetan: desi; Wylie: sde-srid), Sanggye Gyatso. This was apparently done so that the Potala Palace could be finished, and to prevent Tibet’s neighbours taking advantage of an interregnum in the succession of the Dalai Lamas.[71] The sixth Dalai Lama was not enthroned until 1697. The sixth Dalai Lama enjoyed a lifestyle that included drinking, the company of women, and writing love songs.[72] In 1705, Lobzang Khan of the Khoshud used the sixth Dalai Lama’s escapades as excuse to take control of Tibet. The regent was murdered, and the Dalai Lama sent to Beijing. He died on the way, in Koko Nur, ostensibly from illness. Lobzang Khan appointed a new Dalai Lama, who however was not accepted by the Gelugpa school. Kelzang Gyatso was found in Koko Nur and became a rival candidate. The Dzungars invaded Tibet in 1717, deposed and killed Lobzang Khan’s pretender to the position of Dalai Lama. This was widely approved. However, they soon began to loot the holy places of Lhasa, which brought a swift response from Emperor Kangxi in 1718; but his military expedition was annihilated by the Dzungars, not far from Lhasa.[73][74] A second, larger, expedition sent by Emperor Kangxi expelled the Dzungars from Tibet in 1720 and the troops were hailed as liberators. They brought Kelzang Gyatso with them from Kumbum to Lhasa and he was installed as the seventh Dalai Lama in 1721.[75][76] Following the Qing withdrawal from central Tibet in 1723, there was a period of civil war. After the rebellion of a Khoshuud Mongol prince near Koko Nur, the Qing made the region of Amdo and Kham into the province of Qinghai in 1724,[77] and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728.[78] The Qing government sent a resident commissioner (amban) to Lhasa. “The temporal power [in the mid 1840s] of the Supreme Lama ends at Bathang [see Batang Town]. the frontiers of Tibet, properly so called, were fixed in 1726, on the termination of a great war between the Tibetans and the Chinese. Two days before you arrive at Bathang, you pass, on the top of a mountain, a stone monument, showing what was arranged at that time between the government of Lha-Ssa and that of Peking, on the subject of boundaries. At present, the countries situate east of Bathang are independent of Lha-Ssa in temporal matters. They are governed by a sort of feudal princes, originally appointed by the Chinese Emperor, and still acknowledging his paramount authority. These petty sovereigns are bound to go every third year to Peking, to offer their tribute to the Emperor.”[79] Spencer Chapman gives a similar, but more detailed, account of this border agreement: “In 1727, as a result of the Chinese having entered Lhasa, the boundary between China and Tibet was laid down as between the head-waters of the Mekong and Yangtse rivers, and marked by a pillar, a little to the south-west of Batang. Land to the west of this pillar was administered from Lhasa, while the Tibetan chiefs of the tribes to the east came more directly under China. This historical Sino-Tibetan boundary was used until 1910. The states Der-ge, Nyarong, Batang, Litang, and the five Hor States—to name the more important districts—are known collectively in Lhasa as Kham, an indefinite term suitable to the Tibetan Government, who are disconcertingly vague over such details as treaties and boundaries.”[80] China began posting two high commissioners, or ambans, to Lhasa in 1727. Pro-Chinese historians argue that the ambans’ presence was an expression of Chinese sovereignty, while those favouring Tibetan claims tend to equate the ambans with ambassadors. “The relationship between Tibet and (Qing) China was that of priest and patron and was not based on the subordination of one to the other,” according to the thirteenth Dalai Lama,[81] (The thirteenth Dalai Lama was deposed (1904), reinstated (1908), and deposed (1910) again by the Qing Dynasty government.) [82] Pho-lha-nas, an important Tibetan aristocrat, ruled Tibet with Chinese support in 1728-47. In 1728 the young seventh Dalai Lama was invited to visit Beijing,[83] but Pho-lha-nas only had him moved from Lhasa to Litang to make it more difficult for him to influence the government. After Pho-lha-nas died, his son ruled until he was killed by the ambans in 1750. This provoked riots during which the ambans were killed. A Chinese army entered the country and restored order. Tibetan factions rebelled in 1750 and killed the ambans. Then, a Manchu Qing army entered and defeated the rebels and installed an administration headed by the Dalai Lama. The number of soldiers in Tibet was kept at about 2,000. The defensive duties were partly helped out by a local force which was reorganized by the resident commissioner, and the Tibetan government continued to manage day-to-day affairs as before. In 1751, the Manchu (and Qing) Emperor Qianlong established the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of Tibet who lead a government (Kashag) with four Kalöns in it.[84] Under Emperor Qianlong no further attempts were made to integrate Tibet into the empire. Instead, Emperor Qianlong drew on Buddhism to bolster support among the Tibetans. Six thangkas remain portraying the emperor as Manjusri and Tibetan records of the time refer to him by that name.[85] In 1788, Gurkha forces sent by Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the Regent of Nepal, invaded Tibet, occupying a number of frontier districts. The young Panchen Lama fled to Lhasa and the Manchu Qianlong Emperor sent troops to Lhasa, upon which the Nepalese withdrew agreeing to pay a large annual sum. In 1791 the Nepalese Gurkhas invaded Tibet a second time, seizing Shigatse and destroyed, plundered, and desecrated the great Tashilhunpo Monastery. The Panchen Lama was forced to flee to Lhasa once again. The Qianlong Emperor then sent an army of 17,000 men to Tibet. In 1793, with the assistance of Tibetan troops, they managed to drive the Nepalese troops to within about 30 km of Kathmandu before the Gurkhas conceded defeat and returned all the treasure they had plundered.[86] [edit] 18th and 19th centuries Main article: History of European exploration in Tibet [edit] Removal of the Regents and establishment of the Kashag There are two main versions of how this occurred. The Chinese version is that: In 1751, the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799; ruled 1737-1796) issued a 13-point decree which abolished the position of regent (desi), put the Tibetan government in the hands of a four-man Kashag, or Council of Ministers, and gave the ambans formal powers. The Dalai Lama moved back to Lhasa to preside (in name) over the new government.[citation needed] In 1751, at the age of forty-three, Kelzang Gyatso constituted the “Kashag” or council of ministers to administer the Tibetan government and abolished the post of Regent or Desi, as it placed too much power in one man’s hand and the Dalai Lama became the spiritual and political leader of Tibet.[87] “The ‘king’ or governor of Tibet was no longer appointed by the Chinese after 1750, and the Dalai Lama was tacitly recognized as sovereign of Tibet, with the exception of Kham and Amdo on the one hand and, on the other, Ladakh—which was at first under Moghul suzerainty before being annexed by Kashmir after the Dogra war (1834-42). China henceforth defended Tibet against foreign invasions (notably that of the Gurkhas, 1788-1792), but reserved the right in future to superintend the choice of a new Dalai or Panchen Lama, dictating a set of candidates from whom the final selection was to be made by lot in the presence of the ambans (1792). In addition, the Emperors loaded Lamaism with favours in China and Mongolia where they set up temples and monasteries and issued invitations, often permanently, to great incarnate Lamas of the Geluk-pa order, which had become the established Church.”[88] In 1788 the Gurkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded Tibet. Unable to defeat the Gurkhas alone, the Tibetans called upon reinforcements from the Chinese Qing Dynasty. The Qing-Tibetan army defeated the Gurkhas. The Qianlong emperor was disappointed with the results of his 1751 decree and the performance of the ambans. “Tibetan local affairs were left to the willful actions of the Dalai Lama and the shapes [Kashag members],” he said. “The Commissioners were not only unable to take charge, they were also kept uninformed. This reduced the post of the Residential Commissioner in Tibet to name only.”[78] In 1792, the emperor issued a 29-point decree which appeared to tighten Chinese control over Tibet. It strengthened the powers of the ambans, who were in theory put on a par with the Dalai and Panchen Lamas and given authority over financial, diplomatic and trade affairs. It also outlined a new method to select both the Dalai and Panchen Lama by means of a lottery administered by the ambans in Lhasa. In this lottery the names of the competing candidates were written on folded slips of paper which were placed in a golden urn.[89] The tenth, eleventh and twelfth Dalai Lamas were selected by the golden urn method.[90] The ninth, thirteen, and fourteenth Dalai Lamas, however, were selected by the previous incarnation’s entourage, or labrang, with the selection being approved after the fact by Beijing. The relationship between Tibet and the Manchu emperors was of mutual benefit: “While they honoured the high lamas of Tibetan Buddhism, the Manchu emperors regarded them as political subordinates. The Tibetans, however, considered such patronage to be an acknowledgement of the exalted status of the Dalai and Panchen Lamas. From the Tibetan point of view, the Lama was the spiritual teacher of the patron, and the patron was obliged to offer protection and material support to the Lama. Both parties believed that they could claim the superior position in the relationship; both parties considered themselves the beneficiaries of the arrangement.”[91] The British forced the Tibetans to withdraw from Nepal. In the 19th century, the power of the Qing government declined. As Chinese soldiers posted to Lhasa began to neglect their military duties, the ambans lost influence. After the invasion of Tibet by General Zorawar Singh General of Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab wars were fought with the Indian Kingdom of Jammu and were concluded with peace treaties at Ladakh in 1841 with Maharaja Gulab Singh.[92] and Nepal in 1856[93] without the involvement of Beijing. According to Chinese source, Nepal was a tributary state to China from 1788 to 1908.[94] Chinese government claimed that in the 1856 treaty, both Nepal and Tibet claimed allegiance to China.[95] The 1856 treaty provided for a Nepalese mission in Lhasa which later allowed Nepal to claim a diplomatic relationship with Tibet in its application for United Nations membership in 1949.[96] [edit] British invasions of Tibet (1904-1911) Main article: British expedition to Tibet Wikisource has original text related to this article: “Tibet” (1878) is an account of early British attempts to gain influence in Tibet. The authorities in British India renewed their interest in Tibet in the late 19th century, and a number of Indians entered the country, first as explorers and then as traders. Treaties regarding Tibet were concluded between Britain and China in 1886[5], 1890[6], and 1893[7], but the Tibetan government refused to recognize their legitimacy[citation needed] and continued to bar British envoys from its territory. During “The Great Game”, a period of rivalry between Russia and Britain, the British desired a representative in Lhasa to monitor and offset Russian influence. [edit] British invasion In 1904, the British sent an Indian military force under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Younghusband, which, after some fighting, occupied Lhasa. In response, the Chinese foreign ministry asserted that China was sovereign over Tibet, the first clear statement of such a claim.[97] When the British mission reached Lhasa, the Dalai Lama had already fled to Urga in Mongolia, Younghusband found the option of returning to India empty-handed untenable, so he proceeded to draft a treaty unilaterally, and have it signed in the Potala by the regent, Ganden Tri Rinpoche, and any other Tibetan officials he could gather together as an ad hoc government. The Tibetan ministers whom Younghusband dealt with had apparently, unknown to him, just been appointed to their posts. The regular ministers had been imprisoned for suspected pro-British leanings and it was feared they would be too accommodating to Younghusband.[98] A treaty was concluded which required Tibet to open its border with British India, to allow British and Indian traders to travel freely, not to impose customs duties on trade with India, a demand from British that Lhasa had to pay 2.5 million rupees as indemnity and not to enter into relations with any foreign power without British approval.[99] The Anglo-Tibetan treaty was accordingly confirmed by a Sino-British treaty in 1906 by which the “Government of Great Britain engages not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet. The Government of China also undertakes not to permit any other foreign State to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet.”[100] Moreover, Beijing agreed to pay London 2.5 million rupees which Lhasa was forced to agree upon in the Anglo-Tibetan treaty of 1904.[101] In 1907, Britain and Russia agreed that in “conformity with the admitted principle of the suzerainty of China over Thibet”[102][103] both nations “engage not to enter into negotiations with Tibet except through the intermediary of the Chinese Government.”[102] [edit] The Tibet-Mongolia Treaty of 1913 In early 1913, Agvan Dorzhiev and two other Tibetan representatives signed a treaty in Urga, proclaiming mutual recognition and their independence from China. However, Agvan Dorzhiev’s authority to sign such a treaty has always been – and still is – disputed by some authorities.[vague] John Snelling, however, says: “Though sometimes doubted, this Tibet-Mongolia Treaty certainly existed. It was signed on 29 December 1912 (OS) [that is, by the Julian Calendar – thus making it 8 January 1913 by the Gregorian Calendar that we use] by Dorzhiev and two Tibetans on behalf of the Dalai Lama, and by two Mongolians for the Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu.” He then quotes the full wording of the treaty (in English) from the British Public Records Office: FO [Foreign Office] 371 1609 7144: Sir George Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey, St. Petersburg, dated 11 February 1913.[104] Some British authors have, based on remarks of a Tibetan diplomat some years later, even disputed the mere existence of the treaty[105], but scholars of Mongolia generally are very positive it exists. The Mongolian text of the treaty has, for example, been published by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in 1982.[106] [edit] Chinese military expelled On rd May, 1905, William Mesny, retired Brevet General in the Chinese Army wrote: “The trouble in Tibet is of a serious nature, and is increasing. The Chinese government’s hold on its distant colony or protected state is not very firm, just now, owing to various causes, princially [sic – should read principally] to general bad management and the decline of suzerain power. The Tibetan people have been greiviouly [sic – read grievously] oppressed for many years all the way along the route from Ta-chien-lu to Lhassa, as witnessed personally by ourselves, whilst on a journey from Chêng-tu, via Ta-chien-lu, Li-t’ang and Pa-t’ang to Ah-tun-tzü on the frontiers of Yun-nan in 1877. It is possible also that the Tibetan Lamas do not want their Soveign [sic – read Sovereign] Pontiff back at Lhassa where he appears to have been acting as the willing tool of meddlesome diplomats and thus involved his country in a disastrous war.”[107] The Japanese monk and explorer, Ekai Kawaguchi, writing in 1909, described the loss of Chinese control over Tibet following the first Sino-Japanese War with China 1 August 1894–17 April 1895: “The loss of Chinese prestige in Tibet has been truly extraordinary since the Japano-Chinese War. Previous to that disastrous event, China used to treat Tibet in a high-handed way, while the latter, overawed by the display of force of the Suzerain, tamely submitted. All is now changed, and instead of that subservient attitude Tibet treats China with scorn…. The Tibetans listen to Chinese advice when it is acceptable, but any order that is distasteful to them is entirely disregarded….” “Tibet may be said to be menaced by three countries—England, Russia and Nepāl, for China is at present a negligible quantity as a factor in determining its future.”[108] Following a revolution in China, the local Tibetan militia launched a surprise attack on the Chinese garrison stationed in Tibet. Afterwards the Chinese officials in Lhasa were forced to sign the “Three Point Agreement” which provided for the surrender and expulsion of Chinese forces in central Tibet. In early 1913, the Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa and issued a proclamation distributed throughout Tibet which condemned “The Chinese intention of colonizing Tibet under the patron-priest relationship”, and stated that, “We are a small, religious, and independent nation.”[81] [edit] The Simla Convention of 1914 In 1913-14, conference was held in Simla between Britain, Tibet, and the Republic of China. The British suggested dividing Tibetan-inhabited areas into an Outer and an Inner Tibet (on the model of an earlier agreement between China and Russia over Mongolia). Outer Tibet, approximately the same area as the modern Tibet Autonomous Region, would be autonomous under Chinese suzerainty. In this area, China would refrain from “interference in the administration.” In Inner Tibet, consisting of eastern Kham and Amdo, Lhasa would retain control of religious matters only.[109] In 1908-18, there was a Chinese garrison in Kham and the local princes were subordinate to its commander. In a session attended by Tibetan representatives, British chief negotiator Henry McMahon drew a line on a map to delineate the Tibet-Indian border. Later Chinese governments claimed this McMahon Line illegitimately transferred a vast amount of territory to India. The disputed territory is called Arunachal Pradesh by India and South Tibet by China. The British had already concluded agreements with local tribal leaders and set up the Northeast Frontier Tract to administer the area 1912. The Simla Convention was initialed by all three delegations, but was immediately rejected by Beijing because of dissatisfaction with the way the boundary between Outer and Inner Tibet was drawn. McMahon and the Tibetans then signed the document as a bilateral accord with a note attached denying China any of the rights it specified unless it signed. The British-run Government of India initially rejected McMahon’s bilateral accord as incompatible with the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention.[110][111] By 1918, Lhasa had regained control of Chamdo and western Kham. A truce set the Yangtze River the border. At this time, the government of Tibet controlled all of Ü-Tsang as well as Kham west of the Yangtze River, roughly the same borders as the Tibet Autonomous Region has today.[citation needed] Eastern Kham was governed by local Tibetan princes of varying allegiances. In Amdo (Qinghai), ethnic Hui and pro-Kuomintang warlord Ma Bufang controlled the Xining area. The rest of the province were under local control.[citation needed] During the 1920s and 1930s, China was divided by civil war and then distracted by the anti-Japanese war, but never renounced its claim to sovereignty over Tibet, and made occasional attempts to assert it. During the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama, Beijing had no representatives in his territories. However, in 1934, following the Dalai Lama’s death, China sent a “condolence mission” to Lhasa headed by General Huang Musong.[112] Since 1912 Tibet had been de facto independent of Chinese control, but on other occasions it had indicated its willingness to accept subordinate status as a part of China provided that Tibetan internal systems were left untouched and provided China relinquished control over a number of important ethnic Tibetan areas in Kham and Amdo.[113] In 1938, the British finally published the Simla Convention as a bilateral accord and demanded that the Tawang monastery, located south of the McMahon Line, cease paying taxes to Lhasa. In an attempt to revise history, the relevant volume of C.U. Aitchison’s A Collection of Treaties, which had originally been published with a note stating that no binding agreement had been reached at Simla, was recalled from libraries.[114] It was replaced with a new volume that has a false 1929 publication date and includes Simla together with an editor’s note stating that Tibet and Britain, but not China, accepted the agreement as binding.[8] The 1907 Anglo-Russian Treaty, which had earlier caused the British to question the validity of Simla, had been renounced by the Russians in 1917 and by the Russians and British jointly in 1921.[115] Tibet, however, altered its position on the McMahon Line in the 1940s. In late 1947, the Tibetan government wrote a note presented to the newly independent Indian Ministry of External Affairs laying claims to Tibetan districts south of the McMahon Line.[116] Furthermore, by refusing to sign the Simla documents, the Chinese Government had escaped according any recognition to the validity of the McMahon Line.[117] Tibet established a Foreign Office in 1942, and in 1946 it sent congratulatory missions to China and India (related to the end of World War II). The mission to China was given a letter addressed to Chinese President Chiang Kai-sek which states that, “We shall continue to maintain the independence of Tibet as a nation ruled by the successive Dalai Lamas through an authentic religious-political rule.” The mission agreed to attend a Chinese constitutional assembly in Nanjing as observers.[118] In 1947-49, Lhasa sent a “Trade Mission” led by the Tsepon (Finance Minister) W.D. Shakabpa to India, Hong Kong, Nanjing (then the capital of China), the U.S., and Britain. The visited countries were careful not to express support for the claim that Tibet was independent of China and did not discuss political questions with the mission.[119] These Trade Mission officials entered China via Hong Kong with their newly issued Chinese passports that they applied at the Chinese Consulate in India and stayed in China for three months. Other countries did, however, allow the mission to travel using passports issued by the Tibetan government. The U.S. unofficially received the Trade Mission. The mission met with British Prime Minister Clement Attlee in London in 1948.[120] [edit] Rule of the Chinese Communist Government Main article: Invasion of Tibet (1950–1951) The Chinese Communist government led by Mao Zedong which came to power in October lost little time in asserting its presence in Tibet. In 1950, the People’s Liberation Army entered the Tibetan area of Chamdo, defeating sporadic resistance from the Tibetan army. In 1951, representatives of Tibetan authority, acting without authorisation from the Dalai Lama, participated in negotiations in Beijing with Chinese government. It resulted in a Seventeen Point Agreement which affirms China’s sovereignty over Tibet. The agreement was ratified in Lhasa a few months later.[121] The Chinese government at first attempted to reform Tibet’s social or religious system in Ü-Tsang. Eastern Kham, previously Xi Kang province, was incorporated in the province of Sichuan. Western Kham was put under the Chamdo Military Committee. In these areas, land reform was implemented. This involved communist agitators designating “landlords” — sometimes arbitrarily chosen — for public humiliation in “struggle sessions.”[citation needed] “It was only after the Dalai Lama fled his country, in 1959, that China began to collectivize the land and execute landlords, as it “liberated the serfs” in Central Tibet.”[122][123] The Chinese built highways that reached Lhasa, and which then extended the Indian, Nepalese and Pakistani borders. The traditional Tibetan aristocracy and government remained in place and were subsidized by the Chinese government.[citation needed] During the 1950s, however, Chinese rule grew more oppressive with respect to the lamas.[citation needed] By the mid-1950s there was unrest in eastern Kham and Amdo, where land reform had been implemented in full. These rebellions eventually spread into western Kham and Ü-Tsang. In some parts of the country Chinese Communists tried to establish rural communes, as was happening in the whole of China. In 1959, China’s military crackdown on rebels in Kham and Amdo led to the “Lhasa Uprising.” Full-scale resistance spread throughout Tibet. Fearing capture of the Dalai Lama, unarmed Tibetans surrounded his residence, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee with the help of the CIA to India. [124] The Tibetan resistance movement began with isolated resistance to PRC control in the late 1950s. Initially there was considerable success and with CIA support and aid much of southern Tibet fell into Tibetan hands, but in 1959, after the failed military attempts in Lhasa resistance forces withdrew into Nepal.[clarify] Operations continued from the semi-independent Kingdom of Mustang with a force of 2000 rebels, many of them trained at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado, USA[125] In 1969, on the eve of Kissinger’s overtures to China, support was withdrawn and the Nepalese gove
  63. Susan.K Says:

    Regarding Tibetan history.

    Legally Tibetan has never been recognized by any countries as well as UN. Moreover, in the treaty between Britain and Tibet in 1913, (which was declined by the goverment of Republic of China,) Tibet was recognized as a part of China. In 1947, the nobels of Tibet visited U.S.A aiming at being regconized as an independent country but unfortunately failing the attempt as a fact.

    That’s why China has never agreed that it invaded or colonised Tibet. As liberation of Tibet was consided a part of civil war between the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China. People’s Republic of China inherited the Tibet from the Republic of China according to the widely adopted Internation Law.

  64. Susan.K Says:

    Below is an article on the analysis of Tibet issues by Barry Sautman, Associate Professor of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

    Recent protests in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas were organized to embarrass the Chinese government ahead of the Olympics. The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the major Tibetan exile organization that advocates independence for Tibet and has endorsed using violent methods to achieve it, has said as much. Its head, Tsewang Rigzin, stated in a March 15 interview with the Chicago Tribune that since it is likely that Chinese authorities would suppress protests in Tibet, “With the spotlight on them with the Olympics, we want to test them. We want them to show their true colors. That’s why we’re pushing this.” At the June, 2007 Conference for an Independent Tibet organized in India by “Friends of Tibet,” speakers pointed out that the Olympics present a unique opportunity for protests in Tibet. In January, 2008, exiles in India launched a “Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement” to “act in the spirit” of the violent 1959 uprising against Chinese government authority and focus on the Olympics.

    Several groups of Tibetans were likely involved in the protests in Lhasa, including in the burning and looting of non-Tibetan businesses and attacks against Han and Hui (Muslim Chinese) migrants to Tibet. The large monasteries have long been centers of separatism, a stance cultivated by the TYC and other exile entities, many of which are financed by the US State Department or the US Congress’ National Endowment for Democracy. Monks are self-selected to be especially devoted to the Dalai Lama. However much he may characterize his own position as seeking only greater autonomy for Tibet, monks know he is unwilling to declare that Tibet is an inalienable part of China, an act China demands of him as a precondition to formal negotiations. Because the exile regime eschews a separation of politics and religion, many monks deem adherence to the Dalai Lama’s stance of non-recognition of the Chinese government’s legitimacy in Tibet to be a religious obligation.

    Reports on the violence have underscored that Tibetan merchants competing with Han and Hui are especially antagonistic to the presence of non-Tibetans. Alongside monks, Tibetan merchants were the mainstay of protests in Lhasa in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This time around, many Han and Hui-owned shops were torched. Many of those involved in arson, looting, and ethnic-based beatings are also likely to have been unemployed young men. Towns have experienced much rural-to-urban migration of Tibetans with few skills needed for urban employment. Videos from Lhasa showed the vast majority of rioters were males in their teens or twenties.

    The recent actions in Tibetan areas differ from the broad-based demonstrations of “people power” movements in several parts of the world in the last few decades. They hardly show the overwhelming Tibetan anti-Chinese consensus portrayed in the international media. The highest media estimate of Tibetans who participated in protests is 20,000 — by Steve Chao
    , the Beijing Bureau Chief of Canadian Television News, i.e. one of every 300 Tibetans. Compare that to the 1986 protests against the Marcos dictatorship by about three million — one out of every 19 Filipinos.

    Tibetans have legitimate grievances about not being sufficiently helped to compete for jobs and in business with migrants to Tibet. There is also job discrimination by Han migrants in favor of family members and people from their native places. The gaps in education and living standards between Tibetans and Han are substantial and too slow in narrowing. The grievances have long existed, but protests and rioting took place this year because the
    Olympics make it opportune for separatists to advance their agenda. Indeed, there was a radical disconnect between Tibetan socio-economic grievances and the slogans raised in the protests, such as “Complete Independence for Tibet” and “May the exiles and Tibetans inside Tibet be reunited,” slogans that not coincidentally replicate those raised by pro-independence Tibetan exiles.

    While separatists will not succeed in detaching Tibet from China by rioting, they believe that China will eventually collapse, like the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and they seek to establish their claim to rule before that happens. Alternatively, they think that the United States may intervene, as it has elsewhere, to foster the breakaway of regions in countries to
    which the US is antagonistic, e.g. Kosovo and southern Sudan. The Chinese government also fears such eventualities, however unlikely they are to come to pass. It accordingly acts to suppress separatism, an action that comports with its rights under international law.

    Separatists know they can count on the automatic sympathy of Western politicians and media, who view China as a strategic economic and political competitor. Western elites have thus widely condemned China for suppressing riots that these elites would never allow to go unsuppressed in their own countries. They demand that China be restrained in its response; yet, during the Los Angeles uprising or riots of 1992 — which spread to a score of
    other major cities — President George H.W. Bush stated when he sent in thousands of soldiers, that “There can be no excuse for the murder, arson, theft or vandalism that have terrorized the people of Los Angeles . . . Let me assure you that I will use whatever force is necessary to restore order.” Neither Western politicians nor mainstream media attacked him on this score, while neither Western leaders nor the Dalai Lama have criticized those Tibetans who recently engaged in ethnic-based attacks and arson.

    Western elites give the Chinese government no recognition for significant improvements in the lives of Tibetans as a result of subsidies from the China’s central government and provinces, improvements that the Dalai Lama has himself admitted. Western politicians and media also consistently credit the Dalai Lama’s charge that “cultural genocide” is underway in Tibet,
    even though the exiles and their supporters offer no credible evidence of the evisceration of Tibetan language use, religious practice or art. In fact, more than 90% of Tibetans speak Tibetan as their mother tongue. Tibet has about 150,000 monks and nuns, the highest concentration of full-time “clergy” in the Buddhist world. Western scholars of Tibetan literature and art forms have attested that it is flourishing.

    Ethnic contradictions in Tibet arise from the demography, economy and politics of the Tibetan areas. Separatists and their supporters claim that Han Chinese have been “flooding” into Tibet, “swamping” Tibetans demographically. In fact, between the national censuses of 1990 and 2000 (which count everyone who has lived in an area for six months or more), the
    percentage of Tibetans in the Tibetan areas as a whole increased somewhat and Han were about one-fifth of the population. A preliminary analysis of the 2005 mini-census shows that from 2000-2005 there was a small increase in the proportion of Han in the central-western parts of Tibet (the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR) and little change in eastern Tibet. Pro-
    independence forces want the Tibetan areas cleansed of Han (as happened in 1912 and 1949); the Dalai Lama has said he will accept a three-to-one Tibetan to non-Tibet population ratio, but he consistently misrepresents the present situation as one of a Han majority. Given his status as not merely the top Tibetan Buddhist religious leader, but as an emanation of Buddha, most Tibetans credit whatever he says on this or other topics.

    The Tibetan countryside, where three-fourths of the population lives, has very few non-Tibetans. The vast majority of Han migrants to Tibetan towns are poor or near-poor. They are not personally subsidized by the state; although like urban Tibetans, they are indirectly subsidized by infrastructure development that favors the towns. Some 85% of Han who
    migrate to Tibet to establish businesses fail; they generally leave within two to three years. Those who survive economically offer competition to local Tibetan business people, but a comprehensive study in Lhasa has shown that non-Tibetans have pioneered small and medium enterprise sectors that some Tibetans have later entered and made use of their local knowledge to prosper.

    Tibetans are not simply an underclass; there is a substantial Tibetan middle class, based in government service, tourism, commerce, and small-scale manufacturing/ transportation. There are also many unemployed or under-employed Tibetans, but almost no unemployed or underemployed Han because those who cannot find work leave. Many Han migrants have racist attitudes toward Tibetans, mostly notions that Tibetans are lazy, dirty, and obsessed
    with religion. Many Tibetans reciprocate with representations of Han as rich, money-obsessed and conspiring to exploit Tibetans. Long-resident urban Tibetans absorb aspects of Han culture in much the same way that ethnic minorities do with ethnic majority cultures the world over. Tibetans are not however being forcibly “Sincized.” Most Tibetans speak little or no Chinese. They begin to learn it in the higher primary grades and, in many Tibetan areas, must study in it if they go on to secondary education. Chinese, however, is one of the two most important languages in the world and considerable advantages accrue to those who learn it, just as they do to non-native English speakers.

    The Tibetan exiles argue that religious practice is sharply restricted in Tibetan areas. The Chinese government has the right under international law to regulate religious institutions to prevent them from being used as vehicles for separatism and the control of religion is in fact mostly a function of the state’s (overly-developed) concern about separatism and secondarily about how the hyper-development of religious institutions counteracts “development” among ethnic Tibetans. Certain state policies do infringe on freedom of religion; for example, the forbidding, in the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region), of state employees and university students to participate in religious rites. The lesser degree of control over religion in the eastern Tibetan areas beyond the TAR– at least before the events of March, 2008 — indicate however that the Chinese government calibrates its control according to the perceived degree of separatist sentiment in the monasteries.

    The Dalai Lama’s regime was of course itself a theocracy that closely regulated the monasteries, including the politics, hierarchy and number of monks. The exile authorities today circumscribe by fiat those religious practices they oppose, such as the propitiation of a “deity” known as Dorje Shugden. The cult of the Dalai Lama, which is even stronger among monks than it is among Hollywood stars, nevertheless mandates acceptance of his claim that restrictions on religious management and practice in Tibet arise solely from the Chinese state’s supposed anti-religious animus. Similarly, the cult requires the conviction that the Dalai Lama is a pacifist, even though he has explicitly or implicitly endorsed all wars waged by the US.

    The Dalai Lama is a Tibetan ethnic nationalist whose worldview is — in US terms — both liberal and conservative. He and many of his foreign supporters have a pronounced affinity for conservative politicians, such as Bush, Thatcher, Lee Teng-hui and Ishihara Shintaro, but they can get along well with liberals like US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because they are virulently anti-communist and anti-China.

    The Dalai Lama is far from being a supporter of oppressed peoples. For example, in 2002, when he visited Australia, the Dalai Lama, upon arriving in Melbourne, noted “he had flown over ‘a large empty area’ of Australia that could house millions of people from other densely populated continents.” The area is, of course, not wholly empty, as it contains Aborigines. To them, the Dalai Lama proffered the advice that “black people ‘should appreciate what white people have brought to this country, its development.’” (R. Callick, “Dalai Lama Treads Fine Line,” Australian Financial Review, May 22, 2002).

    The development of the “market economy” has had much the same effect in Tibetan areas as in the rest of China, i.e. increased exploitation, exacerbated income and wealth differentials, and rampant corruption. The degree to which this involves an “ethnic division of labor” that
    disadvantages Tibetans is however exaggerated by separatists in order to foster ethnic antagonism. For example, Tibet is not the poorest area of China, as is often claimed. It is better off than several other ethnic minority areas and even than some Han areas, in large measure due to heavy government subsidies. Rural Tibetans as well receive more state subsidies than other minorities. The exile leaders employ hyperbole not only in terms of the degree of empirical difference, but also concerning the more fundamental ethnic relationship in Tibet: in contrast to, say, Israel/Palestine, Tibetans have the same rights as Han, they enjoy certain preferential economic and social policies, and about half the top party leaders in the TAR have been ethnic Tibetans.

    Tibet has none of the indicia of a colony or occupied territory and thus has no relationship to self-determination, a concept that in recent decades has often been misused, especially by the US, to foster the breakup of states and consequent emiseration of their populations. A settlement between the Chinese government and Tibetan exile elites is a pre-condition for the
    mitigation of Tibetan grievances because absent a settlement, ethnic politics will continue to subsume every issue in Tibet, as it does for example, in Taiwan and Kosovo, where ethnic binaries are constructed by “ethnic political entrepreneurs,” who seek to outbid each other for support.

    The protests in Tibet had no progressive aspect. Many who participated in the ethnic murders, beatings and arsons in Lhasa were poor rural migrants to the city, but the slogans there and elsewhere in Tibet almost all concerned independence or the Dalai Lama. There have been many movements the world over in which marginalized people have taken a reactionary and often racist road, for example, al-Qaeda or much of the base of the Nazis. The riots in Tibet also have done nothing to advance discussions of a political settlement between the Chinese government and exiles, yet a settlement is necessary for the substantial mitigation of Tibetan grievances. For Tibetan pro-independence forces, a setback to such efforts may have been their very purpose in fostering the riots. Tibetan pro-independence forces, like separatists everywhere, seek to counter any view of the world that is not ethnic-based and to thwart all efforts to resolve ethnic contradictions, in order to boost the mobilization needed to sustain their ethnic nationalist projects. They have claimed that China will soon collapse and the US will thereafter increase its patronage of a Tibetan state elite, to the benefit of ordinary Tibetans. One only has to look round the world at the many humanitarian catastrophes that have resulted from such thinking to project what consequences are likely to follow for ordinary Tibetans if the separatist fantasy were fulfilled.

  65. Susan.K Says:

    How Repressive Is the Chinese Government in Tibet?

    Scholar tells skeptical audience that claims by Tibetan exiles of Chinese cultural discrimination are greatly exaggerated.

    By Leslie Evans

    Barry Sautman, Associate Professor of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, spoke at UCLA December 2 to defend the thesis that claims of cultural repression against Tibetans by the Han Chinese are greatly exaggerated by Tibetan exiles in India and by the liberal Western press. His talk was met with some skepticism from discussant Nancy Levine (Anthropology, UCLA) and by some members of the audience, but he presented a wide range of data to support his view. The talk was sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies.

    Sautman chose to focus his presentation on a refutation of the claims made by some Tibetan exiles that the Chinese are pursuing a policy of “cultural genocide” in Tibet. Levine suggested that this was a bit of a straw man and that most exiles are concerned more with issues of lagging development. On specific issues Sautman made the following case.

    Rival Views on Tibetan Sovereignty

    The Chinese government and the Tibetan exiles in India, led by the Dalai Lama, have diametrically opposed views of the rights of Tibetans to independence. The Chinese claim that Tibet was a Chinese province for eight centuries and that the Dalai Lama has forfeited his spiritual and temporal leadership because he is a separatist. The Tibetans in exile call Tibet a colony of China. This view, Sautman said, “Is widely accepted in the West. It has resonance in the West in the post-Holocaust period.” In contrast, he argued, “The problems of Tibetans are typical of minorities in the era of large modern states.”

    It is true, he said, that there have been significant inroads of Chinese culture into Tibet since the forcible takeover in 1959, but there has been an even greater influx of Western culture. “By not defining cultural genocide the Tibetan exiles can label any changes from 1959 as cultural genocide, although many of these changes could be expected to have occurred without the issue of cultural genocide arising.”

    The most common specific charges raised by Tibetan exiles, Sautman said, “point to Han immigration plus restrictive birth policies. In fact the state sponsored transfer to Tibet is on a small scale. From 1994 to 2001 the PRC organized only a few thousand people to go to Tibet as cadres. Most serve only 3 years and then return to China. Those who move on their own to the Tibet Autonomous Region usually return to China in a few years. They come for a while, find the cities of Tibet too expensive, and then return to China. Some of the 72,000 Chinese who maintain their hukou [household registration] in Tibet don’t really live there. Pensions are higher if your household is registered in Tibet. These facts are supported by Australian and U.S. demographers. Claims of ethnic swamping in Tibet are misleading.”

    Chinese Policies on Tibetan Birth Rates

    The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Soutman said, “encourages Tibetans to limit their families to 3 children. The local government townships have the power to impose small fines for more than 3 children. One study showed that in 3 of 4 studied townships no fine was imposed on a birth issue and only very small fines in the fourth. Tibetan families in Tibet average 3.8 children, larger than Tibetan families in India. Han families with more than one child face much harsher penalties. In 1990 Tibetans were 95% of the Tibetan population. There has been no dramatic change in the region’s ethnic balance.”

    Exiles also claim that birth policies are repressive against Tibetans in regions of China proper where they are significant minorities, such as in Qinghai and Gansu. “This is not sustained by available statistics,” Sautman insisted. “The percent of Tibetans in Qinghai has shown no significant change from 1950 to 2000. Restriction on family size is harsher for the majority than for the minority and the effects have not changed the percent of Tibetans in the Qinghai population. This is hardly cultural genocide.”

    Émigrés complain of restrictions on the minimum age of monks and nuns and on affiliation with the Dalai Lama. Sautman countered by saying that China claims there are more than 2,000 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. “I have visited many of these and they are all active religious communities. The Chinese government in the remote far west actually encourages people to join monasteries to have people to take care of ethnic relics.”

    Sautman said that there is now 1 monk or nun for every 35 Tibetans, “the highest of any Buddhist country in the world, and much higher than the relation of ministers and priests to parishioners in any Christian country in the world, where the ratio is often 1 to 1,000. Chinese law says you have to be 18 to become a monk, but in practice there are often much younger monks.”

    Status of the Tibetan Language

    Sautman also sought to rebut charges by Tibetan exiles that the Tibetan language is devalued and being replaced by Chinese. “92-94% of ethnic Tibetans speak Tibetan. The only exception is places in Qinghai and Amdo where the Tibetan population is very small compared with the broader population. Instruction in primary school is pretty universally in Tibetan. Chinese is bilingual from secondary school onward. All middle schools in the TAR also teach Tibetan. In Lhasa there are about equal time given to Chinese, Tibetan, and English.” In contrast, Soutman said, “Tibetan exile leaders in India used English as the sole language until 1994 and only became bilingual in 1994. Schools in Tibet promote the Tibetan language more than Indian schools do in ethnic Tibetan areas–in Ladakh, India, instruction is in Urdu, with a high dropout rate from Tibetans, but India is never accused of cultural genocide against Tibetans.”

    There is an upsurge of the performing arts, poetry and painting by Tibetans, Sautman told the audience. “The exile leaders claim that the Chinese officials suppress Tibetan themes. In exile the Tibetan arts often introduce non-Tibetan themes, but there is no accusation of cultural genocide. Vices such as prostitution are not unique to Tibet under Chinese rule but are common throughout Buddhist lands. There are few aspects of Chinese culture in Tibet, but there are many aspects of Western culture, such as jeans, disco music, etc. The exile Tibetans do not condemn the growth of Western influence at the expense of traditional Tibetan culture.”

    A Discussant Demurs

    Discussant Nancy Levine said it was her opinion that cultural genocide was not a central focus of exile literature. “The discussion seems to focus on social and economic marginalization. The term is problematic.” She conceded that Sautman’s paper contained “some strong evidence,” but said he cited dubious sources as well.

    “You criticize the government in exile’s position that a fifth of the population was eliminated by purges from the 1959 and 1979. It appears that there was a powerful impact of the Great Leap Forward. Some areas such as the Tibetan areas of Sichuan lost as much as half of their Tibetan population during the Great Leap Forward. There were serious population losses. It should not be simply denied. It is true that the Tibetan population since the 1960s has been growing rapidly and that birth control has been fairly loose for Tibetans. The basis for fines varies sharply. The one study you site at Lhasa cannot be generalized.”

    On Tibetan Buddhism, she said, “There were 10,000 monks in 1959, and while there are many today, it is a radical decline from then, plus a radical discontinuity in religious training of monks. In 2000 Kirti [Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Sichuan province] was dissolved, with 2,000 monks. The practice of Buddhism is seriously constrained. Every major leader of Tibetan Buddhism except the Panchen Lama is in exile today, not only the Dalai Lama.”

    Levine scored Sautman for relying too much on Chinese journalistic sources. “You use a Xinhua news source to claim that there are 300 more Tibetan religious institutions today than in 1959. I have been misquoted by Xinhua and this is not a reliable figure. You do have some strong data, but you should distinguish it better from some more questionable sources that you also use.”

    Barry Sautman responded on several fronts. On claimed declines in Tibetan population, he cited articles in the Columbia Journal of Asian Law and by an Australian Chinese demographer in Asian Ethnicity in 2000. “What I think these articles show is that there is no evidence of significant population losses over the whole period from the 1950s to the present. There are some losses during he Great Leap Forward but these were less in Tibetan areas than in other parts of China. Where these were serious were in Sichuan and Qinghai, but even there not as serious in the Han areas of China. There are no bases at all for the figures used regularly by the exile groups. They use the figure of 1.2 million Tibetans dying from the 1950s to the 1970s, but no source for this is given. As a lawyer I give no credence to statistics for which there is no data, no visible basis.”

    Sautman conceded Levine’s point that claims of cultural genocide are not prominent in Tibetan exile literature, “But pushing the button of genocide has a bigger impact than pushing the button of underdevelopment.” He denied that either the local or national Chinese government discriminates against Tibetans: “My finding is that discrimination is popular, but it comes from Han prejudice. The state in Tibetan areas does not involve itself in acts of discrimination. In part this is because many of the leaders in the ethnic minority areas are from the ethnic minority.”

    source at

  66. momomundo Says:

    I appreciate Eirik Granqvist giving his views different from the majority of western media as much as Chinese people giving views different from the majority of their counterparts. That’s what we need – a balance of views for everyone’s own judgement.

    Just one note I want to point out.

    Illegal border crossing does take place amongst Tibetans. Passports are not for everyone in China, and it might be harder to get for Tibetans. The main reason is financial. The cost for getting a passport is not affordable by all, not to mention extra costs in paying corrupting officials. Therefore, some Tibetans do cross the border illegally despite the harsh physical conditions and risk of intervention by border patrol. Some of them go to India in hope for education in English and better living conditions, and some return to China when they cannot find a job or make a good living there. I got this information by talking with 2 Tibetans in May 2007, both of them had studied in Dharamsala and then returned to Tibet.

    It would be hard to verify only from the video footage who the people being shot at the border were and for what intention they were going to India. But if they were breaking the law I find it justified for border patrol to uphold law and order – though the means and degree of violence warrant scrutiny.

    Just wonder what would Israeli patrol do if Pakistaneans cross their checkpoints illegally, or US if they find Mexicans sneaking into US border.

  67. Susan.K Says:

    Free Tibet?
    Liam O Ruairc • 12 May 2004

    In Western countries, the movement to ‘free Tibet’ from Chinese occupation is very popular among the 57 different varieties of liberals and human rights campaigners. The media generally presents a very positive image of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is hailed as a modern saint, and an idealized image of Tibet before the Chinese take over is given. However, it is worth examining what sort of place Tibet was before the Chinese intervention, who benefited and who lost from it, and who the people campaigning for ‘free Tibet’ are (1).

    In Tibet, prior to the Chinese take over, theocratic despotism had been the rule for generations. An English visitor to Tibet in 1895, Dr. A. L. Waddell, wrote that the Tibetan people were under the “intolerable tyranny of monks” and the devil superstitions they had fashioned to terrorize the people. In 1904 Perceval Landon described the Dalai Lama’s rule as “an engine of oppression” and “a barrier to all human improvement.” At about that time, another English traveler, Captain W.F.T. O’Connor, observed that “the great landowners and the priests . . . exercise each in their own dominion a despotic power from which there is no appeal,” while the people are “oppressed by the most monstrous growth of monasticism and priest-craft the world has ever seen.” Tibetan rulers, like those of Europe during the Middle Ages, “forged innumerable weapons of servitude, invented degrading legends and stimulated a spirit of superstition” among the common people (Stuart Gelder and Roma Gelder, The Timely Rain: Travels in New Tibet, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1964, 123-125). In Tibet, slavery was the rule.

    The following account was written by Sir Charles Bell, who was the British administrator for Chumbi Valley in 1904-05: “‘Slaves were sometimes stolen, when small children, from their parents. Or the father and mother, being too poor to support their child, would sell it to a man, who paid them _sho-ring_, “price of mother’s milk,” brought up the child and kept it, or sold it, as a slave. These children come mostly from south-eastern Tibet and the territories of the wild tribes who dwell between Tibet and Assam.’ (Charles Bell, Tibet: Past and Present, Oxford, 1924, pp. 78-79. Taken from

    In 1953, six years before the Chinese takeover, the greater part of the rural population (some 700,000 of an estimated total population of 1,250,000) were serfs. Serfs and other peasants generally received no schooling or medical care. They spent most of their time working for the monasteries and high-ranking lamas, or for a secular aristocracy that numbered not more than 200 families. They were in practice owned by their masters who told them what crops to grow and what animals to raise. They could not get married without the consent of their lord or lama. A serf might easily be separated from his family should the owner send him to work in a distant location. Serfs could be sold by their masters, or subjected to torture and death (for more details see

    Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese in Tibet after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the serfdom system of unpaid labor. They started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They built the only hospitals that exist in the country, and established secular education, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. They constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa. They also put an end to floggings, mutilations, and amputations as a form of criminal punishment under Buddhist rule. Chinese rule in Tibet has often been brutal, however its extent has often been exaggerated.

    The accusations made by the Dalai Lama himself about Chinese mass sterilization and forced deportation of Tibetans, for example, have remained unsupported by any evidence. Both the Dalai Lama and his advisor and youngest brother, Tendzin Choegyal, claimed that more than 1.2 million Tibetans are dead as a result of the Chinese occupation. This figure is more than dubious. The official 1953 census, six years before the Chinese take over, recorded the entire population of Tibet at 1,274,000. Other estimates varied from one to three million. Other census counts put the ethnic Tibetan population within the country at about two million (Pradyumna P. Karan, The Changing Face of Tibet: The Impact of Chinese Communist Ideology on the Landscape, Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1976, 52-53). If the Chinese killed 1.2 million then entire cities and huge portions of the countryside, indeed almost all of Tibet, would have been depopulated – something for which there is no evidence. The Chinese military force in Tibet was not large enough to round up, chase, and exterminate that many people even if it had spent all its time doing this.

    It is worth examining who is behind the ‘Free Tibet’ movement. The former elites lost many of their privileges due to the Chinese takeover. The family of the Dalai Lama lost no fewer than 4000 slaves! It is thus not surprising that feudal lords should campaign against the social gains of Maoism. Their campaign has found an international echo thanks to the CIA. Throughout the 1960s the Tibetan exile community received $1.7 million a year from the CIA, according to documents released by the State Department in 1998. The Dalai Lama’s organization itself admits that it had received millions of dollars from the CIA during the 1960s to send armed squads of exiles into Tibet to undermine the Maoist revolution. The Dalai Lama’s annual share was $186,000, making him a paid agent of the CIA. Indian intelligence also financed him and other Tibetan exiles (Jim Mann, “CIA Gave Aid to Tibetan Exiles in ’60s, Files Show,” Los Angeles Times, 15 September 1998; and New York Times, 1 October, 1998). Today, mostly through the National Endowment for Democracy and other conduits that are more respectable-sounding than the CIA, the US Congress continues to allocate an annual $2 million to Tibetans in India, with additional millions for “democracy activities” within the Tibetan exile community (See Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet, Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2002, for example).

    Also, while presenting himself as a defender of human rights, the Dalai Lama supports more than dubious causes. For example, in April 1999, along with Margaret Thatcher and George Bush senior, the Dalai Lama called upon the British government to release Augusto Pinochet.

    While Chinese rule is resented by many in Tibet, people are also afraid to loose the social gains of Maoism. A 1999 story in the Washington Post notes that the Dalai Lama continues to be revered in Tibet, but “few Tibetans would welcome a return of the corrupt aristocratic clans that fled with him in 1959 and that comprise the bulk of his advisers. Many Tibetan farmers, for example, have no interest in surrendering the land they gained during China’s land reform to the clans. Tibet’s former slaves say they, too, don’t want their former masters to return to power. “I’ve already lived that life once before,” said Wangchuk, a 67-year-old former slave who was wearing his best clothes for his yearly pilgrimage to Shigatse, one of the holiest sites of Tibetan Buddhism. He said he worshipped the Dalai Lama, but added, “I may not be free under Chinese communism, but I am better off than when I was a slave.” (John Pomfret, “Tibet Caught in China’s Web,” Washington Post, 23 July 1999)

  68. Susan.K Says:
    COVER STORY TIBET – A REALITY CHECK N. RAM writes, after a five day visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. “The sky is turquoise, the sun is golden, The Dalai Lama is away from the Potala, Making trouble in the west. Yet Tibet’s on the move.” Volume 17 – Issue 18, Sep. 02 – 15, 2000 India’s National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU TIBET – A REALITY CHECK N. RAM writes, after a five day visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. “The sky is turquoise, the sun is golden, The Dalai Lama is away from the Potala, Making trouble in the west. Yet Tibet’s on the move.” FOR an Indian in Tibet who has no sympathy whatsoever for the Dalai Lama’s separatist, revanchist and backward-looking agenda, this passable adaptation of an old Tibetan song seems to fit contemporary realities. A careful reading of the facts of the case reveals that this ideological and political agenda, pursued essentially through external agency, is three projects rolled into one – splitting Tibet from China, carving out a ‘Greater Tibet’ through ethnic cleansing, and restoring a moth-eaten theocracy , the ancien regime with some modest, if not quite cosmetic, ‘democratic’ changes. Each one of these projects can be seen to represent a pipe-dream, especially if one remembers that – unlike in the case of Kashmir – there is not a single country and government in the world that disputes the status of Tibet, that does not recognise Tibet as part of China, that is willing to accord any kind of legal recognition to the Dalai Lama’s ‘government-in-exile’ based in Dharmasala. An array of apartment and office buildings in central Lhasa. The transforming effects of modernisation are very visible in Tibet’s capital. Yet there can be little question that there is a Tibet question, that it has a problematical international as well as Sino-Indian dimension, that it continues to cause concern to the political leadership and people of China, and that it serves to confuse and divide public opinion abroad and, to an extent, at home. This is essentially a function of the coming together of a host of objective and subjective factors. These are the Dalai Lama’s religious charisma combined with the iconic international status of Tibetan Buddhism; his long-lastingness and tenacity; the ideological-political interests and purposes he has served over four decades and more; his considerable wealth and global investments and resources mobilised from the Tibetan diaspora in variou s countries; the grievous cultural and human damage done, in Tibet as much as in the rest of China, during the decade of the ‘Cultural Revolution’ (1966-76); the nature of the ‘independent Tibet’ movement that has rallied around the person and office of the Dalai Lama; the links and synergies ‘His Holiness’ has managed to establish with Hollywood, the media, legislators, and other influential constituencies in the West; the plausible, yet demonstrably tendentious and false, propaganda material generated by this anti-China and anti-Communist campaign in the post-Cold War era; and (from an Indian standpoint, not the least troubling aspect) the Dalai Lama’s continuing Indian base of operations. Historically, from the second half of the thirteenth century when China came under the Mongol Yuan dynasty founded by Kublai Khan, Tibet has experienced the merging of religious and temporal power in a peculiar type of theocracy. With the ascendancy of t he Gelug, or Yellow, sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the honorific ‘Dalai’ (meaning ‘Ocean’), conferred on the leader of the sect by the ruler of a Mongol tribe, appears during the Ming dynasty in the sixteenth century. Historical records show that the institu tion of the Dalai Lama as an ‘incarnate’ politico-religious supremo – recognised and indeed empowered by the Chinese Central Government – dates back to the middle of the seventeenth century, when the Great Fifth received a formal title and a golden seal of authority from the Qing Emperor whom he visited in Beijing. From that time, there have been Dalai Lamas powerful and inept, ascetic as well as pleasure-seeking, learned as well as shallow, masterful as well as manipulated, long-lived but also cut off in youth (possibly poisoned) in several cases. The fourteenth Dalai Lama, like his predecessor who was caught up in powerful currents of history involving British imperialism, a China undergoing big socio-political change, the ambitions of Tsarist Russia, an India moving towards freedom, and conflict ual processes within Tibet itself, is one of the longest lasting in the series. As the pre-eminent Tibetan Buddhist leader, ‘His Holiness’ has a hold among the faithful and a wider influence that must not be underestimated. But, as the Chinese official v iew makes clear, given the protracted experience of dealing with him, he cannot be treated merely, or even primarily, as a religious leader. He is a consummate politician leading a movement that seeks to take ‘Greater Tibet’ away from China – an anti-com munist and separatist political figure masquerading as a compassionate man of religion and ‘art of happiness’ guru. ”The Dalai Lama has several balls in the air at the same time,” a retired senior Indian diplomat who admires him observed to me recently. Thus, ‘His Holiness’ has been able to maintain in a recent interview to Time magazine (issue of July 17, 20 00): ”Let’s follow the middle path. We don’t want complete independence. Beijing can manage the economy and foreign policy, but genuine Tibetan self-rule is the best way to preserve our culture.” The Dalai Lama has claimed he has been consistent in his post-1959 stand. But that has not prevented him from running a ‘government-in-exile’, or accommodating an ‘independent Tibet” movement, or sponsoring a great deal of hostile propaganda material, or soliciting and accepting any kind of external help to destabilise China’s sovereignty or control over Tibet. As early as September 1959, the Dalai Lama, acting against Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s specific advice, sought, unsuccessfully, to get the United Nations to intervene in Tibet. Over the past 25 years, following a decision taken by his ‘government-i n-exile’ in Dharmasala, he has travelled extensively abroad to rally support for the internationalisation of the Tibet question and made various ‘realistic’ proposals for its ‘satisfactory and just solution’. These have included a ‘Five Point Peace Plan’ unfurled in a September 1987 address to members of the U.S. Congress; the elaboration of these five points in the so-called Strasbourg Proposal, presented in June 1988 in an address to members of the European Parliament; the withdrawal, in March 1991, o f his personal commitment to the ideas expressed in the Strasbourg Proposal on the basis of the allegation that the Chinese leadership had a ”closed and negative” attitude to the problem; and an abrasive and propagandistic open letter written to Deng Xiaoping in September 1992. In all his major public pronouncements, the Dalai Lama has taken the stand that Tibet has been an independent nation from ancient times, that it has been a strategic ‘buffer state’ in the heart of Asia guaranteeing the region’ s stability, that it has never ‘conceded’ its ‘sovereignty’ to China or any other foreign power, that China’s control over Tibet is in the nature of ‘occupation’ by a ‘colonial’ power, and that ‘the Tibetan people have never accepted’ the loss of ‘our na tional sovereignty’. He has also repeatedly spoken of ‘six million Tibetans’ and put forward the demand for the re-constitution of a ‘Greater Tibet’ known as ‘Cholka-Sum’ and comprising the areas of ‘U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo’. At the same time, the Dalai Lama has made himself out to be a moderate and realist committed to the Buddhist ‘middle path’ and to non-violence despite contra-acting tendencies among Tibetans. Thus, he has claimed on various occasions that he is not seeki ng total independence from China; that he is not seeking any active political role for himself in ‘future Tibet’; that he is willing to negotiate a future for Tibet as ”a self-governing democratic political entity founded on law by agreement of the peop le for the common good and the protection of themselves and their environment, in association with the People’s Republic of China”; and that he might settle for full-fledged or high-grade autonomy, with the China’s Central Government having charge of me rely defence and foreign affairs. During a period of economic reform, opening up to the outside world and the pursuit of socio-political stability, China’s renewed interest in arriving at an amicable settlement with the Dalai Lama and creating reasonable conditions for him to return was framed by two major policy statements by top leaders. In December 1978, Deng Xiaoping announced in a media interview that ”the Dalai Lama may return, but only as a Chinese citizen” and that ”we have but one demand – patriotism. And we say that anyone is welcome, whether he embraces patriotism early or late.” In May 1991, Prime Minister Li Peng clarified, also in a media interview, that ”we have only one fundamental principle, namely, Tibet is an inalienable part of China. On this fundamental issue, there is no room for haggling… All matters except ‘Tibetan independence’ can be discussed.” But after several rounds of informal talks and contacts with the Dalai Lama’s emissaries and fact-finding delegations between 1979 and 1992 and after watching the Dalai Lama’s performance on the international stage, the Chinese Government came to a sort of tentative conclusion by the time it held the Third National Conference on Work in Tibet in 1994. This conclusion was that the ‘Dalai clique’ was demonstrab ly insincere, that it was working overtime to separate Tibet from China and destabilise the situation in the autonomous region in concert with ‘China’s international enemies’, and that its actual demands were tantamount to independence, ‘semi-independenc e’ or ‘independence in disguise’. What is clear to any objective observer is the following. In his political role, the Dalai Lama has performed like a confidence trickster whose utterances and actions spring from a practised repertoire of misrepresentations, half-truths, and demon strable falsehoods about the facts of the case. A FIVE DAY visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in July 2000 provided me a rare journalistic opportunity to attempt some reality testing of Dharmasala’s main campaign themes. In psychology and psychoanalysis, reality testing is the technique of objective evaluation of an emotion or thought against real life, as a faculty present in normal individuals but defective in some psychotics. Here, the reality testing is not against what the protagonists and victims of the ‘independent Tibet’ campai gn feel or believe, but against what is systematically put out by the campaign as defining themes. Even if they have little formal official backing, these themes have acquired some kind of cult status on the world stage and shaped the p erceptions of considerable numbers of people who have no contact with the realities of Tibet. What direct observation, discussions with a cross-section of Tibetan as well as Han Chinese people, the factual testimony provided by numerous western visitors (especially those representing non governmental organisations, including teachers, doctors, medical workers and volunteers participating in poverty-alleviation projects), and an examination of salient verifiable data, published as well as unpublished, r eveal is the political conmanship that underlies much of the international campaign against the record of the Chinese Government and the Communist Party of China in Tibet. Frontline presents, in this Cover Story, the main findings of this r eality testing. Theme No. 1 A major theme in the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign is that China’s role in Tibet is that of a ‘colonial’ power exploiting the occupied land’s wealth and resources, subjugating its people, and suppressing its freedom. Part of this theme is the asserti on that even for the post-1979 period, when some economic improvements took place, official statistics and ”the Chinese Government’s claims” of social and economic development in Tibet ”cannot be taken at face value”; and that in any case ”it is not the Tibetans who benefit from the economic development of Tibet” but ”Chinese settlers in Tibet, their Government and military, and their business enterprises.” GREG BAKER/AP Chinese Vice-President Hu Jingtao, Premier Zhu Rongji, President Jiang Zemin and Chairman of the National People’s Congress Li Peng. This theme links up opportunistically with a long-observed tendency in colonial and post-colonial western attitudes towards Tibet. Idealising Tibet’s far-from-the-madding-crowd isolation, primitive impenetrability, frozen-in-time traditions and Lama-led spirituality and treating its denizens as chosen people holding the key to happiness, peace and spiritual liberation (at least until the Chinese arrived) is one side of this tendency. The other side is hostility, mostly of the patronising kind, vented bo th against unification with China and the process of modernisation that you see at work everywhere in Tibet. Aside from the fact that this first major theme of the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign is identical to one of the core arguments of the Pakistan-supported extremist secessionist movement in Kashmir, reality testing for Tibet on the set of issues addres sed by this kind of argument can be on its own merits, sui generis so to speak. Observed Reality Flying into Gongkar airport, Tibet’s major airport located in Shannan Prefecture, is a novel as well as sobering experience. Towards the end of a three-hour flight originating in Xian, China’s ancient capital (which used to be known as Changan), you catc h a spectacular glimpse of topographies and landforms that seem straight out of Browning’s strangest poems. Nothing you have read or seen in photographs prepares you for the vastness, the remoteness, the unnatural natural beauty, the flat-versus-mountain ous, dry-versus-riverine, fertile-versus-barren singularity of this once-great sea that has become a high altitude plateau averaging 4,000 metres, the ‘roof of the world’. Tibet has less oxygen, more sunlight, longer hours of daylight, lower temperatures , less precipitation, more changeable weather, more great mountains and rivers, a larger collection of lakes and nature reserves, and a lower density of population than most people are used to. But it is equally true that those who warn you about Tibet – against breathing difficulty, against altitude sickness, and against any kind of physical exertion upon landing – exaggerate for the most part. Unless specific health problems (even a transient problem like a bad cold) contra-indicate a flying visit to Tibet, acclimatisation is hardly the arduous challenge that anecdotal evidence and some guidebooks make it out to be. Further, you discover soon enough that geographically, physically, climatica lly, socio-economically, culturally and politically, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China is far from being a world apart – far-away, impenetrable, and inscrutable – that Hollywood’s fantasising about Shangri-la, ‘Seven Years in Tibet’, ‘Kundun’, and Lam aic Buddhism suggests. Tibet is on the move. This becomes clear as soon as you are on the road, either to Lhasa, a smooth, asphalted 95 km northward drive from Gongkar, or to Tsetang, a somewhat longer drive to the east that we took straight from the airport. As you spe ed along the highway, you are offered rapid frame alternations of the new and the old, the modern and the traditional, in what can be a heady brew of first impressions. In Tibet, as in most parts of the world, you can end up seeing and feeling, more or l ess, what you are pre-disposed to seeing and feeling. And much of this pre-disposition in the West, especially in the United States, is the outcome of prolonged exposure to the ‘independence for Tibet’ propaganda campaign orchestrated by the Dalai Lama, aided and abetted by Hollywood, by a certain genre of highly subjective travel writing, and, at a more sophisticated level, by ‘manufacture of consent’ in the media passing off as professional reportage and analysis. Discrediting modernisation through selective, tendentious description has become a favourite device in recent first-hand western writing on Tibet. Whether it is ”Tibetan Tragedy,” a Time magazine cover story written by Anthony Spaeth (issue of J uly 17, 2000), or a more pretentious two-part essay by Ian Baruma in The New York Review of Books (”Found Horizon” in the issue of June 29, 2000 and ”Tibet Disenchanted” in the issue of July 20, 2000), discos, karaoke bars, brothels, gambling casinos and so forth loom large in the reportage and analysis. It is as though these are the distinguishing features of the modernising process that is on in Tibet, as part of China’s gigantic, Deng Xiaoping-led post-1979 economic transformation. In Baru ma’s evocative account, the dominant image of modernising Tibet under China’s ‘colonial’ rule is sleaze associated with wild frontier ‘Chinese-style capitalism’: ”Chinese carpet-baggers, hucksters, hookers, gamblers, hoodlums, corrupt officials, and oth er desperadoes lusting after quick cash.” Unless the visitor chooses to get obsessively trapped in such images that are a small part of the reality, what he or she sees is a different kind of modernisation. New or improved schools, a system of compulsory schooling for nine or six or three years (depending on the area and the stage of objective development), and quite competitive higher educational institutions. A bewildering range of consumer goods and shops. Modern blue-tinted office buildings, new residential complexes, and a great deal of co nstruction activity in town and country. Hospitals and health centres dispensing both modern and a flourishing Tibetan indigenous medicine. Surplus grain production, new agricultural methods and practices, tractors, surplus-producing peasants, commoditis ed agriculture, water conservancy, irrigation, hydroelectric, geothermal, horticulture, and animal husbandry projects. Small and medium-sized industries and businesses. Ambitious infrastructure projects. A sustained economic growth rate close to 10 per c ent per year. Nascent scientific research, surveys, and social science activity. A substantial Tibetan Archives, active promotion and use of the Tibetan language (written and spoken), and big projects, funded largely by the Central Government, to record, collate, edit and publish Tibetan literary classics, such as King Gesar, and Buddhist sacred texts. Extensive repair, renovation, restoration and protection of cultural treasures under a strict and elaborate cultural protection regime. A splendid Tibet Autonomous Region Museum in Lhasa, with a floor space of 21,000 square metres, constructed during 1994-97 at a cost of $12 million. Environmental consciousness and concerns expressed in strict regulations, policies, an Environmental Protection Bur eau, afforestation, greening. New roads, highways, cars, two-wheelers, tractors, speeding trucks and every kind of modern vehicle. Newspapers, radio, television, mobile phones, twenty-first century telecom, even a few Internet bars. A nascent interest in biotechnology. Hotels for various budgets, organised tourism, and a host of other modern tertiary activities. KIRAN PRASAD The Dalai Lama. This is not surprising given the post-1979 policies of reform and opening up, which have brought enormous economic changes across China. Under the impact of these policies, over the past six years the economy of the Tibet Autonomous Region has grown at a n annual rate close to 10 per cent, which is above the national average. Last year, the Region’s GDP grew at 9.6 per cent. Recently released data on GDP growth for the first half of 2000 revealed that Tibet’s 8.9 per cent was again above the national ave rage (8.2 per cent). Economic growth during the second half of the year is expected to be higher. At the same time, the traditional is very much on view in town and country. As you speed along the highway to Tsetang, you catch a glimpse of how the bulk of Tibetans live, in mud and stone houses, cultivating small plots and tending livestock; prayer fl ags fluttering; primitive farming and nomadic practices; poor living conditions; colourful long skirts, striped aprons and beads; people squatting road-side; children working at home, in the fields, or tending livestock. This reflects the truth that the level of economic development, the development of productive forces, and the living standards of the people in the Tibet Autonomous Region are visibly lower than the Chinese average. Tibet is clearly at a preliminary stage of modernisation. To ask it to remain frozen in its traditions, as romantic disillusionment with the process of modernisation demands, is to be unrealistic as well as unfair to the mass of Tibetan people. For all t heir observable religiosity, they are as keen as people anywhere else to solve basic problems of food, clothing, shelter, transport, education, health, and decent work, and to improve living standards as quickly as possible. A VISIT to a surplus-producing peasant family on the outskirts of Tsetang in Shannan Prefecture makes clear these aspirations. The head of the ten-member family, seven of whose members still live in this unpretentious but spacious and traditionally decor ated house, is 56-year-old Lhodru. He and his wife are illiterate, but four of the five children have been to school. (The girl is the exception.) In the 1950s, the family had no land of its own and subsisted on raising donkeys and some cattle, although, as Lhodru noted, it was not a family of serfs and did not belong to the poorest of the poor. The family acquired some land after the Democratic Reform in 1959, but until the late 1970s it produced just enough to keep its head above water. Today, Lhodru’s family owns 22 mu of land, that is 1.46 hectares, operates a tractor bought with a bank loan, owns six pigs and five heads of cattle, and sells grain as well as milk in the market. The proof of its improving living standards can be seen i n the main living room, in the elaborately decorated furniture and a range of consumer goods. According to Lhodru, electrification arrived here around 1979 and the basic improvements came after the whole village was shifted to this location at the end of the 1970s. Of the five children, three, including the young woman, live with the parents. The youngest member of the family, a boy, is in high school; the young woman has a job in the country administration; and of the three remaining sons, one works in the fields, another is a tractor-driver, and the third makes a living riding a rickshaw in the local market. Lhodru observes that as living standards improve and the market economy develops, attitudes, beliefs and aspirations undergo a significant chang e, especially among the young. Secondly, he notes, how specific families fare in the new situation depends very much on capabilities within the family, which vary considerably; his family has done quite well in response to the new economic opportunities, benefited from the Central Government’s preferential policies towards Tibet, and lifted itself above a subsistence status, but it is by no means a rich family. In Lhasa, the transforming effects of modernisation are much more visible, whether you visit a factory, the main bazaar or a large department store or a high school or a hospital, or simply look around and observe the new office buildings, the new-style residential blocks, and the extensive construction in progress. These realities are profoundly different from those that used to prevail in old Tibet. One of the recurrent complaints of the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign is that the Chinese Government has sought to ‘justify its policy on Tibet’ by ‘painting the da rkest picture of traditional Tibetan society.’ But the facts are indisputable. Historical and social records and the accounts of foreign visitors show that before the 1959 Democratic Reform, which might have actually come later had there not been an armed uprising and had the Dalai Lama not fled to India, Tibet was a feudal serfdom . Land as well as most means of production were in the hands of the three categories of estate-owners – government officials, nobles, and upper class Lamas – who comprised merely 5 per cent of the population. The mass of the population, serfs and slave s, lived in extreme poverty, as appendages to estates owned by their masters, lacking education, health care, personal freedom, any kind of entitlement, obliged to provide unpaid labour services or ulag, an expansive Tibetan term for extortionate taxes, corvee and parasitical land rent. Agriculture was largely of the slash-and-burn kind, modern industry was virtually non-existent, and transportation was chiefly on animal or human back. Life in general was brutish and short, with diseases r ampant, the population stagnant, and life expectancy at birth hovering around 36. At the top of this profoundly inequitable and oppressive system sat the institution and person of the Dalai Lama (whatever be the ‘reformist’ fourteenth Dalai Lama’s subjec tive claims and feelings on this state of affairs). N. RAM Inside the Potala Palace, surely one of the world’s surviving wonders. The palace was listed in 1994 as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. As against these basic realities, the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign advances the argument that there was plenty of Buddhist kindness, compassion, and caring in old Tibet. While this may be true, there is only so much that kindness, compassion, and ca ring can achieve in the face of overpowering objective realities in a feudal serf-owning society and an extremely backward economy, where 95 per cent of the population was illiterate and the overwhelming majority lacked the ways and means to meet basic – even subsistence – needs. Since Liberation in 1949, China’s economic, political and social policies have gone through some sharp swings, twists, and turns. Such volatility has taken a considerable toll of the economic and social development effort, with the decade of the Cultural Revolution bringing nothing short of all-round calamity. Nevertheless, the record of four decades of democratic reform in the economic field in the Tibet Autonomous Region has been solid. Basic needs have been met to a substantial extent; social and hum an development indicators have risen impressively; poverty has been reduced; Tibet has acquired the fundamentals of a modern economy with briskly growing primary, industrial, and tertiary sectors; infrastructure, especially roads, highways, the energy se ctor, and telecommunications, have been developed on an ambitious scale; free medicare has been provided to a large proportion of the population; and Tibetan society, which is, in its composition, younger than most other parts of China, has become a lear ning society. According to an official publication, there have been four waves of accelerated economic development since the early 1950s. The first wave, which came in the 1950s, saw large-scale infrastructure construction especially in the field of transport; this wave saw the rapid completion of three major highways linking Tibet to Sichuan, Qinghai and Nepal, and the Gongkar airport, wh ich helped end the isolation of Tibet. The second wave came in the mid-1980s, triggered by two National Conferences on Work in Tibet held in 1980 and 1984 jointly by the Communist Party of China and the State Council. In 1980, the Central Government decided on two policies towards Tibet that would not be changed for a long time to come -”the land will be used by households, and will be managed by them on their own” and ”livestock will be owned, raised and managed by households on their own.” These policies have been extremely popular amo ng farmers and herdsmen who make up four-fifths of TAR’s population and have led to an upsurge in agricultural production. In 1984, the Central Government mobilised manpower and material resources from nine provinces and municipalities to help Tibet bui ld 43 projects as part of the ‘Golden Keys Programme’. The total investment involved was about 480 million yuan. The third wave came in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the state invested more than 3.2 billion yuan in huge infrastructure projects focussed on energy and transportation. Among other things, this has brought a comprehensive development project in t he Three River Area, that is, the area around the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa, and Nyang Rivers encompassing agriculture, water conservancy, and afforestation. The ambitious project is expected to benefit more than 45 per cent of TAR’s cultivated land, 18 coun ties and a population of 830,000, to lead to the development of a new base of commercial agriculture and light industry, and to spur development in the rest of Tibet. The fourth wave, initiated at the Third National Conference on Work in Tibet held in July 1994, has been by far the most ambitious in the series. It has meant more investment, more projects, wider coverage of areas, and a greater emphasis on quality and accountability. The Third Forum set an annual growth target of 10 per cent for Tibet’s economy over the medium term and decided that the Central Government together with 29 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities would help TAR construct 62 proj ects ”without compensation,” involving a total investment of more than four billion yuan. Virtually all these projects have been completed ahead of schedule. The target of quadrupling the 1980 GDP by 2000 was actually fulfilled two years ahead of sched ule. A new wave of economic development in Tibet is expected to be generated once China’s Western Development campaign, a strategic push for large-scale development of the western region during the Tenth Five Year Plan (2001-2005), gets into full swing. For a year, Tibet’s Development and Planning Commission has been working on a detailed plan to fit into this strategy. The plan is expected to be ready in early 2001. It will then go to the CPC Central Committee and to the TAR government for approval. Colonialism, invariably, involves a huge drain of resources and wealth from the colony or semi-colony. In the case of Tibet, between 1950 and 1998, the Central Government invested an estimated 40 billion yuan, provided major financial subsidies, and tran sported vast quantities of material. Particularly after some stock-taking in the early 1980s by the Communist Party of China, which came to the conclusion that conditions in Tibet were unacceptably poor and backward and the level of development in Tibet was unacceptably low, the stepping up of assistance to TAR from the Central Government and provinces and municipalities has made all the difference, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, to TAR’s economic performance. Tibet, like other autonomous regions, is a major beneficiary of preferential policies that have been in operation since the mid-1960s and been firmed up by the Central Government over the past two decades. Among other things, this involves a low tax poli cy, a no-ceiling policy for loans given to the region, preferential interest rates, and a 100 per cent retention rate for the region’s export earnings. N. RAM The devout elderly turning prayer-wheels at Shol village, the entrance to the Potala Palace at the southern foot of Marpo Ri. The results, gleaned from the China Statistical Yearbook, 1999 (published by China Statistics Press, Beijing), are revealing. Tibet’s GDP at the end of 1998 was 9.12 billion yuan, with the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors contributing 34.3 per cen t, 22.2 per cent and 43.5 per cent respectively. The region’s per capita GDP was a creditable 3,716 yuan. Per capita income in rural households was 1,232 yuan, which was 57 per cent of the comparable national average. Tibetan rural households spent signi ficantly more of their living expenditure on food and clothing, and significantly less on education, culture and recreational articles and services, than the comparable national average. Rural Tibetans consumed more or less the same quantity of grain per capita as other Chinese, but significantly less vegetables, poultry, eggs, aquatic products, and liquor. They had a lower consumption of almost all consumer goods, including bicycles, sewing machines, watches, washing machines, refrigerators and TV sets , but scored higher with respect to radio sets and radio-cassette players. The statistics suggest that people in urban Tibet are quite advantageously placed. They have greater per capita gross living space than the national average. About 73 per cent of them have access to piped water. Access to public transportation, paved roa ds, public green areas and other civic amenities is, in per capita terms, better than the national average. BEFORE 1951, Tibet had nothing like a modern educational system. Monastic education, going back a thousand years and focussing on the study of Buddhist scriptures and to some extent the Tibetan language, was the leading form of education. In addition, ab out 20 schools run by local governments and some 100 small-scale private schools together catered to a total student body of less than 1,000 in Tibet. These schools outside the monastic system were meant for the training of lay and monk officials or for imparting a modicum of basic education – reading, writing and arithmetic besides the recitation of Buddhist scriptures – to the children of aristocratic, wealthy, and business families. After the Revolution of 1911 put an end to the Qing dynasty in China, the thirteenth Dalai Lama decreed the establishment of a Tibetan language primary school in every county in Tibet, stipulating that “all children aged 7 to 15 must attend government-ru n schools.” This experiment led to the setting up of several Tibetan language primary schools but on account of local government corruption and opposition from reactionaries, the schools were closed and the programme was abandoned. Prior to peaceful libe ration in 1951, a pathetic two per cent of school-age Tibetan children were in school and the illiteracy rate was an estimated 95 per cent. Modern education made progress in Tibet after peaceful liberation, but the Cultural Revolution represented a major setback. Over the past two decades, developing education in Tibet has been identified at the highest political level as a strategic task. According to official educational statistics, in 1999 the Tibet Autonomous Region had 820 primary schools, 101 middle schools, and 3,033 teaching centres with a combined enrolment of 354,644 students. A comprehensive modern educational system going up fr om kindergarten to university level and including technical and vocational secondary schools had taken initial shape. A teaching and administrative staff of more than 22,279, including 19,276 full-time teachers, represented the backbone of the school sys tem. Of this staff, 80 per cent was drawn from ethnic nationalities, chiefly the Tibetan nationality. There were four institutions of higher learning (Tibet University, the Tibet Ethnic Institute, the Tibet Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, and the Tibet College of Tibetan Medicine) with a combined enrolment of 5,249 students. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, more than 20,000 students have graduated from Tibet’s higher educational institutions and over 23,000 from its secondary voc ational schools; and the overwhelming proportion of this qualified workforce has been Tibetan, contrary to what is alleged by the Dalai Lama-led campaign. Theme No. 2 A key theme of the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign is that China’s ‘colonialism’ in Tibet is expressed in a state-sponsored policy of population transfer and Hanisation, that is, bringing in large numbers of Han settlers, administrators, and military a nd security personnel so as to swamp sparsely populated Tibet and render Tibetans a minority in their own land. This allegation goes hand in hand with references to ‘six million Tibetans’ – which reads like an egregious absurdity until one realises that this dishonestly cited number is connected with the project of establishing ‘Greater Tibet’ through ethnic cleansing and re-constituting the boundaries of four existing Chinese provinces or autonomous regions, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan. The Dalai Lama himself has repeated the allegation of state-sponsored Hanisation and population transfer in various forums, with the result that over the long term it has become a staple of international anti-Chinese and anti-Communist propaganda in rel ation to Tibet. For example, he asserted in his September 1987 address to members of the U.S. Congress while presenting his so-called Five Point Peace Plan: ”The population transfer of Chinese into Tibet, which the government in Peking pursues in order to force a ‘final solution’ to the Tibetan problem by reducing the Tibetan population to an insignificant and disenfranchised minority in Tibet itself, must be stopped. The massive transfer of Chinese civilians into Tibet in violation of the Fourth Genev a Convention (1949) threatens the very existence of Tibetans as a distinct people.” The next year, in his address to members of the European Parliament which saw the unveiling of the so-called Strasbourg Proposal, the Dalai Lama asserted that ”the curr ent Chinese leadership” was, while implementing certain reforms, ”promoting a massive population transfer onto the Tibetan plateau” and that this policy had ”already reduced the six million Tibetans to a minority.” More recently, in his interview to Time magazine (issue of July 17, 2000), he claimed that ”now, in many of the bigger towns like Lhasa, Tibetans are a minority,” adding for good measure: ”Their lifestyle is changing; their language is half-Tibetan, half-Chinese.” N. RAM Street scene in Lhasa. The Dalai Lama’s extremist dissatisfaction with any scepticism about his assertions on ‘population transfer policy and practices’ was conveyed in a formal comment sent by T.C. Tethong, member of the ‘Kashag’ and ‘Minister, Information & International Rel ations, Central Tibetan Administration, Dharmasala’ to the Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on the organisation’s December 1997 report on Tibet: Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Indicating that he was sending the comment at the instance of the Dalai Lama, Tethong asserted: ”As for the figures of Chinese and Tibetan population in various parts of Tibet, the ICJ relies heavily on Ch inese statistics of dubious validity since China has consistently denied and tried to hide its population transfer into Tibet. Even the figures cited from the report by the Tibet Support Group UK greatly underrate the number of Chinese currently in the s o-called Tibet Autonomous Region. As of today, there are 7.5 million Chinese settlers in Tibet as opposed to six million Tibetans. In addition, there are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Chinese troops stationed in Tibet, a figure quoted as the nearest ap proximation of the actual number by research institutions around the world.” For well over a decade now, the Dalai Lama, and the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign literature, have made play with the phantom number of ”six million Tibetans” – who they claim have been reduced to a minority in ‘Tibet’. Swallowing this figure witho ut any independent verification or exercise of mind and without even waking up to the loaded political context in which this figure is cited by the Dalai Lama, the Time magazine cover story makes this assertion: ”In the so-called Tibetan Autonomo us Region, ethnic Tibetans now number 6 million, or only 44 per cent of the population, according to the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile. China disputes those figures, but its own census data is from 1990, before the most recent waves of Han Chinese imm igrants” (July 17, 2000). This means TAR’s population is 13.64 million! Population Realities The truth about the population and demographic profile of any country, or any significant region in a country, can be studied only on the basis of the data available in that country. Typically, over the past century and more, these data have been generat ed by decennial censuses. (The first Census of India was conducted in 1871.) Whatever be the methodological limitations and shortcomings of censuses of population, and interim estimates and projections based on their findings, there is no gainsaying the greater reliability of data generated by censuses compared with guesstimates of the kind put out in 1951 and 1953 by the Dalai Lama’s government, which simply lacked the ways and means to conduct censuses, or even scientific sample surveys, in Tibet. Sel f-evidently, the truth about the population and demographic profile of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China (or, for that matter, the population and demographic profile of Tibetans distributed across provinces and autonomous regions) cannot be gleaned fr om fanciful assertions of the kind put out by the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign, by the Dalai Lama himself, or by Time magazine. The latest Chinese official estimate of the population of TAR is 2.64 million, of which people of Tibetan nationality are estimated to be 94 to 95 per cent. What can explain the sensational gap between this population estimate and the figure put out in Time magazine’s cover story on Tibet? No demographic expert, no honest lay observer of Tibetan realities believes that the problem is with China’s 1990 Census. No expert or honest lay observer takes seriously the speculation that the decade-old Cen sus findings might have drowned in ‘waves’ (note the racial connotation of the phrase) of Han Chinese migrants. The last Census of India was conducted in 1991, but that does not invalidate expert updates and projections on the Indian population, or its r egional or spatial or social profile. Such estimates and projections can, of course, be verified against the actual findings of the 2001 Census. It is Time magazine’s ideologically blinkered, propagandistic and wildly inaccurate representation of Tibetan realities that suffers from a credibility gap. Further, Tibet is not a hermetically sealed remote fastness where, if it is true that Hanisation in ‘waves’ or state-sponsored population transfer over four decades has rendered Tibetans into a minor ity – let alone in the whole autonomous region, even in one Prefecture or one urban centre such as Lhasa or Xigaze – that social truth can be covered up, or kept a state secret. This is particularly so in a situation where demographic and social realitie s are increasingly transparent and verifiable by, among others, NGOs with access to Tibet, teachers, doctors, medical workers and others working as volunteers at the ground level, visiting experts and academics, and representatives of governments and mul tilateral agencies like the World Bank. Let us now look at the best information available over half a century on the size of Tibet’s population as well as on the proportion of Tibetans in this population. In 1951, when the Dalai Lama’s regime in Tibet lacked any arrangement or scientific basis to come up with an accurate figure, it announced Tibet’s total population as close to one million. This was regarded as a realistic figure. In 1953, China conducted its First National Population Census, but found it impracticable to extend this exercise to Tibet. However, the local government headed by the Dalai Lama sent up for inclusion in the National Census an estimate of 1.274 million as the population of Tibe t (including the Qamdo Prefecture). The impression among Chinese demographic experts was that this was an overestimate. China conducted its Second National Population Census in 1964. This was five years after the Armed Rebellion had been put down in Tibet. This Census also could not be conducted in Tibet because the Preparatory Committee, preoccupied with the work of foun ding the Tibet Autonomous Region (which would come into being the next year), could not take up the job. This time an estimate of 1.251 million was sent up. The decrease of 23,000 from 1953 reflected, to a small extent, the assessment that the 1953 figur e was an overestimate. But more importantly, the decline was the outcome of the flight of more than 90,000 Tibetans, including 74,000 former residents of Tibet, following the collapse of the 1959 Armed Rebellion. TAR conducted its first Census in 1982, as part of the Third National Population Census, and its population was found to be 1.892 million. (This number included a non-census estimate covering 1.5 per cent of the region’s population.) For the first time i n modern Tibet’s history, a demographic profile and democratic indexes became available. An interesting finding of the 1982 exercise was that there were 1.7865 million people of Tibetan nationality and 91,700 Han people living in TAR. The former constitu ted 94.42 per cent, and the latter 4.85 per cent, of the autonomous region’s population. People belonging to other minority nationalities accounted for less than 1 per cent. N. RAM An ambitious infrastructure construction project in progress in a rural area in central Tibet. Over the past six years, the economy of the Tibet Autonomous Region has grown at an annual rate close to 10 per cent. Tibet’s second and most reliable census to date was conducted in 1990, as part of the Fourth National Population Census. The population of TAR was now found to be 2.196 million. A significant finding of this census was that there were now 2.0967 million people of Tibetan nationality in TAR, constituting 95.48 per cent of its population. The Han population had actually declined to 80,800, representing merely 3.68 per cent of the autonomous region’s population. As in the previous census, people belonging to other ethnic groups made up less than 1 per cent. No population can remain completely unchanged in its structure and profile for any length of time, and indeed in recent decades some changes are reported to have taken place in the distribution of Tibetans and Han Chinese across TAR. But the pattern as r ecorded in the first two real censuses of Tibet is the opposite of what the Dalai Lama and the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign allege. The 1982 and 1990 Census data on the Tibetan and Han Chinese population of Tibet’s six Prefectures and Lhasa Municipa lity reveal two interesting truths. (See Table 1.) First, in every prefecture and in Lhasa, Tibetans constituted the overwhelming majority of the population in 1982 as well as 1990. In fact, only in Lhasa and Nyingchi Prefecture did Han Chinese exceed 1 0 per cent of the population; in every other Prefecture, they were an insignificant proportion. Secondly, between 1982 and 1990, the proportion of Tibetans in the population increased in every one of TAR’s Prefectures as well as in Lhasa Municipality. So where does the Dalai Lama get his population data from? Neither he nor anyone else has been able to produce a shred of evidence to show that the 1982 and 1990 Census data for Tibet were concocted or fraudulent, which they would have to be if either of Dalai Lama’s assertions – that a population transfer policy had ”reduced the six million Tibetans to a minority” and that ”in many of the bigger towns like Lhasa, Tibetans are a minority” – were true. Further, Census data and demographic indexes ca n be tested for internal consistency. No expert has found anything suspicious about the 1982 and 1990 Census data for Tibet. Theme No. 3 The Dalai Lama and the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign have frequently referred to ‘six million Tibetans’ as a kind of proxy for ‘Greater Tibet’. They counterpose this number to ‘7.5 million Chinese settlers’ who, by implication, need to be expelled fr om what is described as ‘the whole of Tibet’. They have also specifically put forward the revanchist political demand that ‘the whole of Tibet known as Cholka-Sum (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo)’ should be ‘restored’ as a separate political entity. This is, by implication, a demand for breaking up three Chinese provinces, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan, and the Qinghai autonomous region, and for ethnic cleansing. Realities It is true that Tibetans in China live overwhelmingly in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. According to data available from China’s 1990 National Population Census, Tibetans in TAR make up 45.65 per cent of China’s Tibetan population of 4.59 million. Sichuan Pr ovince (1.09 million), the Qinghai Autonomous Region (0.91 million), Gansu Province (0.37 million), and Yunnan Province (0.11 million) together account for the majority of Tibetans in China. The Central Government has adopted the policy of national auton omy for areas where people belonging to minority nationalities live in concentrated or compact communities. Thus, there are autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures, and autonomous counties (in some cases, an autonomous administrative unit is designate d jointly for the benefit of two minority nationalities that form compact communities in the area). Under this policy, there are outside TAR ten Tibetan nationality autonomous prefectures and two Tibetan nationality autonomous counties. Estimates based o n the 1990 Census data and on observed trends suggest that China’s Tibetan population today may be a little over 5.5 million. The historical record shows that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau was never populated exclusively by Tibetans. While most of the plateau is legitimately termed ‘Tibetan’, it is also home to a large number of other Chinese ethnic groups and tribes, including not ably the Han, Mongol, Tu, Hui and Qiang. The current administrative division of Tibetan areas is not part of any Chinese Han conspiracy to render Tibetans a minority in ‘the whole of Tibet’ – for the simple reason there was never, at any time, an indepe ndent country with all these Tibetan areas included. Nor is the administrative division the handiwork of Chinese Communists. It is, as a Chinese historical publication points out, ”the result of a unified administration enforced by the (Chinese) central government toward Tibet since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).” Further, ”the area controlled by the local government of Tibet (the Gaxag government) under the leadership of the Dalai Lama did not extend beyond the Jinshajiang River in the west and the T anggula Mountain in the south.” N. RAM Lay women polishing butter lamps at Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. The administrative divisions of Tibetan areas have, over centuries, been re-defined and altered for a complexity of reasons by Chinese central governments under Yuan, Ming, Qing, and Republican rule. In the nineteenth century, after China was reduced to the plight of a semi-feudal semi-colony by western colonial powers and the central government was greatly weakened, conflicts broke out between Tibet and Sichuan over administrative areas. After the 1911 Revolution, some areas changed hands. It was at the Simla Conference of 1913 that British imperialism presented a blueprint for ‘Outer Tibet’ and ‘Inner Tibet’ that has created a good deal of confusion and trouble over the long term. For ‘Outer Tibet’, there would be ‘full autonomy’ under th e nominal ‘suzerainty’ of China but actually under British supervision and hegemony. On the other hand, the Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan would become part of ‘Inner Tibet’ whose political and administrative arrangements would be determined later. Despite British-sponsored armed aggression and manipulation, the Chinese government never accepted this blueprint and the arrangements demanded by Britain could never be put in place. As Dr. Subramanian Swamy points out in an accompanying analysis, independent India’s policy has inherited from the British Raj a kind of ambivalence if not duplicity on Tibet, and paid a heavy price for this in bilateral relations with China. ”Indians m ust get themselves debriefed and their minds purged of the British duplicity on Tibet, which was to keep Tibet’s status nebulous in everyone’s mind by concocting a feudal concept of ‘suzerainty’… The purging of the imperialist perfidy is the responsibi lity of the Indian government.” This is sound advice and the Indian Government as well as political parties like the Congress (I) must take it to heart and act sincerely on it. The Dalai Lama’s notion of ‘Greater Tibet’, which takes inspiration from the failed imperialist blueprint presented at the Simla Conference, is a provocative demand for breaking up existing Chinese provinces and autonomous regions, ethnic cleansing, and, in fact, ‘returning’ to a state of affairs that never existed. Theme No. 4 The ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign and the Dalai Lama himself have made an astonishing allegation against the Chinese Government: that over one million Tibetans have keen killed since 1951. In the course of presenting his ‘Five Point Peace Plan’ to members of the U.S. Congress in September 1987, the Dalai Lama twice used the word ‘holocaust’ and piled on the charges: ”After the holocaust of the last decades in which over one million Tibeta ns – one sixth of the population – lost their lives and at least as many lingered in prison camps because of their religious beliefs and love of freedom, only a withdrawal of Chinese troops could start a genuine process of reconciliation.” He repeated t he allegation while presenting the ‘Strasbourg Proposal’ to members of the European Parliament on June 15, 1988: ”More than a million of our people have died as a result of the occupation.” (Curiously, the Dalai Lama in his letter, dated September 11, 1992, to Deng Xiaoping makes no reference whatever to the loss of ‘more than one million lives’). A ‘White Paper’, updated to February 1996 and posted on the Web by the Dalai Lama’s ‘government-in-exile’, has improved on this charge: ”Over 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Today, it is hard to come across a Tibetan family that has not had at least one member imprisoned or killed by the Chinese regime.” It can be seen that in making this allegation, the Dalai Lama and ‘the government of Tibet in exile’ are trying to have it both ways. Once again, the allegation straddles two Tibets: the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the ‘Greater Tibet’ of their revanchi st imaginings. The reference to ‘the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet’ suggests TAR, but the claim that the population of Tibetans is six million relates to ‘Greater Tibet’. Reality Testing If even remotely true, the death of more than a million people in Tibet ‘as a direct result’ of the rule of the People’s Republic China would, given Tibet’s population base, amount to genocide of an unprecedented, near-total kind. If not true, then both the campaign and the Dalai Lama must be exposed for gross political fraud and an outrageous abuse of the latter’s status of ‘His Holiness’. It strains credulity for anyone to suggest that, in the present age, something as monstrous as what has been alleg ed can escape independent investigation, defy reality testing, and remain more or less opaque. N. RAM At the Potala Palace complex. Between 1989 and 1994, the government made available 55 million yuan for the repair and renovation of the palace. Interestingly, a December 1997 publication of the International Commission of Jurists titled Tibet: Human Rights and the Rule of Law chooses to draw a veil of silence over this particular allegation made by the Dalai Lama and his ‘government-in-ex ile’ (even though the ICJ has made common cause with the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign in levelling a plethora of allegations against China relating to human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of political activity, ‘arbitrary arrest and detention’ , ‘torture and ill-treatment’, the ‘erosion’ of the Tibetan language, ‘degradation’ of Tibet’s environment, and ‘increasing threats’ to aspects of Tibetan identity and culture). So does the report titled The Case Concerning Tibet: Tibet’s Sovereignty and the Tibetan People’s Right to Self-Determination written by two representatives of the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation and published in December 1998 by the New Delhi-based Tibet an Parliamentary & Policy Research Centre. Giving credence to the figure of ‘more than one million’ without any attempt at substantiation would have undermined the credibility of these organisations which have allied with the ‘independence for Tibet’ cam paign. Let us now turn to the issue of how the alleged killing of more than one million people (between 1951 and 1979, according to ‘the government of Tibet in exile’) relates in scale to the population of Tibet during the relevant period. We have already seen that the population of Tibet as estimated by the Dalai Lama’s government was close to a million in 1951 and 1.274 million in 1953. In 1983 and 1990, the National Population Census found the number of Tibetans in TAR to be 1.79 million and 2.10 million re spectively. It is inconceivable that a loss of 1.2 million people against such a population base will not express itself in huge distortions and gaps in the demographic indexes and population profile of TAR (or for that matter all the Tibetan autonomous areas in China). There is not the slightest evidence in these indexes and in the profile of anything but steady improvement, over the decades, in the quality of life of Tibetans. This means, among other things, an impressive rise in life expectancy at b irth (from 36 in 1951 to over 65 today), a reduction in the death rate, and strikingly lower infant mortality. ”If one million were killed,” remarks Jing Wei, a Chinese journalist, ”then there would be almost no Tibetans left. The truth, however, is just the opposite.” (100 Questions About Tibet, Beijing Review Press, Beijing, 1989). Theme No. 5 The Dalai Lama and ‘the independence for Tibet’ campaign have repeatedly asserted that religion and freedom of worship, especially in Tibet’s monasteries, have been brutally suppressed and that Tibetan traditional culture and spirituality are in danger o f extinction. In his September 1987 address to members of the U.S. Congress, the Dalai Lama said: ”Although the Chinese government allows Tibetans to rebuild some Buddhist monasteries and to worship in them, it still forbids serious study and teaching of religion. On ly a small number of people, approved by the Communist Party, are permitted to join monasteries.” He added that ”thousands of our countrymen suffer in prisons and labour camps in Tibet for their religious or political convictions.” A White Paper posted on the Web by ‘the government of Tibet in exile’ asserts that ”the Chinese authorities, even now, do not let the functioning units of the monastic universities to continue their traditional religious practices. Admission to monaste ries is controlled, the number of monks limited, and political indoctrination undertaken in the monasteries. The management of monasteries is placed in the hands of a maze of state bureaucracies …The essence of Buddhism lies in mental and spiritual dev elopment achieved through intensive study with qualified lamas, understanding and practice. But the Chinese authorities discourage this in their campaign to misrepresent Tibetan religion.” The White Paper also alleges that ”contrary to official Chinese assertions, much of Tibet’s culture and religion was destroyed between 1955 and 1961 and not during the Cultural Revolution … By 1976 only eight monasteries and nunneries had escaped Chinese destruction.” Observed Realities During a visit to Tibet in July 2000, we had the opportunity to visit, or catch a glimpse of, several Buddhist holy places and places of traditional cultural, religious, and historical significance. This included the Trandruk Temple in the vicinity of Ts etang in Shannan Prefecture in central Tibet; the Yumbulagang, reputed to be Tibet’s first castle or ‘palace’, which has statues commemorating celebrated kings and ministers, religious worship, and monks within its precincts; (from a distance) Tibet’s fi rst monastery, Samye, founded some 1,200 years ago and associated with the Indian masters Shankarakshita and Padmasambhava; the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, with the priceless ancient statue of Jowo Sakyamuni, that is, the Buddha at the age of 12, the most v enerated religious image in all of Tibet, in the main chapel; the world-famous Potala Palace, listed in December 1994 as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO and drawing visitors and pilgrims, from near and far, round the year; a wonderful collection of treasures, temporal and religious, housed in one of the developing world’s finest historical museums, the new Tibet Autonomous Region Museum, in which China’s central government has invested more than 100 million yuan; and some smaller shrines. Buddhism is a strong, all-pervasive presence in Tibet. Everywhere, you see prayer flags and sutra streamers fluttering; prayer wheels turning; pilgrims queueing up, prostrating, circumambulating, reciting; butter lamps lighted or being polished; thankas, relics, images of the Buddha in various forms, moods, and manifestations as well as other high and lesser figures in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon; monks and nuns of various categories; intensely devout elderly women and men. The number of pilgrims who come to Lhasa every year is close to one million. There is no question of anyone restricting, let alone suppressing, any of this. The Cultural Revolution tried and succeeded only in inflicting a great deal of damage to monasteries, temples, and cultural relics – as it did, among other awful things, all over China. Ironically, the ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign literature is rather light on damage done during the Cultural Revolution in TAR, because it seeks to establish for its own reasons that the wo rst damage to Tibetan Buddhism was done before and after the decade of 1966-76. This suggests that the worst depredations of the Cultural Revolution were not in Tibet, although it is clear even today that the damage done to monasteries and temples, inclu ding Jokhang, and their treasures was grievous. What is even clearer at the factual level is that a great deal has survived – above all, the Jowo Sakyamuni at Jokhang and the Potala Palace, which is surely one of the world’s surviving wonders. It is estimated by Chinese official sources that in old Tibet monks and nuns accounted for 10 per cent of the population. The White Paper, cited above, of the ‘government of Tibet in exile’ claims that in 1959, there were a total of 6,259 Tibetan Buddhi st monasteries and temples with 592,558 resident monks and nuns. Even allowing for exaggeration, this figure makes no sense unless the context is understood to be the territory of ‘Greater Tibet’. N. RAM At the Potala Palace complex. Between 1989 and 1994, the government made available 55 million yuan for the repair and renovation of the palace. There is no need here to enter into any kind of digression on Tibetan Buddhism: its various monasteries, temples and sects, the high Lamas, Living Buddhas and grand incarnations, the senior, middling and lowly monks and nuns, the debates, rituals and bel iefs, and the steady streams of revenue that monasteries and temples are able to collect from all categories of lay people. But the point needs to be made here that although there was a great deal in this system that needed protection, there was consider able scope for reform and enforcement of the rule of law, a modern concept. Buddhism as a religion emphasises kindness and compassion. But the traditional Tibetan Buddhist religious community was far from being a unified or homogeneous community in any s ense. It was organised on rigid hierarchical lines where learning but also other factors, especially politics, played a significant part. Within this monastic and Lamaic system, there were contradictions, schisms, conflicts, tensions, and cruelty. Second ly, there was a strong class system at work in Lamaism, with the majority of monks and nuns being poor, put upon, and poorly educated. At the working level, the system was characterised by huge gaps in wealth, status, and command of commodities and capab ilities. Thirdly, nuns did not enjoy the same status and rights as monks since the doctrine stipulates that ”the status of nuns is under that of the ordinary monks” and the old Tibetan law laid down that ”women cannot become involved in political affa irs.” Fourthly, in pre-Democratic Reform Tibet, the practice of sending children of tender age
  69. Susan.K Says:

    Tibet Through Chinese Eyes

    Most Chinese think the West’s real aim is to deny them the triumph they deserve for their success.

    By Kishore Mahbubani | NEWSWEEK
    May 5, 2008 Issue

    The recent crisis over the Olympic torch and Tibet represent an epic clash: not just between Tibetans and Beijing, but between a self-congratulatory Western worldview and the very different vision of a billion-plus Chinese. Until Western leaders start trying to understand the Chinese perspective, friction is likely to grow, and the victims will include the Tibetans themselves—the very people Western leaders say they want to protect.
    According to the current U.S. and European narrative, the popular protests in Tibet and elsewhere were entirely justified. The demonstrators pushed a moral cause: to free the poor Tibetans from an oppressive communist government. And the European leaders who decided to boycott the Olympics’ opening ceremonies, like Germany’s Angela Merkel, deserved nothing but praise for their courageous stance.

    The Chinese view could not be more different. Before describing it, however, it is vital to dispel a major Western misconception. Many Americans and Europeans think that China’s furious reaction to the protests—a reaction that has now inspired a massive boycott of Western goods and businesses in China—has been the result of media manipulation and information control by Beijing. If only the Chinese public had access to real facts, Westerners think, their attitudes would be different. This is a huge mistake. The reality is that some of the strongest anger toward the West at the moment is coming from liberal Western-educated Chinese intellectuals who have access to accurate information. China today enjoys the most competent governance it’s ever had, and its elites are intelligent, well educated and sophisticated—the exact opposite of the “goons and thugs” described by CNN’s Jack Cafferty.

    The Chinese are so angry because virtually all of them believe that the Western protests have had little to do with human rights, Tibet or Darfur. Instead, the Chinese think, the West’s real motivation is to deny China the triumph it deserves for its enormous successes. According to this view, Westerners cannot stomach the thought that China is poised to hold the best Olympics ever. Such a spectacle would vividly demonstrate how power has shifted from West to East. This would be intolerable, and thus Americans and Europeans are dead set on finding some way to disrupt the Games—and if Tibet or Darfur won’t suffice, they’ll find some other method. As several Western-educated Chinese friends have whispered to me, “Kishore, this is pure racism. The West cannot bear the thought of China’s succeeding.”

    Chinese skepticism about the Western commitment to human rights is well founded. Indeed, there is something ironic about those who have committed genocide against American Indians or Australian Aborigines now castigating China on Tibet. Furthermore, Guantánamo—which Amnesty International has described as “the gulag of our times”—plus Abu Ghraib and European complicity in Washington’s extraordinary rendition program have badly damaged the West’s credibility and legitimacy.

    Most Chinese also believe that Tibetans have received special treatment from Beijing. After the disastrous Cultural Revolution, in which all Chinese suffered, Deng Xiaoping adopted a more pragmatic approach to the region. Ruined religious sites were repaired, monasteries were reopened, new monks were allowed to join orders and the Tibetan language was permitted to be used more extensively than before. Chinese leaders believe that China has exercised sovereignty over Tibet for 700 years now, ever since the Yuan dynasty—one reason the “Free Tibet” slogan angers them so much. Then there’s the recent territorial disintegration of the Soviet Union and memories of how the West seized Chinese territory in the 19th century: still more reasons why Chinese suspicions run deep.

    What really frustrates Beijing is the West’s apparent lack of comprehension of China’s aims for the Olympics. In 2005, World Bank head Robert Zoellick called on China to become a “responsible stakeholder.” The Beijing Olympics were meant to symbolize China’s willingness to do just that, and the Chinese expected their efforts to be welcomed enthusiastically. But now most Western leaders seem intent on slamming the door in Beijing’s face instead. The tragedy is that this will only stoke angry Chinese nationalism, which has already begun to surface. A fire-breathing Chinese dragon will clamp down on Tibet even harder than the current government has, which would serve no one’s interests. The West’s failure to recognize this fact demonstrates a serious failure of long-term strategic thinking.

    If Europe’s leaders really want to show political courage, they should attend the Olympics’ opening ceremonies. Doing so would encourage China to open up further and engage the world. Over time, this will liberalize Chinese society and even lead to greater political and cultural autonomy for the Tibetans. So far, only one major Western leader has shown the requisite courage and foresight: George W. Bush. It is hoped numerous leaders from other continents will join him in Beijing. When that happens, it will only underscore Europe’s growing irrelevance: a tragedy that Europeans are bringing upon themselves.

    Mahbubani is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and the author of “The New Asian Hemisphere.”

  70. New porter Says:

    US Journalist: China Preserves Tibetan Culture
    2008-05-05 17:34:54

    The Chinese government has made impressive efforts to bring Tibet to the modern world of the 21st century and preserve its traditional culture, a U.S. journalist said on Sunday.

    David Jones, the interim managing editor of the Washington Times, said in an email interview with Xinhua that he saw during his trip to Tibet last September that large sums of money had been put into repairing temples and building museums.

    Traditional Tibetan singing and dancing were also kept alive as part of the government’s efforts to preserve Tibetan culture, he said.

    “Large sums have been spent to preserve and restore Tibet’s temples and monasteries … Almost 30 million U.S. dollars has already been spent on the Potala Palace alone,” he wrote in a report about his trip to Tibet published in October.

    “The government also sponsors professional and amateur dance and theater troupes and set aside up to one-third of Tibet’s total area for wildlife preserves,” he added.

    In his October report, Jones said officials in Beijing and Lhasa seem to have come to the same conclusion that they could attract tourists to the region by preserving the world’s most original culture.

    Jones recalled that he had a “romantic picture” that Tibet was rather a backward and very religious place before he went there, but he was surprised to see a modern Tibet with first-class highways, many SUVs and good communication, and that even yak herders have cell phones and motorbikes.

    “It is obvious to me that the government had spent a lot of money to build infrastructure,” he said. “The mobile phone reception in some parts of Tibet is even better than West Virginia.”

    He also found the government of Tibetan Autonomous Region is “very much a mixture of Tibetan and Han officials at all levels.”

    Jones, a former reporter based in Hong Kong in 1980s, said that he has witnessed China’s dramatic change in politics, economy and social life during several visits to the country from 1983 to 2007.

    “Each time I went to China, I was amazed to see how much progress and development that have been (achieved) in such a short time.”

    Jones said that he was surprised to see how much more freedom Chinese people enjoy nowadays in choosing their professions and traveling abroad, among others.

    He said he realizes westerners should not deny China’s development mode based on its 5,000-year history. They should acknowledge how dramatically China has changed in such a short period and how challenging it is to undertake these changes in such a populous country.

  71. News porter Says:

    I’m in favour of Buddhism and it’s peaceful wishes. However, this is plainly wrong. In this case it shows the Dalai Lama clearly using violence, leading to deaths and terrorizing people’s lives. I have seen the Dalai lama before and heard his teachings. This is shameful and I’m disappointed.

  72. Michael Cain Says:

    Just do some intensive research yourself:

    Michael Parenti is an American political scientist, historian, and author. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. His works have been translated into at least eighteen languages. His book, “The Assassination of Julius Caesar, A People’s History of Ancient Rome”, was selected as a Book of the Year for 2004 by Online Review of Books and Current Affairs.

    “He (the Dalai Lama) headed a social system that was exploitative, terribly terribly unequal, and terribly brutal.”

    “You had a privileged priest class, living in utter luxury and opulence, and you had a mass of serfs living in utter misery.”

    “His holiness would tell you that he must return to power for the good of his people. In this case “good” may translate to his people living in squaller and his government condoning slavery.”

    “As this State Department internal memo reveals, the Dalai Lama at one time took $180,000 a year from the CIA for his living expenses. and $1.5 million a year from the spy agency to finance Tibetan guerrilla operations against the Chinese, which included, running a covert guerrilla training center in Colorado.”

  73. Jan Eggen Says:

    Religious conflict was commonplace in old Tibet
    Religious conflict was commonplace in old Tibet; writes one western Buddhist practitioner. “History belies the Shangri-La image of Tibetan lamas and their followers living together in mutual tolerance and nonviolent goodwill. Indeed, the situation was quite different. Old Tibet was much more like Europe during the religious wars of the Counterreformation.” 5 In the thirteenth century, Emperor Kublai Khan created the first Grand Lama, who was to preside over all the other lamas as might a pope over his bishops. Several centuries later, the Emperor of China sent an army into Tibet to support the Grand Lama, an ambitious 25-year-old man, who then gave himself the title of Dalai (Ocean) Lama, ruler of all Tibet.

    His two previous lama “incarnations” were then retroactively recognized as his predecessors, thereby transforming the 1st Dalai Lama into the 3rd Dalai Lama. This 1st (or 3rd) Dalai Lama seized monasteries that did not belong to his sect, and is believed to have destroyed Buddhist writings that conflicted with his claim to divinity. The Dalai Lama who succeeded him pursued a sybaritic life, enjoying many mistresses, partying with friends, and acting in other ways deemed unfitting for an incarnate deity. For these transgressions he was murdered by his priests. Within 170 years, despite their recognized divine status, five Dalai Lamas were killed by their high priests or other courtiers. 6

    For hundreds of years competing Tibetan Buddhist sects engaged in bitterly violent clashes and summary executions. In 1660, the 5th Dalai Lama was faced with a rebellion in Tsang province, the stronghold of the rival Kagyu sect with its high lama known as the Karmapa. The 5th Dalai Lama called for harsh retribution against the rebels, directing the Mongol army to obliterate the male and female lines, and the offspring too “like eggs smashed against rocks…. In short, annihilate any traces of them, even their names.” 7

    In 1792, many Kagyu monasteries were confiscated and their monks were forcibly converted to the Gelug sect (the Dalai Lama’s denomination). The Gelug school, known also as the “Yellow Hats,” showed little tolerance or willingness to mix their teachings with other Buddhist sects. In the words of one of their traditional prayers: “Praise to you, violent god of the Yellow Hat teachings/who reduces to particles of dust/ great beings, high officials and ordinary people/ who pollute and corrupt the Gelug doctrine.” 8 An eighteenth-century memoir of a Tibetan general depicts sectarian strife among Buddhists that is as brutal and bloody as any religious conflict might be. 9 This grim history remains largely unvisited by present-day followers of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.

    Religions have had a close relationship not only with violence but with economic exploitation. Indeed, it is often the economic exploitation that necessitates the violence. Such was the case with the Tibetan theocracy. Until 1959, when the Dalai Lama last presided over Tibet, most of the arable land was still organized into manorial estates worked by serfs. These estates were owned by two social groups: the rich secular landlords and the rich theocratic lamas. Even a writer sympathetic to the old order allows that “a great deal of real estate belonged to the monasteries, and most of them amassed great riches.” Much of the wealth was accumulated “through active participation in trade, commerce, and money lending.” 10

    Drepung monastery was one of the biggest landowners in the world, with its 185 manors, 25,000 serfs, 300 great pastures, and 16,000 herdsmen. The wealth of the monasteries rested in the hands of small numbers of high-ranking lamas. Most ordinary monks lived modestly and had no direct access to great wealth. The Dalai Lama himself “lived richly in the 1000-room, 14-story Potala Palace.” 11

    Secular leaders also did well. A notable example was the commander-in-chief of the Tibetan army, a member of the Dalai Lama’s lay Cabinet, who owned 4,000 square kilometers of land and 3,500 serfs. 12 Old Tibet has been misrepresented by some Western admirers as “a nation that required no police force because its people voluntarily observed the laws of karma.” 13 In fact. it had a professional army, albeit a small one, that served mainly as a gendarmerie for the landlords to keep order, protect their property, and hunt down runaway serfs.

    Young Tibetan boys were regularly taken from their peasant families and brought into the monasteries to be trained as monks. Once there, they were bonded for life. Tashì-Tsering, a monk, reports that it was common for peasant children to be sexually mistreated in the monasteries. He himself was a victim of repeated rape, beginning at age nine. 14 The monastic estates also conscripted children for lifelong servitude as domestics, dance performers, and soldiers.

    In old Tibet there were small numbers of farmers who subsisted as a kind of free peasantry, and perhaps an additional 10,000 people who composed the “middle-class” families of merchants, shopkeepers, and small traders. Thousands of others were beggars. There also were slaves, usually domestic servants, who owned nothing. Their offspring were born into slavery. 15 The majority of the rural population were serfs. Treated little better than slaves, the serfs went without schooling or medical care, They were under a lifetime bond to work the lord’s land–or the monastery’s land–without pay, to repair the lord’s houses, transport his crops, and collect his firewood. They were also expected to provide carrying animals and transportation on demand.16 Their masters told them what crops to grow and what animals to raise. They could not get married without the consent of their lord or lama. And they might easily be separated from their families should their owners lease them out to work in a distant location. 17

    As in a free labor system and unlike slavery, the overlords had no responsibility for the serf’s maintenance and no direct interest in his or her survival as an expensive piece of property. The serfs had to support themselves. Yet as in a slave system, they were bound to their masters, guaranteeing a fixed and permanent workforce that could neither organize nor strike nor freely depart as might laborers in a market context. The overlords had the best of both worlds.

    One 22-year old woman, herself a runaway serf, reports: “Pretty serf girls were usually taken by the owner as house servants and used as he wished”; they “were just slaves without rights.”18 Serfs needed permission to go anywhere. Landowners had legal authority to capture those who tried to flee. One 24-year old runaway welcomed the Chinese intervention as a “liberation.” He testified that under serfdom he was subjected to incessant toil, hunger, and cold. After his third failed escape, he was merciless beaten by the landlord’s men until blood poured from his nose and mouth. They then poured alcohol and caustic soda on his wounds to increase the pain, he claimed.19

    The serfs were taxed upon getting married, taxed for the birth of each child and for every death in the family. They were taxed for planting a tree in their yard and for keeping animals. They were taxed for religious festivals and for public dancing and drumming, for being sent to prison and upon being released. Those who could not find work were taxed for being unemployed, and if they traveled to another village in search of work, they paid a passage tax. When people could not pay, the monasteries lent them money at 20 to 50 percent interest. Some debts were handed down from father to son to grandson. Debtors who could not meet their obligations risked being cast into slavery.20

    The theocracy’s religious teachings buttressed its class order. The poor and afflicted were taught that they had brought their troubles upon themselves because of their wicked ways in previous lives. Hence they had to accept the misery of their present existence as a karmic atonement and in anticipation that their lot would improve in their next lifetime. The rich and powerful treated their good fortune as a reward for, and tangible evidence of, virtue in past and present lives.

    The Tibetan serfs were something more than superstitious victims, blind to their own oppression. As we have seen, some ran away; others openly resisted, sometimes suffering dire consequences. In feudal Tibet, torture and mutilation–including eye gouging, the pulling out of tongues, hamstringing, and amputation–were favored punishments inflicted upon thieves, and runaway or resistant serfs. Journeying through Tibet in the 1960s, Stuart and Roma Gelder interviewed a former serf, Tsereh Wang Tuei, who had stolen two sheep belonging to a monastery. For this he had both his eyes gouged out and his hand mutilated beyond use. He explains that he no longer is a Buddhist: “When a holy lama told them to blind me I thought there was no good in religion.”21 Since it was against Buddhist teachings to take human life, some offenders were severely lashed and then “left to God” in the freezing night to die. “The parallels between Tibet and medieval Europe are striking,” concludes Tom Grunfeld in his book on Tibet. 22

    In 1959, Anna Louise Strong visited an exhibition of torture equipment that had been used by the Tibetan overlords. There were handcuffs of all sizes, including small ones for children, and instruments for cutting off noses and ears, gouging out eyes, breaking off hands, and hamstringing legs. There were hot brands, whips, and special implements for disemboweling. The exhibition presented photographs and testimonies of victims who had been blinded or crippled or suffered amputations for thievery. There was the shepherd whose master owed him a reimbursement in yuan and wheat but refused to pay. So he took one of the master’s cows; for this he had his hands severed. Another herdsman, who opposed having his wife taken from him by his lord, had his hands broken off. There were pictures of Communist activists with noses and upper lips cut off, and a woman who was raped and then had her nose sliced away.23

    Earlier visitors to Tibet commented on the theocratic despotism. In 1895, an Englishman, Dr. A. L. Waddell, wrote that the populace was under the “intolerable tyranny of monks” and the devil superstitions they had fashioned to terrorize the people. In 1904 Perceval Landon described the Dalai Lama’s rule as “an engine of oppression.” At about that time, another English traveler, Captain W.F.T. O’Connor, observed that “the great landowners and the priests… exercise each in their own dominion a despotic power from which there is no appeal,” while the people are “oppressed by the most monstrous growth of monasticism and priest-craft.” Tibetan rulers “invented degrading legends and stimulated a spirit of superstition” among the common people. In 1937, another visitor, Spencer Chapman, wrote, “The Lamaist monk does not spend his time in ministering to the people or educating them. . . . The beggar beside the road is nothing to the monk. Knowledge is the jealously guarded prerogative of the monasteries and is used to increase their influence and wealth.”24 As much as we might wish otherwise, feudal theocratic Tibet was a far cry from the romanticized Shangri La so enthusiastically nurtured by Buddhism’s western proselytes.

    II. Secularization vs. Spirituality

    What happened to Tibet after the Chinese Communists moved into the country in 1951? The treaty of that year provided for ostensible self-governance under the Dalai Lama’s rule but gave China military control and exclusive right to conduct foreign relations. The Chinese were also granted a direct role in internal administration “to promote social reforms.” Among the earliest changes they wrought was to reduce usurious interest rates, and build a few hospitals and roads. At first, they moved slowly, relying mostly on persuasion in an attempt to effect reconstruction. No aristocratic or monastic property was confiscated, and feudal lords continued to reign over their hereditarily bound peasants. “Contrary to popular belief in the West,” claims one observer, the Chinese “took care to show respect for Tibetan culture and religion.”25

    Over the centuries the Tibetan lords and lamas had seen Chinese come and go, and had enjoyed good relations with Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek and his reactionary Kuomintang rule in China.26 The approval of the Kuomintang government was needed to validate the choice of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. When the current 14th Dalai Lama was first installed in Lhasa, it was with an armed escort of Chinese troops and an attending Chinese minister, in accordance with centuries-old tradition. What upset the Tibetan lords and lamas in the early 1950s was that these latest Chinese were Communists. It would be only a matter of time, they feared, before the Communists started imposing their collectivist egalitarian schemes upon Tibet.

    The issue was joined in 1956-57, when armed Tibetan bands ambushed convoys of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The uprising received extensive assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including military training, support camps in Nepal, and numerous airlifts.27 Meanwhile in the United States, the American Society for a Free Asia, a CIA-financed front, energetically publicized the cause of Tibetan resistance, with the Dalai Lama’s eldest brother, Thubtan Norbu, playing an active role in that organization. The Dalai Lama’s second-eldest brother, Gyalo Thondup, established an intelligence operation with the CIA as early as 1951. He later upgraded it into a CIA-trained guerrilla unit whose recruits parachuted back into Tibet.28

    Many Tibetan commandos and agents whom the CIA dropped into the country were chiefs of aristocratic clans or the sons of chiefs. Ninety percent of them were never heard from again, according to a report from the CIA itself, meaning they were most likely captured and killed.29 “Many lamas and lay members of the elite and much of the Tibetan army joined the uprising, but in the main the populace did not, assuring its failure,” writes Hugh Deane.30 In their book on Tibet, Ginsburg and Mathos reach a similar conclusion: “As far as can be ascertained, the great bulk of the common people of Lhasa and of the adjoining countryside failed to join in the fighting against the Chinese both when it first began and as it progressed.”31 Eventually the resistance crumbled.

    Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the Tibetan serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the many crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They established secular schools, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. And they constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa.32

    Heinrich Harrer (later revealed to have been a sergeant in Hitler’s SS) wrote a bestseller about his experiences in Tibet that was made into a popular Hollywood movie. He reported that the Tibetans who resisted the Chinese “were predominantly nobles, semi-nobles and lamas; they were punished by being made to perform the lowliest tasks, such as laboring on roads and bridges. They were further humiliated by being made to clean up the city before the tourists arrived.” They also had to live in a camp originally reserved for beggars and vagrants–all of which Harrer treats as sure evidence of the dreadful nature of the Chinese occupation.33

    By 1961, Chinese occupation authorities expropriated the landed estates owned by lords and lamas. They distributed many thousands of acres to tenant farmers and landless peasants, reorganizing them into hundreds of communes.. Herds once owned by nobility were turned over to collectives of poor shepherds. Improvements were made in the breeding of livestock, and new varieties of vegetables and new strains of wheat and barley were introduced, along with irrigation improvements, all of which reportedly led to an increase in agrarian production.34

    Many peasants remained as religious as ever, giving alms to the clergy. But monks who had been conscripted as children into the religious orders were now free to renounce the monastic life, and thousands did, especially the younger ones. The remaining clergy lived on modest government stipends and extra income earned by officiating at prayer services, weddings, and funerals.35

    Both the Dalai Lama and his advisor and youngest brother, Tendzin Choegyal, claimed that “more than 1.2 million Tibetans are dead as a result of the Chinese occupation.”36 The official 1953 census–six years before the Chinese crackdown–recorded the entire population residing in Tibet at 1,274,000.37 Other census counts put the population within Tibet at about two million. If the Chinese killed 1.2 million in the early 1960s then almost all of Tibet, would have been depopulated, transformed into a killing field dotted with death camps and mass graves–of which we have no evidence. The thinly distributed Chinese force in Tibet could not have rounded up, hunted down, and exterminated that many people even if it had spent all its time doing nothing else.

    Chinese authorities claim to have put an end to floggings, mutilations, and amputations as a form of criminal punishment. They themselves, however, have been charged with acts of brutality by exile Tibetans. The authorities do admit to “mistakes,” particularly during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution when the persecution of religious beliefs reached a high tide in both China and Tibet. After the uprising in the late 1950s, thousands of Tibetans were incarcerated. During the Great Leap Forward, forced collectivization and grain farming were imposed on the Tibetan peasantry, sometimes with disastrous effect on production. In the late 1970s, China began relaxing controls “and tried to undo some of the damage wrought during the previous two decades.”38

    In 1980, the Chinese government initiated reforms reportedly designed to grant Tibet a greater degree of self-rule and self-administration. Tibetans would now be allowed to cultivate private plots, sell their harvest surpluses, decide for themselves what crops to grow, and keep yaks and sheep. Communication with the outside world was again permitted, and frontier controls were eased to permit some Tibetans to visit exiled relatives in India and Nepal.39 By the 1980s many of the principal lamas had begun to shuttle back and forth between China and the exile communities abroad, “restoring their monasteries in Tibet and helping to revitalize Buddhism there.”40

    As of 2007 Tibetan Buddhism was still practiced widely and tolerated by officialdom. Religious pilgrimages and other standard forms of worship were allowed but within limits. All monks and nuns had to sign a loyalty pledge that they would not use their religious position to foment secession or dissent. And displaying photos of the Dalai Lama was declared illegal.41

    In the 1990s, the Han, the ethnic group comprising over 95 percent of China’s immense population, began moving in substantial numbers into Tibet. On the streets of Lhasa and Shigatse, signs of Han colonization are readily visible. Chinese run the factories and many of the shops and vending stalls. Tall office buildings and large shopping centers have been built with funds that might have been better spent on water treatment plants and housing. Chinese cadres in Tibet too often view their Tibetan neighbors as backward and lazy, in need of economic development and “patriotic education.” During the 1990s Tibetan government employees suspected of harboring nationalist sympathies were purged from office, and campaigns were once again launched to discredit the Dalai Lama. Individual Tibetans reportedly were subjected to arrest, imprisonment, and forced labor for carrying out separatist activities and engaging in “political subversion.” Some were held in administrative detention without adequate food, water, and blankets, subjected to threats, beatings, and other mistreatment.42

    Tibetan history, culture, and certainly religion are slighted in schools. Teaching materials, though translated into Tibetan, focus mainly on Chinese history and culture. Chinese family planning regulations allow a three-child limit for Tibetan families. (There is only a one-child limit for Han families throughout China, and a two-child limit for rural Han families whose first child is a girl.) If a Tibetan couple goes over the three-child limit, the excess children can be denied subsidized daycare, health care, housing, and education. These penalties have been enforced irregularly and vary by district.43 None of these child services, it should be noted, were available to Tibetans before the Chinese takeover.

    For the rich lamas and secular lords, the Communist intervention was an unmitigated calamity. Most of them fled abroad, as did the Dalai Lama himself, who was assisted in his flight by the CIA. Some discovered to their horror that they would have to work for a living. Many, however, escaped that fate. Throughout the 1960s, the Tibetan exile community was secretly pocketing $1.7 million a year from the CIA, according to documents released by the State Department in 1998. Once this fact was publicized, the Dalai Lama’s organization itself issued a statement admitting that it had received millions of dollars from the CIA during the 1960s to send armed squads of exiles into Tibet to undermine the Maoist revolution. The Dalai Lama’s annual payment from the CIA was $186,000. Indian intelligence also financed both him and other Tibetan exiles. He has refused to say whether he or his brothers worked for the CIA. The agency has also declined to comment.44

    In 1995, the News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, carried a frontpage color photograph of the Dalai Lama being embraced by the reactionary Republican senator Jesse Helms, under the headline “Buddhist Captivates Hero of Religious Right.”45 In April 1999, along with Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and the first George Bush, the Dalai Lama called upon the British government to release Augusto Pinochet, the former fascist dictator of Chile and a longtime CIA client who was visiting England. The Dalai Lama urged that Pinochet not be forced to go to Spain where he was wanted to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

    Into the twenty-first century, via the National Endowment for Democracy and other conduits that are more respectable sounding than the CIA, the U.S. Congress continued to allocate an annual $2 million to Tibetans in India, with additional millions for “democracy activities” within the Tibetan exile community. In addition to these funds, the Dalai Lama received money from financier George Soros.46

    Whatever the Dalai Lama’s associations with the CIA and various reactionaries, he did speak often of peace, love, and nonviolence. He himself really cannot be blamed for the abuses of Tibet’s ancien régime, having been but 25 years old when he fled into exile. In a 1994 interview, he went on record as favoring the building of schools and roads in his country. He said the corvée (forced unpaid serf labor) and certain taxes imposed on the peasants were “extremely bad.” And he disliked the way people were saddled with old debts sometimes passed down from generation to generation.47During the half century of living in the western world, he had embraced concepts such as human rights and religious freedom, ideas largely unknown in old Tibet. He even proposed democracy for Tibet, featuring a written constitution and a representative assembly.48

    In 1996, the Dalai Lama issued a statement that must have had an unsettling effect on the exile community. It read in part: “Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability.” Marxism fosters “the equitable utilization of the means of production” and cares about “the fate of the working classes” and “the victims of . . . exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and . . . I think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.49

    But he also sent a reassuring message to “those who live in abundance”: “It is a good thing to be rich… Those are the fruits for deserving actions, the proof that they have been generous in the past.” And to the poor he offers this admonition: “There is no good reason to become bitter and rebel against those who have property and fortune… It is better to develop a positive attitude.”50

    In 2005 the Dalai Lama signed a widely advertised statement along with ten other Nobel Laureates supporting the “inalienable and fundamental human right” of working people throughout the world to form labor unions to protect their interests, in accordance with the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In many countries “this fundamental right is poorly protected and in some it is explicitly banned or brutally suppressed,” the statement read. Burma, China, Colombia, Bosnia, and a few other countries were singled out as among the worst offenders. Even the United States “fails to adequately protect workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively. Millions of U.S. workers lack any legal protection to form unions….”51

    The Dalai Lama also gave full support to removing the ingrained traditional obstacles that have kept Tibetan nuns from receiving an education. Upon arriving in exile, few nuns could read or write. In Tibet their activities had been devoted to daylong periods of prayer and chants. But in northern India they now began reading Buddhist philosophy and engaging in theological study and debate, activities that in old Tibet had been open only to monks.52

    In November 2005 the Dalai Lama spoke at Stanford University on “The Heart of Nonviolence,” but stopped short of a blanket condemnation of all violence. Violent actions that are committed in order to reduce future suffering are not to be condemned, he said, citing World War II as an example of a worthy effort to protect democracy. What of the four years of carnage and mass destruction in Iraq, a war condemned by most of the world—even by a conservative pope–as a blatant violation of international law and a crime against humanity? The Dalai Lama was undecided: “The Iraq war—it’s too early to say, right or wrong.”53 Earlier he had voiced support for the U.S. military intervention against Yugoslavia and, later on, the U.S. military intervention into Afghanistan.54

    III. Exit Feudal Theocracy

    As the Shangri-La myth would have it, in old Tibet the people lived in contented and tranquil symbiosis with their monastic and secular lords. Rich lamas and poor monks, wealthy landlords and impoverished serfs were all bonded together, mutually sustained by the comforting balm of a deeply spiritual and pacific culture.

    One is reminded of the idealized image of feudal Europe presented by latter-day conservative Catholics such as G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. For them, medieval Christendom was a world of contented peasants living in the secure embrace of their Church, under the more or less benign protection of their lords.55 Again we are invited to accept a particular culture in its idealized form divorced from its murky material history. This means accepting it as presented by its favored class, by those who profited most from it. The Shangri-La image of Tibet bears no more resemblance to historic actuality than does the pastoral image of medieval Europe.

    Seen in all its grim realities, old Tibet confirms the view I expressed in an earlier book, namely that culture is anything but neutral. Culture can operate as a legitimating cover for a host of grave injustices, benefiting a privileged portion of society at great cost to the rest.56 In theocratic feudal Tibet, ruling interests manipulated the traditional culture to fortify their own wealth and power. The theocracy equated rebellious thought and action with satanic influence. It propagated the general presumption of landlord superiority and peasant unworthiness. The rich were represented as deserving their good life, and the lowly poor as deserving their mean existence, all codified in teachings about the karmic residue of virtue and vice accumulated from past lives, presented as part of God’s will.

    Were the more affluent lamas just hypocrites who preached one thing and secretly believed another? More likely they were genuinely attached to those beliefs that brought such good results for them. That their theology so perfectly supported their material privileges only strengthened the sincerity with which it was embraced.

    It might be said that we denizens of the modern secular world cannot grasp the equations of happiness and pain, contentment and custom, that characterize more traditionally spiritual societies. This is probably true, and it may explain why some of us idealize such societies. But still, a gouged eye is a gouged eye; a flogging is a flogging; and the grinding exploitation of serfs and slaves is a brutal class injustice whatever its cultural wrapping. There is a difference between a spiritual bond and human bondage, even when both exist side by side

    Many ordinary Tibetans want the Dalai Lama back in their country, but it appears that relatively few want a return to the social order he represented. A 1999 story in the Washington Post notes that the Dalai Lama continues to be revered in Tibet, but

    . . . few Tibetans would welcome a return of the corrupt aristocratic clans that fled with him in 1959 and that comprise the bulk of his advisers. Many Tibetan farmers, for example, have no interest in surrendering the land they gained during China’s land reform to the clans. Tibet’s former slaves say they, too, don’t want their former masters to return to power. “I’ve already lived that life once before,” said Wangchuk, a 67-year-old former slave who was wearing his best clothes for his yearly pilgrimage to Shigatse, one of the holiest sites of Tibetan Buddhism. He said he worshipped the Dalai Lama, but added, “I may not be free under Chinese communism, but I am better off than when I was a slave.”57

    It should be noted that the Dalai Lama is not the only highly placed lama chosen in childhood as a reincarnation. One or another reincarnate lama or tulku–a spiritual teacher of special purity elected to be reborn again and again–can be found presiding over most major monasteries. The tulku system is unique to Tibetan Buddhism. Scores of Tibetan lamas claim to be reincarnate tulkus.

    The very first tulku was a lama known as the Karmapa who appeared nearly three centuries before the first Dalai Lama. The Karmapa is leader of a Tibetan Buddhist tradition known as the Karma Kagyu. The rise of the Gelugpa sect headed by the Dalai Lama led to a politico-religious rivalry with the Kagyu that has lasted five hundred years and continues to play itself out within the Tibetan exile community today. That the Kagyu sect has grown famously, opening some six hundred new centers around the world in the last thirty-five years, has not helped the situation.

    The search for a tulku, Erik Curren reminds us, has not always been conducted in that purely spiritual mode portrayed in certain Hollywood films. “Sometimes monastic officials wanted a child from a powerful local noble family to give the cloister more political clout. Other times they wanted a child from a lower-class family who would have little leverage to influence the child’s upbringing.” On other occasions “a local warlord, the Chinese emperor or even the Dalai Lama’s government in Lhasa might [have tried] to impose its choice of tulku on a monastery for political reasons.”58

    Such may have been the case in the selection of the 17th Karmapa, whose monastery-in-exile is situated in Rumtek, in the Indian state of Sikkim. In 1993 the monks of the Karma Kagyu tradition had a candidate of their own choice. The Dalai Lama, along with several dissenting Karma Kagyu leaders (and with the support of the Chinese government!) backed a different boy. The Kagyu monks charged that the Dalai Lama had overstepped his authority in attempting to select a leader for their sect. “Neither his political role nor his position as a lama in his own Gelugpa tradition entitled him to choose the Karmapa, who is a leader of a different tradition…”59 As one of the Kagyu leaders insisted, “Dharma is about thinking for yourself. It is not about automatically following a teacher in all things, no matter how respected that teacher may be. More than anyone else, Buddhists should respect other people’s rights—their human rights and their religious freedom.”60

    What followed was a dozen years of conflict in the Tibetan exile community, punctuated by intermittent riots, intimidation, physical attacks, blacklisting, police harassment, litigation, official corruption, and the looting and undermining of the Karmapa’s monastery in Rumtek by supporters of the Gelugpa faction. All this has caused at least one western devotee to wonder if the years of exile were not hastening the moral corrosion of Tibetan Buddhism.61

    What is clear is that not all Tibetan Buddhists accept the Dalai Lama as their theological and spiritual mentor. Though he is referred to as the “spiritual leader of Tibet,” many see this title as little more than a formality. It does not give him authority over the four religious schools of Tibet other than his own, “just as calling the U.S. president the ‘leader of the free world’ gives him no role in governing France or Germany.”62

    Not all Tibetan exiles are enamoured of the old Shangri-La theocracy. Kim Lewis, who studied healing methods with a Buddhist monk in Berkeley, California, had occasion to talk at length with more than a dozen Tibetan women who lived in the monk’s building. When she asked how they felt about returning to their homeland, the sentiment was unanimously negative. At first, Lewis assumed that their reluctance had to do with the Chinese occupation, but they quickly informed her otherwise. They said they were extremely grateful “not to have to marry 4 or 5 men, be pregnant almost all the time,” or deal with sexually transmitted diseases contacted from a straying husband. The younger women “were delighted to be getting an education, wanted absolutely nothing to do with any religion, and wondered why Americans were so naïve [about Tibet].”63

    The women interviewed by Lewis recounted stories of their grandmothers’ ordeals with monks who used them as “wisdom consorts.” By sleeping with the monks, the grandmothers were told, they gained “the means to enlightenment” — after all, the Buddha himself had to be with a woman to reach enlightenment.

    The women also mentioned the “rampant” sex that the supposedly spiritual and abstemious monks practiced with each other in the Gelugpa sect. The women who were mothers spoke bitterly about the monastery’s confiscation of their young boys in Tibet. They claimed that when a boy cried for his mother, he would be told “Why do you cry for her, she gave you up–she’s just a woman.”

    The monks who were granted political asylum in California applied for public assistance. Lewis, herself a devotee for a time, assisted with the paperwork. She observes that they continue to receive government checks amounting to $550 to $700 per month along with Medicare. In addition, the monks reside rent free in nicely furnished apartments. “They pay no utilities, have free access to the Internet on computers provided for them, along with fax machines, free cell and home phones and cable TV.”

    They also receive a monthly payment from their order, along with contributions and dues from their American followers. Some devotees eagerly carry out chores for the monks, including grocery shopping and cleaning their apartments and toilets. These same holy men, Lewis remarks, “have no problem criticizing Americans for their ‘obsession with material things.’”64

    To welcome the end of the old feudal theocracy in Tibet is not to applaud everything about Chinese rule in that country. This point is seldom understood by today’s Shangri-La believers in the West. The converse is also true: To denounce the Chinese occupation does not mean we have to romanticize the former feudal régime. Tibetans deserve to be perceived as actual people, not perfected spiritualists or innocent political symbols. “To idealize them,” notes Ma Jian, a dissident Chinese traveler to Tibet (now living in Britain), “is to deny them their humanity.”65

    One common complaint among Buddhist followers in the West is that Tibet’s religious culture is being undermined by the Chinese occupation. To some extent this seems to be the case. Many of the monasteries are closed, and much of the theocracy seems to have passed into history. Whether Chinese rule has brought betterment or disaster is not the central issue here. The question is what kind of country was old Tibet. What I am disputing is the supposedly pristine spiritual nature of that pre-invasion culture. We can advocate religious freedom and independence for a new Tibet without having to embrace the mythology about old Tibet. Tibetan feudalism was cloaked in Buddhism, but the two are not to be equated. In reality, old Tibet was not a Paradise Lost. It was a retrograde repressive theocracy of extreme privilege and poverty, a long way from Shangri-La.

    Finally, let it be said that if Tibet’s future is to be positioned somewhere within China’s emerging free-market paradise, then this does not bode well for the Tibetans. China boasts a dazzling 8 percent economic growth rate and is emerging as one of the world’s greatest industrial powers. But with economic growth has come an ever deepening gulf between rich and poor. Most Chinese live close to the poverty level or well under it, while a small group of newly brooded capitalists profit hugely in collusion with shady officials. Regional bureaucrats milk the country dry, extorting graft from the populace and looting local treasuries. Land grabbing in cities and countryside by avaricious developers and corrupt officials at the expense of the populace are almost everyday occurrences. Tens of thousands of grassroot protests and disturbances have erupted across the country, usually to be met with unforgiving police force. Corruption is so prevalent, reaching into so many places, that even the normally complacent national leadership was forced to take notice and began moving against it in late 2006.

    Workers in China who try to organize labor unions in the corporate dominated “business zones” risk losing their jobs or getting beaten and imprisoned. Millions of business zone workers toil twelve-hour days at subsistence wages. With the health care system now being privatized, free or affordable medical treatment is no longer available for millions. Men have tramped into the cities in search of work, leaving an increasingly impoverished countryside populated by women, children, and the elderly. The suicide rate has increased dramatically, especially among women.66

    China’s natural environment is sadly polluted. Most of its fabled rivers and many lakes are dead, producing massive fish die-offs from the billions of tons of industrial emissions and untreated human waste dumped into them. Toxic effluents, including pesticides and herbicides, seep into ground water or directly into irrigation canals. Cancer rates in villages situated along waterways have skyrocketed a thousand-fold. Hundreds of millions of urban residents breathe air rated as dangerously unhealthy, contaminated by industrial growth and the recent addition of millions of automobiles. An estimated 400,000 die prematurely every year from air pollution. Government environmental agencies have no enforcement power to stop polluters, and generally the government ignores or denies such problems, concentrating instead on industrial growth.67

    China’s own scientific establishment reports that unless greenhouse gases are curbed, the nation will face massive crop failures along with catastrophic food and water shortages in the years ahead. In 2006-2007 severe drought was already afflicting southwest China.68

    If China is the great success story of speedy free market development, and is to be the model and inspiration for Tibet’s future, then old feudal Tibet indeed may start looking a lot better than it actually was.

  74. Jan Eggen Says:

    Water and mountains are fundamental to an understanding of Chinese civilisation and culture.
    China owes much of its ancient civilisation to the great Yangtze and Yellow rivers that flow down from the Tibetan plateau. The Zhouli is a Chinese manual of hydraulics and hydrology dating from around 1200 BC.

    In reality, the Chinese both venerate and fear water: after all, theirs is a land of drought and flooding. It was for this reason that the Middle Empire deified Li Bing, in 250 BC the governor of what is now Sichuan province, and a hydraulics genius who built the first dam on the Minjiang River, a tributary of the Yangtze. He devised a network of canals: open canals for irrigation, closed canals for flood control. Li Bing placed three male statues in the river as a means of monitoring its waters. If the feet of the statues were visible, it meant drought and so the sluice-gates on the dam were opened. If their shoulders were covered in water, flooding threatened and the sluicegates were closed. From that time on, the Chinese made constant progress in water management, introducing sophisticated networks of bamboo pipes to irrigate the fields and bring water into the cities, as early as 1089 in Hangzhou and 1096 in Guangdong. In ancient China, the central authority was divided into six ministries and the Xingbu was responsible for public works, building and water. The Chinese even built hydraulic clocks reproducing the movement of the “three luminaries” – the sun, the moon and certain stars- which were of great importance in drawing up the calendar and in astrological divination(102), two major attributes exclusive to the imperial power. The Arabs were later to excel at building clocks of this kind103 and the gift of such a clock to the Emperor Charlemagne by the Caliph Haroun el Rachid dazzled the Frankish court around 800 AD.

    The Chinese were also grateful to water for enabling them to discover… salt. This essential substance was discovered in 6000 BC at Lake Yuncheng(104) and Chinese tradition maintains thatwater, salt and soya are sufficient to the sage to sustain life.

    Water and mountains are fundamental to an understanding of Chinese civilisation, its culture, beliefs, painting, philosophy, lifestyle and warlike exploits(105)… Chinese painting, for example, depicts “Celestial Mountains”, which in fact is nothing other than “a quest for the sacred between shan (mountain) and shui (water), a meditation on the human condition between nature and the divine, between poet and painter, between Heaven and Earth”.
    hus Lan Ying, in the Ming period (1368 – 1644), painted an album whose every page shows gently flowing streams, metaphorical paintings expressing the artist’s belief that man living in society must remain serene and let his existence flow as smoothly as the water that runs in the river.

    The culture of the sage in China developed over the years as “an awareness of the spiritual dimension of mountain and water, and of nature in general.” Applying the principle of Guandao, the sage seeks to “develop a philosophy of life akin to the law of water which flows silently, naturally, without ever turning back(106) “.

    In today’s China, certain considerations devoid of any spirituality have come to the fore. When asked why the shrine in the family courtyard was no longer tended, one peasant farmer replied, “We used to pray for rain, but now we have irrigation(107)”.

    This view must be qualified, however, since France’s “Year of China” taught us, for example, that in Chongwu (Fujian province) all the schools organise a weekly gathering on the shore of the China Sea -perceived as a strong and binding link between the Chinese people- to pay homage to nature and to instil respect into the unconscious of young people. Similarly, in Yunnan, Hani sorcerers still gather today to allocate water equitably between the rice paddies.

    Another example is the opposition to the Three Gorges Dam, which has its strongest roots in the fact that the waters created by the giant dam will submerge cemeteries and thus prevent the celebration of ancestor worship.

    The situation calls to mind what Jacques Berque had to say of the construction of the Suez Canal: “Technology is far from being ontologically neutral.We now know that, contrary to the assumptions of the positivists, far from eliminating metaphysical questionings, it both provokes and shapes them(108)”.

  75. Nana Says:

    I know the man. This article is clearly written by him, but it is a mistake to think that his background would make him an academic nor an expert in this subject. He has worked as a taxidermist in different Natural History Museums (in different Universities) in Finland and Europe and is now retired and has time for traveling.

  76. Key Property Group Says:

    Nice post,
    I learned a lot of information from this post. Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this topic so thoroughly.
    I look forward to future posts.

  77. Jan Eggen Says:

    China and the West
    • In the 1800s China simultaneously experiences major internal strains and Western imperialist pressure, backed by military might which China cannot match. China’s position in the world and self-image is reversed in a mere 100 year period (c.a. 1840-1940) from leading civilization to subjected and torn country.
    • The Japanese witness China’s experience with the military power of Western nations, and after the arrival of an American delegation in Japan in 1853, Japan is also forced to open its ports. Japan is able to adapt rapidly to match the power of the West and soon establishes itself as a competitor with the Western powers for colonial rights in Asia. In 1894-5, Japan challenges and defeats China in a war over influence in Korea, thereby upsetting the traditional international order in East Asia, where China was the supreme power and Japan a tribute-bearing subordinate power.
    • Through the 1700s, China’s imperial system flourishes under the Qing (Ch’ing) or Manchu dynasty. China is at the center of the world economy as Europeans and Americans seek Chinese goods.
    • By the late 1700s, however, the strong Chinese state is experiencing internal strains — particularly, an expanding population that taxes food supply and government control — and these strains lead to rebellions and a weakening of the central government. (The Taiping Rebellion, which lasts from 1850-1864, affects a large portion of China before being suppressed.)
    • Western nations are experiencing an outflow of silver bullion to China as a result of the imbalance of trade in China’s favor, and they bring opium into China as a commodity to trade to reverse the flow of silver.
    • China’s attempt to ban the sale of opium in the port city of Canton leads to the Opium War of 1839 in which the Chinese are defeated by superior British arms and which results in the imposition of the first of many “Unequal Treaties.” These treaties open other cities, “Treaty Ports” — first along the coast and then throughout China — to trade, foreign legal jurisdiction on Chinese territory in these ports, foreign control of tariffs, and Christian missionary presence. By the late 1800s, China is said to be “carved up like a melon” by foreign powers competing for “spheres of influence” on Chinese soil.
    • From the 1860s onward, the Chinese attempt reform efforts to meet the military and political challenge of the West. China searches for ways to adapt Western learning and technology while preserving Chinese values and Chinese learning. Reformers and conservatives struggle to find the right formula to make China strong enough to protect itself against foreign pressure, but they are unsuccessful in the late 1800s.
    • The Qing dynasty of the Manchus is seen as a “foreign” dynasty by the Chinese. (The well-known “Boxer Rebellion” of 1898-1900 begins as an anti-Qing uprising but is redirected by the Qing Empress Dowager against the Westerners in China.) As a symbol of revolution, Chinese males cut off the long braids, or queues, they had been forced to wear as a sign of submission to the authority of the Manchus. The dynastic authority is not able to serve as a focal point for national mobilization against the West, as the emperor is able to do in Japan in the same period.
    • The Japanese, after witnessing the treatment of China by the West, launch a major modernization effort in 1868 to match the West and then come to be a major competitor for rights and special privileges in China. In 1895, Japan defeats China in a confrontation over influence in Korea. (The first Sino-Japanese War is in 1894-95.) This victory reverses the traditional position of China and Japan in Asia.
    • Japan’s defeat of Russia, a Western power, in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 impresses China; additional reform efforts follow in China and the examination system, which linked the Chinese Confucian educational system with the civil service, is abolished in 1906.
    • Internal strains and foreign activity in China lead to rebellions and ultimately revolt of the provinces against the Qing imperial authority in 1911 in the name of a Republican Revolution.
    • Chinese military leaders, “warlords,” step into the political vacuum created by the fall of the Qing. The warlords control different regions of the country and compete for domination of the nominal central government in Beijing. Sun Yat-sen and his nascent Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or Guomindang) struggle to bring republican government to China.
    • The terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919, ending WW I, enrage the Chinese urban populace by recognizing Japanese claims to former German rights in the Shandong peninsula of China. This leads to an outpouring of nationalistic sentiment on May 4, 1919 and to the subsequent “May 4th Movement” to reform Chinese culture through the adoption of Western Science and Democracy. The Confucian system is discredited and rejected by those who feel it did not provide China with the strength it needed to meet the challenge of the West.
    • For some Chinese, Marxism a) represents a Western theory, based on a scientific analysis of historical development, that b) offers the promise of escape from the imperialism that is thwarting their national ambitions, and c) promises economic development that would improve the lot of all. It also offers a comparative philosophic system that can for some fill the vacuum left after the rejection of the Confucian system. The founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921 follows the success of the communist revolution in Russia of 1917-18.
    • The Nationalist Party and the Chinese Communist Party (founded in 1921) work and compete to reunify China politically.
    • The very rapid change in China’s international status and self-image as a leading civilization leads the Chinese on a quest to reestablish China’s place in the world — a quest that continues today.

  78. gjlraj Says:

    Mr Eirik Granqvist is a paid propagandist of the communist party of China…..

  79. Wabbit Says:

    @gjlraj, just now Dalai Lama is a paid propagandist of the CIA of the USA?

  80. Says:

    “The Riots in Lhasa by Eirik Granqvist Crouching
    Tiger Hidden Dragon” ended up being a fantastic article, cannot wait to read through much
    more of your postings. Time to waste numerous time on-line haha.
    I appreciate it -Vincent

  81. Eirik Granqvist Says:

    I did not find this site before today and have been looking at it very rapidly. Some comments are interesting and some gives me a real pleasure to read. Others are just funny and many are not very intelligent, but that is normal. It is also funny to see that some finnish people are telling that they know me but unfortunately their names does not say me anything. Well, that is also normal I think because I have lived and worked for 26 years abroad. For those who are interested, my CV is well to find searching at the web. Both an older version and a more updated one. If consulting it, less fantasy about my person is needed. But sorry, I do not have a home page and I spend very little time at the computer except for maintaining my correspondense and writing books. Yes, as somebody told, I do not have my private travels either mentioned in my CV and I have been in Tibet also later then 2006. I admire the investments that are done in this far away part of China.
    Eirik Granqvist

  82. Freya Says:

    I think the admin of this site is really working
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  83. The Riots in Lhasa by Eirik Granqvist – Investigating Philosophies, Culture, History, Myths Says:

    […] When I visited Tibet in 2006, I wa**urprised by the relaxed atmosphere and the few policemen in Lhasa. All that I have seen were Tibetans. Not the Han-Chinese. The atmosphere was remarkably peaceful and gave a picture of general well living. There was no oppressed feeling like I had seen so many times in the Soviet Union and its satellites before all that non-human system collapsed. People in Lhasa where friendly and wanted to speak to me, mostly without success since I do not speak Chinese nor Tibetan but up and then somebody could speak some words in English. Their wish for contact was just out of normal curiosity towards the foreigners. I had heard that the religious life should been oppressed but it was flowering! I had also heard that so many Han Chinese where moved in that the Tibetans where now very few in Lhasa. I did however see much more Tibetans there. May be that the Han Chinese where hiding? The western medias announced that China had cut all information and that articles about the riots could not be sent out! I got mad about all the apparently incorrect information and wrote this article and two other similar ones although I am not a journalist but just because I could not stand all the bad things about China that was told. I sent them by e-mail without problems and they arrived well but two newspapers did neither respond neither publish what I had written. The third answered and wanted a shorter version that was published many days later as a normal “readers voice”. What Dalai Lama had said was largely published every day together with a real anti-China propaganda. What I had written was apparently too China friendly for the “free press”. [1] Comments References [1] Riots in Lhasa: […]

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