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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tibetans Renew Demonstrations after March 10 Crackdown

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

“Lamaists of Tibet...remained always conscious of the Indian Buddhist origins of their faith, thus in effect opposing Sinification by appealing to the tradition of a rival great civilization." -William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West.


TAG: In Tibet, China continues to maintain a policy of theoretical autonomy with periodic violent crackdowns. This has been the rule since China's Manchu emperor claimed suzerainty over Tibet in 1720.

IN THE NEWS:
TIBETANS RENEW PROTESTS IN LHASA, GATHERING BEFORE THE RAMOCHE MONASTERY WHILE MORE DEMONSTRATIONS SPREAD OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL AND EVEN INTO CHINA- TWO WEEKS AFTER PROTESTS COMMEMORATING THE MARCH 10 1959 TIBETAN UPRISING WERE REPRESSED WITH FORCE. MEANWHILE, CHINA SPONSORS A GUIDED TOUR OF INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATS TO PUT SOME SPIN ON THE MILITARY CRACKDOWN.

REAR-VIEW MIRROR:
*650-850- Tibet is a military power, warring with the Turks in Central Asia, Arab Muslims in Iran, Chinese and Indians.
*1240s- Tibet falls to the Mongol invasions- Mongol influence would last into the 18th century.
*1720 (circa) Chinese Emperor Yung Chen places two Chinese Imperial residents and an army garrison in Tibet, as well as a Tibetan civil administrator.
*1950- Oct.- Tibet is occupied militarily by Communist China. Dalai Lama flees temporarily from the country. Tibet is annexed to China.

Tibet pictures

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In the early centuries AD, Tibet was already Buddhist while Chinese expansion under the Han and their T'ang Dynasty successors, never succeeded in embracing the Tibetan plateau. In fact, it was Tibetan warriors who were a danger to China. In the 7th century Tibet was unified under Srong Brtsan and expanded into an empire that was to last two hundred years. In the 8th century, Tibetan Buddhism developed by fusion of local Buddhism with Indian Mahayana Buddhism. As Tibetan political power finally waned, its religious prestige and influence increased. Tibet finally fell to the Mongols in the 13th century and by the time of the recession of Mongol influence the Tibetan region was broken up into competing principalities. There followed an odd reversal: Tibetan Buddhism, adopted by the Mongols, formed a sort of spiritual 'empire in reverse' , spreading through Mongol-ruled China. In the 17th century, the Yellow Hat monks united the country again and established for good the line of secular-spiritual rulers, the Dalai Lamas. In 1720, the first occupation by the Chinese Empire proper came with the Manchus who proceeded to strengthen their grip militarily. But China's rule over Tibet remained loose and sporadic. So it remained under the Qing Dynasty during the 19th century while Tibet remained in isolation. The British tried to gain a foothold in Tibet through trade in the early 20th century. With the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, Tibet was briefly independent but by 1914 with the close of the Simla Conference, Britain, India, China and Tibet itself accepted that Tibet would remain under Chinese suzerainty. The present Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso was born in 1935. In 1950, he assumed power as the 14th Dalia Lama, the same year that Communist China occupied Tibet, again by invasion. The Dalai Lama fled but returned until 1959 when China violently suppressed the mass, March 10 Tibetan uprising. Afterward he went into exile in India with over 100,000 of his followers. Through an agreement with Tibet, China made the area an autonomous region, though it was watched and ruled with an iron hand by the Communist Commission. Chinese repression was renewed with China's anti-traditional, ultra-atheistic Cultural Revolution and again at the time of the attack on democracy activists in Tianamen Square. Throughout, China transplanted Han Chinese settlers in Tibet to destroy Tibetan culture through attrition. Monasteries were destroyed, religious practice curtailed and support of the Dalai Lama outlawed. In 2002 came the next step: flooding Tibet with money by making it an 'economic zone' in an another attempt to wipe out Tibetan culture , this time through modernization. But only Lhasa, where a Han Chinese majority had pushed out Tibetans, was modernized. The rest of the country has remained in deep poverty. Another attempt at Sinification came in 2006 with the opening of a railway from China into Tibet. Presumably to take advantage of the international spotlight turned on China with the Beijing Olympics, Tibetans staged mass demonstrations for independence. Once again, they were repressed with violence.

IN A NUTSHELL: Tibet's fate has been determined at once by its isolation in a central Asian mountain plateau and by its proximity to the far west of China. These opposing circumstances have left Tibet with a strong cultural identity while never having known complete freedom since the end of rule by the Mongols. Chinese rule, either through treaties guaranteeing autonomy or through direct military intervention, has been asserted since the 18th century. A close spiritual identification with India and a strong tradition of Lamaist Buddhist culture have produced stalwart resistance to China's attempts to secure the region by importing Han Chinese, Chinese culture and economic development.

THEN AND NOW: In the 16th century, in the wake of Mongol rule and onward into the 17th century, Tibet, though no longer a regional power, was independent and strongly unified under the Yellow Hat Lamaist monks. Five centuries later, Tibet has endured a long period under Chinese rule and its monks, along with militant protesters, are starting to bear the brunt of renewed repression.

windows
Lhasa conservation zone.

CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS RELEVANT DATES
REVEVANT DATES
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS .
PREVIOUS ENTRIES

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
LOCATION OF NOTE:
PROFILE:
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
EYEWTNESS
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF TIBET

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: In the fifteenth century, the Mongol rule of Tibet frayed and collapsed, leaving Tibet effectively independent but fragmented. Nevertheless, the institution of the Dalai Lama was firmly established and Tibetan Buddhism began to permeate all areas of life. The power and influence of the Dalai Lama increased after 1576 when the Mongol king, the Altan Khan, invited Tibetan Buddhists to establish a mission at his court.

Altan Khan


In the following century, Tibet was unified by the 'Yellow Hat' Buddhist monks who secured the line of the Dalai Lamas for good and aided in the conversion of the Mongols to Tibetan Buddhism. Then China gained control of Tibet under the Emperor K'ang-hsi (ruled 1662-1722) who occupied the region. The Manchu Emperors increased their grip but Chinese control didn't get beyond suzerainty. Western contact began around the same time when Tibet was visited by Jesuits and Capuchin monks. Chinese influence was reasserted under the reign of the Emperor Chien Lung (1736-1796) who reoccupied the area from Nepal to Tibet in an extraordinary mountain campaign. By that time, the Tibetan government was shared between Buddhist religious leaders and a landed feudal aristocracy. It was then, toward the end of the 18th century that the British, trying to get a foot in through trade, made contact with the capital, Llasa. These attempts were interrupted by Tibet's war with the Ghurkas in 1792. Although Tibet retained its mountainous isolation in the 19th century, the Ladakh regions was lost to Kashmir and the British finally got a purchase by taking the region of Sikkim in 1890, obtaining a trading post at Yadong in 1893. A decade later, in 1904, Sir Francis Younghusband led a military expedition to Llasa and forced Tibet to grant Britain trading posts at Yadong, Jiangze and Ka’er. Two years later, with Tibetan rule weakening but the region too poor and remote for effective exploitation, Britain formally recognized Tibet as being within China's sphere of influence. In 1911, after the fall of China's Qing dynasty and the collapse of Manchu rule, Tibet was once more- and for the last time, independent. It was brief, however. At the conference of Simla in 1913-1914, Britain, China, India and Tibet itself agreed that inner Tibet would be annexed to China, while outer Tibet reamained autonomous. However, the China never ratified the substance of the treaty and considered Tibet instead to be a 'special territory'. In 1933, with the death of the 13th Dalai Lama, China reasserted direct control.

RELEVANT DATES:

100 AD- the empire of Han China includes Turkestan, to the north, but not Tibet.

100-500 AD- Buddhists from Tibet travel to begin Buddhist conversion of Confucian China.

300-600- As the Kushan empire breaks up into principalities, theTibetan region resists Chinese expansion; Tibetan tribes invade China.

608- 650- unification of the clans and tribes by Srong-brtsan. Tibet emerges as a defined kingdom with its capital at Llasa. Mahayana Buddhism is a strong influence.

650-850- Tibet is a military power, warring with the Turks in Central Asia, Arab Muslims in Iran, Chinese and Indians.

763- Tibetan power at its height- Tibet sacks T'ang capital of Changan and imposes tribute on the Chinese.

821- peace is made between Tibet and China.

825 (circa) –Tibetan Empire begins to disintegrate in a succession crisis.

1240s- Tibet falls to the Mongol invasions- Mongol influence would last into the 18th century.

1450 (circa)- -Mongol rule collapses. Tibet is independent but riven by internal factions.

1576- the Mongol court of the Altam Khan invites a Lamaist religious mission to the Mongols.

Mongols become converted to the Lamaist Yellow Church.

1650 (circa)- unity in Tibet is restored by the ‘Yellow Hat’ monks who found the line if the Dalai Lamas. The help convert Mongolia to Tibetan Buddhism.

China's Emperor K'ang-hsi (ruled 1662-1722) occupies Tibet.

1720- China's Manchus claim nominal suzerainty of Tibet.

1720 (circa) Chinese Emperor Yung Chen places two Chinese Imperial residents and an army garrison in Tibet, as well as a Tibetan civil administrator.

1736-1796- Reign of Chinese emperor Chien Lung. Chinese armies campaign through Nepal and strengthen China’s hold over Tibet.

1906- Tibetan rule has become weak. Britain recognizes Tibet as being within China’s sphere of influence.

1911-12- fall of China’s Qing dynasty. Tibet recovers its independence. Tibetans overthrow Chinese Manchu rule. But it is only de facto independence.

1913-1914- Conference of Simla, India: China, India, Britain and Tibet conform Chinese suzerainty with an inner Tibet to be annexed to China and an outer, autonomous Tibet. However, China never ratifies the Simla Agreement and considers all of Tibet to be a ‘Special Territory’.

1935- birth of present Dalai Lama in China.

1950-1959- Tenzin Gyatso takes full power as 14th Dalai Lama (which means ‘ocean-like guru’) meaning 14th incarnation.

1950- Oct.- Tibet is occupied militarily by Communist China. Dalai Lama flees temporarily from the country. Tibet is annexed to China.

1951- May- under an agreement with Tibet, China declares it an autonomous region under traditional rule of Dalai Lama. Real control is wielded by a Chinese Communist Commission.

1959- March- full-scale revolt against China.

1959- Dalai Lama (born 1935) gives up attempts at cooperation with Beijing and leaves for voluntary exile in India with 100,000 followers. He sets up a headquarters in exile in Dharamsala in northen India.

-China outlaws the Tibetan language and culture with brutal suppression. Land is confiscated, the lalmaseries are emptied. Monks are forced to find secular work.

1968 (circa) -greatest oppression comes in the peak years of China’s Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. Foreign visitors banned from Tibet. Religion is repressed; over 4,0000 monasteries destroyed.

1988- -Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace prize.

1989- April- repression in Tibet reaches another peak at the time of the Tianamen Square massacre in Beijing.

2002- China makes Llasa into a “Special Economic Zone” while the rest of the country remains undeveloped.

2006- China opens a new railway between Llasa and the Chinese city of Golmud. Railway will bring Han Chinese settkers into Tibet, threatening traditional culture.

2008- March- demonstrations against Chinese rule by Tibetan youth movement violent repressed by Chinese military- dozens killed. Dalai Lama condemns violent resistance, insisting on peaceful means.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: In 1935, Tenzin Gyatso, the present, and 14th Dalai Lama was born; in 1939, at the age of four, he became Dalai Lama under a regent. At this time, Tibet was heavily religious with about a quarter of the population comprised of monks.
Upon the succession of the 10th Penchen Lama (who shared power with the Dalai Lama), Tibet and Communist China supported opposing candidates for the position and China used the disagreement as a pretext to invade. In October, 1950, China subjected the country to military occupation. The Dalai Lama took refuge temporarily and Tibet was formally annexed by Beijing. Immediately, the Chinese brought in land reform and curtailed the power of the Buddhist clergy. An appearance of compromise was reached when China, in an agreement with Tibet, declared it an autonomous region but real power was wielded by China's Communist Commission. Periodic but disparate uprisings followed while one-sixth of the population of the cities was still comprised of Lamaist monks. Tibetans now feared for the safety of the Dalai Lama who was back in the country and in March 1959 a full-scale revolt against Chinese rule finally took place. The Dalai Lama, discouraged after attempts at cooperation with Beijing, left for voluntary exile in India with 100,000 followers, setting up a headquarters in exile in the north Indian city of Dharamsala. Under Chinese auspices, the Penchen Lama became the country's spiritual leader. China's project of ending autonomy with full integration began as Han Chinese settlers were sent into Tibet. Sinification began in earnest: the Tibetan language and culture were outlawed the lamaseries (monasteries) were emptied and monks forced to find outside work. From exile, the Dalai Lama charged China with genocide. Human rights violations increased and Tibetan leaders were arrested. In 1964, China deposed the Penchen Lama after he'd expressed support for the exiled Dalai Lama. Repression reached a peak with China's Cultural Revolution as outright religious persecution and the destruction of 4,000 monasteries were carried out in the name of radical ideology. Falsely, Tibet was officially declared an 'autonomous region'. The ban on religious practices was lifted in 1976 but repression continued.
With the Tianamen Square massacre of dissidents and democracy protesters in Beijing, the screws were tightened further on Tibetan society. In the same year, 1988, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize and he embarked on talks with China. However, all contact broke down in 1993. Two years later, China’s Deng Xiaoping died, leaving President Jiang Zemin to continue Deng’s policy which he did by reinforcing the Communist Party’s authority in Tibet.
Even the Penchen Lama was considered a threat; the four year old boy who was heir to the position was placed under house arrest and Beijing instated its own candidate, another minor as Penchen Lama. In Beijing, meanwhile a vast aqcademic institute of 'Tibetology' pursued a study and documentation of Tibetan history and culture which continues to denonstrate that Tibet is integral to the Chinese state. China, however, opted for the carrot rather than stick. By 2002, Llasa had become a 'Special Economic Zone', and even the capital was now populated with majority of Han Chinese settlers. But outside the capital, Tibet remained poor and the fact remained that Tibetan culture was under serious threat. The danger increased with the opening of a railway from China into Llasa which would only increase Chinese cultural influence and population by Han settlers. The Tibetan historian, Dolma Kyab, was jailed in 2005 for writing a history of Tibet from the Tibetan point of view. In 2007, the Dalai Lama introduced his own form of democracy from exile, deciding that the position of Dalai Lama would no longer be hereditary but would instead be decided by the Tibetan people. In the same year, he displeased China further by receiving the Congressional Medal of Honour from Washington. In 2007, the outside world's awareness of Tibet increased with a record number of tourists. In March of this year, protest erupted again with demonstrations by the Tibetan youth movement. Tibetans, like most Chinese must undergo "patriotic education" which teaches that Tibet is historically a part of China and denigrates or neglects mention of the Dalai Lama. The forced education is extended to Tibetan monks as well. Repression by the Chinese military has been swift and violent. China mainains that the number killed remains low and that the rebellion has been instigated by a few extremists under the malign direction the Dalai Lama from his headquartes in exile. By contrast, the Dalai Lama has condemned all violence and advocated peaceful protest while maintaining that over a hundred have perished at the hands of the Chinese military.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. In ancient times, Tibet was populated by Qiang pastoral tribes with the spine of the region comprised by the east-west Cangbo river valley trade route which connected routes from Central Asia, India and China. Iranian and Saka invaders passed through the environs on their way down to the valley of the Indus. By 250 BC, Buddhism had become established in Tibet and a local variant, distinct from the classical Mahayana and Therevada types, developed with the fusion of Buddhist doctrine with pre-Buddhist shamanistic Bon beliefs. In the 4th to 7th centuries AD, Tibetan tribes resisted Chinese expansion and even launched military expeditions into China. The empire of the Han Chinese managed to expand intoTurkestan to the north, but not Tibet. Over the following few centuries the local variant of Buddhism came under the influence of both Tantric and Mahayana Buddhism. Something resembling a Tibetan state arose in 608 when Srong Brtsan united the tribes and Tibet finally emerged as a kingdom with a capital in Llasa. In 641, Srong sent an embassy to China to ask for a Chinese princess. The Chinese granted him one and ever since, an apocryphal Chinese tradition has held that her influence civilized Tibet. For the next two centuries, Tibet warred with its neighbours, establishing itself militarily through expeditions against Arab Muslims, the Chinese, the Turks of Central Asia and against India. During that time, relations were established with China's T'ang dynasty (618-906). Nevertheless, there were frequent clashes with the Chinese during which Tibet managed to infiltrate the Tarim basin to the north, in Central Asia. From Mahayana doctrines, the eighth century scholar, Padmasambhava, finally developed Tibetan Buddhism. Over the next three centuries, the Pala Kings of Bengal sent missionaries who brought more Buddhist teachings along with Bengali culture which further enriched Tibet's spiritual traditions. In 763, Tibetan power was at its apogee when Tibetan armies sacked the T'ang capital of Changan and made China tributary to Tibet. By 798, Tibet was so powerful that the Arab Caliph, Harum Rashid of Baghdad offered China a defensive military alliance. It was not to be, as Tibet allied itself with the Chinese in 821. But then Tibet passed its zenith, riven and weakened by a series of succession crises. By 889 it had broken up into several clan-ruled regions. An unexpected benefit was the flourishing of religion in the wake of political power. Buddhist scholarship and monasticism developed; Buddhist pilgrims flocked in from China and India. Late in the 12th century, Buddhists fleeing persecution in the Muslim areas of India sought refuge in Tibet.

Royal drinking scene. Mural, ground floor, Assembly Hall, Allchi- circa 1200 AD. Photograph courtesy of Jaroslav Poncar and Roger Goepper.

The end of old Tibet came in the middle of the 13th century when the kingdom fell to the Mongol invasions; Mongol influence would last until the 18th century. Tibet's formal alliance with the Mongols in the 13th century presumably led to its separate survival. The Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan, invited Tibetan Buddhist scholars and priests to reside at his court. In 1270, the Tibetan Buddhist abbot of the Sakya lamasery, resident at the Mongol court, converted Kublai Khan to Tibetan Lamaism. The abbot returned to Tibet and founded the Sakya dynasty (1270-1340) as the first priest-king of Tibet, albeit under Mongol rule. Under the Mongolian Yuan dynasty (1280-1367) the Khanate consisted of China, Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria and Korea. The Tibetan Dalai Lamas became spiritial advisors to the Mongol emperors. A according to the Tibetan view, they did so without forefeiting the independence of Tibet. According to China, there is proof that Tibet was subject to Chinese laws and policies and therefor part of the Chinese state. Another view is that Tibet was not part of any Chinese state but was vassal of a Mongol (Yuan) empire. In the fourteenth century, the Buddhist reformer, Tsong Kha-pa founded the Yellow Church which then gained ascendancy over the established Red Church and the Dalai Lamas continued a process by which they skilfully gathered secular power. It was then that the Penchen Lamas gained authority over spiritual matters. By the end of the 15th century, Mongol rule had collapsed and Tibet was once more independent if nevertheless weakened due to the lack of any binding central authority.


Shangton Chogyi Lama portrait. Central Tibet, ca. 1250. Painting on cloth, 129.7 x 114.0 cm. Private Collection.

LOCATION OF NOTE: Chengdu in Szechuan, China, is the western gateway to Tibet and a site of current Lamist unrest inside China. A port on the Min River, it is also the agricultural center of the Chengdu Plain with an irrigation system built in 2nd century BC. It's the transportation hub for western China. In the Ch'un-Chu-Chiu period ( 770-475 BC) Chengdu was a fortress city. It went on to be the capital of the Shu Han dynasty (3rd century AD) and in the 9th century was one of China's earliest printing centers. Chengdu is also a university city.

PROFILE:
Tsong Kha-pa (1357-1419), Buddhist reformer. Born about 1357, he rationalized Tibetan Buddhism about 1380 and reformed discipline and organization of the Buddhist orders. He introduced celibacy and regualrized meetings, confessions and retreats. He wrote summaries of the basic teachings of the Buddhist schools, codifying and organizing Buddhist teaching for posterity. Thus, with the establishment of Gandem Monastery in 1409, he founded the Gelupta sect or Yellow Church, which gained ascendancy over the Red Church. The Yellow Church would become the dominant Church in Tibet.
Je Tsongkhapa (Tsong-kha-pa) in the fifth vison of Khedrub Jey (Mkhas-'grub)
Je Tsongkhapa (Tsong-kha-pa) in the fifthvison of Khedrub Jey (Mkhas-'grub)

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Because of its mountain fastness, Tibet was a quasi-territorial entity from the beginning when it was roamed by pastoral tribes. Nor had China succeeded in extending its grasp to Tibet by the time the mountain kingdom formed its own empire from the seventh to the ninth centuries AD. During this time, Tibetan Buddhism was formed from a fusion of the old, local Buddhism with its element of Bon or shamanistic belief with Mayahana Buddhism from India. After its slow decline from the end of the 9th century, Tibet was occupied by the Mongol invasions of the mid-13th century. By the late Middle Ages, with the Mongol empire in recession, Tibet was left free but broken up into rival principalities. It was during this period, nevertheless that Tibetan Buddhism gained in strength and organization, Not only did it reunify Tibet, but it became the religion of the remaining Mongol empire. Manchu China asserted a direct hold over Tibet in 1720. Thenceforward, Tibet would endure under Chinese suzerainty or some kind of autonomy. Politically subject to China, it nevertheless remained isolated throughout the 19th century. The British attempted to extend trade relations from India into China but by 1913, the international community had consigned Tibet to China's sphere of influence. By the time Communist China reasserted China's traditional grip on Tibet in 1950, the present Dalai Lama came to be at the center of resistance. In 1959, with a full-scale uprising, he was finally driven into exile along with thousands of followers. Repression in Tibet was renewed with the Cultural Revolution and again with the Tienamen Square crackdown on democracy. China's latest solution, to fill the region with ethnic Han Chinese and rapid modernization has met increasing resistance, and now especially, with the spotlight on China's Beijing Olympics.



Royal scene. Mural, ground floor, Three-tiered Temple, Alchi. Photograph courtesy of Jaroslav Poncar and Roger Goepper.

EYE-WITNESS:
On March 1, 1959, while His Holiness the Dalai Lama was preoccupied with taking his Final Master of Metaphysics examination, two junior Chinese army officers visited him at the sacred Jokhang cathedral and pressed him to confirm a date on which he could attend a theatrical performance and tea at the Chinese Army Headquarters in Lhasa. His Holiness replied that he would fix a date once the ceremonies had been completed. This was an extraordinary occurrence for two reasons: one, the invitation was not conveyed through the Kashag (the Cabinet) as it should have been; and two, the party was not at the palace where such functions would normally have been held, but at the military headquarters - and His Holiness the Dalai Lama had been asked to attend alone. March 9, 1959. At 8.00 am two Chinese officers visited the commander of His Holiness the Dalai Lama bodyguards' house and asked him to accompany them to see Brigadier Fu at the Chinese military headquarters in Lhasa. Brigadier Fu told him that on the following day there was to be no customary ceremony as His Holiness the Dalai Lama moved from the Norbulinka summer palace to the army headquarters, two miles beyond. No armed bodyguard was to escort him and no Tibetan soldiers would be allowed beyond the Stone Bridge - a landmark on the perimeter of the sprawling army camp. By custom, an escort of twenty-five armed guards always accompanied His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the entire city of Lhasa would line up whenever he went. Brigadier Fu told the commander of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's bodyguards that under no circumstances should the Tibetan army cross the Stone bridge and the entire procedure must be kept strictly secret. The Chinese camp had always been an eyesore for the Tibetans and the fact that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was now to visit it would surely create greater anxiety amongst the Tibetans. March 10, 1959. The invitation provoked 300,000 loyal Tibetans to surround the Norbulinka palace, forming an human sea of protection for their Yeshe Norbu (nickname for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, meaning "Precious Jewel"). They feared he would be abducted to Beijing to attend the upcoming Chinese National Assembly. This mobilisation forced His Holiness the Dalai Lama to turn down the army leader's invitation. Instead he was held a prisoner of devotion. -from the Official Website of the Tibetan Government in Exile, 'History Leading Up To March 10, 1959.'

PRESENT SITUATION: With the Beijing Olympics looming and world attention focused on China for a while yet, it is unlikely that Tibetans will cease to agitate. The carrying of the Olympic torch, by relay, through Tibet is bound to intensify the conflict and China's accusations of the Dalai lama's complicity in the protests will probably increase. Meanwhile, in the Tibet Museum in Beijing's Olympic village (according to the new York Tomes), any reference to the Dalai Lama after 1959 has been expunged from the record.

PLUS CA CHANGE:
In the mid-18th century, troops of the Chinese emperor Chien Lung crossed through the Himalays to strengthen China's hold on Tibet. The Chinese military arrived in force again in 1950 and now, in 2008, Chinese troops have been used to crack down on Tibetan protesters.

CURIOSITY:
The present, or 14th Dalao Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the second Dalai Lama to be born outside Tibet (he was born in Qinghai Province, China). The first non-Tibetan-born Dalai Lama was Dayicing Qung Tayiji (1588-1616), son of a Mongol prince.

EXCERPT: 'ARGUMENT CONTINUES OVER TIBET'S OFFICIAL STATUS
-from the New York Times, By Jim Yardley, April 17, 2008.

"...At the heart of the historical dispute (as to whether Tibet is historically a part of China) lies the Western concept of sovereignty. The Communist Party has promoted the concept of China as a diverse but unified nation of 56 ethnic groups. The majority Han constitute nearly 92 percent of the population, but the remaining 8 percent, including Mongols, Hui Muslims, Manchus, Uighur Muslims and Tibetans, are often said to be assimilated into the motherland over centuries of unbroken history.
Many scholars say that narrative oversimplifies history to support contemporary political and territorial claims. Historians generally agree that the relationship between China and Tibet became fully intermingled during the Yuan Dynasty, from the 1270s to 1368. The dispute is over the nature of the relationship.
The Tibetan government-in-exile says Buddhist lamas established a "priest-patron" relationship under which they became spiritual advisers to the Yuan rulers without sacrificing Tibetan self-rule or independence — an arrangement replicated in the last imperial dynasty, the Qing, which lasted from 1644 to 1912.
Chinese scholars say this logic is disingenuous. They point to records detailing how Tibet was subject to certain laws of the Yuan and Qing rulers — a paper trail they say proves not just that Tibet is an inalienable part of China but also that Chinese emperors had the authority to select the Dalai Lama.
Elliot Sperling, a leading Tibet specialist at Indiana University, said both sides massage their interpretations. He said Tibet cannot be regarded as truly independent during the Yuan and Qing dynasties given that records show Tibet as subservient to Chinese rules and policies.
But Sperling said China's claim to unbroken control of Tibet is also dubious. During the Ming dynasty, from 1368 to 1644, Tibet had scant connection to Chinese rulers, he said. And describing the Yuan and Qing dynasties as "Chinese" overlooks the fact that each took power after what was at the time viewed as a foreign invasion: Mongols established the Yuan; Manchus invaded and founded the Qing. 'What China doesn't want to deal with is the fact that the Mongols had an empire,' said Sperling, director of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University's department of Central Eurasia Studies. 'It wasn't a Chinese state. It was an empire.'
In this context, some scholars consider Tibet's past relationship with China more akin to that of a vassal state. China's government relinquished any remaining control over Tibet after the fall of the Qing in 1912. The current Dalai Lama, and his predecessor, ruled Tibet until 1951, when Mao invaded in what China maintains was a "peaceful liberation" that freed Tibetans from a feudal theocracy...
Robert Barnett, a Tibet specialist at Columbia University, said Tibet scholars inside China often do excellent work. But he said many scholars in China avoid specializing in Tibetan history after the 13th century because of the political overtones — and potential risks. He said one book was banned for including a sentence that questioned the official view that an eighth-century Tibetan king was half Chinese." (NYT)




TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF T
IBET:

Early Tibet

1000 BC- Iranians in habitable areas around Tibet.

670 BC- Saka warriors in western Tibet.

-Tibetan plateau is inhabited by Qiang pastoral tribes.

300-100 BC- Buddhism arrives in Tibet.

250 BC- Buddhism, distinct from the Mahayana and Theraveda doctrines, is developed from fusion with local, pre-Buddhist shamanistic Bon beliefs.

-Tibet is centered on the Cangbo river valley trade routes which connect China, India and Central Asia.

145 BC- Yue Chi invaders pass through western Tibet in their southward invasion toward Parthia.

67 BC- the Kushans pass through western Tibet to invade the valley of the Indus.

100-500 AD- Buddhists from Tibet travel to begin Buddhist conversion of Confucian China.

300-600- As the Kushan empire breaks up into principalities, the Tibetan region resists Chinese expansion; Tibetan tribes invade China.

The Tibetan Empire.

600-1000 AD- Tibet comes under the influence of Tantric Buddhism.

608-689 AD- foundation of the Tibetan Empire

608- 650- unification of the clans and tribes by Srong-brtsan. Tibet emerges as a defined kingdom with its capital at Llasa. Mahayana Buddhism is a strong influence.

641- Srong sends an embassy to China to ask for a Chinese princess. Marriage is arranged. According to Chinese belief, she helped to civilize Tibet.

650-850- Tibet is a military power, warring with the Turks in Central Asia, Arab Muslims in Iran, Chinese and Indians.

-Chinas T’ang dynasty (618-906) forges relations with Tibet.

670-821- Tibetans repeatedly fight the Chinese and infiltrate the Tarim basin, to the north.

Beginnings of Tibetan Buddhism.

750- (circa) from Mahayana doctrines, the scholar Padmasambhava develops Tibetan Buddhism.

760-1142 AD- Pala kings of Bengal send Buddhist missionaries into Tibet. Tibet benefits from Bengal culture.

Height of Tibetan Empire


763- Tibetan power at its height- Tibet sacks T'ang capital of Changan and imposes tribute on China.

798- due to troubles with Tibet, the Arab Caliph Harun Rashid of Baghdad offers a military alliance to China.

821- peace is made between Tibet and China.

Decline of Tibetan Empire

825 (circa) –Tibetan Empire begins to disintegrate in a succession crisis.

889- Tibet breaks up into rival clan-ruled regions.

-as Tibet declines, political power is replace by Buddhist scholarship. Monasticism flourishes; Buddhist pilgrims flock in from China and India.

950-1050- Buddhist conversion of Tibet is complete.

1180 (circa) Indian Buddhists, fleeing Muslim domination, migrate to Tibet.

Mongol Invasions: Tibetan Buddhist Influence on Mongols.

1240s- Tibet falls to the Mongol invasions- Mongol influence would last into the 18th century.

-Tibet formally allies with the Mongols.

-Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan invites Tibetans to serve as court scholars and priests. The Tibetan scholar Phags-pa invents the Mongolian alphabet.

1270- visiting China, the abbot of the Sakya lamasery converts Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan to Lamaism.

-the Lamaist abbot returns to Tibet to found the Sakya dynasty. He is the first priest-king of Tibet, albeit under Mongol rule.

1270-1340- Tibet ruled by the Lamaist Sakya dynasty.

1280-1367- Yuan dynasty of the Mongols. The great Khanate comprises most of Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea and China.

1350 (circa) –Buddhist reformer, Tsong Kha-pa founds the Yellow Church which gains ascendancy over the Red Church. While discipline and asceticism is increased, the Dalai Lamas skillfully gather secular power.

-Penchen Lamas of the Tashi lhun-po monastery at Shigatse gain influence over religious matters.

-Mongol rule collapses. Tibet is independent but riven by internal factions.

-Tibetan Buddhism begins to pervade all areas of life.

Conversion of the Mongols to Tibetan Buddhism.

1576- the Mongol court of the Altam Khan invites a Lamaist religious mission.

-Mongols become converted to the Yellow Church.

Rise of the Dalai Lamas.

-Dalai Lama begins to wield religious and secular authority in Tibet.

1588-1616- the first non-Tibetan Dalai Lama (followed by the second in 1933) is Dayicing Qung Tayiji, son of a Mongol prince.

1600- the Chinese Ming Empire ends at the frontier with eastern Tibet

1650 (circa)- unity in Tibet is restored by the ‘Yellow Hat’ monks who found the line if the Dalai Lamas. They help convert Mongolia to Tibetan Buddhism.

-China's Emperor K'ang-hsi (ruled 1662-1722) occupies Tibet.

-Manchu influence increases in Tibet.

1720- Chinese Manchus replace Mongol rule of Tibet. China claims nominal suzerainty of Tibet.

-Jesuit and Capuchin monks travel to Tibet.

Beginnings of Chinese Occupation of Tibet.

1720 (circa) Chinese Emperor Yung Chen places two Chinese Imperial residents and an army garrison in Tibet, as well as a Tibetan civil administrator.

1720-1751- Tibet is a Manchu protectorate.

-Mongol influence still felt in Tibet.

1736-1796- Reign of Chinese emperor Chien Lung. Chinese armies campaign through Nepal and strengthen China’s hold over Tibet.

-rule is traditionally divided between the Lamaist monks and laymen of the feudal aristocracy.

The British.

-British try to form relations with Llasa.

1788- Gurkha invasion of Tibet ends any possibility of British relations with Llasa.

1792- Gukha war with Tibet.

-19th century- Tibet retains its traditional isolation.

-the Ladakh region is lost to Kashmir.

1890- the Sikkim region is taken by Britain.

1893- the British obtain a trading post at Yadong.

1904- Sir Francis Younghusband leads a military invasion of Llasa and enforces the granting of the Yadong, Jiangze and Ka’er trading posts.

1906- Tibetan rule has become weak. Britain recognizes Tibet as being within China’s sphere of influence.

1907- Treaty of Petersburg. Britain and Russia agree to spheres of influence in Persia, with non-intervention in Afghanistan and Tibet. Russia recognizes Chinese influence over Tibet.

Tibet Recovers its Independence then Loses it at the Simla Conference.

1911-12- fall of China’s Qing dynasty. Tibet recovers its independence. Tibetans overthrow Chinese Manchu rule. But it is only de facto independence.

1913-1914- Conference of Simla, India: China, India, Britain and Tibet confirm Chinese suzerainty with an inner Tibet to be annexed to China and an outer, autonomous Tibet. However, China never ratifies the Simla Agreement and considers all of Tibet to be a ‘Special Territory’.

1914- Britain's McMahon Commission establishes the border between Chinese Tibet and India.

1918- Tibetans repulse an attempted incursion by China.

1920- armistice between Tibet and China.

1933- death of 13th Dalai Lama; subsequently, China reasserts control.

Accession of the Present Dalai Lama.

1935- birth of present Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso in China.

1939- 14th Dalai Lama takes power under a regent.

1950-1959- Tenzin Gyatso takes full power as 14th Dalai Lama (which means ‘ocean-like guru’) He is considered to be the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama as well as the embodiment of all of th.em

-monks comprise about ¼ of the population of Tibet.

-succession of the 10th Penchen Lama (second most important spiritual leader in Tibet) : China and Tibet support rival candidates; China uses this as a pretext to invade.

Chinese Occupation of Tibet

1950- Oct.- Tibet is occupied militarily by Communist China. Dalai Lama flees temporarily from the country. Tibet is annexed to China.

-Chinese bring in land reforms and curtail the power of the monks.

1951- May- under an agreement with Tibet, China declares it an autonomous region under traditional rule of Dalai Lama. Real control is wielded by a Chinese Communist Commission.

-before the revolt of 1959- 1/6 of the population of the cities is made up of Lamaist monks.

1956-1959- scattered uprisings against China. The CIA, meanwhile is active in Tibet.

-Tibetans fear from safety of Dalai Lama.

Tibetan Rebellion Against China

1959- March- full-scale revolt against China.

1959- Dalai Lama (born 1935) gives up attempts at cooperation with Beijing and leaves for voluntary exile in India with 100,000 followers. He sets up a headquarters in exile in Dharamsala in northen India.

-China allows the Penchen Lama to be spiritual leader of Tibet.

-China seeks to integrate Tibet with China proper through the settlement of Chinese in Tibet.

-China outlaws the Tibetan language and culture with brutal suppression. Land is confiscated, the lamaseries are emptied. Monks are forced to find secular work.

-China attempts to enforce atheism.

-the Dalai Lama charges China with genocide in Tibet.

-China arrests Tibetans and Tibetan Lamaist leaders, commits human rights violations and embarks on a policy of general repression.

1962- China launches attacks along Indian-Tibetan border to regain land it claims was wrongly given to India under Britain’s McMahon Commission of 1914. After ceasefire, China withdraws behind the frontier but occupies the Ladakh region in Kashmir.

1964- the Penchen Lama is deposed after expressing support for the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan Autonomous Region.

1965- China officially establishes the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

1968 (circa) -greatest oppression comes in the peak years of China’s Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. Foreign visitors banned from Tibet. Religion is repressed; over 4,0000 monasteries destroyed.

1976- China officially lifts the ban on religious practices but repression continues.

1982- Tibet population: 1.9 million.

Renewed Chinese Repression in Tibet

Oct. 1987 to May 1990- martial law in Llasa.

1987- Oct- demonstrations against China.

1988- March, Dec.: China represses Tibetan protests, imposes martial law.

Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

1989- March- protests against China.

1989- April- repression in Tibet reaches another peak at the time of the Tianamen Square massacre in Beijing.

1992- March- protests against China.

1993- May- protests against China.

talks between China and the Dalai Lama break down.

1995- China’s Deng Xiaoping dies, leaving President Jiang Zemin to continue Deng’s policy or reinforcing the Communist Party’s authority in Tibet.

-6 year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is named by Dalia Lama as the Penchen Lama. China places the boy under house arrest and names another boy, Gyancain Norbu as the official Penchen Lama.

Chinese Policy Grows Tibetan Economy.

2002- Chinese settlers make up the majority in Llasa. Llasa made prosperous with Chinese economic policies.

-China makes Llasa into a “Special Economic Zone” while the rest of the country remains undeveloped.

-China resumes relations with the Dalai Lama.

2006- China opens a new railway between Llasa and the Chinese city of Golmud. Railway will bring Han Chinese settlers into Tibet, threatening traditional culture.

2007- November- Dalai Lama parts with tradition by declining to name his successor, delegating the choice to the Tibetan people instead.

-the U.S. awards the Dalai Lama the Congressional Medal of Honour.

2007- December- record number of tourists visiting Tibet.

Renewed Tibetan Protests Repressed by Chinese Army

2008- March 10- on the anniversary of the 1959 uprising, demonstrations against Chinese rule by Tibetan youth movement are violently repressed by Chinese military- dozens killed. Dalai Lama condemns violent resistance, insisting on peaceful means.

March 14- protests against China turn violent.

-China blocks of all transportation links to Tibet in Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. Resistance spreads outside of Llasa, throughout Tibet. Police clash with protesting monks and nuns in Sichuan.

March 25- Head of the Tibetan parliament in exile, Karma Clophel tells reporters at the European Parliament that deaths in China's crackdown in Tibet have reached 135, while China claims only 20.
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