2nd International Conference on Specific Topics in Chinese Studies (STCS)organized by the Department of Asian and African Studies, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MODERN CHINA一百年的现代中国
The controversy about these two basic issues requires the objective knowledge of the common history of China and Tibet. And this article tries to examine the omissions and the facts of this story. Their focus point are: In the century VII, the Kingdom of Tubo, had two sovereigns who married han princesses, who signed an alliance policy with the Tang dynasty of China Central When; in the 12th century, the Mongol Kublai Khan reunified China and founded the new and powerful Yuan dynasty; When the Republic was proclaimed in China, its founder and first President, Sun Yat-sen: on May 23, 1951, in Beijing, the delegates from central and local Government signed the agreement of 17 Articles, recognizing the unity of China and the authority of Popular Government over the entire national territory and China agree to keep governments and institutions of traditional Tibet; in the middle of the cold war and under the impact recent Korean war, the attempt of the central Government of China to negotiate, suspending temporarily the implementation of democratic reforms, was responded by the unleash of fundamentalist religious guerrilla in 1956 and 1959 Rebellion; the troubling of the Cultural Revolution, between 1966 and 1976 and periods of political tension in China, as in 1998 and 1999, brought instability to Tibet and causing incidents, which in the West were always associated with the request for a free Tibet; The present Statute of autonomy of Tibet;
Key-Words: Tibet. China. Human rights evolution
Tibet and China. Occupation or common history? The human rights evolution
The controversy about these two basic issues require the objective knowledge of the common history of China and Tibet: the version broadcast in the West, in the media and the Internet, can be summarized by the text that we withdrew from virtual encyclopedia, Wikipedia: it starts in the warmongering military dynasty that ruled Tibet between 127 BC and 617, crowned during a century of Emperor Songtsen Gampo, the creator of the Tibetan, who favored Buddhism and the construction of their temples and established the first laws of nature protection, then, Wikipedia write it “… object of Chinese greed in the seventeenth century, Tibet is declared included in China’s sovereign territory. Then begin two centuries of Tibet’s struggle for independence, conquered-temporarily-in 1912. In 1950, the Communist regime of China ordains the invasion of the region, which is attached as their province. The Tibetan opposition is defeated in an armed uprising in 1959. As a consequence, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, spiritual and political leader of Tibet, taken to Northern India, where installs in Dharamsala Government in exile. ”
The Common History
Let’s go to examine the omissions and the facts of this story: the first unified State Highlands of Tibet, in the century VII, the Kingdom of Tubo, had two sovereigns who married han princesses, who signed an alliance policy with the Tang dynasty of China Central, from where Buddhism penetrated in Tibet and developed economic and cultural exchanges between the two nationalities, facilitated by belong to the same linguistic family, called Sino-Tibetan. King Langdama was murdered by religious fanatics in the IX century and the following 400 years will be characterized by strong clashes between feudal lords and warlords, with principalities and monasteries fighting among themselves, while in China central and southern China were sharply violently other military dynasties. When, in the 12th century, the Mongol Kublai Khan reunified China and founded the new and powerful Yuan dynasty, Tibet was incorporated into the Middle Empire as one of its provinces. It’s personal witness of this historic fact the famous Venetian merchant Marco Polo, cataloging Tibet as one of 13 provinces of the Empire. Then, there are 700 years passing from Tibet is one part of China! And remained in the Chinese country during the Ming and Qing dynasties, through the presence of delegates from central Government in Lhasa; by the appointment of local officials; sending troops; enforcing laws and census, levying of taxes; imposing the models of administration and conducting the foreign policy. In the mid-18th century, the Qing court appointed the seventh Dalai-Lama local government leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lama and Panchen-Rodnik Erdeni accumulated religious and political functions, and the choose of their successors began to depend of final confirmation by the central Government of China. When the Republic was proclaimed in China, its founder and first President, Sun Yat-sen, avowed in investiture speech on 1 January 1912: ” the foundation of this Republic is based on people, which integrates all zones Hans, Huis, Mongols, Manchu, and Tibetan in a single State ”. The reaction of Tibetan Lamas, masters of a country that lived in a feudal regime, was attempting to declare independence, without any other country have recognized. Nevertheless, even in 1940, the choice and the enthronement of the current Dalai-Lama were confirmed by the nationalist government of the Republic of China.
The origins of the conflict
Between October 1949 and 1950 the people’s Republic of China Government attempted to negotiate a peaceful transition of Tibet to the new regime, but the Tibetan Government, controlled by faction pro-Western, and militarily supported by USA, refused. After a single armed confrontation, the battle of Chamdo, the Chinese Popular Army victorious stopped his advancement and negotiations toke place. On May 23, 1951, in Beijing, the delegates from central and local Government signed the agreement of 17 Articles, recognizing the unity of China and the authority of Popular Government over the entire national territory and China agree to keep governments and institutions of traditional Tibet until it was negotiated peacefully the democratic reform in the region, treaty supported by the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. In 1954, the Dalai-Lama attended the first National Assembly of China, which drew up the Constitution of the Republic, having been elected as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Standing Committee of this House. In 1956, became President of the Organizing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Since this time Tibet rights are reflected in the Chinese Constitution with the respect by their language, culture, customs and beliefs, including Tibetan Buddhism. The conflict start when it is initiated the democratic reform in Tibet, with the separation between religion and the secular State, measures for the abolition of serfdom and slavery rural households and, especially, the distribution of land and livestock to peasants Tibetans, until then subjected to an anachronistic feudalism dominated by aristocrats and by the upper layer of the monks. Briefly, let’s characterize the real Tibet, idealized by Western novels and films:
As the 1959 census (and read the biography of the current Dalai Lama to confirm this framework), the monks of the upper layer and the nobility represented 5% of the population; 400 families they among themselves nearly all of the land arable areas and herds: local government owned 38.9%; the monasteries, 36.8%; the aristocracy, 24%. In the hands of the small peasants belonged 0.3% remaining. The servants, 90% of the population, were forced to pay the noble and monasteries a tax into work, an income in products, and sometimes in cash, heavy taxes and fees in cash and services. Without sufficient resources, they borrowed the noble and monasteries, paying high interest. If died without pay off the debt, she passed to descendants or neighbors. For the slaves, 5% of the population was imposed domestic services and public heavier, like cleaning up dump stool, the freight and transport of nobles and officials, in palanquins or in their own back. Serfs and slaves could be exchanged, donated, loaned or sold. For the poor, there was no hospital or schools. The upper layer monks and nobles more influential, monopolize political positions. The Yellow Sect from the Dalai-Lama was privileged in relation to other sects and Tibetan Buddhism, in relation to other religions.
In the middle of the cold war and under the impact recent Korean war, the attempt of the central Government of China to negotiate, suspending temporarily the implementation of democratic reforms, was responded by the unleash of fundamentalist religious guerrilla in 1956 and 1959 Rebellion, which led the Dalai Lama fled to India, followed by a civil war that lasted until 1961. American involvement in this process is unquestionable, especially after today that in 1990 the CIA revealed itself secret documents from that period. The current Dalai Lama chose since that time the path of American ally, has benefited from their support regularly and don’t hold back, recently, even though he is a receiver of the Nobel Peace Prize, to suport the Bush administration intervention in Iraq. In parallel, the conflict with India in 1962, who claimed their rights in relation to the plateau of Tibet on the basis of the British imperial Treaty of Simla and, in 1974, the India’s occupation of the Sikkim Principality, historically linked to Tibete, left the West indifferent.
The troubling of the Cultural Revolution, between 1966 and 1976 and periods of political tension in China, as in 1998 and 1999, brought instability to Tibet and causing incidents, which in the West were always associated with the request for a free Tibet, democratic and respectful of human rights by a Government in exile and his followers, who never pleaded and led in the past.
The present Statute of autonomy of Tibet consigns assemblies and committees with the election of the district assemblies since 1964. These elected municipal councils, which in turn chose the Popular Regional Assembly in 1965, instituting the Tibet Autonomous Region. From 301 delegates to the first assembly, 226 were Tibetans, the majority emancipated serfs and slaves, but there were also monks, former nobles and, for the first time in public positions, women. Since then, the autonomous region of Tibet has already had four civil Presidents, all Tibetans. Since 1985, Tibet is a tourism zone ” free ”, linked from 2006 to the main economic centers of China by the world’s largest railway line. In 2007 were announced new measures to combat poverty, improving living conditions, access to healthcare and public employment, and urban unemployment register is 4.3%. And this real facts also concerns to human rights. Perhaps will be good to the Western civic consciousness re-read the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of human rights, and to examine how far way our democracy is from their realization in our countries, and, principally, not reduce, as has been done insidiously, to formal political freedoms and vote.
I invite my fellow citizens of the world to reflect on the common history of China (a country with 56 nationalities) and Tibet and, the last, but not the least, to recognize that each nation have the right to choose their own path to democracy (ies).
Profesor António dos Santos Queirós, PhD Philosophy of Science
Researcher, Center of Philosophy of Lisbon University