Updated: Jul 13, 2021
The People’s Republic Of China was formed in 1949 as a result of widespread communism in the country ( the communist revolution) by its leader Mao Zedong. The Nationalists and their sympathizers sought refuge in the neighbouring islands now called Taiwan. Taiwan and the People’s Republic Of China(PROC) were once a part of the mainland called the Republic Of China (ROC).
Over the years since its inception, the party has indulged in territorial disputes with its neighbouring countries of the Republic Of India, Bhutan, Myanmar( previously called Burma), Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia(the small island groups in the South China Sea).
There is a growing need to converse about the crimes committed by China- not only highlighting the plight of Uigur Muslims in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in Northwest China but also the annexation of Tibet which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Tibetians and displacement of individuals from their home.
The Tibetan Plateau is of great military and economic significance. The region is rich in mineral resources and is also known as the Water Tower of Asia. It is believed that China wanted to establish dams for hydropower projects in the region which would reduce the flow of several rivers such as Ganga, Brahmaputra and Indus. These rivers also flow in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Chinese wanted to integrate the region with the ‘motherland’, this could not only help them in expanding their military but also helped them secure the border with India. Tibet has strategic roadways that could have helped the Chinese with trade. The most prominent is Chumbi Valley.
In 1904, Tibet became a British Protectorate state by signing a treaty. In 1913-14 talks of recognizing the status of Tibet and its boundaries happened with officials from Great Britain, Tibet, China, and Russia. Tibet was divided into two regions- Inner Tibet and Outer Tibet. The inner Tibet was to be governed by the Chinese. The outer Tibet was the same area that in modern times is known as ‘Tibet Autonomous Region. After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the Tibet Government had removed all of the Chinese troops and officials from the area.
After the communist party came into power in 1949 their agenda was to liberate the regions they once considered to be part of China. This included regions such as Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hainan. The officials in Tibet corrected Mao Zedong by fact-checking him that Tibet had always been a free independent state. The Chinese believed that the Tibetian region had been a part of history- In 1200sTibet was briefly occupied by the Mongolians thereafter the region ruled itself.
The need to have negotiations with China began. The delegation wanted to go to Hong Kong via New Delhi. The British government did not issue them visas as they did not want China to be their enemy. Before the negotiations began formally there were ‘preliminary rounds of negotiations that had taken place with the ambassador of China to India. He proposed Tibet become a part of China, the military would be handled by China, and foreign and trade relations would be served by China as well.
By 19th October 1951, 5,700 Tibetans had lost their lives by the growing atrocities acted by the People’s Liberation Army. The 14th Dalai Lama who was only 15 at the time was sworn in as the religious and political leader of Tibet on 17th October 1951. He wrote to Mao Zedong about the autonomous status of Tibet and asking for the return of regions that belonged to Tibet but were under Chinese control.
Napoli Ngawang Jigme was appointed as the head of the Tibetian delegation that was sent to Bejing for negotiations with Chinese diplomats. He was given a 5 point agenda from the Tibetian Government. On 28th April 1951, Li Weihan had invited the delegates to discuss the agenda, time of the negotiations. They were given a separate agenda designed by the Chinese representatives as the focus of the study. The proposed agenda highlighted only Chinese interest. On 29th April 1951, the first meeting took place for a short duration. There was a conflict of interest as both the parties involved wanted to read their separate proposals as key agenda.
In the consecutive meetings which were held on 2nd May and 7th May, not much progress took place. On 10th May the representatives discussed the idea of establishing a commission whose key roles will take care of military and political affairs. They also threatened for conducting an armed liberation in the region. During this time the PLA was expanding its movements in Tibet.
The Tibetian Delegates agreed tentatively to sign the document on 14th May 1951 to avoid destruction and further casualties in the region. They laid down a condition for the Chinese - if Dalai Lama returns his position should remain the same. The Chinese insisted on separating the agreement. The 10 point proposal which was disclosed contained the same points which they(the Chinese) had presented earlier in the negotiations. The non-disclosed agreement had seven points.
Another fact to be noted is when the Delegates were residing in Bejing for the negotiations they were separated from any communication sources. On 27th May Radio Bejing announced the full agreement. The Tibet government and Dalai Lama were in deep shock however before sending a reaction they telegrammed Bejing for a safe departure of Tibetian representatives from PROC.
27,000 troops occupied the principal cities. China refused to have further negotiations. On 29th October the People’s Liberation Army entered Lhasa. In 1952, the People’s Assembly For Resistance was formed. They led several movements which forced the government to ban the organization. China dismissed the two prime ministers and created central government organs parallel to the existing Tibetian Government. The Tibetian Government, Dalai Lama agreed that the “17-Point Agreement” was signed under pressure.
Dalai Lama in 1959 was scheduled to attend a performance in Chinese headquarters. Around this time his security had begun suspecting the possible assassination attempt being made on him. On 10th March thousands of Tibetians protested, rejecting the 17 point agreement. The Chinese deployed more soldiers in the region and attacked the Patola Palace. Several temples were destroyed and looted. In 1959, His holiness the 14th Dalai Lama left Lhasa and sought refuge in the neighbouring country India with 80 others. The Chinese Government had dissolved the Tibetian government.
An essay published by Andrew Lee studied ‘the sharp contrast’ of the western and Chinese media’s perspective on the issue. Western media talks about the issue in a much critical manner by blaming China for cultural genocide. In China, the media talks about the issue in a fairly positive tone suggesting its government’s action liberating individuals from poverty and preserving The Tibetian Culture and Traditions.
In 2008, Riots erupted in Lhasa. These protests further escalated into violence only after the Chinese authorities had shown aggression. The Chinese Government blamed Dalai Lama for creating unrest. Several uprsisngs have taken place over the years.
With China’s ‘BRILIANT’ record of treating its neighbouring countries and ethinic minorities it is high time for India and countries across the globe to hold the country accountable for its crimes.
The above essay was constructed using the following links:
All Images (excluding the one in topic cover) have been taken from google images. Other designs have been taken from Canva.
The Tibet Post
About the author
The author of the above article, Mehak Mathur, is pursuing the Bachelor Of Strategic Communication and Journalism degree at Mumbai University.
“My main motive is to provide people with factual and relevant information and hope to ignite their passions, help them connect with one another conducting insightful discussions and see the bigger picture.”