Politics: China's claim to Tibet

In the view of the People's Republic of China, Tibet is a part of the federal territory and a Chinese province with certain autonomous rights (Tibet Autonomous Region).

China derives its claim to Tibet from history. In 1653 the fifth Dalai Lama visited Beijing, where he stayed as a guest for about six months in order to stabilize relations with the Manchu Dynasty. After the death of the fifth Dalai Lama, a period of instability followed, during which Tibet was conquered by the Dzungar Mongols. China was called upon for help by the reigning Mongol king, Lhazang Khan, in 1720, whereupon the Dzungar were driven out of Tibet. Since that time, China has claimed suzerainty over Tibet (theoretically granting the country domestic autonomy), but has exerted great influence over Tibetan internal affairs.

Tibet's position

Not until 1913, two years after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, were the last Chinese troops driven out of Tibet; nonetheless, China continued to insist on its dominion over Tibet even though Tibet was semi-independent until 1950.

Based upon its unique cultural identity, its 1913 - 1950 independence, and referring to China's annexation of an independent state, Tibet maintains its claim to independent statehood. The thirteenth Dalai Lama (d. 1933), however, neglected to seek international recognition of the nation, instead preferring isolation.

Occupation of Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama

At the beginning of October 1950, the Chinese army marched into Tibet and soon thereafter occupied Lhasa. In 1951 Tibet inked a 17-point agreement granting it autonomy and religious freedom, but whose apportionment of military authority to China left no doubt as to the political independence.

In view of its communist ideology, the People's Liberation Army had freed the Tibetans from a backwards feudal theocracy, preparing the way for progress. In 1954 the Dalai Lama led unsuccessful discussions in Beijing about the conflict in Tibet; in 1959 began uprisings against occupation, but these were defeated. The Dalai Lama fled with tens of thousands of Tibets into exile in India, where he founded the Government of Tibet in Exile in Himajal Pradesh, giving Tibet a democratic constitution.

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