Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The “Tibet question”: Tibetan, Chinese and Western perspectives

  • David M. Crowe (a1)

Abstract

The historical conflict between Tibet and China goes back almost a thousand years. Both sides use history to argue their point about the core issues in this dispute – Tibet's claim of independence and autonomy, and China's of suzerainty. This article looks at the historical roots of this conflict, particularly since 1949, when China began its gradual takeover of Tibet. Chinese policies toward Tibet, which have been driven by a desire to communize and sinicize Tibet, has been met by stiff resistance from the Tibetans, who see Han Chinese dominance as a force that will, over time, destroy Tibet's unique religion, language, culture, and history. This resistance has drawn the attention of the West, who see Chinese policies in Tibet as a symbol of the failings of Beijing's rulers to embrace a strong commitment to human rights at the same time that China is becoming a global economic power. The 14th Dalai Lama, a key figure in this conflict, and his government-in-exile have served as bridges to Western efforts to try to force Beijing to embrace more open, humane policies toward Tibetans throughout China. His retirement as political head of the exile government in 2011, coupled with China's growing economic and strategic power globally, raises serious questions about the willingness of the USA, and other democratic powers to risk their relationships with Beijing to continue to promote true human rights and autonomy throughout the Tibetan Plateau.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Anand, Diyesh. 2007. Geopolitica Exotica: Tibet in Western Imagination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Barnett, Robert. 2008. “Some Foreign Newspapers Have Claimed that the Chinese Killed More than 1 Million Tibetans. Is this True?” Authenticating Tibet: Answers to China's 100 Questions, edited by Blondeau, Anne-Marie and Buffetrille, Katia, 8890. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Barnett, Robert. 2009. “The Tibet Protests of Spring, 2008.” China Perspectives, no. 3: 623.
Bass, Catriona. 1998. Education in Tibet: Policy and Practice since 1950. London: Zed Books.
Bauer, Ken. 2005. “Development and the Enclosure Movement in Pastoral Tibet since the 1980s.” Nomadic Peoples 9 (1 & 2): 5381.
Bell, Charles. 1946. Portrait of a Dalai Lama; The Life and Times of the Great Thirteenth. New Delhi: Munshiran Manoharlan.
Bell, Charles. 1968. Tibet: Past and Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bishop, Peter. 1989. The Myth of Shangrila: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Landscape. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Blondeau, Anne-Marie, and Buffetrille, Katia, eds. 2008. Authenticating Tibet: Answers to China's 100 Questions. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Branch, Taylor. 2006. At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965–68. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Burns, Stewart. 2004. To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s Sacred Mission to Save America, 1955–1968. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.
Tibetan Administration, Central and Democracy, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and. 2008. China's Attempts to Wipe out the Language and Culture of Tibet: Tibetan Response to China's White Paper of 25 September 2008. Dharamsala: Central Tibetan Administration and Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
Chang, Jung, and Halliday, Jon. 2005. Mao: The Unknown Story. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Chayet, Anne. 2008. “The Qing Dynasty (1644–1911).” In Authenticating Tibet: Answers to china's 100 Questions, edited by Blondeau, A.-M. and Buffetrille, K., 2133. Berkeley: University of California Press.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2002. Annual Report: 2002. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2003. Annual Report: 2003. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2004. Annual Report: 2004. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2005. Annual Report: 2005. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2007. Annual Report: 2007. Washington: Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2008. Annual Report: 2008. Washington: Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2009a. Annual Report: 2009. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2009b. A Year After the March 2008 Protests: Is China Promoting Stability in Tibet? Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2009c. Special Topic Paper: Tibet 2008–2009. Washington: Congressional-executive Commission on China.
CECC (Congressional-Executive Commission on China). 2010. Annual Report: 2010. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Chin, Chung-kuo, Shih Tsung, Tai, and Hsieh Tsa, Pien. 1976. The Yi Ho Tuan Movement. Peking: Foreign Languages Press.
Constitution of the People's Republic of China. 1982. “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide (9 December 1948; United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 260A (III), 1–4). http://www.hreweb.org/legal/genocide.html
Lama, Dalai. 1987. “Five Point Peace Plan.” Address to the U.S. Congressional Human Right's Caucus, September 21, 1987. The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Accessed March 15, 2012. http://www.dalai;lama.com/messages/tibet/five-point-peace-plan
Lama, Dalai. 1988. “Strasbourg Proposal.” Address to the Members of the European Parliament. The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Strasbourg, France, 1–5. Accessed March 15, 2010. http://www.dalailama.com/messages/tibet/strasbourg-proposal-1988
Lama, Dalai. 1990. Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama. New York: HarperCollins.
Lama, Dalai. 1997. My Land and My People: The Original Autobiography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. New York: Grand Central Publishing.
Dikötter, Frank. 2010. Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–1962. New York: Walker & Co.
Diqing Zangzu (Tibetan) Autonomous Prefecture Tourism Bureau, China Yunnan. 2005. Diqing: Eternal Shangrila. Yunnan: Diqing Zangzu (Tibetan) Autonomous Prefecture Tourism Bureau.
Dumbaugh, Kerry. 2009. “The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002: Background and Implementation.” Congressional Research Service: 19.
Esherick, Joseph W. 1987. The Origins of the Boxer Rebellion. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Fairbank, John King. 2006. China: A New History. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Fairbank, John King, and Teng, Ssu-Yü. 1941. “On the Ch'ing Tributary System.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 6 (2): 135246.
Fenby, Jonathan. 2004. Chiang Kai-shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. New York: Carroll & Graf.
Fischer, Andrew M. 2008. “Subsistence and Rural Livelihood Strategic in Tibet under Rapid Economic and Social Transition.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies 4: 149.
French, Patrick. 2003. Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land. New York: Vintage.
Goldstein, Melvyn C. 1986. “Reexamining Choice, Dependency and Command in the Tibetan Social System: ‘Tax Appendages’ and Other Landless Serfs.” The Tibet Journal XI (4): 79112.
Goldstein, Melvyn C. 1988. “On the Nature of the Tibetan Peasantry: A Rejoinder.” The Tibet Journal XIII (1): 6165.
Goldstein, M. C. 1989a. “Freedom, Servitude and the ‘Servant-Serf” Nyima: A Rejoinder to Miller.” The Tibet Journal XIV (2): 5660.
Goldstein, Melvyn C. 1989b. A History of Modern Tibet. Vol. 1. Berkeley: University Of California Press.
Goldstein, Melvyn C. 1997. The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Goldstein, Melvyn C. 1998a. “Introduction.” Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity, edited by Goldstein, M. C. and Kapstein, M. T., 114. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Goldstein, Melvyn C. 1998b. “The Revival of Monastic Life in Drepung Monastery.” In Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity, edited by Goldstein, Melvyn C. and Kapstein, Matthew T., 1552. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Goldstein, Melvyn C. 2007. A History of Modern Tibet. Vol. 2. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Goldstein, Melvyn C., Childs, Geoff, and Wangdui, Puchung. 2010. “Beijing's ‘People First’ Development Initiative for the Tibet Autonomous Region's Rural Sector - A Case Study from the Shigatse Area.” The China Journal, no. 63: 5775.
Government of Tibet-in-Exile. 1996. Tibet: Proving Truth from Facts. Dharamsala: Government of Tibet in Exile. Human Rights Section, 1–3, Religion and National Identity Section, 2, 7.
Grunfeld, A. Tom 1996. The Making of Modern Tibet. Revised ed. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe.
Hahn, Thich Nhat. 1991. Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
Haskell, Paul. 1998. The Common Program of The Chinese People's Consultative Conference, 1949. Internet Modern History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1949-ccp-program.html
Hilton, James. 2009. Lost Horizon. Sanlianc: Yunnan.
Hsi, Chang-Hao, and Yuan-Met, Kao. 1977. Tibet Leaps Forward. Peking: Foreign Languages Press.
Hsü, Immanuel Chung-Yueh. 2000. The Rise of Modern China. 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
Jintao, Hu, Speech at Chinese Communist Party 90th Anniversary Gathering. July 1, 2011. USC US-Chinese Institute, 112.
Human Rights Watch. 2007. 'No One Has the Liberty to Refuse': Tibetan Herders Forcibly Relocated in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and the Tibet Autonomous Region. New York: Human Rights Watch.
Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. 1992. Tibet: Its Ownership and Human Rights Situation. Beijing: Information Office of the State Council of The People's Republic of China.
Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. 2008a. Protection and Development of Tibetan Culture. Beijing: Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. 2008b. White Paper: Protection and Development of Tibetan Culture. Beijing: Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. 2009. Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet. Beijing: Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
International Campaign for Tibet. 2012. “Self-Immolations in Tibet.” International Campaign for Tibet, December 12. 1–34. Accessed December 18, 2012. http://www.savetibet.org/resource-center/maps-data-fact-sheets/self-immolationfact-sheet
(ICJ) International Commission of Jurists. 1960. Tibet and the Chinese People's Republic: A Report to the International Commission of Jurists by Its Legal Inquiry Committee on Tibet. Geneva: International Commission of Jurists.
(ICJ) International Commission of Jurists. 1997. Tibet: Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Geneva: International Commission of Jurists.
Jing, Wei. 1989. 100 Questions About Tibet. Beijing: Beijing Review Press.
Kapstein, Matthew T. 2006. The Tibetans. Malden: Blackwell.
Khétsun, Tubten. 2008. Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule. Translated by Matthew Akester. New York: Columbia University Press.
Kolmaš, Josef. 2003. “The Ambans and Assistant Ambans of Tibet (1727–1912).” In The History of Tibet. Vol. II, edited by A. Mckay, 602–614. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Laird, Thomas C. 2006. The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama. New York: Grove.
Lardy, Nicholas R. 1987. “Economic Recovery and the 1st Five Year Plan.” In The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 14: The People's Republic, Part I: The Emergence of Revolutionary China, 1949–1946 , edited by MacFarquhar, Roderick and King Fairbank, John, 144184. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Liu, Zhong, and Lizohong, Chu. 2000. China's Tibet. Beijing: China Intercontinental Press.
Mancall, Mark. 1971. Russia and China: Their Diplomatic Relations to 1728. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mancall, Mark. 1984. China at the Center: 300 Years of Foreign Policy. New York: Free Press.
McCarthy, Roger E. 2006. Tears of the Lotus: Accounts of Tibetan Resistance to the Chinese Invasion, 1950–1962. Jefferson: McFarland.
McKay, Alex, ed. 2003. The History of Tibet. Vol. 3. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
McKay, Alex. 2009. Tibet and the British Raj: The Frontier Cadre, 1904–1947. New Delhi: Indraprastha Press.
Miller, Beatrice D. 1987. “A Response to Goldstein's ‘Reexamining Choice, Dependency and Command in the Tibetan Social System.” The Tibet Journal XII (2): 6567.
Miller, Beatrice D. 1988. “Last Rejoinder to Goldstein on Tibetan Social System.” The Tibet Journal XIII (3): 6466.
Mote, Frederick W. 2003. Imperial China, 900–1800. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mullin, Glenn H. 2011. The Fourteen Dalai Lamas: A Sacred Legacy of Reincarnation. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishers.
Norbu, Dawa. 1991. “China's Dialogue with the Dalai Lama, 1978–1990: Prenegotiation Stageor Dead End?Pacific Affairs 64 (3): 351372.
Perdue, Peter C. 2005. China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Petech, Luciano. 1973. China and Tibet in the Early 18th Century: History of the Establishment of Chinese Protectorate in Tibet. Westport: Hyperion Press.
Petech, Luciano. 1976. “China and the European Travelers to Tibet, 1860–1880.” T'oung Pao. Second Series 62 (4/5): 219252.
Petech, Luciano. 2003a. “The Dalai-Lamas and Regents of Tibet: A Chronological Study.” In The History of Tibet. Vol. II, edited by A. McKay, 567–583. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Petech, Luciano. 2003b. “The Establishment of the Yüan-Sa-Skya Partnership.” The History of Tibet. Vol. II, edited by A. McKay, 343–351. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Postiglione, Gerard A., and Ben, Jia. 2009. “Tibet's Relocated Schooling: Popularization Reconsidered.” Asian Survey XLIX (5): 895914.
Powers, John. 2007. Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Revised ed. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.
Purcell, Victor. 1963. The Boxer Uprising: A Background Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richardson, Hugh. 1984. Tibet and Its History. 2nd ed. Boston: Shambala.
Richardson, Hugh. 2003. “The Dalai Lamas.” The History of Tibet. Vol. II, edited by A. McKay, 554–566. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Rummel, Rudolph J. 2007. China's Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder since 1900. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Saiget, Robert. 2012. “China's Tibetan Buddhists ‘in Vicious Cycle'.” AFP, Jan 12, 12.
Samuel, Geoffrey. 1993. Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Sautman, Barry. 2006. “'Demographic Annihilation’ and Tibet.” In Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development, and Society in a Disputed Region, edited by Sautman, B. and Dreyer, J. T., 230257 (246). Armonk: M.E. Sharpe.
Schimmelpennick van der Oye, David. 2003. “Tournament of Shadows: Russia's Great Game in Tibet.” In The History of Tibet. Vol. 3, edited by Alex McKay, 4356. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Schrecker, John E. 1971. Imperialism and Chinese Nationalism: Germany in Shantung. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Shakabpa, Tsepon W. D. 2003. “The Dalai Lama's 1913 Proclamation.” In The History of Tibet. Vol. III, edited by A. McKay, 171–172. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Shakya, Tsering. 1999. The Dragon in the Land of the Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947. New York: Penguin.
Shakya, Tsering. 2003. “The Genesis of the Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951.” In The History of Tibet. Vol. III, edited by A. McKay, 589–606. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Shaumian, Tatiana. 2000. Tibet: The Great Game and Tsarist Russia. New York: Oxford University Press.
Agreement, Sino-Tibeatan. 2003. “Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet (The 17-Point Agreement of May 23, 1951).” In The History of Tibet. Vol. 3, edited by A. McKay, 607609. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Smith, Warren W. 1996. Tibetan Nation: A History of Tibetan Nationalism and Sino-Tibetan Relations. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Smith, Warren W. 2010. Tibet's Last Stand? The Tibetan Uprising of 2008 and China's Response. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Snellgrove, David L., and Richardson, H. 2003. A Cultural History of Tibet. Bangkok: Orchid Press.
Spence, Jonathan D. 1990. The Search for Modern China. New York: W. W. Norton.
Sperling, Elliot. 2008. “The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).” In Authenticating Tibet: Answers to China's 100 Questions, edited by Blondeau, Anne-Marie and Buffetrille, Katia, 1921. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Spiegel, Mickey. 1997. China: State Control of Religion. New York: Human Rights Watch.
The Dalai Lama's 1913 Proclamation. 2003. The History of Tibet. Vol. III. Translated by Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa and edited by McKay, 171–172. London: Routledge Curzon.
Taylor, Jay. 2009. The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Office of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. 2012. “Kalachakra Initiations by His Holiness the Dalai.” Accessed August 4, 2012. http://www.dalailama.com/teachings/kalachakra-initiations
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. 2006. Railway and China's Development Strategy in Tibet: A Tale of Two Economies. Dharamsala: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
Tsering, Chung. 2009. China's Attempts to Wipe Out the Language and Culture of Tibet. Dharamsala: Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
Tutu, Desmond. 2012. “Letter to President Hu Jintao.” Accessed April 3, 2012. http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/2012/04/nobel-laureates-jintao-must-open-dialoguewith-ti
United Nations. October 1959. United Nations Resolution 1353 (XIV). “Question of Tibet.” General Assembly, Fourteenth Session, 61.
United Nations. December 20, 1961. United Nations Resolution 1723 (XVI). “Question of Tibet.” General Assembly, Sixteenth Session, 66.
United Nations. December 18, 1965. United Nations Resolution 2079 (XX). “Question of Tibet.” General Assembly, Resolution Adopted without Reference to a Main Committee, 3.
U.S. Department of State. 2000. China: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 1999. Washington, DC: US Department of State.
U.S. Senate. 2002. “Tibet Policy Act,” H.R. 1646, 16. Accessed March 15, 2012. http://www.savetibet.org/print/1728
United States Senate. January 30, 2012. Resolution 356. “Expressing Support for the People of Tibet.” 112th Congress, 14.
Wang, Jeiwei, and Gyaincain, Nyima. 2008. The Historical Status of China's Tibet. Beijing: China Intercontinental Press.
Williams, Dee M. 2002. Beyond Great Walls: Environment, Identity, and Development on the Chinese Grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Wylie, Turrell V. 2003a. “The First Mongol Conquest of Tibet Reinterpreted.” In The History of Tibet. Vol. II, edited by A. McKay, 317–337. London: RoutledgeCurszon.
Wylie, Turcell V. 2003b. “Lama Tribute in the Ming Dynasty.” In The History of Tibet. Vol. II, edited by A. McKay, 467–472. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Yan, Hao. 2000. “Tibetan Population in China: Myths and Facts Re-examined.” Asian Ethnicity I (1): 1136.
Yang, Jisheng. 2008. Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958–1962. Translated by Stacy Moser and Guo Jian. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The “Tibet question”: Tibetan, Chinese and Western perspectives

  • David M. Crowe (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.