In the “Contra Costa Times”, I read Tibetan leaders seek East Bay help by Doug Oakley, May 27, 2010. This was a politically correct news piece that was partially accurate because Oakley only shared part of the history between China and Tibet—the part that favors Tibet’s so-called government in exile, which represents about 1% of all Tibetans—the rest still live in China.
Oakley writes that, “Tibet was invaded by the Chinese army in 1950. After the Tibetan army was defeated, both sides signed a 17-point agreement in 1951 recognizing China’s sovereignty over Tibet.”
These facts were correct, but they did not tell the whole story.
Any historian who checks primary-source material that does exist outside of Communist China will discover that Tibet was ruled by three Chinese dynasties: The Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties from 1277 – 1911. Even after Sun Yat-Sen’s so-called Republic replaced the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Tibet was considered part of China.
Primary sources like the October 1912 issue of The National Geographic Magazine—with a piece written by a Chinese doctor who was sent to Tibet by China’s emperor in 1907— and more than fifty letters written by Sir Robert Hart during the 19th century support the fact that Tibet was part of China for more than six centuries prior to 1913 when the British Empire convinced Tibet to break free for political reasons. [Note: I have an original copy of that issue of NGM, and copies of Hart's letters]
The so-called Tibetan government in exile says they are seeking autonomy within China. In fact, China does offer a form of autonomy to the 56 minorities that live in China, but this isn’t the level of autonomy that the Dalai Lama demands, which is a return to the old Tibetan ways described in that 1912 issue of National Geographic, which is unacceptable to China.
Tibet has never been a democracy or a republic. And the average life expectancy for Tibetans increased from 35 years in 1950 to over 65 years by the 2000s while China has ruled the region, and going to school is mandatory for children. Source for life expectancy facts: Tibet from the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Between 1913 and 1950, life expectancy in Tibet did not improve during the few decades that the Dalai Lama ruled the region. In fact, little to nothing changed and most Tibetans were mostly illiterate serfs/slaves of wealthy and powerful landowners. In fact, every family had to send a son/s to become Tibetan Buddhist lamas. There was no choice and there was no educational system for children. The Tibetan people have more freedom of choice today—even under CCP leadership—than at any time in recorded history.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
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