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A Brief History Of Tibet History Essay

For at least 1500 old ages, the state of Tibet has had a complex relationship with its big and powerful neighbour to the E, China. The political history of Tibet and China reveals that the relationship has non ever been every bit nonreversible as it now appears.Indeed, as with China ‘s dealingss with the Mongols and the Japanese, the balance of power between China and Tibet has shifted back and Forth over the centuries.

The first known interaction between the two provinces came in 640 A.D. , when the Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo married the Princess Wencheng, a niece of the Tang Emperor Taizong. He besides married a Nepali princess.

Both married womans were Buddhists, and this may hold been the beginning of Tibetan Buddhism. The religion grew when an inflow of Central Asiatic Buddhists flooded Tibet early in the 8th century, flying from progressing ground forcess of Arab and Kazakh Muslims.

During his reign, Songtsan Gampo added parts of the Yarlung River Valley to the Kingdom of Tibet ; his posterities would besides suppress the huge part that is now the Chinese states of Qinghai, Gansu, and Xinjiang between 663 and 692. Control of these boundary line parts would alter custodies back and Forth for centuries to come.

In 692, the Chinese retook their western lands from the Tibetans after get the better ofing them at Kashgar. The Tibetan male monarch so allied himself with the enemies of China, the Arabs and eastern Turks.

Chinese power waxed strong in the early decennaries of the 8th century. Imperial forces under General Gao Xianzhi conquered much of Central Asia, until their licking by the Arabs and Karluks at the Battle of Talas River in 751. China ‘s power rapidly waned, and Tibet resumed control of much of Cardinal Asia.

The ascendent Tibetans pressed their advantage, suppressing much of northern India and even prehending the Tang Chinese capital metropolis of Chang’an ( now Xian ) in 763.

Tibet and China signed a peace pact in 821 or 822, which delineated the boundary line between the two imperiums. The Tibetan Empire would concentrate on its Central Asian retentions for the following several decennaries, before dividing into several little, refractory lands.

Tibet and the Mongols

Canny politicians, the Tibetans befriended Genghis Khan merely as the Mongol leader was suppressing the known universe in the early thirteenth century. As a consequence, though the Tibetans paid testimonial to the Mongols after the Hordes had conquered China, they were allowed much greater liberty than the other Mongol-conquered lands.

Over clip, Tibet came to be considered one of the 13 states of the Mongolian-ruled state of Yuan China.

During this period, the Tibetans gained a high grade of influence over the Mongols at tribunal.

The great Tibetan religious leader, Sakya Pandita, became the Mongol ‘s representative to Tibet. Sakya ‘s nephew, Chana Dorje, married one of the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan ‘s girls.

The Tibetans transmitted their Buddhist religion to the eastern Mongols ; Kublai Khan himself studied Tibetan beliefs with the great instructor Drogon Chogyal Phagpa.

Independent Tibet

When the Mongols ‘ Yuan Empire fell in 1368 to the ethnic-Han Chinese Ming, Tibet reasserted its independency and refused to pay testimonial to the new Emperor.

In 1474, the archimandrite of an of import Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Gendun Drup, passed off. A kid who born two old ages subsequently was found to be a reincarnation of the archimandrite, and was raised to be the following leader of that religious order, Gendun Gyatso.

After their life-times, the two work forces were called the First and Second Dalai Lamas. Their religious order, the Gelug or “ Yellow Hats, ” became the dominant signifier of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso ( 1543-1588 ) , was the first to be so named during his life. He was responsible for change overing the Mongols to Gelug Tibetan Buddhism, and it was the Mongol swayer Altan Khan who likely gave the rubric “ Dalai Lama ” to Sonam Gyatso.

While the newly-named Dalai Lama consolidated the power of his religious place, though, the Gtsang-pa Dynasty assumed the royal throne of Tibet in 1562. The Kings would govern the secular side of Tibetan life for the following 80 old ages.

The Fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso ( 1589-1616 ) , was a Mongolian prince and the grandson of Altan Khan.

During the 1630s, China was embroiled in power battles between the Mongols, Han Chinese of the attenuation Ming Dynasty, and the Manchu people of north-eastern China ( Manchuria ) . The Manchus would finally get the better of the Han in 1644, and set up China ‘s concluding imperial dynasty, the Qing ( 1644-1912 ) .

Tibet got drawn into this convulsion when the Mongol warlord Ligdan Khan, a Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist, decided to occupy Tibet and destruct the Yellow Hats in 1634. Ligdan Khan died on the manner, but his follower Tsogt Taij took up the cause.

The great general Gushi Khan, of the Oirad Mongols, fought against Tsogt Taij and defeated him in 1637. The Khan killed the Gtsang-pa Prince of Tsang, every bit good. With support from Gushi Khan, the Fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, was able to prehend both religious and temporal power over all of Tibet in 1642.

The Dalai Lama Rises to Power

The Potala Palace in Lhasa was constructed as a symbol of this new synthesis of power.

The Dalai Lama made a province visit to the Qing Dynasty ‘s 2nd Emperor, Shunzhi, in 1653. The two leaders greeted one another as peers ; the Dalai Lama did non scrape. Each adult male bestowed awards and rubrics upon the other, and the Dalai Lama was recognized as the religious authorization of the Qing Empire.

Harmonizing to Tibet, the “ priest/patron ” relationship established at this clip between the Dalai Lama and Qing China continued throughout the Qing Era, but it had no bearing on Tibet ‘s position as an independent state. China, of course, disagrees.

Lobsang Gyatso died in 1682, but his Prime Minister concealed the Dalai Lama ‘s passing until 1696 so that the Potala Palace could be finished and the power of the Dalai Lama ‘s office consolidated.

The Maverick Dalai Lama

In 1697, 15 old ages after the decease of Lobsang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama was eventually enthroned.

Tsangyang Gyatso ( 1683-1706 ) was a rebel who rejected the cloistered life, turning his hair long, imbibing vino, and basking female company. He besides wrote great poesy, some of which is still recited today in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama ‘s unconventional life style prompted Lobsang Khan of the Khoshud Mongols to force out him in 1705.

Lobsang Khan seized control of Tibet, named himself King, sent Tsangyang Gyatso to Beijing ( he “ cryptically ” died on the manner ) , and installed a Pretender Dalai Lama.

The Dzungar Mongol Invasion

King Lobsang would govern for 12 old ages, until the Dzungar Mongols invaded and took power. They killed the Pretender to the Dalai Lama ‘s throne, to the joy of the Tibetan people, but so began to plunder monasteries around Lhasa.

This hooliganism brought a speedy response from the Qing Emperor Kangxi, who sent military personnels to Tibet. The Dzungars destroyed the Imperial Chinese battalion near Lhasa in 1718.

In 1720, the angry Kangxi sent another, larger force to Tibet, which crushed the Dzungars. The Qing ground forces besides brought the proper Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelzang Gyatso ( 1708-1757 ) to Lhasa.

The Border Between China and Tibet

China took advantage of this period of instability in Tibet to prehend the parts of Amdo and Kham, doing them into the Chinese state of Qinghai in 1724.

Three old ages subsequently, the Chinese and Tibetans signed a pact that laid out the boundary line between the two states. It would stay in force until 1910.

Qing China had its custodies full seeking to command Tibet. The Emperor sent a commissioner to Lhasa, but he was killed in 1750.

The Imperial Army so defeated the Rebels, but the Emperor recognized that he would hold to govern through the Dalai Lama instead than straight. Daily determinations would be made on the local degree.

Era of Turmoil Begins

In 1788, the Regent of Nepal sent Gurkha forces to occupy Tibet.

The Qing Emperor responded in strength, and the Nepalese retreated.

The Gurkhas returned three old ages subsequently, looting and destructing some celebrated Tibetan monasteries. The Chinese sent a force of 17,000 which, along with Tibetan military personnels, drove the Gurkhas out of Tibet and south to within 20 stat mis of Kathmandu.

Despite this kind of aid from the Chinese Empire, the people of Tibet chafed under progressively interfering Qing regulation.

Between 1804, when the Eighth Dalai Lama died, and 1895, when the Thirteenth Dalai Lama assumed the throne, none of the incumbent embodiments of the Dalai Lama lived to see their 19th birthdays.

If the Chinese found a certain embodiment excessively difficult to command, they would poison him. If the Tibetans thought an embodiment was controlled by the Chinese, so they would poison him themselves.

Tibet and the Great Game

Throughout this period, Russia and Britain were engaged in the “ Great Game, ” a battle for influence and control in Central Asia.

Russia pushed South of its boundary lines, seeking entree to warm-water sea ports and a buffer zone between Russia proper and the progressing British. The British pushed northerly from India, seeking to spread out their imperium and protect the Raj, the “ Crown Jewel of the British Empire, ” from the expansionist Russians.

Tibet was an of import playing piece in this game.

Qing Chinese power waned throughout the 18th century, as evidenced by its licking in the Opium Wars with Britain ( 1839-1842 and 1856-1860 ) , every bit good as the Taiping Rebellion ( 1850-1864 ) and the Boxer Rebellion ( 1899-1901 ) .

The existent relationship between China and Tibet had been ill-defined since the early yearss of the Qing Dynasty, and China ‘s losingss at place made the position of Tibet even more unsure.

The ambiguity of control over Tibet lead to jobs. In 1893, the British in India concluded a trade and boundary line pact with Beijing refering the boundary between Sikkim and Tibet.

However, the Tibetans categorically rejected the pact footings.

The British invaded Thibet in 1903 with 10,000 work forces, and took Lhasa the undermentioned twelvemonth. Thereupon, they concluded another pact with the Tibetans, every bit good as Chinese, Nepalese and Bhutanese representatives, which gave the British themselves some control over Tibet ‘s personal businesss.

Thubten Gyatso ‘s Balancing Act

The 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, fled the state in 1904 at the goad of his Russian adherent, Agvan Dorzhiev. He went foremost to Mongolia, so made his manner to Beijing.

The Chinese declared that the Dalai Lama had been deposed every bit shortly as he left Tibet, and claimed full sovereignty over non merely Tibet but besides Nepal and Bhutan. The Dalai Lama went to Beijing to discourse the state of affairs with the Emperor Guangxu, but he categorically refused to scrape to the Emperor.

Thubten Gyatso stayed in the Chinese capital from 1906 to 1908.

He returned to Lhasa in 1909, disappointed by Chinese policies towards Tibet. China sent a force of 6,000 military personnels into Tibet, and the Dalai Lama fled to Darjeeling, India subsequently that same twelvemonth.

The Chinese Revolution swept away the Qing Dynasty in 1911, and the Tibetans quickly expelled all Chinese military personnels from Lhasa. The Dalai Lama returned place to Tibet in 1912.

Tibetan Independence

China ‘s new radical authorities issued a formal apology to the Dalai Lama for the Qing Dynasty ‘s abuses, and offered to reinstate him. Thubten Gyatso refused, saying that he had no involvement in the Chinese offer.

He so issued a announcement that was distributed across Tibet, rejecting Chinese control and saying that “ We are a little, spiritual, and independent state. ”

The Dalai Lama took control of Tibet ‘s internal and external administration in 1913, negociating straight with foreign powers, and reforming Tibet ‘s judicial, penal, and educational systems.

The Simla Convention ( 1914 )

Representatives of Great Britain, China, and Tibet met in 1914 to negociate a pact taging out the boundary lines between India and its northern neighbours.

The Simla Convention granted China secular control over “ Inner Tibet, ” ( besides known as Qinghai Province ) while acknowledging the liberty of “ Outer Tibet ” under the Dalai Lama ‘s regulation. Both China and Britain promised to “ esteem the territorial unity of [ Tibet ] , and abstain from intervention in the disposal of Outer Tibet. ”

China walked out of the conference without subscribing the pact after Britain laid claim to the Tawang country of southern Tibet, which is now portion of the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh. Tibet and Britain both signed the pact.

As a consequence, China has ne’er agreed to India ‘s rights in northern Arunachal Pradesh ( Tawang ) , and the two states went to war over the country in 1962. The boundary difference still has non been resolved.

China besides claims sovereignty over all of Tibet, while the Tibetan government-in-exile points to the Chinese failure to subscribe the Simla Convention as cogent evidence that both Inner and Outer Tibet lawfully remain under the Dalai Lama ‘s legal power.

The Issue Rests

Soon, China would be excessively distracted to concern itself with the issue of Tibet.

Japan had invaded Manchuria in 1910, and would progress South and east across big swaths of Chinese district through 1945.

The new authorities of the Republic of China would keep nominal power over the bulk of Chinese district for merely four old ages before war broke out between legion armed cabals.

Indeed, the span of Chinese history from 1916 to 1938 came to be called the “ Warlord Era, ” as the different military cabals sought to make full the power vacuity left by the prostration of the Qing Dynasty.

China would see near-continuous civil war up to the Communist triumph in 1949, and this epoch of struggle was exacerbated by the Nipponese Occupation and World War II. Under such fortunes, the Chinese showed small involvement in Tibet.

The 13th Dalai Lama ruled independent Tibet in peace until his decease in 1933.

The 14th Dalai Lama

Following Thubten Gyatso ‘s decease, the new reincarnation of the Dalai Lama was born in Amdo in 1935.

Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, was taken to Lhasa in 1937 to get down developing for his responsibilities as the leader of Tibet. He would stay at that place until 1959, when the Chinese forced him into expatriate in India.

Peoples ‘s Republic of China Invades Tibet

In 1950, the People ‘s Liberation Army ( PLA ) of the newly-formed People ‘s Republic of China invaded Tibet. With stableness reestablished in Beijing for the first clip in decennaries, Mao Zedong sought to asseverate China ‘s right to govern over Tibet every bit good.

The PLA inflicted a Swift and entire licking on Tibet ‘s little ground forces, and China drafted the “ Seventeen Point Agreement ” integrating Tibet as an independent part of the People ‘s Republic of China.

Representatives of the Dalai Lama ‘s authorities signed the understanding under protest, and the Tibetans repudiated the understanding nine old ages subsequently.

Collectivization and Revolt

The Mao authorities of the PRC instantly initiated land redistribution in Tibet.

Landholdings of the monasteries and aristocracy were seized for redistribution to the provincials. The Communist forces hoped to destruct the power base of the affluent and of Buddhism within Tibetan society.

In reaction, a rebellion led by the monastics broke out in June of 1956, and continued through 1959. The poorly-armed Tibetans used guerilla war tactics in an effort to drive out the Chinese.

The PLA responded by leveling full small towns and monasteries to the land. The Chinese even threatened to blow up the Potala Palace and kill the Dalai Lama, but this menace was non carried out.

Three old ages of acrimonious contending left 86,000 Tibetans dead, harmonizing to the Dalai Lama ‘s authorities in expatriate.

Flight of the Dalai Lama

On March 1, 1959, the Dalai Lama received an uneven invitation to go to a theatre public presentation at PLA central office near Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama demurred, and the public presentation day of the month was postponed until March 10. On March 9, PLA officers notified the Dalai Lama ‘s escorts that they would non attach to the Tibetan leader to the public presentation, nor were they to advise the Tibetan people that he was go forthing the castle. ( Normally, the people of Lhasa would line the streets to recognize the Dalai Lama each clip he ventured out. )

The guards instantly publicized this instead bumbling attempted abduction, and the undermentioned twenty-four hours an estimated crowd of 300,000 Tibetans surrounded Potala Palace to protect their leader.

The PLA moved artillery into scope of major monasteries and the Dalai Lama ‘s summer castle, Norbulingka.

Both sides began to delve in, although the Tibetan ground forces was much smaller than its adversary, and ill armed.

Tibetan military personnels were able to procure a path for the Dalai Lama to get away into India on March 17. Actual combat began on March 19, and lasted merely two yearss before the Tibetan military personnels were defeated.

Aftermath of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising

Much of Lhasa ballad in ruins on March 20, 1959.

An estimated 800 heavy weapon shells had pummeled Norbulingka, and Lhasa ‘s three largest monasteries were basically leveled. The Chinese rounded up 1000s of monastics, put to deathing many of them. Monasteries and temples all over Lhasa were ransacked.

The staying members of the Dalai Lama ‘s escort were publically executed by firing squad.

By the clip of the 1964 nose count, 300,000 Tibetans had gone “ losing ” in the old five old ages, either in secret imprisoned, killed, or in expatriate.

In the yearss after the 1959 Uprising, the Chinese authorities revoked most facets of Tibet ‘s liberty, and initiated relocation and land distribution across the state. The Dalai Lama has remained in expatriate of all time since.

China ‘s cardinal authorities, in a command to thin the Tibetan population and supply occupations for Han Chinese, initiated a “ Western China Development Program ” in 1978.

Equally many as 300,000 Han now live in Tibet, 2/3 of them in the capital metropolis. The Tibetan population of Lhasa, in contrast, is merely 100,000.

Cultural Chinese keep the huge bulk of authorities stations.

Tax return of the Panchen Lama

Beijing allowed the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism ‘s second-in-command, to return to Tibet in 1989.

He instantly gave a address before a crowd of 30,000 of the faithful, condemning the injury being done to Tibet under the PRC. He died five yearss subsequently at the age of 50, allegedly of a monolithic bosom onslaught.

Deaths at Drapchi Prison, 1998

On May 1, 1998, the Chinese functionaries at Drapchi Prison in Tibet ordered 100s of captives, both felons and political detainees, to take part in a Chinese flag-raising ceremonial.

Some of the captives began to shout anti-Chinese and pro-Dalai Lama mottos, and prison guards fired shootings into the air before returning all the captives to their cells.

The captives were so badly beaten with belt buckles, rifle butts, and plastic wands, and some were put into lone parturiency for months at a clip, harmonizing to one immature nun who was released from the prison a twelvemonth subsequently.

Three yearss subsequently, the prison disposal decided to keep the flag-raising ceremonial once more.

Once more, some of the captives began to shout mottos.

Prison functionary reacted with even more ferociousness, and five nuns, three monastics, and one male felon were killed by the guards. One adult male was shot ; the remainder were beaten to decease.

2008 Originating

On March 10, 2008, Tibetans marked the 49th day of remembrance of the 1959 rebellion by peacefully protesting for the release of captive monastics and nuns. Chinese constabulary so broke up the protest with tear gas and gunshot.

The protest resumed for several more yearss, eventually turning into a public violence. Tibetan choler was fueled by studies that imprisoned monastics and nuns were being mistreated or killed in prison as a reaction to the street presentations.

Ferocious Tibetans ransacked and burned the stores of cultural Chinese immigrants in Lhasa and other metropoliss. The official Chinese media provinces that 18 people were killed by the rioters.

China instantly cut off entree to Tibet for foreign media and tourers.

The unrest spread to neighbouring Qinghai ( Inner Tibet ) , Gansu, and Sichuan Provinces. The Chinese authorities cracked down hard, mobilising every bit many as 5,000 military personnels. Reports indicate that the military killed between 80 and 140 people, and arrested more than 2,300 Tibetans.

The unrest came at a sensitive clip for China, which was pitching up for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The state of affairs in Tibet caused increased international examination of Beijing ‘s full human rights record, taking some foreign leaders to boycott the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Olympic torch-bearers around the universe were met by 1000s of human rights protestors.


Tibet and China have had a long relationship, fraught with trouble and alteration.

At times, the two states have worked closely together. At other times, they have been at war.

Today, the state of Tibet does non be ; non one foreign authorities officially recognizes the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The past Teachs us, nevertheless, that the geopolitical state of affairs is nil if non fluid. It is impossible to foretell where Tibet and China will stand, relative to one another, one hundred old ages from now.