Monday, April 21, 2008

My last post on Tibet

As I have said before, It really bothers me to have to stand up for the PRC government. There are lots of areas where the PRC deserves to be bad mouthed and to be bad mouthed with a mouth much fouler than mine. Indeed, in a way this is one of those issues. But the fact remains that the "Free Tibet" movement is a crock.

You may, for all I care, support the Tibetans if they start a revolution for independence. If you want to, send them money, medical supplies or buy an AK-47 on E-Bay move to the Himalayas and join up.

But, you cannot plausibly claim that Tibet hasn't been part of China for 100's of years. Taiwan yes, Tibet no.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Reluctant Chinese Patriot

The article reproduced below clearly shows Tibet has been part of China for hundreds of years. And please note it was written by a progressive American academic.

Reprinted from the book: Tibet -
Myth and Reality
by Foster

Western concepts of Tibet embrace more myth than reality. The idea that

Tibet is an oppressed nation composed of peaceful Buddhists who never did
anyone any harm distorts history. In fact, the belief that the
Dalai Lama is
the leader of world Buddhism rather than being just the leader of one sect
among more than 1,700 "Living Buddhas" of this unique Tibetan form of the
faith displays a parochial view of world religions.

The myth, of course, is an outgrowth of Tibet's former inaccessibility,
which has fostered illusions about this mysterious land in the midst of the
Himalayan Mountains -- illusions that have been skillfully promoted for
political purposes by the
Dalai Lama's advocates. The myth will inevitably
die, as all myths do, but until this happens, it would be wise to learn a
few useful facts about this area of China.

First, Tibet has been a part of China ever since it was merged into that
country in 1239, when the Mongols began creating the Yuan Dynasty
(1271-1368). This was before Marco Polo reached China from Europe and more
than two centuries before Columbus sailed to the New World. True, China's
hold on this area sometimes appeared somewhat loose, but neither the Chinese
nor many Tibetans have ever denied that Tibet has been a part of China from
the Yuan Dynasty to this very day.

The early Tibetans evolved into a number of competing nomadic tribes and
developed a religion known as
Bon that was led by shamans who conducted
rituals that involved the sacrifice of many animals and some humans. These
tribes fought battles with each other for better grazing lands, battles in
which they killed or made slaves of those they conquered. They roamed far
beyond the borders of Tibet into areas of China's
Sichuan and Yunnan
Xinjiang, Gansu, and Qinghai. Eventually one of these tribes, the
Tubo, became the most powerful and took control of all Tibet. (The name
Tibet comes from
Tubo.) During China's Tang Dynasty (618-907), Emperor
Taizong improved relations with the Tubo king, Songtsen Gampo, by giving him
one of his daughters, Princess
Wenzheng, in marriage. The Tubos, in response
to this cementing of relations, developed close fraternal ties with
court, and the two ruling powers regularly exchanged gifts.

The princess arrived in Tibet with an entourage of hundreds of servants,
skilled craftspeople, and scribes. She was a Buddhist, as were all of the
Tang emperors, and so Buddhism entered Tibet mainly through her influence,
only to be suppressed later by resentful
Bon shamans. Some years later
another Tang princess was married to another
Tubo king, again to cement
relations between the two rulers.

The fact that the Tibetans and the Chinese had united royal families and
engaged actively in trade (Tibetan horses for tea of the Central Plain)
didn't mean an absence of conflict between them. Battles occasionally
occurred between Tang and
Tubo troops, mostly over territorial issues. At
one point in the 750s, the
Tubos, taking advantage of a rebellion against
the Tangs by other armed groups in China, raced on horseback across China to
enter the Tang capital of
Chang'an. But, they couldn't hold the city.

In 838, the
Tubo king was assassinated by two pro-Bon ministers, and the Bon
religion was re-established as the only acceptable religion in Tibet.
Buddhists were widely persecuted and forced into hiding.

Trade between Tibet and the interior areas continued during the Five
Dynasties (907-960) and the Song Dynasty (960-1279) that followed the
collapse of the Tang, although relations between the two ruling powers were
limited. During this time Buddhism revived in Tibet as a result of the
Buddhists' willingness to accommodate some
Bon practices. The form of
Buddhism that resulted from this merging of the two religions was quite
different from that of China and other countries in Southeast Asia, as well
as from the form that had been practiced previously in Tibet.

Tibetan Buddhism, often called Lamaism, appealed to the Mongols, who
conquered most of Russia, parts of Europe, and all of China under the
leadership of Genghis Khan. The Mongols, like the Tibetans, were tribal
herders who had a religion of animism similar to

When Kublai Khan, the first Yuan emperor, appointed administrators to Tibet,
he elevated the head of the Tibetan Buddhist
Sakya sect to the post of
leader of all Buddhists in China, thus giving this monk greater power than
any Buddhist had ever held before - and probably since. Needless to say, the
appointment irritated the leaders of the other Buddhist sects in Tibet and
the much larger group of non-Tibetan Buddhists in China. But, they couldn't
do anything to counter the wishes of the emperor.

The Yuan Dynasty divided Tibet into a series of administrative areas and put
these areas under the charge of an imperial preceptor. Furthermore, the Yuan
court encouraged the growth of feudal estates in Tibet as a way to maintain
control there.

When the Yuan Dynasty collapsed, it was replaced by the Ming Dynasty
(1368-1644), which wasn't composed of persons of Mongolian heritage. Tibet
then became splintered because the Ming court adopted a policy of granting
hereditary titles to many nobles and a policy of divide and rule.

Although the Ming court conferred the honorific title of Desi (ruling lama)
to the head of one of Tibet's most powerful families, the
Rinpung family,
they also bestowed enough official titles to his subordinates to encourage
separatist trends within the local Tibetan society. One of these titles was
given to the head of the newly founded
Gelugpa sect, better known as the
Yellow sect. He later took on the title "
Dalai Lama."

Tibet During the
Qing Dynasty

The next and last dynasty, the
Qing, came to power in 1644 and lasted until
1911. At the time of its founding, the most prominent Tibetan religious and
secular leaders were the fifth
Dalai Lama, the fourth Panchen Lama, and
Gushri Khan. They formed a delegation that arrived at the Chinese capital,
Beijing, in 1652.

Before they returned to Tibet the following year, the emperor officially
conferred upon
Lozang Gyatso (the then Dalai Lama), the honorific title "The
Dalai Lama, Buddha of Great Compassion in the West, Leader of the Buddhist
Faith Beneath the Sky, Holder of the
Vajra." (Dalai is Mongolian for
"ocean"; lama is a Tibetan word that means "guru.")

The fifth
Dalai Lama pledged his allegiance to the Qing government and in
return, received enough gold and silver to build 13 new monasteries of the
Yellow sect in Tibet. All successive reincarnations of the
Dalai Lama have
been confirmed by the central government in China, and this has become a
historical convention practiced to this very day.

A later
Qing emperor suspected the intentions of the seventh Dalai Lama, so
he increased the power of the
Panchen Lama (also of the Yellow sect). In
1713 the
Qing court granted the title "Panchen Erdeni" to the fifth Panchen
Lama, thus elevating him to a status similar to that given to the
Dalai Lama
Panchen means "great scholar" in Sanskrit, and Erdeni means "treasure" in

The largest part of the Tibetan population (more than 90 percent) at that
time was composed of serfs, who were treated harshly by the landlords and
ruling monks. All monasteries had large tracts of land as well as a great
number of serfs under their control. The ruling monks' exploitation of these
serfs was just as severe as that of the aristocratic landlords.

Serfs had no personal freedom from birth to death. They and their children
were given freely as gifts or donations, sold or bartered for goods. They
were, in fact, viewed by landlords as "livestock that can speak." As late as
1943, a high-ranking aristocrat named
Tsemon Norbu Wangyal sold 100 serfs to
a monk in the
Drigung area for only four silver dollars per serf.

If serfs lost their ability to work, the lord confiscated all their
property, including livestock and farm tools. If they ran away and
subsequently were captured, half their personal belongings were given to the
captors while the other half went to the lords for whom they worked. The
runaways then were flogged or even condemned to death.

The lords used such inhuman tortures as gouging out eyes, cutting off feet
or hands, pushing the condemned person over a cliff, drowning and beheading.
Numerous rebellions occurred over the years against this harsh treatment,
and in 1347 alone (the seventh year of Yuan Emperor
Shundi's reign), more
than 200 serf rebellions occurred in Tibet.

Foreign Aggression
Foreign nations made numerous attempts to invade Tibet and take it away from
China. These were repulsed by Chinese troops and Tibetan fighters. The first
such invasion took place in 1337 when
Mohammed Tugluk of Delhi (in what is
now India) sent 100,000 troops into the Himalayan area.

During the second half of the 18
th century, troops from the Kingdom of Nepal
invaded Tibet twice in an attempt to expand Nepal's territory.

During the 19
th century, Britain competed with Russia in pouring large sums
of money and many spies into a struggle to see which of the two might
eventually occupy and control Tibet. When the British finally invaded Tibet,
first in 1888 and again in 1903, the Russians were so involved in conflicts
at home that they couldn't stop the British troops from pushing all the way
to Lhasa. And the
Qing government, having recently lost the Opium War to the
British, did nothing either.

The Tibetans, using spears, arrows, catapults and homemade guns, fought
valiantly but to no avail against the invading British army and its big
cannons and machine guns. The British withdrew after imposing "peace" terms
and before the harsh winter began because they feared the Tibetan resistance
would prevent supplies from getting through to the occupying troops,
thereby causing them to starve to death.

The British signed a Convention with China in 1906, the second article of
which stipulated that the British would no longer interfere with the
administration of Tibet and that China had sovereignty over Tibet. But, they
conveniently forgot the terms of this agreement when, the very next year,
they signed a Convention with Russia that specified British "special
interests" in Tibet. It would probably fill a book to detail the many ways
the British from that point on tried to take over Tibet and make it a part
of their colony of India.

Yet, something needs to be said about the conference held at
Simla, India,
in 1914. Conference participants included representatives of the new
Nationalist government of China that had overthrown the
Qing Dynasty just
two years before, plus Tibetans, and British-Indians. The British had
blackmailed the Chinese into attending by threatening to withdraw their
recognition of the new nationalist government and by saying they would work
out an agreement with the Tibetans alone if the Chinese didn't participate.

Simla Conference failed because the Chinese and the 13th Dalai Lama both
opposed the British plan to divide Tibet into two parts (Inner and Outer
Tibet). The conference, however, did produce one document that since has
caused dissension -- a map drawn by the British representative Arthur H.
McMahon that never was shown to the Chinese, although it was revealed
secretly to the Tibetan delegates.

McMahon's map showed a new boundary line that included three districts of
Tibet --
Monyul, Loyul, and Lower Zayul -- within the territory of British-
India. This so-called "McMahon Line" first became public 23 years later when
it appeared in a printed set of British documents related to the conference
and other diplomatic matters. The McMahon Line became the basis for India's
failed attempt to take over this part of Tibet in 1962. The British, who
made a great show of their desire to have "independence for Tibet" at the
Simla Conference, in drawing this map were adding 90,000 square kilometers
(an area three times the size of Belgium) from Tibet's natural territory to
their own Indian colony.

During and after World War II and shortly before Britain's departure from
India, the American Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S., the forerunner of
the C.I.A.), operating under Cold War guidelines, joined the British Foreign
Office as the instigator of the Tibetan "freedom movement."

Much of what the O.S.S. did in Tibet remains hidden in secret files at C.I.A
headquarters near Washington, D.C., but one of their plots has been widely
reported. It involved a smear
campaign launched against the regent who had been appointed to act for the
young 14
th Dalai Lama after the 13th Dalai died in 1933. The regent was
hostile to U.S.-British intrigues in Tibet, so the O.S.S. spread rumors
about his alleged incompetence and criminal activities. Eventually these
charges led to the regent's arrest and murder in a Tibetan prison. The 14
Dalai Lama's father subsequently was poisoned because he was a friend and
supporter of the regent.

Tibetan Buddhism
Before considering Tibet today, some words should be said about Tibetan
Buddhism as a religion. The accommodations it made with
Bon resulted in its
becoming very different from other forms of Buddhism, particularly from the
more common and much larger Chan Buddhism of China (called Zen in Japan).
Images found in Tibetan Buddhist temples are much fiercer than those found
in other Buddhist temples, and some Tibetan ceremonies that once used human
skulls, human skin, and fresh human intestines clearly reflect the animistic
elements of

Also, Tibetan Buddhists rely a great deal on prayer wheels, which most other
Buddhists scorn. These are mechanical devices with prayers written on them
that are constantly turned by water or wind so the forces of nature do the
work of sending prayers to heaven.

The reincarnation of Living Buddhas, which is unique to this form of
Buddhism, began as early as 1294 with the Karma
Kagyu sect, a sub-sect of
Kagyu sect (known as the black hats). It then spread to all of Tibetan
Buddhism's other sects and monasteries, but it didn't reach the
Gelugpa sect
(the one that includes the
Dalai and Panchen Lama lines) until after 1419.

From the beginning, the system of selecting Living Buddhas was open to abuse
because it was easy for clever members of the monk selection committee to
manipulate the objects presented to potential child candidates in order to
make sure a particular child was chosen. In the case of the fourth
Lama, the child selected was the great-grandson of the Mongolian chief
Khan. He was chosen at a time when the
Gelugpa sect badly needed the
protection of the
Altan Khan's followers because the Gelugpa were being
persecuted by the older Tibetan sects, who were jealous of the Yellow sect's
rapid growth.

Tibet Since 1949
In 1949, the Chinese Communists won the revolution and overthrew the
Nationalist government. But they didn't send their army into Tibet until
October 1951, after they and Tibetan representatives of the 14
th Dalai Lama
and 10
th Panchen Lama had signed an agreement to liberate Tibet peacefully.
Dalai Lama expressed his support for this 17-point agreement in a
telegraphed message to Chairman Mao on October 24, 1951. Three years later
Dalai and Panchen Lamas went together to Beijing to attend the first
National People's Congress at which the
Dalai Lama was elected vice-chairman
of the Standing Committee and the
Panchen Lama was elected a member of that
committee. After the People's Liberation Army (
PLA) entered Tibet, they took
steps to protect the rights of the serfs but didn't, at first, try to
reorganize Tibetan society along socialist or democratic lines. Yet, the
landlords and ruling monks knew that in time, their land would be
redistributed, just as the landlords' property in the rest of China had been
confiscated and divided among the peasants.

The Tibetan landlords did all they could to frighten the serfs away from
associating with the
PLA. But, as the serfs increasingly ignored their
landlords' wishes and called on the Communists to eliminate the oppressive
system of serfdom, some leaders of the "three great monasteries" (
Sera, and Drepung) issued a statement, in the latter half of 1956, demanding
the feudal system be maintained. At this point, the
PLA decided the time had
come to confiscate the landlords' property and redistribute it among the
serfs. The landlords and top-level monks retaliated by announcing, in March
1959, the founding of a "Tibet Independent State," and about 7,000 of them
assembled in Lhasa to stage a revolt. Included were more than 170 "
guerrillas" who had been trained overseas by the O.S.S. and air-dropped into
Tibet, according to a former C.I.A. agent. The O.S.S. also gave them machine
guns, mortars, rifles and ammunition.

PLA put down the revolt in Lhasa within two days, capturing some 4,000
rebels. The rebellion had the support of the
Dalai Lama, but not of the
Panchen Lama. After it failed, the Dalai Lama, along with a group of rebel
leaders, fled to India.

The most disruptive event of recent years was the "cultural revolution,"
which lasted from 1966 to 1976. It turned most of Tibet's farm and herding
areas into giant communes and closed or destroyed many monasteries and
temples, just as it did elsewhere in China. At its end, the communes were
disbanded and the temples and monasteries were repaired and reopened at
government expense.

The idea that most Tibetans are unhappy about what has happened in Tibet and
want independence from China is a product manufactured in the West and
promoted by the dispossessed landlords who fled to India. Indeed, to believe
it is true stretches logic to its breaking point. Who really can believe
that a million former serfs - more than 90% of the population - are unhappy
about having the shackles of serfdom removed? They now care for their own
herds and farmland, marry whomever they wish without first getting their
landlord's permission, aren't punished for disrespecting these same
landlords, own their own homes, attend school, and have relatively modern
hospitals, paved roads, airports and modern industries.

An objective measure of this progress is found in the population statistics.
The Tibetan population has doubled since 1950, and the average Tibetan's
life span has risen from 36 years at that time to 65 years at present.

Of course some Tibetans are unhappy with their lot, but a little
investigation soon shows that they are, for the most part, people from
families who lost their landlord privileges. There is plenty of evidence
that the former serfs tell a quite different story.

You will find some Tibetans who hate the Hans (the majority nationality of
China) and some Hans who hate the Tibetans, a matter of ordinary ethnic
prejudice - something any American should be able to understand. But, this
doesn't represent a desire for an independent Tibet any more than black-
white hostilities in Washington, D.C., Detroit, or Boston represent a desire
on the part of most African-Americans to form a separate nation.

Tibetan Culture Today
The final part of the Tibetan myth has to do with Tibetan culture, which the
Dalai Lama's supporters say has been crushed by "the Chinese takeover of
Tibet." Culture is an area that requires great care because it is fraught
with biases and self-fulfilling judgments. The growth of television in
America, for example, is cited as killing American culture by some and as
enhancing it by others.

Regarding the field of literature, prior to 1950 Tibetans could point with
pride to only a few fine epics that had been passed down through the
centuries. Now that serfs can become authors, many new writers are producing
works of great quality; persons such as the poet Yedam Tsering and the
fiction writers Jampel Gyatso, Tashi Dawa, and Dondru Wangbum.

As for art, Tibet for centuries had produced nothing but repetitious
religious designs for temples. Now there are many fine artists, such as Bama
Tashi, who has been hailed in both France and Canada as a great modern
artist who combines Tibetan religious themes with modern pastoral images.

Tibet now has more than 30 professional song and dance ensembles, Tibetan
opera groups, and other theatrical troupes where none existed before 1950.

No, Tibetan culture is not dead; it is flourishing as never before.

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