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Tibet used to be an independent sovereign state that survived more than a thousand years of existence between two civilizations, China and India.

By Chin Jin - posted Monday, 14 March 2022

Tibet used to be an independent sovereign state that survived more than a thousand years of existence between two civilizations, China and India. Tibet thrived with a unique language, administrational governance, religion and culture. Tibet was annexed into Mongolia in mid thirteenth century when the Han Chinese Song dynasty was also conquered under the rule of Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan.

Tibet was then variously attached to, and detached from, the dynasties of proper China - namely: Yuan, Ming and Qing. The Hsin-hai Revolution of 1911 overthrew China's last imperial dynasty (the Qing dynasty), to establish the Republic of China (ROC) in 1912. All Chinese troops were expelled from Tibet, and the 13th Dalai Lama issued a proclamation that negated any form of subordinate relationship between Tibet and the Chinese emperor.

Tibet enjoyed a de facto independence for 38 years from 1912 to 1950, with little interference from China. Tibet neither proclaimed itself to the rest of the world, nor sought international recognition.


Communist troops invaded Tibet in 1950. A Seventeen Point Agreement which formalized China's sovereignty over Tibet was forcibly signed. Tibet sought for international support in vain. Only El Salvador voiced support, by denouncing the Chinese military action. The remainder of the entire world was silenced.

Since the 1959 Lhasa uprising, Tibetanspersisted in their armed resistance against the CCP's repression for more than a decade, until the CIA aid was cut off in early 1970s when the US Nixon administration adopted a new strategy, in alliance with Beijing, to contain Moscow. The latter was regarded at the time as the paramount threat, requiring a pairing of effort. In furtherance of this strategy, the US abandoned both Tibet and Taiwan.

The Middle Way Approach was then proposed, not to seek independence, but to achieve genuine autonomy within the framework of the People's Republic of China. A new page in the Free Tibet saga was turned, enabling Tibetans in exile to reach their eventual goal.

Tibetans have the world's prestigious spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who has always raised the aspirations of Tibetans and maintained a moral image for the Free Tibet movement.

Thanks to the tenacity and perseverance of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Tibetan culture has been saved from extinction. His efforts in guarding Dharma, and carrying Tibetan Buddhism to the southern foothills of the Himalayas, a place where the origin of Buddhism experienced both rise and decline, has made Buddhism flourish in the world - and has been widely recognized by the whole world.

The major powers in the world do not recognize Tibet as a sovereign state. Regardless of this, most exiled Tibetans respect the supreme prestige of the Dalai Lama and are willing to follow the proposed Middle Way Approach to seek genuine and meaningful autonomy within the framework of the PRC. However, the Tibetan independence movement is still very much a distinct, strong voice and it has a definite influence.


Objectively speaking, both the Free Tibet Movement and the Chinese Democracy Movement have mainly focused on human rights when confronting the CCP, calling on the international communities to pay attention to human rights' issues in China and Tibet. In response, leaders of the Western democracies repeatedly persuaded Beijing to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama - but there has been no further progress. To do that, it is necessary to have actual strength to make this demand, and neither our own democracy movement nor the Free Tibet movement have it.

For more than the 70 years since the establishment of the PRC, the United States and the West have shown they do not have the will nor moral wherewithal to help the Chinese democracy movement to promote China's political democratization, but prefer to maintain a relationship of cooperation with the CCP. They optimistically but rather foolishly have maintained the persistent belief that with the development of China's economy - freedom and democracy would naturally follow. This reveals how ignorant and naive the US presidents and elites of various kinds have long been, about China and the CCP.

The Tibetan issue has yielded no solution, for more than six decades. The core of the problem is the existence of a powerful, autocratic CCP-dominated regime. I used to have a different understanding of the issue, to that of Tibetans. In my opinion, the achievement of the ultimate aspiration of Tibetans, their long-cherished political wish, could only be achieved after the disintegration of the CCP regime. In short, my view was that the Tibetan dream could not be accomplished before the exit of the CCP from history's stage. The CCP itself poses an insurmountable obstacle.

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About the Author

Dr Chin Jin is a maverick, activist, campaigner, essayist, freelancer, researcher and organizer with the vision to foresee a new post-Chinese Communist regime era that will present more cooperatively, more constructively and more appropriately to the Asia Pacific region and even the world.

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