Tibet & Xizang

May 28th, 2007

Basic Information

Population: 2.03 million

Capital: Lasa (Lhasa) 拉萨

Major cities: Lasa (Lhasa) 拉萨, Xigaze, Gyangze, Qamdo, Nyingchi, Gar

Nationalities: Tibetan (1.97 million), Han, Menba, Luoba, and Hui

Area: 1,200,000 square kilometers

History

In ancient times, the Tibetans on the plateau cultivated a close relationship with the Han and with other ethnic groups from the Chinese interior. In the 7th century, this relationship reached its peak when Srong-btsan Sgam-po(Songtsan Gambol, the king of the Tubo kingdom who ruled the Tibetan Plateau at that time twice sent envoys to the Tang Dynasty emperor to propose to Princess Wen Cheng who he later married. The Tibetans and Hans had through the marriage of their royal families and various meetings, formed close economic and cultural relations laying the groundwork for the ultimate foundation of a unified nation. In Lhasa the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the statue of Princess Wen Cheng is still enshrined and worshipped in the Potala Palace. The Monument to the Alliance between the Tibetans and the Han erected in the 9th century still stands in the square in front of the Jokhang Temple.

Relations between Tibet and China continued to develop afterwards. In the 13th century, the ruler of Tibet met a Yuan Dynasty prince and officiallydecided on the terms for Tibetan submission to China including presenting the prince with map and census books, the payment of tributes and the acceptance of rule by appointed officials. From then on. Tibet was an official administrative region of China. This happened 200 years before Colombus’ discovery of the Americas. In the following several hundred years,though there were shifts in the political power of the central government and the local Tibetan government alike, relations between them became more and more close, and Tibet’s position as an administrative region of China has never changed. Rulers of both the Ming Dynasty, founded in the 14th century, and the (Qing Dynasty founded in the 17th century were directly responsible for the appointment of Tibets’ local officials, as well as for the selection of high commissioners stationed in Tibet to supervise local administration on behalf of the central authorities.

The majority of Tibetans believe in Tibetan Buddhism of which many sects developed during Tibet’s long history. After the establishment of the (Qing Dynasty in the 17th century, the emperors granted honorific titles to the 5th Dalai Lama and the 5th Baingen Erdeni of the Gelukpa sect in 1653 and 1713 respectively henceforth officially establishing the titles of the Dalai Lama and the Baingen Erdeni and their political and religious status in Tibet. The Dalai Lama in Lhasa ruled most or Tibet while the Baingen Erdeni ruled the remaining area from Xigaze. The Chinese emperors also enacted regulations stipulating that the selection of children said to be the reincarnations of the Dalai Lama or Baingen Lama should be reported to the imperial court for approval, and that the central government would send high officials to supervise in person. The discovery of the 14th Dalai Lama who is in exile at present was indeed reported to the central government by the Tibetan local government in the traditional manner after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1940 the Chairman of the national government issued an official decree conferring the title of the Dalai Lama.

After the People’s Republic of China was founded, the central government notified local Tibetan authorities to send delegates to Beijing to negotiate the peaceful liberation of Tibet On 23rd May 1951 the 17-Article Agreement was signed after delegates from the central government and the local Tibetan government reached agreement on a series of questions concerning Tibet’s peaceful liberation. The Dalai Lama sent a telegram and the Baingen Lama issued a statement both supporting the 17-Article Agreement and expressing their desires tosafeguard the unification of the motherland and her territorial sovereignty.