In 1965 the Chinese State Council, which is one of the highest legislative bodies in China after going through and studying reports submitted by the Preparatory Committee of the Autonomous Region of Tibet (PCART) announced that the 1st session of the People’s Congress of the Autonomous Region should be held on 1st September. This marked the establishment of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) which was an article of the now repudiated 17th Point Agreement, that stated “The Tibetan people have the right to exercise national autonomy under the unified leadership of the Central People’s Government”.
One may view from this that it was business as usual but dwelling deeper into it one can clearly see how
- Beijing had now firmly established itself in occupied Tibet.
- Divided Tibet from it being a Cholka Tsum region of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo into TAR – which comprises less than half of Independent Tibet.
- Making major inroads to Southern Tibet and slopes of the Himalayas as well which concerns sovereign Indian territory and with the recent development from Beijing releasing a map of China showcasing Arunachal Pradesh as part of their sovereign territory.
Three major things happened during that day on 1st of September, 1965.
- The Tibetan Autonomous Region – commonly referred to as TAR and is used interchangeably as Tibet, which is false came into being.
- The Regional Chinese Communist Party of Tibet was formed giving the Community party the foothold it needed in Tibet through an official front.
- The establishment of the Regional People’s Congress which saw people from the Monpas and Lopas group being represented in the new mainstream Chinese Polity. Very clearly indicating how they view them as part of China.
According to a speech by Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, who became the first Governor of Tibet (only TAR):
- It was through the crushing of the revolt – The Tibetan mass uprising and fighting against the illegally occupation by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
- Victory against India – the 1962 Sino-Indian war which left the Indian forces reeling with several territories including the Aksai Chin being captured to serve as a hinterland to the already acquired buffer zone of Tibet.
- Exposing the treacherous activities of the Panchen Clique – which was the dire condemnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, whom Beijing thought could be used as a puppet but back fired greatly through the official release of the 70,000 Character petition.
These were the main thorns against the establishment of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Once these were confronted and resolved to Beijing, the creation of this very new body became a formality, showcasing us very clearly how the creation of a new entity like the TAR was not easy and was meet with much resistance because it was based on idea of propaganda and did not have the support of the very people residing in it.
With this context now, one can understand how the Tibetan Autonomous Region came into being. I shall now discuss the strategies adopted and the major impacts it has had and continues to have with the Tibetans living under duress in this region and beyond. Beyond because Tibetans live and have their official sovereign territory larger that the geographical territory of the TAR as it covers territories of the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Kansu, Yunnan, Sichuan etc.
Divide and Rule:
The age-old strategy of Divide and rule implemented by many forces including the very imperialistic and colonial forces that the PRC despises and calls out is being ulitised here. Beijing has not only created a geographical border between Tibetans but has further created an administrative strangle hold that is impacting the very lives of Tibetans.
The Tibetans within TAR include the majority of the U-Tsang region and parts of Kham but has completely isolated and is bereft of Amdo, the very region that the current 14th Dalai Lama was born and brought up at. Furthermore, it was through these two regions that Buddhism once again was able to eventually flourish throughout Tibet once again after the dark ages of Tibet from the 9th and 10th Century.
This division has separated Tibetan families with the very entry to the TAR being subjected to heavy security while the Tibetan regions beyond it witness people being allowed to visit these areas without special issues of authorization from Beijing. Thereby through this very tactic creating a sense of differentiation among the Tibetans.
Creation of a Regional Detention:
In Tsering Shakya’s book “The Dragon in the Land of Snows” he mentions that though TAR should have ideally led to greater freedom and guarantee Tibet’s Culture Separateness, in reality it brought China closer to Tibet by confirming that it was no longer a “unique area” within the PRC. Describing that the degree of autonomy enjoyed by Tibet was determined by what China was willing to allow. He further refers here Sinologist George Moseley, who concluded that regional autonomy is opposite to what it implies with a better description to it being “Regional Detention.”
This is clearly the case with the current situation of the Tibetans living in TAR especially as they are under constant surveillance much heavier than their fellow Tibetans who live beyond TAR. This can also be proven by the fact that several crackdowns in Tibet occur in the Tibet regions beyond TAR in Kham and Amdo namely. Be it when it comes to the Self-Immolation protest, the county wide protest in Diru and the recent demolition of Drago County, which was covered and reported to the world by Free Tibet and Tibet Watch through their report “Desecration in Drago County: Destruction of Tibetan Religious Heritage, Arbitrary Detentions and Torture”. All of this occurs there because Beijing does not have them under the “Regional Detention” for that matter but still, just because you are a Tibetan even, they are targeted and looked regardless of whether you fall under the TAR purview of administration.
Yes, Beijing’s division of Tibet is paying great dividends to them as we witness the people of the free world and even official national directives use TAR and Tibet synonymously. Beijing has since taken the next step in putting Tibet in its pocket and that is by now simply wanting to wipe the term Tibet away from the world. They have more or less succeed in fooling the world that TAR is Tibet and now they want Xizang to be Tibet. This is major agenda under the current Polit bureau of the CCP and with Wang Huning leading this drive after getting the blessing of President Xi Jinping, it seems inevitable if we are to do nothing here.
We can also learn from this very division of Tibet how the goal of eventual annexation of Arunachal Pradesh is also a considered ploy from Beijing and current developments here certainly back this up.
The Tibetans in Tibet remain resolute and even if they settled and raised in Amdo, Kham and regions beyond TAR, they proudly display their Tibetan heritage and identity and this very identity is what Beijing wants to wipe away. A recent video of a Tibetan MMA fighter from Amdo having Tibet (Bhod in Tibetan script) has become viral and shows us whatever tactics that Beijing implements the resistance remains strong in Tibet and it is up to us now in the free world to support the Tibetans under occupation.
- The Dragon in the Land of Snow – by Tsering Shakya.
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