Tibet has struggled to remain independent of China for centuries.
Tibetans claim the Manchu (or Qing) Empire first became Tibet's overlord in 1720 when it installed the Seventh Dalai Lama, but this relationship was not rigorously defined and the Manchu made no effort to absorb Tibet as a province.
Tibetans paid no taxes to the Manchu, unlike Mongolia which is independent today. Tibet also maintained its legal and administrative systems with its own officials, while Chinese and Manchu authorities directly ruled Mongolia.
In the 19th century, the power of the Manchu government declined. The Dalai Lama returned to Tibet from India in July 1912 and expelled the Chinese officials and troops.
In 1913, the Dalai Lama issued a proclamation stating that the relationship between the Chinese emperor and Tibet "had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on the subordination of one to the other." "We are a small, religious, and independent nation," it said.
For the next thirty-six years, Tibet enjoyed de facto independence.
Following the victory of Mao Tse Tung’s communists, China reasserted control over Tibet. In October 1950 the People's Liberation Army invaded the Tibetan area of Chamdo. Some parts of Tibet were incorporated into provinces of China.
Full-scale resistance spread throughout Tibet, resulting in 1959 in the Dalai Lama fleeing. China began to collectivise the land and execute landlords.
In 1965 the area that had been under the control of the Dalai Lama's government from the 1910s to 1959 (Ü-Tsang and western Kham) was renamed the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR. Autonomy provided that the head of government would be an ethnic Tibetan; however, de facto power is held by the general secretary of the Communist Party who has always been a Han Chinese from outside of Tibet.
During the 1960s the monastic estates were broken up and secular education introduced. During the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards inflicted a campaign of organized vandalism against cultural sites in the entire PRC, including Tibet's Buddhist heritage. Thousands of monasteries in Tibet were destroyed and Buddhist monks and nuns killed, tortured or imprisoned.
Since 1979 there has been economic reform, but no political reform. Most religious freedoms have been officially restored provided the lamas do not challenge Chinese rule, renounce the Dalai Lama, and stay within dictated confines. The Chinese Government claims its rule over Tibet is a major improvement from the pre-1950 era of Tibetan feudalism. Others claim this has come at a very high cost.
In recent times, in an effort to incorporate Tibet into greater China, the Government has engaged in ethnic cleansing far exceeding anything that happened in the former Yugoslavia, persecuting and deporting native Tibetans while re-settling vast numbers of Han Chinese in an attempt to make Tibetans a minority in their own land.
Today in Tibet, according to Amnesty International, Buddhist monks and nuns are routinely beaten, tortured and killed by Chinese security forces to break the Tibetan peoples’ will to be free.
The Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile, continues to advocate non-violence and has repeatedly offered talks aimed at achieving peaceful co-existence. He has said he is willing to accept Tibet as part of China, but insists on Tibetan autonomy over its religious and cultural life. Other Tibetans demand complete independence.
As a party committed to freedom and dignity for all peoples, the LDP is committed to self-determination for the Tibetan people, including full independence if they choose.
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