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The legitimacy of the current government of Tibet is not in doubt is is a country under the thumb of the totalitarian Chinese government.

As a matter of national pride and of expansionist muscle to the regimes of the Peoples Republic of China and of the Republic of China (with capital in Taipei, Taiwan), Tibet is clearly a territory of China. That territorial claim is one of the very few things that the PRC and ROC regimes can agree upon. For American practitioners of Realpolitik, the possession of Tibet by China is even less questioned than the possession of Taiwan by the PRC. To the people indigenous to Tibet, however, the Chinese have been unwanted suzerains for centuries. Like the indigenous populations in the Americas, the Tibetans have been almost entirely powerless to prevent the expropriation of their resources and the seizure of their lands by their militarily and economically more powerful invaders. Two periods have been exceptions, both periods when rule of China itself was not consolidated, which left Tibet sufficiently to itself that autonomy could be seized for relatively brief periods.

Despite the long-term success of the Chinese, the conditions of rule do not favor peaceful merging of populations for two reasons: (1) Culturally and linguistically the Tibetan people are vastly different from the Chinese. Until population pressure and geo-political concerns caused China to flood Tibet with unwelcome immigrants, Tibet was very thoroughly cut off from China and the rest of the world by its high elevation, its fierce climate, and its linguistic differences. (2) The primary religion of Tibet, although nominally Buddhist, is far different from the the principal kinds of Buddhism practiced in China and Japan. Buddhism changed when it entered China and melded with Daoism (Taoism) and Confucianism, and changed some more when it traveled on to Japan. But Buddhism also changed from its original forms when it was introduced to Tibet and accomodated itself to local forms of religious belief.

Because of the population pressure exerted by China, because of a continuing Chinese denial of the principle of "equality before the law," and because of economic realities faced by a people and a culture in daily contact with a much more powerful neighbor, there appears to be little hope for a bright future for autonomous Tibetans or an autonomous Tibet. However, if relations between India, Pakistan, and China could be improved, that might at least make Tibet of less military importance to China and gain it some margin of freedom for that reason.

If there is ever an effective world government, there may be some hope that Tibet could make a reality of its current "autonomous region" status.

For the Tibetan view on this question, see: http://www.tibet.com/WhitePaper/white1.htm

For the official U.S. position, see: http://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rpt/45015.htm

Many Tibetan refugees fled to Nepal and India.

08 uprising


See Also

The Chinese threat

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