As China recently stepped up its plan to shift the rural population of Tibet into industrial labour, another thread of strain was added to the relations between the two which have been in an alternating relationship with differing ideologies. Let us have a look at the history of Tibet and its relations with China.
Crux of the Matter
Recent Push Into Labour By China
China has reportedly increased the number of Tibetan rural labourers forced in military training camps, where they are trained to become factory workers. Recently, China claimed that ~500,000 people from Tibet (15% of its population) were trained from Jan to July 2020 in such camps. 50,000 of the total were sent to jobs inside Tibet while thousands were sent into labour in China.
Critics have claimed that the motive of such training camps is to eliminate the cultural influence of Tibet while indoctrinating Tibetans with Chinese ideology. These camps are compared to the detention camps in Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims are sent to forced labour.
History Of Tibet
- 620s AD: Songtsen Gampo became the ruler of Central Tibet. He married Princess Wencheng of the Tang dynasty (China) and founded major Buddhist temples like Jokhang and Ramoche in Tibet.
- 820s: Peace treaty between China and Tibet was signed after a period of conflict.
- 1042: Indian scholar Atisha travelled to Tibet and revived Buddhist teachings by inspiring the locals.
- 1240-44: Mongol prince Godan Khan invaded Tibet, who later converted to Buddhism in 1247. Peaceful relations between Mongols and Tibetans were established, with the latter retaining significant autonomy in the Mongolian empire.
- 1598: The title of ‘Dalai Lama’ was first given to High Lama Sonam Gyatso by Mongol King Altan Khan.
- 1720s: Mongols invaded Tibet. In return, the Manchu (Qing) dynasty of China defeated the Mongols but then appointed its officers to administer Tibet and annexed its Kham and Amdo regions.
- 1904: British forces from India invaded Tibet and forced to sign an agreement to prevent any Russian interference in the region. However, Britain acknowledged suzerainty of China over Tibet.
- 1913: Tibet reaffirmed its independence from both China and Britain.
- 1949: People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established by Communist leader Mao Zedong, who claimed Tibet as part of China.
- 1951: Tibet was forced to sign the “Seventeen Point Agreement” by China, which granted autonomy to the former but established Chinese military quarters in the capital Lhasa.
- 1959: The Dalai Lama was forced to take exile in India along with 80,000 followers as a revolt against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet, which was suppressed violently.
- Refuge for Dalai Lama has been cited as one of the reasons for the 1962 Indo-China war.
- 1963: Foreign visitors were banned in Tibet – opened back in 1971.
- 1965: Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) was established by China.
- 1966: The Cultural Revolution of China impacted Tibet, as Buddhist monasteries and entities were damaged.
Several talks of reconciliation have failed between the 2 groups since.
- Lhasa is a prefecture-level city, one of the main administrative divisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The population is well-served by primary schools and basic medical facilities, although more advanced facilities are lacking. Tibetan Buddhism and monastic life have been dominant aspects of the local culture since the 7th century.
- The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. The Chinese government rejects the notion of the Uyghurs being an indigenous group.
- The Militia is the militia part of the armed forces of China, other two parts being the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police (PAP). It is one of the largest militias in the world.