05/01/2020 No. 155
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How Well Do You Know Tibet? Or More Importantly, How Well Do You Know the Media and Politicians? (I)
By Yi-Cheng Chang
July 1, 2008

In the Tang Dynasty (over 1100 years ago), Princess Wencheng (a daughter) of the Tang Emperor, was married to a tribe leader in Tibet. The relationship between the Tibetan and Han and other ethnic groups had been largely in harmony for over 1000 years. (Han is the majority ethnic group in China.)


Documents show that during the Yuan Dynasty (over 800 years ago), the central government of China in effect ruled Tibet.


In the Qing ("Ching") Dynasty (about 300 years ago) the central government had several officials in different parts of Tibet exercising the sovereign duty.  The Tibetan language was recognized by the Emperor as one of the five major languages of China.


The London Encyclopedia, 1833: Tibet was a part of China.


Colton's illustrated Cabinet Atlas, New York, 1858: Tibet was a part of China. 


A treaty signed by Britain and Russia in 1900 explicitly recognized that Tibet was part of China.


Q1:  Then, other than out of ignorance and naivety, or with conspiratorial intent, why do some people say "China invaded (or took over) Tibet in the 1950s" or "Tibet is not part of China"?!


In the 19th century and the first half part of the 20th century, China was bullied and devoured by several Western countries and Japan. 


In the 19th century, the British had enslaved India to grow opium and then sold opium to the Chinese.  The Chinese were made very sick and a lot of silver flowed out of China to England.  With the huge profits from selling opium and the extortionate compensations forced upon China for losing wars, the Western nations became much more prosperous. 


In the mid 19th century, British and French armies invaded Beijing (Peking), the capital of China, and looted and burned the Yuan Ming Garden, a fabulous royal garden which was a marvel of the world, down to the ground.  A famous French writer described this event as: Two thieves [France and Britain]...


Q2:  When some Westerners boast of their prosperity, wealth and so-called freedom, democracy and human rights, do they realize the suffering of the people who were victimized by the Western forces?


About 100 years ago, the British invaded Tibet and killed a lot of Tibetans in Lhasa with advanced fire arms.  A group of Qing (Ching) soldiers of the central government army refused to surrender.  They jumped off a cliff.  Then, the British actively interfered in Tibetan affairs, acted as advisors to the rulers in Lhasa and urged them to separate Tibet from China. 


Q3:  Why do some Westerners not want to give up the intention to separate Tibet from China?


In 1947, before the communists took over to rule China, representatives from Tibet already participated in the then ruling central government in Nanjing (Nanking) led by Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Nationalist or Kuomintang.


On October 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China was established in Beijing (Peking) and replaced the former government to rule China. 


When the new central government in Beijing tried to arrange a peaceful entry into Tibet of the new government army, the British broadcast from Lhasa encouraging Tibetans to separate from China.


The new central government was very patient and finally worked out an agreement with the Lhasa rulers so that its soldiers entered Lhasa quite peacefully in 1951.


Q4:  Why do the Western media and some politicians make people think that China invaded and took over Tibet by force?


The central government basically kept everything in Tibet unchanged, including the social structure and laws, the status, privilege, power and property of landlords and monks.


Social structure and laws?  Status, privilege, power and property? Here was the situation in Tibet then ---


Slavery was the social norm.  People were classified into three categories and nine grades in total.  About 400 landlords owned all the land and everything.


The serfs had no land.  The slave masters considered a slave as a piece of property that could be exchanged for a cow.  They could chop off a slave's limb or pull his eyeball out of the socket as punishment.  The slaves might sleep in cowsheds.  The slaves needed the master's permission to get married.  Their children would still be slaves that belonged to the masters.   A slave could be viewed by a slave master as a working animal that could talk.


Q5:  Should we restore this slavery system in Tibet?  Is this the free Tibet that some American and European people have in mind?


Religion and state were combined in one entity.  Religious leaders were also government leaders.  They and landlords were the law, the law makers and the law executors.   Some landlords might punish a slave whose shadow was cast onto the landlord.


Q6:  If the U.S. Constitution separates religion and state, then why do some American people want to support a theocratic regime in Tibet?


The cellar in a government building in Tibet was a jail cell, where 5 prisoners' limbs could be locked up in the holes carved out of a single log, and where scorpions crawled around the prisoners and bit them. Many prisoners, with chains to their legs, needed to beg for food in the street in order to survive.


Q7:  Are these the human rights that some American and European people have in mind for Tibetans?


Ironically, in the U.S, sometimes we may see a group of jail inmates cutting grass and picking up garbage along the sides of a freeway.  Why do the media, the politicians and  the so-called human rights advocates say nothing about this while they scream and yell that China uses jail inmates to produce goods (so that they can learn some skills and discipline which will be good for them after they return to the society upon completion of their jail terms)? Do you know how many repeat offenders are in U.S. jails?!


In the old Tibet, human skulls were made into bowls and used for rituals; child slave's skins were presented to high rank monks as birthday gifts; and slave skins were used to made drums. 


Q8:  Is this the culture that some American and European people want to restore and preserve in Tibet?


Parents tended to send their second or third boy to a monastery to become a monk and let him be stuck there for the rest of his life in the hope that the boy one day might become a high rank monk so that the family's fate could be improved.


Q9:  Is this the so-called freedom of religion? If this happened in America, would the ATF (the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) storm the monastery to get the little boys out? Would the ACF (The Administration for Children and Families) or another government agency put the parents in jail?Tibet?


Out of a total Tibetan population of 1.1 million fifty years ago, there were 120,000 monks, i.e., one in 8 or 9 was a monk. Excluding the young and the old, the working people needed to support the big population of non-producing monks.  The young monks spent their productive years in monasteries.


Even worse, the peasants and slaves still used wooden sticks or plows to till the soil in farming.  The productivity was so low while the taxes and fees to government and landlords were so high, that the serfs had very little left for themselves. If they had any savings, they would contribute most of their savings to make temples look gorgeous. 


Five percent of the population owned the whole fortune of the entire society.  Slaves had nothing.


Except for very few landlords and high rank monks, there was no such thing as education.  The illiteracy rate was 94%.  The life expectancy was only 36 years.


There was no such thing as public facilities, such as schools, hospitals, or even highways to connect to the outside world.


Q10:  Is this the Shangri-La that many Americans and Europeans fantasize about?


Q11:  Why do the media and some politicians want China to keep Tibet in a backward and primitive state?


Q12:  Why do the media and some politicians still dream of holding on to what the Westerners lost 50 years ago and not let people in China, including in Tibet, have a better, harmonious and peaceful life? 


Bon was the original religion in Tibet. Then Buddhism arrived from India, was Tibetanized and was adopted by the majority. 


There are over ten sects among Tibetan Buddhists. The Dalai Lama and the Banchan Lama are the leaders of two major sects.  Since the Dalai Lama has fled the country for over 50 years, much has changed in Tibet. He is not necessarily the present religious or spiritual leader for all Tibetans, even though the Western media and politicians make people think the Dalai Lama is the single leader of all Tibetans.


As a matter of fact, when the Dalai Lama visited and spoke at Colgate University in New York, on April 22, 2008, several hundred Buddhists of the Dorje Shugden sect of Tibet (some Tibetans, some Caucasians), protested the Dalai Lama's suppression of their sect. They shouted "Dalai Lama, stop lying!"


Q13:  Does the Dalai Lama really represent all Tibetans? Or is he an actor playing a soap opera written and directed by the Western media and politicians for the propaganda against China and the Chinese people?


A Dalai Lama was chosen not by experience, knowledge, ability, virtue or other leadership quality.  Instead, after a Dalai Lama died, a group of old monks and government officials used some complicated and mystical method to tell that a successor Dalai Lama would be in a village in a certain direction.  People then went to search and found a little boy who seemed smart.  This little boy then was taken to Lhasa as the new Dalai Lama.  The boy's family was awarded a lot of land and became a new member of the ruling class. 


Q14:  Is this the democracy that some American and European people have in mind?


As a matter of sovereignty, when the little boy was chosen as the new Dalai Lama, the decision needed the approval of the central government. When the current (14th) Dalai Lama was chosen, the local warlord was reluctant to let the little boy go to Lhasa.  The central government then helped by paying the local warlord a heavy sum. 


The 14th Dalai Lama was just a kid then.  The people surrounding him actually ruled until the Dalai Lama reached 18.  Even then, he was just a puppet controlled by the old guards of the existing slavery system who represented and preserved the interest of the landlords and high rank monks.


The Dalai Lama was put in an environment in which he would rarely have opportunity to see how badly and cruelly the serf masters treated the serfs.  He was out of touch with the real world.


Even though the current Dalai Lama is believed to have a kind heart and to fight for the well-being of the Tibetan people, he has been surrounded by the old force and backed by foreign interests for decades. So what he perceives as the Tibetan's well-being and what he has dreamt for the Tibetans may not be what the millions of Tibetans in Tibet today want and appreciate.


Q15:  Why do the media and some politicians in the U.S. and Western countries lead people to think that only the Dalai Lama knows what Tibetans in China want and how they can have a good life?


In 1951, A British reporter saw several hundred donkeys carrying weapons from India into Tibet.  Most Tibetans did not want to go to India because they did not trust the foreigners. 


In 1951, the U.S. ambassador in India wrote to the British government that the U.S. acknowledged Tibet is a part of China but would support Tibet's independence if the situation permitted.


In the 1950s, the CIA trained 170 Tibetans in Colorado to fight a guerrilla war in Tibet.  The CIA parachuted weapons into Tibet.  An American scholar once said that the U.S. knew that the money spent in Tibet would not lead Tibet to independence but was sufficient to give the central government of China a headache.


Q16:  Why should the U.S. mess up other countries' internal affairs?


Q17:  Would the American people feel happy if someone exhorted California to detach from the U.S.?


During the 1950s, the Dalai Lama had a satisfactory relationship with the central government.  He made trips to many places in China.  Even though China was barely getting out of long suffering from foreign invasions and was very poor, Tibet was even much worse.  He saw the need to build a better Tibet and Tibet needed the help from the central government and the people from other parts of China.  He decided to stay to build a better Tibet even though some urged him to get out.


Reform took place in areas surrounding Tibet. Serfs in those areas were liberated and started to taste and enjoy freedom.  Serfs were liberated and given land.  The system inside Tibet, however, was still kept intact according to the peace agreement signed by the central government and the Lhasa local government. Nevertheless, the central government brought in newer farming techniques into Tibet, built roads and bridges, schools and hospitals, shops and power plants.  Some landlords and Tibetan officials welcomed the changes.  Some felt a threat and tried to drive the central government out. The central government could start the reform only after the Dalai Lama and his group fled to India after their unsuccessful attack on the central government in March 1959.


In March 1959, the Dalai Lama went to an army camp for an entertainment party.  The old guards of the slavery system spread the rumor that the army planned to kidnap the Dalai Lama out of Tibet.  Then thousands of Tibetans reacted by attacking the army camp and the central government premises.  The high rank army commander was injured by this sudden turmoil.


The turmoil was later suppressed by the central government, which acted in the way that any responsible government of a sovereign nation in the world would do and should do.


Q18:  Why do the media and some politicians use double standards to negatively label the actions of the central government of China?


Some Tibetans fled to India.  They were the landlords and slave masters, high rank monks and Tibetan officials; some were their serfs and servants who had to follow their masters or who acted upon rumors and were misled by the old guard.  The U.S. and Western countries provided financial aid to support them.


It is hard to say whether the Dalai Lama fled voluntarily or involuntarily, with clear mind or in confusion.  Since after that he was given an active role in the anti-China operas and was surrounded by Tibetan separatists backed by foreign forces, he had to act as prescribed by the playwrights and directors.


Q19:  If the Dalai Lama did not act as the foreign forces wished, would he and his group be able to continue to receive financial aid and other support from the U.S. and other Western countries?


Q20:  If the Dalai Lama decided to give up his role in giving China headaches, or even if he stood up against the separatists, would the politicians and media in the U.S. and Western countries advocate to remove him, by using the pretext that he was not elected as a leader through the so-called democratic process that the U.S. and Western countries always demand other countries to follow?


Q21:  Then would the politicians and media question the legitimacy and ability of the Dalai Lama as the spiritual leader? Would he still be given high honors?


Q22:  Would the foreign forces try some ways to force the Dalai Lama out and institute another substitute? (Remember how the leaders in Vietnam, Chile, Grenada, Taiwan, Venezuela, Iraq and other countries were thrown out successfully or were unsuccessfully targeted for replacement by the U.S.?! ).


In 1974, Tibetan separatists tried to overthrow the Bhutan government in order to use Bhutan as a base to attack China.


Taking the window of opportunity to make trouble for China as the Olympic Games is approaching, recently, Tibetan separatist leaders fanned by the media and politicians in the U.S. and Europe, encouraged attacks on Chinese in Nepal. (Both Bhutan and Nepal are sovereign countries bordering Tibet on the south). They urged Tibetans in Tibet to attack the ethnic Han people.  Beating, crushing and burning took place in mid-March 2008.

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Y. C. Chang has been a Chicago based insurance and finance agent for over 25 years. He was admitted to Marquis'"Who's Who in Finance and Industry," "Who's Who among Human Services Professionals," "Who's Who in America' and "Who's Who in the World." Chang is a frequent contributor of articles on insurance subjects and a speaker in industry conferences. He has published a Chinese book Life Insurance Frankly and Truthfully in Beijing, 2007. He also writes articles on social events and community matters. Readers can reach him at wiseachang@yahoo.com, or fax 630-986-5941.
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