TIBET IS NESTED between the two ancient civilizations of central China and India, but the tangled mountain ranges of the Tibetan Plateau and the towering Himalayas serve to distance it from both. The Tibetan language is a member of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The monks speak Tibetan.
Tibetan history is characterized by a special dedication to the Buddhist religion, both in the eyes of its own people as well as the West. Tibet is nicknamed "the roof of the world."
While the Chinese leadership continues to claim that Tibet has always been a part of China, Tibet has a history of at least 1300 years of independence from China. In 821, China and Tibet ended almost 200 years of fighting with a treaty engraved on three stone pillars, one of which still stands in front of the Jokhang cathedral in Lhasa.
The treaty reads in part: Both Tibet and China shall keep the country and frontiers of which they are now possessed. The whole region to the East of that being the country of Great China and the whole region to the West being assuredly the country of Great Tibet, from either side there shall be no hostile invasion, and no seizure of territory... and in order that this agreement establishing a great era when Tibetans shall be happy in Tibet and Chinese shall be happy in China shall never be changed, the Three Jewels, the body of Saints, the sun and the moon, planets and stars have been invoked as witness.
The three stone pillars were erected, one outside the Chinese Emperor's palace, one on the border between the two countries, and one in Lhasa.
During the 13th and 14th centuries both China and Tibet came under the influence of the Mongol empire. China claims today that Tibet and China during that time became one country, by virtue of the Mongols domination of both nations. In validating this claim, it must first be remembered that virtually all of Asia was dominated by the Mongols under Kublai Khan and his successors, who ruled the largest empire in human history.
Second, the respective relationships between the Mongols and the Tibetans and between the Mongols and Chinese must be examined. These two relationships were not only radically different in nature, but they also started and ended at different times. Tibet came under Mongol influence before Kublai Khan's conquest of China and regaining complete independence from the Mongols several decades before China regained its independence.
China is acting like an over-sized cur dog once again with regards to the Tibetan people. What is their problem? We would like to know. What do they think they need from Tibetans that will enhance its stature domestically or internationally?
China, leave those people alone. You've got enough problems dealing with the industrialized air you breath already, managing your conversion to a market economy, policing the typically irate Muslims in your southwest provinces, and increasing the liberties of the billions of people who wish to be proud Chinese citizens.