Does the Dalai Lama work from the CIA?

That’s what China is claiming in an official document that deals a serious blow to recent hopes for some kind of rapprochement between the CCP and His Holiness.

An official Chinese commentary accused the Dalai Lama on Wednesday of collaborating with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, rejecting the Tibetan leader’s overtures and casting a shadow over fence-mending talks.

The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, has proposed a ‘Middle Way’ policy seeking autonomy but not independence for Tibet. But the online edition of the China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece, rejected the Dalai Lama’s overtures in an unsigned commentary.

“In the name of ‘organizing armed troops to fight their way back into Tibet’, he collaborated with the Indian military and American CIA to organize the ‘Indian Tibetan special border troops’,”‘ the commentary said without elaborating.

The CIA trained up to 400 Tibetan exiles at military bases in Colorado, Okinawa and Guam after the Dalai Lama fled into exile as part of a U.S.-funded guerrilla war against China, which occupied Tibet in 1950, the Chicago Tribune reported in 1997.

The guerrillas were parachuted back into Tibet where they waged an unsuccessful campaign against the Communists. American involvement ended in 1968 before detente between the two giants.

The commentary accused the Dalai Lama, a Nobel peace laureate, of building up a rebel army in Nepal, and setting up offices and organizations abroad that have fanned separatism.

Of course, anyone who stands up to the CCP, like our Falun Dafa friends, at some point is accused of working with or for the CIA, though in this instance it sounds like there might be at least some grounds for suspecting a connection, even if it occurred nearly 40 years ago. But the CIA and the rest of America became resigned to China’s “liberation” of Tibet decades ago, and the idea that the CIA would be collaborating with the Dalai Lama now is pretty ridiculous. (Collaborating to achieve what?)

Via CDT.

The Discussion: 68 Comments

I don’t think that it matters WHAT they are accusing him of. There are undoubtedly many in the CCP who would prefer to just wait it out until he dies and they can appoint their own Dalai Lama.

July 26, 2006 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

Dalai Lama can’t be working for the CIA.

The New York Times would have blown it into the open by now.

July 26, 2006 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

Any lie, repeated enough, becomes truth to those who hear it.

July 26, 2006 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

I don’t see why the DL, as well as the Vatican, continue the charade of “negotiations.”
The KMT held negotiations and worked with these guys in the 30s/ 40s. It didn’t work out so well for them. Continues to this day.

July 26, 2006 @ 11:46 pm | Comment

God, China’s propanda whores are so fathomlessly ignorant. Obviously they don’t even communicate with China’s own intelligence organs, or else they would know that the LAST thing any American intelligence operatives want is for any more instability in the part of China which borders on the powder keg of Central Asia.


July 26, 2006 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

China Daily website f**ks up again!!! There is so much crap on there that shouldn’t be there, i bet this was a mistake. It drags down the good name of us legitimate, hard-working propaganda whores!

July 27, 2006 @ 12:08 am | Comment

No mistake on behalf of China Daily. This poisonous diatribe is exactly the sort of “position statement” that the mouthpiece is designed to convey, imbetween the sports results and barenaked models.
This vehement denunciation is a sign of exactly how much the Zhongnanhai fears the old monk.

July 27, 2006 @ 1:26 am | Comment

Much as I disdain the CCP’s propaganda machine, from what I’ve been reading in history books there was a indeed covert anti-PRC effort in Tibet during the cold war.

Both the CIA and certainly India clandestinely supplied and trained Tibetan commandos. In the event China began to behave belligerently, they’d be deployed in order to destabilise it. Tibet is of enormous strategic significance in Asia since it controls the high ground and is the source of a number of rivers crucial for water and hydroelectric supply across the continent.

However, after the open door policy of 1978 and China’s economic boom, this policy was superseded by one of rapprochment and the covert activity stepped down. So why it’s being brought up again now I don’t know.

The book I’m reading is ‘Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the 20th Century’ by John Garver, Washington University Press.

July 27, 2006 @ 2:01 am | Comment

As I said in the post, there’s definitely grounds for suspicions of CIA complicity with the Tibetan rebels – 40 years ago. Times have changed, and the last thing our Big Business president wants to do is wreak havoc in China, especially over a hopeless cause like “Free Tibet.”

July 27, 2006 @ 2:38 am | Comment

I’ve read one book which writen by Dalai Lama himself. in this book he confirmed that the India and CIA helped him training the militants in the 60’s. Dalai Lama never denied this truth. But this is different from Dalia Lama’s working for CIA. CCP is demoralizing Dalai Lama by using same strategies as discrediting democratic movementers. they never provide any evidences to support their accusation against others.

July 27, 2006 @ 2:50 am | Comment

We Tibetans have been suffered under CP, I strongly support DL. He is the number one in the world.

July 27, 2006 @ 3:06 am | Comment

Tsering, I admire the Dalai Lama, but I also am a realist who believes the “Free Tibet” movement is as good as dead. The best we can hope for is a reconciliation of the DL with China’s leaders so he can return home and enjoy a degree of autonomy. But today’s CIA story tells me China has no such intentions.

July 27, 2006 @ 3:36 am | Comment

DL has worked with CIA to set up troops in india and sent them back to tibet. CIA help DL to achieve their own goals and i think it’s OK to accuse DL to “work for CIA”.

talking about propaganda, i have to say that “free tibet” produced the same amount of propaganda craps as the ccp, while ccp stopped such propaganda after 1979, “free tibet” continued its own and fooled a lot.

July 27, 2006 @ 3:46 am | Comment

Please read my comment carefully. the time when CIA and India helped DL is in the 60’s, not 90’s and 2000’s.

DL is a monk who deeply believes in Buddhism. Resorting to peace is a basic standard when one Buddhism is coming into conflict with others. Please go to one book store and read his autobiography, you may find “another” Dalai Lama, very different from the one who portraited by CCP.

July 27, 2006 @ 3:55 am | Comment

Bingfeng, you and I are basically saying the same thing. I don’t like the fact that China “liberated” Tibet, but I also don’t like the BS of the “Free Tibet” movement, which appeals to people’s sentimentaltiy and misconceptions of what Tibet is all about.

July 27, 2006 @ 3:55 am | Comment


i have DL’s autobio in my laptop, he is a nice guy and a noble soul.

the fact is that DL has worked with CIA and still keeps connections with CIA today, althought he sees more hope from chinese dissidents in recent years and tries to build up alliance with them, the connection with CIA is still there.

July 27, 2006 @ 4:03 am | Comment

the problem with DL is that he lost credibility in front of chinese government.

i truely believe that tibetans should regain the rights of autonomy and that han chinese are willing to give that to tibet as long as the security concerns of the “core china” are answered. theese two goals are not mutually exclusive, but there must be some trust between the two sides, and the “free tibet” represented by DL seems not the right one to talk to

July 27, 2006 @ 4:12 am | Comment


i have the greatest respect for tibetan people and am deeply saddened for their sufferings in 1960s and early 1970s. han chinese and tibetans are the victims of the same political abuse and we should not see each other as enemies.

July 27, 2006 @ 4:20 am | Comment

Isn’t it interesting that the commentary came so soon after this:

From the Washington Post, July 18

“BEIJING (Reuters) – Thousands of Buddhists have converged on a Buddhist monastery in western China mistakenly thinking the Dalai Lama would be there, underscoring the devotion many feel toward Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.

Tibet activists and the government-in-exile said up to 9,000 had converged on Kumbum Monastery — known in Chinese as Taersi — in Qinghai province, which encompasses part of the Tibetan plateau and is home to a large ethnic-Tibetan population.”

There has been speculation that the Chinese government released the rumors to “test” the Tibetan response to a possible Dalai Lama visit.

July 27, 2006 @ 4:31 am | Comment

BF, while I agree with most of what you say, you have to rexplain how you know the DL “still keeps connections with CIA today.” I remember when you insisted the Falun Dafa are supported by the CIA with no evidence. Is this just another hunch, or do you have a solid reason for believing this?

July 27, 2006 @ 4:33 am | Comment

(Long groan….)

All I will say is, that today’s CIA is a mere feeble shadow of what it used to be until GW Bush destroyed it.

And today’s CIA could not foment any kind of revolution in Tibet even if they had magical powers.

Today’s CIA have zero percent influence on Tibet. Zero. Zero. Today’s CIA is a hollow shell of what it used to be, thanks to GW Bush and the idiots of his administration.

July 27, 2006 @ 5:31 am | Comment

do not know about Dalai Lama but the chinese students demonstrating at the T square were definitely part of the CIA

July 27, 2006 @ 6:16 am | Comment

I have no objections on your comment except one point that you claimed “Dalai Lama is working for CIA”.
I doubt this. my doubt is based on the no-evidence the china daily offers.

July 27, 2006 @ 6:28 am | Comment

“students demonstrating at the T square were definitely part of the CIA”

Yeah, and if you believe that, I’ve got a Great Wall to sell ya!

Link please, because I’m pretty sure you’re full of shit.

The fact that the CCP can’t reach some kind of agreement with the DL, one of the most accommodating, principled and gentle souls ever to lead a nation just shows how obtuse, immoral and savage the CCP really is.

July 27, 2006 @ 6:32 am | Comment


there are some “internal publications” circulated within certain levels of officials, articles are from overseas media and the latest movements of “free tibet” are always tracked as one of the hot spots. it’s said that india and cia gradually reduced their financing to “free tibet” but cia still keeps a working relationship with DL

the IB,

DL as an individual is quite different from the “free tibet” movement.

for example, DL is a non-violence believer but many of his fellowers launched terrorist attacks towards civilians in tibet.

in a higher level, DL may say nice words in front of the world but his movement is not so nice towards chinese governement and tibetan people, certainly you won’t know that because the media you read won’t report the nasty sides of DL’s movement.

July 27, 2006 @ 7:35 am | Comment

I think some of you are pretty naive. I do not subscribe to any moronic belief that the CIA is trying to create an independent Tibet today. But I also believe that to “contain” China’s rise, there are some elements in the US government who would like to hype the Tibetan movement as much as possible. Why? To portray China negatively will make it more difficult for China to pursue normal or even friendly relations with other countries (or their populace). So, if either helping give press to the Dalai Lama’s cause, or giving him advice or even funnelling money to him (for non-violent activities) will help this, the Pentagon will likely try. Remember how the US hyped the threat of China’s military rise as a destabilizing or aggressive force in Asia and managed to get a number of Southeast Asian nations and Japan to “worry” along with them?

As for the DL, I’m a big subscriber to the belief that everyone is flawed (even Mother Theresa, Gandhi, etc.), and the DL is certainly more flawed than some. For example, he has often been dishonest in his portrayal of things relating to China, India & the US. That is, before the current reproachment with China, most Chinese activities were described very negatively, whereas almost everything India and the US does gets a free pass or his support. I, of course, understand why he does that. He does have a cause to advocate, after all. The fault lies with the media here. And as a pacifist, he’s not much of one. He’s refused to condemn the current US war in Iraq. He almost certainly gave a nod to a violent guerilla movement in Tibet, while he was working with the CCP. Unless you believe that the guerillas were going to peacefully resist the Chinese occupation? It seems to be one of the founding myths of the pro-Tibetan movement that the Tibetans were all peaceful and didn’t fight, while the Chinese brutally gunned them down. From what I read, even monks fought and monasteries were used as rebel bases. The list goes on. I think a person like Pope John Paul II is a far better human being and more deserving of the near-universal acclaim that the DL gets. Although, as I said earlier, even he has flaws.

July 27, 2006 @ 7:48 am | Comment

As a Tibetan what I liked about this latest Chinese propaganda is that it confirms that there is serious discussions going on between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government.

Since His Holiness has said he was not asking for the restoration of Tibetan independence but the rights of the Tibetan people under the “Constitution of PRC” the Chinese side finds it difficult to challenge this. Therefore, they are resorting to the media to create confusion, distortion and divert the issue.

Take the case of CIA involvement, for example. The Dalai Lama, as someone has rightly pointed out, does not deny past involvement of the CIA with a Tibetan Guerilla group. But that involvement ended in the early 1970s when the Tibetan group was left high and dry. Today, even if the CIA extends a hand the Tibetans will not accept it.

July 27, 2006 @ 1:30 pm | Comment

Give a separatist an inch, and he will demand a yard. Likewise offer him a hand, and he will demand the entire arm. Autonomy > Independence > US military Installations. I for one am glad that the PRC is at present heeding this lesson well. It would have served the Israeli’s better if they had heeded these words and told their neighbours to eat sh*t rather than cede territory. That way they could have avoided this entire mess.

July 27, 2006 @ 2:12 pm | Comment

I have to ask one question: does “accepting CIA’s finacial help in the 1960’s” eqaul to “working for CIA”?

July 27, 2006 @ 6:18 pm | Comment

Dalai Lama is a respectful person. He is like Mohammed Gandi. Of course, he is a political opponent of China, so I hope he dies very soon and this Tibet problem will be greatly simplified. But I admire him very much.

July 27, 2006 @ 7:02 pm | Comment

there are some “internal publications” circulated within certain levels of officials, articles are from overseas media and the latest movements of “free tibet” are always tracked as one of the hot spots. it’s said that india and cia gradually reduced their financing to “free tibet” but cia still keeps a working relationship with DL

Bingfeng, if you’re in a position to describe what these articles say and who published them, or where they might be found (since they are from overseas media, not Chinese) I for one would be interested.

July 27, 2006 @ 7:16 pm | Comment

Dalai Lama may or may not be co-operating with the CIA. But I really have to wonder: why is it that the media over here accuses people of working for the CIA all the time? Dalai Lama, TAM students… why must it be the CIA, and not anything else? The thing about this charge is that it’s almost impossible to verify, but easy to believe.

To the average mind over here, it’s much easier to think that the people calling for change (whether or not this change is good) are working for the CIA, purposely sowing discord. If they were one of “us”, their opinions should be considered (but of course these opinions would make them face some things they’d rather not, such as the fact that change is needed); but if they’re working for the CIA, they’re one of “them”, who “just don’t want to see China become great”, and so may be ignored.

July 27, 2006 @ 7:49 pm | Comment


i need to go back and find out the exact article that reports the DL getting help from CIA. most likely it’s from hongkong newspapers.


one thing i am very interested in is how much of the “other side” of the tibet issue tibetans know. for example, have you read books like Wang Li-xiong’s “the fate of tibet”?

the current proposal of DL’s autonomous “greater tibet” will occupy almoust 50% of chinese territory, a lot of which are inhabited by han chinese and other minorities. do you think that is fair.

after 1979, the chinese government made a lot of compromise in tibet and but situations soured there, sometimes i have to ask if it’s the “free tibet” that cause the deadlock

July 27, 2006 @ 7:51 pm | Comment


CIA to chinese is like CCP to americans, they are both a birthmark for evil, crime and darkness.

“hey, he works for CIA” or “hey, he is a CCP apologist” is equally lethal to the person accused by chinese or by americans.

in one word, this is stupid and an old trick favored by cold-war mentality

July 27, 2006 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

BF brings up a good point when he says that the autonomous “greater tibet” encompasses almost 50% of China’s territory. Apparently they want double of what Tibet currently is; also, a lot of that land has already been swamped and settled by Han Chinese. It’d be like Mexico asking for Arizona, California, Texas, etc. The resettlement issues would be huge, and hugely unfair to the Chinese that have already moved there.

Also, on the CIA thing, I really don’t think the DL is really of any use anymore. Everyone protests, (when I was in college, it was a fad to protest Tibet–my first ex was a huge fan of the DL, in fact) but nobody really gives a shit. Not even the DL’s own people really listen to him–Tibetan expats talk about blowing up the QZ railroad, the DL tells’em to shut it, and they keep on bloviating. It’s retarded.

If the CIA really wanted to use him, they’d prepare a successor and stage a PR-generating mercy killing, some really obvious assasination thing like a car bomb (preferably with collateral damage) then plant evidence blaming it on the MSS or something.

July 27, 2006 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

I look at some of the issues raised here this way.

If the Chinese government and people who subscribe to its view about Tibet want to hide the problems under the carpet under the pretext of not giving in to “Free Tibet” activists that is their call. But that will not make the Tibetan problem go away.

One of the charges of the Chinese side against His Holiness the Dalai Lama is that he is asking for a sizable portion of the territory of China for Tibet (it is more than 50 per cent). To say the least this is a distortion of the Dalai Lama’s position.

When the Dalai Lama has chosen not to raise the issue of Tibetan independence, where is the question of separating the area, even if the Chinese claim is correct, from China. What the Dalai Lama is asking for is the rights of all the Tibetan people who live in China today. That is guaranteed even in the Chinese Constitution, but is not implemented.

If you choose to describe “Tibet” as just being the Tibet Autonomous Region, then the Dalai Lama is not from Tibet because he comes from Qinghai. Then more than half the Tibetan population are not from Tibet.

I think the Chinese Government is merely finding excuses not to address the problem in Tibet.

Today the excuse is greater Tibet and the CIA, tomorrow it will be something else.

July 28, 2006 @ 2:00 pm | Comment

When the Dalai Lama has chosen not to raise the issue of Tibetan independence, where is the question of separating the area, even if the Chinese claim is correct, from China. What the Dalai Lama is asking for is the rights of all the Tibetan people who live in China today. That is guaranteed even in the Chinese Constitution, but is not implemented.

And herein lies the crux of the issue. Rights and freedoms under Tibet’s Autonomous Region status are circumscribed to begin with, and those that are constitutionally-enshrined are frequently not enforced.

July 28, 2006 @ 4:01 pm | Comment


“When the Dalai Lama has chosen not to raise the issue of Tibetan independence, where is the question of separating the area, even if the Chinese claim is correct, from China.”

i am sure that not all overseas tibetans are as smart as DL, what if 50% of current chinese territories ask for independence 5 years after DL passes away?

“What the Dalai Lama is asking for is the rights of all the Tibetan people who live in China today.”

the claim is justified, however, there are different opinions as how to protect the rights of tibetan people. 21.89¢H of Qinghai population are tibetans, another 25% are other minorities and 53% of Qinghai populations are han people.

DL’s “greater tibet” plan thinks that Qinhai should be part of the “greater tibet” so that 21.89% of the population’s rights can be protect, i don’t think that is fair.

“I think the Chinese Government is merely finding excuses not to address the problem in Tibet.”

maybe, part of the reason is that “free tibet” movement lost credibility when chinese government wants to make compromise and make things move, the same is also true in the chinese side, and this becomes a vicious cycle

July 28, 2006 @ 8:34 pm | Comment


You raise a pertinent issue. Your citation of the population statistics in Qinghai actually supports the concerns that Tibetans are expressing about the possible loss of their identity. Even if there is no agreement on the past independent status of Tibet no one can dispute that historically Qinghai was a Tibetan area, predominantly populated by Tibetans.

Today, Tibetans are fast becoming a minority there because of the migration of Han and other people through the past many decades.

As for the issue of guarantee, no one can guarantee the future of anything, least of all of a nation. However, a great deal depends on the Chinese Government policies of today on how Tibetans of the future will approach the issue of their status. That can be certain.

July 29, 2006 @ 5:25 pm | Comment


as i can remember, qinghai (plus ando?) and western part of sichuan, although have a lot of tibetan dwellers, are never under the rule of Dalai Lama. correct me if i am wrong.

as for the issue of population, statistics says that the largest population increases of tibetans in history occured during 1950-1960s and 1980s-1990s. and if you are honest enough, you will admit that chinese government has never adopted a policy to make tibetan people extinct, on the contrary, the official “one-child policy” is not applicable to tibetan people, which is obviously intented to encourage the share increase of tibetan populations.

the as for the “decreasing population”, losing of identity,

July 29, 2006 @ 8:55 pm | Comment


there are many reasons why tibetans become minority in qinghai and are losing their identity. even if tibet is ruled by DL, these problems will still remain as long as tibet is not closed (geographically, culturally and economically), and in 21st century, it’s impossible for tibet to be closed and untouched by the outside world.

it has some political values for “free tibet” movement to accuse chinese government for all these problems, but such politics doesn’t help understanding and solving these problems.

July 29, 2006 @ 9:10 pm | Comment


no one and no excuse can deny tibetan people’s right of determining their own fate, and in the meantime, tibetan issue need to be resolved in a bigger framework that answers the concerns and protects the interests of the rest of china.

personally i find it very difficult for the current two sides to build up a trusting relationship and develop a foward-looking “frame” that can move things on.

July 29, 2006 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

OMFG, China’s propaganda whores are at it again, how could the peaceful DL ever work for CIA?!!

oh wait … he did, by his own admission. It’s not he “may or may not” have, as someone tried to hard to spin and confuse the issue here, but he did cooperate with CIA in the 70s.

In fact, he’s still taking $$$ from NED, earlier. His so called government-in-exile depends on funding from so called Non-government organization like NED.

If you don’t know what NED means or about, just ask someone from CIA, or DL, since he has an excellent working relation with them.

July 30, 2006 @ 4:01 am | Comment

Bing, did you read my post? The article acknowledges the Tibetan rebels in exile did indeed have ties to the CIA – that’s not Communist propaganda, it’s truth. We always strive for the truth here.

July 30, 2006 @ 6:09 am | Comment

I am responding to Bingfeng in good faith.

Iit is a historical truth that the Amdo region formed part of Tibet for several centuries. You just have to read history. It is also a truth that prior to coming under the Chinese Communists, Amdo areas were separated from Lhasa and were being ruled by local warlords.

What we are talking about is not what belongs to Tibet, but the rights of the Tibetan people.

I will come to population and other statistics later.

July 30, 2006 @ 12:52 pm | Comment


Before I am accused of indulging in propaganda let me expand on my statement that Amdo was once part of Tibet. By this I do not mean when the Communist Chinese invaded Tibet, Amdo was part of Tibet. As I mentioned earlier, by the late 19th century the Amdo areas were not under the control of Lhasa.

But during the time of the Tibetan Royal Kings, Amdo was definited part of the Tibetan empire. This identification with Lhasa continues to this day even though different political rulers have held sway over the area.

Let me also say that even though Amdo areas were not part of Tibet in 1949, neither was the area under the complete control of the KMT, the precursor of the CCP.

July 30, 2006 @ 12:59 pm | Comment


thanks for the clarifications.

i hope you don’t mind that i have re-posted the comment exchanges between us in my blog. such conversations are rare and might be interesting to readers from china and other places.

here is my thoughts on your latest comment:

your last paragraph could fairly summerize the nature of tibet-china relationship. the opposite is also true – amdo has both tibetan and han chinese influences. as a matter of fact, in qing dynasty, tibet enjoyed a highly autonomous status at the same time it was part of china. some researchers indicated that both sides were happy with such ambiguous arrangements because both could get what they want from such a “framework”.

when british empire first encountered tibet, they were puzzled by such arrangements and found it difficult to fit tibet into their world of nation state with absolute sovereignty.

i am sure amdo’s way of existence is equally incomprehensible to modern(western) minds.

one opinion (Wang Lixiong) thinks that tibet only becomes a problem after modern day concept of sovereignty is introduced and both chinese government and tibetans want to clearly define the boundaries of sovereignty for tibet. both have pushed the other sides too hard and there is no possibility for a solution with ambiguous arrangements (or, autonomy).

it’s a cul-de-sac. according to various documents in history and connectins and existence, china has the sovereign rights over tibet and in the meantime, tibet has many characteristics of an independent state.

July 31, 2006 @ 1:20 am | Comment


it’s quite obvious to every one that “free tibet” movement will ask for more as soon as their demand for autonomy is satisfied. considering this, it’s quite understandable that chinese government refuses to talk with “free tibet” movement.

in my view, both sides place the politics above the well-beings of tibetan people and forget what their politics for. and playing politics of the modern day language of sovereignty state makes the whole issue a deadlock without any hope of settlement.

July 31, 2006 @ 1:40 am | Comment


Dalai Lama has great wisdom and has been trying to “think out of the box” and to find other “frame” to move things on. if i am correct, DL bet on china’s democratization and hoped that a more democratized china will find a way out. the weakness of this plan is he bet on the wrong persons, overseas chinese democracy movement are out of touch with china’s reality and momentum and has no influence in the short or longer term over the route of china.

some overseas tibetans suggested to launch terrorist attacks to get more bargain powers, which in my opinion is very stupid.

my impressions are that the energies and wisdom of overseas tibetans are all channelled into the current “frame”.

in my own experience, the most dangerous factor that could ruin a business is the strong desire to make money. sometime i asked my partners to relax a little bit and forget about return and just enjoy the process, and usually it turns out that such approach is much better than working hard for short-term profitability.

is it possible that you guys do something to help the development of tibet, to get involved into the dynamics of today’s tibet, in this way to build up trusting relations with chinese government, and in this way reduce the confrontational attitute of both sides?

i don’t know.

July 31, 2006 @ 2:14 am | Comment


No problem in reposting this discussion on your blog. Let me know the link, too.

I think people will understand the set up existing in Tibetan areas prior to 1949 a little better if they know the general situation in that part of the world. The political system and concept that was engrossing the political leadership in the rest of the world were foreign to the Tibetan leaders. On account of the isolationist policies of the Tibetan leaders, led by the monks and other conservative groups, Tibetans had a frog-in-the-well view of the situation. Everyone was complacent with the situation. People had freedom even though there was not much of a material development. Local officials were using their authority at whim without there being any system of real accountability in place. To Tibetans it did not matter that rulers in far-off China were claiming Tibet as their territory for many years. In real terms there was no Chinese influence in their day-to-life.

The relationship between Tibet and China through the years before 1949 is somewhat similar to the relationship that Bhutan, Ladakh and Sikkim had with Tibet. Just as China laid claims over Tibet, Tibetan rulers had this idea/impression/opinion that Bhutan, ladakh and Sikkim had some sort of allegiance to Tibet. In fact there were annual trips by Bhutanese and Ladakhis to “pay homage” to the Tibetan ruler in Lhasa. Does that not ring a bell about a similar tradition with the Middle Kingdom?

Similarly, the chiefdoms in Amdo and Kham area had a loose relationship with Lhasa. If asked people in these areas might defend their independence (in fact many of these areas are referred to as kingdoms and the leaders as kings and queens.) but at the same time they will show affinity with Lhasa.

As for the issue of what some people might do in the future about a free Tibet, we should realise that the world is changing. In some time in the future, may be even people of Shanghai will demand to be separate if it suits their economic and material interest. Compared to the people in Shanghai the Tibetans have a far greater case for independence.

I feel the Chinese leaders of today lack enough courage to take steps. They always tend to suspects the Tibetans are upto something. We Tibetans have a saying, “Tibetans are duped by hope, Chinese are duped by suspicion.” The saying holds true.

July 31, 2006 @ 11:23 am | Comment

Tenzin, I admire your composure and eloquence in your argument for a cause that is obviously very close to your heart.

it’s a cul-de-sac. according to various documents in history and connectins and existence, china has the sovereign rights over tibet

No, it did not. Suzerainty is not the same thing as sovereignty, as defined by current international law. If we confuse the two definitions, then every country that ever was under China’s tribute system of (i.e. Korea, Okinawa, Vietnam, etc) ought to have its statehood revoked. Of course, quibbling over historical claims is somewhat of a moot point, now that it’s being 50+ years since the CCP invaded Tibet and the prospect of full legal sovereignty for Tibet is dim, but it must be said that China had no legitimate claim, regardless of whether we’re working with CCP-era boundaries, Republican-era boundaries, middle-Qing boundaries, or even earlier.

And this is coming from somehow who generally harbours pro-China sympathies.

July 31, 2006 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

Whups, “someone”, not “somehow”.

July 31, 2006 @ 12:43 pm | Comment

Sorry for spamming the board, but just one more comment, on the possibility of Shanghai seceding from teh rest of China:

Bingfeng is Shanghainese, I believe. 😉

July 31, 2006 @ 12:48 pm | Comment


the link:

i will come back later today

July 31, 2006 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

i have some work to finish tonight, will do the response later. sorry.

August 1, 2006 @ 6:02 am | Comment

nausica, I think china probably has a more legitimate claim to tibet than the europeans to america.

as to the issue of independence, it seems like people have missed the point. at any time, there are scores and scores of people who would like to separate from the country they’re in now. india has at least a dozen. check out wikipedia’s incomplete list of these movements:

whether a people/group manage to make their own country sometimes has little to do with their desire or their historical rights. in other words, tibet is one in a long list, but it just happens to be the most popular and appealing one in the west.

August 1, 2006 @ 9:18 am | Comment

Something seems to be strange. The reposting of Bingfeng’s conversation with me on Peking Duck on his blog is missing. Instead you get a message saying “The entry could not be found or has been removed”
Any idea, Bingfeng?

August 3, 2006 @ 8:14 am | Comment


sorry for my late reply.

i have to disagree with your analogy of tibet-china relations to bhutan-tibet relations. one of the most frequently cited document regarding the china-tibet relationship is the “29 rules of dealing with tibet made by imperial order”, which is approved by the emperor and lhasa in 1793. i translated some of the specific items as fellows:

item 1 – (the central government has the right) to establish the identities of Dalai Lama and Panchan Lama

item 2 – to administer the immigration and emigration affaris

item 3 – to supervise the coinage in tibet

item 5 – to appoint military officers in tibet

item 6 – tibetan soldiers are paid by ��tibet ministers�� of the central government in tibet

item 8 – to examine the incomes and expenses of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama

item 10 – the “tibet minister” has the same rights with Dalai in tibet adminsistration, and all tibetan monks and non-monks need to comply with the “tibet minister”

item 11 – to appoint tibetan officials in each region

item 14 – to take the responsibilities of diplomacy

item 15 – to decide the borders

item 20 – to decide the taxation

item 21 – to relieve the labor service

item 25 – to punish criminals

there are counter-arguments, like this commentator from peking duck blog says, “Suzerainty is not the same thing as sovereignty, as defined by current international law.”

well, if the central government of china in Qing dynasty failed to carry out most of the powers listed in the document above, then it is no doubt a suzerainty, otherwise, it’s more like a sovereignty than a suzerainty. i��m sure these powers are not fully carried out but how much have been done there by the central government, there are different interpretations. and today, morality aside, chinese government has obviously sovereign rights in tibet.

i have been trying to convince myself that chinese government is totally wrong in saying that china has the sovereignty in tibet, but i find the claim quite problematic. and i’d rather believe that the relationship can not be summarized by just one word or one model.

arguing over history makes both sides defensive and closed to new “frameworks” and “roadmaps” and forget we can work for the future rather than for the past, and like what i said be3fore, whaqt all these are related with the well-beings of the tibetan people? they both suffered in hte hands of Lhasa and beijing, and they have much better lives today under the “communist” chinese rule than they had under any tibetan rule in history.

the right for nationality autonomy is self-evident and no excuse can deny it, and if we live in a black-and-white world, i will support the self-determination of tibetan people, but there are many other factors intertwined with tibet issue.

August 3, 2006 @ 8:24 am | Comment


don’t worry, it has nothing to do with censorship

i “hide” the post to do some editing and write a new reply to you.

look forward to your comments, my friend.

ps – i will travel over weekend so probably i won’t come back to you until next monday.

August 3, 2006 @ 8:30 am | Comment


For a moment I had this vision of the hands of Beijing reaching out to your blog, too, because in the past few days we are hearing about the closure of websites and blogs, including one on Tibet being run by a Tibetan writer in Beijing.

As for the issue of 1793 edict or regulation concerning Tibet by the Qianlong Emperor, this is something that the Chinese government documents always point out as indication of Tibet being part of China. I lay no claim to being a historian, but from the little that I know I think the argument is faulty on three counts.

1. As you yourself point out western political concepts cannot be applied to the situation prevailing in Tibet and China of the past.

2. I am giving below the Tibetan point of view on the 29 regulations ( The “regulations” were suggestions made in the context of the Emperor’s protector role, rather than an order from a ruler to his subjects. This emerges clearly from the statement made by the Imperial envoy and commander of the Manchu army, General Fu K’ang-an, to the Eighth Dalai Lama:

?The Emperor issued detailed instructions to me, the Great General, to discuss all the points, one by one, in great length. This demonstrates the Emperor’s concern that Tibetans come to no harm and that their welfare be ensured in perpetuity. There is no doubt that the Dalai Lama,acknowledging his gratitude to the Emperor, will accept these suggestions once all the points are discussed and agreed upon.However, if the Tibetans insist on clinging to their age-old habits, the Emperor will withdraw the Ambans and the garrison after the troops are pulled out. Moreover, if similar incidents occur in the future, the Emperor will have nothing to do with them. The Tibetans may, therefore, decide for themselves as to what is in their favour and what is not or what is heavy and what is light, and make a choice on their own.? [Quoted from Ya Han Chang’s Biography of the Dalai Lamas in Bod kyi Lo rGyus Rag Rim g-Yu Yi Preng ba, Vol 2, Published by Tibet Institute of Social Science, Lhasa, 1991, p.316]

Rather than accepting or rejecting the Emperor’s points, Tibetans adopted some of the 29 points which were perceived to be beneficial to them, and disregarded those they thought to be unsuitable. As Panchen Choekyi Nyima, the predecessor of the Late Panchen Lama, said: “Where Chinese policy was in accordance with their own views, the Tibetans were ready to accept the Amban’s advice; but … if this advice ran counter in any respect to their national prejudices, the Chinese Emperor himself would be powerless to influence them. [Diary of Capt. O’Connor, 4 September 1903]

Among the important points of this “29-point edict” was the Emperor’s proposal for the selection of great incarnate lamas, including the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas, by drawing lots from a golden urn. This important task, however, was the responsibility of the Tibetan Government and high lamas, who continued to select them according to religious traditions. Thus, already on the first occasion when the golden urn should have been employed, namely for the selection of the Ninth Dalai Lama in 1808, Tibetans disregarded it.

3. The regulations were announced by a Manchu Emperor, whose area of control included both China and Tibet then. It was not a Chinese ruler. If we were to accept the Chinese interpretation then it would permit Great Britain of today to exercise claim over Burma because at one time British India had control over Burma.

August 3, 2006 @ 9:09 am | Comment

Interesting points Tenzin…except for your last comment. It is pointless to use the Manchurian card to refute Chinese claims to Tibet. The fact is that China as it stands today is the legal successor state to the Qing Empire in all its Manchu/Han contradictions. Legally speaking, India and Burma were both part of the British Empire, and Indian and Burmese independence would not have happened without British consent. Granted, the growing British inability to impose colonial rule and the shift of public opinion against imperialism at home helped speed the death of the British empire.

When empires collapse but the successor nation state attempt to impose direct central rule over the former imperial periphery, it is inevitable for problems to arise. The Armenian genocide and Turkey’s until recent suppression of Kurdish language and culture would not have happened under the former Ottoman imperial system. The Tibetan and Xinjiang/East Turkestan situation is a similar legacy of the collapse of the Qing empire.

Presently, China’s too recent memories of humiliation at the hands of western imperialism and nationalist insecurities does not allow it to face up to its own imperialist tendencies. The DL is right to abandon unrealistic pipe-dreams of independence and lobby for genuine autonomy and protection of Tibetan culture today. If the Free Tibet movement really cares about the lives of Tibetans, they would be constructively pressure and lobby the current CCP leadership that it is in their own political interests in international relations abroad, and economic interests at home, to protect Tibetan culture and safeguard the Tibetan environment. This is something concrete that is achievable today. Empty rhetoric is futile at best and self-indulgent and misleading at its worst.

August 3, 2006 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

Arguing over historical records adds no value to the discussion here. One seventh century Tibetan dynasty once forced the mighty Chinese Tang dynasty to sign a treaty stipulating the border between the two countries laid just 20km from Tang’s then capital of Chang’an. Does it give current Tibet any claim of those lands?

Personally I think China has no more right over Tibet than Japan over Okinawa. However any disputes here does not change the simple fact that China is in total control of Tibet as of now. Barring any catastrophic political change in China, no Chinese rleader would or dare to relinquish this firm grip, just as no Chinese ruler would or dare to abandon the Taiwan cause.

In this sense, I do believe that ‘Free Tibet’ movement is indeed quite counter-productive, if maintaining Tibet cultural tradition and improving its economy independence is part of their stated goals. The Chinese central government desperately builds up infrastructure in Tibet, pouring billions of RMB every year in supporting all sorts of Tibetan initiatives just because they genuinely believe materialism does fend off ideaology, just as billions of Han Chinese have demonstrated in recent years. In this process, sadly, the Tibetans are gradually losing their own identity and tradition.

This is self-evident when I last travelled in Tibet two years ago. Certain parts of Lhasa bears no difference from any Chinese mediocre city. Is this bad? Absolutely. My typical tourist-brochure-taught expectation envisioned a place full of chanting spirits and breath-taking landscape. The latter is still there, though somehow littered with man-made surprises. Tibetan people? Sorry, during my nights in a Lhasa hospital fighting with AMS, I saw no fewer drunken souls than at an Oktoberfest.

In a vast country like China where its own people performs wholesale abandonment of traditions, it is hard to immune the Tibetans. Just like the materially rich but socially marginalized American indians, down the road in future the Tibetans may still be able to maintain some of their traditions and identity, but this will take quite a battle.

Just hope then the Americans will not come to help them build casinos.

August 4, 2006 @ 3:27 am | Comment

I agree totally that arguing over Tibet’s past history will not lead us to any solution for the future. Unfortunately, it is the Chinese Government and those who propogate the Chinese government’s view who bring history into discussion. A look at the preconditions that the Chinese Government always mentions about their willingness to talk with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The reason why I went at length here is to convey the message that when we say history should be left aside, it should not be taken to mean that historically the Tibetans are at a weak spot.

His Holiness has said he is concerned more about the future and that history should be left to the experts to research. This is because the Tibetan view is distinctly different from that of the Chinese.

But Chiense views are coming around. In the past the prevalent view was that Tibetans were uncivilised barbarians whose culture did not have anything to contribute. Today, at least that feeling seems to have changed. Even the Chinese Government is going ga ga over Tibetan religion and culture.

August 4, 2006 @ 7:43 am | Comment

Tenzin, the future of Tibet will not be defined by DL if he or his followers insist on current non-cooperative approach. In saying this, I am not pretending to cover the dirty ass of CCP, I am just trying the state the obvious: it would be much more productive if DL can repair the fence, manage to get into his homeland and try to appeal the Chinese directly with his charm. As you said, some Chinese are in the process to re-discover their own traditions and start to appreciate the Tibetan culture as well. Only when this population grows can Tibet see a better tomorrow. I personally do think an exile government which constantly blasts false expectations to Tibetans in Tibet will only lead to more confrontation and more Chinese efforts to annihilate the Tibetan people.

August 4, 2006 @ 8:37 am | Comment

Dear Chinese friend,

I beg to disagree with you on your perspective of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Since you live in Germany and have access to all information, you should read some of the remarks of the Dalai Lama to understand his position. To start with you could read his March 10, 2006 statement.

As for the future of Tibet, it should be the Tibetan people who should define or decide it. The Dalai Lama even called for a plebiscite to determine that many years back.

August 4, 2006 @ 11:59 am | Comment

Tenzin, call me ignorant if you will. With all the easy accesability to DL and his comments, I still somehow ended up to this impression that DL and his followers are rather confronting with CCP than trying to find real compromise. Imagine then all these Chinese in China who have only CCP propoganda to believe.

It’s easy to state that Tibetan people should define or decide their own future, however, just as a previous poster pointed out, this is more a pipe-dream than wishful thinking. The reality on the ground requires a lot more flexibilities from the DL side just to get around the CCP stubbonness. You can certainly wait or continue begging around for more international sympathy, not too much would have been changed in Tibet though until it is too late.

August 4, 2006 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

Under the present political system, it is hard to imagine how the Tibetan people will ever be allowed to decide their own future. This is simply impossible at the moment for all Chinese citizens of any ethnicity. Until we have a democratic and enlightened China with human rights for all, the best we can hope for at the moment is the minimalization of damage to Tibetan culture and the environment.

Come to think of it, there’s not much of genuine Han Chinese culture left either. Perhaps this could be a starting point from which Chinese civil society, and eventually government policy, could come to genuinely value Tibetan culture and values. There has already been criticism on the Chinese blogosphere that the tickets for the inaugural Qinghai-Tibet Railway were printed only in Chinese and pinyin. It’s not much, but it’s a start. The protection of Tibetan language rights is something that is achievable in the here and now.

August 4, 2006 @ 7:30 pm | Comment

I guess it all boils down to preconceptions. If people tend to read negatively then it is difficult to convince them. The Chinese leadership is doing just that with the sincerity of the Dalai Lama.

Of course, it is generally a challenge to ask that people be given their due rights to decide their own destiny.

But what the Dalai Lama is asking for is challenging the Chinese Government to respects and implement its own rules and regulations.

The Chinese know that they cannot refute his case and so are trying different delaying tactics, bringing one issue after another.

If Tibetans are to be treated as one of the ethnic groups of China they should be given their due rights, whether it be preserving and propagating their language or their way of life.

August 7, 2006 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

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