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B7) What was Tibet's status immediately prior to China's 1950-51 invasion?




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This article is from the Tibet FAQ, by Peter Kauffner Peter.Kauffner@bearsden.org and Nima Dorje tibet@acs.ucalgary.ca.

B7) What was Tibet's status immediately prior to China's 1950-51 invasion?


The International Commission of Jurists, a Geneva-based human rights
organization, issued a report in 1960 which examined the legal status of the
Tibetan government:

The view of the COMMITTEE was that Tibet was at the very least a _de
facto_ independent State when the Agreement on Peaceful Measures in
Tibet was signed in [23 May] 1951, and the repudiation of this
agreement by the Tibetan Government in [20 June] 1959 was found to
be fully justified....In 1950, there was a people and a territory,
and a government which functioned in that territory, conducting its
own domestic affairs free from any outside authority. From 1913-1950
foreign relations of Tibet were conducted exclusively by the
Government of Tibet and countries with whom Tibet had practice as an
independent State. [ICJ2]

Tibet was accorded differing degrees of recognition by various governments.
Mongolia, for example, explicitly recognized Tibet's independence in a 1913
"Treaty of Friendship and Alliance" which was signed by representatives of
both nations in Urga, Mongolia. [Walt8]

Nepal's 1949 application for U.N. membership lists Tibet as a country that
Nepal had full diplomatic relations with. [Walt9] The chief Nepalese
diplomat in Lhasa held the title _vakil_ ("ambassador") up until 1962.
[Savada93]

In 1943, the British embassy in Washington told the U.S. State Department
that, "Tibet is a separate country in full enjoyment of local autonomy,
entitled to exchange diplomatic representatives with other powers." [Walt10]
In a note presented to Chinese Foreign Minister T. V. Song a few months
later, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden described Tibet as, "an
autonomous State under the suzerainty of China" which "enjoyed de facto
independence." [Goldstein89]

The U.S. State Department issued the following public statement in
December, 1950:

The United States, which was one of the early supporters of
the principle of self-determination of peoples, believes that
the Tibetan people has the same inherent right as any other to
have the determining voice in its political destiny....[T]he
United States Government recognizes the de facto autonomy that
Tibet has exercised since the fall of the Manchu Dynasty [1912],
and particularly since the Simla Conference. [Walt11]

Chinese President Yuan Shikai issued the following order in 1912:

Now that the Five Races [i.e. ethnic Chinese, Manchus, Mongols,
Tibetans, and Muslims/Turkestanis] are joined in democratic union,
the lands comprised within the confines of Mongolia, Tibet and
Turkestan all become a part of the territory of the Republic of
China. [Walt12]

The CCP drew up a proposed constitution for China in 1931 which stated that
"national minorities," including Tibetans, "may either join the Union of
Chinese Soviets or secede from it." [Grunfeld3] By 1949, however, a CCP-
controlled Radio Beijing was expressing quite a different view:

The Tibetan people are an indivisible part of the Chinese people.
Any aggressor who fails to recognize this point will "crack his skull
against the mailed fist of the PLA." [Walt13]

Section C: HUMAN RIGHTS

 

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