The tibetan problem at a glance

James C. Hsiung

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This discourse addresses some cardinal myths about Tibet and its relations with China, using independent sources unrelated to either the Chinese government or to the Tibetan exile groups. It examines the origins of the Tibetan theocracy, owing to the support of imperial China since the 13th century; the rise of serfdom under the monolithic rule of the lamas headed by the incarnate Dalai Lama; and the little known history of violent in-fights among various Tibetan Buddhist sects jousting for power. More than once, the Dalai Lama was shored up by forces dispatched by the far-away Chinese Emperor. On the charges made by the Tibetan exiles, including the 14th Dalai Lama's exile government in India, that the Chinese Communist regime was engaged in cultural and ethnic "genocide, " the study fails to find any strong empirical support. The land reform that did away with the serf system and dispossessed the land-owning lamas, thus prompting the 1959 exodus of the Dalai Lama and many of the former landed class, was typical of the land reform enforced by Beijing throughout China after 1949. My research turned up evidence of four international treaties, including one concluded in 1907 between Britain and Russia, which recognized Chinese suzerain rights in Tibet. On the latest riots in March 2008 that resulted in many casualties among innocent Han Chinese residents and destruction of their businesses, the discourse raises a question about possible links with the well-connected Tibetan exile groups, who are known to have wide foreign "private" and governmental support. It also questions if the riots should not be more properly characterized as acts of terrorism than "splittism," as Beijing insisted.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalTamkang Journal of International Affairs
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jul 2008


    • Dalai lama
    • Lamas
    • Serdom
    • Theocracy
    • Tibetan exiles

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Business and International Management
    • Education
    • Political Science and International Relations
    • Strategy and Management


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