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China for adoption of cultural symbols, language in Tibet

General Studies – 2 

Topics covered: India and its Neighborhood- Relations, Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Context: At a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, a top Chinese official said  that “all-round efforts” are needed to ensure Tibetans speak standard spoken and written Chinese and share the “cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation.”

China-Tibet issue:

  •       Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia, spanning about 2.4 million km2 – nearly a quarter of China’s territory.
  •       It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres.
  •       The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth’s highest mountain, rising 8,848m above sea level.
  •       The People’s Republic of China asserts that Tibet has been a part of China since the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty
  •       In 1951 Tibetan leaders were forced to sign a treaty dictated by China.
  •       The treaty, known as the “Seventeen Point Agreement”, professes to guarantee Tibetan autonomy and to respect the Buddhist religion but also allows the establishment of Chinese civil and military headquarters at Lhasa (Tibet’s capital).
  •       The Chinese government regards the Seventeen Point Agreement as a legal contract that was mutually welcomed by both governments and by the Tibetan people.
  •       However, the Tibetan people – including the 14th Dalai Lama – consider it invalid and as having been signed under duress.
  •       Tibet has been occupied and ruled over by China and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) since 1951 in “a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities” according to the 14th Dalai Lama.
  •       This has often been described by the Tibetan people as a cultural genocide (Goldstein, 1998).
  •       Eight years of occupation and repression led to the Tibetan Uprising of 1959, in which Tibetans rebelled in an attempt to overthrow the Chinese government; instead, the uprising led to the fleeing of HH the Fourteenth Dalai Lama into India, where he has lived in exile ever since.
  •       A few hundred Tibetans initially followed the 14th Dalai Lama into exile, and since then hundreds of thousands have followed