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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Tibet Under Chinese Communist Rule

Even before the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 almost all of Tibet’s thousands of monasteries were emptied of monks and looted of their treasures. Tibetans had been subjected to the Chinese Communists’ political campaigns, all of which had the ostensible purpose to “liberate Tibetans from feudalism,” and to allow them “self-rule.” The actual result was increased Chinese control over Tibetans’ lives, the flight of tens of thousands into exile and the imprisonment of tens of thousands more for opposition to Chinese rule.

Tibetan autonomy, theoretically formalized in 1965 with the creation of the TAR, could not even be spoken of during the Cultural Revolution, when all aspects of Tibetan cultural identity came under attack. Tibetan culture epitomized the “four olds” against which the Cultural Revolution was directed. Red Guards, many of them Tibetan students returned from the interior for the purpose, completed the physical destruction of almost all of Tibet’s monasteries. Collectivization was intensified and by the mid-1970s almost all Tibetans were in communes where all aspects of their lives and their livelihood were controlled by the Chinese.

In 1979 Deng Xiaoping began a liberalization policy in China and Tibet and made overtures to the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue of Tibet. Resolution was intended to provide a model for the resolution of the Taiwan issue, based upon what the CCP thought was a successful model of Tibetan autonomy. The Chinese Communists assumed that Tibetans were reconciled to Chinese rule and that the return of the Dalai Lama would provide the final legitimation of Chinese rule over Tibet. However, subsequent visits by Tibetan government in exile delegation revealed that Tibetans were still opposed to Chinese control and were still loyal to the Dalai Lama. The 1980s liberalization allowed a revival of Tibetan religion, culture and nationalism which resulted in demonstrations and riots in Lhasa.

Since 1989, the CCP has tightly restricted Tibetan autonomy, having learned the lesson that Tibetan autonomy inevitably leads to Tibetan nationalism and separatism. China has adopted a policy of economic development combined with cultural assimilation and colonization as the ultimate solution to the issue of Tibet.

Although sporadic contacts between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the PRC have continued, there have been no concrete results. The CCP no longer seems to really want the Dalai Lama to return. He has been increasingly vilified in Chinese propaganda, especially since the March 2008 uprising, which he was accused of having instigated and coordinated. The Tibet issue has degenerated into a propaganda war between the PRC and the Dalai Lama and his Western supporters. The themes of the Chinese propaganda reveal how the CCP has employed Communist ideology to justify its rule over Tibet.

China claims that Tibet has “always” been a part of China; therefore, there is no political question of Tibet’s legal status. Thus China cannot be accused of imperialism against Tibet in 1950 and Tibet cannot claim the right of national self-determination under international law as a nation deprived of its rightful independence. The only issue that China admits is the class issue of the former exploitation of the Tibetan serfs and the liberation of Tibetans from that “feudal Hell on Earth,” by the CCP.





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Location:  Asia - Eastern China
Capital:  Lhasa
Communist Rule:  1950 - Current
Status:  Occupied
Victims of Communism:
1.2 million