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An illusion called 'greater Tibet area'

October 9, 2007

China Daily is an official publication of the Communist Party and the 
government of China.

By Hua Zi (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-10-03 09:26

In the hall of the so-called "Tibetan government in exile" in 
Dharamsala, India, there is a large map of the supposed "greater 
Tibet area".

The area covers the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province, one-
fifth of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, one-third of Gansu 
Province, two-thirds of Sichuan Province and one-fourth of Yunnan 
Province, spanning about 2.4 million sq km and nearly a quarter of 
China's territory.

Holidaymakers take photos with digital cameras near the Potala Palace 
in Lhasa, the Tibet Autonomous Region. [China Daily]

The Dalai Lama has advocated a "high degree of autonomy" for Tibet in 
such a geographic scope and made it a preliminary condition for any 
negotiation with the central government. But such an idea is totally 
absurd for three major reasons.

First, the distribution and the layout of the Tibetan population and 
the administrative divisions were formed during the long process of 
historical development; there is no historical basis for an 
administrative division such as "greater Tibet area".

Archaeological excavation and documentation show the Qinghai-Tibet 
Plateau area has long been inhabited and has a diversified culture.

In the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618) and the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), 
the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau was an area cohabited by different ethnic 
groups.

The regime of Tubo Kingdom (AD 629-840) coexisted with others such as 
the Tang Dynasty, Uighur and Nanzhao, in a territory cohabited by 
various ethnic groups and tribes.

The headquarters and the main area of jurisdiction of the Tubo 
Kingdom basically constitutes the Tibet Autonomous Region today while 
other dependent territory is the region inhabited or cohabited by 
various ethnic groups.

During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), three chief military commands 
(three Pacification Commissioner's Offices) were established in areas 
with Tibetan traditions, namely U-Tsang Ngari, Amdo and Lhams, the 
divisions of which were carried out in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) 
and laid the base for the administrative division of today's Tibet 
and other Tibetan administrative divisions.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) further defined the boundary between 
Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan. In 1731 the Qing government divided the 
border of the areas under the jurisdiction of the grand minister 
resident of Tibet and the grand minister superintendent of Xining. 
The administrative division of Tibet has not changed much since.

Second, the so-called administrative region of "greater Tibet area" 
is a historical product of the invasion by imperial powers. From 1913 
to 1914, the British-instigated Simla Conference was held, which 
brought up the concept of the so-called "greater Tibet area" - that 
the territory of Tibet covers part of Xinjiang to the south of Kunlun 
Mountains and the Anding Tower, the whole of Qinghai Province, the 
western areas of Gansu and Sichuan provinces, and Dajianlu and Adunzi 
in the northwest of Yunnan Province.

When this was rejected by the representative of the Chinese 
government, Britain proposed again to divide the Tibetan-inhabited 
areas of China into inner Tibet and outer Tibet. The former referred 
to the small parts in Yunnan, Qinghai and Xikang, where the central 
government would enjoy dominion; outer Tibet included U-Tsang, Ngari 
and most of Xikang, which was to be governed by the Tibetans themselves.

This shows that from the very beginning, the so-called "greater Tibet 
area" has been a separatist plot. Even the weak Northern Warlords 
government of China saw through the imperialist trick to split China 
and refused to sign the convention. How will Chinese people today 
allow the government to accept such an imposition?

Third, there is no possibility for realization of an administrative 
region such as "greater Tibet area". Since the New China was founded, 
the central government, on the one side, has followed historical 
divisions, and on the other, according to the requirements of the 
Constitution and the Law of Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities, 
considered the various factors for the economic, political and 
cultural development of the Tibetan-inhabited areas to establish 
eight Tibetan autonomous prefectures, one Mongolian and Tibetan 
autonomous prefecture, one Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture, 
two Tibetan autonomous counties and the Tibet Autonomous Region 
through full discussion of people's representatives from various 
regions.

In the past half-century, as the administrative divisions were well 
set, the system of regional autonomy for ethnic minorities has been 
gradually improved and guaranteed the equal rights of Tibetans and 
other ethnic groups living in the region.

It has promoted national unity and social economic development and 
given full support by the Tibetan people and other ethnic groups.

The Dalai Lama, however, has been insisting on the establishment of a 
political entity in Tibetan-inhabited areas to build an "alliance" 
relationship with China, requiring all other ethnic groups to move 
out of the so-called "greater Tibet area" and millions of people to 
give up their ancestral homes.

This is not only an attempt to change the current relation between 
the central and the local government, but also a move to implement 
ethnic discrimination and ethnic cleansing. We must learn from the 
slaughters and bloodshed caused by ethnic conflicts and disputes the 
world over.

Then why does the Dalai Lama insist on this groundless and impossible 
concept of "greater Tibet area"? There are at least two reasons. One 
is that many of the Tibetan people exiled with the Dalai Lama in 1959 
are from Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Dalai 
Lama needs to set a common illusion of "a united, independent and 
free Tibet" to buy these people's support. The other reason is that 
the claim was designed by their foreign bosses and they, as their 
flunkies, dare not disobey it.

The Dalai Lama and his followers in his "government in exile" have 
often expressed their recognition of the Simla Conference. Therefore, 
the so-called "greater Tibet area" in essence is "semi-independent" 
or in "disguised independence", which aims to serve the open and 
complete "Tibet Independence" and disunite a quarter of China's 
territory in future.

But the Dalai Lama and his alike do not really understand that the 
political claims they make against historical development and reality 
to please their foreign bosses, no matter under what splendid 
banners, are only "medieval fantasies" that go against the time and 
the interests of Tibetan people as well as people of all ethnic 
groups in China. The Chinese government will not be fooled!

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