For more than 700 years the central government of China has continuously exercised sovereignty over Tibet, and Tibet has never been an independent state. Now millions of files in both Chinese and Tibetan recording historical facts over more than seven centuries are being kept in the archives of Beijing, Nanjing and Lhasa. No government of any country in the world has ever recognized Tibet as an independent state. British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne, in a formal instruction he sent out in 1904, called Tibet "a province of the Chinese Empire." In his speech at the Lok Sabba in 1954, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, "Over the past several hundred years, as far as I know, at no time has any foreign country denied China’s sovereignty over Tibet." The Dalai clique and overseas anti-China forces used to claim that between the 1911 Revolution and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Tibet became a country "exercising full authority." Historical facts refute such a fallacy. The simple reality that the installation of the 14th Dalai Lama needed the approval of the national government is sufficient proof that Tibet did not possess any independent power during that period. Therefore, the so-called "Tibetan independence" which the Dalai clique and overseas anti-China forces fervently propagate is nothing but a fiction of the imperialists who committed aggression against China in modern history.
How Have Imperialists Instigated Tibetan Independence?
There was no such word as "independence" in the Tibetan vocabulary at the beginning of the 20th century. After the British imperialists started the Opium War of aggression against China in 1840, China was reduced from an independent sovereign country to a semi-colonial country. Imperialist forces took advantage of a weak Qing Dynasty and began plotting to carve up China, Tibet included.
In order to bring Tibet into its sphere of influence, British aggressors invaded China’s Tibet twice in 1888 and 1903. The Tibetan army and civilians rose to resist but were defeated. In the second aggressive war against Tibet, the British army occupied Lhasa, and the 13th Dalai Lama was forced to flee from the city. The invaders compelled the Tibetan local government officials to sign the Lhasa Convention. But because the Ministry of External Affairs of the Qing government believed the Lhasa Convention would do damage to national sovereignty, the high commissioner stationed in Tibet by the Qing government refused to sign it, leaving it ineffectual.
After their failure to assume full control of Tibet through direct military incursion, the imperialists changed their tack and began plotting to separate Tibet from China. On August 31, 1907, Britain and Russia signed the Convention Between Great Britain and Russia, which changed China’s sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty." This marked the first time Chin’s sovereignty over Tibet was altered into "suzerainty" in international documents.
The year following the 1911 Revolution, Britain took advantage of the political chaos in China after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the new birth of the Republic of China, and put before the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs a five-point demand, indicating the denial of China’s sovereignty over Tibet. When the Chinese government rejected the British demand, the British blocked all the roads leading from India to Tibet. In 1913 the British government inveigled the Tibetan authorities into declaring independence and proposed that "Britain be the weaponry supplier after total independence of Tibet;" "Tibet accept British envoys’ supervision of Tibetan financial and military affairs in return for Britain’s support of Tibetan independence;" "Britain be responsible for resisting the army of the Republic of China when it reaches Tibet;" "Tibet adopt an open policy and allow freedom of movement of the British." (Zhu Xiu: 60-Year Chronology of Tibet) However, Britain’s schemes failed.
In 1913, taking advantage of the fact that Yuan Shikai, who had usurped the presidency of the Republic of China, was eager to get foreign diplomatic recognition and international loans, the British government forced the Beijing government to participate in a tripartite conference of China, Britain and Tibet, namely the Simla Conference held at the behest of the British government. Before the conference, Charles Bell political officer sent to Sikkim by the British-Indian government, privately met with Lon-chen Shatra, the representative of the Tibetan local government to the conference. Bell trumpeted to Lon-chen Shatra that "suzerainty" implied "independence." In his book Tibet: Past and Present, Bell wrote, "When I met Lon-chen Shatra in Gyantse, I advised him to bring down all the documents which he could collect bearing on the Tibetan relationship to China in the past, and on the former’s claims to the various provinces and districts which had from time to time been occupied by China." Stirred up by the British, the Tibetan representative raised the slogan of "Tibetan independence" for the first time. He also claimed "Tibetan territory includes Qinghai, Litang, Batang and Dajianlu." When these demands were rejected by the representative of the Chinese government, the British delegate introduced the pre-arranged "compromise" scheme, which divided China’s Tibetan-inhabited areas into "inner Tibet" and "outer Tibet." "Inner Tibet," including Tibetan-inhabited areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, would be under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government. With regard to "outer Tibet," including Tibet and west Xikang, the Chinese government was requested to "recognize the autonomy of outer Tibet" and "refrain from interfering in its internal affairs;" "however, China may still send its high commissioner to Lhasa and maintain an escort army of no more than 300 soldiers." The essence of this "compromise" scheme was to change China’s sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty," and separate Tibet from the authority of the Chinese government under the pretext of "autonomy." Naturally these unreasonable demands were strongly opposed by the Chinese people. On July 3, 1914, the Chinese government representative Chen Yifan upon instruction refused to sign the Simla Convention. In his statement, Chen said, "Government of China refuses to recognize any agreement which His Majesty’s Government and Tibet might conclude independently either now or in the future." The Chinese government also sent a note to the British government, reiterating its position. Therefore, the conference broke down.
In the summer of 1942, the Tibetan local government, with the support of the British representative, suddenly announced the establishment of a "foreign affairs bureau," and openly carried out "Tibetan independence" activities. These actions, as soon as they were made public, were condemned unanimously by the Chinese people. The national government also issued a stern warning. Under this pressure, the Tibetan local government had no choice but to withdraw its decision and reported the change to the national government. At the "Asian Relations Conference" held in New Delhi in March 1947, the British imperialists plotted behind the curtains to invite Tibetan representatives and even identified Tibet as an independent country on the map of Asia in the conference hall and in the array of national flags. The organizers were forced to rectify this after the Chinese delegation made serious protests.
Around the end of 1949, the American Lowell Thomas roamed Tibet in the guise of a "radio commentator" to explore the "possibility of aid that Washington could give Tibet." He wrote in a US newspaper: " The United States is ready to recognize Tibet as an independent and free country." In the first half of 1950, a load of American weaponry was shipped into Tibet through Calcutta in order to help resist the PLA’s entry into Tibet. On November 1 of the same year, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson openly slandered China’s liberation of its own territory of Tibet as "invasion." In the same month the United States prodded some other countries to propose a motion at the United Nations for intervention in China’s Tibet. The scheme was unsuccessful in face of the stern stand of the Chinese government and the opposition of some countries.
Historical facts over more than a century clearly demonstrate that so-called "Tibetan independence" was, in reality, cooked up by old and new imperialists out of their crave to wrest Tibet from China. The 14th Dalai Lama in his early years pointed out, "It was the imperialists who, taking advantage of the Tibetan people’s antipathy to the Qing Dynasty and the reactionary Kuomintang government, attempted by enticement, deception and instigation to get the Tibetan people to separate from the motherland and come under their oppression and enslavement."
Excerpts from Tibet — Its Ownership And Human Rights Situation published by Information Office of the State Council of The People’s Republic of China