Issue Report: Tibet independence

Should Tibet seek and gain independence?

Tibet is a historical plateau region that is currently provincial-level autonomous region of People’s Republic of China, known as the The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). In 1950, following the rise to power of the Communist Party of China under General Mao Zedong, Chinese troops invaded Tibet. China has controlled Tibet ever since. While disputed, Tibet was effectively independent between 1912 and 1950 and for much its long history. China also claims periods in the last thousand years where Tibet was part of its region. Ever since 1950, an international debate has existed over Tibet’s status as a region within the People’s Republic of China and over the legitimacy of movements for Tibetan independence. After the end of the Cold War, international public became increasingly interested in this debate. In 2008, the debate became particularly heated on the international stage. With the 2008 summer Olympics set to occur in China, human rights advocates began shinning light on China’s poor human rights record, with some proposing a boycott of the Olympics in protest. Human rights abuses in Tibet were seen simply as a part of this larger story of Chinese government abuses. In early 2008, pro-independence Tibetans staged a large protest against Chinese rule and for independence. The protests were brutally suppressed by the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama’s government in exile counted the death toll at around 80 Tibetans. This caused an uproar internationally, and was a main focus of massive protests as the Olympic torch began making its way around the world in March and April of 2008. In response, pro-China, anti-Tibetan-independence protests occurred around the world, composed mainly of Chinese people, who are mostly opposed to an independent Tibet. Both camps bring to bear an impressive array of arguments to support their positions. These arguments can be framed by a series of questions. Does Tibet have a right to self-determination? Does this extend to full independence, or simply to a degree of autonomy? Do Tibetans overwhelmingly support independence and would they pass a plebiscite in favor of independence? Would a right to self-determination override any Chinese right to maintain unity? Does Tibet have a historical claim to independence or does China’s history suggest that it has sovereign rights to Tibet? With it appearing that Tibet has both been independent and controlled by China in its history, which historical claim carries greater weight? Has Tibet been independent for a greater period of time in its long history? If so, does this imply a greater historical claim in favor of Tibetan independence? What about China’s claims? Are these claims invalidated by the allegation that China has only controlled Tibet by force and never by the consent of its people? What does the history show in this regard? Also, what is the history of Tibet’s national identity? Does it have a distinct national identity ethnically, geographically, culturally, religiously and on other grounds? Does this provide additional warrants for its independence? The Tibetan question cannot be resolved solely by historical inquiries. Party of the sovereignty question relate to whether China has governed Tibet legitimately in contemporary times, since 1950. Has China failed to govern Tibet in an appropriate manner, or has it done a pretty good job? Has it violated human rights in Tibet? Was its exiling of the Dalai Lama inappropriate? Is it illegitimate for China to govern Tibet while depriving it of its spiritual and historical leader? Does this constitute a suppression of its religious freedoms? How bad are China’s human rights violations in Tibet relative to human rights violations elsewhere in the world where separatist movements exist? Is it really all that bad or are we just being hyper-sensitive to Tibet due to the public exposure of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan case? Has China stonewalled Tibet on negotiations, or has it been politically reconciliatory? Has China economically exploited Tibet or helped invest in and modernize it economy? Conversely, have Tibetans followed ethical and human rights norms in Tibet, or have they engaged in the same kind of abuses as the Chinese government? Have Tibetans killed and/or abused Chinese settlers in Tibet? Have Tibetan protests been peaceful and respectful, or have they been unethical and/or violent? Has the behavior of Tibetan exiles been appropriate, or have they been violent and revolutionary? Should a Tibetan right to self-determination survive any alleged Tibetan human rights abuses? Does Tibet have a history of human right abuses? What effect does this have on Tibet’s bid for independence?On a more practical levels, would Tibet be a viable state? Does it fit the conditions for statehood set forth by such bodies as the International Commission of Jurists? Would it be viable economically, politically, diplomatically or would it fail and burden its neighbors and the world? Would Tibet’s best economic course be independence or is it best off modernizing within China? Does China have a stronger interest in seeing Tibet gain independence or staying part of the country? Is Tibetan independence feasible? Would China allow it or put up a violent fight? Would the world support Tibetan independence? Would the US and India? How would Tibetan independence effect international stability? Would it promote it? Would it encourage other separatist movements, and is this a good or a bad thing? Finally, is Tibetan independence a better objective than the Dalai Lama’s stated policy of the “Middle Path”, which explicitly rejects independence and pursues simply greater autonomy within China?

Summary of the Arguments


  • Tibet’s independence claims are historically justified
  • China’s ownership of Tibet has been possible through illegitimate documents and forceful means
  • Close ties and military assistance cannot equate sovereignty
  • From 127 BC to the 17th century Tibet has been mostly independent and self governing
  • Tibet’s independence was recognized by the world powers during world war II
  • 1949 China’s invasion of Tibet was illegitimate
  • Since it claimed previous sovereignty over Tibet , China couldn’t have “liberated” Tibet from an oppressive history
  • Through the 1951 Seven Point agreement China illegitimately occupied Tibet

Diplomatic Recognition

  • Tibet’s independence was recognized at the Geneva Convention after WWII

Distinct Identity

  •   Tibet has demonstrated it has a clear distinct national identity


  • Tibet has a right to self-determination and its right is analogous to all nations’ right to independence
  • Tibet’s Independence should be judged outside the separatist movements’ context


  • Historically, Tibet has been autonomous but not independent
  • Historical claims of independence cannot legitimize modern claims for independence
  • 50 years of being part of China warrants a continuation of Chinese rule over Tibet
  • Tibet’s independence movement is part of an imperialist western agenda against China
  • China’s historical claims are post 127 BC
  • China’s influence over Tibetan affairs was clear throughout history
  • The Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949 peacefully liberated Tibet from an oppressive history
  • The Seven Point agreement was commonly agreed and gave Tibet a high level of autonomy

Diplomatic Recognition

  • No government has ever recognized Tibet’s independence

Distinct Identity


  • In a multicultural society Tibet’s uniqueness does warrant its independence


  • China already offers the right to self determination to Tibet by granting its autonomy
  • Tibetan exiles forgo any right to self-determination by acting violently and repressively

General history: Are Tibet's general historical claims to independence justified?

Tibet has enjoyed independence for the vast majority of its long history

Tibet has existed as a state since 127 B.C. For nearly a millennium after its founding, it was entirely independent. In the 9th century, China and Tibet struck a deal to respect each other’s sovereignty, securing Tibet’s continued independence. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Tibet was subjugated by the Mongols as were the Chinese. During this time, Tibet could not have been considered part of China; both China and Tibet were conquered by the Mongols. Between the 14th and early 20th centuries, Tibet assumed some close relations with China, but always maintained its independence. In its closest relations, it could have been considered a vassal state of China, in which it paid tribute to China and received protection. But, the relationship was never denied the Tibetan government of its full independence to govern its internal affairs. And, finally, between 1911 and 1950, Tibet was a fully independent state. It is possible to conclude, therefore, that Tibet was an independent state through most, if not all, of its two thousand year history. This historical fact carries great weight in establishing Tibet’s independence today.

The PRC bases its legal claim to Tibet solely on historical grounds

This argument is simply meant to frame the legal debate. The PRC makes no claim to sovereign rights over Tibet as a result of its military subjugation and occupation of Tibet following the country’s invasion in 1949-1950. China does not argue that it has acquired sovereignty by means of annexation in this period. Rather, it bases its claim to Tibet solely on the theory that Tibet has been an integral part of China for centuries. Therefore, the below arguments against China’s historical claims represent a complete legal case against China’s claim to sovereignty over Tibet (starting in 1949).

China bases its historical claim to Tibet on illegitimated Chinese documents

China’s historical claim relies entirely on its own historical documents. It does not base any of its claim on Tibetan historical documents. Since China is theannexor in this relationship, such a full reliance on its own documents is invalid. The problem for China is, of course, that Tibet’s own historical documents paint a clear history of Tibetan independence. These documents and their history of Tibetan independence should be given greater weight that China’s self-satisfying documents, and they should help establish Tibet’s rightful claim to independence.

China's historical claim to Tibet is delegitimized by its historically forceful means.

While it may be possible to say that Tibet was part of China in its history, we need to ask deeper questions about how this happened. It is not legitimate for countries to stake claims on regions or other countries simply because they have conquered those other countries in parts of their histories. Turkey, for instance, cannot lay claim over Hungary simply because the Ottoman empire once conquered the region. The means by which a country acquired control over other countries is important. “Conquering” other countries or regions can be cited as, at a minimum, a less legitimate form of achieving sovereign control over a region. A history of acceptance, integration, and ideally democratic approval of the sovereign control of a government is a much more legitimate basis for laying sovereign claims down the line. On this basis, it is possible to argue that China’s historical claim to Tibet is highly illegitimate, as it is based on a history of conquering and suppressing the Tibetan people against their will.

A history of close-ties and military assistance does not equate to Chinese sovereignty.

. Many countries have close ties and even assist one another militarily. But, this does not equate to a history of sovereign control.

"Tibet and China: Two Distinct Views". Retrieved 17.4.08 -

“During the Manchu rule (1644-1911), the Qing army was asked by Tibetans to settle disputes. But, this does not support China’s right to Tibet. If it did, then the U.S.A. should claim Kuwait and Haiti since it assisted these countries. In fact, on a number of occasions, Tibet exercised power over China, suggesting that perhaps Tibet should claim China!”

The People's Republic of China cannot inherit ownership over Tibet.

Even if Tibet was owned by past Chinese governments, why should this mean that the modern People’s Republic of China should inherit such ownership? The People’s Republic of China is not a descendant of past Chinese governments. Quite the contrary, it is a form of government that is entirely different than all past Chinese imperial (and other) forms of government. As such, any past claims to Tibet do not necessarily pass on to the modern Chinese government.

Tibet has been autonomous within China but never independent

"Tibet: China's policy paper on Tibet". Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. May 2004 -

The Establishment and Development of Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet

Tibet, situated on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is one of the border areas where ethnic minorities live in compact communities. In view of the then transport and communications conditions and realities of Tibet and other border areas where ethnic minorities live, Chinese central governments throughout history have adopted administrative methods different from those exercised in the heartland of the country. After Tibet became part of the territory of China in the 13th century, the central governments of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties and the Republic of China, while assuming the responsibility of approving the local administrative organs, and deciding and directly handling important affairs concerning Tibet, maintained, by and large, the region’s original local social setup and ruling body, widely appointed upper-strata ecclesiastic and secular members to manage local affairs, and gave the Tibetan local government and officials extensive decision-making power[…]”

Historical independence is not a sufficient criteria for Tibetan independence in modernity.

Tibet should not be granted independence simply on the basis of Tibet’s historical independence. If historical independence was a sufficient basis for granting independence in the modern world, there would be dozens of separatists movements around the world seeking and achieving independence. This would be destabilizing internationally.

Tibet's history as part of China for just the last 50 years is sufficient for China's continued sovereignty.

In modernity, contemporary historical claims are the most important historical claim to consider. China has governed Tibet since 1950. While it has had a self-admittedly mixed record in governing Tibet, it has, in recent decades, helped invest in and modernize Tibet, while respecting the core tenants of its culture. These efforts demonstrate that the Chinese government has done a respectable, albeit imperfect, job of governing Tibet. This is all the historical sovereignty one need look at. Sovereignty is an expression not simply of historical claims, but of the contemporary willingness and competency to govern a region effectively. China has done an adequate job of this since 1950, and so should retain Tibet within its sovereign control.

Tibet has been an indivisible part of China de jure since Mongol (Yuan) conquest 700 years ago.

In the past 700 years, subsequent Chinese governments – Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, Republic of China, and People’s Republic of China – have all succeeded the Yuan Dynasty in exercising de jure sovereignty and de facto power over Tibet. This creates a sufficient historical basis for China to claim sovereignty over Tibet.

China, under the Republic of China government, continued to maintain sovereignty over Tibet between 1912 and 1950.

During this period, no country gave Tibet diplomatic recognition. Tibet itself acknowledged Chinese sovereignty by sending delegates to the Drafting Committee for a new constitution of the Republic of China in 1925; to the National Assembly of the Republic of China in 1931; to the fourth National Congress of the Kuomintang in 1931; to a National Assembly for drafting a new Chinese constitution in 1946; and to another National Assembly for drafting a new Chinese constitution in 1948.

The Tibetan independence movement has been driven in history by a malicious Western imperialist campaign against China.

The PRC considers all movements aimed at ending Chinese sovereignty in Tibet, starting with British attempts in the late 19th century and early 20th century, to the CTA today, as one long campaign abetted by malicious Western imperialism aimed at destroying Chinese integrity and sovereignty, thereby weakening China’s position in the world.

127 B.C - 9th century, beginnings: In this period, was Tibet independent?

127 B.C marks the beginning of a long history of Tibetan statehood.

China does not claim any sovereignty over Tibet before around the 8th and 9th centuries. But, Tibet became a state in roughly 127 B.C. Therefore, for over eight hundred years, Tibet was indisputably independent, given the fact that the Chinese government does not make any claim to Tibet in these years. That Tibet was certainly independent from China for its first eight hundred years of existence certainly is a strong factor in Tibet’s favor.

This period is irrelevant; China cities later historical claims to Tibet.

China does not attempt to claim sovereignty over Tibet on historical periods as old as this, but, rather, on the period of time starting with the Mongol invasions in the 13th century and leading into modernity. China’s contiguous sovereign control over Tibet for the past seven centuries is sufficient; the fir millennium of Tibet’s existence is irrelevant.

Tang Dynasty (618-907): Does Tibet have a claim to independence in this period?

In 821, China and Tibet agreed to respect each other's sovereignty

In 821, after centuries of periodic fighting, China and Tibet signed a treaty where boundaries were confirmed, and each country promised respect for the other’s territorial sovereignty. While relations between China and Tibet were growing warmer and trade-relations increasing, this is common between states, and certainly does not indicate unification.

The Atlas of Chinese History Maps depicts Tibet as an independent country before 1280.

These maps were published by Chinese Social Science Institute in Beijing.[1] Indeed, it does not appear that China makes any significant historical claim to having sovereignty over Tibet until the 13th century and the Mongol invasions. But, it should be re-affirmed that Tibet’s unquestionable independence between 127 B.C. and the 13th century concedes that Tibet was independent for, at a minimum, the majority of its existence. This, creates an uphill battle for China’s historical claim to Tibet.

During the Tang Dynasty, close social and economic relations were built between the Tibetans and the Hans

In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Tibetans and Hans [Chinese] began a path toward unification. This started with the marriage of a Chinese princess to Songtsen Gampo in 641. This led to many further political and kinship ties and close economic and cultural relations, the most notable of which was an agreement in 821 that laid a solid foundation for the ultimate founding of a unified nation.

The marriage of Chinese and Tibetan royalty in 641 led to unification.

Agreement of 821 is signal of Tibet unification with China

"China, Tibet and Chinese nation. Facts and Figures on Tibet in 1999". The Statistics Bureau of Tibet, 1999. -

“The Tang-Tubo Alliance Monument erected in 823 still stands in the square in front of the Jokhang Monastery. The monument inscription reads in part, ‘The two sovereigns, uncle and nephew, having come to agreement that their territories be united as one, have signed this alliance of great peace to last for eternity! May God and humanity bear witness thereto so that it may be praised from generation to generation.'”

Mongols/Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368): Did Tibet maintain independence in this period?

Between the 13th and 14th centuries Tibet was under Mongol not Chinese rule

During this period, the Mongol leader, Genghis Khan, conquered most of Eurasia including China. Thus, instead of China being able to claim a right to Tibet, Mongolia could assert a claim to both China and Tibet. In other words, China has no legitimate claim to Tibet stemming from this period.

Mongolia gave diplomatic recognition to the Tibetan state in 1207

Prior to the Mongol invasions, the Mongols actually recognized Tibet as a state that was independent from China. This makes it impossible to claim that Tibet was unified with China before the invasions. It also makes it clear that the Mongols never intended to unify the two countries; having already acknowledged Tibet’s right to its own independence.

Even during the periods of nominal subjugation to the Mongol and Qing Empires, Tibet was largely self-governing.

A continues show of Tibetan autonomy through its history, even during the Mongol invasions, demonstrates its rightful historical claim to independence.

Tibet has been part of China since 13th century Mongol invasions

In the past 700 years, subsequent Chinese governments – Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, Republic of China, and People’s Republic of China – have all succeeded the Yuan Dynasty in exercising de jure sovereignty and de facto power over Tibet. This creates a sufficient historical basis for China to claim sovereignty over Tibet.

Ming Dynasty (1368-1644): Did Tibet have independence during this period?

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) did not actually rule Tibet.

Michael C. van Walt, an international legal scholar and a board member of the International Campaign for Tibet. "Tibet File No.18: The Legal Status of Tibet". Cultural Survival Quarterly (Vol. 12, 1988)

“The Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644, had few ties to and no authority over Tibet.”

The Ming Dynasty maintained sovereignty and control over Tibet

"China, Tibet and Chinese nation. Facts and Figures on Tibet in 1999". The Statistics Bureau of Tibet, 1999.

“Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

In 1368 the Ming Dynasty replaced the Yuan Dynasty in China, and inherited the right to rule Tibet.

The central government of the Ming Dynasty retained most of the titles and ranks of official positions instituted during the Yuan Dynasty. In the central and eastern parts of present-day Tibet, the Dbus-Gtsang Itinerant High Commander and the Mdo-khams Itinerant High Commander were set up respectively. Equivalent to provincial-level military organs, they operated under the Shaanxi Itinerant High Commander and, at the same time, handled civil administration. In Ngari in west Tibet, the E-Li-Si Army-Civilian Marshal Office was instituted. Leading officials of these organs were all appointed by the central government.”

Qing Dynasty (1644-1911): Was Tibet independent during this period?

The Qing Emperor accepted The Fifth Dalai Lama in 1652 as the leader of an independent Tibet

The Emperor also treated Him as Divinity on Earth. During this period, Tibet was known in Chinese as Wu-si Zang or Wu-si Guo (guo meaning country).

Tibet had only satellite relationship with the Manchus (Qing, 1644-1911)

"Tibet and China: Two Distinct Views". Retrieved 17.4.08

“During the Manchu rule (1644-1911), the Qing army was asked by Tibetans to settle disputes. But, this does not support China’s right to Tibet. If it did, then the U.S.A. should claim Kuwait and Haiti since it assisted these countries. In fact, on a number of occasions, Tibet exercised power over China, suggesting that perhaps Tibet should claim China!”

Tibet waged war in the 19th century independent from China

Although supporters of an independent Tibet concede Chinese influence increased during the Qing dynasty, they point out that Tibet waged war against Jammu in 1841-1842 and with Nepal in 1854-55 without Chinese assistance. This is a clear indication of effective sovereignty.

The Qing Dynasty handled Tibetan affairs on behalf of the Central Government

When the Qing Dynasty [1644-1911] replaced the Ming Dynasty in 1644, it further strengthened administration over Tibet. (A High Commission was set up in Lhasa in 1727 under an ‘amban’ [imperial resident], who supervised the “handling of Tibetan affairs on behalf of the central government,” and who enjoyed “equal standing with the Dalai Lama…”).

1911-1949: Was Tibet independent during this period?

Tibet was an independent state between 1911 and 1950

Michael C. van Walt, an international legal scholar and a board member of the International Campaign for Tibet. "Tibet File No.18: The Legal Status of Tibet". Cultural Survival Quarterly (Vol. 12, 1988)

“From 1911 to 1950, Tibet successfully avoided undue foreign influence and behaved, in every respect, as a fully independent state. The 13th Dalai Lama emphasised his country’s independent status externally, in formal communications to foreign rulers, and internally, by issuing a proclamation reaffirming Tibet’s independence and by strengthening the country’s defenses. Tibet remained neutral during the Second World War, despite strong pressure from China and its allies, Britain and the USA. The Tibetan Government maintained independent international relations with all neighbouring countries, most of whom had diplomatic representatives in Lhasa.

The attitude of most foreign governments with whom Tibet maintained relations implied their recognition of Tibet’s independent status. The British Government bound itself not to recognise Chinese suzerainty or any other rights over Tibet unless China signed the draft Simla Convention of 1914 with Britain and Tibet, which China never did. Nepal’s recognition was confirmed by the Nepalese Government in 1949, in documents presented to the United Nations in support of that government’s application for membership.”

Tibetan independence was recognized by world powers during WWII

Great Powers such as the United States and Great Britain recognized the independence of Tibet during WWII and requested permission from the Tibetan government to allow entry of their military troops into the territory of Tibet. While the recognition was not always official, it existed nevertheless. And, in reaction to the Chinese invasion of 1949, there were many “silent” protests among great powers. While “silent” for geopolitical reasons at the time, these protests demonstrate how the world saw China’s invasion as illegitimate.

San Yet-sen announced in 1911 unification China with Tibet

"Tibet: Its Ownership and Human Rights Situation," also known as the "China White Paper". Issued by Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China in September 1992. (The definitive Chinese Government line on Tibet) -

“The Qing Dynasty was overthrown in the 1911 Chinese Revolution. During his inauguration speech as first president of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen announced ‘the unification of the Han [Chinese], Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan peoples.'”

Between 1911 and 1950, Tibet was represented diplomatically by China.

Tibet itself acknowledged Chinese sovereignty by sending delegates to the Drafting Committee for a new constitution of the Republic of China in 1925; to the National Assembly of the Republic of China in 1931; to the fourth National Congress of the Kuomintang in 1931; to a National Assembly for drafting a new Chinese constitution in 1946; and to another National Assembly for drafting a new Chinese constitution in 1948. It would not have done so if it was an independent country.

1949, invasion/liberation: Did China acquire Tibet by illegitimate means in 1949?

China's invasion of Tibet in 1950 was illegal and makes its occupation of Tibet illegal

China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950 was an unjustifiable act of unprovoked aggression contrary to the norms of customary and conventional international law.

Tibet was a fully independent country when China invaded in 1949

It was recognized by international law, including a defined territory, a government, tax system, unique currency, unique postal system and stamps, army, and the ability to carryout international relations.

How could China have "liberated" Tibet in 1949 if it claims prior sovereignty.

It is odd that China, on the one hand, claims that Tibet has been part of China since the 13th century, and then, on the other, claims that it “liberated” Tibet in 1949 from an unfortunate past? But, liberated it from what? You can only liberate a country from a situation that your country does not control. Therefore, the Chinese government’s use of the term “liberate” seems to be an admission that China has not governed Tibet contiguously since the Mongol invasions. Either this, or it would have to argue that it was liberating Tibet from circumstances that China created while Tibet was under its control.

Argument: Tibet had a distinct national identity and independence before China illegally invaded in 1949

China liberated Tibet in 1949 from an oppressive history

"Tibet: China's policy paper on Tibet". Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. May 2004

The liberation of Tibet in 1949 was peaceful, not violent.

By liberating Tibet, China safeguarded its sovereign and territorial integrity.

With rampant Western imperialism following the end of WWII, protecting Tibet from such imperialism was very important. China’s liberation of the country was designed to achieve these ends.

1951, Seventeen point agreement: Was this agreement illegitimate?

The Seventeen Point Agreement was signed under duress and is illegitimate

"Tibet and China: Two Distinct Views". Retrieved 17.4.08 -

In 1951, “the 17-point agreement was imposed on the Tibetan Government by the threat of arms after 40,000 PLA troops had already seized Tibetºs eastern provincial capital, Chamdo. The Tibetan delegates were threatened. The seal of the Tibetan Government was forged by Peking. In Tibet, The 14th Dalai Lama could not freely express His disapproval. However, soon after arriving in India, He repudiated this Agreement stating it was “thrust upon the Tibetan Government and people by the threat of arms.”

China violated Tibet autonomy as called for in Seventeen Point Agreement

The Seventeen Point Agreement actually gave a significant degree of autonomy to the Tibetan people. When, after being forced to sign the agreement, Tibetans began exercising the autonomy provided in the Seventeen point agreement, China reneged. This voids the agreement and any importance the Chinese government places on it.

The Seven Point Agreement gave Tibet a good deal with strong autonomy

"Tibet: China's policy paper on Tibet". Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. May 2004 -

“The “17-Article Agreement” provides that “According to the ethnic policy in the Common Program of the CPPCC, under the unified leadership of the Central People’s Government, the Tibetan people shall have the right to exercise regional ethnic autonomy.”

[…] The Democratic Reform cleared the way for regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet. When Tibet was peacefully liberated, in consideration of the reality of Tibet, the “17-Article Agreement,” while confirming the necessity for reform of the Tibetan social system, provided that “The Central Government will not use coercion to implement such a reform, and it is to be carried out by the Tibetan local government on its own; when the people demand reform, the matter should be settled by way of consultation with the leading personnel of Tibet.”

The Seven-Point Agreement was signed after both parties reached an agreement

On 23 May 1951, the Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet (ie: the Seventeen-Point Agreement) was signed after the delegates of the Central People’s Government and the Tibetan Local Government had reached agreement on a series of questions concerning Tibet’s peaceful liberation.

1959, Uprising: What does the 1959 uprising suggest about Tibetan independence?

Tibetans opposed China's occupation since the invasion in 1949

After the invasion in 1949, organized protests first began in 1952 and led to an revolt in 1959 that was brutally suppressed by the Chinese government. It demonstrates that the Tibetans strongly opposed the occupation from the beginning; enough to be willing to fight and die for their independence. This indicates that the Chinese occupation was never seen as legitimate by Tibetans, that it violated an inherent sense of identity and sovereignty, and, as such, that Tibetans retain a strong right to self-determination and independence.

China quelled the feudal intentions of the 1959 Tibetan uprising

"Tibet: China's policy paper on Tibet". Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. May 2004

“[I]n face of the ever-growing demand of the people for democratic reform [in accordance with the Seven Point Agreement], some people in the upper ruling strata of Tibet, in order to preserve feudal serfdom, and supported by imperialist forces, staged an armed rebellion all along the line on March 10, 1959, in an attempt to separate Tibet from China. On March 28 of the same year, the State Council announced the dismissal of the original local government of Tibet, and empowered the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region to exercise the functions and powers of the local government of Tibet, with the 10th Panchen Lama as its acting chairman. The Central People’s Government and the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region led the Tibetan people in quickly quelling the rebellion, implemented the Democratic Reform, overthrew the feudal serfdom under theocracy, and abolished the feudal hierarchic system, the relations of personal dependence, and all savage punishments. As a result, a million serfs and slaves were emancipated, and became masters of the country as well as of the region of Tibet, acquired the citizens’ rights and freedom specified in the Constitution and law, and swept away the obstacles, in respect of social system, to the exercise of regional ethnic autonomy.”

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