CHINA> Opinion
Why Dalai Lama can't represent all Tibetans: scholar
Updated: 2009-03-27 13:31

BEIJING -- The China Daily on Friday published an article by Huo Wei, professor of Tibetology at Sichuan University, on the Dalai Lama's claim that he represents all the Tibetans. Following is the full text:

Why Dalai Lama can't represent all Tibetans

The debate on the Tibet issue is once again centered on the international and domestic media and public opinions abroad. Many reports and comments in the Western media, however, fail to grasp the basic facts and concepts of a nation such as China.

Such baseless reports have created a misunderstanding about China and its Tibet autonomous region among Western readers and viewers. Thus it is necessary to clarify the basic facts on and about Tibet.

China has always been a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural civilization, and Tibet its integral part. Among the various ethnic groups that call China their home are the Hans and 55 ethnic minorities.

So it's wrong for the West to regard only the Han people as Chinese. This is a distortion of basic facts, which in effect would leave the 55 minority groups without a homeland.

China has a history as a cosmopolitan society. Right from the days of dynastic rule, people from many ethnic, cultural, and religious groups have lived together as citizens of China irrespective of whether the emperors were ethnic Han, Mongolian or Manchurian.

The dynasties and kingdoms founded by ethnic minorities, such as the Yuan dynasty of the Mongols and the Qing dynasty of the Manchus, were all Chinese authorities.

The Tibetan region came under the direct rule of the Chinese central government as early as the Yuan dynasty (AD 1271-1368). The Yuan rulers set up Xuan Zheng Yuan (Policy Annunciation Bureau) to administer the region.

During Qing dynasty rule, the emperors sent a Tibetan minister to Tibet, who was in charge of financial, military and diplomatic affairs.

But the power of central government, or the imperial court, was not restricted to those affairs only. The reincarnations of the Dalai Lama had to be approved by the central government and only after that were they conferred the title and status.

The emperor had the authority to reject the reincarnations if their authenticity was in doubt. This means that without the support of the imperial court, the Dalai Lama could not only lose the title, but also his power.

In other words, the Dalai Lama was only as good as a local governor, appointed by the central government.

This evidence proves the power that the Tibetan local government exercised was granted by the central government and that it never had an independent status.

After the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, the Tibet autonomous region remained a part of China and the Tibetan local government continued to depend on the central government. Hence, the so-called "Chinese invasion in Tibet in 1951" is a myth.

Another myth propagated by the Dalai Lama and circulated by the Western media is that the central government has been encouraging Han people to settle in Tibet.

What they tend to forget is that in a multi-ethnic country like China, people of different ethnic groups have been living together since pre-historic times.

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