Conflict between Tibet and China — an ongoing concern
The conflict between Tibet and China may be viewed differently by different groups. Most outsiders would say that it’s an external or international conflict because it’s between countries, while some would say that it’s an internal conflict because it deals with the affairs of territories in one country. This just means that there are several angles and sides of the story. With what history tells us, it gets even more confusing for people to understand because some books and articles say that Tibet was invaded by China while other reports show that Tibet was uprising against its national government, which is China.
Some history books show that Tibet has been living and standing on its own, although it doesn’t clearly state that it was acknowledged as an independent state or nation. There are also history books that say that China has never relinquished its hold on Tibet — that ever since, Tibet has always been a territory of China. It’s just that for the past hundreds of years, it left Tibet on its own while the central government in China were settling some national disputes and political conflicts on its own. Conflict between Tibet and China actually started and became an international issue when the Chinese civil war ended and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded and became the seat and center of the Chinese government, and thus, the national government started to check and settle other concerns issuing in its territories. In 1949, Chinese say that they never actually “invaded” Tibet, because “invasion” means that a country is overpowering another country, while the Chinese was only implementing and introducing the new Chinese government to all its people and territories, which includes Tibet. The conflict between Tibet and China came about because Tibetans refuse to accept such government, as they believed that they already have their own under Lamaism. However, the Tibetan sovereignty and constitution have always been a gray area, and the Chinese maintained that in their history of the past centuries, Tibet has always been a territory of China, and that it must be ‘returned’ to them in terms of acknowledging it.
This conflict between Tibet and China wouldn’t have escalated if both accepted the terms of the treaty, which they discussed in the 1950s—that their social, religious, and political structure of Tibet wouldn’t be changed. Unfortunately, this was violated, and the Chinese somehow didn’t keep the end of their bargain in making Tibet as an autonomous region. Thus, the conflict between Tibet and China has deeply rooted, and unrest and destruction have been going on in Tibet for the past couple of decades.
Tibetans feared that this ongoing threat to their environment, religion, culture, and people would eventually bury and erase the Tibetan history and heritage. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama, though living in exile, continues to hope and believe in the Buddhist path—that peace and non-violence is the only course of action to oppose and end this conflict between Tibet and China.
Millions of Tibetans were imprisoned and died, many significant artifacts and properties were destroyed, a great portion of the environment was endangered and thousands of Tibetans have fled their homeland and found refuge in other neighboring countries — all these are still happening, even today, as a result of this ongoing conflict between Tibet and China.
Though the Chinese government is easing their restrictions, and making some effort to appease the Tibetans, the whole world is still silently watching and observing them, knowing that this conflict between Tibet and China will never cease until the Dalai Lama and the rest of the exiled Tibetans can go back to their homeland.