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Tibet was absorbed about 800 years ago during the Yuan Dynasty, becoming an inseparable part of China. It has not been a country since and no country has ever recognised Tibet as an independent state.
It’s true that whilst Tibet maintained a unique culture, written and spoken language, religion and political system for centuries, it has never been a nation-state in the modern sense of the word.
At times in its long past, Tibet has influenced and been influenced by various foreign powers, including Britain and the Mongols, as well as China.
However, the Chinese government’s claim that Tibet has been part of China for around 800 years isn't supported by the facts.
Tibet was not ruled by the Chinese government prior to the 1950 invasion. In 1912, the 13th Dalai Lama - Tibet's political and spiritual leader - issued a proclamation reaffirming Tibet’s independence and the country maintained its own national flag, currency, stamps, passports and army. It signed international treaties and maintained diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries.
From a legal point of view Tibet remains an independent state under illegal occupation, a fact that China wishes it could whitewash from history.