Media Items 1

China's argument:

From 1950 to 1959 China peacefully liberated and democratically reformed Tibet, ending the old feudal serfdom where brutality was rife; a hell on earth with the backwards masses enslaved by landlords and priests. This culminated in Serf Emancipation Day in March 1959 when the Tibetan government was declared illegal.

The facts:

In 1950, the newly established Communist regime in China invaded Tibet, which was rich in natural resources and had a strategically important border with India.

With 40,000 Chinese troops in its country, the Tibetan government was forced to sign the "Seventeen Point Agreement" which recognised China's rule in return for promises to protect Tibet's political system and Tibetan Buddhism.

Far from welcoming the Chinese as liberators, Tibetans across the country continued to resist China’s armed forces and China responded with widespread brutality.

Resistance culminated on the 10th of March 1959, when 300,000 Tibetans surrounded the Potala Palace to offer the Dalai Lama protection. This date is commemorated as National Uprising Day by Tibetans and supporters.

In 1950, many states that are today stable democracies were undemocratic and did not respect human rights. The 14th Dalai Lama was a teenager when his country was invaded and was never able to govern Tibet independently. In exile, he has won the Nobel Peace Prize and has entirely democratised the exiled Tibetan government. In contrast, the Chinese government continues to have no democratic authority.

China claims that its vision of a brutal past justifies its occupation. But Tibet under Chinese rule has experienced brutality on a massive scale – from the destruction of thousands of monasteries and the deaths more than one million Tibetans in Mao’s era, to torture, arbitrary arrests and the denial of fundamental freedoms today.

Read an overview on our Tibet’s history timelines.