Fujisan's Kyareng

Friday, November 8, 2019

China was only a part of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, it was neither the authority nor the inheritor of the dynasty

Abstract: Tibet has been an independent state politically and historically before its invasion by the communist China in 1950. People's Republic of China (PRC) claims Tibet as a part of China on various unfounded historical pretexts, most notably the Yuan Empire [1271-1368 CE], which ruled the eastern part of the Mongol empire. China says that it inherited Tibet from the Yuan dynasty when the Chinese Ming took over in 1368 CE. This paper will examine the relationship between Tibet and Mongol around that time to see if the Chinese claim has any substance in the matter, or is it just a propaganda gimmick to distort historical facts to satisfy their political agenda.

Mongolia was once dominated by various warring nomadic tribes and it was Genghis Khan who put Mongolia in the world map and history through his conquests. The major tribes during the time of Genghis Khan were: the Tartars in the east, the Keraits in the center, the Merkits and Ongut in the north, the Naimans in the west, Olkhunut, Bayud, Khongirad, Kirghiz, Oirats and so forth.[1] Genghis Khan born as Temuchin in 1162, heunited these warring independent tribes and became the Great Khan. He went onto consolidate the largest contiguous empire in world history. Mongol Khanate in Russia and Europe; the Yuan empire in the present day China, Burma and Koreas in the east; Chagatai Khanate in the present day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kirghizsthan etc.; and Ilkhanate in Persia, the present day Iran, Iraq, Turkey etc. [Map-4 of DIIR, The Mongols and Tibet]
Tibet also came under the Mongol's influence around those times and later developed a close and special relationship with the Mongol and its people. It was not a relationship of the conqueror and the conquered, of the subduer and the subdued. There emanated a unique Priest-patron [Tib: chos-yon] relationship which navigated their political and spiritual pursuits. This relationship was mutually beneficial; for the Tibetans, it gave them full autonomy and protection against any invasion; for the Mongolians, it gave their Emperors legitimacy to rule and its people a profound Buddhist philosophical teachings and moral foundation.   

The Mongols came to the Tibetan border for the first time in 1207 and 1209, when Genghis Khan attacked the Tangut of Hsi Hsia Kingdom[2] in the north of Tibet[3]. Tibet submitted to the Mongols and agreed to pay tribute and thus was spared invasion. But it was only in 1226 that Mongol finally subjugated the Tangut, Genghis Khan died the year after and Tibet stopped paying tribute to the Mongols. A Tibetan text Horchos 'byun, says Tibet submitted to Genghis Khan and the latter adopted Buddhism. Some scholars say this could be erroneous, Tangut is known in Tibet as Mi-nyag and the conquest of Mi-nyag was taken as conquest of Tibet[4]. 
Prince Godan, the second son of Ogodai [the 3rd son of Genghis Khan] attacked Tibet in 1240 in which Reting monastery and Gyal Temple were destroyed, and some 500 monks and civilians were killed[5]. Later, Prince Godan realized that although the Mongols were powerful and strong, they lack the strong moral and spiritual civilization of Tibet. He invited SakyaPanditaKungaGyaltsan [1182-1251], a highly revered Buddhist master of Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1247, Godan and SakyaPandita met at Liangzhou, the present day Parig region of Amdo[6]. But this place could be the present day Wuwei city in Gansu province above the Amdo region of Tibet.

SakyaPandita taught Godan starting with the Buddhist concept of refuge-taking, the law of Karma and generating Bodhisattva's mind. The latter was so impressed with the teaching and he made Buddhism the State religion. As Tibet was under his influence at that time, the Prince gave SakyaPandita temporal authority over the thirteen myriarchies [Tib: Khri 'khorbcugsum] of Central Tibet.[7]

In a letter written by SakyaPandita to Tibetans leaders from the Mongol court, he advised everyone to accommodate the Mongol's power and refrain from any violent action which would not be of mutual benefit. In the letter he writes toward the end:

The diverse teachers and powerful figures of China, Tibet, Uighur, Tangut etc. listen to my teachings with great appreciations. They [Mongols] respect me greatly. Have no concerns about how Mongols will treat us here. All may keep these words in mind and stay at peace.[8]
It is clear from the letter that China, Tibet, Uighur, Tangut etc. were distinct entities and SakyaPandita being revered by the people of these countries was advising them out of his concern for everyone.
China has quoted the meeting between the Godan and SakyaPandita and the latter's note to claim Tibet as a part of China. It says:

The meeting is called the 'Liangzhou Talk' in history, after which the 'SakyaPandita's Letter to the Tubo People' was issued, which thus officially incorporated Tibet into Chinese territory and made it an administrative region under the central government of the Yuan Dynasty.[9]
It further says:

The historical event of the Liangzhou Talk is a landmark moment in the history of the development of Tibet-Central Government relations. The Mongolian and Tibetan people have made significant contributions to the peaceful reunification of the motherland and the development of ethic unity.[10]
It is irrational on the part of China's to claim over Tibet on the basis of the aforementioned assertion. Here it is the relationship between Mongol and Tibet, and China is only an outsider who came under Mongol rule in 1279 CE. Kublai Khan declared the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, much before it annexed the China's southern Sung Empire. Therefore, China's claim on the Yuan Dynasty does not hold any ground. 

SakyaPandita, passing his religious authority to one of his nephews, Phagpa, died in 1251 in Liangzhou and Prince Godan too died in the same year.

Mongke Khan, the grandson of Genghis khan and the eldest son of Tolui took over. During his reign, the Mongol empire extended greatly in the east and as well as the west and other directions. Kublai Khan, the second son of Tolui, invited Phagpa to his capital Shangdu in Inner Mongolia. Despite the differences at the initial stage, Kublai Khan and his Queen Chabu and many of the Mongolian ministers and officials became devoted Buddhists and Buddhism further gained popularity throughout the regions. Kublai Khan gave Phagpa full authority over the three provinces of Tibet and the Sakya Lamas began to rule Tibet since 1254 CE. It was also recorded that at the request of SakyaPandita Kublai Khan stopped the annual ritual of drowning Chinese to check the Chinese population [Tib: Gya'i me yurchenmo].[11] This was all before Kublai Khan became the Great Khan of Mongolia.

Around13th century, there was northern Jin empire and southern Sung. They were in perpetual fight over the territories. Ogodai, the third son of Genghis Khan conquered Jin empire in 1234, and started campaign to invade the southern Sung empire. It was finally in 1279 that the whole Sung Empire came under the direct rule of Kublai Khan who already has assumed the title of Yuan in 1271 to rule the eastern territories of the Mongol empire and made Beijing its capital.

What was there around that time was: Mongolia, East Turkestan, Tibet, Tangut, Dali, Jin, Sung, Korea, Burma, Vietnam, etc. They all came under the influence of Mongol empire, the Yuan dynasty. Historical map around that period may givebetter picture about what China we are all talking about. [DIIR map-3, The Mongols and Tibet]
There is no denying the fact that Tibet came under Mongol's sphere of influence at different period of its history. But it was a very special relationship of Priest-patron [Tib: Chos-yon] under Godan Khan and Kublai Khan. Mongol did not rule Tibet directly; it was left to the Tibetans only. This all happened before the establishment of Kublai Khan's Yuan dynasty in 1271 CE to rule the Mongol's eastern conquest. Southern Sung of China finally came under Mongol's rule in 1279. This clearly shows that China was only a part of the conquered territories of the Yuan dynasty.

More importantly, Kublai Khan and his successors tried organizing the territories under the Yuan Empire into different provinces. This was finally achieved during the 5th Yuan Emperor Shidebala, Yingzong [r. 1321-1323], in which the Yuan empire was divided into twelve provinces for political and administrative purposes.[12] This map was officially published in China in 1914. It includes all the territories under their direct rules, but we don't find Tibet in it. This goes on to say that Tibet was never considered a part of the Yuan Empire. Therefore, the Chinese assertion is doubly unfounded. [DIIR map-5, the 12 provinces of Yuan Empire]
Lastly, whatever influence that Mongol held on Tibet, it was shelved in 1350 when PhagdruJangchubGyaltsan[r. 1350-1364] took over Tibet from the Sakya's rule and declared Tibetan independence from any Mongol influence. China gained independence from the Mongol only in 1368, i.e. eighteen years later.

Therefore, China's claim that Tibet was a part of China because the Yuan Dynasty is baseless and unfounded. Yuan Dynasty was a Mongol Dynasty under which Tibet, China and many other Asian nations came under its direct and indirect influence.

* This paper was presented during "Mongolia and Tibet Cultural and Religious Symposium" on 6th November, 2019 at Tibet Policy Institute, Dharamsala, India.
      David Morgan, The Mongols, Basil Blackwell Inc., 1987, New York, USA
      Department of Information & International Relations, The Mongols and Tibet, Reprint 2009, Dharamsala, India
      JigmeRigpaiDorje ('Jig med rig pai' rdorje), Horgyichos 'byungbzhugs so, mTsosngo mi rigs dpeskrunkhang, 1993, Tibet
      Kwanten Luc Herman, Tibetan-Mongol Relations During the Yuan Dynasty (1207-1368),Ph.D thesis, University of South Carolina, 1972, USA
      ShakabpaTsepon W.D., Tibet A Political History, Potala Publications, 1984, New York, USA
      The Liangzhou Talk between Godan and SakyaPandita http://eng.tibet.cn/eng/index/Archives/201907/t20190712_6635163.html

[1]David Morgan, The Mongols, p-56
[2] Also known by the Western Xia or Xi Xia, it was known by Tibetan as Mi-nyak
[3] DIIR, The Mongols and Tibet, p-2, 2nd edition, 2009
[4]Kwanten Luc Herman, Tibetan-Mongol Relations during the Yuan dynasty, p-50, p-52, p-57, Phd thesis, 1972
[5]Shakabpa, Tibet a Political History, p-61
[6] DIIR, The Mongols and Tibet, p-11. But Shakabpa says it is Lan-chou, the capital city of Kansu, p-63
[7]Shakabpa, p-63
[8] DIIR, The Mongols and Tibet, p-14
[9] The Liangzhou Talk between Godan and SakyaPandita, http://eng.tibet.cn/eng/index/Archives/201907/t20190712_6635163.html
[10] ibid
[11]Shakabpa, p-65
[12] DIIR, The Mongols and Tibet, p-21

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

China's White Paper on Human Rights 2019

China's white paper on human rights; a blatant farce

The Chinese State Council Information Office publishes a white paper titled “Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China,” September 22, 2019. Photo/CCTV

The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China has, on 22 September, issued a white paper on the progress China had made on human rights issues in the last 70 years. The white paper is titled “Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China”.1 The paper can be seen as a prelude to the grand celebration China is preparing on 1 October, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It has eight chapters, the first four devoted to the historical development in three phases, from Mao to Deng to Xi, all in rosy pictures. The 5th chapter deals mostly with the human rights situation in the minority areas including Tibet, all tall claims. The remaining three chapters are about how China has ‘responsibly’ contributed to the promotion of human rights globally.

If what China has claimed in the paper is true, the Nobel Peace Prize should go to the Chinese leadership. Unfortunately, the white paper is a total farce. One could only wish if it were all true. It describes rosy and humanly evolution of human rights in China since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The tragedies and miseries that the Chinese people and other minority nationals suffered under the Great Leap Forward movement and the famine, atrocities of Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square massacres are all missing and tucked away in a secluded corner of some ancient monuments.

In minority areas, it has boasted of full autonomy in the regions and claimed that the leaders and administrators in these autonomous regions are from the local ethic populace only. It talks of development in education and protection of minority languages.

From the Tibetan experience, in all these past 60 years of occupation, all the 14 Party secretaries were Han Chinese and the few appointed Tibetan deputies were in names only. Most of the administrative decision making power rested in the hand of Chinese cadres. It talks of protection of minority languages, but in reality, China has made Tibetan a second language in Tibet. Priority and preference are given to Chinese language in job and business avenues. Monasteries were banned from teaching Tibetan language to the children.

It says, “Religious freedoms of ethnic minority groups are protected. The living Buddha reincarnation is a succession system unique to Tibetan Buddhism, and is respected by the state and governments at different levels of the autonomous regions.”

This is, in fact, a gross violation of the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan people. Reincarnation of high Tibetan Lamas is a highly sacred and spiritual matter. Communist China, who does not believe in religion and spiritualism, has no rights to interfere in this matter. The so-called State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 on the measures on the management of the living Buddhas is a gross insult to the Tibetan religious sentiments. Chinese leadership should also refrain from interfering in the selection of 14th Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. Last month, China organized indoctrination workshop to some 100 Tibetan monks in the regions on the reincarnation issue, which in fact, intimidated the monks to follow the dictates of the party on the issue. Such interference in the Tibetan religious matter will only earn distrust and distant the Tibetans from the regime.

The last three chapters are about how China has strengthened the rule of law, how it participated in the global governance of human rights and how it advanced the international cause of human rights. Human rights watchdogs are sure to have a hearty laugh here.

Whatever the Chinese claims, the truth is there for all to see: what is happening in Hong Kong right now. People are revolting because of the regime’s repressive policy and that China did not keep the promises it made during 1997 takeover. It did the same thing with the Tibetans in 1951’s forced 17-point agreement.

While it talks of advancing the international cause of human rights, China has consistently tried to block Tibetan human rights appeal heard at the United Nation forum. In February this year, the Chinese mission in Geneva wrote to the U.N. not to allow 15 human rights activists, including the Dalai Lama, to attend the U.N. Human Rights Council’s annual session.2 It has lobbied hard with other dictators to suppress the voice of the Uyghur minority.

According to Human Rights Watchdog, “China has also pressured other members, especially those economically dependent on its Belt and Road Initiatives. During its universal periodic review – a process in which the Human Rights Council examines countries’ human rights records every five years – last year, China warned countries to submit positive reviews and threatened consequences for any that criticized Beijing. It has also blocked critical nongovernmental organization and activists from attending U.N. forums while letting representatives of government-sponsored groups participate in them and speak widely.”3

In a nutshell, Chinese communist party’s white paper on human rights progress in the last 70 years is just another disgraceful attempt to whitewash all the human rights violation it has perpetrated in China and in the occupied lands, most prominently, Tibet.

If China is really serious about its claim of “Splendid History of China’s Human Rights Protection” and “Socialist Paradise in Tibet”, then it should let the U.N. Human Rights Commission, diplomats, media and representatives of Tibetan Administration to visit Tibet and assess the situation. It is unbecoming of an aspiring superpower to issue false claims in the guise of white paper on such an important occasion as the 70th anniversary of the national founding day.
 1Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-09/22/c_138412720.htm
 2China, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela in hot seat at U.N. rights forum, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-rights/china-saudi-arabia-venezuela-in-hot-seat-at-un-rights-forum-idUSKCN1QB1S8
3Council on Foreign Relations, Is China Undermining Human Rights at the UN? https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/china-undermining-human-rights-united-nations


Monday, September 2, 2019

China's white paper on national defense; a sugar coated sabre


Amidst the growing turmoil in Hong Kong Island and the surging voice for independence in Taiwan; the repression and cultural genocide in Tibet and Uighur, and the escalating US trade war, China has on 24th July, issued a white paper titled “China’s National Defense in the New Era”. Faithful commentaries and justifications followed immediately in their official mouthpiece, Xinhua News and the Global Times.

The fifty-one paged English translation of the white paper has some six chapters justifying the need for China to build a fortified national defense and a strong military. The purpose of the white paper, it says, “To expound on China’s defensive national defense policy and explain the practice, purposes, and significance of China’s efforts to build a fortified national defense and a strong military, with a view to helping the international community better understand China’s national defense.”

It says “Peace is a common aspiration of people around the world”. The white paper has many things about peace, cooperation and development to justify the activity of the Chinese military and the role of the People Liberation Army (PLA). Along with this, it has issued a stern warning to Taiwan and noted Tibet and Uighur as a national security risk. Hong Kong has been left out deliberately, the tacit immediate target.

It is a piece of welcome news that China has said that “it will never seek hegemony, expansion, and sphere of influence” in the white paper, how we all wish if this could be true. Unfortunately, given the factual and historical distortion that China has deliberately made in the white papers issued on Tibet in the past, China observers and the International community will not take this statement at its face value.

It talks about China not seeking hegemony, but what about the regions already under its illegal occupation, like Tibet. What about those 12 developing nations whose ports, media, economy and civil authority that China has taken over through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’s debt trap. [“Chinese Malign Influence and the Corrosion of Democracy” International Republican Institute (IRI) 2019 Report]

The paper says, “No matter how it might develop, China will never threaten any other country or seek any sphere of influence.”

Chinese interference in Nepal to keep the Tibetans leashed, dumb, immobile and out of the country has crossed the limit of sphere of influence. The recent deportation of a Tibetan-American with a similar name with the former Speaker [PenpaTsering] of Tibetan Parliament in exile by Nepal immigration has demonstrated the extent of Chinese dictatorial authority in the civil administration of the land.

China will never threaten – Just recently, China threatened India by warning that it should stand by the dictates of communist China about the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama.
The white paper says, “Since its founding 70 years ago, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has never started any war or conflict.”

Was Tibet not illegally occupied in the 1950s, and what caused the death of 1.2 million Tibetans and the flight of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetans into exile? What about the unprovoked Chinese aggression against India in 1962, the so-called Sino-Indian war, and the numerous border intrusions that India has experienced, the most recent being the Doklam standoff in 2017.

Now, the important question is: what prompted the communist regime to issue a white paper on national defense at this time? If we analyse the fact surrounding the current situation, it betrays China’s plan to use military and its PLA army in containing civil unrest, Hong Kong people should be wary of it. While it warns Taiwan on its independence drive in a belligerent tone, Tibet and Uighur are just shown as a threat to China’s national security and social stability.

It has openly challenged and attacked the US for its unilateral policies. It criticised Trump administration for its increased activity based on the so-called freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. But China should reflect what has caused this increased activity? Who initially disturbed the peace in this otherwise peaceful South and the East China Sea? What country in the regions is not in loggerheads with China?

What is dreadful about the white paper is how explicitly its purpose is explained in the Global Times, it said, “The white paper also for the first time defined that PLA’s missions and tasks are to provide strategic support to consolidate the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the socialist system, safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity, protect China’s overseas interests, and promote world peace and development.”

The above statement forebodes bad times ahead for those in odd with the communist regime. Tibet and Uighur, although totally under the military control, it warns further repression involving the PLA army is in the offing. There is already news of Uighur type of detention centers or gulags coming up in Tibet. The immediate target of the white paper in Hong Kong and Taiwan and China is indirectly seeking international approbation to the military action about to happen in the regions. It is a clear message from China to notify the international community that very soon it’s military and People Liberation Army (PLA) would be in the Hong Kong Street, and later in Taiwan.