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Argument: Tibet has been autonomous within China but never independent

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Tibet, situated on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is one of the border areas where ethnic minorities live in compact communities. In view of the then transport and communications conditions and realities of Tibet and other border areas where ethnic minorities live, Chinese central governments throughout history have adopted administrative methods different from those exercised in the heartland of the country. After Tibet became part of the territory of China in the 13th century, the central governments of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties and the Republic of China, while assuming the responsibility of approving the local administrative organs, and deciding and directly handling important affairs concerning Tibet, maintained, by and large, the region's original local social setup and ruling body, widely appointed upper-strata ecclesiastic and secular members to manage local affairs, and gave the Tibetan local government and officials extensive decision-making power. This played a historically positive role in safeguarding the unification of the country, but as the feudal autocratic rulers in various periods exercised an ethnic policy marked by ethnic discrimination and oppression, keeping the original social system and maintaining the power of the local ruling class for their administration of Tibet, they did not solve, nor could they possibly solve, the issue of ethnic equality and that of enabling the local people to become masters of their own affairs."

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