When did Tibet become a Chinese region?

50 years agoWhen China established the "Tibet Autonomous Region"

Photos and film footage from September 1965: cheering people in Lhasa. Over 30,000 gathered when the Tibet Autonomous Region was finally launched. In the Beijing propaganda, the invasion of the army 14 years earlier had already been hailed as the "peaceful liberation" of a feudal slave society. The incorporation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China was now complete. To this day, state television has commented on this event:

The democratic revolution in Tibet was a historic step forward and a movement for human rights, said a spokesman. But it was only six years before the establishment of the autonomous region that China had bloodily crushed a Tibetan uprising. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India. With the autonomous region, Beijing has therefore pursued two goals, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer from the Merics Institute in Berlin:

"They wanted to create a reliable framework - both for the Tibetan population and for themselves - within the framework of which, on the one hand, the greatest possible autonomy is guaranteed for the Tibetan population, and on the other hand, the greatest possible control on the part of the central government through the deployment of the military, for example , also through the very clear promise that all foreign policy matters in this region will be dealt with from Beijing. "

Zhang Guohua was appointed party secretary in September 1965. He was not a Tibetan ethnically, but a Chinese. To this day, this most important position of power in Tibet is held by a Han Chinese. There can be no question of real self-determination, says Nadine Baumann, managing director of the Tibet Initiative Germany:

"The Tibetans do have self-government and also sit in some key positions - but these are all people who are loyal to the Beijing line. The Tibetans themselves have absolutely nothing to say in the country, they cannot dispose of their rights. They are not allowed to decide freely and are repressively suppressed. "

Dalai Lama calls for real autonomy

The borders of the Tibet Autonomous Region are also controversial. The Tibetan areas of the neighboring provinces were not added to the new province in 1965, so the Tibet Autonomous Region is significantly smaller than historical Tibet. The Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser, who lives in Beijing under the eagle eyes of the security authorities:

"For many people, Tibet is simply the Tibet Autonomous Region. But I think all areas where Tibetans live should be included. The geographical definition needs to be clarified."

The establishment of the Autonomous Region was followed by the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, when the Red Guards destroyed monasteries and temples. In the 1990s there was some relaxation, then tough again: uprisings like the one in 2008 were brutally suppressed. At the same time, Beijing is pursuing a radical course of modernization in Tibet. Economic development should create stability.

Every year at the session of China's bogus parliament, the Tibetan delegation presents new achievements: growth, increased incomes, more industry. Elsewhere, activists lament the destruction of Tibetan culture and religion. For Tsering Woeser, economic development is not everything:

"What kind of modernization do Tibetans need? What they need is modernization, coupled with a high degree of autonomy. Only when we Tibetans can decide for ourselves what we need and what not do we welcome modernization."

The Dalai Lama in exile in India is also demanding real autonomy: no independence, but also no control by Beijing. But head of state Xi Jinping has just denigrated this "middle way" as an attempt to split off. Only: China's leadership underestimated how difficult it is to integrate the highlands as early as 1965. Today there are railway lines between Beijing and Lhasa and airports on the so-called roof of the world. But the Tibetans and the Chinese have not really come closer to each other. Even more: to resistance - as well as to over 100 self-immolations by Tibetans - Beijing responds with even more control and repression. What should be peaceful liberation is still perceived as occupation to this day.