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All that Glitters is Not Gold: Tibet as a Pseudo-State Barry Sautman Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

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Presentation on theme: "All that Glitters is Not Gold: Tibet as a Pseudo-State Barry Sautman Hong Kong University of Science & Technology."— Presentation transcript:

1 All that Glitters is Not Gold: Tibet as a Pseudo-State Barry Sautman Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

2 Traditional Tibet: Central-Western Tibet (U-Tsang), under the Dalai Lamas Regime; Eastern Tibet (Kham & Amdo) not under his regime

3 Dawa Tsering, chairman, Tibet Religious Foundation of the Dalai Lama (Dalai Lamas envoy in Taiwan), July 2009: Throughout history, Tibetans were not a unified people and the concept of a sovereign state in the modern sense never existed in the minds of Tibetans before the Peoples Liberation Army invaded Tibet in the 1950s... The reason why most Tibetan civilians did not resist when the Chinese army entered Tibet in 1951 was because the concept that our country is being invaded, did not exist for them. Throughout history, Tibetans were not a unified people and the concept of a sovereign state in the modern sense never existed in the minds of Tibetans before the Peoples Liberation Army invaded Tibet in the 1950s... The reason why most Tibetan civilians did not resist when the Chinese army entered Tibet in 1951 was because the concept that our country is being invaded, did not exist for them.

4 In period of de facto independence ( ) few Tibetans had Tibetan national or state consciousness In fact, international law (IL) does not admit the concept of de facto independence Tibet was instead a pseudo-state, like Somaliland, Transnistria, Turkish Republic of Cyprus, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Tamil Ealam.

5 Tibet had all pseudo-state characteristics: 1.Experienced little development 2.Not recognized by any established states or international organizations (League of Nations, UN) 3.Spent disproportionately on its military (army = 1% of population) 4.Support of strong patron (Britain) 5.Seceded from a weak state (China during period of warlordism, Japanese invasion and civil war).

6 Claim that Tibet independent from because there was Tibetan flag, anthem, currency, passport, postal service, treaties Many countries provinces have their own flags, songs During period of 20 th C. Chinese disunity, provinces and even counties had their own currencies and stamps Passports of an unrecognized state have not standing with recognized states; placing of visa on them cant imply recognition Tibet had no treaties with recognized states

7 Two theories of state recognition: Declaratory theory: recognition not decisive; territory must fulfill four criteria – 1. permanent population; 2. territory; 3. government; 4. capacity to enter into foreign relations (but if territory goes unrecognized, it lacks this capacity) Constitutive theory: recognition by states makes a territory into a state, whether or not it strictly fulfills the 4 criteria

8 Constitutive theory stronger since 1990s, because recognition decisive in creating new states from ex-Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Under constitutive theory Tibet was not a state because it was unrecognized If declaratory theory applied, the result is the same: Permanent population: Tibetans were seen by states and IOs as the population of Tibet and as part of Chinas population. Tibetans didnt see themselves as part of separate state.

9 Part of elite in central-western Tibet pro-China; eastern Tibetans not ruled by Lhasa and didnt want to be; Lhasa didnt consider Eastern Tibet part of its territory in 1949 Tibet thus had no permanent population separate from Chinas population Defined territory: to be a state, entity must own territory free from claim of any other entity. All states recognized Chinas claim to all of Tibet

10 States and UN regarded Lhasa administration as exercising its domestic authority in part of Tibet on behalf of China Lhasa thus didnt control territory separate from Chinas territory Government: Two aspects, exercise of authority and right to exercise it. Lhasa administration lacked right to exercise state authority, like TRNC does today Lhasa administration was local government; lacked legal title for statehood purposes

11 Capacity to enter into foreign relations: state needs legal identity distinct from any other states identity and must be subordinate only to IL Has this identity only if no other entity responsible for its foreign relations. China carried out Tibets foreign relations during most of the Qing dynasty ( ) British typically acceded to Chinas demands that she handle interactions related to Tibet

12 Tibetans were Qings. (Office of Border Affairs) handled many external and internal aspects of Tibetan affairs: Stationed troops and border patrols Appointed officials, defined border Administered lama affairs, nomad affairs Ran postal system, supervised trade Presided over meetings and ceremonies Ratified Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas Created system of joint rule by nobles and lamas

13 From 1728, amban (imperial representative) handled foreign and military affairs; from 1793, he had right to Identify Dalai and Panchen Lamas and examine their incomes and expenses Supervise immigration, coinage, corvee labor, taxes and penal system, appoint and pay military officers, certify monks, attend important religious events, including consecration of reincarnated lamas (tulku, Supervise immigration, coinage, corvee labor, taxes and penal system, appoint and pay military officers, certify monks, attend important religious events, including consecration of reincarnated lamas (tulku, Central/west Tibet territory of China under Qing; from 1724, eastern Tibet incroporated into Chinese provinces

14 How much historic contact needed for a state to legitimate its sovereignty in a territory? More than nil, but not much US, Canada, UK, France, Russia, India, created through forceful expansion into contiguous areas; annexed territories soon treated as equal to pre-existing territory Principle of inter-temporality: act sufficient to confer title at time performed establishes title even if law later changes Qings sovereignty in Tibet gave Tibetan elites protection and status; they saw it as legitimate and themselves as Emperors subjects

15 Elliot Sperling (Indiana U.) argues Tibet not independent, but Mongols and Manchu not Chinese; thus Tibet was not part of China Han elite regarded Yuan rulers as Chinese; Manchu were imperial subjects even before they created Qing and identified their empire as Zhongguo Terming Yuan and Qing rulers as not Chinese is like arguing that Britains rulers have not been British because they have been of German descent or Mughal rulers not Indian because they were of Central Asian descent

16 PRC legal successor of ROC; ROC legal successor of Qing Hiatus of 38 years in central government control of Tibet did not diminish Chinas sovereignty; IL has traditionally tolerated temporary lapses in the control of central authorities over peripheral territories caused by internal disruptions (Michael Reisman, Yale Law School) Despite IL, widespread belief that Tibet was independent and has right to independence exists and affects China/India and China/US relations Indian elites believe that Indias acceptance of Chinas control of Tibet led to 1962 border war and continuing border dispute

17 After war, Tibetan exiles told India supports Tibets eventual liberation China supposedly claims Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet, but mainly interested in Tibetan Tawang Part of Indian elite wants to deny and rollback Chinas sovereignty in Tibet Indias 2009 wargames focused on future Chinese aggression from Tibet Indian Major Gen. writing in 2009 defense publication, opposes Indian acceptance that Tibet part of China as making offensive against China difficult

18 US ex-State Dept official in 2009 essay forsees India/China war over Tibet and US support for India Indian Minister of External Affairs sees China as challenging Indian interests; BJP wants India to uproot Chinese rule from Tibet US has cultivated Tibet elites in Tibet ( ) and in exile; financed guerilla war against China, funded DL and funds Tibet Government-in-Exile (TGIE) US Congress regards Tibet as occupied country and wants US to recognize TGIE. Most Americans think Tibet should be independent

19 Conservative US elites put Tibet in national security framework; US keeps option of supporting Tibet independence if theres downturn in China/US relations Conclusion: China sees position that Tibet always independent and has right to independence as saying Tibet should not be part of China because Chinese sovereignty not legitimate and thus not inalienable Pres. Clinton (1998): I agree that Tibet is part of China and I can understand why the acknowledgment of that would be a precondition of dialogue with the Dalia Lama.

20 DL wont say that Tibet inalienable part of China because exiles cling to hope that China will collapse Exiles indifferent to consequences of state collapses: in ex- Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands died If China collapses, Tibetan areas could become warring pseudo-statlets If exiles recognize that China has legitimate claim to Tibet, threshold for resolving Tibet Question will be crossed.


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