In 1947, the Indian Council for World Affairs convened an Inter-Asian Relations Conference and Tibet showed up with a newly invented national flag. The Chinese protested and in 1950, the new communist regime sent its forces to invade. Chairman Mao and the People’s Republic of China proclaimed in Tiananmen Square, “China has stood up."
For nearly two centuries, China had been broken by civil war, economic strife and Western imperialist onslaughts. The Communists provided a strong central government and wanted to incorporate Tibet as a Chinese national minority. They felt that Tibet was hell on earth ravaged by feudal exploitation, with no redeemable features or culture. The Communists felt they were liberating the serfs and dragging Tibet toward development and modernity.
The Tibetans felt differently. Before the Chinese, the natives were happy and contented people. Chinese rule meant the destruction of Tibetan independent political identity. In 1951, Tibet was declared an autonomous region of China, nominally governed by the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government began a series of despotic measures essentially targeting Buddhist monasteries.
The Cultural Revolution banned religious practice and, as a result, the number of active monasteries was cut from 2,500 before “liberation" to 1,800. The number of monks dropped from 120,000 to 46,000. In March 1959, the Communist’s People’s Liberation Army suppressed a full-scale revolt against China rule. The Dalai Lama managed to flee to India, establishing a government-in-exile at Dharamala. In 1965, China formally annexed Tibet as an autonomous region.
Many thousands of Tibetans were forced into exile by the brutality of the Communist regime. Now the Chinese government is anticipating that as Tibetans continue to join the money race, they will become more compliant and less committed to the Dalai Lama and to what Beijing alleges is his scheme to split China by inciting an uprising in Tibet.
Despite the restoration of some of the desecrated monasteries and the reinstatement of Tibetan as the official language, human rights violations continue.