ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Tibet: Confronted Discourses on Sovereignty

Mateo Ballester Rodrguez
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Mateo Ballester Rodrguez
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Open Panel

Abstract

The invasion of Tibet by the Chinese Red Army in 1950 marked the beginning of an ongoing conflict based on confronted nationalist claims. Whereas the Chinese government, and presumably most of the Chinese population, claim that Tibet is an integral part of China, the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, and also presumably a wide part of the ethnically Tibetan population, consider Tibet as a separate nation, and demand much wider political autonomy, or outright independence. The Tibetan conflict is an illustrative example of several of the problematic issues related to claims of sovereignty and independence by a given territory and population, among them the question of what are the exact limits of the disputed territory, or who would be entitled to vote in an eventual referendum. Another highly disputed question, which will be the main focus of this paper, is the historical discussion on whether Tibet has basically been an independent and sovereign territory or, on the contrary, has depended on Chinese rule and sovereignty form very early times. Did the invasion of Tibet in the 13th century suppose that Tibet and China were both ruled by a Mongol dynasty, or rather the incorporation of Tibet within China? Did Tibet recognise the authority of the Chinese emperors during the Ming dynasty, or was it a politically sovereign territory? Was the amban appointed by China in Lhasa a local governor or merely an ambassador? Finally, was the invasion of Tibet in 1950 an act against an independent and sovereign State, or the re-establishment of Chinese control over one of his traditional domain? As very often, the discussion on remote historical facts, the fight for history, is considered essential in determining political situations and questions of sovereignty in the present, not only in relation with their respective reference populations, but also with the aim to persuade the international public opinion of the fairness of their position.