What did the Dalai Lama do to provoke the Chinese government?

ir : What-did-the-Dalai-Lama-do-to-provoke-the-Chinese-government

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

China hates the Dalai Lama and to some extent India due to the 1959 Tibet rebellion when the Dalai Lama escaped to India. It was considered a big insult to China which was completely isolated from the rest of the world on the Tibet issue (both US and USSR supported Tibet autonomy). Since then Dalai Lama has grown to be a respected leader in the world and has partly undermined China's complete absorption of Tibet.

Tibet has a complex history.  Until about 13th century it enjoyed a free existence. China of that time didn't extend to the West.

In the 13th century, the Mongols captured both Tibet and China. Since then China has considered Tibet as its part. After the Yuan dynasty (Mongol descents) of China that ruled Tibet, the latter had a reprieve for a few centuries.

Under the Qing dynasty, Tibet was back under China's sphere of influence.
China was afraid that Tibet might lose out to invasions from India or Nepal. Later Europeans started exerting influence. By around 18th century, Tibet was already semi independent from China and declared complete independence when Qing dynasty came to an end in 1912.

In 1949, as soon as Mao came to power through a Communist revolution China annexed Tibet. Dalai Lama, who was ruling Tibet, came under the control of the Communist Party. The communist party was anti-religion and considered Tibetans backward. The party abolished a lot of cultural practices, leading to enormous tensions.

In 1959 there was a massive uprising in Tibet – 1959 Tibetan uprising and this forced Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to place even harsher rule on the mountainous region. Close to 100,000 people perished in the rebellion.

Both India and Soviet Union provided moral support to the Tibetans.

In 1959, Dalai Lama had enough and made a bold move. He escaped to India. Since Tibet and India had long historic connections, hosting Dalai Lama and Tibetan refugees as guest was considered a humanitarian move.

China punished India with a war in 1962 for hosting the Dalai Lama. Although India lost that short war, it didn't give up the Dalai Lama. Chinese Communist Party has not forgotten the escape of 1959 and views both Dalai Lama and India with suspicion since then.


From China's perspective, the Dalai Lama is an anachronistic and backward institution that still perpetuates serfdom. The Communist party had little respect for the Tibetan way.

From a Tibetan perspective, the communist party is interfering with the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and their culture.

Map sources:  World History Maps by Thomas Lessman [1, 2]
Tibet [Map 2].

What did the Dalai Lama do to provoke the Chinese government?

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