The “Tibet Question” has evolved into a Western synthesis of affairs and circumstances that govern the uncertainties of Tibet’s national identity- a mere euphemism concerning the improbabilities of Tibet’s political fate. Tensions seemingly escalate by the day, as questions of Tibet’s impending future become more and more desperate, and to the chagrin of many Tibetans, only the Chinese government has the foresight to ascertain a solution. Though the future of Tibet and China is still more or less unseen, it does happen to serve a function in illuminating the aspects of their rough and tumble past.
The premise to my essay concerns itself with the chronological development of Sino-Tibetan foreign relations. From its origins in tribute relations, on through Mongol dynastic rule, and ending in the apocalyptic era of Mao, I intend to explore the various strategic purposes and objectives that led to Tibetan neutrality and Chinese antagonism, the definitive stance of today’s affairs. The evolution of this relationship is no more than a mirror and reflection of the progression of ethnic kinship into a national identity. The fundamental purpose of my essay is to extend the “Tibet Question,” so as to include the uncertainties and questions of Tibet’s ethnic identity in conjunction with the real question regarding their political fate. I make the assertion that the conflict of today is simply the culmination of prior ethnic conflicts, and not the struggle for supremacy between two proximal nations. The Tibet Question has been misconstrued so as to consider the Sino-Tibetan conflict exclusively one of politics, but in truth, as my essay should reveal, it transcends borders and exposes greater ethnic attitudes.
Origins: An Examination of Tibetan Ethnic Origins, and some firsts in Sino-Tibetan Relations
The nomadic existence of present Khampa and steppe communities along the East Tibet frontier are considered the modern derivatives of a primal mode of existence that has subsisted for the better portion of three thousand years. The original ethnic communities that we can assume to be the first Tibetans were the Ch’iang people. As indicated by excavated archeological finds in the western regions of greater China, the Ch’iang language and their mythological traditions reveal blatant parallels with respected Tibetan equivalents. Even so much as to suggest the convergence of Ch’iang semantics and Tibetan ancestral folklore. “In Tibetan mythology, the earliest tribes are referred to as mi’u…Ch’iang and Tibetans share the belief in their descent from a monkey ancestor, whose name in the Ch’iang language is mi or mu.” The conjunction of the Ch’iang translation for monkey is mi and mu, the equivalent to the Tibetan translation of mi’u.
Initially suggested by Shang manuscripts, circa 1700-1050 B.C., the Ch’iang communities were fractious tribes concentrated in the elevated plains of the Tibetan-Chinghai regions. It’s funny to note...