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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Programs help to prep public for Dalai Lama's visit

October 4, 2010

By Meagan Engle, Staff Writer
Oxford Press
October 1, 2010

OXFORD -- Does Tibet belong to China or is it an
independent state that has been wrongfully claimed by China?

That was the question addressed by Elliot
Sperling, associate professor and chair of
Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University,
in an educational program Sept. 23, one of
several planned ahead of the Oct. 21 visit to
Miami University by the Dalai Lama.

Sperling spoke on the historical relationship
between Tibet and China in an hour-long lecture.

"This is basically the material for a
two-semester course," Sperling joked with his audience of about 75 people.

"The core of the issue as it is discussed between
Tibet and China really is a question of sovereignty,” Sperling said.

"Ultimately, the Chinese case is based on the
idea of history," Sperling said, noting it is
important that China claims Tibet has
historically belonged to China, with unbroken rule since the 13th century.

Sperling presented a painting that shows the
fifth Dalai Lama preaching in the Qing Dynasty in
the mid-17th century and said by the 18th century
there was no doubt Tibet was under Qing rule.

The Tibet case states that regardless of that
fact, the relationship between Tibet and China
was religious, not political, meaning Tibet was independent.

Tibet was essentially independent from the time
the Qing Dynasty collapses in 1911 to the start
of the People’s Republic of China. But the
republic did not give up its claim to Tibet.

Sperling said Tibetans allowed themselves to live
in an ambiguous state for a long time. So when,
in 1950, the Chinese army struck across the line,
Tibet could not withstand because it had no army
and had never applied to the League of Nations.

In May 1951, Tibet signed an Agreement of
Nations, which Sperling said was not well
explained to people inside Tibet. Sperling said
the document very clearly does not state China
conquered Tibet, but that it was liberating a
part of its own country from imperialism from the British.

In 1959, revolt flairs up in Tibet, and
ultimately the Dalai Lama and an unknown number
of Tibetans flee to India, Sperling said.

"We really don’t know how many Tibetans came with
the Dalai Lama," he said. But in cramped refugee
camps in tropical conditions, many died from
bacteria they were not used to, he said.

Negotiations between Tibet and China continued,
but broke down in the 1990s and picked up again
in 2002. “The Chinese government is really not
interested in reaching an agreement with the
Dalai Lama,” Sperling said. “The Dalai Lama
represents a threat to control, regardless of
what he says, regardless of what he wants.

Upcoming education programs

"Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist," panel of local
Buddhist practitioners, 5 p.m. Oct. 7, 212 MacMillan Hall.

"The Cup" film showing, 7 p.m. Oct. 7, 212 MacMillan Hall.

Sand Mandala Opening Ceremonies, noon to 1 p.m. ?Oct. 18, 212 MacMillan Hall.

For more events, visit
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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