A complicated picture

In “Communist Manifest-no,” Ms. Dolma employs certain diction that misrepresents Tibetan history and its political status. Ms. Dolma describes Tibet as a “country,” claims that it was “taken over” by the People’s Republic of China and takes pride in her “Free Tibet” slogans. However, Tibet was not, is not and does not have reason to be an independent state. The issue is irrelevant to ideology, because for more than 700 years, Tibet has been an integral part of China regardless of the ruling regime. No country recognizes Tibetan independence, nor does the idea resonate with the majority of Tibetan or Chinese people (a broad interpretation of which includes the former). What happened in Tibet in the 1950s was not a foreign invasion nor an annexation but rather a domestic regime change — no more illegitimate than what happened on the rest of mainland China. In fact, 37 years before the Communists’ takeover of China, the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China of 1912 (not Communist!) explicitly explains in Chapter 1, Article 3 that “The territory of the Chinese Republic consists of 22 provinces, Inner and Outer Mongolia, Tibet and Chinghai,” which gained recognition worldwide including in the United States, the League of Nations and later the United Nations. Rest assured, I am not righting the wrongs of Communist atrocities in the early years of the People’s Republic, as my family, coming from a comprador and intelligentsia background, had understood well enough what those could mean. Nevertheless, while Communist oppression seems like an easy sell, Ms. Dolma should refrain from confusing it with the issue of Tibetan independence. Tibetan independence bleeds the heart of every Chinese because it is an irresponsible and distorted presentation of the Chinese culture and history, about which the Yale community deserves to know more.

Yaoling (Thomas) Shen wrote on behalf of the Board of Chinese Undergraduate Students at Yale