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By Chen Yanqi (China Daily)
Tibet is part of China, and the Tibetan people are important members of the Chinese nation. The so-called Tibetan issue was manufactured as part of the imperialist aggressors' attempts to carve up China. Britain, through its continuous involvement, has played a central role in this.
British troops invaded Tibet in 1888 and 1903, but were turned back by the resistance of the Tibetan army and civilians. After their failure to turn Tibet into a colony through armed aggression, British imperialists started to foster pro-imperialist separatists in Tibet, plotted activities to separate Tibet from China and trumpeted "independence for Tibet". In August 1907, Britain and Russia signed the Convention between Great Britain and Russia on Tibet. With this convention, Britain planned to turn Tibet into a "buffer zone" between India and Russia.
The Revolution of 1911 toppled the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In 1913, the British government engineered the Simla Conference to instigate the Tibetan representative to raise the slogan of "Tibetan independence" for the first time, which was immediately rejected by the representative from the central government of the Republic of China. The British representative then introduced the so-called compromise scheme, attempting to change China's sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty" and separate Tibet from the authority of the Chinese government under the pretext of "autonomy". Upon instruction, the representative of the central government refused to sign the Simla Convention and made a statement saying that the government of China refused to recognize any such agreement or document.
Starting from 1947, with the independence of India, Pakistan and other Southeast Asia nations, Britain's colonial empire began to collapse. Also, recognizing the fact that Britain's international stature was declining, the British government began to adopt new approaches toward Tibet. First, it refused to recognize China's sovereignty over Tibet and only recognized that China had "a special position in Tibet". For many years, Britain remained the only major Western country that didn't recognize China's sovereignty over Tibet. Second, it continued to instigate "independence". Even after Tibet's peaceful liberation, MI6 sent agents disguised as travelers to Tibet. London became the "base camp" for organizations promoting "Tibet's independence". Third, British politicians continue to meet with the Dalai Lama. In 1991, then prime minister John Major met with the Dalai Lama, setting a precedent for his successors to follow. On May 14, 2012, according to this so-called common practice, incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met with the Dalai Lama once again in London.
The "Tibet issue" is purely an issue invented by Britain. But a lie told one thousand times eventually becomes believable. That's why there are a handful of people who still think that Tibet remains an "issue".
But a lie is a lie. The fact that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China can never be changed. Britain can only avoid isolation if it follows the global trend of recognizing and accepting this fact. Fortunately, Britain is gradually realizing this.
In October 2008, then Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a written statement to the British Parliament that Britain does not support "Tibet's independence", and that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China.
The statement resolved the last remaining historical issue between China and Britain. Yet even so, there are still people who continue to see this late-coming decision as a major loss for Britain. These people need to give up their colonial mentality and imperialist arrogance.
Britain needs to reflect on its behavior and win the trust of the Chinese people. To do so, it should take real action and send the right signals. Only then will the Chinese people forgive what it did in Tibet.
The author is a Beijing-based scholar of international relations.