Common Questions About Tibet
What was Tibet like before the Chinese invasion?
to the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949, Tibet was an
independent nation, largely isolated by the Himalayas. The
people had developed a unique and peaceful culture based on
the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings of Buddhism,
interwoven into their language, literature, art, and
has never been a mythical "Shangri-La" fantasyland, contrary
to how it is often depicted in the movies. Tibet had its own
internal problems, just like any other country, and was a
feudal theocracy. However, Tibet did exist as a peaceful
community, with a quarter of its male population entering
the monastery, and did live in harmony and respect with its
often harsh Himalayan environment.
China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
The Communist Chinese invaded Tibet in
1949, resulting in a decade of turmoil and uneasiness. The
current spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, the
Fourteenth Dalai Lama, was forced to flee in 1959 with
100,000 Tibetans during an uprising that resulted in a
bloody massacre of 87,000 Tibetans. The Dalai Lama and the
Tibetan government-in-exile now reside in Dharamsala, India,
although the Dalai Lama travels tirelessly in an effort to
increase world awareness of the Tibetan plight. For his
continuing efforts at a nonviolent resolution with the
Chinese, as well as for his peaceful teachings in Buddhism,
the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
What is Most Favored Nation (MFN)
Most Favored Nation status allows a
country to export its goods to the United States with the
lowest possible tariffs. Countries with non-market economies
are prohibited from receiving MFN privileges; however, the
President of the United States can waive these restrictions
for one year if he certifies that a country is not denying
its citizens the right or opportunity to emigrate.
Since 1980, each U.S. President has
renewed China's MFN status despite evidence that there was
not freedom of emigration in China. Since China's Tiananmen
Square massacre in 1989, Congress has introduced legislation
to condition MFN based on improvement of human rights,
unfair trade practices, and weapons proliferation. In 1993,
President Clinton granted MFN status to China, but with
several conditions that must be met in order for China to
receive renewal of its MFN status for the following year.
One of these conditions is that China must make significant
progress in protecting Tibet's religious and cultural
heritage. Another is that China's human rights violations
must be improved.
China has made no progress in either
of these conditions. However, the MFN status continues to be
granted to China. MFN is now referred to as Normal
Trade Relations, or NTR.
I do? Can I make a difference?
You can make
a difference. Yes!
With 1.2 billion people, China
represents a great potential source of income for business
interests. Business lobbyists in this country are quite
powerful and affect political policy. Despite these
lobbyists, however, it is possible to affect governmental
policy by increasing public awareness of the terror that
Tibet and its people face, by writing to public officials,
and by participating in letter-writing campaigns. Writing to
newspapers and magazines, lobbying for revocation of Most
Favored Nation (MFN) status towards China, and refusing to
purchase goods made in China can make an impact.
Joining or offering financial support
to Tibetan support groups such as SFOT, Tibetech.org, the
International Campaign for Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet
and other non-profit organizations is another way to help.
Please visit our links page for more information.
Public awareness of China’s heinous human rights violations
has increased and it remains important for all of us to
continue to try and save what is left of the Tibetan people
and culture before it is too late.