Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Dalai Lama and UMass students agree Tibet should be free from China

By Sara Crossman

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Although President Barack Obama hosted the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House last Thursday, this meeting does not represent United States support for Tibetan independence. The U.S. officially supports the People’s Republic of China’s self-proclaimed territory, which includes Tibet.

This visit was intentionally kept low-key in order to show support for human rights issues, while blatantly trying not to anger China. Relations between China and the U.S. are already strained after the announcement last month of arms sales to Taiwan in excess of six billion dollars. China feels that the U.S. is flouting its authority by dealing directly with its two most internationally contentious areas.

Normally U.S.-Chinese relations are pretty good. Considering that China is one of our biggest trading partners, the U.S. usually doesn’t want to create bad feelings between the two countries, but U.S. officials have said that the relationship is going through a rough patch.

Currently, what is most important to the U.S. is very different from what is most important to China, and so it has been difficult for the two nations to reach an agreement on anything.

Because of this, China took the Dalai Lama’s visit extra hard, but the U.S. did inform China last November that he would be visiting. China has still released several outraged articles in its national newspaper “Xinhua” and has spoken to the American ambassador on this matter. China is very sensitive about territorial issues, and it has good reason to be.

There have been protests to “Free Tibet” all over the world, and many Americans support Tibet’s desire for independence from China, including many UMass students. Usually about once a semester students at UMass launch a protest to “Free Tibet.” This issue, like the issues of democracy and censorship in China, are considered major problems by the American people.

But here’s the thing, would anyone contend that California should be its own country? Of course not. There is certainly less difference between Californians and people from the rest of the U.S. than the peoples of Tibet and those of the rest of China, especially considering that there are officially recognized national minorities in China that live only in Tibet. However, the two cases are not so dissimilar.

History lesson. For those of you who have forgotten, over the course of the 19th century U.S. citizens moved west to California, Oregon, Washington and the Midwest states in between the West Coast and Louisiana. This began around mid-century with the California Gold Rush and the Oregon Trail, and it was called Westward Expansion. Since then the states formed have become important and fully integrated parts of the United States.

In addition, the U.S. added its 49th and 50th states as recently as 1959, but no one is protesting to “Free Alaska.” Although China had held control over Tibet since the 13th century, China reasserted its control over Tibet in 1951, and China took control of what it believes to be land that has historically been a part of China.

In addition, Tibet is an autonomous region in China, which means it has a certain degree of autonomy. Laws like the One Child Policy, which apply to the vast majority of the Chinese population, do not apply to the Tibetan peoples. Tibet has its own local leadership, but this hasn’t been the Dalai Lama for a very long time.

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet. His escape to India in 1959 after revolts against the Chinese government have sparked most of the current controversy over whether or not Tibet should be its own country. What would have happened if he had stayed no one knows, but according to his own website, the Dalai Lama left because the Nechung Oracle told him to leave, not because the Chinese government forced him to leave.

Although he has been in exile for 50 years, he is still a strong symbol of hope for Tibet and many people around the world. The Dalai Lama is also an important enough global leader that President Obama, and the three presidents preceding him, entertained the Dalai Lama. They have not done so in protest of China’s policies, but rather, because of the hope he stands for.

This visit to the White House may not have changed anything for Tibet, but it certainly won’t be the Dalai Lama’s last visit.

Whether or not Tibet should be freed, many definitely believe it is a cause worth fighting for, and it will continue to be supported by many, from the Dalai Lama to UMass students.

Sara Crossman is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].


38 Responses to “Dalai Lama and UMass students agree Tibet should be free from China”

  1. David on February 24th, 2010 12:33 am

    Sara obviously has no idea where Tibet lies on the map of China and yet she speaks with authority. Did she know that Dalai Lama was a slave-owner and he left Tibet because the Chinese government wanted to free the slaves and distributed his and his noble’s land to the newly freed slaves. Sara should go to the Tibetan Museum in Beijing to see the happy faces of the slaves who received the land. To support Dalai Lama is against what Lincold did.

  2. huppert on February 24th, 2010 12:39 am

    One of the most stupid articles I have read. How could u compare California with Tibet?

    Even the Chinese historical resources support that Tibet has been one of the major civilizations and nations in Eurasia with Indian, Persia and China since ancient Time.

    Suggest u to get some books by the Tibetologists to read and then come to talk about this issue.

  3. tsewang on February 24th, 2010 1:50 am

    U have your history distorted Sara, U have no idea what u talking about and what is happenning in Tibet because you are comfortably sitting here in the US and dont have to face the harsh realities of life under the chinese rule. So stop acting like u kno, when u dont.

  4. Jack on February 24th, 2010 2:07 am

    David too has no idea what history of Tibet says. The Dalai Lama was asked to take Tibet’s responsibility at the age of 17. Salves and Serf stories are made up by the Communist Chinese. History also tells us that slave system was practiced in America and many other countries. But crazy, you just invade, torture and kill millions to liberate from serfdom and loot age-old antiques from the monasteries to sell in Hong Kong market. Yes, go to National Museums and see thousands of Chinese students killed in Tienanmen square.

  5. sAmpho on February 24th, 2010 2:08 am

    If we start talking about what was then every nation or country has similar sort of bad time in its civilisation. But, now sad thing about Tibetan is that even in this 21 century, they are undergoing worse time in its history under Chinese civilist government.

  6. Yoyo on February 24th, 2010 3:53 am

    If the government of the United States ruled by the force of might, not the assent of the people; if it instituted widespread censorship, restricting press freedoms and insidiously editing domestic discussions to keep out any dissenting viewpoints; if it banned political speech and imprisoned activists for decades on phony charges of leaking state secrets; if it went to great lengths to demonize a religion, going so far as to send the CIA to harass it overseas; if it crushed its own students beneath tank treads and denied that anything of the sort ever happened; if it openly mocked the idea of human rights; if it made its habitual response to natural or health disasters just covering it up, ensuring the inevitability of future tragedies; if it repaid the Mexicans and Native Americans who lived on the land first (before the military conquest and the resettlement of whites) in injustice, discrimination, and systematic socioeconomic disadvantage; if it had the arrogance to dictate to these people what *their* national identity should be; if it usurped the autonomy of the Catholic Church, their native religion, and set fire to the historic missions, arrested priests, and cursed the Pope at every turn for representing resistance to its tyrannical rule; then without a moment’s hesitation would I support Californian independence.

  7. hgao on February 24th, 2010 3:56 am

    China “national newspaper “Xinhua”? Man, Xinhua is a news agency!
    Meanhwile, Dalai never wanted Tibet to be independent from China. Check your heroic Google which is hiring in China again, you will be enlightened.

  8. Dee Ell on February 24th, 2010 3:58 am

    Maybe one day Tibet will be independent.

  9. tony on February 24th, 2010 4:13 am

    Chinese is mistreating tibetant…..That’s so terrible. But it’s ok for the European Jews to occupy Palestian’s land and murdering their childen. Why western news never broadcast an interview with the Palestinians that are in the refugee camp in their own country for over 50 years.

  10. anon on February 24th, 2010 8:53 am

    Perhaps you think the native Americans and Mexicans in pre-invasion California as less deserving?

    While you are at it, why not lie all the way and claim that Holocaust is made up by the Communist Chinese and BILLIONS were killed?

    So, less freedom compared to the West in today’s China is ‘undergoing worse time’ then the serf/slavery society of the lamas?

  11. Xie on February 24th, 2010 10:58 am

    if Sara can change the title to “Dalai Lama and SOME UMass students agree” , then this article is somewhat fair and balanced. Maybe a little bit more history about how CIA trained and airborne ethnic Tibetan “freedom fighters” (aka terrorists) into China to kill and get themselves killed, and fact that Dala Lama is on the payroll of the US Congress, several million dollars every single year, for 50 years. In the economy like this, the funding to Dala Lama increased by 25% last year.

    China will continue pouring billions of dollars every year to help 6 million ethnic Tibetans in China. For Indian Tibetans, American Tibetans, and other Tibetans in exiles, their suffering is not China’s business. Richard Gere and the US congress will surely take care of them. Their self-inflicted suffering has been prove a sure way to get more funding.

  12. Theresa on February 24th, 2010 2:41 pm

    This is an embarrassingly unsophisticated column that attempts to succinctly describe an extremely complex issue.

    Activism on behalf of Tibet takes many forms – from those who shout “Free Tibet” to those who seen to encourage U.S. leaders to broker negotiations and dialogue among Chinese and Tibetan officials in the hope of securing genuine autonomy and self-rule for the Tibetan people.

    Whatever brand of activism UMass students take, the movement to educate the public about Tibet has been one of the longest non-violent campaigns in recent history; it should be celebrated and endorsed for that simple reason alone. I traveled to Tibet in August 2008, only 5 months after the violent riots there. How tragic that the only impetus for many U.S. and international news outlets to cover the Tibet issue was after a violent outburst.

    There are so many more facets of this discussion, and the editors should have taken a much stronger role in helping the columnist refine her message and confirm her facts before printing such a useless piece.

  13. bellaj2000 on February 24th, 2010 3:51 pm

    Do your own research on the matter both for and against. Make up your own mind.

  14. Sergei on February 24th, 2010 5:23 pm

    I believe many of the 56% people in favour of Dalai Lama can not point Tibet on the map.

    Politics and religion are not good combination. Europe was like that in Middle ages. So is Dalai Lama. Monks ruled Tibet for hundreds years. It was not Shangri La as many believe.

    Let see some facts:
    All Dalai Lama were appointed by Chinese governments, including current one.
    Majority of the population in Tibet were slaves (Serfdom).Visit Tibet research centers in Case Univ. and Columbia Univ.
    Only 5% of the population were able to read and write.
    It is easy to talk about human rights and education. Dalai Lama is promoting something he did not have and accusing Chinese government for something he did worse. I believe Buddhism. It is part of a political game. America has nothing to gain by meeting Dalai Lama, but to satisfy some political groups and waste tax money. No matter what we say, Chinese government do not care.

  15. John Roberts on February 24th, 2010 5:47 pm

    An independent California is a bad analogy, although in the 1970s there was actually a fringe independent Oregon movement. The better analogy for Ms. Crossman to have used would be the Basque and Catalan regions in Spain. Under the Franco dictatorship, the cultural and political repression in these minority regions was about the same as the repression is today in Tibet. Moreover, Franco’s regime was a one-party dictatorship, just like China today. The Basques had a militant independence movement (ETA) starting from 1961, and both regions had a fair degree of independence under the Spanish Republic before Franco’s coup d’etat. Today, now that Spain is a democracy, the Basque and Catalan regions have genuine statutes of autonomy. If you have visited either Bilbao or Barcelona, you have been in exactly the kind of governmental structure the Dalai Lama wants for Tibet — gentuine autonomy within the nation-state of China. For that matter, Ms. Crossman should realize that with its independent state government, California already has the same kind of autonomy the Dalai Lama wants for Tibet. Read my blog at http://www.FreeingTibet for more on this, and for how to help foster change in China, or read the history of the movement to free Tibet — “Freeing Tibet: 50 Years of Struggle, Resilience, and Hope.” Meanwhile, boycott anything made in China!

  16. David on February 25th, 2010 8:15 am

    Seems there are three camps.

    The 1st camp being the Tibetans-in-exile. They are mostly the offsprings of former Tibetan nobles or lamas. They are accusing the Chinese government for all its wrong-doings while denying there didn’t even exist a serfdom system in Tibet.

    The 2nd camp is the Americans who hate communism. They want a “Free Tibet” or “Free China” from the communism.

    The 3rd camp is the Chinese who don’t care what kind of political system China has, they want to keep Tibet as part of China since it has been a part of China, tightly or loosely, since 13th century.

    For Dalai Lama, he is an ever changing political figure. He owned huge amount of land and slaves together with his ruling class in Tibet. Many of these Tibetan-in-exiles commenting here are in his class. He didn’t want to give up these entitlement and that is the reason why Chinese government had a problem with him. Then he exiled, and with the help of CIA, fighted a gurrilla war in Tibet and killed many thousands. Only after the normalization of the relation of US and China in the early 1970’s, US government cut off the military support to him, he changed to a “peace lover”.

    It is easy to say then done. He wants demoracy and freedom now because that is the most popular word for fundrising. But he never gave the demoracy and freedom to the ordinary Tibetans when he was an ruler. If you go to the web site of the Tibetan-government-in-exile, he is the “temporary ruler” of Tibet as of today.

    I am sure the ordinary Tibetans living inside Tibet wouldn’t benefit from him if he becomes the “permanant ruler”. Forgot it.

  17. jenn on February 25th, 2010 12:23 pm

    it’s surprising how the chinese government has brainwashed so many Chinese people and including some people who have commented on this article. very sad. & XIE: you sriously have no idea what youre talking about, if china is taking good care of the Tibetans in Tibet why are they so unhappy?? LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE!!!

  18. tony on February 26th, 2010 12:33 am

    Just get over it. Tibet is part of China like Hawaii is part of the U.S.

  19. David on February 26th, 2010 6:41 pm

    It may be even more sad if you know that I have been living in a big western country for over 20 years now. I have full access to a ‘free’ information your guys are claiming. I am not brainwashed by the Chinese government. I may not agree with everything the Chinese government does. However, Tibet is a part of China, period. That is the truth belief of many millions of Chinese. You guys go figure out what you want to do about that belief. You can stop buying stuff from China. That is just fine with me.

    The western governments are brainwashing your minds.

    The “Tibetan government-in-exile” is brainwashing the minds of the Tibetans-in-exile.

  20. Maresa on February 27th, 2010 3:29 am

    Yes David, it is agreed by the “Chinese” not the Tibetans AND many of the other countries. And your statement about governments brainwashing people, just seems too funny to me because if you think about it china is the one that is censoring everything from newspaper to internet. If you don’t call that brain washing then what is? Also if you have ‘free’ access of information then do your research not just on a chinese websites but on other countries. And become more open-minded seriously!

  21. David on February 27th, 2010 4:00 pm

    Maresa. Are you sure you are not brainwashed? Have you ever read any article/news report about how many Iraqi civilians killed by the US army in western news medias? The governments (US and UK) delibrately not collect that info. I don’t have to mention the black persons in EU operated by CIAs. If you go to read the website of “Tibetan government-in-exile”, it is funny too. They sounded like they had a modern demoracy 1000 years ago in Tibet, yet they are still recognize Dalai Lama as a “ruler”. Do you recognize Obama as your ruler? When you said it is agreed by the “Chinese” not the Tibetans. Do you means the Tibetans-in-exile. The Tibetans-inside Tibet are “Chinese”. They hold Chinese passports and they are now owning the land that used to be owned by the Tibetans-in-exile. The Tibetans-inside Tibet don’t want these exiles to be back. Do you know that?

  22. John Roberts on March 1st, 2010 5:11 pm

    Id David is right that the Tibetans inside Tibet don’t want the Tibetans-in-Exile to return (e.g. the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and about 100,000 others around the world) let’s put it to a test. Hold a referendum, with a free vote, and freedom of the press, inside the Tibetan Autonomous Region and let the Tibetans decide for themselves by majority rule. For that matter, why not hold elections in all of China, and let the Chinese people decide whether they want a single-party dictatorship, or a mutli-party democracy? It’s time for China to do now what Chile did in the early 1990s — hold a national plebiscite on freedom. That’s how the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet came to an end — with a popular vote. If Chile can do it, why can’t China? What are the Chinese leadership so afraid of? if David is right, what is he so afraid of?

  23. David on March 2nd, 2010 3:33 pm

    Don’t think I am afraid of anything. You might be surprised there may be ‘free’ election in the future in China. Don’t bid that Dalai Lama will win. Look at Ukraine. Don’t think a “demoractic” china will let go Tibet. Look at how many wars India had fought over Kushmir. I know you want to impose the western political system around the globe. But don’t mix up ‘freedom’ with Tibet Independence. We may give more ‘free’ election to Tibetan or Chinese, but it will have nothing to do with that fact that Tibet was, is and will always be a part of China. Keep fight and don’t buy anything from China. I care less about what you are doing.

  24. David on March 2nd, 2010 3:42 pm

    John, if you are so much wanting justice and freedom for Tibet. Then you should stop driving and eating. Because you wasted so much gas driving around, the Americans have to send their sons and daughters to Middle East to fight for oil. The US has to support Isreal at all cost and the Palestians are suffering because of your driving habit. Because you eat too much steak, you caused a lot of global warming. A lot of people in those poor countries are suffering because of your life style.

    So the advice to you, stop driving, stop eating, stop buying stuff from China, stop breathing too!

  25. Ronny Novick on March 2nd, 2010 6:05 pm

    I think John Roberts said it all. Instead of all of our conjecture, misinformation, brainwashed minds, etc. let the Tibetans inside Tibet decide their future with international monitors. The PRC always portrays Tibetans as simple happy smiling dancing folks thrilled with being part of the Motherland so the Chinese Government has nothing to fear from a vote.

  26. David on March 3rd, 2010 12:15 am

    John and Ronny, you think you are living in a ‘free’ world. I am sorry to inform you that two of my last comments were censored. Only your comments, which the editor wants to publish, are posted here.

  27. David on March 4th, 2010 8:40 pm

    John, I don’t think you understood me when I mentioned Ukraine. What I meant what that the newly free elected president is actually pro-Moscow. So free election doesn’t always produce the pro-west pupie government because the people realize the west cannot give them everything.

    Since you are the guy behind some of these ‘color’ revolutions, you appeared did a poor job in Ukraine. The orange color changed back to pro-Moscow color in just one election.

    What is what I meant. Even if there is free election in Tibet. Majority of local Tibet may not vote for Dalai Lama since that guy was their master and never brought anything beneficial to them.

  28. David on March 5th, 2010 12:56 am

    It is no secret that Dalai Lama is just a tool used by your westerners like John. John will use Dalai Lama at his wish, no matter by means as CIA’s sponsored terrorist, or Nobel prized “peace lover”. As long as there are millions and billions of Chinese believe in what I am believing, Dalai Lama has no chance to come to the China to rule anything. Period!

  29. Faye on March 7th, 2010 4:41 am

    I admit, I am a protectionist.
    I do not like lead added into my everyday products I buy from Target or the Dollar Tree Store. I do not like communist countries in what they stand for. I do not like land being taken over ‘cuz some presidente thinks it’s right for “his people”. I do not like leaking nuclear power plants. I do not like knowing a spiritual leader is in exile as he is an instrument for whatever God’s words are. [Note, each religion has their own God title. Add in your version. I’m being generic here.]
    I do like home grown, chemical-free products; freedom of speech and press. I like that President Obama is trying to clean up (Sr. and W’s and others) ginormous messes.
    Let the focus be that a communist country (nearby N. Korea and Iran) is creating excuses to hurt America. Let the focus be that our president met with a man that is a symbol (if you will) for his hurt, oppressed people.
    We can only “Hurry up and Wait,” aka try our best and wait for the results. Keep writing Sara C!

  30. NC on March 10th, 2010 7:32 am

    There’s several things wrong with this article but it’s still nice to see an alternative perspective from the usually western drivel that has so far indoctrinated and brainwashed gullible Americans.

    First of all, that demagogue the Dalai Lama does not want to “free Tibet”. He has been for 20 years affirming China’s sovereignty claims over Tibet.

    Second, Tibet isn’t that autonomous despite its title as an autonomous region.

    Third, it’s not accurate that Tibet has been a part of china since the 13th century but it is true that China’s sovereignty is wholly lawful under international law and part of the justification for that is China’s historical relationship with Tibet.

  31. Shari on March 14th, 2010 7:27 pm

    I am 15 years old and I don’t know enough to comment one way or another, but I do have a request. I am doing a report about the Dalai Lama, and if he should be able to go back and rule Tibet. I need to fine “fair and balanced” information so I can form my own opinion. Please help, Thanks 🙂

  32. David on March 15th, 2010 1:20 am
  33. Speak For Yourselves on March 15th, 2010 2:22 am

    That’s how the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet came to an end

    Funny how you should mention that Roberts, care to tell us all how he “came to a start”? Oh that’s right, the U.S installed him on 9-11-73 after overthrowing the democratically elected government of Chile.

  34. Speak For Yourselves on March 15th, 2010 2:30 am

    Good posts Dave. I am Taiwanese myself and the nonsense propaganda Americans sell to the world on Tibet (that I can read with fully “free” media access) jars with reality.

  35. NC on March 15th, 2010 2:48 pm


    I recommend these books

    “History of Modern Tibet” by A Tom Grunfeld

    “The Snow Lion and the Dragon” by Melvyn Goldstein

    “Contemporary Tibet” Edited by Barry Sautman

    And this site

  36. John Roberts on March 17th, 2010 5:59 pm

    Hi Shari,

    My book, “Freeing Tibet: 50 years of Struggle, Resilience, and Hope”, published in 2009, is in most libraries and offers a comprehensive account of the struggle between Tibet and China. Regarding the question of the Dalai Lama’s return to China, we go into this in detail in the final several chapters. Of great interest is the likelihood that China will try to dictate who is the next Dalai Lama, under a regulation the Chinese government passed. This would be like the Italian government choosing the next pope. You can also read a bit about it on our website, The sources NC recommends are also very good and balanced. Goldstein in particular is highly respected by many academic authorities, although he has a slight pro-China bias. Dave recommended Parenti — you should be aware if you use his work that his slant is Marxist, and therefore, in my opinion, biased. Parenti uses some of my previous articles in his work, but does so out of context and in a way which (in my opinion) distorts the history. My slant, just so you know, is that I believe firmly in democracy and people’s right to self-determination. I don’t pretend to be neutral between that viewpoint and other viewpoints that condone dictatorships. I lived in a dictatorship for a while (Spain under Generalissimo Francisco Franco) and I have little patience for people who make sxcuses for governments that limit freedom. One final word of advice to you — China’s Public Security Bureau, part of its internal police operation, employs thousands of bloggers to post on websites like this, putting out the Chinese government’s point of view (propaganda) and attacking opposing viewpoints. This is part of China’s cyber-warfare. The posters use innocent sounding names and often pretend to be other people, but they are in fact Chinese security bureaucrats just trying to manipulate public opinion through their propaganda. So don’t trust the pro-China and anti-Dalai Lama posts as measures of genuine opinion — there’s a lot of Beijing’s propaganda out there. And good luck with your paper!

  37. David on March 19th, 2010 2:18 pm

    John, don’t misled the public.

    First off, current Chinese government didn’t “pass” a regulation to choose the next Dalai Lama. The regulation you are referring to is actually a tradition that had existed since Qing Dynasty and it was established by the Qing Emperor.

    Secondly, are you paid by CIA or NED? It is on the public record that Dalai Lama was on CIA payroll and now on NED payroll.

  38. Shari on March 21st, 2010 11:05 pm

    David, NC and John Roberts,
    I just wanted to thank you for all the information. I will check them all out and will let you know how I did.
    Thanks again,
    Shari 🙂