China to commemorate 70th anniversary of ‘liberation’ of Tibet

Beijing will today commemorate the 70th anniversary of the annexation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China (PRC). On

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Photo: Reuters

Beijing will today commemorate the 70th anniversary of the annexation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

On this day in 1951, delegates of the Dalai Lama—sovereign of the de facto state of Tibet—signed a “Seventeen Point Agreement” with the newly established PRC. This accord permitted China’s army to enter Tibet and establish sovereignty over the territory. While Beijing maintains that the agreement was signed voluntarily, most historians, along with Tibet’s government in exile, contend that it was signed under duress.

Today’s anniversary comes after China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that any successor to the current Dalai Lama—who is 85 years old and was proclaimed Tibet’s 14th Dalai Lama in 1939—should be approved by Beijing.

The Foreign Ministry’s announcement likely signals that, in the medium-term, Beijing will take a more assertive approach toward Tibetan affairs—especially after the Dalai Lama dies, by trying to delegitimize the spiritual authority of his successor. While the Dalai Lama remains in good health, should he die within the next year it is likely that China’s recent announcement, combined with Tibetan disdain over this major anniversary of their “liberation,” could lead to a new surge in anti-China sentiment among Tibetans in the near-term, potentially manifesting itself in new protests and diplomatic petitioning.

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