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Tibet Area
Area of the Republic of China (1912–1951)
Area of the People's Republic of China (1951–1965)

Map of the de jure Tibet Area within the ROC
• 1953
1,221,600 km2 (471,700 sq mi)
• 1953
• Tibet Area established
1 January 1912
• Established
23 May 1951
• Replacement of Kashag with the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region
after the 1959 Tibetan rebellion
20 October 1962
• Establishment of the
Tibet Autonomous Region
22 April 1965
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Tibet under Qing rule
Tibet Autonomous Region
Today part ofChina
Tibet Autonomous Region

The Tibet Area was a province-level administrative division of China in the 20th century. It was de jure created after the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912,[1] and nominally includes the Ü-Tsang (central Tibet) and Ngari (western Tibet) areas, but not the Amdo and Kham areas.[2][3][4] The territories were merely claimed by the ROC, but actually controlled by an independent Tibet with a government headed by the Dalai Lama in Lhasa. The ROC retreated to Taiwan and lost control of mainland China to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949; afterwards, the ROC continued to claim Tibet.

The PRC annexed Tibet in 1951 and continued to call it Tibet Area.[5] It merged with the Chamdo Region and was transformed to Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965 after the 1959 Tibetan uprising.[6]


Early-Republican China

Tibet became a protectorate of Qing China in the 18th century;[7] imperial authority was symbolized by a Qing resident called amban in Lhasa. After the Chinese 1911 Revolution and the end of the Qing Empire, Tibet expelled the Chinese delegation and became independent.[8] The ROC claimed Tibet as a province. It considered Tibet be part of the "Five Races under One Union"[7] and held that "Tibet was placed under the sovereignty of China" following the Sino-Nepalese War (1788–1792).[9] The Nationalist government's Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) was established in 1928 to nominally govern those regions.[10] In 1934, diplomatic relations between Tibet and China resumed. ROC proposed that Tibet recognize Chinese sovereignty. Tibet rejected the proposal but agreed to host a Chinese mission in Lhasa; a MTAC mission was established in 1939. It was expelled in July 1949 to make it more difficult for the Chinese Communists to establish an official presence.[8]

Relations with the People's Republic of China

Main article: Annexation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China

The PRC received early insight into the politics of Tibet by recruiting from MTAC members after the Kuomintang was defeated during the Chinese Civil War.[11] In 1949, Tibet opened negotiations with the Chinese Communists, who were expected to win the civil war, and through them, with the future PRC. As with the ROC, Tibet refused to accept Communist demands that Tibet recognize Chinese sovereignty.[12] Following some border skirmishes, the PRC invaded Tibet in October 1950; the Chinese defeated the Tibetans at the Battle of Chamdo, Chamdo being part of Xikang rather than Tibet Area from the Chinese point of view. They stopped to allow further negotiations.[13] Tibet was unable to secure international support, and military resistance was hopeless. In 1951, the PRC formally annexed Tibet through the Seventeen Point Agreement.[14] In the first few years, the Chinese focused on creating an administration independent of the Tibetan government; the latter was unable to cope with the work demanded by the Chinese and became increasingly redundant.[15] Social reform was not emphasized due to the difference in culture and the dependence of PRC institutions on local resources. Basic services, trade, and technology were introduced to win over the population and the ruling elite. Tibetan opposition built around the two prime ministers of the Tibetan government, and was strengthened by the Chinese criticism of those officers.[16]

The Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet (PCART) was formed in 1955 as an interim governing body. It replaced the Chinese Tibet Military Commission, which frequently opposed the Tibetan government and was viewed with hostility by the Tibetans. The PRC hoped that Tibetan integration would be easier with the Chinese–Tibetan PCART. The relevance of the native Tibetan government continued to erode; the Kashag continued to meet but its influence was mainly symbolic.[17]

The Tibet Autonomous Region was created in 1965 after the 1959 Tibetan uprising.[18]

Relations with Taiwan after 1949

After Chinese Civil War, and the ROC retreated to Taiwan. It continued to claim Tibet.

Chiang Kai-shek responded to the 1959 uprising with a Letter to Tibetan Compatriots (Chinese: 告西藏同胞書; pinyin: Gào Xīzàng Tóngbāo Shū), which set the ROC's policy of aiding Tibetan rebels against the PRC. ROC continued to operate MTAC, which undertook propaganda work among the Tibetan diaspora in India. In the following years, 400 Tibetans were recruited to work and study in Taiwan.[19][20][21]

The ROC's position on Tibet shifted after the former's democratization in mid-1990s. In 2007, ROC President Chen Shui-bian spoke at the International Symposium on Human Rights in Tibet and stated that his offices no longer treated exiled Tibetans as Chinese mainlanders.[22] In 2017, the Tsai Ing-wen administration announced that MTAC would be dissolved and its remaining functions transferred to the Department of Hong Kong, Macao, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet Affairs of the Mainland Affairs Council as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[23]

Administrative divisions

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Flag of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region
(中央代表团 (Central (Government) Representative Team))
Division (专区) Tibetan Simplified Chinese Hanyu Pinyin County ()
Lhasa Division Office 拉萨办事处 Lāsà Bànshìchù 9 counties
Xigazê Division Office 日喀则办事处 Rìkāzé Bànshìchù 12 counties
Nagqu Division Office 黑河办事处 Hēihé Bànshìchù 4 counties
Ngari Division Office 阿里办事处 Ālǐ Bànshìchù 8 counties
Lhoka Division Office 山南办事处 Shānnán Bànshìchù 10 counties
Dakong Division Office 塔工办事处 Tǎgōng Bànshìchù 6 counties
Gyangzê Division Office 江孜办事处 Jiāngzī Bànshìchù 6 counties
Qamdo Division Office 昌都办事处 Chāngdū Bànshìchù 18 counties

See also


  1. ^ Esherick, Joseph; Kayali, Hasan; Van Young, Eric (2006). Empire to Nation: Historical Perspectives on the Making of the Modern World. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 245. ISBN 9780742578159. Archived from the original on 23 June 2021. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  2. ^ Ma, Rong (2011), Population and Society in Contemporary Tibet, Hong Kong University Press, pp. 17–18, ISBN 978-962-209-202-0
  3. ^ Tibet, worldpopulationreview.com, 2018: "Tibet is an autonomous region located in the People's Republic of China. Tibet was established in 1965 and replaced the administrative division known as the Tibet Area."
  4. ^ Geoffrey Migiro, Is Tibet a Country?, worldatlas.com, September 14, 2018:"Tibet is an autonomous region of People's Republic of China which was established in 1965 to replace an administrative region known as Tibet Area which they inherited from Republic of China."
  5. ^ Ling, Nai-min (1968), Tibet, 1950-1967, Union Research Institute, p. 743: "In 1951, the Chinese Communists had set up the Work Committee of the CCP for the Tibet Area. It became the supreme power organization in the Tibet area during the revolt."
  6. ^ "China confirms 'peaceful liberation' of Tibet – archive, 1951". The Guardian. 28 May 2021. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  7. ^ a b Yu & Kwan 2020, pp. 86–87.
  8. ^ a b Shakya 1999, pp. 5–8.
  9. ^ Sperling (2004) pp.6,7. Goldstein (1989) p.72. Both cite the ROC's position paper at the 1914 Simla Conference.
  10. ^ "本會沿革". 蒙藏委員會. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  11. ^ Shakya 1999, p. 35.
  12. ^ Shakya 1999, pp. 26–32.
  13. ^ Shakya 1999, pp. 38–45.
  14. ^ Shakya 1999, pp. 89–91.
  15. ^ Shakya 1999, pp. 116–118.
  16. ^ Shakya 1999, pp. 93–108.
  17. ^ Shakya 1999, pp. 124–130.
  18. ^ "China confirms 'peaceful liberation' of Tibet – archive, 1951". The Guardian. 28 May 2021. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  19. ^ Okawa, Kensaku (2007). "Lessons from Tibetans in Taiwan: Their history, current situation, and relationship with Taiwanese nationalism" (PDF). The Memoirs of the Institute of Oriental Culture. 152. University of Tokyo: 588–589, 596, 599, 602–603, 607. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2012.
  20. ^ "The Issue of Tibet in China-US Relations During The Second World War".
  21. ^ The last of the Tibetans Archived 2009-12-10 at the Wayback Machine By Ian Buruma
  22. ^ 'President Chen Shui-bian's Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the 2007 International Symposium on Human Rights in Tibet' Sep 8, 2007 [dead link]
  23. ^ "Taiwan calls time on Mongolia and Tibet affairs commission". South China Morning Post. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2020.