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16:24 May 12 2009

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Tibet's history during Tang Dynasty
16:23, May 12, 2009  

The Tibetan ethnic group living on the Tibetan Plateau has close links with the Chinese nation, no matter in blood relationship, culture, economics, or in religion and history. If China prospers, Tibet will also flourish; however, if China declines, Tibet will fall off too. A Tibetan official, who used to be a serf, said that both the Tibetan people and Han people are members of the Chinese nation.

Speaking of Tibet's history, it is simple yet complicated.

In plain terms, Tibet has been part of China since ancient times. The 1,000-year Tibetan-Han relationship covers two stages: in the Tang Dynasty, Tibetans and Han people formed an alliance; since the Yuan Dynasty, they have belonged to the same country.

Tibet's history is complicated because, on the one hand, the Dalai Clique has been conducting propaganda since fleeing abroad, alleging "Before 1959, Tibet was an independent country". Their point of view has been supported either overtly or covertly by many Western countries, especially those anti-China forces, which has made the Tibet issue international. On the other hand, the Dalai Clique's absurd statement meets the strategic intention of Western anti-China forces, which makes the relationship between the Tibet local government and China's Central Government a sharp public opinions weapon of the anti-China forces to demonize, contain and separate China.

Disregard of the fairness and justice of history has resulted from the bias brought by the fundamental ideological difference between China and imperialist countries. Since the bias runs against a complex political and historical background, it will exist as long as the People's Republic of China led by the Communist Party of China exists.

The history, however, can not be changed after all.

Tang Dynasty: the Tibetan-Han relationship was alliance; Tibetan people and Han people started exchanges

The official exchanges between the Tibetan people and Han people can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty. According to both the old and new history of the Tang Dynasty, the Tibetan-Han relationship was alliance. Tibet, at that time, was called "Bo" or "Tubo". The present-day Tibet in English is the transliteration of "Tubo".

Before the 7th century, there were many different tribes on the Tibetan Plateau. During the reign of Srongtsen Gampo, an ancestor respected by the Tibetan ethnic group, he unified major tribes on the plateau and founded the Tubo Kingdom. Then the Tang Dynasty was one of the most developed countries in the world, exerting a great influence on other countries. Therefore, the neighboring countries called the king of the Tang Dynasty "Heavenly Khan", meaning the son of the heaven who was empowered to rule the whole world.

To pursue stability and development, Tubo allied with the Tang Dynasty to establish a stable political relationship. As for the harmonious coexistence of Han people and Tibetan people, peace-making marriage was one of the most important means of people-to-people exchanges. The close blood relationship between these two ethnic groups has been developing since then.

During the time-honored history of China, peace-making marriage was a link between the Central Plains and other minority-inhabited areas. In 641, Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty married Srongtsen Gampo. She brought to Tibet advanced cultures such as astronomical reckoning, agricultural techniques, medicines, paper making and sculpturing, as well as agricultural technicians, painters and architects, thus promoting the economic and cultural development in Tibet. Even now, some cultural relics featuring the characteristics of the Tang Dynasty can be seen in Tibet, such as Tibetan scriptures carved on wooden blocks, paper making tools in rural areas, architecture of monasteries and the Tibetan costumes.

Making a pet of Princess Wencheng, Srongtsen Gampo had the Potala Palace built for her on a mountain along the Lhasa River. The existing Potala Palace was rebuilt in the 17th century, with Princess Wencheng's earliest palace of repose and statues of Srongtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng.

Both Princess Wencheng and Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti, the other wife of Srongtsen Gampo, brought to Tibet a Buddhist statue, and Srongtsen Gampo had two monasteries built to worship these two statues. The life-size statue of Sakyamuni at the age of twelve is still enshrined in the most scared Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa.

During his reign, Srongtsen Gampo sent a prestigious and intelligent minister to India, who created the Tibetan language based on Sanskrit. The earliest historical documents written in the Tibetan language began with the exchanges between the Tibetan people and Han people. In 100 years after Princess Wencheng came to Tibet, the Tibetan-Han relationship was even closer. In around 700, Princess Jincheng of the Tang Dynasty married a Tibetan king. The first farmland cultivated by Princess Jincheng in Tibet's Shannan Prefecture has been kept till now. Tibet's agriculture was developed in its exchanges and communication with the Tang Dynasty.

During the period between Princess Wencheng and Princess Jincheng, Tibet and the Tang Dynasty held eight alliance talks with 191 envoys involved. Whenever a bilateral talk was held, a monument was built in Chang'an, then capital of the Tang Dynasty, and another erected in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, in order to record the friendly exchange history of Han people and Tibetan people. With the passage of time, most of the monuments are nowhere to be found, except the one established in front of the Jokhang Monastery on February 14, 823.

The Changqing Alliance Monument is a witness to the Tibetan-Han alliance during the Tang Dynasty. It is also called "nephew-uncle alliance monument", because after the marriage of Srongtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng, the Tibetan kings set themselves up as the nephew of the emperor of the Tang Dynasty.

In the early 1970s when I lived in the Barkhor Street, I ever saw the monument and the willows planted by Princess Wencheng herself.

With the Tibetan-Han alliance during the Tang Dynasty, a solid foundation was laid for incorporating Tibet into China's territory.

In the last years of the Tang Dynasty, Tibetan monks had even greater influence, affecting the power of local aristocrats. Therefore, the last Tibetan king did his utmost to weaken the influence of Tibetan monks by closing down monasteries, burning Buddhism scriptures and unfrocking monks. Since the movement accelerated the uprising of the Tibetan people, descendants of Srongtsen Gampo fled to the remote Ngari Prefecture in western Tibet. The Tubo Kingdom collapsed as a result.

Source: Xinhuanet

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