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Tibetan history, as it has been recorded, is particularly focused on the history of Buddhism in Tibet. This is partly due to the pivotal role this religion has played in the development of Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu cultures, and partly because almost all native historians of the country were Buddhist monks.

The earliest Tibetan historical texts identify the Zhang Zhung culture as a people who migrated from the Amdo region into what is now the region of Guge in western Tibet. The Zhang Zhung are considered the original culture of the Bön religion. By the first century BCE, a neighboring kingdom arose in the Yarlung valley, and the Yarlung king, Drigum Tsenpo, attempted to remove the influence of the Zhang Zhung by expelling the Zhang's Bön priests from Yarlung. He was assassinated and Zhang Zhung continued its dominance of the region until it was annexed by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century.

Construction of an early history of the Tibetan region by western sources relies primarily on ancient Chinese histories supplemented with limited archaeological findings. Chinese and "proto-Tibeto-Burman" languages may have split sometime before 4000 BC. The Chinese began growing millet in the Yellow River valley and the Tibeto-Burmans remained nomads; Tibetan split from Burmese circa 500.

From the 7th century CE Chinese historians referred to Tibet with a phonetic transcription Tǔfān (吐蕃), though 4 distinct characters were used. R.A. Stein, discussing the relationship between the last phoneme fān (蕃), pronounced at that time something like p'i̭̭wǎn..) and the Tibetan autonym bod, writes as follows:

The first externally confirmed contact with the Tibetan kingdom in recorded Tibetan history occurred when King Namri Löntsän (Gnam-ri-slon-rtsan) sent an ambassador to China in the early 7th century.

The historic name for the Tibetan Empire is different from Tibet's present name.

Traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification in the Chinese histories by the seventh century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of emperors ruled Tibet - see List of emperors of Tibet. Throughout the centuries from the time of the emperor Songtsän Gampo the power of the empire gradually increased over a diverse terrain so that by the reign of the emperor Ralpacan, in the opening years of the ninth century, its influence extended as far south as Bengal and as far north as Mongolia.

The varied terrain of the empire and the difficulty of transportation, coupled with the new ideas that came into the empire as a result of its expansion, helped to create stresses and power blocs that were often in competition with the ruler at the center of the empire. Thus, for example, adherents of the Bön religion and the supporters of the ancient noble families gradually came to find themselves in competition with the recently-introduced Buddhism.

Songtsän Gampo (Wylie: Srong-brtsan Sgam-po) (born ca. 604, died 650) was the first great emperor who expanded Tibet's power beyond Lhasa and the yarlung Valley, and is traditionally credited with introducing Buddhism to Tibet. When his father, Namri Löntsän died by poisoning, circa 618, Songtsän Gampo took control, after putting down a brief rebellion.

Songtsän Gampo proved adept at diplomacy, as well as in combat. The emperor's minister, Myang Mangpoje (Wylie: Myang Mang-po-rje Zhang-shang), defeated the Sumpa people ca. 627. Six years later (c. 632-3) Myang Mangpoje was accused of treason and executed. He was succeeded by minister Gar Songtsän (Mgar-srong-rtsan).

The Chinese records mention an envoy in 634. On that occasion, the Emperor requested marriage to a Chinese princess but was refused. In 635-6 the Emperor attacked and defeated the Azha (Tibetan: ‘A zha; Chinese: Tuyuhun) people, who lived around Lake Koko Nur, and who controlled important trade routes into China. After a Tibetan campaign against China in 635-6, the Chinese emperor agreed (only because of the threat of force, according to Tibetan sources) to provide a Chinese princess to Songtsän Gampo.

Circa 639, after Songtsän Gampo had a dispute with his younger brother Tsänsong (Brtsan-srong), the younger brother was burnt to death by his own minister Khäsreg (Mkha’s sregs) (presumably at the behest of his older brother the emperor).

The Chinese Princess Wencheng (Tibetan Mung-chang Kung-co) departed China in 640 to marry Songtsän Gampo. She arrived a year later. She brought with her many Buddhist books. This is generally thought to be the first time that Buddhism came to Tibet. Peace between China and Tibet prevailed for the remainder of Songtsän Gampo's reign.

Songtsän Gampo’s sister Sämakar (Sad-mar-kar) was sent to marry Lig-myi-rhya, the king of Zhang Zhung. However, when the king refused to consummate the marriage, she then helped her brother to defeat Lig myi-rhya and incorporate Zhang Zhung into the Tibetan Empire.

In 645, Songtsän Gampo overran the kingdom of Zhang Zhung in what is now Western Tibet.

Songtsän Gampo died in 650. He was succeeded by his infant grandson Trimang Lön (Khri-mang-slon). Real power was left in the hands of the minister Gar Songtsän.

There is some confusion as to whether Central Tibet conquered Zhang Zhung during the reign of Songtsän Gampo or in the reign of Trisong Detsän, (r. 755 until 797 or 804 CE). The records of the Tang Annals do, however, seem to clearly place these events in the reign of Songtsän Gampo for they say that in 634, Yangtong (Zhang Zhung) and various Qiang tribes "altogether submitted to him." Following this, he united with the country of Yangtong to defeat the 'Azha or Tuyuhun, and then conquered two more tribes of Qiang before threatening the Chinese region of Songzhou with a very large army of, according to the Chinese, more than 200,000 men; of 100,000 according to Tibetan sources. He then sent an envoy with gifts of gold and silk to the Chinese emperor to ask for a Chinese princess in marriage and, when refused, attacked Songzhou. According to the Tang annals, he finally retreated and apologised and later the emperor granted his request,

Emperor 'Dus-rong Mang-po-rje or Tridu Songtsän ruled in the shadow of his powerful mother Thrimalö on the one hand and the influential Gar (Mgar) clan on the other hand. In 685, the minister, Gar Tännyädombu (Mgar Bstan-snyas-ldom-bu) died and his brother, Gar Thridringtsändrö (Mgar Khri-‘bring-btsan brod) was appointed to replace him. In 692, the Tibetans lost the Tarim Basin to the Chinese. Gar Thridringtsändrö defeated the Chinese in battle in 696, and sued for peace. Two years later in 698 emperor Tridu Songtsän invited the Gar clan (over 2000 people) to a hunting party and had them executed. Gar Thridringtsändrö then committed suicide, and his troops loyal to him joined the Chinese. This brought to end the power of the Gar family.

From 700 until his death the emperor remained on campaign in the north-east, absent from Central Tibet, while his mother Thrimalö administrated in his name. In 702 China and Tibet concluded peace. At the end of that year, the Tibetan imperial government turned to consolidating the administrative organization (Tibetan: khö chenpo;Wylie: mkhos chen-po) of the northeastern Sumru (Wylie: Sum-ru) area, which had been the Sumpa country conquered 75 years earlier. Sumru was organized as a new "horn" of the empire. During the summer of 703, Tridu Songtsän resided at Öljag (‘Ol-byag) in Ling (Gling), which was on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, before proceeding with an invasion of Jang (‘Jang) or Nan-chao. In 704, he stayed briefly at Yoti Chuzang (Yo-ti Chu-bzangs) in Madrom (Rma-sgrom) on the Yellow River. He then invaded Mywa (probably = the Miao people) but died during the prosecution of that campaign.

Gyältsugru (Wylie: Rgyal-gtsug-ru), later to become King Tride Tsuktsän (Khri-lde-gtsug-brtsan), generally known now by his nickname Mes-ag-tshoms ("Old Hairy"), was born in 704. Upon the death of 'Dus-rong Mang-po-rje (Tridu Songtsen), his wife Thrimalö ruled as regent for the infant Gyältsugru. The following year the elder son of Tridu Songtsen, by the name of Lha Balpo (Lha Bal-pho) apparently contested the succession of his one-year-old brother but, at Pong Lag-rang, Lha Balpo was "deposed from the throne".

Thrimalö had arranged for a royal marriage to a Chinese princess. The Princess Jincheng (金成) (Tibetan: Kyimshang Kongjo) arrived in 710, but it is somewhat unclear whether she married the seven year old Gyältsugru, or the deposed Lha Balpo. He also married a lady from Jang (Nanzhao) and another born in Nanam.

Gyältsugru was officially enthroned with the royal name Tride Tsuktsän in 712, the same year that dowager emperess Thrimalö died.

The Arabs and Turgis became increasingly prominent during 710-720. The Tibetans were allied with the Arabs and eastern Turks. Tibet and China fought on and off in the late 720s. At first Tibet (with Turgis allies) had the upper hand, but then started losing battles. After a rebellion in southern China, and a major Tibetan victory in 730, the Tibetans and Turgis sued for peace.

In 734 the Tibetans married their princess Dronmalön (‘Dron ma lon) to the Turgis Qaghan. The Chinese allied with the Arabs to attack the Turgis. After victory and peace with the Turgis, the Chinese attacked the Tibet army. The Tibetans suffered several defeats in the east, despite strength in the west. The Turgis empire collapsed from internal strife. In 737, the Tibetans launched an attack against the king of Bru-za (Gilgit), who asked for Chinese help, but was ultimately forced to pay homage to Tibet. In 747, the hold of Tibet was loosened by the campaign of general Gao Xianzhi, who tried to re-open the direct communications between Central Asia and Kashmir.

By 750 the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian possessions to the Chinese. In 753, even the kingdom of "Little Balur" (modern Gilgit) was captured by the Chinese. However, after Gao Xianzhi's defeat by the Arabs and Qarluqs at the Battle of Talas river (751), Chinese influence decreased rapidly and Tibetan influence began to increase again. Tibet conquered large sections of northern India and even briefly took control of the Chinese capital Chang'an in 763 during the chaos of the An Shi Rebellion and even installed another Emperor on the throne of China, though his reign lasted only fifteen days.

There is a stone pillar (now blocked off from the public), the Lhasa Shöl rdo-rings, in the ancient village of Shöl in front of the Potala in Lhasa, dating to c. 764 CE during the reign of Trisong Detsen. It also contains an account of the brief capture of Chang'an, the Chinese capital, in 763 CE, during the reign of Emperor Daizong.

In 755 Tride Tsuktsän was killed by the ministers Lang and Bal. Then Tagdra Lukong (Stag-sgra Klu-khong) presented evidence to prince Song Detsän (Srong-lde-brtsan) that "they were disloyal", were causing dissension in the country, and were about to injure him also. … Subsequently, Lang and ‘Bal really did revolt, they were killed by the army, their property was confiscated, and Klu khong was, one assumes, richly rewarded."

In 756, Prince Song Detsän was crowned Emperor with the name Trisong Detsän (Wylie Khri sron lde brtsan) and took control of the government when he attained his majority at 13 years of age (14 by Western reckoning) after a one-year interregnum during which there was no emperor. In 755 China had been greatly weakened by the An Shi Rebellion, which would last until 763. In contrast, Trisong Detsän's reign was characterized by the reassertion of Tibetan influence in Central Asia and against China. Early in his reign regions to the West of Tibet paid homage to the Tibetan court. From that time onward the Tibetans pressed into the territory of the Tang emperors, reaching the Chinese capital Chang'an (modern Xian) in late 763. Tibetan troops occupied Chang'an for fifteen days and installed a puppet emperor while Emperor Daizong of Tang was in Luoyang. Nanzhao (in Yunnan and neighbouring regions) remained under Tibetan control from 750 to 794, when they turned on their Tibetan overlords and helped the Chinese inflict a serious defeat on the Tibetans.

In the meantime, the Kyrgyz negotiated an agreement of friendship with Tibet and other powers to allow free trade in the region. An attempt at a peace treaty between Tibet and China was made in 787, but hostilities were to last until the Sino-Tibetan treaty of 821 was inscribed in Lhasa in 823 (see below). At the same time, the Uyghurs, nominal allies of the Tang emperors, continued to make difficulties along Tibet's Northern border. Toward the end of this king's reign, in fact, Uyghur victories in the North caused the Tibetans to lose a number of their allies in the Southeast.

Recent historical research indicates the presence of Christianity in as early as the sixth and seventh centuries, a period when the White Huns had extensive links with the Tibetans. A strong presence existed by the eighth century when Patriarch Timothy I (727-823) in 782 calls the Tibetans one of the more significant communities of the eastern church and wrote of the need to appoint another bishop in ca. 794.

Ralpacan (Wylie Khri gtsug lde brtsan) is important to Tibetan Buddhists as one of the three Dharma Kings who brought Buddhism to Tibet. He was a generous supporter of Buddhism and invited many craftsmen, scholars and translators to Tibet from neighbouring countries. He also promoted the development of written Tibetan and translations, which were greatly aided by the development of a detailed Sanskrit-Tibetan lexicon called the Mahavyutpatti which included standard Tibetan equivalents for thousands of Sanskrit terms.

Tibetans attacked Uyghur territory in 816 and were in turn attacked in 821. After successful Tibetan raids into Chinese territory, Buddhists in both countries sought mediation.

Ralpacan was apparently murdered by two pro-Bön ministers who then placed his anti-Buddhist brother, Langdarma, on the throne.

Tibet continued to be a major Central Asian empire until the mid-9th century. It was under the reign of Ralpacan that the political power of Tibet was at its greatest extent, stretching as far as Mongolia and Bengal, and entering into treaties with China on a mutual basis.

Upon the death of Langdarma, there was a controversy over whether he would be succeeded by his alleged heir Yumtän (Wylie: Yum brtan), or by another son (or nephew) Ösung (Wylie: 'Od-srung) (either 843-905 or 847-885). A civil war ensued, which effectively ended centralized Tibetan administration until the Sa-skya period. Ösung's allies managed to keep control of Lhasa, and Yumtän was forced to go to Yalung, where he established a separate line of kings. In 910 the tombs of the emperors were defiled.

The son of Ösung was Pälkhortsän (Wylie: Dpal 'khor brtsan) (either 893-923 or 865-895). The latter apparently maintained control over much of central Tibet for a time, and sired two sons, Trashi Tsentsän (Wylie: Bkra shis brtsen brtsan) and Thrikhyiding (Wylie: Khri khyi lding), also called Kyide Nyigön [Wylie: Skyid lde nyi ma mgon] in some sources. Thrikhyiding emigrated to the western Tibetan region of upper Ngari (Wylie: Stod Mnga ris) and married a woman of high central Tibetan nobility, with whom he founded a local dynasty.

After the breakup of the Tibetan empire in 842, Nyima-Gon, a representative of the ancient Tibetan royal house, founded the first Ladakh dynasty. Nyima-Gon's kingdom had its centre well to the east of present-day Ladakh. Kyide Nyigön's eldest son became ruler of the Mar-yul (Ladakh) region, and his two younger sons ruled western Tibet, founding the Kingdom of Guge and Pu-hrang. At a later period the king of Guge's eldest son, Kor-re, also called Jangchub Yeshe Ö (Byang Chub Ye shes' Od), became a Buddhist monk. He sent young scholars to Kashmir for training and was responsible for inviting Atisha to Tibet in 1040, thus ushering in the Chidar (Phyi dar) phase of Buddhism in Tibet. The younger son, Srong-nge, administered day to day governmental affairs; it was his sons who carried on the royal line.

Central rule was largely nonexistent over the Tibetan region from 842 to 1247, yet Buddhism had survived surreptitiously in the region of Kham. During the reign of Langdarma three monks had escaped from the troubled region of Lhasa to the region of Mt. Dantig in Amdo. Their disciple Muzu Saelbar (Mu-zu gSal-'bar), later known as the scholar Gongpa Rabsal (Dgongs-pa rab-gsal) (832-915), was responsible for the renewal of Buddhism in northeastern Tibet, and is counted as the progenitor of the Nyingma (Rnying ma pa) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Meanwhile, according to tradition, one of Ösung's descendants, who had an estate near Samye, sent ten young men to be trained by Gongpa Rabsal. Among the ten was Lume Sherab Tshulthrim (Klu-mes Shes-rab Tshul-khrims) (950-1015). Once trained, these young men were ordained to go back into the central Tibetan regions of U and Tsang. The young scholars were able to link up with Atisha shortly after 1042 and advance the spread and organization of Buddhism in Lho-kha. In that region, the faith eventually coalesced again, with the foundation of the Sakya Monastery in 1073. Over the next two centuries, the Sakya monastery grew to a position of prominence in Tibetan life and culture. The Tsurphu Monastery, home of the Karmapa sect of Buddhism, was founded in 1155.

Tibetans learned in 1207 that Genghis Khan was conquering the Tangut empire. The first documented contact between the Tibetans and the Mongols occurred when Genghis Khan met Tsangpa Dunkhurwa (Gtsang pa Dung khur ba) and six of his disciples, probably in the Tangut empire, in 1215.

After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, the Tibetans stopped sending tribute to the Mongol Empire. At the end of the 1230s, the Mongols turned their attention to Tibet. At that time, Mongol armies had already conquered Northern China, much of Central Asia, and were operating in Russia and what is now Ukraine. The Tibetan nobility, however, was fragmented and mainly occupied with internal strife. It was essentially a feudal society composed of numerous principalities constantly at war with one another.

As a result, in 1240, the grandson of Genghis Khan and second son of Ögedei Khan, Prince Godan (or Köden), invaded Tibet. It is also said that after the Mongol Godan took control of the Kokonor region in 1239, he sent his general, Doorda Darqan, on a reconnaissance mission into Tibet in 1240 to investigate the possibility of attacking Song China from the west. During this expedition the Kadampa monasteries of Rwa-sgreng and Rgyal-lha-khang were burned and 500 people were killed. However, the death of Ögödei the Mongol Qaghan in 1241 brought Mongol military activity around the world temporarily to a halt.

Prince Godan asked his commanders to search for an outstanding Buddhist lama and, as Sakya Pandita was considered the most religious, Godan sent a letter of "invitation" and presents to him.

Mongol interest in Tibet resumed in 1244 when Godan sent an invitation to Tibetan scholar Sakya Pandita, the leader of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, to come to his capital and formally surrender Tibet to the Mongols. Sakya Pandi'ta arrived in Kokonor with his two nephews Drogön Chögyal Phagpa ('Phags-pa; 1235-80) and Chana Dorje (Phyag-na Rdo-rje; 1239-67) in 1246. Prince Godan received various initiation rites and the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism became the religion of the ruling line of Mongol khans. In return, after a second Mongol invasion in 1247 led to the submission of almost all Tibetan states, Sakya Pandita was appointed Viceroy of Tibet by the Mongol court in 1249, marking one of the occasions on which the Chinese base their claim to the rule of Tibet.

On the other hand, because the Song Dynasty of China in South China had not yet been conquered by the Mongols, Tibetan historians argue that China and Tibet remained two separate units within the Mongol Empire. It may therefore be more accurate to describe this process as first North China, and then Tibet being incorporated into the Mongol Empire, which later inherited by the Yuan Dynasty founded by Kublai Khan in 1271, one of its four descendant empires, which then conquered South China by annihilating the Southern Song Dynasty in 1279.

As efforts to rule both territories while preserving Mongol identity, Kublai Khan prohibited Mongols from marrying Chinese, but left both the Chinese and Tibetan legal and administrative systems intact. Though most government institutions established by Kublai Khan in his court were either same or resemble the ones in earlier Chinese dynasties, Tibet never adopted the imperial examinations or Neo-Confucian policies.

When Möngke became Qaghan in 1251, he assigned the various districts of Tibet as appanages to his relatives. Kublai Khan was appointed by Möngke Khan to take charge over the Chinese campaigns in 1253. Since Sakya Pandit'ta had already died by this time, Kublai took Drogön Chögyal Phagpa into his camp as a symbol of Tibet's subjugation. After the death of Sakya Pandita, Phagpa remained at the camp of Prince Godan and learned Mongolian language.

In 1253, Phagpa (1235-1280) succeeded Sakya Pandita at the Mongol court. Phagpa became a religious teacher to Goden Khan's famous successor, Kublai Khan. Kublai Khan named Phagpa the Imperial Preceptor of Tibet, offering him the rule of all Tibet.

Five years later, Kublai Khan asked Ködan to give him Chögyal Phagpa, who was then 23, and converted him to Buddhism. Shortly after, Kublai Khan in a succession fight, defeated his brother, Ariq Boke, and became the khan, the ruler of the Mongols and later on even became Emperor of China.

Kublai Khan in turn appointed Chögyal Phagpa as his Imperial Preceptor in 1260, the year when he became emperor of Mongolia. Phagpa was the first "to initiate the political theology of the relationship between state and religion in the Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhist world". With the support of Kublai Khan, Chögyal Phagpa established himself and his sect as the preeminent political power in Tibet.

Through their influence with the Mongol rulers, Tibetan lamas gained considerable influence in various Mongol clans, not only with Kublai, but, for example, also with the Il-Khanids. Kublai's success in succeeding Möngke as Great Khan meant that after 1260, Phagpa and the House of Sakya would only wield greater influence. Phagpa became head of all Buddhist monks in the Yuan empire, and Sakya would become the administrative center of Tibet. Tibet would also enjoy a rather high degree of autonomy compared to other parts of the Yuan empire, though further expeditions took place in 1267, 1277, 1281 and 1290/91.

Kublai Khan commissioned Chögyal Phagpa to design a new writing system to unify the writing of the multilingual Mongolian Empire. Chögyal Phagpa in turn modified the traditional Tibetan script and gave birth to a new set of characters called Phagspa script which was completed in 1268. Kublai Khan decided to use the Phagspa script as the official writing system of the empire, including when he became Emperor of China in 1271, instead of the Chinese ideogrammes and the Uyghur script. However, he encountered major resistances and difficulties when trying to promote this script and never achieved his original goal. As a result, only a small amount of texts were written in this script, and the majority were still written in Chinese ideogrammes or the Uyghur alphabet. The script fell into disuse after the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368. The script was, though never widely, used for about a century and is thought to have influenced the development of modern Korean script.

Kublai was elected Qaghan in 1260 following the death of his brother Möngke, although his title was not uncontested. At that point he named Drogön Chögyal Phagpa 'state preceptor'. In 1265 Drogön Chögyal Phagpa returned to Tibet and for the first time made an attempt to impose Sakya hegemony with the appointment of Shakya Bzang-po (a long time servant and ally of the Sakyas) as the Dpon-chen ('great administrator') over Tibet in 1267. A census was conducted in 1268 and Tibet was divided into thirteen myriarchies.

In 1269 Drogön Chögyal Phagpa returned to Kublai's side at his new capital, Khanbaliq (modern day Beijing). He presented the Qaghan with a new script designed to represent all of the languages of the empire. The next year he was named Dishi ('imperial preceptor'), and his position as ruler of Tibet (now in the form of its thirteen myriarchies) was reconfirmed. The Sakya hegemony over Tibet continued into the middle of the fourteenth century, although it was challenged by a revolt of the Drikung Kagyu sect with the assistance of Hülegü Khan of the Ilkhanate in 1285. The revolt was suppressed in 1290 when the Sa-skyas and eastern Mongols burned Drikung Monastery and killed 10,000 people.

Between 1346 and 1354, towards the end of the Yuan dynasty, the House of Pagmodru would topple the Sakya. Tibet would be ruled by a succession of Sakya lamas until 1358, when central Tibet came under control of the Kagyu sect. "By the 1370s the lines between the schools of Buddhism were clear."

The following 80 years or so were a period of relative stability. They also saw the birth of the Gelugpa school (also known as Yellow Hats) by the disciples of Tsongkhapa Lobsang Dragpa, and the founding of the Ganden, Drepung, and Sera monasteries near Lhasa. After the 1430s, the country entered another period of internal power struggles.

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Altan Khan, the king of the Tümed Mongols, first invited Sonam Gyatso to Mongolia in 1569. Sonam Gyatso, the head of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism and the third Dalai Lama, apparently refused to go and sent a disciple instead, who reported back to him about the great opportunity to spread Buddhist teachings throughout Mongolia.

In 1573 Altan Khan took some Tibetan Buddhist monks prisoner. He invited Sonam Gyatso to Mongolia again in 1578, and this time he accepted the invitation. They met at the site of Altan Khan's new capital, Koko Khotan (Hohhot), and the Dalai Lama gave teachings to a huge crowd there. Altan Khan had Thegchen Chonkhor, Mongolia's first monastery built in what is now modern Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. Also, the ruler of the Khalkha Mongols, Abtai Sain Khan, rushed to Tumet to meet the Dalai Lama.

The Erdene Zuu monastery (Mongolian: Эрдэнэ Зуу) was built by Abtai in 1586, at the site of the former Mongol capital of Karakorum. This was the first monastery built within the present independent nation of Mongolia. and it grew into a massive establishment. In 1792, it contained sixty-two temples and some 10,000 lamas.

A massive program of translating Tibetan (and Sanskrit) texts into Mongolian was commenced with the letters beautifully written in silver and gold and paid for by the Dalai Lama's Mongolian devotees. Within fifty years, virtually all Mongols had become Buddhist, with tens of thousands of monks, who were members of the Gelug order, loyal to the Dalai Lama. Chinese authors sometimes insist that Altan Khan was a tributary of China, or even allude to him being a subordinate. This, however, not only ignores the often merely symbolic nature of the Chinese tributary system during the Ming and Qing dynasties, but also the fact that by the end of the 1570s, the relations between the Ming and Altan Khan were once again marred by border raids (for this and the meeting between Altan Khan and Södnam Gyatso).

Sonam Gyatso's message was that the time had come for Mongolia to embrace Buddhism; that from that time on there should be no more animal sacrifices; the images of the old gods were to be destroyed; there must be no taking of life, animal or human; military action must be given up; and the immolation of women on the funeral pyres of their husbands must be abolished. He also secured an edict abolishing the Mongol custom of blood-sacrifices.

Sonam Gyatso publicly announced that he was a reincarnation of the Tibetan Sakya monk Drogön Chögyal Phagpa (1235-1280) who converted Kublai Khan, while Altan Khan was a reincarnation of Kublai Khan (1215-1294), the famous ruler of the Mongols and Emperor of China, and that they had come together again to cooperate in propagating the Buddhist religion. While this did not immediately lead to a massive conversion of Mongols to Buddhism (this would only happen in the 1630s), it did lead to the widespread use of Buddhist ideology for the legitimation of power among the Mongol nobility. Last but not least, the Yonten Gyatso, the fourth Dalai Lama, was a grandson of Altan Khan.

Yonten Gyatso (1589 – 1616), the fourth Dalai Lama and a non-Tibetan, was the grandson of Altan Khan. He died in 1617 in his mid-twenties. Some people say he was poisoned but there is no real evidence one way or the other.

Lobsang Gyatso (Wylie transliteration: Blo-bzang Rgya-mtsho), the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, (1617-1682) was the first Dalai Lama to wield effective political power over central Tibet.

The fifth Dalai Lama is known for unifying Tibet under the control of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating the rival Kagyu and Jonang sects and the secular ruler, the Tsangpa prince, in a prolonged civil war. His efforts were successful in part because of aid from Gushi Khan, a powerful Oirat military leader. The Jonang monasteries were either closed or forcibly converted, and that school remained in hiding until the latter part of the twentieth century.

In 1652 the fifth Dalai Lama visited the Manchu emperor, Shunzhi. He was not required to kowtow like other visitors, but still had to kneel before the Emperor; and he received a seal.

The fifth Dalai lama initiated the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, and moved the centre of government there from Drepung.

The death of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1680 was kept hidden for fifteen years by his assistant, confidant, and possibly son, Desi Sangay Gyatso (De-srid Sangs-rgyas Rgya-'mtsho). The Dalai Lamas remained Tibet's titular heads of state until 1959.

During the rule of the Great Fifth, two Jesuit missionaries, the German Johannes Gruber and Belgian Albert Dorville, stayed in Lhasa for two months, October and November, 1661 on their way from Peking to Portuguese Goa, in India. They described the Dalai Lama as a "powerful and compassionate leader" and "a devilish God-the-father who puts to death such as refuse to adore him." Another Jesuit, Ippolito Desideri, stayed five years in Lhasa (1716-1721) and was the first missionary to master the language. He even produced a few Christian books in Tibetan. Capuchin fathers took over the mission until all missionaries were expelled in 1745.

In the late seventeenth century, Tibet entered into a dispute with Bhutan, which was supported by Ladakh. This resulted in an invasion of Ladakh by Tibet. KashmirI helped to restore Ladakhi rule, on the condition that a mosque be built in Leh and that the Ladakhi king convert to Islam. The Treaty of Temisgam in 1684 settled the dispute between Tibet and Ladakh, but its independence was severely restricted.

In the 1630s, Tibet became entangled in the power struggles between the rising Manchu and various Mongol and Oirad factions. Ligden Khan of the Chakhar, retreating from the Manchu, set out to Tibet to destroy the Yellow Hat sect. He died on the way in Koko Nur in 1634 . His vassal Tsogt Taij continued the fight, even having his own son Arslan killed after Arslan changed sides. Tsogt Taij was defeated and killed by Güshi Khan of the Khoshud in 1637, who would in turn become the overlord of Tibet, and act as a "Protector of the Yellow Church". Güshri helped the Fifth Dalai Lama to establish himself as the highest spiritual and political authority in Tibet and destroyed any potential rivals, like the prince of Tsang. The time of the Fifth Dalai Lama was, however, also a period of rich cultural development.

The Fifth Dalai Lama's death was kept secret for fifteen years by the regent (Tibetan: desi;Wylie: sde-srid), Sanggye Gyatso. This was apparently done so that the Potala Palace could be finished, and to prevent Tibet's neighbours taking advantage of an interregnum in the succession of the Dalai Lamas.

Tsangyang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama, was not enthroned until 1697. Tsangyang Gyatso enjoyed a lifestyle that included drinking, the company of women, and writing love songs. In 1705, Lobzang Khan of the Khoshud used the sixth Dalai Lama's escapades as excuse to take control of Tibet. The regent was murdered, and the Dalai Lama sent to Beijing. He died on the way, near Koko Nur, ostensibly from illness. Lobzang Khan appointed a new Dalai Lama who, however, was not accepted by the Gelugpa school. Kelzang Gyatso was discovered near Koko Nur and became a rival candidate.

The Dzungars invaded Tibet in 1717, deposed and killed Lobzang Khan's pretender to the position of Dalai Lama. This was widely approved. However, they soon began to loot the holy places of Lhasa, which brought a swift response from Emperor Kangxi in 1718; but his military expedition was annihilated by the Dzungars, not far from Lhasa.

A second, larger, expedition sent by Emperor Kangxi expelled the Dzungars from Tibet in 1720 and the troops were hailed as liberators. They brought Kelzang Gyatso with them from Kumbum to Lhasa and he was installed as the seventh Dalai Lama in 1721.

Following the Qing withdrawal from central Tibet in 1723, there was a period of civil war.

After the rebellion of a Khoshuud Mongol prince near Koko Nur, the Qing made the region of Amdo and Kham into the province of Qinghai in 1724, and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728. The Qing government sent a resident commissioner (amban) to Lhasa.

Spencer Chapman gives a similar, but more detailed, account of this border agreement:

The ancient Sino-Tibetan relations are complicated and questions remain regarding the subordination of Tibet to Qing China following first decade of the 18th century. In 1727, the government of China began posting two high commissioners, namely Ambans, to Lhasa. pro-Chinese historians argue that the ambans' presence was an expression of Chinese sovereignty, while those favouring Tibetan independence claims tend to equate the ambans with ambassadors. The relationship between Tibet and (Qing) China was that of patron and priest and was not based on the subordination of one to the other, according to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (The thirteenth Dalai Lama was deposed (1904), reinstated (1908), and deposed (1910) again by the Qing Dynasty government.) Pho-lha-nas, an important Tibetan aristocrat, ruled Tibet with Chinese support in 1728-47. In 1728 the young seventh Dalai Lama was invited to visit Beijing, but Pho-lha-nas only had him moved from Lhasa to Litang to make it more difficult for him to influence the government. After Pho-lha-nas died, his son ruled until he was killed by the ambans in 1750. This provoked riots during which the ambans were killed. A Chinese army entered the country and restored order.

Tibetan factions rebelled in 1750 and killed the ambans. Then, a Manchu Qing army entered and defeated the rebels and installed an administration headed by the Dalai Lama. The number of soldiers in Tibet was kept at about 2,000. The defensive duties were partly helped out by a local force which was reorganized by the resident commissioner, and the Tibetan government continued to manage day-to-day affairs as before. In 1751, the Manchu (and Qing) Emperor Qianlong established the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of Tibet who lead a government (Kashag) with four Kalöns in it. Under Emperor Qianlong no further attempts were made to integrate Tibet into the empire. Instead, Emperor Qianlong drew on Buddhism to bolster support among the Tibetans. Six thangkas remain portraying the emperor as Manjusri and Tibetan records of the time refer to him by that name.

In 1788, Gurkha forces sent by Bahadur Shah, the Regent of Nepal, invaded Tibet, occupying a number of frontier districts. The young Panchen Lama fled to Lhasa and the Manchu Qianlong Emperor sent troops to Lhasa, upon which the Nepalese withdrew agreeing to pay a large annual sum.

In 1791 the Nepalese Gurkhas invaded Tibet a second time, seizing Shigatse and destroyed, plundered, and desecrated the great Tashilhunpo Monastery. The Panchen Lama was forced to flee to Lhasa once again. The Qianlong Emperor then sent an army of 17,000 men to Tibet. In 1793, with the assistance of Tibetan troops, they managed to drive the Nepalese troops to within about 30km of Kathmandu before the Gurkhas conceded defeat and returned all the treasure they had plundered.

The 1791 Nepalese invasion and the following defeat by the Qing increased the latter's control over Tibet. From that moment, all important matters were to be submitted to the Ambans.

In 1792, the emperor issued a 29-point decree which appeared to tighten Qing control over Tibet. It strengthened the powers of the Ambans. The Ambans were elevated above the Kashag and the Dalai Lama in responsibility for Tibetan political affairs. The Dalai and Panchen Lamas were no longer allowed to petition the Chinese Emperor directly but could only do so through the Ambans. The Ambans took control of Tibetan frontier defense and foreign affairs. Tibetan authorities' foreign correspondence, even with the Mongols of KoKonor (present-day Qinghai), had to be approved by the Ambans. The Ambans were put in command of the Qing garrison and the Tibetan army (whose strength was set at 3000 men). Trade was also restricted and travel could be undertaken only with documents issued by the Ambans. The ambans were to review all judicial decisions. The Tibetan currency, which had been the source of trouble with Nepal, was also taken under Beijing's supervision. However, these directives were either never fully implemented, or quickly discarded, as the Qing were more interested in a symbolic gesture of authority than actual sovereignty.

It also outlined a new method to select both the Dalai and Panchen Lama by means of a lottery administered by the Ambans in Lhasa. In this lottery the names of the competing candidates were written on folded slips of paper which were placed in a golden urn. The emperor wanted to play this part in choosing reincarnations because the Gelukpa School of the Dalai Lamas was the official religion of his court. There is general agreement that the ninth, thirteenth, and fourteenth Dalai Lamas were not chosen by the golden urn method but rather selected by the appropriate Tibetan officials with the selection being approved after the fact by the Emperor. In such cases the Emperor would also issue an order waiving the use of the urn. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth Dalai Lamas were selected by the golden urn method.

The Tibetan view of Tibetan-Manchu relations is that:

Shakabpa's "Tibet: A Political History"(1967) asserted that the tenth Dalai Lama was not selected by the mean of the lottery, while Wang and Nyima assert the contrary.

According to Shakabpa, the twelfth Dalai Lama was selected by the Tibetan method but was confirmed by means of the lottery. The ninth, thirteen, and fourteenth Dalai Lamas, however, were selected by the previous incarnation's entourage, or labrang, with the selection being approved after the fact by Beijing.

The relationship between Tibet and the Manchu emperors was of mutual benefit:

The British forced the Tibetans to withdraw from Nepal. In the 19th century, the power of the Qing government declined. As Chinese soldiers posted to Lhasa began to neglect their military duties, the ambans lost influence. After the invasion of Tibet by General Zorawar Singh General of Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab wars were fought with the Indian Kingdom of Jammu and were concluded with peace treaties at Ladakh in 1841 with Maharaja Gulab Singh. and Nepal in 1856 without the involvement of Beijing.

Nepal was a tributary state to China from 1788 to 1908. In a treaty signed in 1856, Tibet and Nepal agreed to "regard the Chinese Emperor as heretofore with respect." Michael van Walt van Praag, legal advisor to the 14th Dalai Lama, claims that 1856 treaty provided for a Nepalese mission, namely Vakil, in Lhasa which later allowed Nepal to claim a diplomatic relationship with Tibet in its application for United Nations membership in 1949.. However, the status of Nepalese mission as diplomatic is disputed and the Nepalese Vakils stayed in Tibet until the 1960s when Tibet had been part of PRC for a decade.

The first Europeans to arrive in Tibet were Portuguese missionaries who first arrived in 1624 led by António de Andrade, and were welcomed by the Tibetans who allowed them to build a church. The 18th century brought more Jesuits and Capuchins from Europe who gradually met opposition from Tibetan lamas who finally expelled them from Tibet in 1745.

However, at the time not all Europeans were banned from the country — in 1774 a Scottish nobleman, George Bogle, came to Shigatse to investigate trade for the British East India Company, introducing the first potatoes into Tibet.

By the early 19th century the situation of foreigners in Tibet grew more precarious. The British Empire was encroaching from northern India into the Himalayas and Afghanistan and the Russian Empire of the tsars was expanding south into Central Asia and each power became suspicious of intent in Tibet. In 1840, Sándor Kőrösi Csoma arrived in Tibet, hoping that he would be able to trace the origin of the Magyar ethnic group. By the 1850s Tibet had banned all foreigners from Tibet and shut its borders to all outsiders.

In 1865 Great Britain began secretly mapping Tibet. Trained Indian surveyor-spies disguised as pilgrims or traders counted their strides on their travels across Tibet and took readings at night. Nain Singh, the most famous, measured the longitude and latitude and altitude of Lhasa and traced the Yarlung Tsangpo River.

The authorities in British India renewed their interest in Tibet in the late 19th century, and a number of Indians entered the country, first as explorers and then as traders. Treaties regarding Tibet were concluded between Britain and China in 1886, 1890, and 1893, but the Tibetan government refused to recognize their legitimacy and continued to bar British envoys from its territory. During "The Great Game", a period of rivalry between Russia and Britain, the British desired a representative in Lhasa to monitor and offset Russian influence.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the British and Russian Empires were competing for supremacy in Central Asia. To forestall the Russians, in 1904, a British expedition led by Colonel Francis Younghusband was sent to Lhasa to force a trading agreement and to prevent Tibetans from establishing a relationship with the Russians. In response, the Chinese foreign ministry asserted that China was sovereign over Tibet, the first clear statement of such a claim.

On July 19, 1903, Younghusband arrived at Gangtok, the capital city of the Indian state of Sikkim, to prepare for his mission. A letter from the under-secretary to the government of India to Younghusband on July 26, 1903 stated that "In the event of your meeting the Dalai Lama, the government of India authorizes you to give him the assurance which you suggest in your letter." The British took a few months to prepare for the expedition which pressed into Tibetan territories in early December 1903. The entire British force numbered over 3,000 fighting men and was accompanied by 7,000 sherpas, porters and camp followers.

The Tibetans were aware of the expedition. To avoid bloodshed the Tibetan general at Yetung pledged that if the British made no attack upon the Tibetans, he would not attack the British. Colonel Younghusband replied, on December 6, 1903, that "we are not at war with Tibet and that, unless we are ourselves attacked, we shall not attack the Tibetans".

Despite the mutual agreement, the British expedition did kill large numbers of unprepared Tibetan soldiers and civilians. The biggest massacre took place on March 31, 1904, at a mountain pass halfway to Gyantse near a village called Guru. Colonel Younghusband tricked the 2,000 Tibetan soldiers guarding the pass into extinguishing the burning ropes of their basic matchlock rifles before firing at them with the Maxim machine guns and rifles. The Tibetan casualties, according to Younghusband’s account, were "500 killed and wounded." Others have claimed that the Tibetan casualty was as high as 1,300.

According to the British, their intention was to disarm Tibetan soldiers who were being surrounded. The slaughter was triggered by the Tibetans who fired the first shot. But the accounts of those who pulled the triggers make it clear that the British had the intention of killing as many as possible. “From three sides at once a withering volley of magazine fire crashed into the crowded mass of Tibetans,” wrote Perceval Landon. “Under the appalling punishment of lead, they [the Tibetans] staggered, failed and ran…Men dropped at every yard.”

The British soldiers mowed down the Tibetans with machine guns as they fled. "I got so sick of the slaughter that I ceased fire, though the general’s order was to make as big a bag as possible," wrote Lieutenant Arthur Hadow, commander of the Maxim guns detachment. "I hope I shall never again have to shoot down men walking away."

In a telegraph to his superior in India, the day after the massacre, Younghusband stated: "I trust the tremendous punishment they have received will prevent further fighting, and induce them to at last to negotiate."

When the British mission reached Lhasa, the Dalai Lama had already fled to Urga in Mongolia, Younghusband found the option of returning to India empty-handed untenable, so he proceeded to draft a treaty unilaterally, and have it signed in the Potala by the regent, Ganden Tri Rinpoche, and any other Tibetan officials he could gather together as an ad hoc government. The Tibetan ministers whom Younghusband dealt with had apparently, unknown to him, just been appointed to their posts. The regular ministers had been imprisoned for suspected pro-British leanings and it was feared they would be too accommodating to Younghusband.

A treaty was concluded which required Tibet to open its border with British India, to allow British and Indian traders to travel freely, not to impose customs duties on trade with India, a demand from British that Lhasa had to pay 2.5 million rupees as indemnity and not to enter into relations with any foreign power without British approval.

The Anglo-Tibetan treaty was accordingly confirmed by a Sino-British treaty in 1906 by which the "Government of Great Britain engages not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet. The Government of China also undertakes not to permit any other foreign State to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet." Moreover, Beijing agreed to pay London 2.5 million rupees which Lhasa was forced to agree upon in the Anglo-Tibetan treaty of 1904. In 1907, Britain and Russia agreed that in "conformity with the admitted principle of the suzerainty of China over Thibet" both nations "engage not to enter into negotiations with Tibet except through the intermediary of the Chinese Government."

The Qing put Amdo under their rule in 1724, and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728. Chinese government ruled these areas indirectly through the Tibetan noblemen.

Tibetans claimed that Tibetan control of the Batang region of Kham in eastern Tibet appears to have continued uncontested from the time of an agreement made in 1726 until soon after the British invasion, which alarmed the Qing rulers in China. They sent an imperial official to the region to begin reasserting Qing control, but the locals revolted and killed him.

The Qing government in Beijing then appointed Zhao Erfeng, the Governor of Xining, "Army Commander of Tibet" to reintegrate Tibet into China. He was sent in 1905 (though other sources say this occurred in 1908) on a punitive expedition. His troops destroyed a number of monasteries in Kham and Amdo, and a process of sinification of the region was begun.

Several observers and historians point out that some of the reforms implemented in this process also were beneficial to the local population:

After the Dalai Lama's title's had been restored in November 1908 and he was about to return to Lhasa from Amdo in the summer of 1909, the Chinese decided to send military forces to Lhasa to keep control over him. The Dalai Lama once again fled, this time to India, and was once again deposed by the Chinese. The situation was soon to change, however, as, after the fall of the Qing dynasty in October 1911, Zhao's soldiers mutinied and beheaded him.

In 1949, seeing that the Communists were gaining control of China, the Kashag expelled all Chinese connected with the Chinese government, over the protests of both the Kuomingtang and the Communists. The Chinese Communist government led by Mao Zedong which came to power in October lost little time in asserting a new Chinese presence in Tibet. In June 1950 the UK Government in the House of Commons stated that His Majesty's Government "have always been prepared to recognise Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, but only on the understanding that Tibet is regarded as autonomous" In October 1950, the People's Liberation Army invaded the Tibetan area of Chamdo, defeating sporadic resistance from the Tibetan army. In 1951, representatives of Tibetan authority, with Dalai Lama's authorization, participated in negotiations in Beijing with Chinese government. It resulted in a Seventeen Point Agreement which affirms China's sovereignty over Tibet. The agreement was ratified in Lhasa a few months later.

From the beginning, it was obvious that incorporating Tibet into Communist China would bring two opposite social systems face-to-face. In Tibet, however, the Chinese Communists opted not to place liberating the serfs as an immediate priority. To the contrary, from 1951 to 1959, traditional Tibetan society with its lords and manorial estates continued to function unchanged. Despite the presence of twenty thousand PLA troops in Central Tibet, the Dalai Lama's government was permitted to maintain important symbols from its de facto independence period.

The Tibetan region of Eastern Kham, previously Xikang province, was incorporated in the province of Sichuan. Western Kham was put under the Chamdo Military Committee. In these areas, land reform was implemented. This involved communist agitators designating "landlords" — sometimes arbitrarily chosen — for public humiliation in "struggle sessions." "It was only after the Dalai Lama fled his country, in 1959, that China began to collectivize the land and execute landlords, as it liberated the serfs in Central Tibet."

The Chinese built highways that reached Lhasa, and which then extended the Indian, Nepalese and Pakistani borders. The traditional Tibetan aristocracy and government remained in place and were subsidized by the Chinese government..

By 1956 there was unrest in eastern Kham and Amdo, where land reform had been implemented in full. These rebellions eventually spread into western Kham and Ü-Tsang. In some parts of the country Chinese Communists tried to establish rural communes, as was happening in the whole of China.

In 1959, China's military crackdown on rebels in Kham and Amdo led to the "Lhasa Uprising." Full-scale resistance spread throughout Tibet. Fearing capture of the Dalai Lama, unarmed Tibetans surrounded his residence, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee with the help of the CIA to India.

The Tibetan resistance movement began with isolated resistance to PRC control in the late 1950s. Initially there was considerable success and with CIA support and aid much of southern Tibet fell into Tibetan hands, but in 1959, after the failed military attempts in Lhasa resistance forces withdrew into Nepal. Operations continued from the semi-independent Kingdom of Mustang with a force of 2000 rebels, many of them trained at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado, USA In 1969, on the eve of Kissinger's overtures to China, support was withdrawn and the Nepalese government dismantled the operation.

The rebellion in Lhasa was soon defeated, and the Dalai Lama fled to India, although guerrilla warfare continued in other parts of the country for several years. Although he remained a virtual prisoner, the Chinese set the Panchen Lama as a figurehead in Lhasa, claiming that he headed the legitimate Government of Tibet in the absence of the Dalai Lama, the traditional ruler of Tibet. In 1965, the area that had been under the control of the Dalai Lama's government from the 1910s to 1959 (Ü-Tsang and western Kham) was renamed the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR. Autonomy provided that head of government would be an ethnic Tibetan; however, de facto power in the TAR is held by the general secretary of the Communist Party, who, as of as of 2006 has always been a Han Chinese from outside of Tibet. The role of ethnic Tibetans in the higher levels of the TAR Communist Party remains limited.

During the mid-1960s, the monastic estates were broken up and secular education introduced. During the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards, which included Tibetan members, inflicted a campaign of organized vandalism against cultural sites in the entire PRC, including Tibet's Buddhist heritage. Of the several thousand monasteries in Tibet, more than 6,000 are claimed by tibetanculture.org to have been destroyed[29]. According to at least one Chinese source, only a handful religiously or culturally most important monasteries remained without major damage, and thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns were killed, tortured or imprisoned.

Since 1979 there has been economic reform, but no political reform. Some PRC policies in Tibet have been described as moderate, while others are judged to be more oppressive. Most religious freedoms have been officially restored, provided the lamas do not challenge PRC rule, renounce the Dalai Lama, and stay within dictated confines. Foreigners can visit most parts of Tibet, but it is claimed that the less savoury aspects of PRC rule are kept hidden from visitors. Foreign visitors are often subject to harassment by police.

Hu Jintao became the Party Chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1988. In 1989, the 10th Panchen Lama died. Many Tibetans believe that Hu was involved in his unexpected death. A few months later, according to Tang Daxian, a dissident journalist, the police in Lhasa received orders from General Li Lianxiu to provoke an incident. Peaceful demonstrations lead to the death of 450 Tibetans that year.

In 1995, the Dalai Lama named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama, while the PRC named another child, Gyancain Norbu. Gyancain Norbu was raised in Beijing and has appeared occasionally on state media. The whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family are unknown. Amnesty International claims that they are imprisoned, while Beijing contends that they are living under a secret identity for protection and privacy.[30]

The Dalai Lama is now seventy-one years old, and by tradition, when he dies a new child Dalai Lama will have to be found. In 1997, the 14th Dalai Lama indicated that his reincarnation "will definitely not come under Chinese control; it will be outside, in the free world." [31] On November 25, 2007, the Dalai Lama made a public statement that the next Dalai Lama might be elected democratically by the Tibetan people. [32] However, since traditionally a Dalai Lama needs the recognition from the Panchan Lama to be legitimate (and vice versa), it is not known yet whether this reform will be accepted by the Tibetans. .

The PRC claims its rule over Tibet as an unalloyed improvement from the pre-1950 era of Tibetan feudalism. Some western governments occasionally protest aspects of PRC rule in Tibet.

In March 2008, there were riots in several places with Tibetan population. For more information about these events, see 2008 Tibetan unrest.

Neither the Republic of China nor the People's Republic of China has ever renounced China's claim to sovereignty over Tibet. The People's Liberation Army first entered Chamdo on October 7 1950. The large number of units of the PLA quickly surrounded the outnumbered Tibetan forces, and by October 19 1950, 5,000 Tibetan troops had surrendered. Since the signing of the Seventeen Point Agreement in 1951, Tibet has been officially incorporated into the People's Republic of China. According to this forced agreement between the Tibetan and Chinese central governments, the Dalai Lama-ruled Tibetan area was supposed to be a highly autonomous area of China.

This 1951 agreement was initially put into effect in the Tibetan regions under Dalai Lama's administration (Ü-Tsang and western Kham). However, Eastern Kham and Amdo (Qinghai) were considered by the Chinese to be outside the administration of the government of Tibet in Lhasa, and were thus treated like any other Chinese province with land redistribution implemented in full. Most lands were taken away from noblemen and monasteries and re-distributed to serfs. As a result, a rebellion led by noblemen and monasteries broke out in Amdo and eastern Kham in June 1956. The insurrection, supported by the American CIA, eventually spread to Lhasa. It was crushed by 1959. During this campaign, tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed. The 14th Dalai Lama and other government principals fled to exile in India, but isolated resistance continued in Tibet until 1972 when the CIA abruptly withdrew its support. After the Lhasa rebellion in 1959, the Chinese government lowered the level of autonomy of Central Tibet, and implemented full-scale land redistribution in all areas of Tibet.

On 5 June 1959 Purshottam Trikamdas, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, presented a report on Tibet to the International Commission of Jurists (an NGO). The press conference address on the report states in paragraph 26 that

In 1989, the Panchen Lama returned to Shigatse, where he addressed a crowd of 30,000 and described what he saw as the suffering of Tibet and the harm being done to his country in the name of socialist reform under the rule of the PRC in terms reminiscent of the petition he had presented to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1962. 5 days later, he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 50.

The PRC continues to portray its rule over Tibet as an unalloyed improvement, but foreign governments continue to make protests about aspects of PRC rule in Tibet as groups such as Human Rights Watch report alleged human rights violations. Most governments, however, recognize the PRC's sovereignty over Tibet today, and none have recognized the Government of Tibet in Exile in India.

In 2005, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered to hold talks with the 14th Dalai Lama on the Tibet issue, provided he dropped the demand for independence. The Dalai Lama said in an interview with the South China Morning Post "We are willing to be part of the People's Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment." He had already said he would accept Chinese sovereignty over Tibet but insisted on real autonomy over its religious and cultural life. The Tibetan government-in-exile called on the Chinese government to respond. The move was seen to be unpopular with some Tibetans in exile, particularly among the younger generation.

In January 2007 the Dalai Lama, in an interview on a private television channel, said "What we demand from the Chinese authority is more autonomy for Tibetans to protect their culture." He added that he had told the Tibetan people not to think in terms of history and to accept Tibet as a part of China.

2008 Tibetan protests against the Chinese powerholders—initiated by Buddhist monks—flared up again in 2008. The Chinese government reacted strongly, imposing curfews and strictly limiting access to Tibetan areas. The international response was likewise immediate and robust, with a number of leaders condemning the crackdown and large protests (including some in support of China's actions) in many major cities.

In 1991 the Dalai Lama stated that Chinese settlers in Tibet were creating "Chinese Apartheid," stating, "The new Chinese settlers have created an alternate society: a Chinese apartheid which, denying Tibetans equal social and economic status in our own land, threatens to finally overwhelm and absorb us." The Central Tibetan Administration states that the number that have died in the Great Leap Forward, of violence, or other indirect causes since 1950 is approximately 1.2 million. According to Patrick French, the former director of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign and a supporter of the Tibetan cause who was able to view the data and calculations, the estimate is not reliable because the Tibetans were not able to process the data well enough to produce a credible total. French says this total was based on refugee interviews, but prevented outsider access to the data. French, who did gain access, found no names, but "the insertion of seemingly random figures into each section, and constant, unchecked duplication." Furthermore, he found that of the 1.1 million dead listed, only 23,364 were female (implying that 1.07 million of the total Tibetan male population of 1.25 million had died). Sinologist Tom Grunfeld also finds that the figure is "without documentary evidence." There were, however, many casualties, perhaps as many as 400,000. Warren W. Smith, calculating from census reports of Tibet, shows 144,000 to 160,000 "missing" from Tibet. Courtois et al. forward a figure of 800,000 deaths and allege that as many as 10% of the Tibetan populace were interned, with few survivors. Chinese demographers have estimated that 90,000 of the 300,000 "missing" Tibetans fled the region.

The Dalai Lama has stated his willingness to negotiate with China for genuine autonomy. According to the government in exile and Tibetan independence groups, most Tibetans still call for full Tibetan independence. Tibetan exile groups say that despite recent attempts to restore the appearance of original Tibetan culture to attract tourism, the traditional Tibetan way of life is now irrevocably changed. Tashi Wangdi, the Representative of the Dalai Lama, stated in an interview that China's Western China Development program "is providing facilities for the resettlement of Han Chinese in Tibet. At every point of development, and any casual visitor such as a tourist can see it, all the development is in Chinese towns and cities. The local people have become more and more marginalized."

The Chinese government says that when Hu Yaobang, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, visited Lhasa in 1980 he was unhappy when he found out the region was lacking autonomy and was lagging behind neighbouring provinces. Policies were changed, including the revitalization of Tibetan culture and religion and language. However, in 1998 three monks and five nuns died while in custody, after suffering beatings and torture for having shouted slogans supporting the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence. Projects that the PRC claims to have benefited Tibet as part of the China Western Development economic plan, such as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, have roused fears of facilitating military mobilisation and Han migration. There is still ethnic imbalance in appointments and promotions to the civil and judicial services in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, with disproportionately few ethnic Tibetans appointed to these posts.

The government of the PRC maintains that the Tibetan Government did almost nothing to improve the Tibetans' material and political standard of life during its rule from 1913–59, and that they opposed any reforms proposed by the Chinese government. According to the Chinese government, this is the reason for the tension that grew between some Chinese government officials and the Tibetan government in 1959. The government of the PRC also rejects claims that the lives of Tibetans have deteriorated, and stated that the lives of Tibetans have been improved immensely compared to self rule before 1950.

The PRC claims that: From 1951 to 2007, the Tibetan population in Lhasa administered Tibet has increased from 1.2 million to almost 3 million. The GDP of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) today is thirty times that of before 1950. Workers in Tibet have the second highest wages in China. The TAR has 22,500km of highways, as opposed to none in 1950. All secular education in the TAR was created after the revolution. The TAR now has 25 scientific research institutes as opposed to none in 1950. Infant mortality has dropped from 43% in 1950 to 0.661% in 2000. (The United Nations reports an infant mortality rate of 35.3 per thousand in 2000.) Life expectancy has risen from 35.5 years in 1950 to 67 in 2000. The collection and publishing of the traditional Epic of King Gesar , which is the longest epic poem in the world and had only been handed down orally before. Allocation of 300 million Renminbi since the 1980s for the maintenance and protection of Tibetan monasteries. The Cultural Revolution and the cultural damage it wrought upon the entire PRC is generally condemned as a nationwide catastrophe, whose main instigators, in the PRC's view, the Gang of Four, have been brought to justice. The China Western Development plan is viewed by the PRC as a massive, benevolent, and patriotic undertaking by the wealthier eastern coast to help the western parts of China, including Tibet, catch up in prosperity and living standards.

In 2008 the Chinese government "launched a 570-million-yuan (81.43 million U.S. dollars) project to preserve 22 historical and cultural heritage sites in Tibet, including the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the Jokhang, Ramogia, Sanyai and Samgya-Goutog monasteries."

Following the Lhasa uprising and the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet in 1959, the government of India was politically pressured by Britain and US to accept the Tibetan refugees. India designated land for the refugees in the mountainous region of Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile are now based.

The plight of the Tibetan refugees garnered international attention when the Dalai Lama, spiritual and religious leader of the Tibetan government in exile, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Prize on the basis of his unswerving commitment to peaceful protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

He is highly regarded as a result and has since been received by government leaders throughout the world. Among the most recent ceremonies and awards, he was given the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bush in 2007, and in 2006 he was one of only three people to ever receive an honorary Canadian citizenship (see [33]. The PRC consistently protests each official contact with the exiled Tibetan leader.

The community of Tibetans in exile established in Dharamsala and Karnataka, South India, has expanded since 1959. Tibetans have duplicated Tibetan monasteries in India and now house tens of thousands of monks. They have also created Tibetan schools, hospitals, and published the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives—all aimed at continuing Tibetan tradition and culture. Tibetan festivals such as Lama dances, celebration of Losar, the Tibetan New Year, and the Monlam continue in exile.

In 2006, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, has declared that "Tibet wants autonomy, not independence." However, the Chinese distrust him, believing that he has not really given up the quest for Tibet independence.

Talks between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government began again in May, 2008 with little result, but more are scheduled to be held in June.