Sunday 3 February 2013

The Story of Britain's role in Tibet's downfall Pt1

Since 1914 Britain recoginsed China's suzerainty but not sovereignty over Tibet and Britain and was the only country to have this view.  The word suzerainty is used to describe a situation where a more powerful state is responsible for the foreign affairs of a less powerful state which enjoys a degree of autonomy.   This position was agreed at Simla in 1914 and the resulting Simla Accord was signed between Britain and Tibet with China withdrawing making it a bi-lateral agreement.  This remained British foreign policy until 2008 and was used by the Dalai Lama's envoys in their negotiations with the Chinese government.

David Miliband's Intervention
Britain revised this view on 29 October 2008, when David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, recognized Chinese sovereignty over Tibet by issuing a statement on its website. The Economist stated that although the British Foreign Office's website does not use the word sovereignty, officials at the Foreign Office said "it means that, as far as Britain is concerned, 'Tibet is part of China. Full stop.' The British Government sees their new stances as an updating of their position, while some others have viewed it as a major shift in the British position.  Tibetologist Robert Barnett thinks that the decision has wider implications. India’s claim to a part of its north-east territories, for example, is largely based on the same agreements — notes exchanged during the Simla convention of 1914, which set the boundary between India and Tibet — that the British appear to have just discarded.  It has been speculated that Britain's shift was made in exchange for China making greater contributions to the International Monetary Fund.

There you have it.  Thank you David Miliband, no wonder the talks between the Tibetans in exile representatives and the Chinese government have got nowhere for years.  No wonder British officials don't want to see the Dalai Lama.

I welcome any comments on this issue.


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