The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), also called Xizang Autonomous Region (བོད་རང་སྐྱོང་ལྗོངས་; Wylie: Bod-rang-skyong-ljongs; ), is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Within the People's Republic of China, Tibet is identified with the Autonomous Region, which includes about half of historical Tibet, including the traditional provinces of Ü-Tsang and Kham (western half). Its borders coincide roughly with the actual zone of control of the government of Tibet before 1959. Tibet is the second-largest province of China by area (spanning over ) after Xinjiang.
Unlike other autonomous regions, the vast majority of inhabitants are of the local ethnicity. As a result, there is debate surrounding the extent of actual autonomy of the region. The Chinese government argues that Tibet has ample autonomy, as guaranteed under Articles 112-122 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as well as the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy of the People's Republic of China, while human rights organizations around the world accuse the Chinese government of persecuting and oppressing the local population.
Tibet is under the administration of the People's Republic of China. The Central Tibetan Administration, commonly referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile and headed by the Dalai Lama considers this situation an illegitimate military occupation and holds that Tibet is a distinct sovereign nation with a long history of independence, though the Dalai Lama currently does not seek full independence for Tibet, but would accept an autonomous status similar to that now held by Hong Kong.
Following Soviet practice, there is a convention that the governor of the Tibet Autonomous Region is an ethnic Tibetan, while the general secretary of the local Communist Party committee is an outsider, usually Han Chinese. Notable general secretaries of the local party committee include Hu Jintao, who served in the 1980s.
In 1950, the Chinese Army invaded the Tibetan area of Chamdo, crushing minimal resistance. In 1951, the Tibetan representatives, under Chinese military pressure, signed a seventeen-point agreement with the Chinese Central People's Government affirming China's sovereignty over Tibet. The agreement was ratified in Lhasa a few months later. Western Government secret intervention into Tibet began before the 1959 CIA supported insurrection. British MI6 agent Sidney Wignall, in his recent autobiography, , reveals that he travelled to Tibet with John Harrop in 1955 posing as mountaineers. Captured by the Chinese authority, Wignell recalled that he was surprised to find two CIA agents were already under Chinese detention. Tibetan exiles trained in a CIA camp in Colorado clashed with Chinese forces in 1959 during the celebration of the Tibetan New Year, after which the 14th Dalai Lama, with CIA help, went into political exile in India. After 1959, the CIA trained Tibetan guerrillas and provided funds and weapons for the fight against China. However, the effort stopped when Richard Nixon decided to seek rapprochement with China in the early 1970s. Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, in The CIA's Secret War in Tibet , reveal how the CIA encouraged Tibet's revolt against China - and eventually came to control its fledgling resistance movement. The New York Times reported on October 2, 1998 that the Dalai Lama's administration acknowledged that it received $1.7 million a year in the 1960s from the CIA, but denied reports that the Tibetan leader benefited personally from an annual subsidy of $180,000. The money allocated for the resistance movement was spent on training volunteers and paying for guerrilla operations against the Chinese, the Tibetan government-in-exile said.
Xinjiang, Qinghai and Sichuan lie to the north and east of the region; Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh to the west; and Yunnan, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian states of Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh to the south. Tibet also shares a short southeastern border with the PRC province of Yunnan.
The prefecture-level city:
While traditional agricultural work and animal husbandry continue to lead the area's economy, in 2005 the tertiary sector contributed more than half its GDP growth, the first time it has surpassed the area's primary industry. The re-opening of the Nathu La pass (on southern Tibet's border with India) should facilitate Sino-Indian border trade and boost Tibet's economy.
The China Western Development policy has recently been adopted by central government to boost economic development in western China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region.