What Is China's Relationship to Tibet?

According to the Chinese government, Tibet has continuously been a part of the Chinese nation for more than seven centuries, although Tibet declared independence in 1912 and functioned autonomously until the Chinese government sent troops into Tibet and forced it to cede sovereignty to Beijing. As of 2015, China officially maintains that Tibet is a part of China, but Beijing allows a large degree of self-rule in Tibet.

In 1959, a popular uprising among Tibetans attempted to reassert Tibetan independence, but the uprising failed. Following the failure, the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dali Lama, fled Tibet and began an international campaign to pressure world leaders to advocate for Tibetan autonomy and independence, with many of his supporters fleeing to India to establish a government-in-exile.

The relationship between the peoples of Tibet and the Chinese state have been tense since the 1950 Chinese military invasion. Riots occurred as recently as 2008. The conflict has been a major concern among human rights activists for several decades.

Today, the Central Tibetan Administration in India, which traces its history to Tibet's 1959 government-in-exile, claims to be the true representative of the Tibetan people, advocating for greater Tibetan autonomy and self-rule but not officially demanded independence from China.