1. HAS TIBET ALWAYS BEEN PART OF CHINA (or since Yuan Dynasty)?
OR HAS TIBET ALWAYS BEEN AN INDEPENDENT NATION?
The answers are YES, NO, MAYBE, & DEPENDS:
At times, Tibet was a completely independent nation and in the mid-600 hundreds so strong that the Tang Emperor paid annual tribute to Tibet’s King. Tibet even invaded the Tang Dynasty and captured its capitol, Changan (now known as Xian).
At times, it was under the direct political authority of China’s Imperial government. The authority of China's ambens’ - the equivalent of Governors - was so complete, they even selected the final successors to the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama, the Karmapa Lama, and other important Lama offices. Under this system, key monasteries and aristocratic factions proposed different "reincarnated candidates" as the new lama. The ambens would make the final selection from the "reincarnated" candidates. The ambens would blindly choosing from slips of paper with candidate names from a golden urn. In this way, stability was maintained as historically, different factions kept pressing their candidate. Many were the attempts to poison or otherwise discredit the successors to re-open the selection.
At other times,Tibet was de facto free of Chinese authority and left to it’s own political machinations. In the early 1900s, the 13th Dalai Lama moved to create a modern independent nation. But under pressure from powerful monastic Lamas who were comfortable with its relationship with China and aristocratic landowning families who did not want to jeopardize their financial interests, the 18th Dalai Lama was forced to reversed himself. His modernization policy plus the establishment of a free nation was stopped in its tracks. He retired to his Summer Palace where he focused solely on his spiritual duties and his horticultural hobby.
At other times, Tibet was so fragmented, it could by no stretch of the imagination be called a nation, much less a functioning political region of China.
Even while moving towards a de jure modern nation under the 13th Dalai Lama, and when the present Dalai Lama was still in Tibet, it’s two major cities - Lhasa and Shigatse -oftentimes acted more like two competing Greek Style city states, each with its own ruler, monastic seat of power, taxation power, and at frequent political odds:
1. Lhasa and its suburbs and countryside under the Dalai Lama who ruled from the Potala Palace and the Norbulingka (Summer Palace); vs.
2. Shigatse and its suburbs and countryside under the Panchen Lama who ruled from the Tashilunpo Monastery.
3. Qamdo, or eastern ethnic Tibet, often ruled itself as separate region from U-Tsang aand not under Lhasa's political control. They are also more adherents of the Kagyu "Black Hat" School of Tibetan Buddhism than of the dominant Lhasa "Yellow Hat" School of Gelug. Qamdo Tibetans are fiercely independent by reputation, to the point that they fighting clans who historically engaged in violent inter-generational family feuds.
"Can we talk?..."
an investigation into how we know what we know;
of distinguishing truth & fact
from deep seated beliefs and reflexive opinion.