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Muslim, Trader, Nomad, SpyChina's Cold War and the People of the Tibetan Borderlands$
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Sulmaan Khan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469621104

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469621104.001.0001

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The Road to Lhasa

The Road to Lhasa

(p.9) Chapter One The Road to Lhasa
Muslim, Trader, Nomad, Spy

Sulmaan Wasif Khan

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines how the People's Republic of China set about state-building in the Tibetan borderlands by relying on local collaboration. In the early 1950s, Beijing sought to perpetuate its rule in Tibet by giving Tibetans a loose rein. PRC governance of Tibet formed an imperial structure, but it was empire-lite. And because Tibet was a frontier region where the line between East and South Asia blurred, sovereignty over Tibet required a foreign policy. This chapter begins with an overview of the Tibetan custom known as sky burial, the geography of the Tibetan borderlands, and the history of the Chinese state's claims to the Tibetan plateau. It then considers how ideology, national security calculus, and anti-imperialism shaped the way China sought to conquer and govern Tibet. It also discusses the implications of the Dalai Lama's departure from Lhasa and concludes by outlining the PRC's “five principles of peaceful coexistence” and assessing how the Tibetan frontier became a key source of Chinese foreign policy.

Keywords:   foreign policy, People's Republic of China, Tibet, peaceful coexistence, sky burial, Tibetan borderlands, ideology, national security, anti-imperialism, Dalai Lama

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