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No. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people. Your host on this transcribed series is a noted author around award winning broadcaster Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. The country of combat has always sounded very mysterious to us and in recent years rather tragic as you know Tibet was overrun by the Chinese communists. And in 1959 the great leader of the country is how we know the Dalai Lama fled to India thinking that was best for his people. We have on our program today. The permanent representative of His Holiness in the United States. His name is so sound and Mr. found and will tell us a little bit about how Tibet is getting
along these days. What hopes the Tibetan people have to get back their sovereignty and perhaps some of the more exotic facts about the country which many of us would like to know more about. So I do welcome you Mr. Sanden to the program and perhaps we could begin with a slight geographical explanation of your country where it is situated. Well Tibet is situated. To the north of India and it is bothered by sinking to the West and China to the north and northeast. The area of Tibet is about 600000 square miles and the average altitude is about 12000 feet above sea level. And the Himalayan mountain the Himalayan mountain range forms the sudden border of Tibet and therefore being so high and surrounded by these huge mountains to bed is considered to be an isolated country.
It's often called roof because even if the valleys are much higher than examined it is about a country exactly. The capital city of Tibet was just last year. There's about 12000 feet above sea level and this is in a valley. And to bed it is considered to to be a lowland whereas if you compared this area to any other part of the world this would be a very high elevated place. It was interesting that you pointed out to me that Mt. Everest is I guess the world's highest mountain peak what twenty nine thousand feet. That's right. Twenty nine thousand one hundred twenty eight feet and that's between the border between Nepal and Tibet. Right. So many of your mountain peaks with an altitude of 25000. Oh yes. Untile Himalayan mountain range which forms the border between Nepal and to bed. They're the highest mountains in the world. I think it's important to bring that out because that has had a profound effect upon the
civilization of to that. Position and it's well economics and you are after all trained economically. The agriculture is then not very fertile is it. The lowlands are quite fertile actually you know. Between 12000 to 16000 The Tibetan farmers turn their land and they reap such crops as barley Millet. And the higher lands ranging from 16 to about 19000 feet. They are inhabited by enormous odds with their yaks and sheep and horses and so forth. Yes but it has been difficult to create any kind of industrial industrial activity hasn't it. Because it's difficult to get people to work and that is exactly in the first place the altitude is very high. And secondly as we discussed just now it's surrounded by these mountains and high passes. So there are
no modern ways of communication. And so it's extremely difficult to especially heavy equipment to set up industries in Tibet. And yet when one looks at photographs in a book for example which I have read I noted to myself that it was your country a book called The memoirs of this Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. The book is called My land and my people and here are photographs of monasteries. And the main palace I think is put. Yes but love me how I mean that literally this palace can run you know many many rooms and beautiful buildings in the South that you know this is. You know some referred to the wonder of the world even to us to bed in the distance to imagine how the belt that you know huge structure especially considering that this was built several hundred years back the civilization or recorded civilization
goes back about 2000 years and that was introduced by India about a thousand years ago with a similar was introduced in the eighth century. The third king left a bad. Man. A prince. And Princess. With that you know they had connection there with these princesses were brothers. But later on became converted to Buddhism and she invited the very learned pundits from India to spread Brotherson and that also along with the unusual terrain. Buddhism has affected the way of life for family in fact. If there is anything that has affected the Tibetan people it is this in their religion in fact religion plays such a vital
part and that in life in fact if you visit to that everywhere you look you know the entire landscape is dominated by these huge brothers monasteries in which thousands of yes. Thousands of miles live in each month. For instance there are three great monasteries near hasa which I said are the world's greatest monasteries. In each of them there is to be able 10000 miles before the Chinese occupation that is now because there is no monks at all. I understand that at one point at least one out of every can wash the mug. I think that would be a rough estimate yet so people either were monks or most or nomad. Nice right. No middle class at all as we know it in the sense like you know businessmen shopkeeper and things of that nature. But. Even though we did have a monetary system of economy into that. This amount of the true system was operative only in the cities. In most of the rural
areas there still prevailed. Sort of a bottle system of exchange the Nama would bring their cheese made and so forth and exchange these commodities with the farmers the farmers supplying the weed to barley and other necessities. I think that at one time was a part of that Chinese Empire. Oh my putting is correct no. I must disagree with you there. In fact you know the beginning of the bread and Chinese relationship is this that it came off to bed. I said as I said this third a third king of Tibet and his name is songs and gumball. At that time Tibet had no but as him when he first assumed the throne after that religion was a born religion. It's not burdensome and the people are very very fierce fighters and Tibetans were known for the
sort of war Ron likes that in fact the Chinese refer to us as the valve which means I believe the Bible invaders how the West. And at that time you know compared to any other major power in Asia Tibet was considered a. Major military power at the time. The Chinese invaded Tibet and territory and took certain portions. But at other times Tibetans invaded Chinese provinces sent to them took professions of that territory. For instance at one. Time the Chinese areas of the Union and see Tryon crimes were these were all under Tibetan occupation. And even today most of the people that are living in those areas of of racial racial origin. This third a third king of Tibet when he invaded China. The Emperor was surrounded and she demanded his princess as his bride and the Emperor had to accede to his demand. Because you know
you was militarily defeated in fact and that is the beginning of saying no to that in relations. So if the Chinese see China and Tibet was a part of China historically we have an equally legitimate claim over China. During the seventh eighth ninth tenth centuries the Chinese government used to pay a tribute of 50000 scrolls of silk to Tibet every year to placate the Tibetans so that Tibetans would not invade China. This thing and that is perhaps not too well known because China's present Government of John it keeps making the decision that did that. As always or over many centuries has been a problem in China and it belongs to China. If there is a layman in the government the Chinese government and they don't make this claim what they do claim is they claim that the Chinese have set up what we call suzerainty over to that in the 18th century.
Even their claim is not based on very long historical you know the fact the Chinese government's claim is based only from the early 18th century because what happened was in 1720 a Dalai Lama died the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama was born in the Sinai Tibetan border area. So in order to escort the Dalai Lama to the Santillan sudden Tibet to the capital Lhasa. The Chinese offered some guards to escort the Dalai Lama because at that time there were only in invaders you know rampaging in the countryside. So the Tibetan Government accepted this offer of escort from the Chinese government and this is the point that they are you know using and saying that this point in history established Chinese suzerainty over Tibet. I see it's so important to try to clarify that one hears the
Chinese claims and one doesn't always get that. Rebuttal. That's why I'm very happy to be here to be able to state some real facts because this has been one of our greatest despite disadvantages U.S. The Chinese have been making claims over Tibet and the Tibetans when we were independent that is before the occupation of Tibet. We never allowed to many foreigners into that. And the Tibetans didn't come out to meet their you know Western people. So actually there was no contact. And lacking the Western education Tibetans did not realize the importance of entering into international relationships or having diplomatic relations with other countries. And if we were then better informed. I have no doubt whatsoever that we would certainly have been able to join the United Nations after the World War Two. And a set of
many you know bilateral relationships with many of the Asian countries as well as you know other European countries. You know it would have been valuable to you. Yes but because we were so ignorant when something's not right and you know it wouldn't you say exactly the Bedouins felt that you know we were an independent entity that in actual fact China had no control whatsoever. In fact there were no Chinese in Tibet. So the Tibetan sort of mentality is that let them claim whatever they like they can do anything. Here we have three people. There's no Chinese here there's no Chinese law in this country. So there's sort of an attitude a sort of a neglect. It has harmed us I think considerably. So we have to clarify the situation the actual situation. I'm with you wouldn't you Mr Nandan that with the introduction of Buddhism in due to that your warlike spirit disappeared. Oh yes and you became
nonviolent in a highly spiritual people. Exactly exactly. You know not thinking of military defenses. I think if you look at the history of Tibet like you know spread in the Tibet in the seventh century of course it didn't have an immediate impact. It took you know a couple of centuries for the religion to spread to various parts of Tibet. But once that got home down to everybody then people gave up their warlike activities and devoted more and more time to religion. So as a result today that Biden's I think. One of the most religious people in the world if not the most and still are in spite of Chinese Communist occupation for years people in Tibet have still never reconciled to the Chinese occupation. You know to the Tibetans though it will assist the Chinese not because they are communists but because they have occupied Tibet. And this resistance takes in various forms into
battle. Some resist passively. Others are you know actively and. Thousands of people have been arrested in connection with this resistance and sent to concentration camps labor camps. But the resistance is still continuing. In fact as late as last December there was a big trouble in Paso area when the Tibetans fought against the Chinese and then she got the idea which is the second largest city in Tibet. About 3000 prisoners that have been prisoners escaped from their prisons and killed a guard and ran away to the hills. Still the resistance goes on but naturally there isn't that military organization which you might have had had you a different kind of history. Exactly. Still the beauty of the openness of the culture at the present time are almost an obstacle perhaps a future history will show a different cause. We certainly hope so yes. Why should the Chinese want to that. It's such a difficult country to
occupy. What do they want with it. Actually. There are a number of reasons. Some say the Chinese occupied Tibet. Photos of mineral resources. You know Tibet is known to have large deposits of gold copper iron long backside and so forth and it was against the religious principles of Tibetans to explore and exploit the minute mineral resources. So there is a vast emacs product resource but as others see that. China is a very very overcrowded country where there's Tibet. It's an extremely sparsely populated country. So they moved into Tibet in order to gain more elbow room. But we feel the basic reason why they occupied to that is neither of these do these things. The main reason is of its militarily strategic position. You see without to that China has absolutely no access at all to India in the
past. Now with at Tibet under occupation they have about 2500 borders with second about 500 km about 500 miles of common border with Nepal and so with Sikkim and Bhutan. Even if all three reasons were valid. It certainly doesn't justify this. But they have it and they don't propose to get out. I think what perhaps we should explain a little bit to our audience about his holiness the Dalai Lama means in Tibet in Chosen. Lama means Lamarre one means the Holy One and I mean that life is actually a really inward. I think it means the ocean. So actually this is a sort of a matter for comparing his wisdom to the depth of ocean of demand. Yes that's right.
Now he is the 14th he is the food king and would you please explain how he was chosen. This present I Lama as chosen when you were at four and a half years old. You see the normal practice of choosing the Dalai Lama as that. At some times when they do see the Dalai Lama leaves would be for him before his death. He leaves instructions as to where he is. Reincarnation would be and therefore the search parties just follow his instructions and find the child. But at other times when the previous Dalai Lama does not leave any word of where they would search for it. Then what happens is they form a committee government of a shul Abelard's of the monasteries and they can sell the two state articles of glass and we have to state articles and articles point out a general direction of
search. And then a strategy has not been set consulted and there are various tests that I think you will. I can mention all but yes fascinating means a through which the next day you know yes and yes. And he is the spiritual and civil and he's the complete head. That's right from the moment he is recognized as the Dalai Lama he becomes the spiritual head of Tibet. Not that I'm proud but anomaly at the age of 18. She assumes the political power also. So that is a sort of a ceremony when he comes of age at which he is handed the political power. So in 1951 when the Chinese Communists broke their agreement which they signed after more or less being in Tibet for a year things got much worse until 1959 as we stated and then when Madonna
left and went to India. That's where he lives now lives in India. Yeah that's right. In contact with the outside world much. Yes you have many visitors you know from America from you know from on over frankly. And each day you spend at least a couple of hours of meeting people from various parts of the world. You know being an extremely religious man. And he spends four or five hours in the morning and praying he gets up at about 5:00 o'clock in the morning and spends full lives praying after that you would greet the visitors. And after having a vegetarian lunch you know he is a vegetarian. Then he attends to the works that have to be done in terms of rehabilitation education and so forth of the Tibetans. And he doesn't have a dinner because you know normally go to bed and lungs when they attain certain spiritual level they take a vow
to have. Only one meal that is after no you doesn't take anything. I see. Does he. I don't think that you have talked with him personally and I gather but you probably know something about what he thinks and what his views about the future. Does he maintain his optimism. Oh yes you know yes you know I do talk to him personally. So I mean to India. I want I mean I listen to that. Yeah. Since coming to India I have had several audiences with him personally. And he is very he is confident of returning to Tibet that is. He always you know has that the power struggle that is all efforts to achieve something in the United Nations are to do anything for Tibet is not done with the view that the Dalai Lama can go back in power. Because
in fact he's a very religious man he says. If you could you could just give up everything and you'd rather devote his life to religion. And he has said it repeatedly that if and when we are able to go back to Tibet as free people. They the form of government that the Tibetan people would choose would depend entirely up to the people. He says even the system of Dalai Lamas may or may not continue. That would depend entirely on the people and in connection in this in this line of thought you know he has promulgated that constitution for Tibet and this is a democratic constitution he promulgated this constitution in March 1963. What is like these days from what you and I gather the information comes your way. Yes we do have information you know refugees continue to come out. And the information is that there is extreme food shortage in Tibet.
Not only the harvest has been too good but also the Chinese are storing much of the grain for raw preparation purposes. War again. They are always telling the people through the radio you know if in fact if you listen to radio. Practically every day they repeat the same thing that they that the Russians are going to attack them that their Indian reactionaries are going to attack them and that they unite with US imperialism that you know they are working hand in hand to attack China. You have also said of the enemy's going is going to have a whole set of enemies that they are constantly around it and they see that these countries have surrounded China and they are going to fight it and so that they must prepare for war. And you know and in connection with this they are storing huge stocks of food in Tibet and I think we need to pride. Exactly so many of the people have died through starvation. This is one of the most
common reports that we get from refugees who come out. Have you heard of anything good that's been accomplished. Any improvement that one would have to concede had come out of this occupation. I'm afraid not. No. We would like to see improvement. But you know according to the information that we have I'm afraid the situation has been deteriorating and I don't happily any attempt to educate more people. They've tried to educate people and that is of course education in the lines of Mao's doctrine when they first came to Tibet the Chinese have sent sent thousands of venue to Peking to be indoctrinated to be educated in. And Chinese language. And in the communist doctrine. But they were disappointed in this because when they brought this people back to the bed to serve as youth leaders interpreters and
characters and so forth. These people turn back against the Chinese and they've joined the resistance movement. So now most of the students Tibet and youth who have been educated in China. Are now dismissed from office they are branded as national nationalists regional nationalists or something like that. I read the same thing and hearing it from you. Confirms that the Chinese have not been able to develop any worthwhile young leaders among the Tibetan people. Absolutely no use not dealing with them. The pension you know they've tried to make use of the pension a bunch and I'm instantly is the second ranking Lama the dire Lama and for some time he collaborated with the with the Chinese but the Pancho Lama So what the Chinese were doing into bed so he protested against that. In fact he went to Peking in 1964 and had a talk with mountain himself
which assured the bunch in Lima that the situation in Tibet would improve. After his return to that the bench and I came back into that and saw the situation in you know less than ever so at a public meeting he denounced the Chinese policy in Tibet and prayed for the return of the Dalai Lama and for the freedom of the bad Mr. found and I think that is what most people of goodwill would wish for your country. And I'm sorry we must close our conversation at this point but I very much appreciate your being here and speaking so Pratt candidly and clarifying a number of things for us. And I'd like to say that on this program you have been listening to thunder and Mr. Thaw and then is the permanent representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. I thank you and goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. The series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to
comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents.
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Series
Asia Society presents
Episode Number
51
Producing Organization
WNYC
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/500-7w677j1c
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Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
Genres
Talk Show
Topics
Education
Global Affairs
Race and Ethnicity
Media type
Sound
Duration
00:29:30
Credits
Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-51 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:42
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Chicago: “Asia Society presents; 51,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 22, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7w677j1c.
MLA: “Asia Society presents; 51.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 22, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7w677j1c>.
APA: Asia Society presents; 51. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7w677j1c