《时代周刊》有一个“中国博客”，作者有Simon Elegant 、Liam Fitzpatrick 、Ling Woo Liu 、Bill Powell和Austin Ramzy，内容是这四位先生女士用英文报道和谈论中国事物。
3月23日，Simon Elegant针对一位自称是《People’s Daily》编辑的留言，写了一篇历史课程，标题就叫《A Little History….》：
A Little History….
By Simon Elegant
From The China Blog
Some interesting comments on our blog about Tibet over the last few days….and a great many others that were of the tediously nationalistic, your-coverage-is-biased, Yankee go home, China-good-America-bad type.
Anyway, one of the former came from Champson Liu, an editor at the People’s Daily. Here’s what he had to say (and the “mouthpiece” phrasing is his, not mine by the way):
Dear TIME Editor,
I am an editor of People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece and largest newspaper of China.
Mr. Simon Elegant’s report “Tibetans in China: Fearing the Worst” on Mar. 18, 2008 was wrong in the basic fact that “Tibet had been an independent nation, before it was annexed by China in 1951.”
Given Mr. Elegant’s familiarity with Chinese history, such an error seems very, very misleading to TIME readers and risks the reputation of TIME as a reliable source of information.
To put historical facts straight, the time Tibet was formally annexed into China was in 1727, when China’s Yongzheng Emperor of the last Qing Dynasty established the post of Minister for Tibetan Affairs in Lhasa for formal rule. Other historians argue the formal annexation could be traced back to 1306, when Tibet was first ruled from Beijing. Actually, either way, the name “Dalai Lama” was originally given by the Emperor through a court decree.
In 1911, when the Qing Dynasty was overthrown by the Republic of China, Tibet declared independence just like every other province of China, but neither the Chinese government in Nanking nor Washington or London recognized it. When the Communists came to power, Mao decided to reclaim Tibet and sent troops in. Simon should avoid making Western readers conclude China suddenly occupied Tibet as Israel did to Palestain, or risks misleading readers on Tibet the same way all Western media typically do.
These are all verifiable historical facts that can be crosschecked from Western sources. I would appreciate it if TIME could set the facts straight.
A number of other commentators made this point about the status of Tibet between 1911 and 1951 so I went back and checked. I think they are right. In future, I shall use the phrase “de facto independent nation” or “effectively independent” when referring to Tibet during that period. It is true that Tibet had its own currency, soldiers, government etc. during that period. It is also true that no one except Mongolia recognized it as an independent nation. But it was clearly functioning as an independent state governed by Tibetans and was thus quite different from other comparable, ethnically non-Han areas of China such as Xinjiang and inner Mongolia, both of which were run by Chinese warlords or the KMT or the Japanese.
The broader point here isn’t just about the exact status of Tibet after the overthrow of the Qing. It’s about whether or not Tibet has any claim to be an independent country at any time. The answer is of course an unequivocal “yes”. Before the Mongols, Tibet had its own empire that stretched all the way to Bengal and of course included bits of China: from the Tang dynasty on, the Tibetans regularly invaded what is now China and occupied large chunks.
Yes, Tibet was made a client state by China whenever it could enforce that status. But whenever Chinese power waned, Tibet asserted its independence. It’s also worth noting that the 1306 annexation Mr. Liu refers to (actually, most historians put the annexation at 1246, which happens to have also been when China was incorporated into the Mongol empire, putting things in perspective) was by Mongols, not Chinese. And of course, the invasion by the Emperor Kangxi in 1720 that installed a pro-Beijing Dalai Lama was by Manchu troops, though no doubt the bannermen were supported by Chinese. Does that mean that Manchu’s can claim that in fact they should rule Tibet, note to mention China itself? Of course not. No more than Italy can ask for Britain back because it ruled there for four centuries. Or Britain can attempt to reverse the 1923 independence of Ireland on the grounds it ran the place (and pretty brutally at that) for a similar period. All the argument about dependencies and client states can’t change the fact that Tibetans speak a totally different language and have completely separate culture and customs. We are supposed to be living in an age when peoples are more free to express themselves –and rule themselves–and when military occupation of what is clearly a totally separate country is not acceptable to the international community.