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A History of China by Wolfram Eberhard

China invaded and conquered Tibet


Soon

after the establishment of the Peking regime, a pact of friendship and alliance with the Soviet Union was concluded (February 1950), and Soviet specialists and civil and military products poured into China to speed its development. China had to pay for this assistance as well as for the loans it received from Russia, but the application of Russian experience, often involving the duplication of whole factories, was successful. In a few years, China developed its heavy industry, just as Russia had done. It should not be forgotten that Manchuria, as well as other parts of China, had modern heavy industries long before 1949. The Manchurian factories ceased production because, when the Russians invaded Manchuria at the end of the war, they removed the machinery to Russia.

Russian aid to Communist China continued to 1960. Its termination slowed development briefly but was not disastrous. Russian assistance was a "shot in the arm," as stimulating and about as lasting as American aid to Taiwan or to European countries. The stress laid upon heavy industry, in imitation of Russia, increased China's military strength quickly, but the consumer had to wait for goods which would make his life more enjoyable. One cause of friction in China today concerns the relative desirability of heavy industry versus consumer industry, a problem which arose in Russia after the death of Stalin.

China's military strength was first demonstrated

in the Korean War when Chinese armies entered Korea (October 1950). Their successes contributed to the prestige of the Peking regime at home and abroad, but they also foreshadowed a conflict with Soviet Russia, which regarded North Korea as lying within its own sphere of influence.

In the same year, China invaded and conquered Tibet. Tibet, under Manchu rule until 1911, had achieved a certain degree of independence thereafter: no republican Chinese regime ever ruled Lhasa. The military conquest of Tibet is regarded by many as an act of Chinese imperialism, or colonialism, as the Tibetans certainly did not want to belong to China or be forced to change their traditional form of government. Having regarded themselves as subjects of the Manchu but not of the Chinese, they rose against the communist rulers in March 1959, but without success.

Chinese control of Tibet, involving the construction of numerous roads, airstrips, and military installations, as well as differences concerning the international border, led in 1959 to conflicts with India, a country which had previously sided with the new China in international affairs. Indeed, the borders were uncertain and looked different depending on whether one used Manchu or Indian maps. China's other border problem was with Burma. Early in 1960 the two countries concluded a border agreement which ended disputes dating from British colonial times.

Very early in its existence Communist China assumed control of Sinkiang, Chinese Central Asia, a large area originally inhabited by Turkish and Mongolian tribes and states, later conquered by the Manchu, and then integrated into China in the early nineteenth century. The communist action was to be expected, although after the Revolution of 1911 Chinese rule over this area had been spotty, and during the Pacific War some Soviet-inspired hope had existed that Sinkiang might gain independence, following the example of Outer Mongolia, another country which had been attached to the Manchu until 1911 and which, with Russian assistance, had gained its independence from China. Sinkiang is of great importance to Communist China as the site of large sources of oil and of atomic industries and testing grounds. The government has stimulated and often forced Chinese immigration into Sinkiang, so that the erstwhile Turkish and Mongolian majorities have become minorities, envious of their ethnic brothers in Soviet Central Asia who enjoy a much higher standard of living and more freedom.


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