Recently declassified U.S. documents posted to mark the 60th anniversary year of the Dalai Lama’s flight out of Tibet depict sharp divisions among Chinese authorities over how to cope with the contested region and conclude that Beijing had “badly mismanaged” its policies and brought “disaster” to the majority of Tibetans. The documents – a series of State Department cables – cover an important turning point in the global Cold War, 1979-1980.
Today’s posting by the nongovernmental National Security Archive offers an unusual window into a subject -- the nature and impact of Chinese rule over Tibet -- that for decades has been notoriously opaque. Official statements from Congress and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing during this anniversary year show this to be an ongoing concern 60 years later.
The declassified cables also provide useful insights from a critical time – when the United States was considering normalizing relations with Beijing (and terminating the CIA’s covert aid program to Tibet) and China was on the verge of launching a sweeping reform campaign under Deng Xiaoping.