Tibetan history can be traced thousands of years back, according to archeology discoveries in different parts of Tibet, the original inhabitants began to live in the highlands as early as the Palaeolithic Age. They later merged with the Qiang people, who had come the long way from Qinghai and Gansu Provinces, becoming the ancestors of Tibetans. In about 237 BC, a tribe by the Yarlung Tsangpo River was unified by Nyatri Tsenpo, the first king of Tibet. It later grew into an aggressive power in the 7th century, when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king that unified all of Tibet into the Tubo Kingdom, marking the beginning of the recorded history of Tibet.
Tibet's history can be divided into the following periods:
Early in the 7th century, the powerful Tang Dynasty (618-907) was founded in the Central Plains, ending the disintegration and chaotic situation that had prevailed in the region for more than 300 years. In the meantime, the Spurgyal tribe rose in the Yarlung area in today's Sannan. The tribe conquered others in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and established the Tubo Kingdom in the 7th century covering a large part of what later became known as Tibet.
The marriages of Songtsan Gambo to Princess Wen Cheng and Tride Zhotsan to Princess Jin Cheng indicate that the Tibetan and the Han nationalities had gradually formed close political, economic and cultural ties. This pattern of friendly relations was carried on during the next 200 years or more. Tibet's ties with other ethnic groups in China were unprecedentedly close. The statue of Princess Wen Cheng is still enshrined and worshipped in the Potala Palace. The Monument to the Alliance between the Tibetans and the Han erected in the 9th century still stands in the square in front of the Jokhang Temple. In the ensuing 300-400 years, the Tibetan race maintained close ties with the Northern Song, Southern Song, Western Xia, Liao and Jin regimes.
In 842, the Tubo Kingdom collapsed, and rival groups of ministers, members of the royal family and various tribes plunged into internecine struggle that was to last in varying levels of intensity for the next 400 years. Reeling under the detrimental impact of such activities on their economic and cultural development, people on the Tibetan Plateau looked to the emergence of a formidable regime on the Central Plains to someday come to their rescue. Those who could no longer stand the bitterness fled to areas in present-day Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces.
When the Song Dynasty (960-1279) was founded in the Han-dominated areas of China, some of these local Tibetan forces (Tibetan tribes formerly subject to rule by the Tubo Kingdom) pledged allegiance to the Song court. The relations between the Tibetans and the Han became even closer during this period.
Early in the 13th century, the leader of the Mongolian people, Genghis Khan, established the Mongol Khanate north of China. In 1247, Mongol Prince Godan invited Pandit Gonggar Gyamcain, an eminent monk with the Sagya Sect that greatly influenced Buddhist worship on the Tibetan Plateau, to a meeting in Liangzhou (present-day Wuwei in Gansu Province). Pandit Gonggar Gyamcain offered the submission of Tibet to the Mongol Khanate and the acceptance of a defined local administrative system. In return, the Sagya Sect was given political power in Tibet. In 1271, the Mongolian conquerors took Yuan as the name of their dynasty. In 1279, they unified China's entire territory. From then on, Tibet became an administrative region under the direct jurisdiction of the central government of China. Kublai Khan, the founding emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, granted the Sagya regime the power to administer Tibet under the rule of the Yuan government, and introduced many rules and regulations to be applied to Tibet. The Mongolian, Han, Tibetan and various other nationalities joined hands to form a political entity featuring economic and cultural prosperity.
In the following several hundred years, though there were shifts in the political power of the central government and the local Tibetan government alike, relations between them became more and more close, and Tibet's position as an administrative region of China has never changed.
Although the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) replaced the Yuan Dynasty in 1368, the Ming Dynasty basically followed the ruling systems introduced since the Yuan Dynasty. The Central Government sent officials to the Tibetan-inhabited areas, calling for various tribal leaders to swear allegiance to the new ruler. Old official seals were reclaimed and replaced by new ones in a peaceful transition. The Ming continued sovereignty over Tibet. The Ming abolished the system of the Xuanzheng Yuan in dealing with Tibetan affairs, as well as conferring the official title of Imperial Tutor on Tibetan monks. And the Ming rulers introduced a new system of granting official titles to Tibetan monks. All the representative figures in Tibet received official titles from the Ming court; granted official seals of authority, they managed affairs of their own areas. It was made clear then that the inheritance of their official titles was possible only with the approval of the emperor.
The central authorities of the Ming followed the administrative and military systems of the Yuan Dynasty. It set up the Udbus Tsang and Do-khams Commander's Offices and the three Pacification Commissioner's Offices set up during the previous dynasty of Yuan. Under them were different organs such as Commissioner's Office, Pacification Offices, 10000-Household Offices and 1000-Houschold Offices. Monk and lay leaders of various administrative and military organs were appointed by the Central Government. Their promotion or dismissal from office had to have the approval of the Central Government.
During this period of time, the Tibetan areas and the Central Kingdom maintained frequent economic and cultural exchange. The relations between the Tibetan race and the other nationalities in the Chinese family developed further.
Under the succeeding Qing dynasty, the central government of China further strengthened its administration of Tibet. The Qing rulers decreed that those in Tibet granted official titles by the Ming court might retain their official position so long as they turned over their official seals and applied for new ones from the Qing court.
After the establishment of the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century, the emperors granted honorific titles to the 5th Dalai Lama and the 5th Baingen Erdeni of the Gelukpa sect in 1653 and 1713 respectively henceforth officially establishing the titles of the Dalai Lama and the Baingen Erdeni and their political and religious status in Tibet. The Dalai Lama in Lhasa ruled most of Tibet while the Baingen Erdeni ruled the remaining area from Xigaze. The Chinese emperors also enacted regulations stipulating that the selection of children said to be the reincarnations of the Dalai Lama or Baingen Lama should be reported to the imperial court for approval, and that the central government would send high officials to supervise in person.
Qing dynasty also create a legal administrative area of Tibet, appointed local government officials, dispatched high commissioners to Tibet, and enacted laws concerning the Tibet's political and administrative management systems and the organizational form of local political power for the more effective governing of Tibet. This helped strengthen Qing government administration over Tibet and led to closer ties between Tibet and the motherland.
These became key measures for the Central Government of the Qing Dynasty to strengthen administrative management over religious affairs in Tibet, and fully embodied the Central Government's sovereignty over Tibet.
China experienced great historic changes after the Revolution of 1911, which brought down the Qing Dynasty and led to the founding of the Republic of China in 1912. The central government termed itself a republic of five nationalities - Han, Manchu, Mongolian, Hui, and Tibetan, with a unified territory and the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China, enacted under the auspices of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Interim President, stipulated that Tibet was one of the 22 provinces of the Republic of China. Stipulations concerning Tibet in the Constitution of the Republic of China promulgated later all stressed that Tibet is an inseparable part of Chinese territory.
In July 1912, the Nationalist government established the Council for the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs (renamed the Council of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs in May 1914). Officials were appointed to work directly under the Prime Minister and take over the functions of the High commissioners in Tibet. When the Nanjing government was founded, the commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs was renamed the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs in 1929. In April 1940, the Commission set up its Lhasa Office which functioned as a Central Government organ in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, the local government of Tibet and Panchen Erdeni also sent representatives to attend various National Assembly meetings, national government organizations or various national congresses; and many of them were elected to work in these national government organizations, making it possible for them to have a say in government affairs.
After the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, the central government notified local Tibetan authorities to ''send delegates to Beijing to negotiate the peaceful liberation of Tibet''. On 23rd May 1951, the ''17-Article Agreement'' was signed after delegates from the central government and the local Tibetan government reached agreement on a series of questions concerning Tibet's peaceful liberation. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama and sent a telegram and the Tenth Panchen Erdeni issued a statement both supporting the ''17-Article Agreement'' and expressing their desires to ''safeguard the unification of the motherland and her territorial sovereignty.
The 14th Dalai Lama and the 10th Panchen Erdeni attended the first National People's Congress of the PRC. And the 14th Dalai Lama was elected a vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, and the 10th Panchen Erdeni a member of the NPC Standing Committee.
On April 22, 1956, the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up in Lhasa, with the 14th Dalai Lama serving its director and the 10th Panchen Erdeni its first deputy director. On March 28, the Central Government announced abolition of the local Gashag government of Tibet, and the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region took over governance in the region. The 10th Panchen Erdeni was its acting chief.
The Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region passed on in June and September 1959 the Resolution on Democratic Reform in the Whole Area of Tibet and the Resolution on Abolition of Feudal Serf-Ownership of Land and Introduction of Farmer Land Ownership, deciding to fully arouse the masses to action and carry out the Democratic Reform throughout the region. The reform was completed at the end of 1961, and various counties, districts and townships set up their people's power organs. In March 1962, 92 percent of the townships conducted elections on the basis of establishing Peasants Association. From July to August 1965, election at the county-level was completed. The First Session of the First People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region was held from September 1-9, 1965 in Lhasa, and the Tibet Autonomous Region was proclaimed as having been founded.
The 17-Article Agreement stipulates the people o Tibet enjoy the right to national regional autonomy under the unified leadership of the Central People's Government. In 1951, Tibet won the peaceful liberation; in 1956, the Preparatory Committee of the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded; in 1959, the Preparatory Committee acted on order to wield the power of the local government of Tibet; and in 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) was founded.
In November 1954, the Preparatory Group for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded. On April 22, 1956, the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region was inaugurated in Lhasa. It was composed of 51 members representing the local government of Tibet, the Panchen Kampus Assembly, the People's Liberation Committee of the Qamdo Area and the Central Government. The 14th Dalai Lama was its chairman and the 10th Panchen Erdeni its first vice-chairman.
The Central Government upholds the principle of peaceful reform by mobilizing the masses and conducting consultation with those in the ruling position. Officials in the old government were given official positions. However, a small number of reactionaries on the ruling class stood in opposition to the democratic reform and finally staged an armed rebellion on March 10, 1959. When the armed rebellion was suppressed, the 14th Dalai Lama fled overseas. The Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region exercised the power due to the local government of Tibet and the 10th Panchen Erdeni was appointed its acting chairman, with the position of chairman still retained for the 14th Dalai Lama though he had fled overseas.
From 1959 to 1960, the Democratic Reform was conducted in Tibet and people's governments were organized at various levels. On September 1, 1965, the First Session of the First People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region was held, and the Tibet Autonomous Region was formed officially. The People's congress system, the national regional autonomy system, the political consultation system, and the democratic supervision system were introduced. The life of common Tibetan people turned over a new leaf.