Galyna Mingazutdinova, PhD (history), Historian of the Research Department (history department), Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv


The article touches upon shaping the “Question of Tibet” within the framework of the U.S. foreign policy in XXth – early XXIst centuries. It is defined that in the early XXth century and in late 1940s, Tibet in fact presented an independent entity which held international communication with the most significant countries of the West. However, regardless of having the experience of international relations with Tibet, neither the UK nor the USA expressed the desire to recognize the independence of the former. In the next decades to come, this double-standard attitude would establish the basis for the Tibet’s uncertain position on the political map and in international relations. Special attention is paid to the efforts made by the Tibetan government in exile aimed to effect contact with the USA and the West and to describe the actual situation of the Tibetans under the rule of the Communist party. It is explored that during the years 1949 – 2018 the US policy towards Tibet was and remains deeply dependent from the China’s level of political influence and economic impact worldwide. The contemporary situation of the Tibetan question for the USA might be resumed as a situational stranglehold against the Chinese influence to push on human rights issues. It is concluded, based upon the American scholars’ in Tibetan studies works and the Tibetan dissidents’ confessions, that the current condition of the Tibetan culture and heritage, human rights record etc. under China’s rule remains under strict control of Beijing and causes serious concerns.

Key words: Tibet, the USA, China, international relations, human rights, national self-determination, Dalai Lama XIV.

Full text


  1. GUTHRIE, D. (2012) The United States, China and Human Rights [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 5, 2018].
  2. LUM, T. (2015) Human Rights in China and U.S. Policy: Issues for the 114th Congress. Congressional Research Service.
  3. VAUSE, W. G. (1989) Tibet to Tiananmen: Chinese Human Rights and United States Foreign Policy. Occasional Papers. Reprint Series in Contemporary Asian Studies. No. 6.
  4. JACOBSEN, H. (2012) The Tibet – China Question under Investigation. Unpublished Thesis (Master Degree). Aalborg, Aalborg University.
  5. CLINTON, H. (2003) Living History. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  6. HARRER, G. (2017) Sem’ let v Tibete: moya zhyzn’ pri dvore Dalai-lamy. Saint-Petersburg: Azbooka – Attikus.
  7. GOLDSTEIN, M. (2005) The United States, Tibet and the Cold War. Journal of Cold War Studies. # 8 (2). – P. 145 – 164.
  8. GOLDSTEIN, M. (1998) The Dalai Lama’s Dilemma. Foreign Affairs. 77 (1). – P. 83 – 97.
  9. GOLDSTEIN, M. (1995) Tibet, China and the United States: Reflections on the Tibet Question. Occasional Paper of the Atlantic Council of the United States. The Atlantic Council of the United States.
  10. HOM, S. (2009) Getting Beyond Business as Usual for US – China Human Rights Policy. Harvard Asia Pacific Review. P. 11 – 15.
  11. BEKEMEYER, A. (2009) The Nuances of the US – Tibet Relationship. Michigan Journal of History. Vol. VII, Issue 1 [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 5, 2018].
  12. DUMBAUGH, K. (2008) Tibet: Problems, Prospects, and U.S. Policy. CRS Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service.
  13. KOEHN, P. & CHENG, Y. (eds.) (1999) The Outlook for U.S. – China Relations Following the 1997 – 1998 Summits: Chinese and American Perspectives on Security, Trade, and Cultural Exchange. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.
  14. HONCHAR, B. (2014) «Sylova dyplomatiya» SSHA v Aziys’ko-Tyhookeans’komy regioni za prezydentstva B.Obamy. Visnyk Kyivs’kogo natsional’nogo universitety imeni Tarasa Shevchenka. Istoriya. № 1 (119). P. 8 – 12.
  15. KOVAL’, О. & LENS’KIY, P. (2008) «Tybets’ke pytannya»: deyaki istorychni ta politilogichni aspekty problemy. Zovnishni spravy. № 7. P. 40 – 43.
  16. SHEVCHUK, О. (2010) Systema bezpeky Aziys’ko-Tyhookeans’kogo regionu: faktory formuvannya ta tendentsii rozvytky. Monografiya. Mykolaiv: vyd-vo ChDU im. Petra Mogyly.
  17. GULINA, Е. (2014) Tibetskiy vopros vo vneshney politike KNR. Aktual’nye problemy sovremennyh mezhdunarodnyh otnosheniy. № 4. P. 50 – 58.
  18. ANDREEVA, Т. & KERN, K. (2016) Tibetskiy faktor v amerikansko-kitaiskih otnosheniyah. Vestnik Tomskogo gosudarstennogo universiteta. № 404. P. 22 – 26.
  19. MIROSHNIKOV, S. (1999) Vosstanie v Tibete v 1959 gody I politika SSHA v Azii. Vestnik TGPU. Istoriya. № 1 (10). P. 61 – 62.
  20. OVCHARENKO, А. & CHUPILKA, I. (2014 – 2015) Etnopolitychnyi konflikt KNR ta Tybety. Gurzhiivs’ki istorychni chytannya. Vol. 8/9. P. 219 – 220.
  21. IAROSHENKO, Ye. & PEREBYINIS, V. (2015) Mistze Ukrainy v global’nyh strategiyah Kitaiu. Mizhnarodniy centr perspektyvnyh doslidzhen’.
  22. I. (2009) Tibetskiy vopros I natsional’naya politika KNR v Tibete (1951 – 2001 gg.). Unpublished Thesis (DoS). Ulan-Ude, Instityt mongolovedeniya, buddologii I tibetologii Sibirskogo otdeleniya RAN.
  23. KNAUS, J. (1999) Orphans of the Cold War. America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  24. GOLDSTEIN, M. (1999) The Snow Lion and the Dragon. China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  25. DUNCAN, J. (2011) American Journalism and the Tibet Question, 1950 – 1951. Unpublished Thesis (Master Degree). Ames, Iowa State University.
  26. NAIR, P. (2017) Did the US Just Abandon Tibet? [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  27. BAGEANT, J. (2006) CIA’s Secret War in Tibet [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  28. A Letter from Secretary of State Herter to the Dalai Lama, February 20, 1960 (1960) Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958 – 1960, China, XIX [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  29. DORJEE, T. (2018) Testimony Before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on “Tibet from All Angles”: Protecting Human Rights, Defending Strategic Access, and Challenging China’s Export of Censorship Globally. Russel Senate Office Building.
  30. 30 Years of Resistance: The Legacy of the 1987 Lhasa Protests. Tibet Watch, Thematic Report (2017). Tibet Watch.
  31. R. 1777 – Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (1987) [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  32. GARGAN, E. (1988) Chinese Official Lists 6 Grievances against U.S. [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  33. GERSTENZANG, J. (1989) Bush Halts Arms Sales Over China Repression [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  34. CLAREY, C. (2001) Despite Worries Over Rights, it Wins on 2nd Round of Voting: Beijing is Awarded 2008 Summer Olympics [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  35. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Annual Report 2014 (2014). Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office.
  36. SEWALL, S. (2015) Remarks Delivered at the “Lockdown in Tibet” Event [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  37. LAWRENCE, S. (2014) The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002: Background and Implementation. Congressional Research Service.
  38. CHAMBERS, F. (2014) “We Are Not In Favor of Independence”: President Barack Obama Reiterates U.S. Position That Tibet is Part of China [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  39. WANGCHEN, D. (2018) Putting Tibet Back on the Agenda [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 22, 2018].
  40. SUNG, P. (2017) China Is Abusing Human Rights in Tibet. Here’s What the US Can Do to Help [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 5, 2018].
  41. Confucius Institute U.S. Center (2018) [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 5, 2018].
  42. BAJORIA, J. The Question of Tibet (2008) [Online] – Available from: [Accessed: May 5, 2018].