tibet flag and seal

seal of tibetWhen the Government of Tibet in Exile and the Tibetan refugee community abroad refer to Tibet, they mean the areas consisting of the traditional provinces of Amdo, Kham, and Ü-Tsang, but excluding Sikkim, Bhutan, and Ladakh that have also formed part of the Tibetan cultural sphere.

When the People’s Republic of China (PRC) refers to Tibet, it means the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR): a province-level entity which, according to the territorial claims of the PRC, includes Arunachal Pradesh (which is an Indian state but disputed by China). The TAR covers the Dalai Lama’s former domain, consisting of Ü-Tsang and western Kham, while Amdo and eastern Kham are part of Qinghai, Gansu, Yunnan, and Sichuan.

flag of tibet
Tibet flag used intermittently between 1912 and 1950. This version was introduced by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1912. The flag is outlawed in the People’s Republic of China.

The difference in definition is a major source of dispute. The distribution of Amdo and eastern Kham into surrounding provinces was initiated by the Yongzheng Emperor during the 18th century and has been continuously maintained by successive Chinese governments. Tibetan exiles, in turn, consider the maintenance of this arrangement from the 18th century as part of a divide-and-rule policy.

source: wikipedia

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