Tibet has a long history as an effectively independent Buddhist state, but was claimed as part of China by the Chinese Communists, who occupied Tibet in 1950. Under the 1951 Agreement, signed by the Dalai Lama, the Chinese promised to respect the role of Buddhism and the authority of the Dalai Lama. Since then Chinese policy has reflected its internal politics. For example during the Cultural Revolution monasteries were destroyed and practice of Buddhism forbidden, but under Deng Xiaoping limited religious toleration returned. In general, however, China has sought to modernize Tibet, promoted Chinese immigration and suppressed dissent.
Since fleeing to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has been the key figure in exile and engaged in negotiations with the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama himself is strongly committed to nonviolence, but some of the exile organizations advocate violent revolt. Resistance inside Tibet has at times been violent, as in the 1959 uprising, but has also included nonviolent protests by monks and nuns.