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Tibet and China: 7th - 13th century AD

In the 7th and 8th centuries, under Srong-btsan sgam-po and his successors, Tibet is a unified kingdom exercising power over an area well beyond the Tibetan plateau, including important regions on the Silk Road such as Kashgar and Khotan. In 763 a Tibetan army even invades T'ang China and briefly captures the capital at Xi'an.

In subsequent centuries Tibet is more often a collection of small independent kingdoms, restricted to their own high plateau. They regard their large neighbour to the east with wary suspicion. A brief exception occurs in the 13th century, when a Tibetan link with the Mongol emperors of China brings Tibet formally within the Chinese empire.

In the early 13th century, when it is evident that Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes represent a threat to China, the Tibetans make a successful attempt to befriend him. They pay tribute to the Mongols, and Tibetan Buddhist monks acquire influence at the Mongol court. By the middle of the century the abbot of a Buddhist monastery is ruling in Tibet as the viceroy of the Mongol khan.

On the replacement of the Mongol dynasty in China by the Ming, in 1368, Tibet reasserts its formal independence and retains it for the next three centuries.

Nine Unknown Men

Nine Unknown Men are a two millennia-old secret society founded by the Indian Emperor Asoka.