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17-Article Agreement Peaceful Settlement

By Source:China Tibet News 2015-08-12

Although there are people outside China who said the PLA occupied Tibet by force in 1951, the fact is that Tibet was peacefully liberated with the signing of the 17-Article Agreement. This turned out to be the result of efforts made for the peaceful settlement of the Tibet problem.

During World War II, the Tibetan separatists miscalculated that it was the optimum time to win independence. Herculean efforts were made to establish diplomatic ties with foreign countries, but the United Kingdom, India and the United States refrained from recognizing Tibet as an independent state. Thus, the plot for Tibetan independence fizzled out.

In the second half of 1949, international anti-China forces worked hand in glove with Tibetan separatists to pursue Tibetan independence. Regent Dagzha and Hugh Richardson, the British Indian Government's representative in Lhasa, produced an independence statement, and sent Gyile Toinzhub and Xagaba Wangqug Dendi to seek support in the United Nations. Richardson, Tomas and Dagzha plotted for the creation of a goodwill delegation to be sent to the United States, Britain, India and Nepal to seek their support for independence. In the meantime, they sent a delegation to Beijing where they explained to the Central Government their stance on independence. All of these delegations brought along with them letters from the 14th Dalai Lama and Regent Dagzha.

On January 14, 1950, the American news agency UPI reported the goal of the Tibetan goodwill delegation in its visit to the United States and the United Kingdom. In response, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that any country which received the Tibetan delegation would be considered as having taken an action against the People's Republic of China, and the local government of Tibet should send a delegation to Beijing for negotiations related to methods for the peaceful liberation of Tibet. In this situation, the four countries refused to accept the delegation's visit.


In February 1951, a group of Indian officials, escorted by a contingent of paramilitary forces, entered a Tibetan monastery in Dawang, and declared that it was Indian territory. They drove away the Tibetan administrators, showing a provocative attitude toward territories north of the McMahon line. However, China had not reached any agreement with Indian on demarcation of the Sino-Indian border. This shows existence of anti-China forces that were working to tear Tibet away from the motherland.

The PRC Central Government persisted in the peaceful liberation of Tibet. While ordering the PLA to march into Tibet, Chairman Mao continued to invite the local government of Tibet to negotiate on peace terms in Beijing.

In February 1950, Master Zhiqing visited Tibet, where he tried to persuade the 14th Dalai Lama to visit Beijing for peace talks. In July, the Living Buddha Dangcai, eldest brother fo the 14th Dalai Lama, the Living Buddha Xaricang and the Living Buddha Xianling joined hands to visit Tibet for the same purpose. In July, the Living Buddha Geda, who maintained good ties with PLA Commander-in-chief Zhu De during the Long March, also pressed for peace talks. He left Sichuan for Lhasa on July 10, but was not allowed to proceed in Qamdo on July 24. He was murdered by the pro-separation elements in Qamdo on August 22.

The Central Government did not lose its patience in trying to win over the 14th Dalai Lama. In September 1950, Premier Zhou Enlai said the Central Government urged the local government of Tibet not hesitate over whether it should negotiate with the Central Government, so that the Tibetan question could be settled peacefully.

The local government of Tibet was purposely trying to buy time and shunned peace talks with the Central Government. In early April, it proposed that the Central Government send representatives to negotiate with them in Hong Kong. Lin Boqu, Secretary-General of the Central Government, replied categorically that negotiations should be held in Beijing.

On August 2 and 19, Premier Zhou Enlai said in his cable to Shen Jian, with the Chinese Embassy in India, that, as part of China, Tibet could send a delegation representing the local government or the Tibetan people to negotiate with the Central Government in Beijing; the Indian government declared India would not make any territorial claims against China and would not poke its nose into China's internal affairs; the British Government refused to issue a visa to the Tibetan goodwill delegation. If the delegation of the local government of Tibet was to be sent to Beijing, Chou declared, every effort should be made to offer them friendly assistance for their journey and a warm welcome in Beijing.

In early September, Yuan Zhongxian, the new Chinese Ambassador to India, told the Tibetan delegation then staying in India that, if they failed to arrive in Beijing before September 20 as was required by the Central Government, the PLA had to take military action and they had to take responsibility for this.

The PLA plunged into the Qamdo battle on October 6, and it lasted for 18 days. Even during the period, the Central Government repeatedly requested the local government of Tibet to send a delegation to Beijing for peace talks. But the Tibetan delegation purposely delayed their departure on the grounds that the PLA had to first stop its military actions in Qamdo.

In January 1951, Ambassador Yuan received two representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama in India. The 14th Dalai Lama also sent Tubdain Lemoin, and Sangpo Denzin Toinzhub to contact Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei, bringing him the Dalai's letter to Wang Qimei, which contained five terms worked out by the Tibetan government for negotiation with the Central Government in Qamdo. Having read the letter, Ngapoi thought that the five terms failed to show the sincerity of the Tibetan government in negotiations with the Central Government, so that there could be no good result.

On January 11, the Yadong Gaxag met and produced a document to the 14th Dalai Lama, which said that negotiations with the Central Government were a good policy.

On January 18, the 14th Dalai Lama sent a letter to Ambassador Yuan. It read in part In the past, I was too young to come to power. During the period, the friendly ties between the Tibetan and Han were undermined repeatedly. I am deeply sorry for this....Recently, I informed Ngapoi and his men to leave soon for Beijing. Given the long distance, however, they would not be able to arrive within the time required. To win time, we will send more assistants to Ngapoi, who will go to Beijing via India....Please forward our pure and good will for friendship between the Tibetan and Han to the respected Chairman Mao.

In 13 days, the two representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama brought back a letter from Ambassador Yuan, which said Chairman Mao asks me to congratulate you on coming to power....the Central Government agrees and welcomes you to send more representatives to Beijing via India, from where they will take a plane to Hong Kong and then to Guangzhou.

Peace talks, therefore, took place in Beijing and the Central Government and the local government of Tibet signed the 17-article Agreement.

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