Tibet celebrates 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation
On May 23rd, 1951, representatives of both the central government and the former local government of Tibet signed a 17-Article Agreement in Beijing, marking the region’s peaceful liberation. It fundamentally expelled imperialist forces, safeguarded the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, cracked down on various secessionist forces and maintained national unification and ethnic unity.
China Focus: Tibet marks 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation
“It’s a historic date for all the Tibetans,” said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of Tibet’s regional legislature, while addressing the crowd. “Tibet’s peaceful liberation laid a solid foundation for the subsequent democratic reform, building of socialism and the modernization drive.”
The number of serfs and slaves accounted for 95 percent of the Tibetan population in 1951. The lords, including the Dalai Lama’s relatives, owned all the land, forests, rivers and slaves. The lords could torture and even kill the serfs and slaves freely, though all were devout Buddhists.
“Rumors had it that the PLA were cannibals — some of them wore face masks that kept them from eating humans alive,” said Tseten Dorje, 76. Those frightening cannibals, he said, turned out to be friendly and even offered candies and biscuits to the children.
Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme himself wrote in an article entitled “Return to the warm embrace of the Motherland” published in 1981: “We held earnest and friendly negotiations on the basis of equality and consultation…and correctly resolved all complicated issues according to the policy of the Chinese Communist Party on resolving issues related to domestic ethnic groups and in line with the special conditions in Tibet.”
Witnessing "arrival of dawn" — memories of Tibet’s peaceful liberation in 1951
by Xinhua writers Yuan Ye, Bai Xu, Li Keyong
In January 1950, merely three months after the establishment of the PRC, Mao Zedong and the Central Military Commission made the decision to liberate Tibet, a move resisted by Tibet’s aristocrats who intended to seek support from Britain and the United States.
From the very beginning the central government made clear that “every effort must be made to realize negotiations with the local Tibetan government” for a peaceful liberation, said Qie Jinwu, a former high-ranking officer at the 18th Corps.
But the envoys sent to Lhasa for peace talks were all turned away. One of them, highly respected living Buddha Gedar Tulku, was even poisoned to death in Qamdo.
“We’ve made every effort. Even the purpose of Qamdo Battle in October 1950 was to urge the Kasha to come to the negotiation table,” said Qie, now 91.
The battle in the eastern Tibet town, in which the PLA defeated the Tibetan regional government’s army, quickly shook the Tibetan rulers’ confidence to resist.
But after his exile to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama insisted the agreement had been signed under duress.
Phundre said he did not agree with the “duress” claim because both sides were allowed to debate, sometimes fiercely, for the final version of the agreement.
In September 1950, a small fight broke out between a detachment of the 18th Corps and a dozen Tibetan soldiers in Dorje Chosphel’s home village of Kamthok, Jomda County.
“Bullets flew over my head, yet I managed to pick up a cartridge case out of curiosity,” said the now 79-year-old man. The Tibetan soldiers were soon defeated and fled.
“The successful entry of the 18th Corps is the result of a complete and earnest implementation of the central government’s policies toward Tibet and accordingly, the sincere support from the people,” said Ngawang Tenzin.
In the course of entering Tibet’s plateau region, known as “the world’ s roof,” more than 3,000 PLA soldiers died of high altitude sickness, hunger, or accidents while building roads.
Now even the most remote village in Tibet could be connected with the outside world with satellite TV and mobile phones.