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How was the 17-Article Agreement signed? (II)

(2009/08/13)

    On January 18, 1951, the Dalai Lama, trapped in such a dilemma, finally approved Gaxag's decision to negotiate with CPC and he wrote Chinese Ambassador to India Yuan Zhongxian a letter, which was handed to Mao Zedong afterwards. He said: "I have sent a delegation headed by Ngapoi to Beijing as soon as possible. But the distance is so long that they cannot get there in time. So we appointed another two assistants to Ngapoi: Zhasa Suokang Suba and Kamchong. They two will go to Beijing via India and report to you the details about our meetings and people's opinions. May you send this letter to Chairman Mao Zedong in hope of promoting the Tibetan-Han ties."

    Yuan replied to him on February 1: "Chairman Mao asked me to represent him to congratulate you on your enthronement. I've submitted your opinion to the Central People's Government, which instructed that you are always welcome to send representatives to Beijing for the peace negotiations. We have wired the PLA troops stationed in Qamdo to treat the representatives well upon their arrival and escort Ngangpo and the other two representatives to Beijing as soon as possible."

    Although the Dalai Lama had approved the sending of representatives to the peace negotiations, he set five conditions. The most important was that the PLA troops could not enter Tibet and those already stationed in Ngari and Qamdo should withdraw to inland areas. Ngapoi Nagwang Jigmei wrote in "Great Progress in Tibet's Development" published on December 26, 1990: "Considering the significance of the peace negotiations and yet Gaxag's conditions are so far from the Central People's Government's principle as to be barriers to the peace negotiations, I decided to write to the Dalai Lama to express my view frankly before departure. I said that I would rather sacrifice my life for ideal under the circumstances. For this trip to the Han area, I would try my best to negotiate with the Central Government. As for the wording 'Tibet is part of China', I put it in this way that the five major ethnic groups in China are all equal and live in unity and on friendly terms. 'Marching into Tibet for national defense' does not mean in the least interfering in Tibet's internal affairs. The reason why PLA troops should be stationed in Tibet is that the current world situation is turbulent and unstable. If we refuse to make our commitments on the above two points, there will be nothing to talk about between the Han people and Tibetan people."

    Photo shows the 10th Panchen Erdeni Qoigyi Gyaincain(R), Mao Zedong(M) and Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei(L). Chairman Mao makes a speech at the dinner to celebrate the signing of the 17-Article Agreement on May 24, 1951. (Xinhua File Photo)

    On the next day after signing the 17-Article Agreement, the Central People's Government gave a dinner to celebrate the signing of the Afgreement. Mao Zedong made a speech on the feast: "For hundreds of years the various ethnic groups in China had not been in unity. Particularly, the Han and Tibetan people had been in disunity. Disunity also existed within each ethnic group. This was the result of the rule of the reactionary Qing government and the Chiang kai-shek's government, as well as the result of sowing of dissension by imperialists. "

    "Now, the force led by the Dalai Lama and the force led by the Panchen Erdeni have become united together with the Central People's Government. This was achieved only after the Chinese people overthrew the Imperialist and the domestic reactionary forces. This unity is the outcome of the concerted efforts of people from all walks of life. From now on, based on such unity, all ethnic groups around the country will achieve progress and develop in all areas such as political affairs, economy and culture."

    Two Supplements to the 17-Article Agreement

    The author learned about something about the supplements to the 17 Article-Agreement from Ngapoi Nagwang Jigmei in Lhasa as early as July 31, 1989. That day, Ngapoi made a long speech at the 2nd Session of the 5th Regional People's Congress of Tibet. He emphasized: "Only by following the socialist road, can Tibet have a bright future… The Central Government always keeps the door to talks open to Dalai as long as he abandons the stand of 'Tibet Independence'. The Central Government has never recognized the Gaxag government of Tibet in exile abroad, but to talk only with the Dalai Lama himself and his private representatives."

    When recalling the negotiation on PLA's entry into Tibet, Ngapoi said: "What if the Agreement didn't comply with the Dalai Lama's wish and he fled abroad under the pretext of his disapproval of the PLA's garrison in Tibet? We requested the Central Government to add on article in the Agreement: it would be the best if the Dalai Lama and Gaxag accepted the Agreement; if the Dalai Lama didn't recognize it and fled abroad, we should allow him to stay there for one year until he returns to Tibet after witnessing favorable changes and development in this region; till then, the Central Government should guarantee to maintain his existing status and powers. The Central Government had approved our request, but decided that since the 17-Article agreement had to be announced in the whole world, should this article be written into the Agreement, there would possibly be plenty of comments around the world. I t proposed writing the Article into a supplement. We agreed." His speech was included in the book titled "700 years of Tibet."

    There are two supplements to the 17-Article Agreement. One is "Provisions on Matters related to the PLA's Garrison in Tibet ", which stipulated that the Central Government would send one army to garrison Tibet and shall be responsible for all financing and materials of the PLA troops and the reorganization of Tibetan army. The other is "Statement of the Tibet's Local Government on Implementing the 17-Article Agreement." The main contents cover the fact that in the first year of implementing the Agreement, the Dalai Lama could choose his residence on his own and that during this period his status and powers would remain unchanged if he returns to his post.

    In the process of negotiations in Beijing, interpreters of both parties were Tibetan: Phuntsok Wanggyai of the Central Government and Phuntsog Tashi (Han-Tibetan language) and Sangdu Renqing (English-Tibetan language) of Tibet's local government. Phuntsok Wanggyai, who was a commissioner of the Tibetan Working Committee of CPC at that time, wrote in an article carried in "Study of Tibet" in 1991: "Because of consequences of the intervention by various kinds of reactionary forces at home and abroad, some questions could not be explained explicitly in a few words in a cable. Moreover, poor communication conditions made it impossible for us to ask Gaxag for instructions on every matter. Under these special circumstances, we Tibetan representatives had to be responsible for history, perform our duties by making necessary decisions, including the supplements to the Agreement."

    Tudain Dainda recalled in an article published in 1982 that after signing the Agreement, the representatives of Tibet's local government sent the full text to Yadong and then were asked to cable the supplements as well. At that time, we had to cable from Beijing to Yadong via India, which took a long time to get a reply. Thus we replied: "The supplements are top state secrets and hence cannot be cabled. That is why we will bring them back." However, the Dalai Lama and Gaxag insisted on obtaining the full texts of the documents before expressing their stand.

    In June 1951, entrusted by the central government, the central representative Zhang Jingwu sent Mao Zedong's letter to the Dalai Lama. He went together with Kemo Soinam Wangdui, Tudain Dainda, Tubdain Laimoin, Sangpo Toinzin Toinzhol and Yaoxi Phuntsog Tashi, and it took them one month to get to Yadong by way of Hong Kong and India. "The Central Representative in Tibet" by Zhao Shenying reads: "Upon Zhang Jingwu's arrival in his chamber, the Dalai Lama stood up from the chair, came forward to welcome him and asked him to take a seat. Zhang said: 'Chairman Mao was very delighted that you sent representatives to talk with the central government in Beijing, with the result that the 17-Article Agreement on peaceful liberation of Tibet was signed. He praised highly on your patriotic attitude.' Then he handed over Mao's letter, a copy of the Agreement and the two supplements. "

    In the letter, Mao said: "Since you came to power, the local government of Tibet has changed its past attitude and answered the call of the Central Government for peaceful liberation of Tibet by sending a delegation headed by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei for peace talks in Beijing. This measure of yours is entirely correct… I hope that you and the local government under your leadership will earnestly implement The Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local government of Tibet on Measures for Peaceful Liberation of Tibet and do everything possible to assist the People's Liberation Army in marching into Tibet peacefully."

    Finally, the Dalai Lama came back to Lhasa after the persuasion by Zhang Jingwu and some Gaxag officials.

For years, the Dalai clique has mentioned the supplements to the 17-Article Agreement when distorting the Agreement. The Dalai Lama and his so-called "government in exile" said in the statement against the Agreement: "By now, the Chinese Communist Party has not made public the supplementary seven articles to the 17-Article Agreement. Another three articles also have been kept in secret because the persons concerned forgot, suffered from amnesia or faced external pressure."

    Why the supplements to the 17-Article Agreement were not published? The reason is that the supplement stipulated the scale of the PLA troops to be stationed in Tibet and the plan on reorganizing the Tibetan troops. The two points were then considered top military secrets. And the other one was set on the precondition that if the Dalai Lama does not accept the Agreement and goes abroad, the Central Government will allow him to stay abroad for one year and if the Dalai Lama comes back, the Central Government will still acknowledge his status and powers. Nevertheless, the Dalai Lama didn't go abroad; instead, he returned to Lhasa via Yadong, approved the Agreement and cabled to Chairman Mao Zedong to express support to the Agreement and willingness to carry it out. That is why it was not necessary to make the two supplements public.

    On October 20, Gaxag held a meeting of 300 monk and lay officials in the Potala Palace, at which the representatives taking part in the negotiation explained in detail the whole process of the signing of the Agreement and answered questions from the officials. Some of them doubted that the representatives had been bribed by the Central Government, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei replied: "At that time, the Central Government gave me a portrait of Chairman Mao, a roll of yellow satin and a box of black tea. That's all. Other representatives got less than me. Do you think I could be bribed by such a small amount of things?Please think it over."

    Having learned about the signing process, Gaxag decided to accept the 17-Article Agreement.

    Later,the Dalai Lama wired to Beijing to express his support to the 17-Article Agreement. The full text is as follows:

Oct. 24, 1951

Aug. 24 of Tibetan lunar year of Iron Rabbit

Chairman Mao of the Central People's Government:

    This year the local government of Tibet has sent five representatives with full authority headed by Galoon Ngapoi, who arrived in Beijing in late April 1951 for peace negotiations with fully-powered representatives appointed by the Central People's Government.

    On the basis of friendship, representatives of both sides signed the Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet on May 23, 1951.

    The local government of Tibet as well as the Tibetan monks and laymen unanimously support this agreement, and under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Central People's Government, will actively assist the People's Liberation Army troops in marching into Tibet, in order to consolidate national defense, drive imperialist forces out of Tibet and safeguard the territorial and sovereignty integrity of the motherland. I hereby send this cable to inform you.

    The Dalai Lama of the local government of Tibet

Mao Zedong's reply to the Dalai Lama is as follows:

Oct. 26, 1951

    I have received your cable dating on October 24, 1951 .I appreciate your efforts to carry out the Agreement on Measures for Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. I hereby send my since congratulations to you.

Mao Zedong

    With regard to the Dalai clique's accusation of the 17-Article Agreement's legality, Canadian scholar A. Tom Grunfeld pointed out in the book titled "The Making of Modern Tibet": "If this accusation is true, why didn't the Dalai Lama mention it in the letter? And, if this Agreement was imposed on Tibetans, why did the Dalai Lama and almost all the Tibetan nobles return to Lhasa and work with the Han people together?"

    He added: "The Dalai Lama argues the reason why he didn't express his dissatisfaction was that in those days the Tibetan people were on good terms with the Han people. So, there's no need to make such things known to the public. These words of his are unbelievable. Anyway, the fact is that the Dalai Lama and his officials were all back to Lhasa and they had worked together with the Han people, which itself has proved the legality of the 17-Article Agreement."



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