Peaceful Liberation of Tibet: Splendid Chapter in Chinese Annals of National Unity
--Exclusive interview with Zhu Weiqun
2011/05/07

Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, accepts an interview with "China's Tibet" magazine.

Editor's Note: At the request of "China's Tibet" magazine, Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, has accepted this exclusive interview with the magazine, just a couple of weeks before the 60th anniversary of the signing of the "Agreement on Measure for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet"(the 17-Article Agreement) and the peaceful liberation of Tibet. The full text of this interview will be published on the May 15 edition of "China's Tibet".

Peaceful Liberation: Tibet Never to Separate from Its Motherland

Reporter: May 23 this year marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the "Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the peaceful Liberation of Tibet". How do you evaluate this historical event?

Mr. Zhu Weiqun: The peaceful liberation of Tibet is a milestone in the national liberation undertaking of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), as well as in the entire Chinese nation's century-long struggle for national unity.

Not long after the "three decisive victories" during the Chinese civil war, Chairman Mao proposed to settle the Tibet-related issues. In early 1949, he said "it is not difficult to settle the Tibet-related issues, yet we have to avoid being too hasty or imprudent" when meeting with USSR President Stalin's special envoy Mikoyan. At the end of 1949, Chairman Mao indicated that "the earlier we enter Tibet, the better" during his visit to USSR.

In October 1950, the People's Liberation Army launched the "Chamdo Battle", crushing down the scheme of the small number of upper-class reactionaries in Tibet who tried to resist the liberation of Tibet by taking advantage of the geographically fortified Jinshajiang River Front and the support of foreign forces.

The victory of the PLA in Chamdo persuaded the Tibet local government headed by the 14th Dalai Lama to send a delegation to Beijing for peace talks. After nearly one month's negotiation, the local government of Tibet signed "the 17-Article Agreement" with the Chinese central government. Thus Tibet was peacefully liberated.

This indicates the settlement of Tibet issue had been put on the top priority of the blueprint of the establishment of the People's Republic of China by the CPC leadership. Whether liberated in a peaceful way or in non-peaceful ways, Tibet must be liberated; otherwise the CPC would fail to accomplish its historical mission.

History has proved the correctness of the decision made by the CPC central committee and Chairman Mao, as we may have encountered more challenges if the PLA had not entered Tibet by then.

In my opinion, the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet not only marked the crash of the attempt of the imperialism and a minority of Tibetan reactionary upper class to separate Tibet from the whole country, but also realized the complete liberation and reunification of the whole China. As you know, Tibet is a part of China since the ancient time. From the Yuan Dynasty, the Central Government exercised direct and effective authority over Tibet. In the modern history, western imperialists started to covet Tibet of China. The Britain launched two military attacks over Tibet in 1888 and 1904 respectively, and occupied Tibet in 1904. However, they discovered that military power could not only separate Tibet from China, in which Tibet locals and masses were all in obedience to the authority of the Central Government. Therefore, the British imperialism started to foster pro-Britain forces from the upper class of Tibet, by whom to plot "Tibet independence". There was no term of "independence" in Tibetan language before then, so it was absolutely made up by Western colonialists. On the eve of the great victory of people's liberation war, American and British imperialists and a batch of Tibetan reactionaries in Tibet's upper class feared that they may lose the last chance, then they plotted numbers of separatism incidents such as "banishing the Han people", and attempted to bring up the issue of "Tibet independence" to the Communist Party of China. However, the success of the "Chamdo Battle", the signing of the "17 Article Agreement" and the PLA's peaceful entry into Tibet all smashed western imperialism's illusions. The peaceful liberation of Tibet is the achievement made at the cost of many Chinese people's lives for their century-long pursuit of national reunification and ethnic dignity, which made the attempt of separating Tibet from China impossible forever.

Another significance of the peaceful liberation of Tibet lies in another fact that it provided preconditions for the democratic reform in Tibet from feudal serfdom into modern socialist system.

According to the actual situation in Tibet, the "17-Article Agreement" stipulates: "the Central Government will not change the existing political system of Tibet, nor will it change the Dalai Lama's inherent status and position", "In matters relating to reforms in Tibet, there would be no coercion on the part of the central authorities, and the reform would be carried out by the Tibetan local government of its own accord. Consultations with local Tibet leaders shall be made when the people show desire for the reform."

The Central Government abided by both promises. However, a minority of upper-class Tibetans wanted their system to last forever rather than to make changes later, so they started the armed rebellion. Yet the incident brought the democratic reform in Tibet into reality earlier than expected.

Without the prologue of the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the magnificent democratic reform would not have happened; and without the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the entry of the Chinese Communist Party and the PLA, those oppressed and enslaved Tibetan people would not have deeply understood the policy of the CPC, nor would they show a strong desire for the democratic reform themselves.

During the 8 years after the peaceful liberation of Tibet, a set of preconditions had been objectively created for the Democratic Reform in terms of ideology, support from both masses and cadres and even experience of military struggle. The success of the Democratic Reform of Tibet signifies that there would be no ground for either theocratic feudal serfdom or retroversion in the history of Tibet.

Now, it made the Dalai clique and western rivalries behind uncomfortable to see the national reunification and the prosperous development of all ethnic groups including Tibetans in China. They may disagree with me on this stand, and give it another try for verification as they have done many times. But I believe that any such chance-takers will not end up better than those resisters who went against the peaceful liberation of Tibet or launched armed rebels against their motherland.

Dalai Lama Spoils His Wisest Decision

Reporter: At first, the 14th Dalai Lama agreed on and supported the signing of the "17-Article Agreement", but later he broke his promise and fled overseas to engage himself in separatism. What's your comment on that?

Mr. Zhu: The Dalai Lama was only 16 years old and just came into power when the "17-Article Agreement" was signed. He specially sent plenipotentiary to Beijing for negotiations with the Central Government.

After the agreement was signed, he stated openly that he completely accepted the "17-Article Agreement" on behalf of the local government of Tibet, and also expressed in his telegram to Chairman Mao Zedong that "the local government of Tibet and all Tibetan monks and laymen all support the agreement, willing to help the People's Liberation Army go into Tibet under the leadership of the CPC to fortify the national defense, expel imperialistic forces and safeguard the unified territorial sovereignty of the country."

The decision turned out to be one of the Dalai Lama's few wisest decisions in his life.

The Central Government has given many favorable treatments to the Dalai Lama. For example, in 1954, Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai specially met with him when he attended the first session of the National People's Congress. At the meeting, he was elected vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The position in the state's top legislative body was preserved for him until 1964 after he fled in 1959, which the Central Government claimed a forced escape with the consideration of his personal reputation.

Unfortunately, it was the Dalai Lama himself who smeared his own reputation. In 1959, he imprudently alleged to reject the "17-Article Agreement" during his journey fleeing overseas with a group of upper-class splittists. More than fifty years have passed since then.

In fact, the Dalai Lama knew well the goodwill of the Central Government, but he insisted going further in a wrong way. Given that, the State Council passed the decision of removing the official post preserved for the Dalai Lama in 1964.

In 1995, after careful studies on the Dalai Lama's sabotage activities in the past decades, the Central Government affirms four allegations over the Dalai Lama: the leader of the separatist clique that conspires the independence of Tibet, a ready puppet of the international anti-China forces, the root of social disorder in Tibet, and the biggest obstacle against regular religious order of Tibet Buddhism".

With the following separatist and sabotage words and deeds, the Dalai Lama continued to prove the eligibility for the four allegations. I feel bad for him as he has to die with those "four labels".

The "Middle Way" Equals "Tibet Independence"

Reporter: What's your comment on the 14th Dalai Lama's so-called "Middle Way"? And what's your opinion about the Dalai Lama's position in his contact with the Central Government?

Mr. Zhu: In the 1980s, the 14th Dalai Lama came up with his so-called "non-violence" and "middle way" approach. Such a "non-violence" claim did not mean that he did not want violence, but only he had to turn around at a dead-end corner due to his notoriety.

During 1960s, the clique had continuously organized armed attacks along China's border areas and caused bloodshed to undermine the stability of Tibet.

Even after he claimed to follow his "Middle Way" approach, the Dalai clique continued to move behind the scenes and provoke a series of riots such as the "Lhasa Incident" in 1989, "March14 Lhasa Incident" in 2008, etc. Also the Dalai clique backed up separatist organizations such as Tibetan Youth Congress, which publicly claims "Tibet independence" and favors violent terrorist attacks.

However, the Central Government would like to resolve the Tibet issue through peaceful talks with the Dalai Lama who was officially recognized by the National Government of the Republic of China (1927-1949).

China's policy toward the Tibet issue has been consistent and open: the Central Government is always ready for contact and talks with the 14th Dalai Lama over his personal future as long as he gives up his separatist stance and activities against the motherland, publicly admits that Tibet and Taiwan are both inalienable parts of China and accepts that the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government of China.

Therefore, the contact with the Dalai Lama mainly happened in two periods of time: from the early period when China just adopted the "reform and opening-up policy" to early 1990s; and from the year of 2002 till now. Personally, I have taken part in all the ten rounds of talks since 2002.

We have two basic points for contact with the Dalai Lama. The first point is that we only contact private representatives sent by the Dalai Lama. His so-called "government in exile", whoever leads it, is only an illegitimate political group of splittists not eligible for a "dialogue" with the representatives of the Central Government. To dismiss itself is the only thing the "government in exile" should do. With our presence, the representatives of Dalai Lama never dared to say that they represent the "government in exile", but they set themselves up as representatives of "government in exile" as soon as they leave the country. This is not a decent act, but a deliberate move to spoil our talks.

The second point is that we only talk about the future of the Dalai Lama, and a small group of people around him at most. In other words, it is a talk about how the Dalai Lama gives up his ideas and actions of splittism completely and tries to gain the understanding of the Central Government and people all over China. We will never talk about the so-called Tibet issue and "high-degree autonomy of Greater Tibet" with them. To let the Dalai Lama further understand the principles of the central government and admit his mistakes, we can listen to his explanations, but it is only a test for any of his inclinations to give up his splittist approach and get closer to the Central Government.

During the contact in 2008, the private representatives of the Dalai Lama handed in a "Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy of the Tibetan People", which was rejected by us immdiately. But now the Dalai clique still shams that they are still "waiting for the central government's response". I would suggest they'd better stop such a self-delusional act.

Since we resumed our contact in 2002, we were once again disappointed by the Dalai Lama as he instigated a series of violent activities, including the March 14 Riots in Lhasa in 2008, interrupting the passing-on of the Beijing Olympic torch, inciting western countries to boycott Beijing Olympic Games and so on aiming to force us make a concession by taking advantage of the Beijing Olympic Games, which ended with nothing but another failure.

During the contact in 2008, the representatives of the Dalai Lama found that they could not achieve their goals, so they declared on site that they would never talk with the Central Government. This was already their second time to do so since 1993. Several months later, as expected, they asked for another round of contact because they found the situation was not favorable for them.

Recently, the unstable situation in the Middle East excited the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Youth Congress for another possbile opportunity.However, they never seem to make the right judgment or give the right action thus their decisions doom to failure over and over again.

In terms of the contact, we would like to stress that foreigners are not allowed to be involved. All Tibet-related issues are internal affairs of China, which should not be interfered by any other country. The Dalai clique insists on engaging foreigners in our contacts as some westerners actively offer to be "a third party". It is out of the question. I would suggest they reserve some respect for themselves.

Recently there are some discussions about the change of the office-term of the "government in exile" and the Central Government's attitude towards the contact. Now I want to make it clear: all the above basic points will not change. Of course, it will be a different matter if the Dalai Lama advocates publicly the "Tibet independence" or "armed riots".

Reporter: The Central Government has held five conferences on work in Tibet. What does it indicate?

Mr. Zhu: As far as I know, Tibet is the only provincial-level autonomous region for which the Central Government has held five conferences dedicated to its development since the implementation of the reform and opening-up policy. Why?

First of all, Tibet is located in a high-altitude, rigid, cold area where natural condition is extremely harsh, which is a special barrier for Tibet's economic and social development. Secondly, for a long time in history, Tibet had been ruled under the theocratic feudal serfdom system, which impeded its social development. So its development level is far behind the inland areas. Thirdly, the Dalai clique, under the support of anti-China western forces, has always conspired in splitting Tibet from its motherland and causing trouble to disturb the stability of Tibet, stifle its development, and threaten the national unity ,and territorial integrity of the country. Fourthly, Tibet in southwestern China shares long boarder borders with neighboring sub-continental South Asian countries. The stability and development of Tibet is important for China to maintain the friendly, cooperative and mutual beneficial relationships with those countries.

In a word, the above reasons determine the unique position of Tibet in the overall blueprint of the country. Both the Central Government and people are clear about the situation, so they are determined to stick to the policy of pooling national efforts to support the development of Tibet.

For example, the Central Government decided to call for all the government departments and 15 other provincial-level regions to aid Tibet at the third conference on work in Tibet held in 1994. Altogether 62 key aid-Tibet projects have been implemented. In 2001, the fourth conference on work in Tibet decided to extend the planned aid-Tibet timetable from 10 years to 20 years, with 59 central government departments, 18 provincial-level regions and 17 state enterprises involved in the ambitious project to cover all prefecture-level cities and 74 counties in Tibet. During the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010), the overall aid-Tibet fund amounted to 7.6 billion yuan. The fifth conference on work in Tibet stepped further ahead, calling for all aid-Tibet partner provinces and cities to use one thousandth of its disposable revenue to support the development of Tibet, which was accepted and accomplished without hesitation.

For so many years, a large number of inland cadres have left home to help Tibet enthusiastically. Facts show that it has been a nationwide consensus to help with Tibet's progress.

We believe that the 3-million Tibetans who have taken aid and support from the whole nation are giving their own support to the country in return.

People of different minorities lived in Tibet from the ancient time have made unique material and cultural progress despite the high altitude, cold climate, thin air and extremely fragile eco-environment. They are also the guardians of the 1.2 million square-kilometer territory in the southwestern part of China. In the past 60 years since the peaceful liberation of the region, Tibet has maintained stability and steady growth, turning itself into an important shield of security and ecological environment, a strategic resource reserve, a high-land distinctive agricultural product base of the country, as well as a Chinese ethnic culture protection center, and a world-renewed tourism destination. Officials and ordinary people from different ethnic backgrounds in Tibet have shown their lofty patriotism and hard-working spirit on the physically challenging plateau, which has served as an inspiration for the whole nation. This is what the Tibetans have returned to us all.

Tibetan Culture Gets along Well with Inland Culture

Reporter: As secretary general of China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC), what's your comment on traditional Tibetan culture?

Mr. Zhu: The traditional Tibetan culture is an important part of the traditional Chinese culture. Over thousands of years, the Tibetan culture has been in complete harmony and closer bonds with the inland culture.

Let me show you an example. When you visit the Potala Palace or famous monasteries in Lhasa, look at the golden roof and bracket building style (a system of brackets inserted between the top of a column and a crossbeam), which is definitely similar to the architecture in inland areas of China. Also look at the painting, dance, sculpture, medicine, calendar, religion and so on, you can clearly feel the profound influence of inland culture (on the Tibetan culture) during the past thousands of years.

Just as you can also feel the great influence of Tibetan culture on the inland culture when visiting the Yonghegong Lamasery in Beijing or "Eight Temples" in Chengde (Hebei Province) or Bodhisattva Monastery at Mount Wutai (Shanxi Province). The Tibetan culture has been continuously instilling vigor to the inland culture, both in content and style.

The traditional Tibetan culture is also a distinctive part of traditional Chinese culture. It boasts plateau-featured lively regional characteristics which have drawn on the unique elements of the spirit of the Tibetan people and inspirations of the sub-continental South Asian culture.

Only with such factors can Tibetan culture and inland culture produce the best of itself through learning and attracting from each other and exchanges between both sides.

Reporter:What is the relationship between the traditional Tibetan culture and the socialistic new culture?

Mr. Zhu: It is a universal law in cultural development that traditional culture evolves with the social and economic development. Now our traditional culture is developing as we have entered the new phase of the country's socialistic construction with Chinese characteristics. The traditional Tibetan culture is for sure to progress with the times. And, the improvement of people's material life will no longer remain as it was. .

Former Chairman Mao once said, "To develop new national culture and elevate national confidence, it is necessary to sort out the old culture, and eliminate its feudal dross, and assimilate its democratic essence. But we should never take everything uncritically. It is imperative to differentiate democratic and revolutionary contents of the people in old times from all the rotten waste favored by the old feudal ruling class."

Traditional Tibetan culture originates from old times, inevitably carrying along some feudalistic serfdom dross belonging to the past, which should be abandoned as the society develops. Yet positive and advanced elements which can go along with the historical trend should be inherited and carried forward.

Now in an effort to build the socialistic new Tibet, we will definitely create unprecedented cultural substances and forms to reflect the new era and new society, offering the masses a kind of culture on the serving-the-people basis, readily accepted by the people.

Some westerners regard ancient Tibetan culture as incomparably sacred, not allowing any bit of change. In fact, what they want is to makeTibet as an antediluvian, keeping Tibetan people in a culturally outdated, even fatuous state so that they themselves could keep enjoying the superiority over ordinary people.

The Dalai clique blames us for "destroying" Tibetan culture all along, but what they actually want is to recover their cultural superiority they had exclusively under the feudal serfdom.

Our proposition in cultural development is to meet the need of the people from all ethnic groups in living their new socialistic life, neither to satisfy the racial pride of some westerners nor to fulfill the desire of a handful of former privileged stratum in old Tibet.

Nowadays, the development of our country provides Tibetan culture with unprecedentedly favorable conditions and broad prospects.

New cultural forms and categories have emerged in large numbers in many fields of Tibetan culture, such as the language, newspaper, radio and TV broadcasting, architecture, art, photography, dancing, singing, and fashion, etc. Moreover, each cultural pattern is developing rapidly , stepping further to connect the traditional with modern culture.

Artistic works reflecting Tibet and presenting Tibetan culture such as photography or art exhibitions are almost seen everywhere across the country. The Tibetan songs such as "Ya la so" or "Ba zha hai" (Tibetan interjections) are commonly heard from professional or amateur singers, and also very popular among the people. Such cultural prosperity was unimaginable in old Tibet.

The CAPDTC will incumbently adapt to the historical trend, exerting more efforts in promoting Tibetan culture and exhancing its nationwide and even global influence. At the same time we are also committed ourselves to introducing other excellent cultures to Tibet to enrich local Tibetan people's cultural life.

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