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Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet
Seventeen-Point Plan Chinese 1.jpg
Traditional Chinese 西西
Simplified Chinese 西西
Seventeen point plan
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

The Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, or the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet for short, is the document by which the delegates of the 14th Dalai Lama reached an agreement with the government of the newly-established People's Republic of China on affirming Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. It was signed by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme and sealed in Beijing on 23 May 1951 and confirmed by the government in Tibet a few months later.[1] In addition, the following letter written by the Dalai Lama indicating his acceptance was also sent to Beijing in the form of a telegram on the 24th of October:

"The Tibet Local Government as well as the ecclesiastic and secular people unanimously support this agreement, and under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Central People's Government, will actively support the People's Liberation Army in Tibet to consolidate national defence, drive out imperialist influences from Tibet and safeguard the unification of the territory and the sovereignty of the Motherland." [2]

According to the Tibetan government-in-exile, some members of the Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), for example, Tibetan Prime Minister Lukhangwa, never accepted the agreement.[3] But the National Assembly of Tibet, "while recognizing the extenuating circumstances under which the delegates had to sign the 'agreement', asked the government to accept the 'agreement'...the Kashag told Zhang Jingwu that it would radio its acceptance of the 'agreement'."[4]

Chinese sources regard the document as a legal contract that was mutually welcomed by both governments and by the Tibetan people. Tibetan sources generally consider it invalid, as having been reluctantly or unwillingly signed under duress.[5]

On the path that was leading him into exile in India, the 14th Dalai Lama arrived March 26, 1959 at Lhuntse Dzong where he repudiated the "17-point Agreement" as having been "thrust upon Tibetan Government and people by the threat of arms."[6] and reaffirmed his government as the only legitimate representative of Tibet.[7][8]

Contents

Lead up

The 14th Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama meeting with Mao Zedong in 1955.

China had 20,000 troops at the Tibetan border when it ordered Tibet to send representatives to Beijing to negotiate a treaty. The treaty was written by China, and Tibetan representatives were not allowed to suggest any alterations. China did not allow the Tibetan representatives to communicate with Lhasa. The Tibetan delegation was not authorized by Lhasa to sign, but ultimately submitted to pressure from the Chinese (in the form of threats of personal violence as well as military invasion) to sign anyway, using seals which the Chinese had made for the purpose.[9]

The signing of the Seventeen-Point agreement has often been contested as invalid in the West and in the Tibetan exile community because of a charge that the Tibet delegates were forced to sign under duress and because the Chinese used forged Tibetan government seals. The exile community and their supporters also assert that the Tibetan representatives were not allowed to suggest any alterations and that the Chinese government did not allow the Tibetan representatives to communicate with Lhasa.[9]

However, Tibetologist Melvyn Goldstein, who interviewed at least two negotiators and the only interpreter (the Dalai Lama's brother-in-law) from the Tibetan side, provides a different account:

The Chinese did make new seals for the Tibetans, but these were just personal seals with each delegate's name carved on them. Other than this, there were no forged government seals. Part of the confusion derives from the fact that Ngabo had in his possession the seal of the governor of Eastern Tibet but chose not to use it. That seal, however, was not the official seal of the Tibetan government, so not using it did not lessen the validity of the agreement. In his autobiography, the Dalai Lama states that the Tibetan delegates claimed they were forced 'under duress' to sign the agreement, but this is clearly incorrect in the sense of any personal duress. The Chinese did not threaten the delegates with physical harm to make them sign. The delegates were free not to sign and to leave Beijing. Their feeling of duress derives from the general Chinese threat to use military force again in Central Tibet if an agreement was not concluded. However, according to international law, this does not invalidate an agreement. So long as there is no physical violence against the signatories, an agreement is valid. However, the validity of the agreement is premised on the signatories' full authority to finalize an agreement, and this, as we saw was clearly not the case. So in this sense, the Dalai Lama actually had grounds to disavow it.[10]

And, as a Tibetan negotiator recalled, instances indeed exist when the Tibetan delegates, with Dalai Lama's authorization,[11] were free to suggest alteration.[12]

Delegates

The signings.

Signed and sealed by delegates of the Central People's Government with full powers:

Chief Delegate:

  • Li Wei-han (Chairman of the Commission of Nationalities Affairs);

Delegates:

  • Chang Ching-wu, Chang Kuo-hua, Sun Chih-yuan

Delegates with full powers of the Local Government of Tibet:

Delegates:

  • Dzasak Khemey Sonam Wangdi, Khentrung Thuptan, Tenthar, Khenchung Thuptan Lekmuun Rimshi, Samposey Tenzin Thondup

Notes

  1. ^ Goldstein 1989, pp. 812–813
  2. ^ Shakya 1999, pg. 90
  3. ^ In 1952 Lukhangwa told Chinese Representative Zhang Jingwu "It was absurd to refer to the terms of the Seventeen-Point Agreement. Our people did not accept the agreement and the Chinese themselves had repeatedly broken the terms of it. Their army was still in occupation of eastern Tibet; the area had not been returned to the government of Tibet, as it should have been." My Land and My People, Dalai Lama, New York, 1992, p.95
  4. ^ "The 17-Point Agreement" The full story as revealed by the Tibetans and Chinese who were involved
  5. ^ Powers 2004, pp. 116–7
  6. ^ "The 17-Point Agreement" The full story as revealed by the Tibetans and Chinese who were involved
  7. ^ Michel Peissel, "The Cavaliers of Kham, the secret war in Tibet" London: Heinemann 1972, and Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1973
  8. ^ Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile Harper San Francisco, 1991
  9. ^ a b Powers 2004, pp. 113–6
  10. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C., A History of Modern Tibet (Vol 2): A Calm before the Storm: 1951–1959, 2007, pp. 106–107
  11. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C., A History of Modern Tibet (Vol 2): A Calm before the Storm: 1951–1959, 2007, p. 96
  12. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C., A History of Modern Tibet (Vol 2): A Calm before the Storm: 1951–1959, 2007, pp. 101–102

References

  • Goldstein, Melvyn C. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913–1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State (1989) University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520061408
  • Powers, John. History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China (2004) Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195174267
  • Shakya, Tsering. The Dragon In The Land Of Snows (1999) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11814-7

See also

External links

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