II. Origins of So-Called 'Tibetan Independence'
For more than 700 years the central government of China has continuously exercised sovereignty over Tibet, and Tibet has never been an independent state. Now millions of files in both Chinese and Tibetan recording historical facts over more than seven centuries are being kept in the archives of Beijing, Nanjing and Lhasa. No government of any country in the world has ever recognized Tibet as an independent state. British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne, in a formal instruction he sent out in 1904, called Tibet "a province of the Chinese Empire." In his speech at the Lok Sabba in 1954, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, "Over the past several hundred years, as far as I know, at no time has any foreign country denied China's sovereignty over Tibet." The Dalai clique and overseas anti-China forces used to claim that between the 1911 Revolution and the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Tibet became a country "exercising full authority." Historical facts refute such a fallacy. The simple reality that the installation of the 14th Dalai Lama needed the approval of the national government is sufficient proof that Tibet did not possess any independent power during that period. Therefore, the so-called "Tibetan independence" which the Dalai clique and overseas anti-China forces fervently propagate is nothing but a fiction of the imperialists who committed aggression against China in modern history.
How Have Imperialists Instigated Tibetan
There was no such word as "independence" in the Tibetan vocabulary at the beginning of the 20th century. After the British imperialists started the Opium War of aggression against China in 1840, China was reduced from an independent sovereign country to a semi-colonial country. Imperialist forces took advantage of a weak Qing Dynasty and began plotting to carve up China, Tibet included.
In order to bring Tibet into its sphere of influence, British aggressors invaded China's Tibet twice in 1888 and 1903. The Tibetan army and civilians rose to resist but were defeated. In the second aggressive war against Tibet, the British army occupied Lhasa, and the 13th Dalai Lama was forced to flee from the city. The invaders compelled the Tibetan local government officials to sign the Lhasa Convention. But because the Ministry of External Affairs of the Qing government believed the Lhasa Convention would do damage to national sovereignty, the high commissioner stationed in Tibet by the Qing government refused to sign it, leaving it ineffectual.
After their failure to assume full control of Tibet through direct military incursion, the imperialists changed their tack and began plotting to separate Tibet from China. On August 31, 1907, Britain and Russia signed the Convention Between Great Britain and Russia, which changed China's sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty." This marked the first time Chin's sovereignty over Tibet was altered into "suzerainty" in international documents.
The year following the 1911 Revolution, Britain took advantage of the
political chaos in China after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the
new birth of the Republic of China, and put before the Chinese Ministry
of Foreign Affairs a five-point demand, indicating the denial of China's
sovereignty over Tibet. When the Chinese government rejected the British
In 1913, taking advantage of the fact that Yuan Shikai, who had usurped
the presidency of the Republic of China, was eager to get foreign diplomatic
recognition and international loans, the British government forced the
Beijing government to participate in a tripartite conference of China,
Britain and Tibet, namely the Simla Conference held at the behest of the
British government. Before the conference, Charles Bell political officer
sent to Sikkim by the British-Indian government, privately met with Lon-chen
Shatra, the representative of the Tibetan local government to the conference.
Bell trumpeted to Lon-chen Shatra that "suzerainty" implied "independence."
In his book Tibet: Past and Present, Bell wrote, "When I met
Lon-chen Shatra in Gyantse, I advised him to bring down all the documents
which he could collect bearing on the Tibetan relationship to China in
the past, and on the former's claims to the various provinces and districts
which had from time to time been occupied by China." Stirred up by
the British, the Tibetan representative raised the slogan of "Tibetan
independence" for the first time. He also claimed "Tibetan territory
includes Qinghai, Litang, Batang and Dajianlu." When these demands
were rejected by the representative of the Chinese government, the British
delegate introduced the pre-arranged "compromise" scheme, which
divided China's Tibetan-inhabited areas into "inner Tibet" and
"outer Tibet." "Inner
In the summer of 1942, the Tibetan local government, with the support
of the British representative, suddenly announced the establishment of
a "foreign affairs bureau," and openly carried out "Tibetan
independence" activities. These actions, as soon as they were made
public, were condemned unanimously by the Chinese people. The national
government also issued a stern warning. Under this pressure, the Tibetan
local government had no choice but to withdraw its decision and reported
the change to the national government. At the "Asian Relations Conference"
held in New Delhi in March 1947, the British imperialists plotted behind
the curtains to invite Tibetan representatives and even identified Tibet
as an independent country on the map of Asia in the conference hall and
in the array of national flags. The organizers were forced
Around the end of 1949, the American Lowell Thomas roamed Tibet in the guise of a "radio commentator" to explore the "possibility of aid that Washington could give Tibet." He wrote in a US newspaper: " The United States is ready to recognize Tibet as an independent and free country." In the first half of 1950, a load of American weaponry was shipped into Tibet through Calcutta in order to help resist the PLA's entry into Tibet. On November 1 of the same year, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson openly slandered China's liberation of its own territory of Tibet as "invasion." In the same month the United States prodded some other countries to propose a motion at the United Nations for intervention in China's Tibet. The scheme was unsuccessful in face of the stern stand of the Chinese government and the opposition of some countries.
Historical facts over more than a century clearly demonstrate that so-called "Tibetan independence" was, in reality, cooked up by old and new imperialists out of their crave to wrest Tibet from China. The 14th Dalai Lama in his early years pointed out, "It was the imperialists who, taking advantage of the Tibetan people's antipathy to the Qing Dynasty and the reactionary Kuomintang government, attempted by enticement, deception and instigation to get the Tibetan people to separate from the motherland and come under their oppression and enslavement."
How Does the 1959 Armed Rebellion Occur?
Before peaceful liberation in 1951, Tibet was under a feudal serfdom
characterized by the dictatorship of upper-class monks and nobles. The
broad masses of serfs in Tibet eagerly wanted to break the shackles of
serfdom. After the peaceful liberation, many enlightened people of the
upper and middle
However, some members of the Tibetan ruling class were hostile to reform
and wanted to preserve the serfdom forever so as to maintain their own
vested interests. They deliberately violated and sabotaged the 17-Article
Agreement and intensified their efforts to split the motherland. Between
March and April 1952, Sicab Lukangwa and Losang Zhaxi of the Tibetan local
government gave secret support to the illicit organization "the people's
conference" to oppose the 17-Article Agreement and create disturbance
in Lhasa, demanding that the PLA "pull out of Tibet." In 1955,
Galoin Surkang Wangqen Geleg of the Tibetan local government and others
secretly plotted an armed rebellion in the Tibetan-inhabited area of Xikang
Province. Rebellion broke out in that area in 1956 and the rebels besieged
the local government institutions and massacred hundreds of government
staff as well as common people. In May 1957, with the support of Galoins
Neuxar Tubdain Tarba and Xainga Gyurme Doje, a rebel organization named
"four rivers and six ranges" and later the rebel armed forces
The central people's government, in the spirit of national unity, repeatedly urged the Tibetan local government to punish the rebels to maintain public order. Meanwhile, it told the Galoins of the Tibetan local government, "The central government will not change its decision on postponing reform in Tibet and in the future, when the reform is conducted, the policy to be followed will still be one of peaceful reform." However, the reactionary clique of the upper social strata in Tibet took the extreme forbearance of the central government as a sign of weakness and easiness to bully. They declared, "For nine years, the Hans have not dared to touch our most glorious and sacrosanct system. When we attacked them, they could only parry our blows without being able to strike back. So long as we transfer a large number of troops to Lhasa from outside, the Hans will surely flee at the first blow. If they don't run away, we will carry His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Shannan, and gather our strength there to launch a counter-attack and seize back Lhasa. If all these efforts fail, we can go to India."
The armed rebellion in Tibet was supported from the beginning by foreign
anti-China forces. In his book The United States, Tibet and China
American Norman C. Hall reveals
With the collusion of the Tibetan serf-owners bent on retaining serfdom and the foreign anti-China forces, the rebellious activities soon became rampant. The climax was the elaborately planned armed rebellion in Lhasa on March 10, 1959.
On February 7, the Dalai Lama took the initiative and said to Deng Shaodong,
deputy commander of the Tibet Military Area Command, and other officers,
"I was told that after its return from studies in the hinterland,
the Song and Dance Ensemble under the Tibet Military Area Command has a
very good repetoire. I would like to see its show. Please arrange it for
me." Deng and the other officers expressed immediate readiness and
asked the Dalai Lama to fix the time and place for performance. They also
conveyed the Dalai Lama's wish to Surkang and other Galoins of the Tibetan
Although Norbu Lingka was controlled by the rebels and it was hard to
make contact with the Dalai Lama, acting representative of the central
government Tan Guansan managed to send three letters to the Dalai Lama
on March 10, 11 and 15 through patriots. In them, Tan expressed his understanding
of the Dalai Lama's situation as well as his concern
However, on the evening of March 17, Galoins Surkang, Neuxar and Xaisur and other rebel leaders held the Dalai Lama under duress and carried him away from Lhasa to Shannan, the "base" of the armed rebel forces. When the armed rebellion failed, they fled to India.
After the Dalai Lama left Lhasa, about 7,000 rebels gathered to wage a full-scale attack on the Party, government and army institutions before dawn on March 20. The PLA, driven beyond its forbearance, launched under orders a counterattack at 10 am the same day. With the support of patriotic Tibetan monks and lay people, the PLA completely put down the armed rebellion in Lhasa within two days. Before long, the PLA suppressed the armed rebellion in Shannan, where the rebels had been entrenched for a long time. Armed rebel forces who fled to other places were dissolved.
The PLA was highly disciplined in the course of quelling the rebellion and this won the wholehearted support of Buddhist monks and laymen. They took the initiative to help the PLA in putting down the rebellion. Various self-defense, joint-defense, livestock protection and other forms of joint-defense teams sprang up in various places to build roads, provide transport, dispatch mail, serve as guides, boil tea, send water, stand sentry and give first-aid to wounded PLA soldiers, effectively isolating the rebels.