Establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965
Tibet exercises national regional autonomy according to the PRC Constitution. The State protects the political rights of all Tibetan ethnic groups in equal administration of State and local affairs, especially the autonomous rights of the Tibetan people in self-administration of local affairs and ethnic affairs. These rights reach every corner in political, economic, cultural and social development. According to the actual historical situation of Tibet and in consideration of the factors concerning the political, economic, religious, cultural and other features, a special, flexible policy differing from those in areas of other nationalities in China was adopted when implementing national regional autonomy.
On March 9, 1955, Premier Zhou Enlai presided over the 7th enlarged session of the State Council, which passed the "Decision on Establishment of the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region".
The decision points out that "the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region is a governmental organ in charge of the preparatory work for founding the Tibet Autonomous Region and it is controlled by the State Council. Its primary mission is to prepare for the establishment of regional autonomy in Tibet according to the stipulations of the PRC Constitution and the agreement for the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, as well as the actual conditions of Tibet." The State Council also decided to appoint the Dalai Lama as Chairman of the Committee, the Panchen Erdeni as the first Vice Chairman and Zhang Guohua as second Vice Chairman.
The ceremonial founding conference for the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region took place in the newly built Lhasa Hall on April 22, 1956. The establishment of the Preparatory Committee of Autonomous Regions enabled Tibet to take an important step forward in practice of national regional autonomy, which was a cornerstone for Tibet on its way to development.
While national regional autonomy developed smoothly in Tibet, some diehard high-level personages who still favored the serf system instigated armed rebellion on March 10, 1959. When the rebellion was put down and the Democratic Reform was implemented, local people's power was founded at different levels. From the actual conditions of Tibet, the Preparatory Committee of Autonomous Regions passed in July 1959 the ‘Organization of Peasants Associations in Various Counties, Districts and Townships in Tibet', stipulating that the peasant associations at district and township levels may act as primary political power.
By April 1965, seven prefectures and one city, as well as 72 counties, had established people's governments, in addition to people's governments in 20 districts and 300 townships. In March 1962, the Preparatory Committee issued ‘Instructions on Carrying Out Election of Grassroots Cadres in Whole Region (Draft)'. By July and August in 1965, the elections in townships and counties of the whole autonomous region were nearly finished. There were a total of 1,359 townships and towns involved in basic-level elections, while another 567 townships and towns held people's congresses acting on behalf of the People's Congress. The two together constituted 92 percent of the total townships and towns in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The people's political power at basic level was thus founded with absolute predominance of serfs and slaves.
There were in the region 54 counties that held a first session of the people's congress, through which county magistrates and vice county magistrates were elected and the people's commissions of counties were established. At the same time, 301 deputies were elected to the People's Congress of the Autonomous Region.
Based on this, and after the approval of the Central Government, the First Session of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region was held in Lhasa on September 1-9, 1965. The Tibet Autonomous Region was officially founded and Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei became its first Chairman.