The eventful year 1959 saw an armed rebellion in Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama. Wang Qixiu, who was an official in the Lhasa Post Office at the time, witnessed the rebellion in Lhasa with his own eyes and was lucky to escape with his life.
Wang was appointed an official in the Lhasa Post Office in 1956, at a time when Tibetan society was in crisis.
"Tibet's aristocratic regime never gave up their attempts to separate the region from the motherland despite reaching a peace agreement with the central government in 1951," Wang said, adding that the regime had conspired with foreign powers to prevent the PLA from entering the region. In 1952, they convened an illegal "People's Congress", that petitioned the central government to withdraw the People's Liberation Army (PLA). They also tried to organize a boycott of the army and central government officials.
Beginning in 1955 there were a series of armed uprisings in Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai. Around 1958, some of the rebels fled to Lhasa. Meanwhile, Tibetan separatists over the Indian border in Kalimpong formed separatist organizations such as the "Free Tibet League", "Tibet Welfare Association" and began publishing anti-Chinese newspapers for distribution in Tibet. The American intelligence services were heavily involved in these activities, aiming to encourage an armed uprising by Tibet's rebellious ruling class and separatist groups inside and outside China.
Wang found himself in an uneasy situation in Lhasa. During 1958 Han Chinese were often verbally abused or physically assaulted on the street, and following a directive from higher authorities, the Lhasa Post Office organized its staff into a militia and appointed Wang its political officer. The militia set about organizing military training.
Around the same time armed rebel groups began to attack government forces. "On September 17, 1958 they attacked vehicles carrying PLA medical staff and killed everyone on board," Wang Qixiu said. On December 19, they ambushed trucks carrying PLA soldiers, killing 200. The attacks were intensifying and inflicting serious losses on the army, but the central government sought to preserve the peace agreement by following a policy of restraint, refusing to take the initiative in the conflict so long as there was no rebellion in Lhasa.