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
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 demand, the British blocked all the roads leading
from India to Tibet. In 1913 the British government inveigled the
Tibetan authorities into declaring independence and proposed that
"Britain be the weaponry supplier after total independence of Tibet;"
"Tibet accept British envoys' supervision of Tibetan financial and
military affairs in return for Britain's support of Tibetan independence;"
"Britain be responsible for resisting the army of the Republic of
China when it reaches Tibet;" "Tibet adopt an open policy and allow
freedom of movement of the British." (Zhu Xiu: 60-Year Chronology
of Tibet) However, Britain's schemes failed.
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 Tibet," including Tibetan-inhabited
areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, would be
under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government. With regard to
"outer Tibet," including Tibet and west Xikang, the Chinese government
was requested to "recognize the autonomy of outer Tibet" and "refrain
from interfering in its internal affairs;" "however, China may still
send its high commissioner to Lhasa and maintain an escort army
of no more than 300 soldiers." The essence of this "compromise"
scheme was to change China's sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty,"
and separate Tibet from the authority of the Chinese government
under the pretext of "autonomy." Naturally these unreasonable demands
were strongly opposed by the Chinese people. On July 3, 1914, the
Chinese government representative Chen Yifan upon instruction refused
to sign the Simla Convention. In his statement, Chen said, "Government
of China refuses to recognize any agreement which His Majesty's
Government and Tibet might conclude independently either now or
in the future." The Chinese government also sent a note to the British
government, reiterating its position. Therefore, the conference
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
to rectify this after the Chinese delegation made serious protests.
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
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 classes also realized that if the old system
was not reformed, the Tibetan people would never attain prosperity.
In light of Tibetan history and the region's special situation,
the central people's government adopted a very circumspect attitude
toward the reform of the social system in Tibet. The 17-Article
Agreement stipulated that the central government would not use coercion
to implement such reform and that it was to be carried out by the
Tibetan local government on its own. During his visit to India in
January 1957, Premier Zhou Enlai of the State Council handed a letter
from Chairman Mao Zedong to the Dalai Lama and Bainqen Lama and
the accompanying Tibetan local government senior officials. The
letter informed them of the decision of the central authorities
that reform would not be conducted during the Second Five-Year Plan
period (1958-62); whether reform should be conducted after six years
would still be decided by Tibet according to its own situation and
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
named "religion guards" were founded. They raised the slogan of
"Tibetan Independence" and "opposition to reform" and further intensified
their rebellious activities. The armed rebels harassed Qamdo, Dengqen,
Heihe and Shannan. They killed cadres, disrupted communication lines,
and attacked institutions and army troops stationed there by the
central authorities. They looted, cruelly persecuted people and
raped women. A merchant named Dongda Bazha in Nedong County was
captured together with his wife because he refused to take part
in the rebellion. The rebels tied up the couple and lashed them
before killing the husband and raping his wife. The then Tibetan
local government admitted that many Tibetan people lodged complaints
against the rebels with it. In August 1958 alone, there were more
than 70 complaints.
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 that in 1957 the CIA
culled six young men from among Tibetans residing abroad and sent
them to Guam of the United States to receive training in map-reading,
radio transmission, shooting and parachuting. Subsequently, the
United States trained 170 "Kamba guerrillas" in batches in Hale
Camp, Colorado. The trained "Kamba guerrillas" were air-dropped
or sneaked into Tibet to "launch an effective resistance movement"
to "oppose the Chinese occupation." An article entitled The CIA
Tibetan Conspiracy in the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic
Review disclosed in its September 5 issue of 1975 that in May
1958, two agents trained by the Americans in the first batch brought
a transceiver to the headquarter set up by the rebel leader Anzhugcang
Goinbo Zhaxi in Shannan to make contact with the CIA. Before long,
the United States air-dropped arms and ammunition, including 20
sub-machine guns, two mortars, 100 rifles, 600 hand-grenades, 600
artillery shells and close to 40,000 bullets, to the rebels in the
plateau called Chigu Lama Thang. During the same period, the United
States clandestinely shipped large amounts of arms and ammunition
overland to the rebels entrenched in the Shannan area.
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 local government and
Paglha Tubdain Weidain, adjutant general of the Dalai Lama. On March
8, the Dalai Lama said he would go to the performance in the Tibet
Military Area Command Auditorium at 3 pm on March 10. The Tibet
Military Area Command carefully prepared for the occasion. But on
the evening of March 9, the Miboin (mayor) of Lhasa provoked citizens
by saying: tomorrow the Dalai Lama will go to the Military Area
Command for a banquet and a performance; the Hans have prepared
a plane to kidnap the Dalai Lama to Beijing; every household should
send people to Norbu Lingka, the residence of the Dalai Lama, to
petition him not to attend the performance in the Military Area
Command. The next morning, the rebels coerced more than 2,000 people
to mass at Norbu Lingka, spreading the rumor that "the Military
Area Command is planning to poison the Dalai Lama" and shouting
slogans such as "Tibetan Independence" and "Away with the Hans."
The rebels hit and wounded Sampo Cewang Rinzin, a former Galoin
of the Tibetan local government and then a deputy commander of the
Tibet Military Area Command. They stoned to death Kainqoin Pagbalha
Soinam Gyamco, a progressive patriot and member of the Preparatory
Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. His body was tied to
the tail of a horse and dragged through downtown as a warning. Subsequently,
the rebel leaders convened the so-called "people's congress" and
"people's conference of the independent state of Tibet," intensifying
their efforts to organize and expand armed rebellion. They brazenly
tore up the 17-Article Agreement and declared "the independence
of Tibet," launching a full-scale armed rebellion against the motherland.
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 for the latter's safety. He pointed out that
the rebels were making reckless military provocations and demanded
that the Tibetan local government immediately work to stop them.
The Dalai Lama penned three letters in reply to Tan on March 11,
12 and 16. In his letters, the Dalai Lama wrote, "Reactionary, evil
elements are carrying out activities endangering me under the pretext
of ensuring my safety. I am taking measures to calm things down."
"The unlawful activities of the reactionary clique cause me endless
worry and sorrow.... As to the incidents of yesterday and the day
before, which were brought about under the pretext of ensuring my
safety and have seriously estranged relations between the central
people's government and the local government, I am making every
possible effort to deal with them." In the letter of March 16, he
said that he had "educated" and "severely criticized" officials
of the Tibetan local government. He also expressed the desire to
still go to the Military Area Command a few days later. All three
letters of the Dalai Lama have been photographed by reporters of
the Xinhua News Agency and published, and are still well preserved.
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.