II. Embarking on the Road to Development and Progress

Establishing Tibet Autonomous Region, and taking the socialist road

It was a common wish of the people of Tibet to exercise regional ethnic autonomy. The "17-Article Agreement" stipulated, "According to the ethnic policy in the Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), under the unified leadership of the Central People's Government, the Tibetan people shall have the right to exercise regional ethnic autonomy." In 1954, after the First National People's Congress closed, Mao Zedong, top leader of the Central People's Government, met with the 14th Dalai Lama and the 10th Panchen Erdeni. Mao told them, "Tibet will not have a military and political committee; instead, the Preparatory Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region will be established to prepare for the exercise of regional ethnic autonomy." The two agreed. Later, according to stipulations in the Constitution about the practice of regional ethnic autonomy, the central government started work on the establishment of Tibet Autonomous Region. In November 1954, the central government proposed to establish the Preparatory Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region. At its Seventh Plenary Meeting held in March 1955, the State Council specifically studied and discussed the matter and issues relating to Tibet's construction. Following the meeting, the central government gave specific instructions on the matter. On April 22, 1956, the founding conference of the Preparatory Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region was held in the newly built Great Hall of Lhasa. Over 300 delegates and non-voting delegates from all ethnic groups, social strata, religions, and social groups throughout Tibet attended the conference. This was the first time in the history of Tibet that people of broad representation gathered for democratic consultation and discussion. The 14th Dalai Lama became chairman of the Preparatory Committee, while the 10th Panchen Erdeni became first deputy chairman. The Preparatory Committee was a consultative administrative body as an organ of political power, an important stepping stone for the exercise of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet. Its establishment pushed forward the establishment of Tibet Autonomous Region. However, the armed rebellion in 1959 seriously affected the work of its establishment. After the rebellion was quelled, the establishment was carried out smoothly.

On September 1, 1965, the First Session of the First People's Congress of Tibet Autonomous Region was inaugurated in Lhasa, and the organs and leaders of the Region were elected, with Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme as the chairman of the People's Committee. A large number of liberated serfs held leading posts in organs of political power at different levels of the Region. The establishment of Tibet Autonomous Region signified that Tibet had set up the people's democratic government and begun to exercise thoroughgoing regional ethnic autonomy. Since then, the people of Tibet have enjoyed the right to handle local affairs themselves, and embarked on the socialist road to development and progress.