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11:28 Mar 17 2009

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English>>Tibet Online
How was the 17-Article Agreement signed?
11:19, March 17, 2009  

The Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local government of Tibet on Measures for Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, also known as the 17-Article Agreement, was signed 58 years ago and has passed into history as a law in China.

However, the Dalai clique, which fled abroad decades ago and has depended on foreign countries for survival, not only fabricates lies and distorts history, disregards the facts or challenges the legality of 17-Article Agreement from time to time, but also attempts to deny the Agreement completely, in order to seek a thread of evidence for separating Tibet from China.

Let's review the history about how the 17-Article Agreement was signed to realize the truth:

The 17-Article Agreement was signed following negotiations between the Central Government and the local government of Tibet.

In late April 1951, the delegation of the local government of Tibet (Gaxag) arrived in Beijing for the peaceful settlement of the Tibet issue. On April 28, then Premier Zhou Enlai met with the members of the delegation and announced the name list of those attending the negotiations. The Central Government delegation, headed by Li Weihan, was composed of five fully empowered representatives: Li Weihan, Zhang Jingwu, Zhang Guohua and Sun Zhiyuan.

The fully empowered representatives of the local government of Tibet included Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei (chief representative), Kemei Soinam Wangdui, Tubdain Dainda, Tubdain Lemoin and Sangpo Tainzin Toinzhub.


Photo shows the representatives of the Central Government (R-L): Li Weihan, Zhang Jingwu, Zhang Guohua and Sun Zhiyuan. The Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local government of Tibet on Measures for Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, also known as the 17-Article Agreement, was signed at the Qinzheng Hall in Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of China's Central Government, on May 23, 1951. (Xinhua File Photo)


The Dalai clique often distorts the signing process of the 17-Article Agreement. On May 22, 2001, it claimed: " The signing of the 17-Article Agreement is a tragedy in Tibet's history," "it's illegal and invalid," "during the whole signing process, the Chinese representatives imposed their purpose on the Tibetan representatives by such means as discrimination, abuse and threats," "the Tibetan representatives were forced to sign the Agreement by selling their personal freedom."

Those who didn't take part in the negotiations made such remarks. But how did those taking part remark?

Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei, the only representative who is still alive, wrote in an article titled "Return to the warm embrace of the Motherland" published in 1981: "We held earnest and friendly negotiations on the basis of equality and consultation," "and correctly resolved all complicated issues according to the policy of the Chinese Communist Party on resolving issues related to domestic ethnic groups and in line with the special conditions in Tibet."

Tubdain Dainda, the former monk official representative at that time, recalled in "Tibetan Cultural and Historical Data Anthology" published in 1982: "During the negotiations, we Tibetan representatives accepted 10 articles proposed by the central government. Then we put forward a nine-point proposal. The central government adopted the correct parts and made patient explanations of the irrational parts. As the monk official sent by Yig-tshang (the secretariat of the local government of Tibet), I made proposals mostly concerning the religious belief and revenues of monasteries. Most of my proposals were adopted by the central government."


Photo shows the representatives of the local government of Tibet (R-L): Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei, Kemey Soinam Wangdui, Tubdain Dainda, Tubdain Laimoin and Sangpo Tainzin Toinzhub, signing the 17-Article Agreement on May 23, 1951. (Xinhua File Photo)


Before the negotiations, Zhou Enlai required the central delegation to respect the Tibetan representatives and to do a good job in unity in all areas. Li Weihan also consulted Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei on the negotiation time, venue and methods. The first round of negotiations on April 29 didn't involve substantial contents. The representatives of the two parties just discussed the procedures and steps in connection with the negotiations.

The negotiations didn't go smoothly. Besides informal talks and communications, six rounds of formal talks were held, concentrating on the following three issues:

First, the Tibetan delegation acknowledged that Tibet is part of China but refused to allow the Chinese People's Liberation Army's (PLA) to march into Tibet. However, the representatives of the Central Government held that the PLA had every reason to garrison Tibet for national defense, that the troops to be stationed in Tibet did not need financing from the local government of Tibet, hence would not increase Tibet's financial burden. After three rounds of negotiations and consultations, the Tibetan delegation accepted the article that "the local government of Tibet shall actively assist the PLA in marching into Tibet, with a view to consolidating national defense."

Second, the Tibetan representatives were worried that the existing systems in Tibet would be reformed. The representatives of the Central Government elaborated the Chinese Communist Party's (CPC) basic policies on ethnic groups and the practice of regional autonomy in areas inhabited by the people of minority ethnic groups. They also promised not to change the existing systems in Tibet. Even changes had to be made, they were subject to the decision by the local government of Tibet and the Tibetan people.

Third, when the central representatives proposed writing the Panchen Lama's position and authority into the Agreement, the Tibetan representatives considered it hard to accept because they were not empowered to handle this issue. It was the most controversial issue during the entire process of negotiations, almost resulting in the collapse of the negotiations.
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