I. Ownership of Tibet
Tibet is located in southwest China. The ancestors of the Tibetan race who lived there struck up links with the Han in the Central Plains long before the Christian era. Later, over a long period of years, the numerous tribes scattered on the Tibet Plateau became unified to form the present Tibetan race. By the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Tibetans and Hans had, through marriage between royal families and meetings leading to alliances, cemented political and kinship ties of unity and political friendship and formed close economic and cultural relations, laying a solid foundation for the ultimate founding of a unified nation. In Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the statue of the Tang Princess Wen Cheng, who married the Tubo tsampo, king of Tibet, in 641, is still enshrined and worshiped in the Potala Palace. The Tang-Tubo Alliance Monument marking the meeting for this purpose between Tang and Tubo erected in 823 still stands in the square in front of the Jokhang Monastery. The monument inscription reads in part, "The two sovereigns, uncle and nephew, having come to agreement that their territories be united as one, have signed this alliance of great peace to last for eternity! May God and humanity bear witness thereto so that it may be praised from generation to generation."
In the mid-13th century, Tibet was officially incorporated into the territory of China's Yuan Dynasty. Since then, although China experienced several dynastic changes, Tibet has remained under the jurisdiction of the central government of China.
Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)
In the early 13th century, Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongols, established the Mongol Khanate in north China. In 1247 Sagya Pandit Gonggar Gyamcan, religious leader of Tibet, met the Mongol Prince Gotan at Liangzhou (present-day Wuwei of Gansu, China) and decided on terms for Tibetan submission to the Mongols, including presentation of map and census books, payment of tributes, and the acceptance of rule by appointed officials. The Tibetan work Sagya Genealogy written in 1629 includes Sagya Pandit's letter to the religious and secular leaders in the various parts of Tibet that they must pledge allegiance to the Mongols and accept the regional administrative system prescribed for Tibet. The regime of the Mongol Khanate changed its title to Yuan in 1271 and unified the whole of China in 1279, establishing a central government, which, following the Han (206 BC-220) and Tang dynasties, achieved great unification of various regions and races within the domain of China. Tibet became an administrative region directly under the administration of the central government of China's Yuan Dynasty.
The Yuan emperor established the Xuanzheng Yuan or Ministry for the Spread of Governance to directly handle important military and political affairs of the Tibet region. Choice of its members lay with the emperor and its reports were submitted directly to the monarch. Yuanshi, the chief minister having real authority in the Xuanzheng Yuan, was a post generally held concurrently by the right-hand prime minister of the central government who was in charge of the whole nation's governmental affairs.
In the Tibetan region, local military and administrative organs were set up under the name of the High Pacification Commissioner's Office, which was under the Xuanzheng Yuan. Under the jurisdiction of this office were 13 wanhu offices (myriarchies each in command of 10,000 households) and more qianhu offices (chiliarchies each in command of 1,000 households) handling civil administration. The names of these organizations and official posts were decided by the central government of the Yuan Dynasty. It also had troops stationed in Tibet. A royal prince and his descendents were stationed on the eastern border of Tibet at the head of an army. When Tibet was enmeshed in trouble, the prince could enter the area from nearby garrison to perform his duty of guarding the security of the border region. In 1290, when the head of a wanhu office rose in rebellion, the central government of the Yuan Dynasty dispatched the prince into Tibet at the head of his army to put it down.
The central government of the Yuan Dynasty sent officials into Tibet to set up post stations, whose size varied according to the local population, topography and resources. These post stations were linked up in a communication line extending from Tibet up to Dadu (present-day Beijing).
The central government of the Yuan Dynasty also dispatched officials into Tibet to conduct censuses, establish the number of corvee laborers in areas under various wanhu offices and decide the number of corvee laborers, provisions and animal transport the areas along the post route had to supply. Such censuses were conducted three times in Tibet, in 1268, 1287 and 1334. The Tibetan work History From the Han and Tibetan Sources records them in detail.
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
In 1368 the Ming Dynasty replaced the Yuan Dynasty in China, and inherited the right to rule Tibet.
The central government of the Ming Dynasty retained most of the titles and ranks of official positions instituted during the Yuan Dynasty. In the central and eastern parts of present-day Tibet, the Dbus-Gtsang Itinerant High Commandery and the Mdo-khams Itinerant High Commandery were set up respectively. Equivalent to provincial-level military organs, they operated under the Shaanxi Itinerant High Commandery and, at the same time, handled civil administration. In Ngari in west Tibet, the E-Li-Si Army-Civilian Marshal Office was instituted. Leading officials of these organs were all appointed by the central government.
The third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Chengzu (reigned 1403-1424) saw the advantage of combined Buddhist religious and political power in Tibet and rivalry between sects occupying different areas. So he conferred honorific titles on religious leaders in various parts of Tibet such as the "prince of Dharma," "prince" and "national master in Tantrism." Succession to such princeship needed the approval of the emperor, who would send an envoy to confer the official title on each new prince. Only then could the new prince assume his role. According to the stipulations of the Ming court, the prince had to dispatch his envoy or come in person to the capital to participate in the New Year's Day celebration each year and present his memorial of congratulation and tribute. The Ming court had detailed stipulations that limited the dates for presenting tributes, the number of personnel allowed in the capital, the route to be taken, and also provisions to be supplied by local authorities along the route. The tablets wishing longevity to the emperors before which the prayers had to prostrate themselves are still kept in some of the monasteries in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Lama are the two leading incarnation hierarchies of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Gelug Sect rose during the Ming Dynasty, and the 3rd Dalai Lama was the abbot of one of the sect's monasteries. The central government of the Ming Dynasty showed him special favor by allowing him to pay tribute. In 1587 he was granted the title of Dorjichang or Vajradhara Dalai Lama.
Any official of the Tibetan local government who offended the law was punished by the central government.
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
When the Qing Dynasty replaced the Ming Dynasty in 1644, it further strengthened administration over Tibet. In 1653 and 1713, the Qing emperors granted honorific titles to the 5th Dalai Lama and the 5th Bainqen Lama, henceforth officially establishing the titles of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni and their political and religious status in Tibet. The Dalai Lama ruled the bulk of areas from Lhasa while the Bainqen Erdeni ruled the remaining area of Tibet from Xigaze. In 1719, Qing government troops were sent into Tibet to dispel the Zungar forces which had been entrenched in Lhasa for three years, and set out to reform Tibet's administrative system. The Qing emperor made a young Living Buddha of the Xikang area the 7th Dalai Lama and had him escorted into Tibet, and appointed four Tibetan officials renowned for meritorious service "Galoins" to handle Tibet's political affairs. From 1727, High commissioners were stationed in Tibet to supervise local administration on behalf of the central authorities. Officials were also assigned about this time to survey and delimit the borders between Tibet (i.e. Xizang) and Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai.
In order to perfect Tibet's administrative organizations, the Qing Dynasty on many occasions enacted "regulations" to rectify and reform old systems and establish new ones. The Authorized Regulations for the Better Governing of Tibet, promulgated in 1793, had 29 articles. Their major purport was:
The Qing government holds the power to confirm the reincarnation of all deceased high Living Buddhas of Tibet including the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni. When the reincarnate boy has been found, his name will be written on a lot, which shall be put into a gold urn bestowed by the central government. The high commissioners will bring together appropriate high-ranking Living buddhas to determine the authenticity of the reincarnate boy by drawing lots from the gold urn. (Both the gold urn and lots are still preserved in Lhasa.) The tonsure of the incarnate Living Buddha, his religious name, the choice of the master to initiate him into monkhood and his sutra instructor all have to be reported by the high commissioners to the imperial court for examination and approval. The central government will send high officials to supervise in person the installation ceremony for the new Dalai Lama and the new Bainqen Erdeni and also the ceremony for their taking over reins of government at coming of age.
The high commissioners will supervise the handling of Tibetan affairs on behalf of the central government, enjoying the equal standing with the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni. All the Galoins and those below them are subordinates.
The ranks and numbers of Tibetan civil and military officials, and procedures for their promotion and replacement are stipulated. The highest-Ranking Tibetan officials including four Galoins and six Deboins are to be appointed by the central government. The annual salaries of the Galoins and Deboins will be paid by the central government.
A regular army of 3,000 will be organized in Tibet. The regulations stipulate ranks and numbers of military officials, the source of troop pay and provisions, plus weaponry and places where troops are to be stationed. In addition, some 1,400 troops will be transferred from the interior to stations in various localities of Tibet. Both Tibetan and Han troops are put under the command of officers sent by the central government.
A mint will be set up in Tibet along the lines established by those in the interior to make official money for circulation. On the two sides of the silver coinage the words "Qianlong Treasure" will be cast in the Han Chinese and Tibetan.
The annual financial receipts and expenditures of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni will be subject to checking by the high commissioners.
Tibet's taxation and corvee labor will be born by the whole society on an equal footing. Only those nobles and large monasteries who have made real contributions will enjoy preferential treatment and exemptions, but these must be examined and approved by the high commissioners and the Dalai Lama, who will issue them licences for this purpose.
Merchants from Nepal and Kashmir wanting to do business in Tibet must register. The registration book must be filed with the high commissioners for record. The appropriate officials will issue laissez-passers to them. Any foreigner applying to enter Lhasa must be examined for approval by the High Commissioner's Office. The high commissioners will issue laissez-passers to Tibetans who apply to go to Nepal or other places, and set the leaving and returning dates for them.
National boundary markers will be erected in a number of places where southwest Tibet borders on countries like India and Nepal. The high commissioners will make an annual tour in Tibet to inspect the defense arrangements of the troops stationed there and matters concerning border markers.
All foreign affairs involving Tibet will be left completely in the hands of the high commissioners. No Galoin is allowed to maintain correspondence with the outside, and all letters and alms received by the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni from the outside must be submitted to the high commissioners for censorship and decision concerning a reply.
Criminal punishment will be reported to the high commissioners for examination and approval.
Between 1727, when the high commissionership was first established, and 1911, the year the Qing Dynasty was overthrown, the central government of the Qing Dynasty stationed more than 100 high commissioners in Tibet.
Republic of China (1912-49)
In the autumn of 1911, revolution took place in China's interior, overthrowing the 270-year-old rule of the Qing Dynasty and establishing the Republic of China.
Upon its founding, the Republic of China d itself a unified republic of the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui, Tibetan and other races. In his inauguration statement on January 1, 1912, Sun Yat-sen, the provisional first president of the Republic of China, d to the whole world: "The foundation of the country lies in the people, and the unification of lands inhabited by the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan people into one country means the unification of the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan races. It is called national unification." The five-color flag used as the national flag at that time represented the unification of the five main races. In March the Nanjing-based provisional senate of the Republic of China promulgated the republic's first constitution, the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China, in which it was clearly stipulated that Tibet was a part of the territory of the Republic of China.
In order to form the first parliament of the Republic of China, the Beijing government promulgated on August 10, 1912 the Organic Law of the Parliament of the Republic of China and the law on elections for members of parliament. These statutes specified the methods for Tibetans to participate in elections, and the right of elected parliamentary members to have a direct say in government affairs. When the Chinese Kuomintang formed the national government in 1927 in Nanjing and held the national assembly in 1931, both the 13th Dalai Lama and the 9th Bainqen Erdeni sent representatives to participate. Article I of the General Outline of the Constitution for the Political Tutelage Period of the Republic of China, formulated during the assembly, stipulated that Tibet belonged to the territories of the Republic of China. The Tibetan local government and the Bainqen's administrative body, Kampus Assembly, also sent representatives to the national assembly in 1946 called by the Nanjing national government.
As in the previous Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the central government of the Republic of China exercised jurisdiction over Tibet. The Bureau of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs (renamed Mongolian and Tibetan Council in May 1914) was established by the central government in 1912 to replace the Qing Dynasty's Department in Charge of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs. The bureau was responsible for Tibetan local affairs. The central government also appointed a representative to Tibet to carry out the responsibilities of the high commissioners stationed in Tibet by the Qing Dynasty. After the Nanjing national government was set up, a Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs was established in 1929 to handle the administrative affairs of the Tibetans, Mongolians and other ethnic minorities. In April 1940 the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs opened an office in Lhasa as the permanent mission of the central government in Tibet.
Traditionally, the Dalai Lama, the Bainqen Erdeni and other high Living Buddhas had to be recognized and appointed by the central government in order to secure their political and religious legal status in Tibet. Despite the fact that incessant foreign aggression and civil wars weakened the central government of the Republic of China, it continued to grant honorific titles to the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni. On many occasions the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni expressed their support for national unification and for the central government. In 1919, the 13th Dalai Lama told a delegation sent by the Beijing central government, "It is not my true intention to be on intimate terms with the British.... I swear to be loyal to our own country and jointly work for the happiness of the five races." In his later years (in 1930), he said, "My greatest wish is for the real peace and unification of China." "Since it is all Chinese territory, why distinguish between you and us?" He further elaborated, "The British truly intend to tempt me, but I know that our sovereignty must not be lost." He also publicly expressed his determination "not to affiliate with the British nor forsake the central government" (Liu Manqing: A Mission to Xikang and Tibet). The 9th Bainqen noted in his will, "The great plan I have promoted all my life is the support of the central government, the spread of Buddhism, the promotion of the unity of the five nationalities and the guarantee of national prosperity."
The death of the 13th Dalai Lama in December 1933 was reported to the central government by the Tibetan local government in the traditional manner. The national government sent a special envoy to Tibet for the memorial ceremony. It also approved the Living Buddha Razheng as the regent to assume the duties and power of the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan local government also followed the age-old system in reporting to the central government all the procedures that should be followed in search for the reincarnation of the late 13th Dalai Lama. The present 14th Dalai Lama was born in Qinghai Province. Originally named Lhamo Toinzhub, he was selected as one of the incarnate boys at the age of 2. After receiving a report submitted by the Tibetan local government in 1939, the central government ordered the Qinghai authorities to send troops to escort him to Lhasa. After an inspection tour in Lhasa by Wu Zhongxin, chief of the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs, in 1940, Chiang Kai-shek, then head of the central government, approved Tibetan Regent Razheng's request to waive the lot-drawing convention, and the chairman of the national government issued an official decree conferring the title of the 14th Dalai Lama on Lhamo Toinzhub.
People's Republic of China
The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949 after decisive victories in the Chinese People's War of Liberation. Beiping, Hunan and the provinces bordering on TibetYunnan, Xinjiang and Xikangwere all liberated peacefully from the rule of the former Kuomintang government. In light of the history and reality of Tibet, the central people's government decided to do the same for Tibet. In January 1950, the central government formally notified the local authorities of Tibet to "send delegates to Beijing to negotiate the peaceful liberation of Tibet." However, the then Tibetan Regent Dagzhag Ngawang Sungrab and others who were in control of the Tibetan local government, supported by some foreign forces and disregarding the interests of the country and the Tibetans, rejected the central government's call for negotiation on the peaceful liberation of Tibet. They deployed the main body of the Tibetan army in the Qamdo area in east Tibet for armed resistance. Under such circumstances, the central government was left with no choice and had to order the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to cross the Jinsha River in October 1950, and Qamdo was liberated.
Following this event, the central government once again urged the Tibetan local government to send delegates to Beijing for negotiations. The central government's adherence to the policy of peaceful negotiations greatly supported and inspired the patriotic forces in Tibet. The upper-class patriotics, represented by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, stood for peaceful negotiation, winning the endorsement and support of the majority. The 14th Dalai Lama who had assumed power ahead of time accepted the proposal. In his letter to the central people's government in January 1951, he said, "I have come to govern at the warm and earnest request of all Tibetans"; "I have decided to fulfill the people's desire through peaceful means"; and delegates would be sent "to seek a solution to the Tibetan issue with the central people's government." In February 1951, the Dalai Lama appointed Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme as his chief plenipotentiary and Kemai Soinam Wangdui, Tubdain Daindar, Tubdain Legmoin and Sampo Dainzin Toinzhub as delegates and sent them to Beijing to handle with full power the negotiations with the central people's government.
On May 23, 1951, the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet (i.e., the 17-Article Agreement) was signed after the delegates of the central people's government and the Tibetan local government had reached agreement on a series of questions concerning Tibet's peaceful liberation. It was stipulated in the agreement that the Tibetan people should unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the local government of Tibet should actively assist the PLA in entering Tibet and consolidating national defense; national regional autonomy would be instituted in Tibet; the central government would not alter the existing political system in Tibet or the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni, and officials of various ranks would continue to hold office as usual; the policy of freedom of religious belief would be upheld and the religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people would be respected; the spoken and written language and school education of the Tibetan nationality would be developed step by step, along with agriculture, livestock raising, industry and commerce in order to improve the people's livelihood; foreign affairs involving the Tibet region would be under the unified management of the central people's government. The agreement also explicitly stipulated that in matters relating to reforms in Tibet, there would be no coercion on the part of the central authorities, and reform would be carried out by the Tibetan local government of its own accord.
The agreement for the peaceful liberation of Tibet enjoyed the approval and support of the people from every ethnic group in Tibet. A conference of all ecclesiastic and secular officials and representatives of the three most prominent monasteries was called by the Tibetan local government between September 26 and 29, 1951 to specifically discuss the agreement. A report to the Dalai Lama was approved at the end of the conference. It stated, "The 17-Article Agreement that has been signed is of great and unrivaled benefit to the grand cause of the Dalai and to Buddhism, politics, economy and other aspects of life in Tibet. Naturally it should be implemented." The Dalai Lama sent a telegram to Chairman Mao Zedong on October 24, 1951, in which he wrote, "On the basis of friendship, delegates of the two sides signed on May 23, 1951 the Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. The Tibetan local government as well as ecclesiastic and secular people unanimously support this agreement, and under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the central people's government, will actively assist the PLA troops entering Tibet in consolidating national defense, ousting imperialist influences from Tibet and safeguarding the unification of the territory and the sovereignty of the motherland." The Bainqen Lama and the Kampus Assembly also issued a statement, pointing out that the agreement "conforms fully to the interests of all ethnic nationalities of China, particularly those of the Tibetans." On October 26, with the support of the Tibetan people, the PLA entered Lhasa without a hitch.
After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the central people's government and upper-class patriotic forces of Tibet did a great deal of work to implement the 17-Article Agreement. In 1954 the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni came to Beijing to attend the First Session of the National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of China. In his speech at the congress, the Dalai Lama fully confirmed the achievements in the implementation of the 17-Article Agreement over the preceding three years, and expressed his warm support for the principles and provisions concerning national regional autonomy in the draft of New China's first Constitution, which was under discussion at the congress. Talking about religious issues, the Dalai Lama said that the Tibetan people had deeply held religious beliefs, and they were formerly made anxious by fallacious rumors spread by some people that "the Communist Party and the people's government will extinguish religion." However, he added, "the rumors that aim to sow discord have all been exploded and the Tibetan people know from our own experience that we have freedom of religious belief." He expressed the desire to gradually build Tibet into a land of prosperity and happiness under the leadership of the central people's government and with the help of people of other ethnic groups. On September 20, the Dalai Lama, the Bainqen Erdeni and the other Tibetan deputies, along with the deputies from other ethnic groups, approved the Constitution of the People's Republic of China by casting their ballots. At the session, the Dalai Lama was elected a vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, and Bainqen Erdeni a member of the NPC Standing Committee. In their capacity as state leaders, they exercised their rights of participating in the management of state affairs in accordance with the Constitution.
On April 22, 1956, the Dalai Lama became chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. In his speech at the inaugural meeting, the Dalai Lama said, "In 1951, I sent delegates to Beijing to negotiate with delegates of the central people's government. On the basis of fraternal unity, the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet was signed. Since then, the Tibetan people shook off forever the fetters of imperialist enslavement and trammels and rejoined the large national family. Like our sibling races throughout the country, the Tibetan people fully enjoy all rights of national equality, and are embarking on a bright road of freedom and happiness."
II. Origins of So-Called "Tibetan Independence"
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 history.
How Have Imperialists Instigated Tibetan Independence?
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 broke down.
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 and enslavement."
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 conditions then.
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 d, "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 d "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.
III. The Dalai Clique's Separatist Activities and the Central Government's Policy
How Does the Dalai Clique Carry Out His Separatist Activities?
Starting from the point of maintaining the unification of the motherland and national unity, the central government adopted an attitude of patient waiting towards the Dalai Lama after he fled abroad. His position as a vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee was preserved until 1964. However, surrounded by foreign anti-China forces and Tibetan separatists, the Dalai Lama completely renounced the patriotic stand which he once expressed and engaged in numerous activities to split the motherland.
Publicly advocating that "Tibet is an independent state." In June 1959, the Dalai Lama issued a statement in Mussoorie, India which read "Tibet had actually been independent." In March 1991, during his visit to Britain, the Dalai Lama told the press that Tibet "is the biggest occupied country in the world today." He proclaimed on many occasions that "the task of realizing the independence of Tibet has fallen upon all Tibetans in and outside Tibet."
Setting up the "government in exile." In the early 1960s, the Dalai clique convened the "people's congress of Tibet" in Dharamsala, India, which established the so-called "Tibetan government in exile." A so-called "constitution" was promulgated, which states that "the Dalai Lama is the head of state," "the ministers shall be appointed by the Dalai Lama" and "all work of the government shall not be approved without the consent of the Dalai Lama." The 1991 revised "constitution" of the Dalai clique still stipulates that the Dalai is "the head of the state." The Dalai Lama and his so-called "government in exile" kept levying an "independence tax" on Tibetans residing abroad, established "offices" in some countries, published magazines and books advocating "Tibetan independence" and engaged in political activities for "Tibetan independence."
Reorganizing the armed rebel forces. In September 1960, the Dalai clique re-organized the "religion guards of the four rivers and six ranges" in Mustang, Nepal, which carried on military harassment activities along the Chinese border for ten years. Its first commander-in-chief Anzhugcang Goinbo Zhaxi wrote in his memoirs Four Rivers and Six Ranges that "a series of attacks were organized on Chinese outposts" and "sometimes, 100 or 200 Tibetan guerrillas went as far as 100 miles into the area occupied by the Chinese." The Dalai Lama wrote articles praising Goinbo Zhaxi.
Spreading rumors and calumnies and plotting riots. Ignoring facts, the Dalai Lama fabricated numerous lies to sow dissension among the various nationalities and incite the Tibetan people to oppose the central government during his 30-year self-exile abroad. He said that "the 17-Article Agreement was imposed on Tibet under armed force"; "the Hans have massacred 1.2 million Tibetans"; "owing to Han immigration, the Tibetans have become a minority in Tibet"; "the Communists in Tibet force women to practice birth control and abortion"; the government opposes religious freedom and persecutes religious people; traditional Tibetan culture and art are in danger of extinction; the natural resources in Tibet have been seriously depleted; there is severe environmental pollution in Tibet, etc. The riots in Lhasa from September 1987 to March 1989 were incited by the Dalai clique and plotted by rebels who were sent back to Tibet. The riots incurred severe losses to the lives and property of Tibetans.
The Dalai's words and deeds have showed that he is no longer only a religious leader as he claims. On the contrary, he has become the political leader engaged in long-term divisive activities abroad.
'Tibetan Indepedence' Brooks No Discussion
The central government has adopted a consistent policy towards the Dalai Lama. It urges him to renounce separatism and return to the stand of patriotism and unity.
On December 28, 1978, the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said to AP correspondents that "the Dalai Lama may return, but only as a Chinese citizen"; "we have but one demand patriotism. And we say that anyone is welcome, whether he embraces patriotism early or late." This indicates the central government's attitude of welcoming the Dalai Lama back to the motherland.
The Dalai Lama sent representatives to Beijing to contact the central government on February 28, 1979. On March 12, Deng Xiaoping met the Dalai Lama's representatives and said to them, "The Dalai Lama is welcome to come back. He can go out again after his return." With regard to the central government's negotiation with the side of the Dalai Lama, Deng pointed out, "Now, whether the dialogue to discuss and settle problems will be between the central government and Tibet as a state or Tibet as a part of China? This is a practical question." "Essentially Tibet is a part of China. This is the criterion for judging right or wrong."
The central government did everything possible to persuade the Dalai Lama and his followers, through negotiations, to give up their separatism and return to the motherland. The central government leaders have since 1980 met a number of delegations sent back by the Dalai Lama and reiterated on many occasions the central government's policy towards the Dalai Lama.
To satisfy the desire of both local and overseas Tibetans for visits and contacts, the central government has formulated and practiced the policy of free movement in and out of the country. It has also made clear that all patriots belong to one big family, whether they rally to the common cause now or later, and bygones can be bygones. From August 1979 to September 1980, central government departments concerned received three visiting delegations and two groups of relatives sent by the Dalai Lama. Most of the Dalai Lama's kin residing abroad have made return visits to China. Since 1979, Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas have received some 8,000 overseas Tibetans who came to visit relatives or for sightseeing, and helped settle nearly 2,000 Tibetan compatriots.
Regretfully, the Dalai Lama did not draw on the good will of the central government. Instead, he further intensified his separatist activities. At a meeting of the Human Rights Subcommittee of the US Congress held in September 1987, the Dalai Lama put forward a "five-point proposal" regarding the so-called status of Tibet. He continued to advocate "Tibetan Independence," and instigate and plot a number of riots in Lhasa. In June 1988, the Dalai Lama raised a so-called "Strasbourg proposal" for the solution of the Tibet issue. On the premise that Tibet "had always been" an independent state, the proposal interpreted the issue of a regional national autonomy within a country as a relationship between a suzerain and a vassal state, and between a protector and a protected state, thus denying China's sovereignty over Tibet and advocating the independence of Tibet in a disguised way. The central government naturally rejected the proposal, because it was a conspiracy the imperialists once hatched in order to carve up China. The Chinese government solemnly d, "China's sovereignty over Tibet brooks no denial. Of Tibet there could be no independence, nor semi-independence, nor independence in disguise."
Nevertheless, the central government still hopes that the Dalai Lama would rein in at the brink of the precipice and change his mind. In early 1989, the 10th Bainqen Lama passed away. Taking into account the historical religious ties between various generations of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Lama as teacher and student, the Buddhist Association of China, with the approval of the central government, invited the Dalai Lama to come back to attend the Bainqen Lama's memorial ceremonies. President Zhao Puchu of the association handed a letter of invitation to a personal representative of the Dalai Lama, providing the Dalai Lama with a good opportunity to meet with people in the Buddhist circles in China after 30 years of exile. But the Dalai Lama rejected the invitation.
As 1989 witnessed a new international anti-China wave, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Norway, with clearly political motives, awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama, giving its strong support to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan separatists. Since then, the Dalai Lama has travelled the world, advocating Tibet's separation from China.
The Dalai Lama simultaneously intensified his efforts to incite and plot riots in Tibet. On January 19, 1990, he said over the BBC: If the Beijing government fails to hold talks with him on his plan of Tibet's autonomy within a year, he will have to change his stand of compromise with China; many young Tibetans stand for the use of force. On April 4, 1991, the Dalai Lama said in the Tibetan language program of the Voice of America, "All matters shall be further strengthened for Tibet's independence." Again on October 10 the same year, he tried instigation in a similar program, "At present, so large a number of Hans are pouring into Tibet that many young Tibetans cannot find jobs. This adds a further element of instability in the Tibetan society. Therefore, new riots are quite possible."
It is because the Dalai Lama sticks to his position of "Tibetan independence" and continues his efforts to split the motherland in and outside China that contacts between the central government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama have yielded no results.
In an interview with Xinhua News Agency reporters on May 19, 1991, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation, Premier Li Peng of the State Council of the People's Republic of China pointed out, "The central government's policy towards the Dalai Lama has been consistent and remains unchanged. We have only one fundamental principle, namely, Tibet is an inalienable part of China. On this fundamental issue there is no room for haggling. The central government has always expressed its willingness to have contact with the Dalai Lama, but he must stop activities to split the motherland and change his position for 'Tibetan independence.' All matters except 'Tibetan independence' can be discussed."
The central government is willing to contact and negotiate with the Dalai Lama; the door remains open. The central government's policy towards the Dalai Lama is also clear. To be responsible for the history, the Chinese nation and its 1.1 billion people, including the Tibetan people, the central government will make not the slightest concession on the fundamental issue of maintaining the motherland's unification. Any activity attempting to realize "Tibetan independence" and split the motherland by relying on foreign forces is an ignominious move betraying the motherland and the whole Chinese nation including the Tibetan nationality. The central government resolutely denounces this kind of action and will never allow it to succeed. The central government will continue to implement a series of special policies and preferential measures to promote the construction and development of Tibet so as to enhance national unity, construct a prosperous economy, enrich culture and improve the people's livelihood. Any activity sabotaging stability and unity in Tibet and any unlawful deed creating disturbance and inciting riots runs against the basic interests of the Tibetan people and will be cracked down on relentlessly.
So long as the Dalai Lama can give up his divisive stand and admit that Tibet is an inalienable part of China, the central government is willing to hold talks at any time with him. The Dalai Lama is warmly welcome to return to the embrace of the motherland at an early date and do some work that is conducive to maintaining the motherland's unification, the national unity, as well as the affluent and happy lives of the Tibetan people.
IV. Feudal Serfdom in Old Tibet
Before the Democratic Reform of 1959 Tibet had long been a society of feudal serfdom under the despotic religion-political rule of lamas and nobles, a society which was darker and more cruel than the European serfdom of the Middle Ages. Tibet's serf-owners were principally the three major estate-holders: local administrative officials, nobles and upper-ranking lamas in monasteries. Although they accounted for less than 5 percent of Tibet's population, they owned all of Tibet's farmland, pastures, forests, mountains and rivers as well as most livestock. Statistics released in the early years of the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century indicate that Tibet then had more than 3 million ke of farmland (15 ke equal to 1 hectare), of which 30.9 percent was owned by officials, 29.6 percent by nobles, and 39.5 percent by monasteries and upper-ranking lamas. Before the 1959 Democratic Reform, Tibet had 197 hereditary noble families and 25 big noble families, with the biggest numbering seven to eight, each holding dozens of manors and tens of thousand of ke of land.
Serfs made up 90 percent of old Tibet's population. They were called tralpa in Tibetan (namely people who tilled plots of land assigned to them and had to provide corvee labor for the serf-owners) and duiqoin (small households with chimneys emitting smoke). They had no land or personal freedom, and the survival of each of them depended on an estate-holder's manor. In addition, nangzan who comprised 5 percent of the population were hereditary household slaves, deprived of any means of production and personal freedom.
Serf-owners literally possessed the living bodies of their serfs. Since serfs were at their disposal as their private property, they could trade and transfer them, present them as gifts, make them mortgages for a debt and exchange them. According to historical records, in 1943 the aristocrat Chengmoim Norbu Wanggyai sold 100 serfs to a monk official at Garzhol Kamsa, in Zhigoin area, at the cost of 60 liang of Tibetan silver (about four silver dollars) per serf. He also sent 400 serfs to the Gundelin Monastery as mortgage for a debt of 3,000 pin Tibetan silver (about 10,000 silver dollars). Serf-owners had a firm grip on the birth, death and marriage of serfs. Male and female serfs not belonging to the same owner had to pay "redemption fees" before they could marry. In some cases, an exchange was made with a man swapped for man and a woman for woman. In other cases, after a couple wedded, the ownership of both husband and wife remained unchanged, but their sons would belong to the husband's owner and their daughters to the wife's owner. Children of serfs were registered the moment they were born, setting their life-long fate as serfs.
Serf-owners ruthlessly exploited serfs through corvee and usury. The corvee tax system of old Tibet was very cruel. Permanent corvee tax was registered and there were also temporary additional corvee taxes. Incomplete statistics indicate the existence of more than 200 categories of corvee taxes levied by the Gaxag (Tibetan local government). The corvee assigned by Gaxag and manorial lords accounted for over 50 percent of the labor of serf households, and could go as high as 70-80 percent. According to a survey conducted before the Democratic Reform, the Darongqang Manor owned by Regent Dagzhag of the 14th Dalai Lama had a total of 1,445 ke of land, and 81 able-bodied and semi-able-bodied serfs. They were assigned a total of 21,260 corvee days for the whole year, the equivalent of an entire year's labor by 67.3 people. In effect, 83 percent of the serfs had to do corvee for one full year.
The serfs engaged in hard labor year in and year out and yet had no guaranteed food or clothing. Often they had to rely on money borrowed at usury to keep body and soul together. The annual interest rate for usurious loans was very high, while that for money borrowed from monasteries was 30 percent, and for grain 20 or 25 percent. Monetary loans from nobles exacted a 20 percent interest, while that for grain amounted to 20 or 25 percent.
Gaxag had several money-lending institutions, and the Dalai Lama of various generations had two organizations specialized in lending money. Incomplete records in the account books of the two cash-lending bodies of the Dalai Lama in 1950 show that they had lent out about 3.0385 million liang of Tibetan silver in usurious loans.
Snowballing interest of usurious loans created debts which could never be repaid by even succeeding generations and debts involving a guarantor resulted in the bankruptcy of both the debtor and the guarantor. The grandfather of a serf named Cering Goinbo of Maizhokunggar County once borrowed 50 ke of grain (1 ke equal to 14 kg) from the Sera Monastery. In 77 years the three generations had paid more than 3,000 ke of grain for the interest but the serf-owner still claimed that Cering Goinbo owed him 100,000 ke of grain. There was another serf named Dainzin in Donggar County who in 1941 borrowed one ke of qingke barley from his master. In 1951 when he was asked to repay 600 ke, he was forced to flee, his wife was driven to death and his seven-year-old son was taken away to repay the debt by labor.
In order to safeguard the interests of serf-owners, Tibetan local rulers formulated a series of laws. The 13-Article Code and 16-Article Code, which were enforced for several hundred years in old Tibet, divided people into three classes and nine ranks. They clearly stipulated that people were unequal in legal status. The codes stipulated, "It is forbidden to quarrel with a worthy, sage, noble and descendant of the ruler"; "persons of the lower rank who attack those of the upper rank, and a junior official who quarrels with a senior official commit a serious crime and so should be detained"; "anyone who resists a master's control should be arrested"; "a commoner who offends an official should be arrested"; "anyone who voices grievances at the palace, behaving disgracefully, should be arrested and whipped." The standards for measuring punishment and the methods for dealing with people of different classes and ranks who violated the same criminal law were quite different. In the law concerning the penalty for murder, it was written, "As people are divided into different classes and ranks, the value of a life correspondingly differs." The lives of people of the highest rank of the upper class, such as a prince or leading Living Buddha, are calculated in gold to the same weight as the dead body. The lives of people of the lowest rank of the lower class, such as women, butchers, hunters and craftsmen, are worth a straw rope. In the law concerning compensation for injury, it was stipulated that a servant who injures his master should have his hands or feet chopped off; a master who injures a servant is only responsible for the medical treatment for the wound, with no other compensation required.
Making use of written or common law, the serf-owners set up penitentiaries or private jails. Local governments had law courts and prisons, as had large monasteries. Estate-holders could build private prisons on their own manor ground. Punishments were extremely savage and cruel, and included gouging out the eyes; cutting off ears, hands and feet; pulling out tendons; and throwing people into water. In the Gandan Monastery, one of the largest in Tibet, there were many handcuffs, fetters, clubs and other cruel instruments of torture used for gouging out eyes and ripping out tendons. Many materials and photos showing limbs of serfs mutilated by serf-owners in those years are kept in the hall housing the Tibetan Social and Historical Relics Exhibition in the Beijing Cultural Palace of Nationalities.
Under the centuries-long feudal serfdom, the Tibetan serfs were politically oppressed, economically exploited and frequently persecuted. A saying circulated among serfs, "All a serf can carry away is his own shadow, and all he can leave behind is his footprints." Old Tibet can be said to have been one of the world's regions witnessing the most serious violations of human rights.
Despite the cruel rule of the feudal serfdom, Tibetan laboring people never ceased their resistance struggles. They strove for their personal rights by making petitions, fleeing, resisting rent and corvee and even waging armed struggle. However, they were subjected to ruthless suppression by the three big estate-holders. The law of old Tibet stated, "All civilians who rebel all commit felonies." In such incidences not only the rebel himself would be killed, but his family property would be confiscated and his wife be made a slave. The 5th Dalai Lama once issued the order, "Commoners of Lhari Ziba listen to my order: .... I have authorized Lhari Ziba to chop off your hands and feet, gouge out your eyes, and beat and kill you if you again attempt to look for freedom and comfort." This order was reiterated on many occasions by his successors in power.
V. The People Gain Personal Freedom
The central people's government and the local government of Tibet signed in 1951 the 17-Article Agreement on measures for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, and Tibet was peacefully liberated. This brought hope to the Tibetan people in their struggle for equal personal rights. After the quelling of the armed rebellion in 1959, the central people's government, in compliance with the wishes of the Tibetan people, conducted the Democratic Reform in Tibet and abolished the extremely decadent and dark feudal serfdom. The million serfs and slaves were emancipated. They were no longer regarded as the personal property of serf-owners who could use them for transactions, transfer, mortgage for a debt or exchange or exact their toil. From that time on they gained the right to personal freedom. This was a great, epoch-making change in Tibetan history.
Now old Tibet's codes have been abrogated. Citizens are no longer divided into three classes and nine ranks. All sorts of barbarous punishments are prohibited and privately established prisons have all been dismantled. New China's Constitution and laws guarantee that every Tibetan enjoys the right to subsistence and personal safety.
The Democratic Reform abolished the ownership of the means of production by serf-owners. The farmland originally occupied by those serf-owners involved in the armed rebellion was distributed free to landless serfs and slaves. In Kesong Manor, Nedong County in Shannan Prefecture, 443 peasants were given 1,696 ke of land. When the title deeds for land and debt contracts were thrown into the fire, the former serfs danced around the blaze. The 75-year-old Soinam said, "I used to till the land of my master, and I belonged to him day and night. When asked to do corvee at midnight, I dared not wait till dawn the next day. Now I have received land. I feel I can sleep well and have a good appetite. I really want to live several years longer so that I can see the happy future." A policy of redemption was introduced with regard to the land and other means of production of serf-owners who did not participate in the rebellion. The 900,000 ke of land and over 820,000 head of livestock of the 1,300 serf-owners and their agents, who did not participate in the rebellion, were redeemed by the state at a cost topping 45 million yuan.
The Tibetan laboring people no longer suffer from the heavy corvee taxes and usurious exploitation by the serf-owners. The fruits of their labor all belong to themselves, and the enthusiasm of the Tibetan people for production became unprecedentedly high. The region's grain output in 1960 increased by 12.6 percent over 1959 and the number of livestock by 10 percent. The Tibetan people began to enjoy the right to subsistence, along with adequate food and clothing.