Sino-Tibetan Agreement, Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, [17-Point Agreement of May 23, 1951

The Tibetan nationality is one of the nationalities with a long history within the boundaries of China and, like many other nationalities, it has done its glorious duty in the course of the creationand development of the great Motherland. But, over the last 100 year or more, imperialist forces penetrated into China and in consequence also penetrated into the Tibetan region and carried out all kinds of deceptions and provocations. Like previous reactionary Governments, the Kuomintang reactionary Government continued to carry out a policy of oppression and sowing dessension among the nationalities, causing division and disunity among the Tibetan people. The local government of Tibet did not oppose the imperialist deception and provocation and adopted an unpatriotic attitude towards the great Motherland.Under such conditions the Tibetan nationality and people were plunged into the depths of enslavement amd sufferings. In 1949, basic vistory was achieved on a nation-wide scale in the Chinese people's war of liberation; the common domestic enemy of all nationalities- the Kuomintang reactionary Government- was overthrwon and the common foreign enemy of all nationalities- the aggressive imperialist forces- was driven out. On this basis the founding of the People's Republic of China (CPR) and of the Chinese Government (CPG) was announced.

In accordance with the Common Programme passed by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the CPG declared that all nationalities within the boundaries of the CPR are equal and that they shall establisj unity and mutual aid and oppose imperialism and their own public enemies, so that the CPR will become a big family of fraternity and cooperation, composed of all its nationalities. Within the big family of all nationalities of the CPR, national regional autonomy shall be exercised in areas where national minorities shall have freedom to develop their spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their customs, habits and religious beliefs, and the CPG shall assist all national minorities to develop their political, economic, cultural, and educational construction work. Since then, all nationalities within the country- with the exception of those in the areas of Tibet and Taiwan- have gained liberation. Under the unified leadership of the CPG and the direct leadership of the higher levels of people's governments, all national minorities have fully enjoyed the right of national equality and have exercised, or are exercising, national regional autonomy.

In order that the influences of aggressive imperialist forces in Tibet might be successfully eliminated, the unification of the territory and sovereignty of the CPR accomplished, and national defence safeguarded, in order that the Tibetan nationality might be freed and return to the big family of the CPR to enjoy the same rights of national equality as all other nationalities in the country and develop their political, economic, cultural, and educational work, the CPG, when it ordered the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to march into Tibet, notified the local government of Tibet to send delegates to the central authorities to conduct talks for the conclusion of an agreement on measures for the peaceful liberation of Tibet. In the latter part of April 1951 the delegates with full powers of the local government of Tibet arrived in Peking. The CPG appointed representatives with full powers of the local government of Tibet. As a result of the talks both parties agreed to establish this agreement and ensure that it be carried into effect.

(1)  The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Motherlans- the People's Republic of China.

(2)  The local governemtn of Tibet shall actively assist the PLA to enter Tibet and consolidate the national defences.

(3)  In accoradnce with the policy towards nationalities laid own in the Common Programme of the CPPCC, the Tibetan people have the right of exercising national regional autonomy under the unified leadership of the CPG.

(4)  The central authorities will not alter the exisiting political system in Tibet. The central authorities also will not alter the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama. Officials of various ranks shall hold office as usual.

(5)  The established status, functions and powers of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni shall be maintained.

(6)   By the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama and of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni are meant the status, functions and powers of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and of the ninth Panchen Ngoerhtehni when they were in friendly and amicable relations with each other. The policy of freedom and religious belief laid down in the Common Programme of the CPPCC shall be carried out. The religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people shall be respected and lama monasteries shall be protected. The central authorities will not effect a change in the income of the monasteries.

(8)  Tibetan troops shall be reorganized step by step into the PLA and become a part of the national defence forces of the CPR.

(9)  The spoken and written language and school education of the Tibetan nationality shall be developed step by step in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet.

(10)  Tibetan agriculture, livestock-raising, industry and commerce shall be developed step by step and the people's livelihood shall be improved step by step in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet.

(11)  In matters related to various reforms in Tibet, the will be no compulsion on the part of the central authorities. the local government of Tibet should carry out reforms of its own accord, and, when the people raise demands for reform, they shall be settled by means of consultation with the leading personnel of Tibet.

(12)  In so far as former pro-imperialist and pro-Kuomintang officials resolutely sever relations with imperialism and the Kuomintang do not engage in sabotage or resistance, they may continue to hold office irrespective of their past.

(13)  The PLA entering Tibet shall abide by all the above-mentioned policies and shall also be fair in all buying and selling and shall not arbitrarily take a needle or thread from the people.

(14)  The CPG shall have centralized handling of all external affairs of the area of Tibet; and there will be peaceful co-existence with neighbouring countries and establishment and development of fair commercial and trading relations with them on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect for territory and sovereignty.

(15)  In order to ensure the implementation of this agreement, the CPG shall set up a Military and Administrative Committee and a Military Area HQ in Tibet and- apart from the personnel sent there by the CPG- shall absorb as manylocal Tibetan personnel as possible to take part in the work. Local personnel taking part in the Military and Administrative Committee may include patriotic elements from the local government of Tibet, various district and various principal monasteries; the name-list shall be set forth after consultation between the representatives designated by the CPG and various quarters concerned and shall be submitted to the CPG for appointment.

(16)  Funds needed by the Military and Administrative Committee, the Military Area HQ and the PLA entering Tibet shall be provided by the CPG. The local government of Tibet should assist the PLA in the purchase and transport of food, fodder and other daily necessities.

(17)  This agreement shall come into force immediately after signature and seals are affixed to it.

Signed and sealed by delegates of the CPG with full powers:

Chief Delegate- Li Wei-Han (Chairman of the Commission of Nationalities Affairs)
Delegates- Chang Ching-wu, Chang Kuo-hua, Sun Chih-yuan

Delegates with full powers of the local government of Tibet:
Chief Delegate- Kaloon Ngabou Ngawang Jigme (Ngabo Shape)
Delegates- Dazasak Khemey Soanm Wangdi, Khentrung Thupten Tenthar, Kenchung Thupten Lekmuun, Rimshi Samposey Tenzin Thundup.

Peking, 23rd May, 1951.

Source: Pradyumna P. Karan, The Changing Face of Tibet (Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1976), 89-91

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