Complete text of the Tibetan Government's official response to the Chinese White Paper on Tibet - History past to present
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This file submitted by:

Conrad Richter 
Co-Editor, CTN News

Tibetan Response to China's White on Tibet


1.   Status of Tibet
2.   Invasion and illegal annexation of Tibet
3.   National Uprising
4.   Traditional Tibetan society
5.   Human Rights
6.   Socio-economic conditions and colonialism
7.   Religion and national identity
8.   Population transfer and control
9.   State of Tibet's environment
10.  Militarisation and regional peace
11.  Quest for solution


As the international community takes an increasingly keen interest
in the question of Tibet, the demand for information grows. The
world is no longer obsessed with the political ideological conflict
between the two superpowers of the Cold War period, so that
Governments and non-governmental actors can, once again, turn to
other burning problems, such as the situation in Tibet. Many
Governments are in the process of reviewing their foreign policy on
many fronts. They should also thoroughly review their Tibet policy
in line with the post-cold war international reality.

Initiatives by parliaments and conferences in different parts of
the world to address the human rights situation in Tibet and its
underlying political cause as well as moves by a growing number of
countries to take up the issue again at the United Nations have met
with strong resistance from the Government of the People's Republic
of China. One of the results have been a stream of propaganda
booklets, following the Stalinist and Maoist tradition, intended to
convince foreign readers of China's right to rule Tibet and the
great benefit it brought to the people of Tibet.

The Present document, Tibet: Proving Truth from Facts, is intended
to respond to the new demand for concise information on key points
of the Tibetan question, and at the same time, to serve as a
response to the Chinese propaganda, particularly as contained in
Chinese State Council's White Paper. The Tibetan
Government-in-Exile does not have the resources to respond to each
misrepresentation of the Tibetan situation which appears in the
Chinese propaganda. But truth being on the side of the Tibetan
people, we feel the need from time to time to restate the facts
plainly, as they really are, and trust that this will serve the
cause of truth and justice.

This publication touches upon many areas of concern: the
fundamental question of the status of Tibet, the validity of
China's claim to ownership of it and Tibetan people's right to
self-determination; the "17-Point Agreement" and its effect on
Tibet's status; the events surrounding the resistance to Chinese
rule and the Dalai Lama's flight to India; the Tibetan social
system before the Chinese occupation and democratic reforms
initiated by the Dalai Lama; human rights conditions in
occupied-Tibet; deprivation of religious freedom; socio-economic
conditions and colonialism; population transfer and control; the
state of Tibet's environment; issues related to the militarisation
of Tibet; and the efforts that have been undertaken to find a
solution to the question of Tibet. 

One aspect of the Tibetan situation has been insufficiently
highlighted in the past, even though it is fundamental to
understanding the context of much of what is happening in Tibet
today. This is the profoundly colonialist nature of Chinese rule in
Tibet. We tend to identify colonialism with European colonial
expansion in the past two centuries. But, as the Malaysian, Irish
and other governments pointed out during the United Nations General
assembly debates on the Question of Tibet, colonialism in all its
manifestations must be brought to an end, whether perpetrated by
countries in the West or the East.

The Chinese themselves view Tibet in colonial terms: that is, not
as part of China proper, but as non-Chinese territory which China
has a right to own and exploit, on the basis of relationship that
existed 700 years ago, or, at best, 200 years ago. This attitude is
evident already from the title of the Chinese Government's White
Paper, which refers to the ownership of Tibet. If Tibet were
truly an integral part of China for hundreds of years, as China
claims, Tibet could not form the object of ownership by the
country it is already a part of. The very notion of ownership of
Tibet by China is colonialist and imperialist in nature.

Colonialism is characterised by a number of important elements, all
of which are abundantly present in China's rule over Tibet. The
most common characteristics of colonialism are:  *domination by an
alien power; *acquisition of control through military force,
unequal treaty; *frequent insistence that the colony is an integral
part of the mother state; *maintenance of control through
instruments of military or administrative and economic power in the
hands of the colonial power; *active or passive rejection of alien
domination by the colonised people; *suppression, by force if
necessary, of persons opposing colonial rule; *chauvinism and
discrimination; *the imposition of alien cultural, social and
ideological values claimed to be civilising; *the imposition of
economic development programmes and the exploitation of natural
resources of the colony, primarily for the benefit of the colonial
power; *promotion of population transfer of citizens of the
metropolitan state into the colony and other forms of demographic
manipulation; *disregard for the natural environment in the colony;
and, in most cases, *an obsessive desire to hold on to the colony
despite the political and economic cost.

Most of these characteristics are discussed in this document. Some
of these issues are also discussed in the Chinese White Paper on
Tibet, in a manner and style which only confirms the colonialist or
imperialist view of Tibet held by China's leadership.

Chapter 1.               Status of Tibet


At the time of its invasion by troops of the People's Liberation
Army of China in 1949, Tibet was an independent state in fact and
law. The military invasion constituted an aggression on a sovereign
state and a violation of international law. Today's continued
occupation of Tibet by China, with the help of several hundred
thousand troops, represents an ongoing violation of international
law and of the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people to

The Chinese Communist Government claims it has a right to
ownership of Tibet.  It does not claim this right on the basis of
its military conquest in 1949 or alleged effective control over
Tibet since then or since 1959. The Chinese Government also does
not base its claim to ownership on the so-called Seventeen Point
Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet which it forced
upon Tibet in 1951. Instead, China's alleged legal claim is based
on historical relationships primarily of Mongol or Manchu rulers
with Tibetan lamas and, to a lesser extent, of Chinese rulers and
Tibetan lamas. The main events relied on by the Chinese Government
occurred hundreds of years ago: during the height of Mongol
imperial expansion, when the Mongol Emperors extended their
political supremacy throughout most of Asia and large parts of
Eastern Europe; and when Manchu Emperors ruled China and expanded
their influence throughout East and Central Asia, including Tibet,
particularly in the 18th century. 

It is not disputed that at different times in its long history
Tibet came under various degrees of foreign influence: that of the
Mongols, the Gorkhas of Nepal, the Manchu Emperors of China and the
British rulers of India. At other times in Tibet's history, it was
Tibet which exercised power and influence on its neighbours,
including China. It would be hard to find any state in the world
today that has not been subjected to foreign domination or
influence for some part of its history. In Tibet's case the degree
and length of foreign influence and interference was quite limited.
Moreover, relationship with the Mongol, Chinese and Manchu rulers,
to the extent they had political significance, were personal in
nature and did not at any time imply a union or integration of the
Tibetan state with or into a Chinese state.

However fascinating Tibet's ancient history may be, it's status at
the time of the Chinese invasion must, of course, be judged on the
basis of its position in modern history, especially its
relationship with China since 1911, when the Chinese overthrew the
foreign Manchu rule and became the masters of their own country.
Every country can go back to some period in history to justify
territorial claims on neighbouring states. That is unacceptable in
international law and practice. The reader of China's White Paper
Tibet: Its Ownership and Human Rights Situation will be struck by
the scant attention its authors pay to Tibet's modern history in
the decades before 1949. This is because from 1911 to the
completion of the Chinese occupation in 1951, there is no evidence
of Chinese authority or influence in Tibet which can support
China's claim.  In fact, the preponderance of the evidence shows
precisely the opposite: that Tibet was to all intents and purposes
a sovereign state, independent of China. This conclusion is
supported by most legal scholars and experts on the subject. The
International Commission of Jurists' Legal Enquiry Committee on
Tibet reported in its study on Tibet's legal status:

     Tibet demonstrated from 1913 to 1950 the conditions of
     statehood as generally accepted under international law.
     In 1950, there was a people and a territory, and a
     government which functioned in that territory, conducting
     its own domestic affairs free from any outside authority. 
     From 1913-1950, foreign relations of Tibet were conducted
     exclusively by the Government of Tibet, and countries
     with whom Tibet had foreign relations are shown by
     official documents to have treated Tibet in practice as
     an independent State. [Tibet and Chinese People's
     Republic, Geneva, 1960, pp. 5,6]

Forty years of independence is clearly sufficient for a country to
be regarded as such by the international community.  Many members
of the United Nations today have enjoyed a similar or even shorter
period of independence. But in Tibet's case, even its ancient
history has been selectively re-written by the Chinese Government's
propaganda machine to serve the purpose of defending its claim to
ownership.  Thus, even if it is not necessary to discuss Tibet's
early history in order to understand its status on the eve of
China's military invasion, we believe it is useful to review it
briefly, just to set the record straight.  

The status of Tibet: 1911-1951

There can be little argument that on the eve of China's military
invasion, which started at the close of 1949, Tibet possessed all
the attributes of independent statehood recognised under
international law: a defined territory, a population inhabiting
that territory, a government, and the ability to enter into
international relations.

The territory of Tibet largely corresponds to the geological
plateau of Tibet, which consists of 2.5 million square kilometre.
At different times in history, wars were fought and treaties signed
concerning the precise location of boundaries.

The population of Tibet at the time of the Chinese invasion was
approximately six million. That population constituted the Tibetan
people, a distinct people with a long history, rich culture and
spiritual tradition. Tibetans are a people distinct from the
Chinese and other neighbouring peoples.  Not only have the Tibetans
never considered themselves to be Chinese, the Chinese have also
not regarded the Tibetans to be Chinese (hence, for example, the
references to barbarians in Chinese historical annals).

The Government of Tibet was headquartered in Lhasa, the capital
city of Tibet. It consisted of a Head of State (the Dalai Lama), a
Cabinet of Ministers (the Kashag), a National Assembly (the
Tsongdu), and an elaborate bureaucracy to administer the vast
territory of Tibet.  The Judicial system was based on that
developed by Songtsen Gampo (7th Century), Jangchub Gyaltsen (14th
Century), the Fifth Dalai Lama (17th Century) and the Thirteenth
Dalai Lama (20th Century), and was administered by Magistrates
appointed by the Government.

The Government of Tibet levied tax, issued its own currency, ran
the country's postal system and issued postage stamps, commanded
Tibet's small army, and generally conducted all affairs of
Government. It was an ancient form of government which had served
the needs of Tibet well in the past, but was in need of reform in
order for the country to keep pace with the great political, social
and economic changes that were taking place in the world. The
Tibetan form of government was a highly de-centralised one, with
many districts and principalities of Tibet enjoying a large degree
of self-government. This was, to a large extent, inevitable due to
the vastness of the territory and the lack of modern communication

The international relations of Tibet were focused on the country's
neighbours. Tibet maintained diplomatic, economic and cultural
relations with countries in the region such as Nepal, Bhutan,
Sikkim, Mongolia, China, British India, and, to a limited extent,
with Russia and Japan.

Tibet's independent foreign policy is perhaps most obviously
demonstrated by the country's neutrality during World War II.
Despite strong pressures from Britain, the U.S. and China to allow
the passage of military supplies through Tibet to China when Japan
blocked the strategically vital Burma Road, Tibet held fast to
its declared neutrality, which the Allies were constrained to

China today claims that no country ever recognised Tibet.  In
international law, recognition can be obtained by an explicit act
of recognition or by implicit act or behaviour. The conclusion of
treaties, even the conduct of negotiations, and certainly the
maintenance of diplomatic relations are forms of recognition.
Mongolia and Tibet concluded a formal treaty of recognition in
1913; Nepal not only concluded peace treaties with Tibet, and
maintained an Ambassador in Lhasa, but also formally stated to the
United Nations in 1949, as part of its application for UN
membership, that it maintained independent diplomatic relations
with Tibet as it did with several other countries including the
United Kingdom, the United States, India and Burma.

Nepal, Bhutan, Britain, China and India maintained diplomatic
missions in Tibet's capital, Lhasa. Although China claimed in its
propaganda that its mission in Tibet was a branch office of the
so-called Commission of Tibetan and Mongolian Affairs of the
Guomindang government, the Tibetan Government only recognised it as
a diplomatic mission.  Its status was no higher than the Nepalese
Embassy (Nepal had a full Ambassador or Vakil in Lhasa) or the
British Mission. The Tibetan Foreign Office also conducted limited
relations with the United States when President Franklin D.
Roosevelt sent emissaries to Lhasa to request assistance for the
Allied war effort against Japan during the Second World War. Also,
during the four UN General assembly debates on Tibet in 1959, 1960,
1961 and 1965, many countries expressly referred to Tibet as an
independent country illegally occupied by China.

Relations with Nationalist China

China's position was ambiguous during this period (1911-49). On the
one hand, the Nationalist Government unilaterally announced in its
constitution and in communications to other countries that Tibet
was a province of the Republic of China (one of the five races of
the Republic). On the other hand, it recognised that Tibet was not
part of the Republic of China in its official communications with
the Government of Tibet. Thus, China's President repeatedly sent
letters and envoys to the Dalai Lama and to the Tibetan Government
asking that Tibet join the Republic of China. Similar messages
were sent by China to the Government of Nepal. Both Tibet and Nepal
consistently refused to join China. In response to the first letter
of Chinese President Yuan Shih-kai, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama
rejected the invitation to join the Republic, explaining
courteously but firmly that Tibetans did not approve of the
Chinese Government due to past injustices and stated:

     The Republic has only just been proclaimed and the
     national foundations are far from strong.  It behoves the
     President to exert his energies towards the maintenance
     of order. As for Thibet, the Thibetans are quite capable
     of preserving their existence intact and there is no
     occasion for the President to worry himself at this
     distance or to be discomposed. [Guomin Gongbao, 6 Jan.

In the White Paper, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama is quoted as having
told the envoy sent by Beijing in 1919 that, It is not my true
intention to be on intimate terms with the British. ... I swear to
be loyal to our country and jointly work for the happiness of the
five races. In that year an unofficial delegation came to Lhasa
ostensibly to present religious offerings to the Thirteenth Dalai
Lama, but in reality to urge the Tibetan leader to negotiate an
agreement with China. However, the Dalai Lama rejected the overture
outright, and instead, called for tripartite negotiations in Lhasa.

Likewise, the quotes attributed to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama to
insinuate that he believed Tibet to be a part of China entirely
contradict the authentic record of the visit to Lhasa of Liu Man-
qing, a woman of mixed Tibetan and Chinese parentage, who arrived
in Lhasa in 1930 in her private capacity. The record refers to a
list of questions submitted by this woman to the Dalai Lama on
behalf of the Chinese President and contains each of the Dalai
Lama's responses. 

On relations with China and Chinese influence in Tibet the White
Paper alleges that the Dalai Lama said: My greatest wish is for
the real peace and unification of China. The record shows no
mention of unification of or with China. Instead, the Dalai Lama

     For the stability of Tibet's religio-political order and 
     happiness of its subjects, it may be better to hold
     negotiations and conclude treaties as this will result in
     dependable arrangements.

On Tibet's independence and the border territories Tibet wanted
returned from China, the Chinese White Paper alleges that the Dalai
Lama said: Since it is all Chinese territory, why distinguish
between you and us? The record shows, instead, that the Dalai Lama

     Under the priest-patron relationship that prevailed so
     far, Tibet has enjoyed wide independence. We wish
     to preserve this. We feel that there will be long-term  
     stability if the territories we have lost to outsiders
     are returned to us. [Record of the 13th Dalai Lama's
     communication, dated 15th day of the 4th Tibetan Month,
     Iron-Horse Year 1930]

Other Chinese envoys to Tibet, such as General Huang Mu-sung
(1934), and Wu Zhong-xin (1940), were also told in no uncertain
terms by the Tibetan Government that Tibet was and wished to remain
independent. It may be stated here that neither the Chinese
Government, nor its special envoy (Huang Mu-sung), had any role
in the appointment of Rading Rinpoche as the regent after the death
of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. Huang Mu-sung was the first Chinese
to be permitted to enter Tibet in an official capacity since 1911.
The Tibetans did not refuse him permission because he came to offer
religious tribute and condolences for the late Dalai Lama. In the
event, Huang Mu-sung arrived in Lhasa in April 1934, three months
after Rading Rinpoche became the Regent. The Tsongdu (National
Assembly) nominated three candidates for the regency, Rading
Rinpoche, Gaden Tripa Yeshi Wangdhen and Phurchok Rinpoche.  Out of
them, Rading Rinpoche was selected through a lot-drawing ceremony
conducted in front of the statue of Avalokitesvara in the Potala.
[Thupten Tenthar Lhawutara in Bod kyi Lo rGyus Rig gNas dPyad
gZhi'i rGyu cha bDams BsGrigs, Vol. 12, People's Publishing House,
Beijing, 1990] 

In the White Paper, China claims that Tibetan Government officials
were sent to participate in China's national assembly sessions in
1931 and 1946 in Nanjing. In fact, in 1931, Khenpo Kunchok Jungne
was appointed by the Dalai Lama to set up a temporary liaison
office in Nanjing and maintain contact with the Chinese Government. 
Likewise, the 1946 Tibetan mission was sent to Delhi and Nanjing to
congratulate Britain, the United States and China on the Allied
victory in the Second World War. They had no instruction or
authority to attend any Chinese national assembly. Speaking about
this to the International Commission of Jurists' Legal Inquiry
Committee on 29 August 1959, the Dalai Lama said, They (Tibetan
delegates in Nanjing) had no official part in the Assembly. When
the propaganda came to the knowledge of our Government they were
instructed by telegram not to attend.

As for the establishment of the Commission for Tibetan and
Mongolian Affairs by the Nationalist Guomindang Government, that
too served only to keep up appearances: to this day, the Guomindang
Government in Taiwan maintains this Commission which, it claims,
not only has jurisdiction over Tibet, but also over the whole of
Mongolia, including Outer Mongolia, whose independence has been
internationally recognised since 1924. In fact, this Commission was
not recognised by the Tibetan Government and never had any
authority with respect to Tibet. 

UN Debates

When Chinese Communist armies started entering Tibet in 1949, the
Tibetan Government sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations to
help Tibet resist the aggression. The General Assembly was advised
by Britain and India not to take any action for the time being in
order not to provoke a full-scale attack by China. But to most
countries, China's attack on Tibet was aggression. This became
evident especially during the full debates on the issue in the
United Nations General Assembly in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1965, when
many governments echoed the sentiments expressed by the Ambassador
of the Philippines who referred to Tibet as an independent nation
and added: it is clear that on the eve of the Chinese invasion in
1950, Tibet was not under the rule of any foreign country. He
described China's occupation as the worst type of imperialism, and
colonialism past or present.  The Nicaraguan representative
condemned the Chinese invasion of Tibet and said: The people of
America, born in freedom, must obviously be repelled by an act of
aggression ... and particularly when it is perpetrated by a large
state against a small and weak one. The Representative from
Thailand reminded the Assembly that the majority of states refute
the contention that Tibet is part of China. Similarly, the
Government of the United States condemned and denounced Chinese
aggression and their invasion of Tibet. Irish Representative
Frank Aiken stated:

     For thousands of years, or for a couple of thousand years
     at any rate, (Tibet) was as free and as fully in control
     of  its own affairs as any nation in this Assembly, and
     a thousand times more free to look after its own affairs
     than many of the nations here. [UN GA Docs A/PV 898
     1960);A/PV 1394, 1401 1965]

In fact, during those debates, it was only the Communist block
which openly sided with China on the issue.  From the official
statements made during those debates, it is clear that China's
assertion that no country ever recognised Tibet's independence or
considered the military intervention to be aggression, is simply
not true.


The Chinese Government cannot deny the fact that Tibet was
independent between 1911 and 1951 without distorting history. Even
China's last Head of Mission in Lhasa, Shen Tsung-Lien, wrote after
leaving the country in 1948, Since 1911 Lhasa (ie, the Tibetan
Government in Lhasa) has to all practical purposes enjoyed full
independence. [Tibet and the Tibetans, Shen, T. and Liu, S.,  New
York, 1973, p.62] Mao Zedong himself, when he passed through the
border regions of Tibet during the Long March and was given food
and shelter by local Tibetans, remarked, This is our only foreign
debt, and some day we must pay the Mantzu (sic) and the Tibetans
for the provisions we were obliged to take from them. [Red Star
over China, Edgar Snow, New York, 1961, p.214. Emphasis added]. 

The origin and position of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama

China's White Paper states, In 1653 and 1713, the Qing emperors
granted honorific titles to the 5th Dalai Lama and the 5th Bainqen
(Panchen) Lama, henceforth establishing the titles of the Dalai
Lama and the Bainqen Erdini and their political and religious
status in Tibet. The Dalai Lama ruled the bulk of areas from Lhasa
while the Bainqen Erdini ruled the remaining area of Tibet from
Xigatse (Shigatse).  This claim is absolutely baseless.

The Tibetan religious scholar and sage, Tsongkhapa (1357-1419),
founded the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. It became the fourth
major school of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, the
Sakya and the Kagyu. Panchen Gedun Drup was Tsongkhapa's principal

Panchen Gedun Drup's third reincarnation, Sonam Gyatso, was invited
to the Mongol Court of Altan Khan who first conferred the title of
Talai (Dalai) Lama on him. The title was applied retrospectively
to his two previous incarnations, making him the Third Dalai Lama.
Thus began the line of the Dalai Lamas.  It is, therefore, not
true, as Chinese propaganda claims, that the title Dalai Lama was
first established by a Manchu emperor a century later.

The relationship established by the Third Dalai Lama with Altan
Khan was a spiritual one, but it would have political repercussions
two centuries later, in 1642, when the Mongol prince, Gushri Khan,
helped the Fifth Dalai Lama (Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso 1617-1682) to
become the supreme political and spiritual ruler of Tibet. The
Fifth Dalai Lama, in his turn, conferred the title of Chokyi
Gyalpo (Dharma Raja) to his Mongol Patron. From that time on,
successive Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet as sovereign heads of state. The
political position of the Dalai Lamas was, therefore, not
established by a Manchu emperor of the Qing Dynasty as claimed in
the White Paper, but by the Fifth Dalai Lama with the help of his
Mongol patron, two years before the Qing Dynasty was even

Tashilhunpo Monastery was established in 1447 by Panchen Gedun
Drup, retrospectively known as the First Dalai Lama. Successive
abbots of Tashilhunpo monastery were given the title Panchen
because of their scholarship.  The Fifth Dalai Lama gave his
teacher, Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662), the ownership
of Tashilhunpo monastery and some additional estates. After that,
the Panchen Lamas were selected on the basis of reincarnation, each
successive Panchen Lama retaining ownership of the monastery and
estates. This situation was common among many incarnate lamas, such
as the Sakya, Phagpa-la, Dakyab Loden Sherab, etc, who had been
given estates by the Tibetan Government. But this had absolutely no
political significance. Contrary to Chinese Communist propaganda,
the Panchen Lamas and other high lamas exercised religious
authority only and were not involved in the political
administration of any part of Tibet.  In fact, the political
authority of Shigatse and Tashilhunpo lay with the district
governor appointed by Lhasa.

Thus, the Manchu emperor played no role in the establishment of the
religious or political status of the Dalai Lama, and none with
respect to the Panchen Lama's position either. 

After the invasion of Tibet the Chinese Communist Government
consistently tried to use the late Panchen Lama to legitimise its
position in Tibet. Beijing appointed him to political positions and
urged him to denounce and take the place of the Dalai Lama on a
number of occasions. But the Panchen Lama refused to do so, and
suffered many years of imprisonment and maltreatment as a result.

The Chinese Government claims in the White Paper, as did past
Guomindang Governments, that it played a decisive role, through its
envoy Wu Zhong-xin, in the selection and installation of the 14th
Dalai Lama in 1940, and states,  ... the simple reality that the
installation of the 14th Dalai Lama needed the approval of the
(Chinese) national government is sufficient proof that Tibet did
not possess any independent power during that period (1911-1949). 

In reality, the Dalai Lama was selected according to the age-old
religious beliefs and traditions of the Tibetans and no approval of
the Chinese Government was needed or sought. As a matter of fact,
it was in 1939, before Wu's arrival in Lhasa, that the Regent
Rading announced the name of the present Dalai Lama in the Tibetan
National Assembly, which unanimously confirmed the candidate. When
the enthronment ceremony took place on 22 February 1940, Wu, like
envoys from Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and British India, had no special
role.  Sir Basil Gould, the British Political Officer who
represented British India, explains that the official Chinese
version of events was a fiction which had been prepared and
published before the enthronement. That fictitious account by Wu
Zhong-xin, which China today relies on, reflected what the Chinese
had intended to happen, but what did not in fact occur. Chinese
propaganda has also used a Chinese news report featuring a
photograph of the Dalai Lama with Wu Zhong-xin, captioned as having
been taken during the enthronement ceremony. But, according to
Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the
National People's Congress, this photo was taken a few days after
the ceremony, when Wu had a private audience with the Dalai Lama.
Wu Zhong-xin's claim of having presided over the enthronement
ceremony on the basis of this photograph is a blatant distortion of
historical facts, Ngabo said in Tibet Daily on 31 August 1989.

Early History

According to Tibetan annals, the first king of Tibet ruled from 127
BC, but it was only in the seventh century AD that Tibet emerged as
a unified state and a mighty empire under Emperor Songtsen Gampo.
With his rule, an era of political and military greatness and
territorial expansion started that lasted for three centuries. The
King of Nepal and the Emperor of China offered their daughters to
the Tibetan Emperor in marriage. The wedding to the Nepalese and
Chinese princesses were of particular importance, because they
played important roles in the spread of Buddhism in Tibet. Chinese
propaganda always refers to political implications of Songtsen
Gampo's wedding to the Chinese imperial princess Wen Cheng,
conveniently ignoring the Tibetan ruler's other wives, particularly
his Nepalese one, whose influence was, if anything, greater than
that of her Chinese counterpart.

Tibetan ruler Trisong Detsen (reign: 755-797) expanded the Tibetan
empire by conquering parts of China. In 763, China's capital
Chang'an (modern day Xian) was invaded and China had to pay an
annual tribute to Tibet. In 783, a treaty was concluded which laid
down the borders between Tibet and China. A pillar inscription at
the foot of the Potala Palace in Lhasa bears witness to some of
these conquests. The peace treaty concluded between Tibet and China
in 821, is of particular importance in illustrating the nature of
relations between these two great powers of Asia. The text of this
treaty, both in Tibetan and Chinese, was inscribed on three stone
pillars: one was erected in Gungu Meru to demarcate the borders
between the two nations, second in Lhasa where it still stands, and
the third in the Chinese capital of Chang'an. Passages quoted from
the pillars in the White Paper are inaccurate and out of context,
and aimed at creating the impression that some sort of union
resulted from the treaty. Nothing is further from the truth, as is
clear from the following principal passage of that treaty: 

     Tibet and China shall abide by the frontiers of which
     they are now in occupation. All to the east is the
     country of great China; and all to the west is, without
     question, the country of great Tibet. Henceforth, on
     neither side shall there be waging of war nor seizing of

It is hard to see how China can, in its White Paper, interpret
these events as showing that the Tibetans and Hans (Chinese) 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 fact, the historical records, both Tibetan
and Chinese, contradict such an interpretation and refer to
separate and powerful empires.

In the mid-ninth century, the Tibetan state fragmented into several
principalities. Tibetan attention focused on India and Nepal from
where a strong religious and cultural influence brought on a major
spiritual and intellectual renaissance. 

Relations with the Mongol Emperors  (1240-1350)

The Mongol ruler Genghis Khan and his successors conquered vast
territories in Asia and Europe creating one of the largest empires
the world has ever known, stretching from the Pacific to eastern
Europe. In 1207, the Tangut empire north of Tibet fell to the
advancing Mongols, and in 1271, the Mongols announced the
establishment of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty to rule the Eastern part
of the Empire. By 1279, the Chinese Song dynasty in southern China
fell before the advancing armies and the Mongols completed their
conquest of China. Today, China claims the Yuan Dynasty to be its
own dynasty because, by doing so, it lays claim to all Mongol
conquests, at least in the eastern half of the Mongol Empire. 

Prince Goden, grandson of Genghis Khan, dispatched an expedition to
Tibet in 1240 and invited one of Tibet's leading religious
hierarchs, Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251), to his court,
thus establishing an enduring Tibetan-Mongol relationship. Here
began the unique ch-yn (priest-patron) relationship. Kublai Khan,
who succeeded Goden Khan, embraced Tibetan Buddhism and adopted
Drogon Choegyal Phagpa, nephew of Sakya Pandita, as his spiritual
mentor. This ch-yn relationship resulted in Kublai adopting
Buddhism as his empire's state religion, and Phagpa became its
highest spiritual authority. In gratitude, Kublai Khan offered his
Tibetan lama political authority over Tibet in 1254, conferring
various titles on him.

These early ch-yn relationships were followed by many similar
relationships between Mongol princes or Tibetan noble families and
Tibetan lamas. This unique Central Asian relationship also formed
the basis of later relations between Manchu emperors and successive
Dalai Lamas. The ch-yn relationship itself was purely a personal
one arising from the religious devotion of the Patron for the
Priest and continued to exist even if the political status of the
Patron changed. This was evident in the Mongol-Tibetan
relationship, which continued to exist even after the fall of the
Yuan Dynasty. 

An essential element of the ch-yn relationship was the protection
that the Patron provided his Lama in return, not for the latter's
allegiance, but for his religious teachings and blessings. Some
ch-yn relationships acquired important political dimensions and
the Patron was expected to provide military support to protect the
Lama and his Teaching or church. Superiority of the protector was
not implied, as the Chinese propaganda suggests, since the lay
patron was the student and worshipper of his Lama. 

When Buddhism became the State religion in the eastern part of the
Mongol empire and the Sakya Lama (Phagpa) its highest spiritual
authority, the Mongol-Tibetan relationship could be best described
in terms of mutual interdependence. This concept provided for dual
political and religious paramountcy of the worldly emperor and the
spiritual leader on the basis of equality and interdependence.
While the spiritual leader depended on the emperor for protection
and for backing in ruling Tibet, the conquering emperor depended on
the lama to provide the legitimacy for his rule of the Mongol

It is undeniable that Mongol Emperors spread their influence over
Tibet. But, contrary to the assertion made in the Chinese White
Paper that,"In the mid 13th century Tibet was officially
incorporated into the territory of China's Yuan Dynasty", none of
the Mongol rulers ever made any attempt to administer Tibet
directly; Tibet did not even pay tax to the Mongol Empire, and it
certainly was never considered part of China by the Mongol

Tibet broke its political relationship with the Mongols in 1350
when the Tibetan king, Jangchub Gyaltsen (reign: 1350-1364),
replaced the Sakya Lamas as the most powerful ruler of Tibet.
Jangchub Gyaltsen did away with Mongol influences in the Tibetan
administrative system and introduced a new and distinctly Tibetan
one. He also enacted a Code of Law (Trimyig Shelchey Cho-nga, 15
Article Code), for the administration of justice in the kingdom.
The Chinese regained their independence from Mongol rule and
established the Ming dynasty eighteen years after that. 

Relations with Chinese Emperors (1368-1644)

The White Paper claims that the Chinese Ming Dynasty replaced the
Yuan Dynasty in China and inherited the right to rule Tibet. But,
there is no historical basis for this assertion. As shown above,
the relationship established between Mongol Khans or emperors and
Tibetan lamas predated the Mongol conquest of China. Similarly,
Tibet broke with the Mongol emperors before China regained its
independence from them. The Chinese emperors of the Ming inherited
no relationship from the Mongols. On the other hand, Mongol Khans
continued to maintain their intensive religious and cultural ties
with Tibetans, often in the form of ch-yn relationships, for
centuries afterwards. 

Even if the Mongols did exercise influence in Tibet, it is still
too presumptious on the part of China to claim Mongol inheritence
when an independent Outer Mongolia exists as the only legitimate
representative of the Mongolian people and nation.

Contacts between Tibet and Ming China were scarce and largely
limited to visits by individual lamas of various, sometimes rival,
monasteries to China, and the granting of honorific imperial titles
or gifts by the Chinese Emperor to them. These visits are recorded
in Tibetan histories of the fifteenth to seventeenth century, but
there is no evidence whatsoever of political subordination of Tibet
or its rulers to China or the Ming emperors. In its White Paper,
the Chinese Government alleges that these contacts with individual
lamas demonstrate Ming authority in and over Tibet. But since Tibet
was not ruled by any of those lamas, whatever the nature of their
contacts may have been, they could not affect the independent
status of Tibet.  

>From 1350, Tibet was ruled by the princes of Phagmodru and then,
from about 1481, by the Rinpung dynasty. In 1406, the ruling
Phagmodru prince, Dakpa Gyaltsen, turned down the Imperial
invitation to him to visit China. This clearly shows the sovereign
authority of Tibetan rulers at that time. From about 1565 until the
rise to power of the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1642 (two years before the
fall of the Ming Dynasty), the kings of Tsang ruled Tibet. There
are indications of sporadic diplomatic relations between some of
these rulers and Ming emperors, but the latter exercised neither
authority nor influence over them.  

In 1644, the Chinese emperors were once again overthrown by foreign
conquerors. The Manchus succeeded in establishing their own
imperial dynasty, which ruled over a large empire, the most
important part of which was China. They called it the Qing Dynasty. 

Relations with the Manchus (1639-1911)

In 1642, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, with the help of his Mongol
patron Gushri Khan, became the supreme political and religious
ruler of unified Tibet. Since then, Tibetans accepted him as their
Gongsa Chenpo or The Supreme Sovereign. His prestige was
recognised far beyond Tibet's borders. 

The Fifth Dalai Lama not only maintained a close relationship with
the Mongols but also developed close ties with the Manchu rulers.
In 1639, before the Dalai Lama acquired supreme political power and
also before the Manchu conquest of China and the establishment of
the Qing Dynasty, Manchu Emperor Tai Tsung invited the Dalai Lama
to his capital, Mukden (present-day Shenyang). Unable to accept the
invitation personally, the Dalai Lama sent his envoy who was
treated with great respect by the Emperor. Thus the Ch-yn
relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Manchu rulers was
established. As was true of the Tibetan relationship with the
Mongol emperors, the links developed between Tibetans and the
Manchu emperors did not involve China. As Owen Lattimore points out
in reference to the Qing Dynasty, What existed in fact was a
Manchu Empire, of which China formed only one part. [Studies in
Frontier History]

Having conquered China and annexed it to the Manchu empire, Emperor
Shunzi invited the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1653 for a state visit to
the Imperial capital. In an unprecedented sign of respect, the
Manchu Emperor made a four-day journey outside his capital
(Beijing) to receive the Tibetan sovereign and foremost spiritual
leader of Central Asian Buddhists. Commenting on the Dalai Lama's
visit, W.W. Rockhill, an American scholar and diplomat in China,

     (The Dalai Lama) had been treated with all the ceremony 
     which could have been accorded to any independent
     sovereign, and nothing can be found in Chinese works to
     indicate that he was looked upon in any other light; at
     this period of   China's relations with Tibet, the
     temporal power of the Lama, backed by the arms of Gusri
     Khan and the devotion of all Mongolia, was not a thing
     for the Emperor of China to question.  [The Dalai Lamas
     of Lhasa and Their Relations With Emperors of China,
     1644-1908, T'oung Pao 11, 1910, p.37]

On this occasion, the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Manchu Emperor
bestowed unprecedented high complimentary titles upon each other
and the ch-yn relationship was reaffirmed. In the White Paper,
the Chinese Government refers only to the honorific title given by
the Emperor to the Dalai Lama, but conveniently leaves out any
mention of the similar honorific title granted by the Dalai Lama to
the Emperor. 

Chinese propaganda infers that it was this deed by the Manchu
Emperor which conferred the legal right to the Dalai Lama to rule
Tibet. This interpretation intentionally misses the point of the
event, namely that titles were exchanged by two sovereign leaders.
If the Dalai Lama was dependent on his imperial title for the
exercise of his authority, then so was the Manchu Emperor dependent
on the title granted by the Dalai Lama for the exercise of his

Throughout the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) relations between Tibet and
the Manchu emperors remained formally based on the ch-yn
relationship. The Manchu Emperor readily responded to the appeals
for help to drive out invading Dzungar Mongols and escort the newly
discovered Seventh Dalai Lama to the Tibetan capital in 1720. 
Manchu forces entered Tibet on three more times in the eighteenth
century, once to protect Tibet against invading Gorkha forces from
Nepal (1792), and twice to restore order after civil wars (1728 and
1751).  Each time they came at the request of the Tibetans, and
each time the ch-yn relationship was invoked.  

The Manchus did succeed in establishing some degree of influence in
Tibet during those crisis periods. But their influence declined
rapidly afterwards, rendering them unable to play any role when
Tibet fought wars against invaders from Jammu (1841- 1842), Nepal
(1855-1856), and British India (1903-04). By the mid 19th century
the Manchu Emperor's role (and the related role of the Amban) was
only nominal. 

The White Paper devotes considerable attention to Emperor
Qianlong's so-called 29-article edict, or regulations, of 1793
concerning Tibet, and to the appointment of Ambans (ambassadors).
It presents the regulations as if they were an imperial order
proving extensive Manchu authority in Tibet.  In reality, the 29
points were suggestions made by the Emperor for certain reforms of
the Government of Tibet following its war with Nepal. The Ambans
were not viceroys or administrators, but were essentially
ambassadors appointed to look after Manchu interests, and to
protect the Dalai Lama on behalf of the Emperor.

In 1792, the Gorkhas of Nepal invaded Tibet following a dispute
between Tibet and Nepal and the Dalai Lama appealed to the Manchu
Emperor for help. The Emperor sent a large army which helped Tibet
drive out the Gorkhas, and mediated a treaty of peace between Tibet
and Nepal. Since this was the fourth time the Emperor was asked to
send troops to fight for the Tibetan Government, he wanted some say
in Tibetan affairs in order to prevent Tibetans from becoming
involved in conflicts which might again precipitate requests for
Manchu military involvement. The regulations were suggestions
made in the context of the Emperor's protector role, rather than an
order from a ruler to his subjects. This emerges clearly from the
statement made by the Imperial envoy and commander of the Manchu
army, General Fu K'ang-an, to the Eighth Dalai Lama:

     The Emperor issued detailed instructions to me, the Great
     General, to discuss all the points, one by one, in great
     length. This demonstrates the Emperor's concern that
     Tibetans come to no harm and that their welfare be
     ensured  in perpetuity. There is no doubt that the Dalai
     Lama, acknowledging his gratitude to the Emperor, will
     accept these suggestions once all the points are
     discussed and agreed upon. However, if the Tibetans
     insist on clinging to their age-old habits, the Emperor
     will withdraw the Ambans  and the garrison after the
     troops are pulled out. Moreover, if similar incidents
     occur in the future, the Emperor will have nothing to do
     with them. The Tibetans may, therefore, decide for
     themselves as to what is in their favour and what  is not
     or what is heavy and what is light, and make a choice on
     their own. [Quoted from Ya Han Chang's Biography of the
     Dalai Lamas in Bod kyi Lo rGyus Rag Rim g-Yu Yi Preng ba,
     Vol 2, Published by Tibet Institute of Social Science,
     Lhasa, 1991, p.316]

Rather than accepting or rejecting the Emperor's points, Tibetans
adopted some of the 29 points which were perceived to be beneficial
to them, and disregarded those they thought to be unsuitable. As
Panchen Choekyi Nyima, the predecessor of the Late Panchen Lama,
said: Where Chinese policy  was in accordance with their own
views, the Tibetans were ready to accept the Amban's advice; but
... if this advice ran counter in any respect to their national
prejudices, the Chinese Emperor himself would be powerless to
influence them. [Diary of Capt. O'Connor, 4 September 1903] 

Among the important points of this 29-point edict was the
Emperor's proposal for the selection of great incarnate lamas,
including the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas, by drawing lots from
a golden urn. This important task, however, was the responsibility
of the Tibetan Government and high lamas, who continued to select
them according to religious traditions. Thus, already on the first
occasion when the golden urn should have been employed, namely for
the selection of the Ninth Dalai Lama in 1808, Tibetans disregarded

Another important point of this edict was the role of Ambans. The
Amban's role resembled that of an ambassador, at times, and that of
a Resident in a classical protectorate relationship, at other
times. It is best understood in the explanation Amban Yu Tai gave
in 1903 to Mortimer Durand, the Foreign Secretary of the Government
of India (as reported by him) that, he was only a guest in Lhasa
 not a master  and he could not put aside the real masters, and
as such he had no force to speak of. [Sir Mortimer Durand: A
Biography, by Sir Percy Sykes, London 1926, p.166]  In the same
sense, two Lazarist missionaries, Huc and Gabet, who were in Lhasa
in the mid-nineteenth century, described the position of the Ambans
as follows: the Government of Tibet resembles that of the Pope and
the position occupied by the Chinese Ambassadors was the same as
that of the Austrian Ambassador at Rome. [Decouverte du Thibet,
1845-1846, M. Huc, 1933, p.50] The reference to Chinese
Ambassadors is a common mistake, because the Manchu Emperors were
careful not to appoint Chinese Ambans but Manchus or Mongolians, a
fact which stressed that the appointment of the Amban was also
viewed in the context of the protector's role in the ch-yn
relationship, a relationship from which the Chinese were excluded.

The unprecedented invasion of Tibet by Manchu troops in 1908 was a
turning point in relations between Tibet and the Manchu Emperor. 
Previous imperial military expeditions had come to assist the Dalai
Lama or the Tibetan Government and at their invitation. But this
time, the Manchu Emperor attempted to establish his authority in
Tibet by force, largely in order to remove increasing British
influence in Tibet.  The Dalai Lama fled to neighbouring India, and
the occupation of Tibet was short-lived. When the Manchu Emperor
tried to depose the Dalai Lama in 1910, the Dalai Lama declared
the termination of the ch- yn relationship. The protector had
attacked his Lama and thereby violated the very foundation of their

Resistance to the invasion succeeded when the Manchu Empire
collapsed and Tibetans forced the occupying army to surrender. In
the summer of 1912, Nepalese mediation between Tibet and China
resulted in the conclusion of the Three Point Agreement providing
for formal surrender and expulsion of all remaining Imperial
troops. After returning to Lhasa, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama issued
a proclamation reaffirming the independence of Tibet on 14 February

Relations with British India (1857-1911)

Since the end of the eighteenth Century, Britain developed a keen
interest to open up trade with Tibet. Since all the Himalayan
states which were closely linked to Lhasa had gradually been tied
to British India by means of treaties and other agreements, Tibet
feared it would also lose its independence if it did not resist
British efforts to gain access to Tibet. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama
steered Tibet on an independent course. This policy frustrated the
British who feared, more than anything, a Russian infiltration into
Tibet, which would tip the balance of power in Central Asia. 
Unable to communicate effectively with Tibet, Britain approached
the Manchu Court for assistance in forcing Tibet to cooperate. The
result was the conclusion, without Tibet's participation or
knowledge, of two treaties (1890 and 1893) between Britain and
China which had provisions regarding Tibet.  

The Tibetan Government rejected these treaties as ultra vires, and
this precipitated the British invasion of Tibet in 1903. The Manchu
Emperor did not come to the assistance of Tibet and, as noted by
Amban Yu Tai, disclaimed  any responsibility for the action of the
Tibetans. British troops left Lhasa within a year, after concluding
a bilateral treaty, the Lhasa Convention, with the Tibetan

The provisions of the Lhasa Convention necessarily pre-supposed the
unrestricted sovereignty of Tibet in internal and external matters,
otherwise, Tibet could not legitimately have transferred to Britain
the powers specified in the treaty. The Lhasa Convention did not
even acknowledge the existence of any special relationship between
the Manchu Emperor and Tibet and constituted an implicit
recognition by Britain of Tibet as a state competent to conclude

In an effort to persuade China to cooperate, Britain convinced it
to sign the Adhesion Agreement in 1906, once again, without
participation of Tibet. That agreement and the 1907 agreement
concluded between Britain and Russia, confirmed the existence of a
sphere of British influence in Tibet and introduced the concept of
Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, something neither Tibet, nor the
Manchu Court accepted. In 1908, during Tibet's brief invasion by
the Manchu army, Britain, once again, signed a treaty with the
Manchus, with no independent Tibetan participation, concerning
trade with Tibet. 

Referring to the British concept of Suzerainty, Lord Curzon, the
Viceroy of India, explained:

     Chinese suzerainty over Tibet is a constitutional fiction
     a political affectation which has only been maintained 
     because of its convenience to both parties. ... As a
     matter of fact, the two Chinese (ie, Manchu) Ambans at
     Lhasa are there not as Viceroys, but as Ambassadors.
     [Papers CD 1920, No.66, GoI to IO, 8 Jan. 1903. India
     Office Library]

Relations with India

When India became independent in 1947, it took over the British
diplomatic Mission in Lhasa, and inherited the treaty relations of
Britain with Tibet. Its recognition of Tibet was clear from the
official communication the Indian Government sent to the Tibetan
Foreign Office: 

     The Government of India would be glad to have an
     assurance that it is the intention of the Tibetan
     Government to continue relations on the existing basis
     until new arrangements are reached on matters that either
     party may wish to take up. This is the procedure adopted
     by all other countries with which India has inherited
     treaty relations from His Majesty's Government.  [Notes,
     Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements Signed by
     the Governments of India and China, Vol 2, 1959, p.39] 


China's White Paper speaks about its alleged ownership of Tibet,
it discusses broad issues relating to human rights, including
social, economic and cultural rights, but does not address the
fundamental question of the right of the Tibetan people to

Under international law, populations which meet the criteria of a
people, possess the right to self-determination. Governments may
not deny that right, and must act in accordance with it. In past
decades, the right to self-determination has primarily been applied
to colonial countries and peoples, but, particularly in recent
years, the right has been applied outside the context of
decolonisation also. 

The Tibetan people clearly constitute a people under international
law, as defined, among others, by the UNESCO International Meeting
of Experts on Further Study of the Concept of the Rights of
Peoples. It is difficult to conceive of a better example of a
distinct people, with all the characteristics fulfilled:
commonalities in history, language, culture, ethnicity and other
manifestations of shared identity and experience; numerousness, ie,
enough persons sharing common identity and experience to warrant
recognition by the international community; the existence of
institutions to give expression and effect to these commonalities;
the will of a people to assert the right to self-determination.
The right to self-determination means the right of a people to 
determine their own political status and to determine their
economic, social and cultural development free of outside
interference. [International Covenants on Civil and Political
Rights, Art. 1; and International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, Art. 1;]  Tibetans have been denied the exercise
of this right since their country's invasion and occupation by
China. Under international law, the PRC has the obligation to
permit its exercise.

The implementation of the right to self-determination can lead to
integration with a state, association with a state or independence,
but the choice must be made by the people exercising their right to
self-determination.  This choice must be made freely, without any
interference from outside that people. Thus, it is for the Tibetan
people alone, without interference from China, to make the choice. 

The Dalai Lama has, for many years, called on China to agree on the
holding of an internationally-supervised plebiscite to determine
the wishes of the Tibetan people.  This, indeed, is the most
desirable approach, which is entirely in accordance with the
requirements of international law and practice. 

Recognition of Tibet's right to self-determination

In 1961, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution
1723 (XVI), in which it explicitly recognised the right of the
Tibetan people to self-determination. The UN called on the PRC to
cease practices which deprive the Tibetan people of their
fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to
self-determination. Four years later, in 1965, the UN General
Assembly expressly reaffirmed this resolution in UNGA Res. 2079

Earlier, in 1959, the first Prime Minister of independent India,
Jawaharlal Nehru, expressed his strong support for the Tibetan
people's right to self-determination. Addressing the Lok Sabha,
Lower House of Indian Parliament, he said, the last voice in
regard to Tibet should be the voice of the people of Tibet and
nobody else.

Recently, on two separate occasions, experts on the question of
rights of peoples and international law met to consider the
question of Tibet's claim to self-determination.  

The Permanent Peoples Tribunal, which met in Strasbourg for a week
to hear extensive testimony and arguments in November 1992, found
that the Tibetans meet the generally accepted legal criteria of a
people with the right to self-determination and are therefore
entitled to exercise the right to self- determination. The
Tribunal concluded that the presence of the Chinese administration
on Tibetan territory must be considered as foreign domination of
the Tibetan people.  Finally, in its Verdict, the Tribunal decided
that, the Tibetan people have from 1950 been, continuously,
deprived of their right to self- determination. [Session on Tibet,
Verdict, Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, Strasbourg, 20 Nov., 1992,
pp.15 and 23, resp.]

In an unrelated conference, several weeks later, thirty eminent
international lawyers from many countries in Europe, Africa, Asia
and the Americas  among them some of the world's foremost
authorities on self-determination  met in London for four days, to
consider issues relating to the exercise of the right to self-
determination by the Tibetan people. After extensive consideration
of evidence, including China's White Paper, and after a lively
legal debate, the conference participants concluded, in a written
Statement, that:

1.   under international law the Tibetan people are entitled to the
right to self-determination, that this right belongs to the
Tibetan people and that (i)t is not for the state apparatus of
the PRC, or any other nation or state, to deny the Tibetan people's
right to self-determination.   

2. (s)ince the military action of 1949-50, Tibet has been under
the alien occupation and domination of the PRC and has been
administered with the characteristics of an oppressive colonial

3. in the particular case of Tibet and having regard to its long
history of separate existence, the Tibetan people's  claim to
self-determination, including independence, is compatible with the
principles of national unity and  territorial integrity of states.
[International Lawyers' Statement on Tibet  London 1993,       
London, 10 Jan. 1993, pp. 6-8]. 

The international conference statement called on the United Nations
and the members of the international community urgently to take
measures to promote an early implementation and realisation of the
Tibetan people's right to self-determination.  

In both discussions, that of the Peoples' Tribunal and that of the
International Lawyer's Conference, the points of view of the
Chinese Government, in particular as expressed in the White Paper,
were discussed at length and fully considered. The Chinese
Government was invited to participate in both events, but declined
to do so. It did, however, submit to the meetings for consideration
the White Paper and numerous other publications stating its point
of view and arguments.


The Tibetan people undoubtedly possess the right to self-
determination, by virtue of which Tibetans have the right to
determine their political status and their economic, social and
cultural development. Even if self-determination is primarily
applicable to peoples under colonial domination or occupation,
Tibetans fully qualify. The time has come for the PRC to accept its
international obligations and to agree to the holding of a
plebiscite in Tibet under international supervision. 

Chapter 2. Invasion and illegal annexation of Tibet: 1949-1951


Treaties in international law are binding on the countries signing
them, unless they are imposed by force or a country is coerced into
signing the agreement by the threat of force. This is reflected in
the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which is regarded as
a reflection of customary international law. The People's Republic
of China (PRC) feels strongly about this principle, particularly as
it applies to treaties and other agreements China was pressured to
sign by Western powers at a time when China was weak. The PRC is
particularly adamant that such unequal treaties and other
agreements cannot be valid, no matter who signed them or for what

After the military invasion of Tibet had started and the small
Tibetan army was defeated, the PRC imposed a treaty on the Tibetan
Government under the terms of which Tibet was declared to be a part
of China, albeit enjoying a large degree of autonomy. In the White
Paper, China claims this treaty was entered into entirely
voluntarily by the Tibetan Government, and that the Dalai Lama, his
Government and the Tibetan people as a whole welcomed it.  The
facts show a very different story, leading to the conclusion that
the so-called 17 Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of
Tibet was never validly concluded and was rejected by Tibetans. 

The Dalai Lama stated Tibetan Prime Minister Lukhangwa as having
told Chinese General Zhang Jin-wu in 1952: 

     It was absurd to refer to the terms of the
     Seventeen-Point Agreement. Our people did not accept the
     agreement and the Chinese themselves had repeatedly
     broken the terms of it. Their army was still in
     occupation of eastern Tibet; the area had not been
     returned to the government of Tibet, as it should have 
     been.  [My Land and My People, Dalai Lama, New York,
     Fourth Edition,   1992, p.95]

Diplomatic activity and military threats

Soon after the Communist victory against the Guomindang and the
founding of the PRC on 1 October 1949, Radio Beijing began to
announce that the People's Liberation Army must liberate all
Chinese territories, including Tibet, Xinjiang, Hainan and Taiwan. 
Partly in response to this threat, and in order to resolve
long-standing border disputes with China, the Foreign Office of the
Tibetan Government, on 2 November 1949, wrote to Mao Zedong
proposing negotiations to settle all territorial disputes. Copies
of this letter were sent to the Governments of India, Great Britain
and the United States.  Although these three Governments considered
the spread of Communism to be a threat to the stability of South
Asia, they advised the Tibetan Government to enter into direct
negotiations with Chinese Government as any other course of action
might provoke military retaliation.

The Tibetan Government decided to send two senior officials, Tsepon
Shakabpa and Tsechag Thubten Gyalpo, to negotiate with
representatives of the PRC in a third country, possibly the USSR,
Singapore or Hong Kong. These officials were to take up with the
Chinese Government the content of the Tibetan Foreign Office's
letter to Chairman Mao Zedong and the threatening Chinese radio
announcements still being made about an imminent liberation of
Tibet; they were to secure an assurance that the territorial
integrity of Tibet would not be violated and to state that Tibet
would not tolerate interference.

When the Tibetan delegates in Delhi applied for visas to Hong Kong,
the Chinese told them that their new Ambassador to India was due to
arrive in the capital shortly and that negotiations should be
opened through him. 

In the course of negotiations, the Chinese Ambassador, Yuan
Zhong-xian, demanded that the Tibetan delegation accept a Two-
point Proposal: i) Tibetan national defence will be handled by
China; and ii) Tibet should be recognised as a part of China. They
were then to proceed to China in confirmation of the agreement. On
being informed of the Chinese demands, the Tibetan Government
instructed its delegates to reject the proposal. So negotiations
were suspended.

On 7 October 1950, 40,000 Chinese troops under Political Commissar,
Wang Qiemi, attacked Eastern Tibet's provincial capital of Chamdo,
from eight directions. The small Tibetan force, consisting of 8,000
troops and militia, were defeated. After two days, Chamdo was taken
and Kalon (Minister) Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, the Regional Governor,
was captured. Over 4,000 Tibetan fighters were killed.

The Chinese aggression came as a rude shock to India. In a sharp
note to Beijing on 26 October 1950, the Indian Foreign Ministry

     Now that the invasion of Tibet has been ordered by
     Chinese government, peaceful negotiations can hardly be
     synchronized with it and there naturally will be fear on
     the part of Tibetans that negotiations will be under
     duress. In the present context of world events, invasion
     by Chinese troops of Tibet cannot but be regarded as
     deplorable and in the considered judgement of the
     Government of India, not in the interest of China or

A number of countries, including the United States and Britain,
expressed their support for the Indian position. 

The Tibetan National Assembly convened an emergency session in
November 1950 at which it requested the Dalai Lama, only 16 at that
time, to assume full authority as Head of State. The Dalai Lama was
then requested to leave Lhasa for Dromo, near the Indian border, so
that he would be out of personal danger.  

At the same time the Tibetan Foreign Office issued the

     Tibet is united as one man behind the Dalai Lama who has
     taken over full powers. ... We have appealed to the world
     for peaceful intervention in (the face of this) clear
     case of unprovoked aggression.

The Tibetan Government also wrote to the Secretary General of the
United Nations on 7 November 1950, appealing for the world body's
intervention. The letter said, in part:

     Tibet recognises that it is in no position to resist the
     Chinese advance. It is thus that it agreed to negotiate
     on friendly terms with the Chinese Government. ...Though
     there is little hope that a nation dedicated to peace
     will be able  to resist the brutal effort of men trained
     to war, we understand that the United Nations has decided
     to stop aggression wherever it takes place.

On 17 November 1950, El Salvador formally asked that the aggression
against Tibet be put on the General Assembly agenda. However, the
issue was not discussed in the UN General Assembly at the
suggestion of the Indian delegation who asserted that a peaceful
solution which is mutually advantageous to Tibet, India and China
could be reached between the parties concerned. A second letter by
the Tibetan delegation to the United Nations on 8 December 1950 did
not change the situation. 

Faced with the military occupation of Eastern and Northern Tibet,
the defeat and destruction of its small army, the advance of tens
of thousands of more PLA troops into Central Tibet, and the lack of
active support from the international community, the Dalai Lama and
the Tibetan Government decided to send a delegation to Beijing for
negotiations with the new Chinese leadership.

Seventeen-Point Agreement

In April 1951, the Tibetan Government sent a five-member delegation
to Beijing, led by Kalon Ngapo Ngawang Jigme. The Tibetan
Government authorised its delegation to put forward the Tibetan
stand and listen to the Chinese position. But, contrary to the
claim made in the White Paper that the delegation had full
powers, it was expressly not given the plenipotentiary authority
to conclude an agreement. In fact, it was instructed to refer all
important matters to the Government.

On 29 April negotiations opened with the presentation of a draft
agreement by the leader of the Chinese delegation. The Tibetan
delegation rejected the Chinese proposal in toto, after which the
Chinese tabled a modified draft that was equally unacceptable to
the Tibetan delegation. At this point, the Chinese delegates, Li
Weihan and Zhang Jin-wu, made it plain that the terms, as they now
stood, were final and amounted to an ultimatum. The Tibetan
delegation was addressed in harsh and insulting terms, threatened
with physical violence, and members were virtually kept prisoners.
No further discussion was permitted, and, contrary to Chinese
claims, the Tibetan delegation was prevented from contacting its
Government for instructions. It was given the onerous choice of
either signing the Agreement on its own authority or accepting
responsibility for an immediate military advance on Lhasa. 

Under immense Chinese pressure the Tibetan delegation signed the
Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local
Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of
Tibet on 23 May 1951, without being able to inform the Tibetan
Government. The delegation warned the Chinese that they were
signing only in their personal capacity and had no authority to
bind either the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan Government to the

None of this posed an obstacle to the Chinese Government to proceed
with a signing ceremony and to announce to the world that an
agreement had been concluded for the peaceful liberation of
Tibet. Even the seals affixed to the document were forged by the
Chinese Government to give it the necessary semblance of

The seventeen clauses of the Agreement, among other things,
authorised the entry into Tibet of Chinese forces and empowered the
Chinese Government to handle Tibet's external affairs. On the other
hand, it guaranteed that China would not alter the existing
political system in Tibet and not interfere with the established
status, function, and powers of the Dalai Lama or the Panchen Lama.
The Tibetan people were to have regional autonomy, and their
religious beliefs and customs were to be respected. Internal
reforms in Tibet would be effected after consultation with leading
Tibetans and without compulsion. 

The full text of what came to be known as the Seventeen-Point
Agreement was broadcast by Radio Beijing on 27 May 1951. This was
the first time the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government heard of
the devastating document. The reaction in Dromo (where the Dalai
Lama was staying at that time) and Lhasa was one of shock and

A message was immediately sent to the delegation in Beijing,
reprimanding them for signing the Agreement without consulting
the Government for instructions. The delegation was asked to send
the text of the document they had signed, and wait in Beijing for
further instructions. In the meantime, a telegraphic message was
received from the delegation to say that the Chinese Government
representative, General Zhang Jin-wu, was already on his way to
Dromo, via India. It added that some of the delegation members were
returning, via India, and the leader of the delegation was
returning directly to Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government withheld the public
repudiation of the Agreement. The Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa on
17 August 1951 in the hope of re-negotiating a more favourable
treaty with the Chinese. 

On 9 September 1951, around 3,000 Chinese troops marched into
Lhasa, soon followed by some 20,000 more, from eastern Tibet and
from Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) in the north. The PLA occupied
the principal cities of Ruthok and Gartok, and then Gyangtse and
Shigatse. With the occupation of all the major cities of Tibet,
including Lhasa, and large concentration of troops throughout
eastern and western Tibet, the military control of Tibet was
virtually complete. From this position, China refused to re-open
negotiations and the Dalai Lama had effectively lost the ability to
either accept or reject any Tibet-China agreement. However, on the
first occasion he had of expressing himself freely again, which
came only on 20 June 1959, after his flight to India, the Dalai
Lama formally repudiated the Seventeen-Point Agreement, as having
been thrust upon Tibetan Government and people by the threat of

In assessing the 17-Point Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful
Liberation of Tibet and the occupation of Tibet two factors are
crucial. First, the extent to which China was violating
international law when the PLA marched into Tibet, and second, the
effect of the signing of the Agreement.

The law governing treaties is based on the universally recognised
principle that the foundation of conventional obligations is the
free and mutual consent of contracting parties and, conversely,
that freedom of consent is essential to the validity of an
agreement. Treaties brought about by the threat or the use of force
lack legal validity, particularly if the coercion is applied to the
country and government in question rather than only on the
negotiators themselves. With China occupying large portions of
Tibet and openly threatening a full military advance to Lhasa
unless the treaty was signed, the agreement was invalid ab
initio, meaning that it could not even be validated by a later act
of acquiescence by the Tibetan Government.

Contrary to China's claim in its White Paper, the Dalai Lama and
the Tibetan Government did not act voluntarily in signing the
Agreement. In fact, Mao Zedong himself, in the Directive of
Central Committee of CPC on the Policies for our Work in Tibet,
issued on 6 April 1952, admitted:

     (N)ot only the two Silons (i.e., prime ministers) but
     also the Dalai and most of his clique were reluctant to 
     accept the Agreement and are unwilling to carry it out. 
     ... As yet we do not have a material base for fully
     implementing the agreement, nor do we have a base for
     this purpose in terms of support among the masses or in
     the upper stratum. [Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, Vol.
     5, Foreign Language Press, Peking, 1977, p.75]

                  Chapter 3. National Uprising


When people are oppressed, they are likely to rise up against the
oppressor. There was never a popular uprising in Tibet until the
1950s. Tibetan resistance movement against the Chinese started
right from the time of invasion. By 1956 open fighting broke out in
the Eastern Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo. Three years later
the uprising took on national proportions, leading to the massive
demonstrations in Lhasa in March 1959, the flight of the Dalai Lama
and some 80,000 refugees to neighbouring countries. Tens of
thousands of Tibetans were slaughtered by the PLA. Since then,
Tibetan uprising and demonstrations have continued. Between 1987
and 1992 alone, there had been over 150 demonstrations in Lhasa and
other parts of Tibet, some small but others very large. The Chinese
troops suppressed most of these demonstrations with brutal force.
In March 1989 Tibet was put under Martial Law for the second time
in its history: the first time was in 1959.

The Chinese Government tries to depict the popular resistance of
Tibetans as the work of a few disgruntled aristocrats who wish to
restore the old system of exploitation and oppression of the
Tibetan masses. It depicts 95 per cent of the Tibetans as having
been serfs, brutally oppressed by a small number of aristocrats and
lamas. What China cannot explain is why these allegedly oppressed
masses never rose up against their masters, despite the fact that
Tibet did not have a national police force and for most of its
history had no strong army. Yet, these same Tibetans did rise up,
and still do today, against the massive security apparatus and army
of China, knowing the tremendous risk they take. If we look at the
social composition of the Tibetans involved in the successive
uprisings and demonstrations, more than 80 per cent of them are not
aristocrats and high lamas. Furthermore, more than 85 per cent of
Tibetans in exile belong to what the Chinese would call serf

Events leading up to the 1959 National Uprising

Let us look briefly at the main causes of the Tibetan people's
uprising against China in 1959. Following the entry of Chinese
troops into Lhasa, every effort was made to undermine the sovereign
authority of the Tibetan Government and impose Chinese authority.
This was carried out in three ways: First, political and regional
divisions were created among Tibetans under the policy of divide
and rule. Secondly, certain social and economic reforms, calculated
to change the fabric of Tibetan society, were instituted against
the wishes of Tibetans. Thirdly, various organs of the Chinese
Government, and new bodies under their authority, were set up
alongside the existing Tibetan institutions.   

     Between 24 November 1950 and 19 October 1953, China 
     incorporated a large portion of Kham province into
     neighbouring Chinese Sichuan province. Kham was divided
     into two so-called Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures and one
     Tibetan Autonomous District. On 13 September 1957,
     another portion of southern Kham was named the Dechen
     Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and put under Yunnan

     The bulk of Amdo, together with a small area of Kham, was
     reduced to the status of a Chinese province, and named as
     Qinghai. One portion of Amdo was named Ngapa Tibetan
     Autonomous Prefecture, and merged with Sichuan Province.
     The remaining area of Amdo was sub-divided into Tianzhu
     Tibetan  Autonomous District (6 May 1950), and Kanlho
     Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (1 October 1953), and
     incorporated   into the Chinese province of Gansu.

     On 9 September 1965, China formally established the
     so-called Tibet Autonomous Regional government, placing
     under its administration the whole of U-Tsang and parts
     of Kham  area.

     China stripped numerous ethnic Tibetans like the Sherpas,
     Monpas, Lhopas, Tengpas, Jangpas, etc, who consider
     themselves to be Tibetan, of their Tibetan identity,
     classifying them as distinct Chinese minorities. 

The appropriation by the People's Liberation Army of thousands of
tons of barley and other foodstuffs pushed the Tibetans to the
brink of famine for the first time in history and prompted protest
meetings in Lhasa. The first major popular resistance group, the
Mimang Tsongdu (People's Assembly), banded together spontaneously
and handed the Chinese Military Command a petition demanding
withdrawal of the PLA and an end to Chinese interference in Tibetan
affairs. The Chinese reaction was swift: the two Tibetan Prime
Ministers, Lukhangwa and Ven. Lobsang Tashi, who had made no secret
of their opposition to Chinese rule and opposed the 17-Point
Agreement, were forced to resign and five Mimang Tsongdu leaders
were jailed, driving the organisation underground.

In 1954, the the Dalai Lama visited Beijing on China's invitation.
The special autonomous position of Tibet, embodied in the
Seventeen-Point Agreement, was formally abolished with the
adoption of the new Constitution by the Chinese People's Congress.
This was followed by the adoption of the Resolution on the
Establishment of the Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous
Region of Tibet (PCART), a measure designed to further integrate
the administration of Tibet into that of PRC. The Preparatory
Committee was to function as the central administration of Tibet
instead of the Tibetan Government. The Dalai Lama was made its
Chairman, but without any authority. As the Dalai Lama explained in
his autobiography:  

     The Committee was powerless  a mere facade of Tibetan
     representation behind which all the effective power was
     exercised by the Chinese. In fact, all basic policy was 
     decided by another body called the Committee of the
     Chinese Communist Party in Tibet, which had no Tibetan
     members.  [Dalai Lama, Ibid, p.133]

In 1956, PCART was set up and the Tashilhunpo estate, and those
regions under the jurisdiction of the Governor-General of Chamdo (a
Tibetan Government appointee) in Eastern Tibet, were separated from
the jurisdiction of the Tibetan Government in Lhasa and their
administrative organs given equal status as the Tibetan Government,
thereby reducing the authority of the Tibetan Government. 

Social, political, and agrarian reforms were imposed by the Chinese
Government in Amdo and Kham and, to a much lesser degree, in the
rest of the country. Frequent attacks were launched on religious
personages and monasteries. All of these led to increasingly
violent reactions. The 17-Point Agreement guaranteed that no
reforms would be forced on the Tibetans. But in Eastern Tibet they
were introduced and enforced at once. Mounting impatience and
belligerence of the Chinese administrators provoked violent
reactions and rapidly culminated into armed conflicts in a widening
spiral of resistance and military repression that engulfed the
entire eastern Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo.

As the violence spilled over to other areas of Tibet, a full- scale
guerrilla warfare broke out in the summer of 1956. Refugees from
eastern and northeastern Tibet began to arrive in Lhasa in large
numbers. Within a year, the uprising had spread to Central Tibet,
and in 1958 Tensung Dhanglang Magar, (the Voluntary Force for the
Defense of the Faith), a union of the Mimang Tsongdu and Chushi
Gangduk (Four Rivers Six Ranges) organisations, was founded. By the
autumn of that year this popular army, estimated at 80,000 men, was
in control of most districts of Southern Tibet and parts of Eastern

The Dalai Lama took pains to calm his people so as to prevent worse
bloodbath.  Nevertheless, the situation in Tibet deteriorated
rapidly while the Dalai Lama visited India, in 1956, to take part
in the Buddha Jayanti celebration at the invitation of independent
India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. In meetings with
Nehru and Zhou Enlai in Delhi, the Dalai Lama expressed his deep
concern at the explosive situation in his homeland and admitted he
was contemplating seeking political asylum in India. Nehru advised
the Dalai Lama against it. To induce the Dalai Lama to return home,
the Chinese Government promptly announced that the socialist and
democratic reforms would be postponed in Tibet for the time being.
It was also agreed that a number of Chinese civil personnel would
be withdrawn, and the PCART's departments would be reduced by half.
This turned out to be a false promise.

In the years that followed, the Chinese intensified socialist
campaigns and purges against Tibetans and sent considerable army
reinforcements to Tibet, thus more than offsetting the earlier
modest reduction of Chinese cadres. 

National Uprising and flight of the Dalai Lama

The inevitable showdown occurred in March 1959. There was general
fear that the Chinese were planning to abduct the Dalai Lama and
take him away to Beijing. The Tibetan people already had bitter
experiences in Kham and Amdo, where important lamas and local
leaders disappeared mysteriously after being invited to Chinese
cultural shows and other functions. Fears for the safety of the
Dalai Lama became acute when the Chinese Army Command invited the
Tibetan leader to a theatrical show in the military barracks on 10
March. Tibetans became even more suspicious when the Chinese
instructed that the Dalai Lama be not accompanied by bodyguards as
was the tradition. The people in Lhasa would not allow the Dalai
Lama to give in to the Chinese subterfuge.

 On 10 March 1959, a massive demonstration was held and thousands
of people surrounded the Dalai Lama's Summer Palace, the
Norbulingkha, to prevent the Dalai Lama from attending the Chinese
show. For the next few days, mass meetings were held in Lhasa with
the citizens demanding that the Chinese quit Tibet and restore the
country's full independence.

The Dalai Lama, fearing the explosive consequences of these mass
demonstrations, urged the large crowd before the Norbulingkha to
disperse and wrote three letters to the principal Chinese General,
Tian Guan-san, in an effort to placate the Chinese and stave off
impending violence. Explaining the circumstances in which he wrote
these letters,  the Dalai  Lama  says in his autobiography: 

     I replied to all his letters to gain time  time for
     anger to cool on both sides and time for me to urge
     moderation of   the Lhasa people... my most urgent moral
     duty at that moment was to prevent a totally disastrous
     clash between my unarmed       people and the Chinese
     army. [Dalai Lama, Ibid, p.187]

But, despite the Dalai Lama's efforts, open fighting broke out in
Lhasa soon afterwards, with disastrous consequences to the

Seeing that all efforts to prevent open confrontation and bloodshed
had ultimately failed, and that cooperation with the Chinese
authorities to minimise their oppression was no longer possible,
the Dalai Lama decided to escape to India to appeal for
international help to save his people. He left Lhasa on the night
of 17 March. 

On 28 March 1959, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issued an Order of
State Council dissolving the Government of Tibet.  The Dalai Lama
and his ministers, while still en route to India, reacted promptly
by declaring that the new administration installed in Lhasa, which
was totally controlled by the Chinese, would never be recognised by
the people of Tibet. Upon his arrival in India, the Dalai Lama
re-established the Tibetan Government in exile and publicly
declared, Wherever I am, accompanied by my government, the Tibetan
people recognise us as the Government of Tibet. 

Within months, around 80,000 Tibetans reached the borders of India,
Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim after arduous escapes. Many more could not
even make it to the border.

China's White Paper tries to portray these events as the work of a
handful of Tibetan reactionaries who, with the help of the CIA,
created an armed rebellion which was resolutely opposed by the
masses. The Dalai Lama was carried away under duress to India,
the White Paper states. The resistance, they claim, amounted to no
more than 7,000 rebels, and was put down easily in two days. 

This view is hardly credible and has been contradicted even by the
Chinese authorities themselves. Chinese army intelligence reports
admit that the PLA killed 87,000 members of the Tibetan resistance
in Lhasa and surrounding areas between March and October 1959
alone. [Xizang Xingshi he Renwu Jiaoyu de Jiben Jiaocai, PLA
Military District's Political Report, 1960]  The CIA's half-hearted
assistance to the Tibetan resistance started in earnest only after
the uprising, and, though welcomed by Tibetans, amounted to little.
All the evidence shows that the uprising was massive, popular and
widespread. The brutal repression which followed in all regions of
Tibet only confirms this.

   Chapter 4. Traditional society and democratic framework for
future                        Tibet


China has always justified its policy in Tibet by painting the
darkest picture of traditional Tibetan society. The military
invasion and occupation has been termed a liberation by China of
Tibetan society from medieval feudal serfdom and slavery.
Today, this myth is repeatedly rehashed to justify China's own
violations of human and political rights in Tibet, and to counter
all international pressure on Beijing to review its repressive
policies in occupied Tibet. 

Traditional Tibetan society was, by no means, perfect and was in
need of changes. The Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders have
admitted as much. That is the reason why the Dalai Lama initiated
far-reaching reforms in Tibet as soon as he assumed temporal
authority. The traditional Tibetan society, however, was not nearly
as bad as China would have us believe. 

Whatever the case may be, for several reasons the Chinese
justifications make no sense. First of all, international law does
not accept justifications of this type. No country is allowed to
invade, occupy, annex and colonize another country just because its
social structure does not please it. Secondly, the PRC is
responsible for bringing more suffering in the name of liberation.
Thirdly, necessary reforms were initiated and Tibetans are quite
capable of doing so. 

In its 1960 report on Tibet, the International Commission of
Jurists stated that:
     Chinese allegations that the Tibetans enjoyed no human
     rights before the entry of the Chinese were found to be
     based on distorted and exaggerated accounts of life in
     Tibet. Accusations against the Tibetan rebels of rape,
     plunder and torture were found to have been deliberately
     fabricated and in other cases unworthy of belief for this
     and other reasons.

Traditional Society

In terms of social mobility and wealth distribution, independent
Tibet compared favourably with most Asian countries. The Dalai
Lama, head of both the spiritual and secular administration, was
found through a system of reincarnation that ensured that the rule
of Tibet did not become hereditary. Most of the Dalai Lamas,
including the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth, came from common,
peasant families in remote parts of Tibet. 

Every administrative post below the Dalai Lama was held by an equal
number of monk and lay officials. Although lay officials
hereditarily held posts (however, the posts themselves were not
hereditary), those of monks were open to all. A large proportion of
monk officials came from non-privileged backgrounds. Tibet's
monastic system provided unrestrained opportunities for social
mobility. Admission to monastic institutions in Tibet was open to
all and the large majority of monks, particularly those who rose
through its ranks to the highest positions, came from humble
backgrounds, often from far-flung villages in Kham and Amdo. This
is because the monasteries offered equal opportunities to all to
rise to any height through their own scholarship. A popular Tibetan
aphorism says: If the mother's son has the knowledge, the golden
throne of Gaden (the highest position in the hierarchy of the Gelug
School of Tibetan Buddhism) has no ownership.

The peasants, whom the Chinese White Paper insists on calling
serfs, had a legal identity, often with documents stating their
rights, and also had access to courts of law. Peasants had the
right to sue their masters and carry their case in appeal to higher

Ms Dhondup Chodon comes from a family that was among the poorest
social strata in independent Tibet. Reminiscing her life before the
Chinese occupation in her book, Life in the Red Flag People's
Commune, she said:

     I belong to what the Chinese now term as serfs of Tibet.
     ... There were six of us in the family. ... My home was
     a double-storeyed building with a walled compound. On the
     ground floor we used to keep our animals. We had four
     yaks, 27 sheep and goats, two donkeys and a land-holding
     of four and a half khel (0.37 hectares). ... We never had
     any difficulty earning our livelihood. There was not a
     single beggar in our area.

Throughout Tibetan history, the maltreatment and suppression of
peasants by estate-holders was forbidden by law as well as by
social convention. From the time of the seventh-century Tibetan
Emperor Songtsen Gampo, many Tibetan rulers issued codes based on
the Buddhist principle of Ten Virtues of the Dharma. The essence
of this was that the rulers should act as parents to their
subjects. In 1909, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama issued a regulation
conferring on all peasants the right to appeal directly to him in
case of mistreatment by estate holders. As a matter of fact,
Tibetan society frowns upon unkind acts. The Tibetan Buddhist
belief in compassion acts as a check on uncharitable deeds  not
only against fellow human beings, but even against animals.

Capital punishment was banned in Tibet, and physical mutilation was
a punishment that could be inflicted by the Central government in
Lhasa alone. In 1898, Tibet enacted a law abolishing such forms of
punishment, except in cases of high treason or conspiracy against
the state. 

All land belonged to the state which granted estates, to
monasteries and to individuals who had rendered service to the
state. The state, in turn, received revenues and service from
estate holders. Lay estate holders either paid land revenues or
provided one male member in each generation to work as a government
official. Monasteries performed religious functions for the state
and, most vitally, served as schools, universities and centres for
Tibetan art, craft, medicine and culture. The role of monasteries
as highly disciplined centres of Tibetan education was the key to
the traditional Tibetan way of life. Monasteries bore all expenses
for their students and provided them with free board and lodging.
Some monasteries had large estates, some had endowments which they
invested. But other monasteries had neither of these. They received
personal gifts and donations from devotees and patrons. The revenue
from these sources were often insufficient to provide the basic
needs of large monk populations in some monasteries. To supplement
their income, some monasteries engaged in trade and acted as money

The largest proportion of land in old Tibet was held by peasants
who paid their revenue directly to the state, and this became the
main source of the government food stocks which were distributed to
monasteries, the army, and officials without estates. Some paid in
labour, and some were required to provide transport service to
government officials, and in some cases to monasteries. Land held
by the peasant was heritable. He could lease it to others or
mortgage it. He could be dispossessed of his land only if he failed
to pay the dues of produce or labour, which were not excessive. In
practice, he had the rights of a free-holder, and dues to the state
were a form of land tax paid in kind rather than rent.

A small section of the Tibetan population, mostly in U-Tsang
province, were tenants. They held their lands on the estates of
aristocrats and monasteries, and paid rent to the estate-holders
either in kind or they sent one member of the family to work as a
domestic servant or an agricultural labourer.  Some of these tenant
farmers rose to the powerful position of estate secretary. (For
this, they were labelled by the Chinese as agents of feudal
lords.) Other members of these families had complete freedom. They
were entitled to engage in any business, follow any profession,
join any monastery or work on their own lands. Although they were
known as tenants, they could not be evicted from their lands at the
whim of estate holders. Some of the tenants were quite wealthy.

The present Fourteenth Dalai Lama attempted to introduce far-
reaching administrative and land reforms. He proposed that all
large estate holdings of monasteries and individuals be acquired by
the state for distribution amongst peasants. He created a special
reform committee which reduced land tax on peasants. The reform
committee was authorised to hear and redress complaints by
individuals against the district or local authorities. He approved
the proposal for debt exemption submitted by this committee.
Peasant debtors were categorised into three groups: those who could
not pay either their accumulated interest or repay capital were
freed from debt altogether; those who could not pay the interest
out of their annual earnings, but had saved up enough to repay the
capital, were ordered to make repayments in instalments and those
who had become wealthy over the course of years were made to pay
both capital and interest in instalments. The Dalai Lama ordered
that in future no transport service should be demanded without the
special sanction of the government. He also increased the rates to
be paid for transport service.

Famine and starvation were unheard of in independent Tibet. There
were, of course, years of poor harvest and crop failures. But
people could easily borrow from the buffer stock held by the
district administrations, monasteries, aristocrats and rich
farmers. From 1950 onwards, the Chinese military and civilian
personnel were fed on the state buffer stocks and forced the
Tibetan populace to sell their personal holding of grains to them
for nominal prices. Liberation was, in reality, the right to
equal poverty for all. Palden Gyatso, a 61-year-old monk who
escaped from Tibet in 1992 after serving 33 years in Chinese jails
and labour camps, puts it succinctly: The Chinese definitely
succeeded in making the rich poor. But they did not help the poor.
The poor became poorer and we were reduced to a nation of tsampa

In his book, Tibet and its History, Hugh Richardson wrote: Even
communist writers have had to admit there was no great difference
between rich and poor in (pre-1949) Tibet.  In fact, when Hu
Yaobang saw the extent of the poverty in Central Tibet in 1980, he
stated that the living standard should be brought up at least to
the pre-1959 level.

Democratic reforms

In 1959, the Dalai Lama re-established his Government in India,
soon after his flight from Tibet, and a series of democratic
changes were initiated. A popularly elected body of people's
representatives, parliament-in-exile, was constituted. In 1961 the
Dalai Lama prepared a draft constitution for future Tibet and
sought the opinion of Tibetans on this matter.

In 1963, a detailed draft constitution for a future Tibet was
promulgated. Despite strong opposition, the Dalai Lama insisted on
the inclusion of a clause which stated that the executive powers of
the Dalai Lama shall be exercised by the Council of Regents when
the National Assembly, by majority of two-thirds of its total
members in consultation with the Supreme Court, decides that this
is in the highest interests of the State.

On 10 March 1969, the Dalai Lama announced that on the day Tibet
regained its independence the Tibetan people must decide for
themselves as to what kind of system of government they wanted.
In 1990, further changes were introduced by increasing the strength
of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (ATPD) from 12 to 46.
It was given more constitutional powers such as the election of the
kalons (ministers), who were previously appointed directly by the
Dalai Lama. The Supreme Justice Commission was set up to look into
people's grievances against the Administration.

In January 1992, the Dalai Lama announced the Guidelines for future
Tibet's Polity and the Basic Features of its Constitution, wherein
he stated that he would not play any role in the future government
of Tibet, let alone seek the Dalai Lama's traditional political
position. The future government of Tibet, the Dalai Lama said,
would be elected by the people on the basis of adult franchise. The
Dalai Lama also announced that during the transition period,
between withdrawal of the repressive Chinese troops from Tibet and
the final promulgation of the Constitution, the administrative
responsibilities of the state will be entrusted to the Tibetan
functionaries presently working in Tibet. During this transitional
period, an interim president will be appointed to whom the Dalai
Lama will delegate all his political powers and responsibilities.
The Tibetan Government-in- Exile will ipso facto cease to exist. 
The guidelines for Tibet's future polity also stated:             
     Future Tibet shall be a peace-loving nation, adhering to
     the principle of ahimsa (non-violence). It shall have a
     democratic system of government committed to preserving
     a clean, healthy and beautiful environment. Tibet shall
     be a completely demilitarised nation.

The Tibetan struggle is, thus, not for the resurrection of the
traditional system as the Chinese claim. The continuous Chinese
attempts at personalising the Tibetan issue to hinge upon the Dalai
Lama's own status is a subterfuge to mask the main issue of the
Tibetan national struggle.

Chapter 5.                Human rights


Over 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of the
Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Today, it is hard to come
across a Tibetan family that has not had at least one member
imprisoned or killed by the Chinese regime. According to Jigme
Ngabo, after the suppressions of 1959 and 1969, almost every
family in Tibet has been affected in some way. These facts speak
volumes about the democratic reform China claims to have brought
to the dark, feudal exploitative society of Tibet. 

Independent Tibet was certainly not an embodiment of perfect human
society. But it was, by no means, nearly as tyrannical as it is
today under Chinese rule. Its two biggest prisons, located in
Lhasa, had, at any one time, no more than 30 inmates each. But,
following Chinese invasion the whole of Tibet has been turned into
a vast network of prisons and labour camps.  There are reports that
China even resorted to massacre of prisoners to keep the prison
population within manageable limits. 

However, China continues to claim that since its liberation, the
people of Tibet have enjoyed wide measures of liberty and freedom.
Let us examine the facts.

1949-1979:  Killings and destructions 

According to one Chinese source, the PLA exterminated more than
5,700 Tibetan soldiers, and imprisoned more than 2,000 in
different areas of eastern Tibet between 7 and 25 October, 1950. [A
Survey of Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibet People's Publishing House,

Accounts of massacres, tortures and killings, bombardment of
monasteries, extermination of whole nomad camps are well
documented. Quite a number of these reports have been also
documented by the International Commission of Jurists' 1960 report
on Tibet.

According to a secret Chinese military document, the PLA crushed
996 rebellions in Kanlho, Amdo, over the period 1952-58, killing
over 10,000 Tibetans. [Work Report of the 11th PLA Division,
1952-1958]  Similarly, the population of another Amdo area of Golok
had its population reduced from about 130,000 in 1956 to about
60,000 in 1963.[China Spring, June 1986]  Speaking about the same
area, the Panchen Lama said: 
     If there was a film made on all the atrocities
     perpetrated in Qinghai Province, it would shock the
     viewers. In Golok area, many people were killed and their
     dead bodies rolled down the hill into a big ditch. The
     soldiers told the family members and  relatives of the
     dead people that they should celebrate since the rebels
     have been wiped out. They were even forced to dance on
     the dead bodies. Soon after, they were also massacred
     with machine guns. [Speech by the Panchen Lama at a
     meeting of the Sub-Committee of the National People's
     Congress in Peking on situation in Tibet, 28 March 1987] 
The Panchen Lama specifically pointed out: 

     In Amdo and Kham, people were subjected to unspeakable
     atrocities. People were shot in groups of ten or twenty.
     ...  Such actions have left deep wounds in the minds of
     the people.

In a crackdown operation launched in the wake of the National
Uprising of 10 March 1959 in Lhasa, 10,000 to 15,000 Tibetans were
killed within three days. According to a secret 1960 PLA Tibet
Military District Political Department report, between March 1959
and October 1960, 87,000 Tibetans were killed in Central Tibet
alone. [Xizang Xingshi he Renwu Jiaoyu de Jiben Jiaocai, 1960]
According to information compiled by the Tibetan Administration in
exile, over 1.2 million Tibetans died between 1949 and 1979.  

prison93,56064,87714,784173,221Executed28,26732,26696,225156,758Killed in
Fighting143,253240,41049,042432,705Starved to
"Struggled" to death27,95148,84015,94092,731Total:-427,478480,261299,6481,207,3
Deaths in prisons and labour and concentration camps

Compilation of figures based on testimonies of survivors of prisons
and labour camps show that throughout Tibet about 70 per cent of
the inmates died.  For example, in the wilderness of the northern
Tibetan plains at Jhang Tsalakha more than 10,000 prisoners were
kept in five prisons and forced to mine and transport borax.
According to some of the survivors of these camps, every day 10 to
30 died from hunger, beating and overwork; in a year more than
8,000 had died. Likewise, in the construction of Lhasa Ngachen
Hydro-electric Power Station, now falsely claimed to have been
built by the PLA, everyday at least three or four dead prisoners
were seen being thrown into the nearby river or burnt. To cite an
example from eastern Tibet, from 1960 to 1962, 12,019 inmates died
at a lead mine in Dartsedo district, according to a former inmate,
Mrs. Adhi Tap from Nyarong, Kham.

Human rights in Tibet today

The death of Mao Zedong in September 1976 resulted in a change in
Chinese policies. The signal tune of that change was economic
liberalisation and openness, and even some degree of leniency on
political prisoners.

But liberalisation and openness, as it turned out, did not signal
a change of attitude towards political freedom in Tibet. In May
1982, 115 Tibetan political activists were arrested and branded as
delinquents and black marketeers.  More arrests and public
executions followed. By the end of November 1983, 750 Tibetan
political activists had been jailed in Lhasa alone.

On 27 September 1987, more than 200 Tibetans staged a demonstration
in Lhasa. In the clamp down which followed on successive
demonstrations  including the ones on 1 October 1987 and 5 March
1988  Chinese police opened fire, killing and critically wounding
many on the spot and imprisoning at least 2,500.

In July 1988, China's security chief, Qiao Shi, while on a tour of
the TAR announced merciless repression of all forms of protest
against Chinese rule in Tibet. [UPI, 20 July 1988]
The policy was implemented at once. The crackdown on the 10
December 1988 demonstration at Jokhang, the most sacred Tibetan
shrine in Lhasa,  was witnessed by a Dutch tourist, Christa
Meindersma (26 at the time), who recalled: ... without any
warning, the police opened fire, shooting quite indiscriminately
into the crowd. They didn't seem to mind who they hit. ... as I
turned to run I was shot in the shoulder. According to a western
journalist who happened to be there, at least one officer was heard
ordering his men to kill the Tibetans. The toll on that day was
at least 15 killed, over 150 seriously wounded, and many others

However, for three days from 5 March 1989 Lhasa was, once again, in
turmoil, with demonstrators waving the Tibetan flag and shouting
for independence. During the police crackdown, automatic weapons
were fired even into some homes. Estimates of deaths varied from 80
to 400. The  official Chinese figure was only 11. According to Tang
Da-xian, a Chinese journalist who was in Lhasa at the time, some
four hundred Tibetans were massacred, several thousand were injured
and three thousand were imprisoned. [Events in Lhasa March 2nd-10th
1989, Tang Daxian, London, TIN, 15 June 1990]  At midnight on 7
March 1989, martial law was formally imposed in Lhasa.

About a year later, on 1 May 1990, China announced the lifting of
martial law. 1990. However, as pointed out by the first Australian
Human Rights Delegation to China, which was permitted to visit
Tibet in July 1991:  Though martial law had indeed been lifted on
1 May 1990, it continues to exist in all but name. Amnesty
International (AI), in its 1991 report, also confirmed this,
adding, the police and security forces retained extensive powers
of arbitrary arrest and detention without trial.

In the run up to China's celebration of the 40th anniversary of its
annexation of Tibet, 146 criminals were arrested on 10 April
1991, and this was followed by more arrests announced at public
sentencing rallies. On the day of the celebration the whole of
Lhasa was put under curfew.

In a sudden clampdown, starting in February 1992, groups of ten
Chinese personnel raided Tibetan houses in Lhasa and arrested
anyone found in possession of anything deemed subversive; these
included photographs, and tapes or books containing speeches or
teachings of the Dalai Lama. Over 200 were arrested.
Despite all measures of repression, demonstrations continued
throughout Tibet after 1987. Available reports confirm that between 
27 September 1987 and end of 1992, there had been more than 150
demonstrations of various sizes throughout Tibet.

Violation of human rights of concern to Amnesty International in
Tibet include the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience and of
other political prisoners after unfair trials, torture and ill-
treatment of detainees, the use of the death penalty and extra
judicial executions. Constitutional and legal provisions in Tibet
restrict the exercise of basic freedoms and lack human rights
safeguards consistent with international standards. [People's
Republic of China: Amnesty International's Concerns in Tibet, AI,
London, January 1992, ASA 17/02/92, summary page]

All such manifestations (i.e., demonstrations and political
dissent) of dissatisfaction with Chinese rule  whether peacefully
conducted or otherwise  are viewed by the authorities as
constituting `illegal separatist activity', and those who have led
or participated in them have been punished with escalating force
and severity. `Merciless repression' remains, in Tibet, the order
of the day. [Merciless Repression:  Human Rights in Tibet, Asia
Watch,  Washington, DC]

Human rights violation in Tibet is all pervasive. Available
evidences suggest that China violates with impunity every norm of
civilised conduct as laid down in international law books, many of
which it has undertaken to observe by affirmative acts of
ratification, such as the UN Convention Against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention
Against Torture), and customary laws of nations such as the UN
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). 

Arbitrary  arrests,   incommunicado  detentions,   disappearances 
 and  summary  executions

Evidences of arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention often
resulting in disappearances, and summary executions, are cited in
the 1990 report of AI which pointed out that over 1,000 people,
including prisoners of conscience, were arrested after martial law
was imposed in Lhasa in March and that some of them were
summarily executed.  It also pointed out that evidences of
persistent human rights violations in Tibet continued to come to
light in 1989, including reports of numerous arbitrary arrests,
long-term detention without charge or trial, and torture.

Under Chinese rule in Tibet, there is no question of informing
prisoners of the grounds for their arrest and their right to legal
remedies. Arrest warrants are rarely issued or produced.

Grounds for arrest and imprisonment seem to be found in any kind of
activity: Tibetans have been arrested for speaking with foreigners,
or singing patriotic songs, or putting up wall posters, or
possessing copies of an autobiography of the Dalai Lama or some
video or audio cassette on him, or for preparing a list of
casualties during Chinese crackdown on demonstrations, or for
plotting and advising friends to wear the traditional Tibetan
costume on Chinese national day.

Incommunicado detention is almost routine. Often it is left to the
device of the relatives of the arrested person to locate him or
her. [Defying the Dragon: China and Human Rights in Tibet, LAWASIA
and TIN, London, March 1991, p. 33]

A person taken into custody is declared arrested only after a
period ranging from several days to months, or even years. During
the period of the initial detention there is no question of
informing the family since he is legally not arrested.


In Tibet, torture is the only known and expected method of
interrogating prisoners. China's signing of the Convention Against
Torture on 12 December 1986, and its supposed coming into force at
the end of 1988, did not alter the trend.

Methods and instruments of torture and ill-treatment have been
described by a number of former prisoners who had been subjected to
them. These include indiscriminate beating with anything available
on hand such as electric batons, kicking, punching, hitting with
rifle-butt, stick, and even iron bar. In prison, cruel and
degrading methods of torture for the purpose of extracting
confessions have been reported. These include setting of guard dogs
on prisoners, use of electric batons especially on women prisoners
in extremely perverted and degrading manners, inflicting cigarette
burns, administration of electric shock, etc. One recent refugee
from eastern Tibet, who was a member of the Chinese Public Security
Bureau, described thirty-three methods of torture of prisoners. New
methods of torture are being constantly devised and this has been
acknowledged in at least one internal party document in Tibet. [To
Control Others, First Control Yourself, H'o Phan in TAR Internal
Party Study Document, in Tibetan, issue No. 2, September 1989, p.
21 ff.]

Lack of due process

In the Chinese legal system the most basic safeguard  the right to
be presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt  
does not exist. 

Sentences imposed on political prisoners are often atrociously high
in comparison to the degree of the alleged offence. Prisoners are
often detained for an extended period without charges and are
seldom brought before a court of law. 

Administrative detention is imposed by police or local authorities
without supervision by an independent judiciary. The police have
wide powers to impose periods of administrative detention varying
from a few days to several years without any judicial review.
Though China's Administrative Procedure Act provides for a right to
appeal, it is made practically impossible to use it.

There is no right to have adequate time and facilities to prepare
a defence, or the right to be tried in an open court. Defence
argument, when permitted, is restricted to appeal for mitigation of
punishment, not for pleading innocence. The role of the judges are
restricted to passing sentences determined by the political
authorities. It is not surprising, therefore, that Tibetans refer
to the judges only as sentencing officers.

Freedom of movement

In flagrant violation of Article 13 of UDHR, China has imposed a
series of rules restricting free movement of Tibetans within their
own country. People have to be registered at a particular place
where alone they are entitled to reside and buy food ration. Going
from one place to another for any purpose, even for a short
duration, requires official permission. There had been many
occasions when Tibetans have been expelled from Lhasa to their
native villages. It occurred when China was preparing to celebrate
the 40th anniversary of annexation of Tibet on 23 May 1991.
Following the crackdown on the demonstrations of 5-7 March 1989,
40,000 Tibetans were expelled from Lhasa to their native villages.
In August 1992, the Chinese authorities expelled around 6,000
Tibetans, homeless as well as pilgrims, from the ground behind
eastern Lhasa's hospital. The ground is now occupied by Chinese
office buildings and shops.

International attention on human rights violations

China claims that its PLA entered Tibet to liberate it stands
starkly exposed by the 1960 report of the International Commission
of Jurists on Tibet. The report states that China committed
systematic violations of human rights in Tibet, including acts of
genocide [see 1960 ICJ Report]. Three UN Resolutions in 1959 [UNGA
Res. 1353 (XIV)], 1961 [UNGA Res. 1723 (XVI)] and 1965 [UNGA Res.
2079 (XX)], calling on China to respect the human rights of
Tibetans, including their right to self-determination, reinforced
the findings of the Commission.

Government and parliamentary supports

More recently, a number of countries passed parliamentary
resolutions on Tibet calling on the Chinese Government to respect
the human rights of the Tibetan people. Among them are the European
Parliament (14 October 1987, 15 March 1989 and 25-26 April 1990),
West Germany (15 October 1987), Italy (12 April 1989), Australia (6
December 1990), 6 June 1991), etc. The United States' Senate and
the House of Representatives together passed more than 10
resolutions calling on China to respect the political and human
rights of the Tibetan people. On 28 October 1991, the US President,
George Bush, signed into law a Congressional Resolution declaring
Tibet an Occupied country under established principles of
international law, whose true representatives were the Dalai Lama
and the Tibetan Government as recognized by the Tibetan people.
Similarly, many Governments expressed their concern directly to the
Chinese Government.

Concerns at the situation in occupied-Tibet was also raised by
parliamentarian support groups of various countries, such as India
(27 April 1989), Austria (24 May 1989), Australia (9 March 1989),
Switzerland (16 March 1989), etc.

Tibet at the UNO in recent years

In 1985 the human rights situation in Tibet was, once again,
discussed at the United Nations. Various non-governmental
organisations called on the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR)
to address the human rights situation in Tibet. Since then, Tibet
figured prominently at various human rights fora of the UNO and at
almost all the succeeding sessions of the UNCHR and its

At the 46 sessions of the UNCHR in February 1990, Governments,
including those of the EC, the US, Canada, Sweden and Australia
addressed the issue of Tibet. Statements on discrimination,
self-determination and on martial law by NGOs were also published
by the UN.

Various other committees and organs of the UNO and sub-committees
held detailed hearings on the human rights situations in Tibet and
evasive Chinese responses were consistently criticised. These
included the fourth session of the Committe Against Torture in
April 1990 and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination. 

On 23 August 1991, the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities passed the Situation
in Tibet Resolution (1991/10), expressing concern at continuing
reports of violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms
which threatened the distinct cultural, religious and national
identity of the Tibetan people.
Ironically this seems to confirm Mao's dictum that a just cause
always receives many supporters.

Myth of Tibetan self-rule

In its White Paper, China claims that under the democratic reform
in 1959" it introduced the new political system of people's
democracy"; and that the Tibetan people have become masters of the
country. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though the TAR
is claimed to be autonomous, Tibetans have little or no say in
running their own affairs. Final decision-making power has always
been held by the Chinese Communist Party through its TAR Regional
Party's First Secretary who has always been a Chinese: In 1959, it
was Zhang Guhua; he was followed successively by Tseng Yun Ya, Ren
Rong, Yin Fatang, Wu Jinhua, Hu Jintao and Chen Kuiyuan.

Even the highest Tibetan officials, like Ngapo Ngawang Jigme,
cannot make any decisions without consent of their Chinese
subordinates. They are not even allowed to stay in Tibet: visits
are made only to fulfil Chinese Government needs and purposes. Such
restrictions were especially applied to the movement of the late
Panchen Lama.

At all so-called democratic meetings, pre-determined proposals of
the concerned Chinese Communist Party body are tabled only to be
praised and approved by show of hands. Making criticisms,
amendments or alternative suggestions are impermissible
profanities. The pre-determined outcome of such a meeting is then
declared to be democratic decision of the people.

Whatever may be the position a Tibetan occupies in the Chinese
hierarchy in Tibet, he always has a junior Chinese official
under him who exercises the real power. In most important
offices, such as the so called TAR Economic Planning Department
and the Personnel Department, Chinese officials and clerical staff
far outnumber Tibetans.

As regards the so-called elected deputies of the people, all
candidates are pre-determined by the concerned Chinese leaders.
After the voting the winners are again chosen by the same
authorities who had selected the candidates.

And the population of about a half of Tibet, merged into
neighbouring Chinese provinces, have been completely deprived of
their political identity and rendered an insignificant minority of
electorates in their own land.

Chapter 6. Socio-economic  conditions  and colonialism


The price Tibet paid for this development was higher than the
gains. This was the Panchen Lama's last verdict on three decades
of Chinese rule in Tibet. 

Year after year, the Chinese Government claims great economic
advancement in Tibet: bumper crops, industrial growth, improvement
of infrastructure and so forth.  These claims were made even when
Tibet was suffering its only famines in the nation's recorded
history (1961-1964, and 1968-1973). Later, the Chinese Government
admitted the disastrous effects of certain economic and social
policies forced upon the Tibetan people. Given China's record in
Tibet, two things must be borne in mind when assessing social and
economic developments in Tibet: the first is that the Chinese
Government claims cannot be taken at face value. Even official
statistics appear to be drawn up to prove a particular political
point rather than to present an objective picture of the situation.
Secondly, evidence shows that it is not the Tibetans who benefit
from the economic development of Tibet.  The primary beneficiaries
of China's new open economic policy are the Chinese settlers in
Tibet, their Government and military, and their business

One Chinese leader who had the honesty and courage to admit the
failure of Chinese policies to bring improvement in life of
Tibetans was Hu Yaobang, former  Communist Party Secretary. During
his visit to Tibet in June 1980, Hu publicly acknowledged that
Tibetans had not benefited from the much-vaunted Chinese
assistance. He visited Tibetan families in several communes,
including one called Anti-Imperialist Commune. Disgusted by the
abject poverty of Tibetans, he called a meeting of top
functionaries of the TAR and demanded to know if all the
financial assistance earmarked for Tibet had been thrown into the
Yarlung river. He complained that, contrary to Chinese propaganda
claims, living standards of Tibetans had gone down since 1959, and
that the large Chinese presence in Tibet, particularly of
government cadres was an obstacle to development. 

He immediately announced that steps should be taken to raise the
standard of living to pre-1959 levels in three years, and withdraw
85 percent of Chinese cadres. The TAR Party Secretary, Yin
Fatang, summed up Hu's impressions of Tibet as a region steeped in
poverty and backwardness (Red Flag, No. 8, 1983). The hiatus
between China's claim and the true condition in Tibet is easier to
understand if one realises that Chinese rule in Tibet is
essentially colonialist in nature. In colonial times, it was quite
common for the colonial power to be making lofty claims about the
economic and social progress it brought to the backward colonies.
In many cases it was true that economic development did occur, but
the native population contributed more to the realisation of
profits for the colonial power and its business entrepreneurs than
it ever got in return.  In fact, one of the characteristics of
colonialism is the exploitation of the colony for the primary
benefit of the colonial power.  That, today, is also the case in

Socio-economic reform from 1949 onwards

Soon after the invasion of Tibet, China imposed far-reaching
collectivisation programmes. Nomads, like farmers, had all their
herds confiscated and themselves divided into brigades and
communes. The nomads tended their herds with no right to the
product of their labour; the same case applied to farmers. They
survived each year on an average diet of 5 or 6 pounds of butter,
10 pounds of meat and 4 or 5 khel (a khel is between 25 - 30
pounds) of tsampa. In the periods 1961-1964 and 1968-1973, famines
became widespread in Tibet's pastoral areas. Thousands upon
thousands of Tibetans had to survive on rodents, dogs, worms and
whatever they could forage for living.  In 1979 the new Chinese
leadership set in motion a policy of liberalisation. This brought
in its wake a programme of decollectivisation which has improved
the conditions in Tibet to some extend.

However, things are far from satisfactory even today. With an
estimated per capita income of $80 in 1990, an adult literacy rate
of 21.7 per cent and an average life expectancy of 40 years, TAR
scores just 0.087 on the UNDP's Human Development Index for 1991.
This would theoretically place it between Chad and Djibouti at
position 153 out of the world's 160 nations. 

The Chinese authorities also recognise these facts. Speaking in
Beijing at the third meeting of the 7th Session of the Chinese
National People's Congress in March 1990, the Chairman of the TAR
People's Government, Dorje Tsering, said that Tibet (Autonomous
Region) was still a very poor region with a per capita income of
only about 200 yuan. An increase in the number of beggars is a
stark reminder of economic problems faced by Tibetans. On the
fifteenth day of the Sakadawa (Fourth month of the Tibetan
calendar) in 1992, when the father of Ms. Drokyi from Sok Dzong
gave alms of 5 fen (100 fen = one yuan) to each beggar in Lhasa
town, he handed out 500 yuan without covering half the number of

In its White Paper, China again claims that its rule has brought
great prosperity, and vast social, political and cultural benefits
to the Tibetan people. It complains that its civilising mission
in Tibet is costing the Government and people of China large
amounts in terms of subsidies to an under- developed region.
According to official Chinese statistics, the level of annual
subsidies to the TAR in the late 1980s was around one billion
yuan or US $270 million. What the Chinese Government would not say
is that it has earned more from Tibet than it has given. In
monetary terms, the volume of Tibetan timbers taken to China far
exceeds the amount of financial assistance it claims to have given.
This, of course, does not take into account the vast mineral
resources such as uranium, gold, silver, iron, copper, borax,
lithium, chromite, etc, as well as priceless art treasures, carted
away to China. 

In any case, the bulk of China's financial subsidies goes towards
maintenance of Chinese personnel in Tibet. It also serves as
incentives for Chinese settlers. The Tibetans benefit very little
from it. This becomes clear when one studies the deep urban-rural
divide in subsidies. During the late 1970s and early 1980s an
average subsidy of $128 was spent on every town-dweller, and only
$4.50 on each rural inhabitant. The urban areas of the TAR are
dominated by Chinese settlers and personnel, who form overwhelming
majorities in major towns like Lhasa, Nyingtri, Gyangtse,
Nagchukha, Ngari, Shigatse, Tsethang, Chamdo, etc. The Tibetan
population, on the other hand, is concentrated mainly in rural
areas. Therefore, in the ultimate analysis, the vast bulk of
China's subsidies is meant to support the majority urban-living
Chinese population and their associated infrastructures.
Even the items subsidised are those that are consumed by the
Chinese rather than Tibetans. The staple diet of Tibetans is barley
(for tsampa), though urban or richer families add wheat and
sometimes rice to their diet. However, it is only the price of rice
and wheat which is subsidised. These form the stable diet of the
majority Chinese settlers. By 1985, the price of barley was left to
market forces and was 76 fen a kg. Rice, on the other hand, was
sold at 40 fen a kg after being bought by the Government at 90 fen
a kg; wheat sold at 44 to 48 fen a kg after being bought at 112 to
126 fen a kg (UNDP 1986). This pattern of subsidy makes living in
the TAR more attractive to Chinese settlers while at the same
time making it harder for poorer Tibetans to survive in the way to
which they were once accustomed.

Timber and mining industries are other areas that not only receive
large chunks of China's financial assistance, but are also among
the most important employers of Chinese immigrants in Tibet. The
products of these industries are carted away to China.

Tibetans, on the other hand, are marginalised and have little
control over their own natural resource base. Take the case of road
construction. The primary objective of constructing roads in Tibet
is to deploy occupying forces like the PLA, along with defence
materials, and immigration of Chinese, as well as to exploit the
natural resources of Tibet like forests and minerals, which are
transported primarily to China. Roads may run through most Tibetan
villages, but a public transport system is almost non-existent in
the majority of rural Tibet. The Chinese modern means of transport
do not benefit the majority of Tibetans. In some villages, buses do
carry people once a week. But the passengers are all cadres.
Tibetans in most places continue to use horses, mules, yaks,
donkeys and sheep as modes of transportation. Trucks, plying goods
for the Chinese Government, have become a necessary means of
mobility for many Tibetans.

Therefore, the Chinese pattern of development in Tibet is intended
to control the Tibetan economy rather than stimulate initiative,
enterprise and production. It works by creating a vicious circle in
which local demand for goods is served by state-owned enterprises
in China.  Profits from these enterprises are then ploughed back as
subsidies, serving to create conditions for the further extraction
of natural resources needed by China's own enterprises. In the
light of these experiences, we cannot but view the recent opening
of Tibet's economy to foreign investment as a move to accelerate
the transfer of Chinese population and exploitation of Tibet's
natural resources for the benefit of the colonial power.  

In any case  in the ultimate analysis  the moot point is not who
is able to build more factories or effect higher GNP. However
efficient or modern, no foreign power has the right to impose its

Health discrimination

The health service is not only urban-biased, but serves the rich
people better than the poor. Only 10 per cent of financial outlay
for health goes to rural areas: 90 per cent goes to urban centres
where Chinese settlers are concentrated and where most of the
hospitals are located. Even when available, medical facilities are
prohibitively expensive for most of the Tibetans. For an admission
into the hospital as an in-patient, one has to pay a deposit of 300
and 500 yuan (US$ 80 and 133), an enormous amount in a country
where the average per capita income is 200 yuan. Likewise, surgery
and blood transfusion are reserved only for those who can pay. The
average Tibetan is poorer than the Chinese. 

The Chinese claim that there are 3,700 doctors and health personnel
in the TAR. Let us examine this claim. Most of the doctors are
unqualified  having failed or performed poorly in their
examinations in China  and have little prospect of finding
employment in China. Some have been trained for three years in the
TAR itself at primary health training centres. In the district
clinics, staffed by bare-foot doctors, personnel are trained for
about one-and-a-half years mainly to provide employment for family
members and children of Chinese officials. 

There have been numerous reports of Chinese doctors and health
personnel using Tibetan patients as guinea pigs to practise their
skills. It is commonplace that Chinese medical graduates sent to
Tibet for internship are given independent charge of Tibetan
patients whom they are free to treat in any way they fancy.
Allegations are widespread that ordinary Tibetan patients are being
subjected to examination for diseases other than those they
complained of. Especially, operations are being carried out without
any obvious or actual need.

Some examples: In August 1978, Kelsang (from Markham) with his wife
Youdon took their 21-year-old daughter, who was three months
pregnant, to the TAR Hospital No. 2" (then known as Worker's
Hospital") for a physical examination. The Chinese doctor carried
out an apparently unnecessary operation on her. She died two hours
later, crying in great physical agony.

Again, around the same period, when a worker named Migmar of the
Lhasa Electric Power Station took his 25-year-old wife to Lhasa
city hospital for delivery, both the mother and child died after a
failed attempt at caesarian delivery. When the mother was
dismembered at her sky burial a pair of scissors was discovered
in her body. In prisons such deaths are legion. In Sangyip Prison,
a tutor of the late Panchen Lama, Ngulchu Rinpo- che, and a man
named Tethong Chi-Jigme, died after being injected with an unknown
substance. In Drapchi, a prisoner named Sonam Bhagdro, though
perfectly healthy, was given an injection after severe torture. He
died as a result. More recently, after 1987, Tibetans like Lhakpa
Tsering, Tsamla, Metok Choezed, etc, have died in similar
circumstances after medical treatment.

The consequences of the poor health service for Tibetans and the
bad state of public hygiene are higher mortality rates for
Tibetans. In 1981 crude death rates per thousand were 7.48 in the
TAR and 9.92 in Amdo, as against an average of 6.6 in China,
according to the report of the World Bank in 1984 and of the UNDP
in 1991. Child mortality rates are also high: 150 per thousand
against 43 for China. The TB morbidity rate, according to the World
Bank, is 120.2 per 1,000 in the TAR and 647 per 1,000 in Amdo.

Statistics for life expectancy in Tibet are not reliable and vary
widely. World Bank data suggests an average of around 61 years for
both the TAR and Amdo as against a figure of 70 years for China
in 1990, up from 47 years in 1960, according to UNDP 1991. An
independent source, based on admissions made by the Chinese
themselves, mentions an average Tibetan life expectancy of around
40 years only.

Discrimination in education 

The PRC's education policy in Tibet over the last three decades can
be summed up in the following words of the late Panchen Lama. 
Speaking at the first meeting of China's Institute of Tibetology in
1988, he said:

     The land which managed itself well for 1,300 years, from
     the seventh century, lost its language after it was
     liberated. Whether we remained backward or made mistakes,
     we managed our life on the world's highest plateau by
     using only  Tibetan. We had everything written in our own
     language, be it Buddhism, crafts, astronomy, astrology,
     poems, logic. All administrative works were also done in
     Tibetan. When the Institute of Tibetology was founded, I
     spoke in the People's  Palace and said that the Tibetan
     studies should be based on the foundation of Tibet's own
     religion and culture. So far        we have
     underestimated these subjects. It may not be the
     deliberate goal of the Party to let Tibetan culture die,
     but I wonder whether the Tibetan language will survive or
     be eradicated.

In independent Tibet, monasteries and nunneries, numbering over
6,000, served as schools and universities, fulfilling Tibet's
educational needs. In addition, Tibet had many lay schools run by
the Government as well as by individuals. For the Chinese
Government, these traditional learning centres were fountainheads
of blind faith and nurturing grounds for feudal oppression. In the
place of Tibetan monasteries, China forced the Tibetans in rural
and nomadic areas to found independently-funded People's Schools.
Not a single cent of Chinese Government grants was spent on these

These schools served to create impressive statistics for China's
propaganda purposes. Most of the statistics regarding education are
deceptive. China claims that it has opened around 2,500 primary
schools in the TAR. However, the majority of these schools cannot
be regarded as schools in any sense of the word. Most of the
teachers are not capable of teaching even rudimentary Tibetan
language. Children were naturally not interested in going to these
schools. For all practical purposes, the bulk of these People's
Schools have ceased to exist.

In the official Chinese publication Tibet Review (No. 2, 1986)
three Chinese sociologists admitted:

     There are only 58 middle-level schools (in the TAR).
     Out of them only 13 are real  middle schools. 
     Altogether, there are  2,450 primary schools in Tibet.
     Out of them only 451 are funded by the Government. Over
     two thousand of these schools are funded by the people.
     These schools do not have a sound  foundation and are not
     properly equipped. The level of education is either
     completely nil or extremely low. Therefore, the question
     of scientific skills can be ruled  out among them. At
     present 90 per cent of farmers and  herders do not
     receive lower middle-level education. In view of this,
     talking about upper-middle class and university  
     education is like asking people to eat well when there
     are no food grains available. Only 45 per cent of the
     children  of  school going age go to primary schools.
     From them 10.6 per cent manage to graduate to the
     lower-middle school. In  other words, 55 per cent of the
     children do not even get primary-level education. In the
     whole of the TAR, there are  over 9,000 teachers of
     various levels, far fewer than the actual number
     required. 50 per cent of these teachers are  not
     qualified enough. Equality among nationalities will come
     about only if this is reformed and improved.

Between 1959 and 1966, the Chinese Government launched numerous
thought control campaigns to consolidate its hold over Tibet.
Learned and able Tibetans, like lamas, abbots, geshes, lay scholars
and other educated Tibetans were sent to jails or labour camps. So
when qualified teachers were languishing in jail, each school was
run with one or two unqualified teachers. 

Members of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile's third fact-finding
delegation on education were told by the Chinese Government that
there were 2,511 schools in Tibet.  Mrs. Jetsun Pema, leader of the
delegation, says:

     Wherever we went it was extremely difficult to arrange a
     visit to a school.  The school is closed for summer 
     vacation, the headmaster is away, the children have gone
     for lunch (at 10:00 am),  were some of the excuses. 
     After one  such excuse, the delegation looked into the
     classrooms and  found them stacked from floor to ceiling
     with timber.  Another time, on being shown a rural tent
     classroom, the delegates lifted the groundsheet and found
     the grass still green underneath.  

John Billington, director of studies at Repton School in England,
travelled extensively through Tibet in 1988 and reported the

     In rural areas especially, a large number of children can
     be seen working in the fields, cutting grass, herding
     sheep, collecting yak dung and working at stalls. Enquiry
     reveals that they do not go to school, in most cases
     because no  schools exist. It was sad to hear older
     people say that there had been schools in the past
     attached to a monastery,   but that when the monasteries
     were destroyed the little rural schools have not been
     replaced. Well off the beaten track, I met elderly nomads
     who could read and write; it was  too often a brutal
     reminder of Chinese neglect that their grandchildren
     could not.

An important question is about the beneficiaries of the educational
facilities in Tibet. In its White Paper, the Chinese Government
claims that it has invested 1.1 billion yuan to develop education
in Tibet. Whatever the veracity of this claim, one thing is clear,
Chinese students residing in Tibet are the chief beneficiaries of
this grant. 30 to 50 per cent of the educational outlay for TAR
goes to Tibetan Nationality University in the Chinese city of
Shenyang. This university offers the best facilities among all the
schools meant for the people in Tibet. Most of the Chinese teachers
and staffers of the university are former members of the 18th Army
which invaded Tibet. Likewise, most of the students are the
children and relatives of Chinese officials in Tibet and elsewhere.

Even in Tibet, the best schools are in Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyangtse,
Chamdo, Silling, Kyigudo, Dartsedo and Dechen. But these schools
are meant primarily for the children of Chinese cadres. In these
Chinese Government-funded urban schools, they have separate classes
for the Chinese and Tibetan students, with the best teachers
assigned to Chinese classes. They also have two different messes,
known as the tsampa eaters' mess and rice eaters' mess. The
food at the Chinese rice eaters' mess is far superior.
Every year a certain number of university seats are officially
reserved for Tibetan students and their expenses form part of the
budget for Tibetan education. However, most of these seats go to
Chinese students. To go to university, the student must pass a
competitive examination after graduating from upper-middle school.
Since the examinations are conducted in Chinese, Tibetan students
are disadvantaged and lose places to Chinese students. The growing
trend is that Chinese students who have failed to make it to
universities in their homeland go to Tibet to resit their
examination. Because the general standard of education in Tibet is
much lower than in China, these students fare well against
Tibetans, and thus take Tibetan places in universities.  

The first Australian Human Rights Delegation to China also stated
in its report: 

     Though the delegation noted an official determination to
     raise educational standards for Tibetans, many Tibetan
     children appear to still go without formal education. 
     Tibetan children in the Lhasa area seemingly have access
     to a very limited syllabus at both primary and secondary 
     levels.  Some testified to never having been at school,
     or having to leave for economic reasons as early as ten
     years  old.

In a petition, dated 20 February 1986, submitted to the Chinese
authorities, Tashi Tsering, an English teacher at Lhasa's Tibet
University, stated: 

     In 1979, 600 students from the Tibet Autonomous Region
     were pursuing university education in Tibet and China. Of
     them,  only 60 were Tibetans. In 1984, Tibet's three big
     schools had 1,984 students on their rolls, out of which
     only 666 were Tibetans. In the same year 250 students
     from Tibet may have  been sent to universities in the
     Mainland. But only 60 to 70 of them were Tibetans. ...
     Most of the government outlay meant for Tibetan education
     is used on Chinese students.  Even today, 70 per cent of
     Tibetans are illiterate.

     Out of 28 classes in Lhasa's Middle School No.1, 12 are
     for Tibetans. ... Out of 1,451 students, 933 are Tibetans
     and  518 Chinese. Not only are the Chinese students not
     learning Tibetan, 387 of the Tibetan students are not
     learning Tibetan either. Only 546 Tibetans are learning
     their language. Of the 111 teachers, only 30 are Tibetans
     and  seven teach Tibetan. I have heard that the best
     qualified teachers are assigned to teach the Chinese
     classes whereas unqualified teachers teach the Tibetan

     In Lhasa's Primary School No. 1, there are 34 classes
     with the Tibetans and Chinese sharing the same number of
     classes.  1,000 students are Tibetans and 900 Chinese.
     200 Tibetans do  not learn Tibetan. Of the 136 teachers,
     only 18 teach  Tibetan. ... Many rural schools have
     closed after decollectivisation of farm lands and
     animals; either there are no students or no teachers. 

     In Lhasa's Tibet University, there are 413 Tibetan
     students  and 258 Chinese. 251 Tibetans are in the
     Tibetan Language  and Literature Stream and 27 in the
     Tibetan Medical Studies  Stream. Only 135 Tibetan
     students get to study modern subjects. ... The Tibetan
     departments are generally known as the Departments of
     Political Manipulation. This is  because, while the
     authorities have fixed 60 per cent of seats for Tibetan
     students and 40 per cent for Chinese  students, most of
     the Tibetan students are absorbed into these two Tibetan
     departments, leaving the majority of the  seats in modern
     education streams to the Chinese. ... The English
     Department of this university has two Tibetan students
     and 14 Chinese.

>From 1966 onwards complete sinicisation became the watchword. The
Tibetan language was labelled as the language of religion and the
teaching of the Tibetan language was forbidden. Sometime in the
1960s monk and nun teachers as well as qualified lay Tibetan
teachers were nearly all ordered to leave their teaching jobs.
Tibetan language and grammar books were labelled books of blind
faith and thus discouraged from being taught. In their place,
books of Mao Zedong's thoughts and newspapers were put on the
school syllabus. Children were taught that the Tibetan religion was
blind faith, Tibetan customs and habits old green thinking,
Tibetan language was a useless, backward language, old Tibetan
society was extremely backward, savage, and oppressive. Those who
agreed with the Chinese were considered progressive whereas those
who disagreed were termed variously as counter- revolutionaries,
reactionaries or class enemies. Naturally, a whole generation of
Tibetan children grew up completely ignorant of their own culture,
history and ways of life.

Chinese names with Marxist connotations replaced Tibetan names for
houses, roads and places. Many Tibetans had to change their names
into Chinese. Norbulingkha, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas,
was given a Chinese name meaning people's common park. Tibetan
language was deliberately bastardised with Chinese words and

In a book, entitled Special Compilation on Tibetan Nationalities:
1965-1985, a Chinese official in the TAR, has made a critical
observation on the Chinese policy of discouraging the use and
learning of the Tibetan language in Tibet. He observed:  

     Tibetan teachers and those able to translate in Tibetan
     have become very rare. As a result, it has become very
     difficult to teach or issue official documents in both
     the Tibetan and Chinese languages. A good number of
     Tibetan officials cannot read and write properly in
     Tibetan. Neither can they  announce the Party policy to
     the masses in Tibetan. 

In a publication of China's Institute of Tibetology (1991), Sangay,
a junior lecturer of Qinghai Nationalities University, wrote:

     There is one group of people who hold the view that the
     use of the Tibetan language will work as obstacles on the
     way to economic development. ...The local authorities
     have decided  that only the Chinese language should be
     taught and used.   ... This policy has been implemented
     for many years. Final result: people could write neither
     in Tibetan nor in  Chinese. But economic stagnation has

The Chinese authorities are averse to improving educational
infrastructures in Tibet. From 1985, some efforts have been made to
provide higher education to Tibetans. But they have done so by
increasing the number of students sent to universities and schools
in China. Tibetan children with intellectual aptitude are plucked
from schools in Tibet and sent to schools in China. Tibetans
rightfully resent this as a policy aimed at undermining their own
culture. The late Panchen Lama said that sending Tibetan children
to China would only have the effect of alienating them from their
cultural roots.

Catriona Bass, an English teacher in Lhasa in 1985, said:

     4,000 Tibetan children were studying in China at this
     time. Undoubtedly these children benefited academically.
     Given the still very basic resources in Tibet, it might
     be an  effective way of educating Tibetans, in the short
     term. But this policy dates from the 1950s. Now instead
     of reducing the number of children sent to China, and
     investing more in  improving facilities in Tibet, the
     Government has announced   plans to send as many as ten
     thousand children by 1993. 

     For many Tibetans we met, this policy posed the most
     serious threat to Tibetan cultural identity. With more
     and more  young adults returning to Tibet, ignorant or
     scornful of Tibetan traditions, some people saw the
     policy as a  conspiracy on the part of the Government to
     erode cultural  values from within.

Achievements of exile Tibetans

China insists that the Chinese presence in Tibet is justified
because of the help that is offered to develop and civilise the
culturally and economically backward Tibetan people. Left to
themselves, Tibetans are quite capable of managing their own
affairs. The thriving Tibetan community in exile is the best
evidence of this.

The Tibetan Administration, the host Indian Government and
international aid agencies have invested upwards of Indian Rupees
1.5 billion in educating Tibetans in exile since 1959.  The Tibetan
Government-in-Exile allocates 65 per cent of its annual budget to
the education of Tibetan children.  This does not include the
amount invested in monastic education.

Today, in the newly-established Tibetan monasteries and nunneries
in India, Nepal and Bhutan, there are about 11,000 monks and nuns. 
Many specialised institutions have been established in India to
preserve the now-endangered Tibetan culture.  The Central Institute
of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, provides
traditional and modern education to Tibetans and to students from
Himalayan Buddhist regions, many of whom now serve in various
Tibetan schools and centres of higher education.  Some of them work
in the more than 700 Tibetan religious and cultural centres
established around the world today. Tibet's native religion, Bn,
has re-established its headquarters in Himachal Pradesh state,

The Tibetan Medical and Astro. Institute in Dharamsala provides
traditional Tibetan medical services to patients all over the
world. It also educates students in Tibetan medicine and astro
science.  Graduates of the institute now serve as doctors in
various Tibetan settlements in Nepal, India, Bhutan as well as in
other parts of the world.

The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) in Dharamsala, and
Tibet House in New Delhi, serve as facilities to educate foreign
students in Tibetan history, language and culture.  The LTWA is the
premier internationally-acknowledged centre for studies in
Tibetology.  Up to 1992 it has assisted more than 5,000 research
students from over 30 countries.

The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala has
preserved traditional Tibetan opera dance, singing and music, and
has performed with outstanding success around the world.  Many of
the performing arts teachers in the various Tibetan schools in
India, Nepal and Bhutan have been trained here.

The Tibetan Cultural Printing Press in Dharamsala, and other
Tibetan publishing centres, preserve the culture by printing the
Buddhist canon, the Kagyur and Tengyur, along with thousands of
other traditional Tibetan publications and scriptures.

Today there are 84 Tibetan schools in India, Nepal and Bhutan with
an enrolment of over 26,000 students at primary, middle and
secondary levels.  Of these, 17 are residential and seven more have
hostel facilities.  In addition, there are 55 pre-primary schools. 
According to statistics compiled by the Planning Council of the
Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala,  altogether about 92 per cent
of Tibetan children in exile, aged 6 to 17, are attending schools,
with about 84 per cent of them enrolled in Tibetan schools.  In
these schools there are a total of 1,280 teachers with an average
teacher-student ratio of 1:20.  School education is available free
for all Tibetan children.  Meritorious students are granted
scholarships for degree and professional courses, while others are
given vocational training.

Up to 1992, 3,000 students in exile completed their university
education.  Every year 400 to 500 students finish their senior
secondary school education.  Of these, 200-250 graduates join
universities for further studies in India and abroad.  Today,
education in exile has produced Tibetan medical doctors,
administrators, Ph.Ds, engineers, post-graduate teachers,
journalists, social workers, lawyers, computer programmers, etc.
The students, after completing education, serve in the
Government-in-Exile and other institutions.  Ninety-nine per cent
of the officials in the Exile Government have received their
education in exile in India.   Over the years thousands of young
Tibetans have undertaken hazardous, heart-breaking journeys over
the Himalayas to come to India where they and their parents see the
only hope for meaningful and free education. The first Australian
Human Rights Delegation to China also stated in its report: 

     Young people, while speaking of their desire for
     education, saw their only choice being to attempt to
     reach the Tibetan communities in India where, they said,
     at least education was freely available irrespective of
     all the other hardships.

Since 1979, about 5,000 monks and nuns have fled to India to pursue
religious studies. In addition, over 3,000 new refugees in the age
group of 5 to 14, and over 1,000 in the age group of 15 - 25 have
been admitted to various Tibetan schools in India. 
If the Chinese claim were true, there would be no need for these
young Tibetans to leave their homeland and parents to come to

Chapter 7.       Religion and national identity


Tibet's earliest religion is Bn, founded by Shenrab Miwo of
Shangshung in Western Tibet. With the advent of Buddhism, the Bn
religion diminished in influence, but it continues to thrive today
with an active community of Tibetan refugees still practising their
faith in India and Nepal. Tashi Menri, Yungdrungling, and Kharna
were some of the major Bn monasteries in Tibet. The Bn religion
has imbibed many characteristics of Buddhism over the course of its
historical development. Tibetan Buddhism, in turn, has also taken
much from Bn.

Buddhism flourished in Tibet in the seventh century. Receiving
royal patronage, it spread throughout Tibet. With the assumption of
power by the Dalai Lamas from 1642 onwards, the era of harmonious
blend of religion and politics was established in Tibet. Since
then, for three-and-a-half centuries, ten successive Dalai Lamas
have been the spiritual and temporal rulers of Tibet.

The cumulative effect of its long patronage by successive kings of
Tibet, and the country being later ruled by successive religious
heads, has been immense, both to Tibet as a nation and to its
people. Buddhism has not been a mere system of belief to the
Tibetans; it encompasses the entirety of their culture and
civilisation and constitutes the very essence of their lives. 
Buddhism permeated the daily lives of the Tibetan people and formed
the social fabric connecting them to the land. Of all the bonds
which defined Tibetans as a people and as a nation, religion was
undoubtedly the strongest.

Through the centuries, highly qualified Tibetans studied,
practised, expounded, preserved, and taught the meaning of this
religion and its social and spiritual relevance to peoples
throughout the Asian regions sharing the Tibetan cultural
tradition, including Mongolia. 

In the words of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Buddhism thus caused the
metamorphosis that changed the entire course of Tibet's history.
Generations of Tibetan intellectuals studied and developed a
profound culture that closely accorded with the original principles
and philosophy of the Dharma. Down through the centuries their
dedicated services brought about extraordinary developments which
are unique among the literary and cultural achievements of the
nations of the world.

Monasteries, temples, and hermitages were founded in every village
and town throughout Tibet, together with resident monks and, as the
case may be, nuns. Every Tibetan Buddhist home had its altar. Huge
monasteries, which were more like monastic cities, such as Drepung,
Sera, and Gaden in Lhasa, Tashilhunpo in Shigatse, Sakya Monastery
in Sakya, Tsurphu in central Tibet, Mindroling in central Tibet,
Tashi-kyil in Amdo Labrang, Gaden Jampaling in Chamdo, Lithang
Gonchen, etc, became high seats of learning. 

By 1959 there were more than a total of 6,259 monasteries with
about 592,558 resident monks and nuns. These religious centres also
housed tens and thousands of statues, religious artifacts made of
gold, silver and other metals  studded with jewels. Similarly,
tens and thousands of chorten (stupas) were built out of precious
metal. Besides texts on Buddhism, these centres were store-houses
of works on literature, medicine, astrology, art, politics, etc,
and thus were the real treasure houses of the Tibetan people.

Tibetan national identity became indistinguishable from its
religion. Buddhist folklore and teachings regulated the people's
lives, festivals, holidays, work ethics, family chores as well as
national issues. Tibet remained a proud and independent Buddhist
nation until its occupation by China. Tibet also had a compact
community of Muslims, who had their own mosques. These, too,
suffered damage at the hands of the Chinese. In addition, there
were small numbers of followers of Hinduism and Christianity. They
were all tolerated and given equal rights.

Violation of religious freedom: 1949-79

The Chinese Government initially proclaimed that while complete
consolidation of its annexation of Tibet was underway, no
restrictions would be imposed on the practice of religion. Their
formal pledge to protect and respect Tibet's religious tradition
was set forth even in the 17-Point Agreement of 1951. This
Agreement explicitly stated that the traditional status,
functions and powers of the Dalai Lama would not be altered and
that the policy of freedom of religious beliefs laid down in the
Common Programme of the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference will be protected.

However, the Chinese soon began to undermine the traditional social
system and religion of Tibet. People were told that Religion is
the enemy of our materialist ideology and believing in religion is
blind faith. Therefore, you should not only not have faith in
religion but should also condemn it. While the Chinese
constitution and initial assurances made to the Tibetans purported
to allow a semblance of religious freedom, their resolve to
undermine Tibetan religion was absolute from the very beginning.
The Chinese Government pronounced: 

     The Chinese Communist Party considers that its ideology
     and that of religion are two forces that cannot co-exist
     and occupy the same spot at the same time. ... the
     differences between the two (ie, science and religion)
     can be likened to those between light and darkness,
     between truth and falsehood. There is absolutely no
     possibility to reconcile the mutually-opposed world views
     of science and religion. 

This Communist Chinese view was all-pervasive. In Mao Zedong's own
words, ... but of course, religion is poison. It has two great
defects: It undermines the race ...(and) retards the progress of
the country. Tibet and Mongolia have both been poisoned by it.
By the middle of the 1950s, the Chinese authorities realised that
religion was the principal obstacle to their control of Tibet.
Therefore, from the beginning of 1956, a so-called Democratic
Reform was carried out, first in Kham and Amdo, and later (in
1959) in Central Tibet. Monasteries, temples, and cultural centres
were systematically looted of all articles of value and then

First, special teams of mineralogists visited religious buildings
to locate and extract all the precious stones. Next came the
metallurgists who marked all metal objects which were subsequently
carted away in trucks requisitioned from army head- quarters. The
walls were then dynamited and all the wooden beams and pillars
taken away. Clay images were destroyed in the expectation of
finding precious metals inside. Finally, whatever remained  bits
of wood and stone  were removed. Literally, hundreds of tons of
valuable religious statues, thangkas (scroll paintings), metal
artifacts, and other treasures were shipped to China either to be
sold in international antique markets or to be melted down.  

When a team of Tibetans visited China in 1982-83 to retrieve
Tibetan artifacts, a Chinese man in Beijing told them that (m)ost
of the Tibetan cultural artifacts carted to China were destroyed.
The statues and ritual objects of pure gold and silver were never
seen again. Those of gilded copper, bell-metal, red copper, brass,
etc, were ferried to Luyun, from where they were eventually sold to
foundries in Shanghai, Sichuan, Tai Yun, Beijing, Tianjin, etc. The
foundry called Xi-you Qing-shu Tie (precious metal foundry)
situated about five kilometers to the east of Beijing city, alone
purchased about 600 tons of Tibetan crafted metals. The team found
out that almost all artifacts taken by other foundries had already
been melted down.

This physical desecration and destruction was accompanied by public
condemnation of religion, and humiliation and ridicule of religious
persons. Religious texts were burnt and mixed with field manure;
the sacred mani stones (stones or slates with prayer inscriptions)
were used for making toilets and pavements; monks and nuns were
forced to have sex in public and demanded to perform miracles;
ruined monasteries and temples were turned into pigsties; starving
monks and nuns in Chinese prisons were told to get food from the

Destructions before the Cultural Revolution

Contrary to official Chinese assertions, much of Tibet's culture
and religion was destroyed between 1955 and 1961, and not during
the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) alone. This was confirmed by
Bhuchung, the then Vice-President of the so-called TAR People's
Government, at a press conference on 17 July 1987, when he stated
that what little remained to be destroyed was obliterated during
the Cultural Revolution under the slogan Smash the Four Olds.

Out of Tibet's total of 6,259 monasteries and nunneries only about
eight remained by 1976. Among those destroyed were the
seventh-century Samye, the first monastery in Tibet; Gaden, the
earliest and holiest monastic university of the Gelugpas; Sakya,
the main seat of the Sakyas; Tsurphu, one of the holiest
monasteries of the Kagyus; Mindroling, one of the most famous
monasteries of the Nyingmapas; Menri, the earliest and most sacred
Bn monastery, etc. Out of 592,558 monks, nuns, rinpoches
(reincarnates) and ngagpas (tantric practitioners), over 110,000
were tortured and put to death, and over 250,000 were forcibly

The extent of religious destruction in Tibet was referred to by the
late Panchen Lama in 1988 in Beijing during the first General
Meeting of China's Institute of Tibetology. He said: 

     The destruction suffered by monasteries in the Tibetan
     inhabited areas was total and hundred per cent. About 99
     percent suffered total destruction. Those seven or eight
     which remained also did not escape damage. The condition
     of the Potala Palace was the best among those which
     remained. But it too suffered damage. Therefore, I say
     that the destruction caused was hundred per cent.

1979-92: Religious freedom, a ritualistic facade

Since 1979, a much-heralded programme of liberalisation began in
Tibet under which some superficial facade of religious freedom was
allowed. This included limited and selective renovation of places
of worship, and allowing people a degree of ritual practices  such
as making prostrations, circumambulating places of worship,
offering butter lamps, reciting mantras, turning prayer wheels,
burning incense, putting up prayer flags, etc. These are only
external acts of worship. But propagation of the teachings of the
Buddha is either banned or, when permitted, strictly controlled.

The essence of Buddhism lies in mental and spiritual development
achieved through intensive study with qualified lamas,
understanding and practice. But the Chinese discourage this in
their campaign to misrepresent the Tibetan religion as nothing more
than practices in superstition and blind faith rather than what it
really is: a functional and scientific philosophy. The Dalai Lama,
in his 10 March 1987 statement, said: 

     The so-called religious freedom in Tibet today amounts to
     permitting our people to worship and practice religion in
     a merely ritualistic and devotional way. There are both
     direct and indirect restrictions on the teaching and
     study of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism, thus, is being
     reduced to blind faith which is exactly how the Communist
     Chinese view and define religion.

Today's Chinese policy is aimed at bringing about a gradual and
natural death of Tibetan culture and religion, thus reducing the
Tibetans to an uncultured, superstitious nation, fit only to be
ruled and reformed by them. In this way they hope to validate their
liberation of  and claim to  Tibet.

Reconstruction and renovation

Almost all Chinese state-sponsored reconstruction of Tibetan
monuments has been highly selective, intended only to serve their
political and economic aims. These serve as museums for tourist
attraction rather than living cultural and religious institutions. 
Also, contrary to the Chinese claim, most of the rebuilt or
renovated monasteries, including the state-sponsored ones, came
through the initiative of Tibetans who contributed their labour and
finances.  The aid sanctioned by the Chinese Government forms only
a very small fraction of the total expenses incurred.  On the other
hand, China confiscates income of the monasteries from entry fees
(imposed by the Chinese) and offerings made by pilgrims. 
Reconstruction and renovation of monasteries can be done only after
receiving permission from the Chinese Bureau of Religious Affairs. 
Such permission is given with great reluctance following a long
period of bureaucratic red tape during which Tibetans have to make
repeated appeals and listen, in return, to constant lectures about
the negative influences of religion to national interest.  The
limited number of monks allowed in them serve more as showpieces
and, in most cases, caretakers rather than religious students and

In independent Tibet, the major Tibetan monastic universities
served as cultural and learning centres for large numbers of
students from Inner Asia.  These institutions each had from three
to ten thousand students and the rigorous curriculum began around
the age of eighteen and culminated around the age of forty-five. 
The basic units of Tibet's monastic universities were its colleges,
each university having at least two.  These had their own
administration, faculty and textbooks.  For centuries, the monastic
colleges functioned to promote critical and creative spiritual

Chinese government control over religious institutions

China today refuses to let the colleges  the functioning units of
the monastic universities  to continue in the traditional way.  It
has also placed a ceiling on the number of monks allowed in each
university.  Before the Chinese invasion, Sera had 7,997 monks on
its rolls; it is now permitted to have only about 300; Drepung
which used to have 10,000 monks is now permitted only 400; and
Gaden which numbered 5,600 monks is now permitted only 150.  In
addition, the daily functions of the monasteries are regimented
through a maze of state bureaucracies, such as the United Front
Work Department, Religious Affairs Bureau, Tibetan Buddhist
Association, Democratic Management Committee, political education
and investigation Work Inspection Teams, security organs, etc.

China has, in part, laid down the following criteria for admission
in a monastery: The candidate should be at least 18 years old;
should love the country and the Communist Party; should have the
consent of parents; should obtain formal approval from the
monasteries' Democratic Management Committee; should have consent
of local authorities; should have consent of county or provincial
authorities; should obtain clearance from Public Security Bureau;
the candidate and the candidate's parents should have good
political background; should have been raised in a certain
geographical area (eg, Tibetans from Kham and Amdo may not be
admitted to monasteries in Central Tibet); should study Marxism;
should be aware that materialism and spiritualism are
contradictory, etc, etc.

Admit only the politically correct

China's guiding principle behind admission is that We must foster
a large number of fervent patriots in every religion who accept the
leadership of the Party and government, firmly support the
Socialist path, and safeguard national and ethnic unity, and that
seminaries should hold entrance examinations and admit upright,
patriotic young people ... who have reached a certain level of
cultural development.  These principles are clearly laid down in
the Chinese Basic Viewpoint and Policy on the Religious Question
during Our Country's Socialist Period, and Rules for Democratic
Management of Temples, etc.  Yet another organ known as the
Tibetan Buddhism Guidance Committee is being set up to oversee the
practice of Buddhism in Tibet (TAR), Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and
Yunnan (Amdo and Kham parts of Tibet incorporated into Chinese
provinces).  Foremost among its tasks will be the implementation of
government policies, education of monks and nuns in the patriotic
mould, and supervision over monastery management.

In addition to the above, there are other subtle and insidious
methods of undermining religion which are not easily discerned by
the uninformed.  These include: persistent anti-religious
publications and theatrical performances, restricting religious
teachings, educating Tibetan youths along Marxist lines with heavy
anti-religious overtones, lack of regular curriculum in the
monasteries, lack of textbooks and teachers, forcing monks to
perform for tourists, keeping police and para-military forces at
the monasteries, arresting and torturing those suspected of having
independent thoughts, planting informers in the monasteries,
conducting political education and investigation in the monasteries
by Work Inspection teams, ban on prayers composed by the Dalai Lama
though being utterly devoid of any political overtone, etc.  On
account of such restrictions, the Panchen Lama, on 28 September
1988, called for the eradication of Chinese administrative
interference in the religious activities in Tibet (read TAR) and
other Tibetan-inhabited regions and increased Tibetan regulation of
religious affairs.


Though China no longer bombs or sends Red Guards to destroy Tibet's
monasteries, its aim still remains the same as before: total
elimination of Tibetan religion and culture.  This is clear 
official document, Policy on Religious Freedom, prepared by Ganze
(Kanze) Prefectural Propaganda Committee and dated February 1990, 
which states: With the development of our socialist system, the
social system for the natural extinction of religion was
established.  Yet, another official document licy on Nationalities
and Religion brought out in 1991, states: We should oppose all
those who work to split the motherland in the name of nationality
and religion.  There should be no hesitation in taking harsh
decision to deal with any political disturbance carried out in the
name of nationality and religion, and in doing so the state's
political, judiciary, and even military powers should be used.

In carrying out its unremitting persecution of Tibetan religion,
China continues to violate not only the UN Universal Declaration of
Human Rights but also all the clauses of the United Nation's
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of
Discrimination Based on Religion and Belief.  In its reports of
1959 and 1960, the Legal Inquiry Committee of the International
Commission of Jurists said: 

     The Committee found that acts of Genocide had been
     committed in Tibet in an attempt to destroy the Tibetans
     as a religious group, and that such acts are acts of
     genocide independently of any conventional obligation.

Chapter 8.       Population transfer and control


The transfer of civilians by an occupying power into the territory
it occupies is a violation of international law, according to the
Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. However, it is a practice which
many occupying powers, colonial administrations and totalitarian
rulers have used and still use to break resistance to their rule
and consolidate control over a particular territory. Hitler
developed large-scale population transfer plans and Stalin carried
out many such plans with a tragic result we are seeing today in the
former Soviet Union. 

Today, China is implementing the same policy in Tibet. Begun as
early as 1949, when China started the invasion of Tibet, this
policy poses the greatest threat to the survival of the Tibetan
nation and people.  Besides inundating the country with millions of
settlers from China, the Chinese Government is also employing
various coercive birth-control  measures to stem  the  growth  of 
Tibetan population. 

The aim of this twin demographic policy is to see to it that the
Tibetans are reduced to an insignificant minority in their country
so as to render any resistance against China's rule ineffective. It
is exactly for this reason that some observers have termed this
policy as China's Final Solution. 

Population transfer as an explicit official policy

China's White Paper states:

     Another lie is the claim that a large number of Hans have 
     migrated to Tibet, turning the ethnic Tibetans into a

However, ample evidence suggests that the contrary is true. The
first public indication of Chinese population transfer to Tibet
came in 1952, in the Directive on Central Committee of CPC on the
policies for Work in Tibet, issued by Mao Zedong himself.
Proposing a five-fold increase in the TAR population, he said:

     Tibet covers a large area but is thinly populated. Its
     population should be increased from the present two or
     three million to five or six million, and then to over
     ten million. [Renmin Ribao, 22 November 1952]

In statement to the Legal Inquiry Committee of International
Commission of Jurists on 29 August 1959, the Dalai Lama said: 

     In 1955 just before returning to Lhasa we had been to see
     Liu Shao-chi. He mentioned to the Panchen Lama that Tibet
     was a big country and unoccupied and that China had a big
     population which can be settled there.

In the aftermath of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Premier Zhou
Enlai said:

     The Chinese are greater in number and more developed in
     economy and culture but in the regions they inhabit there
     is not much arable land left and underground resources
     are not as abundant as in the regions inhabited by
     fraternal nationalities.

In February 1985, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi announced its
Government's intention to change both the ecological imbalance and
the population lack not just in Tibet but also in other sparsely
populated outlying regions.  Chinese migration should be welcomed
by the local population, and should result in a population increase
of 60 million over the next 30 years in those regions.  The
announcement went on to say,  This is a very conservative
estimate.  As a matter of fact, the increase might swell to 100
million in less than 30 years. [Movement Westward, Reference
Material No. 2, Embassy of the PRC, New Delhi, 4 February 1985]

Two years later, in June 1987, Deng Xiaoping admitted that the
Chinese were being encouraged to move to Tibet because, according
to him, the local population needs Han immigrants as the
(Autonomous) Region's population of about 2 million was inadequate
to develop its resources. [Deng Xiaoping, during his meeting with
ex-US President Jimmy Carter, 29 June 1987, reported by Reuters,
Beijing, 30 June 1987]

Chinese population in the TAR

>From 1983 there has been a sharp increase in the transfer of
Chinese settlers to Central Tibet. In May 1984, Radio Beijing
reported that: Over 60,000 workers, representing the vanguard
groups to help in the construction work in the TAR are arriving in
Tibet daily (number of days not specified) and have started their
preliminary work. They will be helping in the electricity
department, schools, hotels, cultural institutions and construction
of mills and factories. [Radio Beijing, 1700 hrs, 14 May 1984] 

Another 60,000 Chinese workers mainly from Sichuan arrived in the
TAR in the summer of 1985. [China's Population, Beijing, 1988] 
In 1991, China announced that technicians from all over China have
come to work at various construction sites and about 300,000
workers are prepared to join in the project. [Beijing Review,
21-27 January 1991]

The Times of India (New Delhi) of 27 September 1988 quoted Mao
Rubai, the then Vice-Chairman of the TAR Government, as saying
that there were one million Chinese settlers (excluding military
personnel) in the region.

In Lhasa alone, there were 50,000 to 60,000 ordinary Chinese
residents in 1985. From 1985 to 1988 additional Chinese immigrants
doubled the population of Lhasa. That this development created
problems for the Tibetan population was also recognised by the
TAR Government. In March 1989, Ngapo Ngawang Jigme,
Vice-President of the Chinese National People's Congress, said that
today, because of so many Chinese shopkeepers and settlers coming
into Tibet (some 100,000 of them being in Lhasa alone) great
disturbance has been caused to public security.

Chinese population in Kham and Amdo

Tibetan areas outside the TAR include the whole of present-day
Qinghai Province and the portions of Kham and Amdo merged with the
Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan. It is in these
Tibetan regions that the concentration of Chinese population is at
its highest.

Chinese settlement in these regions followed close on the heel of
invading PLA troops in 1949. By 1959, when China installed its
Government in the Tibetan capital, Chinese population in this
eastern half of Tibet had already reached an alarming point. The
influx escalated from 1962 onwards when thousands upon thousands of
additional Chinese settlers began to be sent into these areas as
builders, workers, and technicians. As there was no clear need
for them, Tibetans considered them a drain on their economy and
interpreted the policy as an insidious attempt to complete the
sinification of their country. According to the late Panchen Lama:

     The expense of keeping one Chinese in Tibet is equal to
     that of four in China. Why should Tibet spend its money
     to feed them? ... Tibet has suffered greatly because of
     the policy of sending a large number of useless people. 
     The Chinese population in Tibet started with a few
     thousand and today it has multiplied manifold.   

China's fourth population census in 1990 put the Chinese population
(including a small number of Mongols) in these non-TAR Tibetan
regions at 4,927,369. However, it is said that there is at least
one un-registered Chinese against every two registered ones. This
means the actual Chinese population, both registered and
unregistered, in the non-TAR Tibetan regions of Kham and Amdo
should be about 7.4 million.

Incentives for Chinese to move to Tibet

To encourage Chinese settlement in Tibet, the Chinese Government
offers an array of benefits to its personnel and civilian
population. The following statement is typical of the rationale for
providing conditions and services which are significantly better
than those available to Tibetans.

     The personnel brought in from developed regions (China)
     cannot be expected to live on the local fare of tsampa 
     (roasted barley flour) and raw meat. They need good
     housing, hospitals, cinemas and schools for their
     children. [The Poverty of Plenty, Wang and Bai, London,

Housing, health-care, cultural and educational facilities are all
part of an enormously expensive undertaking to provide for the
Chinese in Tibet.  Other costly subsidies include high-altitude
allowance, and transporting wheat and rice by truck to Tibet. 

Annual wages for Chinese personnel are 87 per cent higher in Tibet
than in China. The longer the stay in Tibet, the higher the
benefits. Vacations for Chinese personnel in Tibet are far longer
than those in China. For every 18 months of work in Tibet, they
receive a three-month leave back to China, and all the expenses are
paid by their Government. The Chinese entrepreneurs receive special
tax exemptions and loans at low-rate interest in Tibet, whereas for
Tibetans to start an enterprise in their own homeland, even getting
the licence is difficult.

TAR opened to bolster population transfer

In late 1992, China announced the opening of Tibet's economy to
foreign investments. In reality, this economic open-door policy
is designed only to encourage the settlement of Chinese population
in Tibet. The Chinese Government is already persuading its massive
drifting population to find home in the TAR. 
Hectic activities to build new Chinese townships and villages are
observed in many areas of the TAR, such as Dromo (Yatung),
Emagang, Phenpo, Tsethang, Toelung, Nyemo, Kongpo Nyingtri and
Maldro Gyama. It is believed that a large proportion of the Chinese
displaced by the three-gorges hydro-electricity project will be
relocated in these areas.  The recent removal of all check-point
barriers between Tibet and China seems to confirm this belief.

Birth-control, forced abortion and sterilisation

>From 1984 China imposed its policy allowing Tibetan couples to have
only two children. It was announced that only 12 per cent of the
population in the TAR fell within the ambit of this policy. This
was because in the countryside and pastoral areas, Tibetans were
supposed to be exempt from such restrictions. But in reality orders
were issued for fines (ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 yuan or US$ 400
to 800) for the birth of a third child. Extra children were denied
ration cards and workers violating the rule had their pay cut to
the extent of 50 per cent, or in some cases withheld altogether for
three to six months.

Such coercive measures were  and still are  employed in a number
of ingenious ways. On 5 November 1987, the TAR Family Planning
Department head, Tsering Dolkar, stated at a meeting: 

     There are 104,024 women of child bearing age, of whom
     76,220 are married. Of them, 22,634 have already
     undergone birth control operations, constituting 30 per
     cent of women in the TAR of child bearing age. In 1985,
     after the science of family planning was announced in the
     countryside and pastoral areas, there has been a
     perceptible change in the mental outlook and birth rates
     in these areas. In 1986, 19 per cent of women in
     Nyingtri, Lhokha and Shigatse were sterilised.

According to the Civil Affairs Department of Shigatse, in July
1990, a team from Shigatse Child and Maternity Hospital visited a
remote and poor area of Bhuchung district to carry out
examinations. It was found that 387 women in this small area had
been sterilised. The team had gone to 10 districts to propagate
family planning, resulting in the sterilisation of 1,092 women out
of 2,419.

In Gyatsa district of Lhokha, a doctor of a child and maternity
clinic, named Tsering Youdon, stated that in her district there
were more than 4,000 women of child-bearing age of whom over 1,000
took birth-control measures and 700 were sterilised.

In Kham and Amdo, an even more repressive policy is being enforced.
For example, in Gansu Parig Tibetan Autonomous District 2,415
women were sterilised in 1983 of whom 82 per cent were Tibetans. In
1987, 764 women of child-bearing age were sterilised in Zachu
district in Kanze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture:  660 were
Tibetans. Mobile birth control teams roam the countryside and
pastoral areas where they round up women for abortion and
sterilisation. Even women well advanced in their pregnancy are
forced to undergo abortion followed by sterilisation.

As a rule, the enforcement of birth control measures in Tibet is
highly erratic, differing from place to place and time to time, and
depends on the zeal of individual local officials who are given
carte blanche to implement this policy.

The White Paper says on this subject:

     Only 12 % of the people in Tibet are covered by the
     family  planning policy. In the process of carrying out
     family planning the Government always persists in the
     principle of  `mainly publicity, volunteering and
     service' and prohibits any form of forced abortion.

These words do not take away strong indications that the contrary
is true.

Tibetan population

China often ridicules the Tibetan claim that their population is
six million. Where did the six million come from?  Did they drop
from the sky?, Yang Houdi, director of Policy and Legislation
Department of the State Nationalities Affairs Commission, said.
Although there is no independent census report of the Tibetan
population in Tibet today, historical Tibetan sources show that
their population before the Chinese invasion was at least six
million. The Chinese say that the total Tibetan population is only
slightly more than four million. However, a look at statistics
provided by the Chinese themselves suggest that it was over six
million in 1959.

According to China's State Statistical Bureau, the TAR had
1,273,969 people in November 1959. Tibetan areas of Kham then named
as Xikang by China had 3,381,064 Tibetans. In Qinghai and other
Tibetan areas incorporated into Gansu, Tibetans were reported to
number 1,675,534. If the total of these three figures are taken,
the Tibetan population then stood at 6,330,567. [People's Daily,
Beijing, 10 November, 1959]

In February 1988, Huan Xiang, director of the Centre for
International Studies under the State Council in Beijing, stated
that of the present population of six million Tibetans only two
million are living in Tibet (read TAR) while the remaining four
million are in other provinces of China. [Beijing Review, Vol. 31,
No. 7 and 8.] 


As a result of Chinese population transfer, Tibetans find
themselves marginalised in economic, political, educational and
social spheres. In the early 1980s, the Tibetan Government-in-
Exile estimated the Chinese population in the whole of Tibet at 7.5
million. The figure today may be well in excess of this.

In Kham and Amdo, most of the fertile lands in the valleys have
been given to Chinese settlers, driving the Tibetans to more and
more barren lands. Almost all key administrative positions in Tibet
are held by the Chinese. Furthermore, Chinese settlers are given
preference over Tibetans in jobs created by forestry and mineral
exploitation in Tibet. The general economic impact of the Chinese
settlers on Tibetans may be gauged from the following example: Of
the 12,827 shops and restaurants in Lhasa city (excluding Barkhor),
only 300 are owned by Tibetans. In Tsawa Pash, southern Kham,
Chinese own 133 business enterprises whereas Tibetans own only 15.
The ownership ratio is similar in other Tibetan towns: 748 to 92 in
Chamdo, 229 to 3 in Powo Tramo. The situation is far worse in the
urban centres of Amdo, where, according to one British journalist,
Tibetans are reduced to tourist curios.

Chapter 9. State of Tibet's environment

Tibet is the prime source of Asia's great rivers. It also has the
earth's loftiest mountains as well as the world's most extensive
and highest plateau, ancient forests, and many deep valleys
untouched by human disturbances. 

Traditional Tibetan economic and religious value systems led to the
evolution of successful environmental protection practices. Their
belief in the Buddhist teaching of Right Livelihood stresses the
importance of contentment and discourages over-consumption. It
also frowns upon over-exploitation of the earth's natural resources
as this is perceived to harm other living beings and their habitat.
As early as 1642, the Fifth Dalai Lama issued a Decree for the
Protection of Animals and the Environment. Since then, such decrees
have been issued annually. 

With the colonisation of Tibet by Communist China, Tibet's
traditional environment protection system has given way to an
ecocide of appalling proportions. The effects of this are
especially notable in the grassland areas, the cropland areas, the
forests, the water resource and the wildlife.

Grassland, cropland and Chinese agricultural policies

Tibet is 70 per cent grassland. Grasslands form the backbone of the
country's animal husbandry-dominated agrarian economy. The domestic
animal population is as big as 70 million and supports nearly a
million herdsmen. 

Tibet's nomads have traditionally adapted themselves well to the
needs of their fragile grasslands. Annual records of pasture use,
systematic migrations of their herds of dri and yak, sheep and
goats, and responsibility for sustainable use at the individual and
community levels are traditional habits. 

Over the last four decades there has been widespread degradation of
these vital pastures. The conversion of marginal  lands to
agriculture for Chinese settlers has become the greatest threat to
Tibet's grasslands. This has led to extensive desertification,
rendering the land unusable for agriculture or grazing. This
problem has especially devastated the vast grasslands in Amdo. 

The situation is made worse by the fencing of grasslands which have
restricted the Tibetan nomads to ever smaller areas and  disrupted
their traditional migration practice. In Machu district of Amdo
alone, one-third of the total area of over 10,000 square kilometre
has been fenced for the horses, sheep and cattle of the Chinese
army. Similarly, most of the better pasture lands in Ngapa, Golok
and Qinghai have been reserved for the Chinese. Traditionally,
the principal croplands are arable niches along the river valleys
of Kham, the Tsangpo valley in U-Tsang, and the Machu valley in
Amdo. The staple crop is barley, grown with other cereals and
legumes. The traditional agricultural system has organic
principles, crop rotation, mixed crops, and periodic failures which
are sustainable and appropriate to a fragile mountain environment.
Grain yields in Tibet average 2,000 kg/ha in U-Tsang and higher
still in the lower valleys of Amdo and Kham. This exceeds yields in
comparable climates such as in Russia (1,700 kg/ha) and Canada
(1,800 kg/ha).

The need to feed the ever-increasing Chinese military and civil
personnel and settlers and the export of agricultural produce has
led to the extension of farmland onto steep and marginal terrain,
an increase in the area under wheat (which the Chinese prefer to
the Tibetan staple, barley) and the introduction of hybrid seeds,
pesticides and chemical fertilizer.  Disease has been regularly
affecting new wheat varieties, and in 1979 destroyed the entire
wheat crop. Prior to the influx of millions of Chinese settlers
Tibetans had no need to increase production so drastically. 

Forests and deforestation

In 1949, Tibet's ancient forests covered 221,800 square kilometres.
By 1985 they stood at 134,000 square kilometres  almost half. Most
forests grow on steep, isolated slopes in the river valleys of
Tibet's low-lying southeastern region. The principal types are
tropical montane and subtropical montane coniferous forest, with
spruce, fir, pine, larch, cypress, birch, and oak among the main
species. The tree line varies from 3,800 metres in the region's
moist south to 4,300 metres in the semi- dry north.  Tibet's
forests were primarily old growth, with trees over 200 years old
predominating. The average stock density is 272 cubic metres/ha,
but U-Tsang's old growth areas reach 2,300 cubic metres/ha  the
world's highest stock density for conifers.

As new roads penetrate remote areas of Tibet the rate of
deforestation increases. All roads, it should be noted, are built
or aided by PLA or China's Forestry Ministry's teams of engineers
and their costs are counted as expenditure to develop Tibet. Once
pristine forests are reached, the most common method of cutting is
clear felling, which has led to the denudation of vast hill sides.
Timber extraction until 1985 totalled 2,442 million cubic metres,
or 40% of the 1949 forest stock, worth $54 billion.

Deforestation is a major employer in Tibet: in the Kongpo area of
the TAR alone, over 20,000 Chinese soldiers and Tibetan prisoners
are involved in tree felling and transportation of timber.  In
1949, Ngapa, in Amdo, had 2.20 million hectares of land under
forest cover. Its timber reserve then stood at 340 million cubic
meters. In the 1980s, it was reduced to 1.17 million hectares, with
a timber reserve of only 180 million cubic meters. [Ngapa Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Publishing House, 1985, pp.
149-154]. Similarly, during thirty years till 1985 China exploited
6.44 million cubic metres of timber from Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous
Prefecture. Cut into a size measuring 30 centimetre wide and three
metre long, and lined from end to end, this would be long enough to
make two full circles round the globe. (Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous
Prefecture, Gansu People's Publishing House, 1987, p.145)

The growing degradation and desertification of the Tibetan Plateau,
unique on earth and the planet's most extensive high land form, is
continuing. This area influences atmospheric circulation and jet
stream wind patterns over Asia and, according to scientists, may be
related to the destabilisation of weather patterns over the
northern hemisphere.

Regeneration and afforestation have been minimal due to the extreme
degree of land slope, soil and moisture, including high diurnal
temperature variations and high soil surface temperatures. With
such conditions the destructive effects of clear-felling are

Water resource and hydropower

Tibet is Asia's principal watershed and the source of its major
rivers. A substantial proportion of river flows in Tibet are stable
or base flows coming from ground water and glacial sources. This is
in marked contrast to river flows in most neighbouring countries,
which are determined by seasonal rainfall patterns. 

Ninety per cent of Tibet's river run-off flows down across its
borders, internal use accounting for less than 1 per cent of total
river run-off. Today Tibet's rivers have developed extremely high
sediment rates: The Machu (Huang Ho, or Yellow River), the Tsangpo
(Brahmaputra), the Drichu (Yangtze), and the Senge Khabab (Indus)
are among the five most heavily-silted rivers in the world. The
total area irrigated by these rivers, from the Machu basin in the
east to the Senge Khabab in the west, covers 47 per cent of the
earth's human population. Tibet also has over 2,000 natural lakes
 some of which are sacred or otherwise play a special role in the
people's culture  with a combined area of more than 35,000 square

Steep slopes and abundant river flows give Tibet an exploitable
hydropower potential of 250,000 megawatts, the highest of any
country in the world. The TAR alone has a potential of 200,000

Tibet possesses the world's highest solar energy potential per unit
after the Sahara, an estimated annual average of 200
kilocalorie/cm, as well as significant geothermal resources.
Despite such abundant potential from small, environmentally- benign
sources, the Chinese have built huge dams, such as Longyang Xia,
and are continuing to do so, such as the hydropower station at
Yamdrok Yutso. 

Many of these projects are designed to tap Tibet's hydro potential
to provide power and other benefits to the Chinese population and
industries both in Tibet and China. But the environmental, human
and cultural toll of these hydro-electricity projects will be borne
by the Tibetans. While the Tibetans are displaced from their homes
and lands, tens of thousands of Chinese workers are brought up from
China to construct and maintain these dams.  These dams have very
little benefit for the local Tibetans who have no say over them.
Take the case of Yamdrok Yutso hydro-power project. The Chinese
claim that this project will greatly benefit the Tibetans. Tibetan
people in general, particularly the late Panchen Lama and Ngapo
Ngawang Jigme, opposed and effectively delayed its construction for
several years. The Chinese, nevertheless, went ahead with the
construction and today more than 1,500-strong PLA troops are
guarding the construction area and no civilians are allowed near

Minerals and mining
According to official Chinese sources, Tibet has proven deposits of
126 minerals, with a significant share of the world's reserves in
lithium, chromite, copper, borax, and iron. Amdo's oil fields
produce over one million tons of crude oil per year. 

The network of roads and communications built by the Chinese in
Tibet mirrors the locations of forests and mineral reserves
indiscriminately exploited by the Chinese Government. With seven of
China's 15 key minerals due to run out within this decade and major
non-ferrous minerals virtually exhausted, the rate of mineral
extraction from Tibet is rapidly increasing. It is believed that
China plans to shift its major mining operations into Tibet by the
end of this century. Environmental safeguards are virtually
non-existent in Tibet's mines. Particularly in fragile terrains,
this is leading to slope destabilisation, land degradation, and
hazards to human health and life.

Many wild animals and birds have vanished through destruction of
their habitat or have been slaughtered by indiscriminate hunting
for sport and to furbish China's illicit trade in wildlife
products. There have been numerous and continuing reports of
Chinese soldiers using automatic weapons to wipe out herds of wild
yaks and wild asses for sport. 

Unrestricted hunting of wildlife continues to take place. Hunting
tours organised for wealthy foreign clients  for trophies of
endangered species  appear in the official Chinese news media
regularly. For instance, hunting tours are being organised for
wealthy sportsmen from the United States of America and Western
Europe. These hunters can bag trophies of endangered species such
as the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsoni) and the Argali sheep
(Ovis ammon hodgsoni), species supposedly accorded the highest
level of official protection. The hunts cost up to $35,000 for a
Tibetan antelope, $23,000 for an Argali, $13,000 for a white-lipped
deer (Cervus albirostris), $7,900 for a blue sheep (Pseudois
nayaur), and $3,500 for a red deer (Cerrus elaphus). The present
scenario is likely to result in the irrevocable loss of countless
Tibetan species even before they have been discovered and studied.
Also, it constitutes a known threat to the very survival of species
treasured in Tibetan culture and of immeasurable value to the

The White Paper does admit that a number of animals are on the
verge of extinction. Similarly, the International Union for
Conservation of Nature's 1990 Red List of Endangered Animal Species
mentions 30 Tibetan animals.

Chinese conservation measures for Tibet, except for areas now
merged into Chinese provinces, were initiated long after similar
efforts in China itself. Declared protected areas are said to cover
310,000 or approximately 12 per cent of Tibet by 1991 end.
The effectiveness of protection cannot be measured because of
China's strictly limited access, plus secrecy concerning actual

Nuclear and other toxic wastes
China is reported to have stationed approximately 90 nuclear
warheads in Tibet. The Ninth Academy, China's North-west Nuclear
Weapons Research and Design Academy in Tibet's north-eastern area
of Amdo, is reported to have dumped an unknown quantity of
radioactive waste on the Tibetan plateau. 

According to a report released by International Campaign for Tibet,
a Wastington, DC- based organisation:
     Waste disposal methods were reported to be casual in  the
     extreme. Initially, waste was put in shallow, unlined
     landfills ... The nature and quantity of radioactive
     waste generated by the Ninth Academy is still unknown.
     ... During the 1960s and 1970s, nuclear waste from the
     facility was disposed of in a roughshod and haphazard
     manner. Nuclear waste from the Academy would have taken
     a variety of forms  liquid slurry, as well as solid and
     gaseous waste. Liquid or solid waste would have been in
     adjacent land or water sites. [Nuclear Tibet, Washington,
     DC, 1993, p.18]

Official Chinese pronouncements have confirmed the existence in
Tibet of the biggest uranium reserves in the world. Reports say
that uranium is processed in Tibet itself and that many local
Tibetans died after drinking contaminated water near a uranium mine
in Ngapa, Amdo. 

The local Tibetans have also reported the birth of deformed humans
and animals. Given the fact that underground water supplies in Amdo
have been diminishing at a rapid rate, and useable underground
water is very limited (a report estimated underground water reserve
at 340 to 4.0 billion cubic feet, He Bochuan, pp.39), radioactive
contamination of groundwater is of great concern. Since 1976
uranium has been mined and processed in Thewo and Zorge regions of
Kham also.

In 1991, Greenpeace exposed plans to ship toxic municipal sludge
from the USA to China for use as fertilizer in Tibet. The use of
similar toxic waste as fertilizer in the USA has been linked to
outbreaks of diseases.


Tibet's complex environmental problems cannot be addressed by
cosmetic changes like designating swathes of land as nature
reserves or making laws for the people when the real perpetrator of
environmental damage is the Government itself. There should be
political will on the part of the Chinese leadership to restore
rights to environment to the Tibetan people and allow them to
follow their traditional conservationist practices. 

In keeping with the vision of the Dalai Lama, all of Tibet should
be transformed into a zone of peace where humans and nature can
dwell in harmonious coexistence. Such a Tibet, as the Dalai Lama
said, should be completely demilitarised and must have a democratic
form of government and an economic system that ensures the
sustainable use of the country's natural resources to provide a
decent standard of living for its people.

Ultimately, this is in the long-term interest of all the
neighbouring countries as environmental conditions in Tibet have
major transboundary effects, notably in India, China, Bangladesh
and Pakistan. Nearly half of the global population, particularly in
these four countries, depend on the rivers of Tibet for their
sustenance. Some of the major floods in these countries during the
last decade have been attributed to deforestation-related siltation
of Tibet's rivers. The destructive potential of these rivers
increases each year as China continues the deforestation and
uranium-related activities on the Roof of the World. 

China acknowledges pollution in several sections of rivers. Since
hydrological flows respect no international borders, it should be
a cause of concern for Tibet's neighbouring countries who have the
right to know which of their own rivers are polluted, how and by
what. Unless an urgent action is taken now to stop this, the rivers
of Tibet, which have brought joy and sustenance, may one day bring
death and destruction.

Chapter 10. Militarisation and regional peace


In 1949, the first vanguard of the PLA entered Tibet. In the spring
of 1950, China's 18th Army entered Tibet through Dartsedo
(Chinese: Dajianlu) in the east, and through Amdo in the northeast.
The 14th Division entered through Dechen in the southeast of
Tibet. After occupying Kham and Amdo, the advance party of the
18th Army entered Lhasa on 9 September 1951, followed by the
unit's main force on 26 October 1951. This was only the start of a
vast programme of military build up in Tibet.

Military build-up on the Tibetan plateau

Until 1986, areas under Communist Chinese rule were divided into 11
military regions, and Tibet was put under the control of three
regions. In 1986, when the total number of military regions was
reduced to seven, the whole of Tibet was put under two military
regions: Southwest Military Region with its headquarters at Chengdu
and the Lanzhou Military Region with its headquarters at Lanzhou. 

The TAR, Kanze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Ngapa Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture, Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and
the Mili Tibetan Autonomous District fall under the Southwest
Military Region; while Qinghai Province, Kanlho Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture and Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous District
fall under Lanzhou Military Region.

The Chinese military presence in the whole of Tibet is today
conservatively estimated to number around 500,000 uniformed
personnel. The Chinese official figure of 40,394 PLA personnel in
the TAR is misleading. According to our information, the strength
of armed forces in the region is around 250,000. This does not
include the local militia establishment which was set up in 1963.

There are six sub-military districts in the TAR, having two
independent infantry divisions, six border defence regiments, five
independent border defence battalions, three artillery regiments,
three engineers' regiments, one main signal station and two signal
regiments, three transport regiments and three independent
transport battalions, four air force bases, two radar regiments,
two divisions and a regiment of para-military forces (referred to
as Di-fang Jun or local army), one independent division and six
independent regiments of People's Armed Police. In addition, there
are 12 units of what is known as the second artillery (or the
missile) division. Out of the many air bases built, currently only
four are in active use. The People's Armed Police are regular PLA
troops redesignated as such recently.

The front-line PLA troop concentrations in the TAR are stationed
in Ruthok, Gyamuk (Chinese: Siqenho), Drongpa, Saga, Drangso
(Dhingri), Gampa-la, Dromo, Tsona, Lhuntse Dzong, Zayul, etc. The
second-line of defence stations are concentrated at Shigatse,
Lhasa, Nagchukha, Tsethang, Nangartse district, Gyamdha, Nyingtri,
Miling, Powo Tramo, Tsawa Pomdha, Chamdo, etc. In addition, China
regularly deploys the Sichuan-based 149 Airborne Division in the
TAR, as it did in the wake of the Tibetan demonstrations in Lhasa
in 1987 and thereafter.

China is also planning to shift the headquarters of the Tibet
Military District from Chengdu to a site located to the southwest
of Lhasa, along the road to Gongkar airport. Reports say that the
Lhasa headquarters, stretching for more than a kilometre in length,
may also see a part of China's South-Western command headquarters
 the Chengdu military region  ... moving to Lhasa.  The new
complex, under construction, includes about 40 three-storey
buildings, each containing about 40 rooms, and capable of
accommodating up to 15,000 men.

The largest military bases in Amdo are at Silling, Chabcha, and
Karmu. All the three places also have air force bases. The
once-deserted wasteland of Karmu (Chinese: Golmud) has now been
turned into a major military base. Located strategically to cover
both Tibet and Eastern Turkestan, this region is connected by road,
rail and air.  

The Chinese military build-up in Kham and Ngapa regions are
concentrated in Lithang, Kanze, Tawu, Dartsedo, etc, in Kham, and
Barkham in Ngapa. However, there are radar stations and dormant air
strips in Kham at various localities.

Nuclear bases

The existence of nuclear bases and nuclear weapon manufacturing
centres in Tibet has been reported from time to time. China is
believed to have nuclear manufacturing centres at Dhashu (Chinese:
Haiyan) which is in the Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and
Tongkhor (Chinese: Huangyuan) in Amdo. 

China's primary weapon research and design facility in Dhashu was
constructed in the early sixties.  According to Nuclear Tibet, a
report on nuclear weapons and waste on the Tibetan plateau, brought
out by the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington DC, USA,
the facility is based near Lake Kokonor. It is known as the
Northwest Nuclear Weapons Research & Design Academy, or the Ninth
Academy, because it was under the jurisdiction of the Ninth
Bureau. The facility is the most secret organisation in China's
entire nuclear programme and remains today an important and high
security military weapons plant.  It was responsible for designing
all of China's nuclear bombs through the mid-seventies.  It also
served as a research centre for detonation development,
radiochemistry and many other nuclear weapons related activities.
It also assembled components of nuclear weapons.  

Missile bases are located to the south of Lake Kokonor in Amdo, and
Nagchukha (the actual base is said to be located to the northwest
of Nagchukha).

According to Nuclear Tibet, the first nuclear weapon was brought
onto the Tibetan plateau in 1971 and stationed in the Tsaidam
basin, in northern Amdo.  China currently has approximately 300-
400 nuclear warheads, of which several dozens are believed to be in
Tibet.  As China's ground-based nuclear missiles can be transported
and fired from trailers, efforts to locate and count missiles in
certain areas remain difficult.

To the west of Dhashu (Haiyan), China has established a nuclear
missile deployment and launch site for DF-4 missiles (China's first
inter-continental ballistic missile) in the Tsaidam basin in the
early seventies.  The report mentions that the Larger Tsaidam site
has two missiles stored horizontally in tunnels near the launch
pad.  Fuel and oxidiser is stored in separate tunnels with lines to
the launch pad.  The Smaller Tsaidam site is presumably organised
similar to the Larger Tsaidam deployment and launch site.  
Another nuclear missile site in Tibet is located at Delingha, about
200 km southeast of Larger Tsaidam.  It also houses DF-4s, and is
the missile regimental headquarters for Amdo containing four
associated launch sites.  A new nuclear division has also been
established in Amdo.  Four CSS-4 missiles are reported to be based
there, which have a range of 8000 miles, capable of striking the
United States, Europe and all of Asia.

In 1988, China carried out in Tibet what the Jiefangjun Bao of 16
September 1988 called chemical defence manoeuvres in the high
altitude zone to test newly-developed equipment. According to a
TASS report of 3 July 1982, China has been conducting nuclear
tests in several areas of Tibet in order to determine the radiation
levels among the people living in those parts.


Nuclear weapons are the very antithesis of Tibetan cultural
tradition and spirit. Free Tibet will have no place for such
armaments of mass destruction. It is in view of this fact that the
Dalai Lama said in his Strasbourg Proposal of 15 June 1988:

     My country's unique history and profound spiritual
     heritage render it ideally suited for fulfilling the role
     of a sanctuary of peace at the heart of Asia. Its
     historic status as a neutral buffer state, contributing
     to the stability of the entire continent, can be
     restored. Peace and security for Asia as well as for the
     world at large can be enhanced. In the future, Tibet need
     no longer be an occupied land, oppressed by force,
     unproductive and scarred by suffering. It can become a
     free haven where humanity and nature live in harmonious
     balance; a creative model for the resolution    of
     tensions afflicting many areas throughout the world.


Chapter 11. Quest for solution

>From 1959 until 1979 the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and the
Chinese Government had no contact. However, throughout this period
the Dalai Lama retained his hope of finding a peaceful solution to
the problem of Tibet through contact and dialogue with the Chinese
Government. Soon after coming to India, the Dalai Lama issued a
press statement in Mussoorie on 20 June 1959, wherein he said:
@INDENT = Although recent actions and policies of the Chinese
authorities in Tibet have created strong feelings of bitterness and
resentment against the Government of China, we, Tibetans, lay and
monk alike, do not cherish any feelings of enmity and hatred
against the great  Chinese people. ... We must also insist on the
creation of a favourable climate by the immediate adoption of the
essential measures as a condition precedent to negotiations for a
peaceful settlement. 

In the light of political changes in China, the Dalai Lama, in his
10 March statement to the Tibetan people in 1978, said:

     (T)he Chinese should allow the Tibetans in Tibet to visit
     their parents and relatives now in exile. ...Similar
     opportunity should be given to the Tibetans in exile.
     Under such an arrangement we can be confident of knowing
     the true situation inside Tibet.

Toward the end of 1978, Mr Gyalo Thondup (one of the elder brothers
of the Dalai Lama) was contacted by Mr Li Juisin, director of
Xinhua News Agency, in Hong Kong, through a common friend. A
meeting was arranged in January 1979 during which Mr Li extended Mr
Deng Xiaoping's invitation to Mr Thondup to visit Beijing to
discuss the Tibet problem. With the approval of the Dalai Lama, Mr
Thondup made a private visit to Beijing in late February 1979.
Mr Thondup met with leading Chinese officials in Beijing. They told
him that under the Gang of Four China had suffered great
instability, affecting its development in the fields of industry
and agriculture. Tibet also suffered as a result of this, they
said, and added that the 1959 uprising in Tibet was inspired by a
number of factors for which the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people
could not be blamed.

Mr Deng Xiaoping said during his meeting with Mr Thondup that as it
is better to see things once with one's own eyes than to hear a
hundred times, he would invite exile Tibetans of all ages to visit
Tibet and see the actual situation for themselves. Mr Deng went on
to say that China was willing to discuss and resolve with Tibetans
all issues other than complete independence of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama and his Government responded by sending three
fact-finding delegations to Tibet in 1979 and 1980. The fourth
delegation, consisting of 16 members representing various Tibetan
Buddhist schools and people from other walks of life, was also
arranged. However, on 6 August 1980, China expressed its inability
to receive this delegation on the ground that it would not be able
to accord the delegates proper reception as the weather in Tibet
was going to be cold, and also because some development work was in
progress. So, this visit did not come through. After repeated
reminders to the Chinese Government of Deng Xiaoping's invitation,
the fourth delegation, led by former Kalon W.G. Kundeling, was
allowed to visit only north-eastern part of Tibet in July 1985. At
the end of the visit, the delegation told the Chinese government
about the problems they observed in Tibet and asked them to rectify
them. Since then, no delegation has been allowed to visit Tibet.
However, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government continued to
make sincere efforts to develop closer contact and better
understanding with the Chinese Government. The Dalai Lama and the
Tibetan Government took several confidence-building steps and other

On 21 July 1980, it was suggested that travel restrictions on
Tibetans wishing to visit their relatives in and outside Tibet
should be eased. This was rejected. The background of Tibetans
wishing to visit their relatives outside Tibet are thoroughly
scrutinised, and in most cases, they are also required to leave
members of their families behind as hostages. Similarly, exile
Tibetans wishing to visit Tibet are required to take Chinese-
issued travel documents describing them as Overseas Chinese. 
In September 1980, the Exile Government offered to send about 50
trained Tibetan teachers to help in Tibet. In response, China first
parried the matter by stating that since these Tibetan youths were
brought up and educated in India with good facilities, they would
face difficulties in adjusting to the poor living conditions in
Tibet. Instead, they proposed that the teachers should first be
sent to teach in several Nationalities Schools within China. The
Exile Tibetan Government replied that the Tibetan volunteers were
fully aware of the poor facilities in Tibet. Left with no valid
reasons to deny permission, the Chinese Government put forward
unacceptable pre-conditions by suggesting that the Tibetan teachers
must first accept Chinese nationality. 

Around the same time the Tibetan suggestion to open a liaison
office in Beijing to foster closer contacts was also turned down.
On 14 December 1980, the Government-in-Exile asked the Chinese
authorities to allow 11 Tibetan scholars, living in Tibet, to
attend a conference of Tibetologists. This met with an outright

On 13 March 1981, the Dalai Lama wrote a letter to Deng Xiaoping,
in which, amongst other things, he stated:

     The time has come to apply our common wisdom in a spirit
     of tolerance and broad-mindedness to achieve genuine
     happiness for the Tibetan people with renewed urgency. On
     my part, I remain committed to contribute to the welfare
     of all human beings and, in particular, the poor and
     weak, to the best of my ability, without  making any
     discrimination based on nationalities. I hope you will
     let me know your views on the foregoing points.

There was no reply to this letter. Instead, on 28 July 1981,
General Secretary Hu Yaobang gave Mr Gyalo Thondup a document,
entitled Five-point Policy Towards the Dalai Lama, which reduced
the issue to that of the personal status of the Dalai Lama.
Since the real issue is the future well-being of the Tibetan
people, the Dalai Lama, in April 1982, sent a three-member
high-level delegation to Beijing to have exploratory talks with the
Chinese leadership. This delegation put forward a number of broad
proposals for the consideration of the Chinese leaders.
In February 1983, the Dalai Lama expressed his desire to visit
Tibet around 1985. In the meantime, under the so-called
Anti-pollution Campaign, a new phase of political repression was
unleashed in Tibet, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of a
number of persons.

In October 1984, another three-member high-level delegation was
sent to Beijing to ask the Chinese Government to end its latest
political repression in Tibet, discuss arrangements for the
possible visit of the Dalai Lama, and to explore possibilities for
further talks. The Chinese responses to all these overtures were
negative. Contrary to the understanding of keeping these bi-
lateral discussions confidential, the Chinese Government chose to
make its rejection public through its media.

It is clear from the above facts that the Dalai Lama and his
Government did try to initiate meaningful direct, bi-lateral
dialogues with the Chinese Government. When all these attempts
failed the Dalai Lama was left with no alternative, but to make his
position public and appeal for international support.
Addressing the United States Congress' Human Rights Caucus on 21
September 1987, the Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan.
The five points are:

     Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of 

     Abandonment of China's population transfer policy which
     threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people;

     Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights
     and democratic freedoms;

     Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment
     and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the
     production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear

     Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status
     of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese
Rejecting this proposal on 17 October 1987, the Chinese leadership
accused the Dalai Lama of widening the gulf between him and their
Government. Despite the rude response, the Dalai Lama made an
earnest effort to clarify the Tibetan position in a detailed
14-point note, conveyed to the Chinese Government on 17 December
On 15 June 1988, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the
Dalai Lama made another detailed proposal, which elaborated the
last point of the Five-point Peace Plan for negotiations.
An advance copy of the text of this speech was given to the Chinese
Government through its Embassy in New Delhi. Subsequently, the
Dalai Lama's Representative in New Delhi met the Chinese Charg
d'Affaires in New Delhi on 22 and 29 August to clarify some of the
misgivings the Chinese Government had raised through various press
statements. Amongst other things, the Representative emphasised
that the Strasbourg proposal was very much within the context of
Deng Xiaoping's statement to Gyalo Thondup in 1979, when he said
that everything, except the question of complete independence,
could be discussed. In the Strasbourg proposal, the Dalai Lama had
put forward the notion of association rather than separation.
On 21 September 1988, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi informed a
senior official of the Dalai Lama that its Government was willing
to have talks with the representative of the Dalai Lama at the
venue and time of the latter's choice. 

Welcoming the Chinese announcement, the Kashag, on 23 September
1988, said: We hope this positive response to our suggestion is an
indication that the Chinese sincerely wish to deal with the issue
this time. 

On 25 October 1988, the Chinese Government was informed through its
New Delhi Embassy that the venue for talks should be Geneva which
is the most convenient and neutral place and that the talks should
begin in January 1989.

In early November 1988, Mr Yang Min-fu, head of the United Front,
told Mr Gyalo Thondup that although they differed in thinking over
some points of the Strasbourg proposal, these could be discussed
and resolved.

However, on 18 November 1988, the Chinese Government, through its
New Delhi Embassy, put forward the following pre-conditions for the

     The Chinese Government disapprove of the way the venue
     and date for the proposed talks were publicly announced.
     The most suitable venue for talks is Beijing.

     The six-member negotiating team appointed by the Dalai
     Lama is not acceptable as all of them have always engaged
     in splittist activities. Neither is the Dutch lawyer
     acceptable as this talk deals with internal matters only.

     The Chinese Government would like to have direct talks
     with  the Dalai Lama. However, it is also willing to
     accept a trusted representative of the Dalai Lama, like
     Gyalo Thondup.

     The Strasbourg proposal cannot be the basis for talks.
     The pre-conditions for holding the talks is to accept and 
     support the unity of the Motherland.

The Tibetan Government was naturally disappointed by this
communication as it was inconsistent with the earlier public
statements and official communications received from the Chinese
Government. On 5 December 1988, the Tibetan Government responded to
the Chinese communication and said:

     Since the Chinese Government left the choice of venue and
     date for talks to the Dalai Lama, he responded in good
     faith  by proposing Geneva as the venue and January 1989
     as the date for starting the negotiations. 

     On numerous occasions, the Chinese Government stated 
     publicly as well as through messages conveyed to the
     Tibetan Government that it was willing to meet and
     negotiate with any persons appointed by the Dalai Lama.
     The Tibetan Government, therefore, fails to understand
     the Chinese refusal to accept the delegation appointed by
     the Dalai Lama. It should be the prerogative of the Dalai
     Lama to appoint whomsoever he chooses to negotiate on his
     behalf. Dr Michael van Walt van Praag is not a member of
     the negotiating team. He is only a legal advisor.

     As suggested by the Chinese Government, Mr Gyalo Thondup
     will be associated with the talks as an advisor of the
     Tibetan team.

     Fair and meaningful negotiations on the future of Tibet
     can only take place without the imposition of
     pre-conditions by either side. The proposals contained in
     the Strasbourg statement provide the most reasonable and
     realistic basis  for such discussions. 

In February 1989, when the Panchen Lama passed away in Tibet, the
Dalai Lama proposed to send a ten-member Tibetan religious
delegation to Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse and other areas in
Tibet, such as Lhasa, Kubum and Tashi-kyil, for the purpose of
offering prayers and performing kalachakra ceremony for the late
Panchen Lama. China rejected the request and stated that there was
no precedence for prayers of this scale and that it could not
accept two leaders of the delegation who, they said, were officials
of the Kashag. The Tibetan Government agreed to withdraw them and
approached the Chinese Government, once again.

On 17 March 1989, the reply came through the Chinese Embassy. China
agreed to receive only two or three lamas as representatives of the
Dalai Lama. But the lamas must go only to Tashilhunpo, that too via
Beijing, and must return to India immediately after offering the
prayers. In the same message, the Chinese Government accused the
Tibetan Government-in-Exile of having plotted the troubles in
Lhasa, and criticised the Dalai Lama for appealing to world leaders
for help in getting the martial law in Tibet lifted. 

On 23 March 1989 the Tibetan Government gave the following reply to
the Chinese Embassy:

     Refusal to allow the proposed religious delegation to 
     visit Tibet to make religious offerings and perform a
     special Kalachakra Prayer Ceremony for the late Panchen
     Rinpoche, even after we agreed to make some changes in
     the members of the delegation and explained the
     requirement of the minimum number of monks we had
     suggested for performing the Kalachakra Prayer  Ceremony,
     is yet another disappointing experience for us. Obviously
     there is no point in sending two or three monks.

     We wish to deny categorically, once again, the allegation
     that we were behind the recent troubles in Tibet and that
     we are engaging in some kind of terrorist activities by
     smuggling into Tibet trained persons and arms. We would
     like the Government to produce substantive evidence to
     support these serious allegations and also allow an
     independent international  commission to visit Tibet to
     determine the real causes of the trouble in Tibet.

     It is within the right of any person to appeal for help
     when faced with a desperate situation. In order to avoid
     further bloodshed and repression, His Holiness the Dalai
     lama appealed to various world leaders, including
     Chairman Deng Xiaoping. His Holiness' consistent effort
     for direct dialogue and peaceful  resolution of the
     problem is well known.

     We, once again, urge the Government of the PRC to
     commence the proposed negotiations soon. Any attempt to
     delay it on one excuse or the other will not be helpful.
     His Holiness made the proposal last June and  suggested
     the commencement of the talks in January this year. Since
     December 5, 1988 we had both in writing and messages
     through the Embassy in New Delhi conveyed our sincere
     clarifications to the doubts and objections raised by
     your Government. The latest accusation against us for
     spoiling the atmosphere and blaming us for the delay in
     starting talks is unfair.

     Judging by our experience so far, we feel that the 
     Government of the PRC still has not given up its
     authoritarian attitude and bullying tactics. If this
     continues there will be the need of the presence of a
     third party in our proposed negotiations to ensure that
     there are no further accusations and intimidations. 

Even after the imposition of martial law in Tibet, the Dalai Lama
offered to send some representatives to Hong Kong to have
preparatory meetings with the representatives of the Chinese
Government. In order to create a conducive atmosphere for
dialogues, the Dalai lama requested an early withdrawal of the
martial law.

In a reply, received through the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on 17
May 1989, the Chinese Government justified the imposition of the
martial law to deal with a handful of criminals indulging in
beating, robbery and banditry, and stated that appealing for its
withdrawal was tantamount to supporting the criminals. The reply
further stated that the Dalai Lama's proposal for turning the whole
of Tibet into a zone of peace would never be accepted by the
Chinese Government. It did not say anything about the Tibetan
proposal for preliminary talks in Hong Kong.

The Dalai Lama waited for two years for a positive response from
the Chinese side to his proposal for negotiations. Then, in 1991,
during his 10 March Speech, the Dalai Lama warned that unless the
Chinese Government responded positively to his proposal without
further delays, he would consider himself free from any obligations
to abide by the concessions he had made in the Strasbourg proposal.

On 25 March 1991, the Chinese Government was informed through its
New Delhi Embassy, that the Dalai Lama wished to assist in the
search for the authentic reincarnation of the late Panchen Lama. To
facilitate this, the Chinese Government was informed that the Dalai
Lama wished to send a delegation of high lamas and abbots to Lhamoi
Latso, the sacred lake near Lhasa, to pray and observe prophetic
visions in the lake which would guide them to the genuine
reincarnation. After more than three months, the Chinese Government
replied, saying that there was no need for outside interference in
this matter and that the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama would be
found by the responsible officials of Tashilhunpo Monastery.

Notwithstanding these frustrating and disappointing experiences,
the Dalai Lama did not want the situation to remain stalemated. In
his address at the Yale University in October 1991, the Dalai Lama
made a fresh overture to the Chinese Government by suggesting a
personal visit to Tibet, in the accompaniment of some senior
Chinese leaders, to make an on-the-spot assessment of the actual
situation in Tibet.

In the same spirit, the Dalai Lama sought a meeting with the
Chinese Prime Minister, Li Peng, during the latter's visit to India
in December 1991. These positive and constructive initiatives were
also rejected.

In view of these facts, the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies,
on 23 January 1992, passed a resolution stating that the Tibetan
Exile Government should not initiate any new move for negotiations
with China unless there was a positive change in the attitude of
the Chinese leadership. The resolution, however, noted that the
Tibetan Government would have no objection to negotiations if the
overture came from the Chinese Government, either directly or
through a third party. 

In June 1992, the Chinese Ambassador in Delhi called on Mr Gyalo
Thondup and told him that the Chinese Government's position in the
past had been conservative, but that it was willing to be
flexible if the Tibetans were prepared to be realistic. He,
therefore, invited Mr Thondup to visit China. In July Mr Thondup
went to Beijing with the approval of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan

On his return, he reported to the Dalai Lama and the Kashag of his
meetings with Chinese officials. The report was discussed by the
Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies during its third session.
Contrary to what the Chinese Ambassador had told Mr Thondup, there
was no indication of flexibility in the Chinese Government's
attitude. As a matter of fact, very serious accusations were made
against the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. It was,
therefore, found necessary to send a delegation to China, led by Mr
Thondup, to explain and clarify the Exile Government's views on the
points raised by the Chinese Government. The delegation was also to
carry a personal letter and a detailed note from the Dalai Lama to
Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. A three-member
delegation was appointed, and they met Mr Li Guang-hui, the Chinese
Ambassador in New Delhi, on 17 September 1992 to discuss the

The response of the Chinese Government is still awaited.
The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government firmly believe that the
only way to start negotiations for the peaceful solution of the
Tibet problem is without preconditions from either side. It is
encouraging to find that many Governments have supported this

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