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Monday, October 5, Morning Session DISCUSSION



Sino-Tibetan Relations prior to 1949, 1949-1951,

Seventeen-Point Agreement, Sovereignty,

Chinese policy in Tibet from the 1950s:  Interests, Goals

Elliot Sperling, Moderator

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I want to thank all of our panel this morning, especially for their 
efforts to stick to the time.  You must realize that working in three 
different languages here we do have some problems to overcome.  Even I, 
myself, have been restricted.  You've not been getting the full, bubbly 
effect of my discourse because I was asked specifically to speak slowly 
and clearly.  However, that need not apply to all of you, because we now 
have - well, of course you should, but you may speak as you wish!

We now have time for questions.  I will call for questions from the 
floor for any of our panelists or for all of our panelists.  You may 
throw a question out to everybody.  Those of you who wish to ask 
questions, though, I would ask you to please come forward.  There's a 
microphone at that side of the room and a microphone at this side of the 
room, so if you wish to ask questions, please come forward.  If some of 
you come to that microphone and some of you to this microphone, we could 
just alternate in asking questions.


[Professor of History, SUNY-Empire State College]  I have a question for 
Mr. Taklha.  You said that in 1949 and 1950, when the Chinese armies 
arrived in Tibet, the Tibetan government appealed to several foreign 
governments for help.  You said these governments did _not_ reply, and 
therefore the Tibetans were "left with no choice" and had to send a 
delegation to Beijing to negotiate the Seventeen Point Agreement.  In 
fact, the American government _did_ reply - it replied positively.  The 
United States sent American diplomats stationed at the embassy in New 
Delhi to Kalimpong.  Secret negotiations were going on with Tibetan 
government representatives.  The American government offered to sponsor 
the Dalai Lama and a large number of his followers to come out of Tibet, 
offered to sponsor a worldwide propaganda campaign, offered to sponsor a 
guerrilla movement in Tibet.  So the Dalai Lama's government did have an 
alternative.  And I'm wondering why, given this alternative, did they 
chose to send a delegation to Beijing?  And why did the Dalai Lama 
voluntarily return to Lhasa?


[in Tibetan]  At that time, around 1949, Tibet was attacked by the 
Chinese from three directions:  East, South, and North.  So the Tibetan 
people felt that it would not be safe for the Dalai Lama to stay in 
Lhasa.  The fear became worse after the People's Liberation Army (PLA) 
occupied Chamdo, the main town in Eastern Tibet.  As a result, Tibetan 
people requested that His Holiness leave Lhasa, so he left for Tormo in 
south Tibet.


The US side did offer assistance to Tibet, but there was no definitive 
commitment to help Tibet from the US Government.  There was an offer from 
the CIA, which promised that the US would sponsor the Dalai Lama to come 
out of Tibet, and that he would be supported.  However, at that time the 
US Government did not response to the Chinese PLA's attack on Tibet, 
which was what the Tibetan Government worried most about, or at least the 
US Government's attitude to this event was not definitive and not clear.  

Therefore, the Tibetan Government could not take the offer seriously, 
because we thought that the offer was not official.  The reasons, as I 
stated in the above, are:  first, the offer was from the CIA, not from 
the US Government; second, the US Government did not respond to the PLA's 
attack on Tibet.  There was never a definite agreement on the level or 
nature of the assistance.


Are there any other questions or comments?  Please feel free.  Just step 
up to the microphone.


I have a question for Mr. Tang Daxian.  You gave us a very clear outline 
of the economic problems facing the people of Tibet.  But you seemed to 
suggest that that was the fundamental, underlying reason for the feeling 
on the part of the people of Tibet for independence or 

Is it your contention that if the policies of the Chinese government 
were improved in Tibet and there were positive economic reforms that 
benefited the Tibetan people, that the urge on the part of the large 
portion of the Tibetan people for self-determination would then 


[in Chinese]  Now I will answer this question.  Probably the 
interpretation was wrong.  As a scholar, I used a neutral way of 
introducing these problems; I did not say which policy is good or which 
is bad.  I did not say because of the good policies of the Chinese 
Communist Party, Tibet may not seek independence or because of the bad 
policies of the Chinese Communist Party, Tibet may seek independence, 
either.  Hence, I think the interpretation may be wrong.

My original words were that the failure of economic policies pursued by 
the CCP, is _one_ of the causes for Tibetans to oppose the Chinese 
Communist regime, but I did not say it is the _only_ cause.  I think it 
is very important.

As a scholar, I do not like irresponsible approaches to political 
discourse in this serious conference.  I know many Chinese scholars are 
against the independence of Tibet.  Their attitudes result from the long 
period of influence by the Chinese Communist Party.  I think every 
nationality has the right to decide its own political future.  Every 
democratic government and organization should recognize and accept this 
principle.  Organizations fighting for this, whether it is the Democratic 
Front or the other overseas organizations must recognize that a nation 
has the right to self-determination, especially in the case of Tibet.  
You can persuade a nationality to give up self-determination, but you can 
never deprive this nationality of its right of self-determination.  This 
is my attitude.  

I have one more point to add regarding the question put to Mr. Taklha by 
Mr. Grunfeld.  According to my research, the Tibetan Government did not 
get any definite recognition from the United States per se and this is a 
typical example of pragmatic diplomatic politics.  I have read some of 
the correspondence and memos of the time.  Because the Chinese Communist 
Party _knew_ that the USA would not definitely support the Tibet 
Government, China dared to send armies to Tibet; you will see this if you 
read the archives concerning the Far East in the US.  I think that 
American pragmatic foreign policy was one of reasons that Tibet came to 
be occupied by China.


Thank you.  We still have time for further comments or questions, so 
don't hesitate if you have anything to say.  The microphone, please -


I just have a brief comment to make in the interest of linguistic 
clarity, and for the better relationship of the Tibetan participants and 
the Chinese participants.  I would like to request that all speakers who 
use certain terms like the "Han people" and the "Tibetan people" or the 
"Tibetan nationality" and the "Han nationality" - just be very 
straightforward and say "Tibetans" and "Chinese", and let's not have the 
language of China reconstruct the propaganda organs from Beijing.  Thank 


Any other comments or questions?  Going once, going twice - okay, thank 
you all for attending the first part of our session on Tibetan history.  
We will have a short break of fifteen minutes - okay, yes - boy, this is 
running like clockwork!  We're going to have a short break of five 
minutes.  So swill that coffee down!  See you back here afterwards.


gv. A