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October 5, Morning Session


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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...Our next speaker is going to be Tang Daxian, who has had a rich 
career as a journalist in China, including work on the _Beijing Youth 
Daily_ from 1979 to 1980, and _China Business Intelligence_ from 1987 to 
1989, as well as his work as a researcher for the history of the Chinese 
Communist Party which was being compiled; he did that work in 1985 and 
1986.  He is presently a Ph.D. candidate at the City Universite in Paris, 
and it's a pleasure to welcome him here this morning to join us.  Tang 

[The Potomac Conference translated text; delivered in Chinese, outline 
submitted in Chinese.]


[in Chinese] Mr. Taklha knows a lot about history - just now, he 
introduced us to the true history of relations between China and Tibet.  
I am surprised that he took this much time in presenting us with a true 
picture of history.  In this conference, I think that, as Chinese 
scholars here, we should face the reality of that.  For a long time, we 
have not been able to evaluate relations between China and Tibet with 
truth.   I think this is a shame for Chinese politicians; I think this is 
also a shame for Chinese scholars, because the Tibetan question is part 
of the question for China.



Basically the Tibetan issue can be regarded as one of the major problems 
in China.  Since the beginning of this century, the Tibetan issue has 
been put forward because of the strategic position of Tibet as a 
political issue.  Because of many factors created by the two world wars, 
the Tibetan issue has not only not been solved so far but, in fact, has 
become more and more complex.  After the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) 
took power in China in 1949 and sent troops in to Tibet in 1950, the 
Tibetan issue became more complex.  Before 1949, the Tibetan issue had 
two main characteristics:  On one hand, the Tibetan political-religious 
forces resisted the Western powers, especially the UK; on the other hand, 
the Tibetan Government had sharp contradictions with regard to the 
Chinese Government and the local forces of some provinces in the border 
areas of Tibet (e.g. the army of Ma's family in Qinghai and Liu Wenhui in 
Sichuan).  However, after 1950, the main characteristic of Tibetan issue 
is the direct confrontation between the Tibetan Government and the CCP's 
government, namely, as the Chinese Government began to repress the 
Tibetan Government, the struggle was between occupation and 

Around 1959, the CCP began to purge the political-religious forces in 
Tibet and abrogated the Tibetan Government.  These actions led Tibet's 
spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and most officers of the original 
Tibetan Government to go into exile in India.  Since then, the Tibetan 
issue has become ever more complicated and more acute.

Today, due to the unremitting struggle of the Dalai Lama and his 
Government-in-Exile, and also, due to the failure of the CCP's rule in 
Tibet, Western countries and most democracies of the world have come to 
realize more and more the essence of the Tibetan question.  After the 
Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Tibetan 
Government-in-Exile led by the Dalai Lama affirmed a tangible political 
principle:  the independence and freedom of Tibet.  Right now, it is 
impossible for Chinese government to solve the Tibetan issue unilaterally 
as an internal affair (especially after the CCP's government suppressed 
the democratic movement in 1989, the government's ability to solve its 
internal social and political problems has been doubted by the world).  
Obviously, the internationalization of Tibetan issue has become an 
undisputed fact.  Under these circumstances, I think, it is necessary to 
explain the politics, economy, and society in Tibet since 1980, 
especially in recent years.

Because of the time limitation, I cannot be as thorough here as I would 
have liked.  I had originally planned to introduce you to Tibetan history 
since 1950, when the Chinese army advanced on Tibet, but I can give only 
a general outline of more recent events.  In 1980, the CCP began to 
change its nationalities policy particularly with regard to the border 
areas.  Along with the redress of the inaccurate case of "The People's 
Revolutionary Party of Inner Mongolia" in the Cultural Revolution, and 
the CCP's placation on the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the CCP 
sent a Central Delegation led by CCP Secretary Hu Yaobang to Tibet.  In 
order to amend the CCP's policy errors since 1959, particularly during 
the Cultural Revolution, the Central Delegation held a "Tibetan Working 
Conference" and put forward a new Tibetan policy.  It included the 
following points:

     (1) To release the high-ranking officials of the old Tibetan 
government and of the upper religious circles from prison, rehabilitate 
their reputations, and arrange for new jobs for them step by step.  In 
this way, the situation in the TAR could be improved.

     (2) To implement new policies in Tibet, yet to keep all the 
then-current Chinese and Tibetan officials who took power during the 
Cultural Revolution in order to maintain the stability of Tibetan 
politics and the continuity of administration.

     (3) To put forward a new economic policy including power transfers 
to the lower local decentralized level, relief from the agricultural tax, 
a reduction of the administrative budget, as well as giving more 
subsidies and enabling more protection of private agriculture and animal 
husbandry, and private industry.

	In particular, they agreed that they would not talk about the "three 
kinds of peoples."  During the Cultural Revolution there were 
counter-rebellions, they had been trained by the CCP for all those years.  
So it was decided that these kinds of people would not be dismissed or 
purged.  A lot of cadres then remained in place in Tibet.

Meanwhile, the CCP's government contacted the Dalai Lama and his 
government-in-exile through various channels.  By many meetings, the 
CCP's government hoped that the Tibetan government-in-exile could accept 
the CCP's current rule, and give up its antagonistic policy.  In other 
words, the CCP's government hoped to finally solve Tibetan issue, and 
thereby to relieve the international political pressure.

With this policy as a guide, in March 1984, the CCP held a "Tibetan 
Development Conference" in Beijing and further confirmed that the CCP 
government would keep the lenient policies towards Tibet in place for a 
longer time than originally proposed.  This lenient policy included:  
extending the policy of requisitions by purchase to 1990; eliminating the 
state purchase quotas of grain, butter, and meat; not stipulating or 
apportioning to the masses any work or ask for any human resources or 
material resources; stipulating that life of "the five kinds of families" 
should be guaranteed by the social relief fund of the government rather 
than by the local masses; ensuring that the CCP's administrative 
personnel at the grass-roots level, including the leaders from the 
villages, should be subsidized by Tibetan local finance.  

The CCP's government hoped that this policy could make the Tibetan 
people have a better chance of living and working, and hoped that the 
index number of living [consumer index?] for peasants and herdsmen in 
Tibet could double within three to five years.  This has been a very 
important measure which would serve to confirm the CCP's legal status of 
ruling and hopefully moderate the contradictions between China and Tibet 
since 1959.

On the surface, this policy seemed to be a good political strategy by 
which the CCP could attempt to safeguard its rule and reform.  However, 
there were some very serious drawbacks to the policy.  Because of its 
flaws, the policy has resulted in the critical social crisis in today's 

First, I will analyze how the policy's flaws affected the economy.  One 
of the biggest drawbacks under the new policy was that, as the CCP 
extended the private economic sector and affirmed once again private 
property rights, it did not keep the original economic foundations of 
Tibetan society.  Without funding, collapsed, and then reorganized out of 
existence, the workers in the old public service sector were dismissed; 
all the institutions perished swiftly.  Under these circumstances, a lot 
of heavy burdens resulting from years of bad policies were heaped onto 
the Tibetan peasants and herdsmen who had nothing to begin with.  The 
private sector, free to arise spontaneously, ran aground quickly into 
very difficult conditions.

For example, the price structure of agriculture and animal husbandry did 
not change with the economic reform policy.  Because these prices had 
been set too low, many [Chinese] inland businessmen or business 
organizations illegally bought huge quantities of grain, oil, consumer 
goods, and precious medicine, and transported them _out_ of Tibet.  
Facing this rampant problem of opportunism and greed which caused only 
more scarcity of goods and price inflation, the CCP's government in Tibet 
officially forbade this, but simultaneously encouraged these kind of 
businesses.  With prices for products so low, and prices for goods so 
high, many people could not replace or upgrade their working tools nor 
enhance their means of production, so they adopted a mode of production 
in which they sat idle.  For instance, when large amounts of domestic 
animals could not live through the winter, many herdsmen slaughtered the 
young, the weak, and the female animals in order to lower the number of 
livestock on hand.  Consequently, the Tibetan production in terms of 
animal husbandry shrank year by year.

In fact, in 1985 in Lhasa, there was a meeting on the status of economic 
development in Tibet.  A number of economists produced statistics stating 
that both the quantity and the quality of livestock in Tibet were lower 
than that _before_ [the Chinese takeover] in 1959.  This is worth 
ruminating on.  The conclusions of this conference, and the conference 
itself, were highly confidential and nothing about it was published.  
Until now, the international community and scholars have known nothing 
about this conference.  The figures available for Shigatse, Shannan, and 
Nagchu demonstrate that animal husbandry has entered into a vicious 
circle because the local government adopted a policy of a 23 percent 
livestock slaughter rate.  I know that the local government decided this 
percentage without authorization for the sole purpose of transacting 
business in other parts of the country.  Let me mention a few more 
examples of this kind of vicious cycle following.

Since 1985, in order to fit the reforms that had been implemented in 
China to Tibet, the CCP's Tibetan government had decided on a 3-year 
course of reform for government organizations.  However, the reform of 
administrative organizations did not fit the actual status of conditions 
in Tibet; some persons in power simply took it for granted that they 
should draw up reform measures.  Consequently, some service organizations 
which should have been strengthened (e.g. the post-office, the grain 
[purchasing] bureau, trading agencies, livestock exchanges) were closed 
down or were merged.  So here you had an entire society that had been 
"reformed" out of its basic infrastructure.

When these problems were finally recognized officially, many 
organizations could not be reestablished immediately.  This fact proves 
not only that personnel and funds were reduced, but also that efficiency 
was greatly reduced and morale was seriously low (especially in light of 
the fact that some figures demonstrate that administrative funds had 
actually increased 60 percent from 1985 to 1990!).  Moral and working 
attitudes were at an even lower ebb than during the Cultural Revolution.

For example, long-distance bus transportation service has been very bad 
for a long time and has gotten worse.  Moreover, the manner of obtaining 
the service has worsened.  If a customer wants to take the long-distance 
bus, he has to give both the driver and ticket seller cigarettes and wine 
when he buys the ticket.  Otherwise, it is very difficult to guarantee 
the arriving time.  Another example:  the Commerce Department of the 
Tibetan Autonomous Region could not formulate a reasonable purchasing 
plan so that a quantity of the necessities of life would have adequate 
outflow.  Consequently, grain, oil, foods, and general merchandise in the 
main cities had been in very short supply from 1985 to 1989.  Even the 
main food of Tibetan people, butter, had to be replaced by margarine 
transported from Shanghai!  Even so, the supply of margarine was limited 
- each person could get 1 jin (500 grams) per month.  Cheese could not 
even be found in the state-owned stores - yet on the black market, the 
price of cheese was so high - up to 50 times as high as the official 
price - that ordinary people could not afford it.  And the Tibetan 
economy, now no longer self-sufficient, drove down into a blind alley.

Because of the collapse of the service infrastructure that resulted from 
the economic reform policies in the TAR, since 1984, many inland 
enterprises, business organizations, and individual firms have 
participated in very predatory economic activities in Tibet.  For 
example, the Zanggan Trade Company (in fact, one member of a unit of the 
armed police forces is the legal counsel to this company), with some 
inland individual businessman, bought a great quantity of butter, grain, 
meat, fur, and wood at very cheap prices.  Also, this company cooperated 
with the local government to illegally cut trees in the forest.  In fact, 
the forest cover was reduced from 98% to 30%.  Over 153 enterprises and 
some 38 factories all closed down.  There were, and are, shortages in the 
cities.  Development is in fact completely stagnant.  These illegal 
predatory behaviors made it impossible for Tibetan enterprises and 
service organizations to obtain either a means of subsistence or maintain 
their means of livelihood.  This was deliberate.  From 1987 to 1989, many 
factories of sheep wool and wood as well as some grain stores went 
bankrupt.  These predatory behaviors were not prohibited until the 
Tibetan masses in Nagchu intercepted and captured the illegal business 
vehicles of the armed police forces and the people demonstrated in Chamdo 
and Dulongdecheng County.  Because of the serious lack of means of 
livelihood and even the barest means of subsistence, industry and 
business in some important centers of production cities in Tibet have 
been at a standstill since 1985.  Another statistical document 
demonstrates that because a lot of peddlers could use fifty jin (1 jin = 
500 grams) of rice in exchange for one fat sheep, the livestock 
population on hand in Gongga, Nagchu, and Chamdo was drastically reduced 
to 40 percent in 1987.  However, in fact, some government officials even 
went so far as to assist in this illegal peddling.  So far the CCP's 
Tibetan government has definitely not prohibited this behavior.  This is 
a very strange phenomenon of rule.  From this we can see to what extent 
the CCP's government has been corrupted.

Because of all the problems mentioned above, and because of the 
profiteering by the government, the army, and [Chinese] inland business 
organizations since the economic reform, the Tibetan economy has been at 
a dead standstill since 1985.  This has resulted in the dissatisfaction 
of a large segment of the Tibetan people.  The consecutive independence 
movements against the CCP in 1987, 1988, and 1989 had various, and 
complex, causes; however, I am certain that the failure of economic 
reforms is one of important causes of the social instability in Tibet.

Since 1959, because of its hard-line political ideology, the CCP 
basically has not changed its political stance in Tibet.  Even though the 
CCP appears to have adopted a moderate political attitude towards the 
Tibetan government-in-exile and some religious practices and people, the 
method of rule has not altered in the main.  Of course, the strategic 
importance of Tibet is another excuse for the CCP not to change its 
political policies toward Tibet.  The CCP has not only not been 
interested in sitting down to discuss and resolve the historical problems 
including the antagonistic relationship between Chinese and Tibetan, but 
they also continue to use high-handed measures, and have even arbitrarily 
used the army to suppress the dissatisfied people.  Because of the 
hard-line measures, the antagonisms have been intensifying to the point 
that the CCP government cannot solve the Tibetan issue.  Right now, the 
Tibetans in Tibet and the people of the inland Tibetan regions generally 
adopt a non-cooperative attitude.

In addition, the feeling of "the end of Tibet" has occurred in 
governments and armies.  Many governmental officials, military officers, 
even soldiers pay much attention to money.  They have lost any essential 
occupational ethics. This paying attention only to money has a very 
corrosive effect.  Corruption has become a very common phenomenon - 
almost a way of life in Tibet.  Because there are a lot of loopholes in 
the system, it has become a common sight that the administrative head of 
any department takes over everything.  A document from the Tibetan 
Political Consultative Conference in 1988 demonstrates that it is so 
common as to be countless; it admitted that this behavior is so rampant 
that it cannot establish prohibitions on administrative heads from being 
involved in illegal businesses simply by writing instructions on a piece 
of paper.  For example, many organizations and army units manipulate 
their authority and manipulate public funds to build their own private 
houses and recreation centers.  They also engage in illegal or unofficial 
businesses using public money and resources, and then they seize all the 
profits personally.  Some units of the military police take advantage of 
their special position, and use military vehicles to illegally transport 
and resell the countryside's allotment of planned materials (e.g. steel, 
wood, cement, and other goods in limited supply) at a profit.  Many units 
of government and army use "official instructions" to earn money.  
According to some documents, a little piece of paper including a high 
official's name and signature can be exchanged for more than 10,000 yuan 
cash, and also, can legalize an illegal business (that many individual 
businessmen can engage in illegal business activities in Tibet is closely 
related to this kind of "official instructions").

This overt corruption inevitably influences other professions.  For 
example, after working responsibly for years, now many medical personnel 
just want to earn money, totally losing their ethics of healing the sick 
and saving the dying.  What they then pursue is pushing prescriptions and 
quantities of medicines for profit.  However, many legitimate patients 
cannot get medicines at the going rate even though they have 
prescriptions, or they might get medicine but many of these medicines 
turn out to be useless.  Also, in the business streets of Lhasa city, 
many tax collectors and policemen accept bribes so that this place is a 
paradise for illegal business.  Swarms of businessmen and companies 
openly engage in illegal trade by depending on these public personnel to 
look the other way or to protect them.

Recently I came to know that certain departments of the Tibetan 
government unexpectedly and inexplicably agreed that an inland timber 
company accompanied by an army unit could fell trees in Chentang, a 
well-known scenic area in southern Tibet.  From this I can affirm that 
the CCP's corruption has taken a definite turn for the worse.

Because of the time constraints here, I could not give a review of the 
present status of Tibet as comprehensively and in detail (i.e., the 
problem of population and the relationship between religious culture and 
political society), as I would have liked.  However, from the information 
I have mentioned above, we can see that even though the CCP's regime has 
on the surface adopted a number of good policies, the intrinsic 
characteristics of its governing concepts have decided the real fate of 
these policies:  they have fallen into dire straits.

Without a democratic system and a socio-political environment which 
represents the will of the Tibetan people, I think Tibet's future will be 
as gloomy as it is today.  However, I still believe that due to the 
valiant efforts and struggles of the Tibetan people, a new Tibet will 
eventually emerge. 


Thank you.  I apologize for my less-than-democratic ways in running 
this, but it's imperative that we keep to a semblance of a time schedule.


gv. A