Friday, December 27, 2013

When Mao decided to invade Tibet (updated)

Mao trying a Tibetan cap
The South China Morning Post reported that President Xi Jinping told Party cadres that they should move forward, but not forget the past on the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth.
For the Hong Kong newspaper, Xi Jinping "attempted a balancing act on the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth, praising the late Communist Party leader's teachings while acknowledging he was 'not a god'."
Xi gave his speech in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to commemorate Mao's birth.
Xi told the cadres: "historical failures could not be blamed on individuals, nor could one person be credited with an era's success. Revolutionary leaders are men but not gods. ...We should not worship them like gods … but we should not negate them completely because they made mistakes."
The Chinese President added: "We should move forward, but can't forget the path that we have travelled."
On the occasion, the Politburo's Standing Committee bowed three times before Mao's marble statue.
I am posting below some historical documents from the Russian Archives published  in the Bulletin of the Cold War International History Project a few years ago.
I invite you to read an earlier post on Mao and Tibet, The More Chaotic it gets, the Better.
Today, China still justifies Mao's actions in Tibet.
On the occasion of the 120th birthday of Mao, China Tibet Online quoted from an article written by Vice President of Tibet Academy of Social Sciences "in commemoration of Mao's great contributions to the peaceful liberation of Tibet."
Early 1949 saw almost all the provinces and autonomous regions in China liberated by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. However, Mao Zedong pointed out that it should not be too rash in resolving the "Tibet issue" because it is the religious area inhabited by ethnic minorities.
In December 1949, on his way to Russia Mao wrote a letter to the Politburo of the Central Government making his final decision that "troops should enter Tibet the earlier, the better" aimed to fight against the western imperialists headed by the Great Britain and the United States and part of Tibet's upper ruling class, who jointly schemed 'Tibet independence'. At that time, the Tibet local government, or Gaxag [Kashag] wanted to take advantage of the falling regime of the Kuomintang, or China's Nationalist Party while the U.S. attempted to make Tibet as a base to curb the rise of the People's Republic of China.
Therefore, Mao made a wise decision to drive out the imperialists in order to safeguard national unification and territorial integrity by sending troops to Tibet. And the strategy also complied with the urgent need of the patriotic forces in Tibet. The 10th Panchen Lama sent his greetings to Chairman Mao to show his support to the central government of China and call for the liberation of Tibet at an early date. Tibet is an inalienable part of China and the Tibetan people are the important member of the Chinese nation. Therefore, overthrowing the imperialist and feudalist rule in Tibet and safeguarding China's independence and territorial integrity must be realized by a people's troop.

Where are the 'imperialists' now? The answer is in Beijing!
Here are the telegrams from the Russian Archives:

Telegram, Mao Zedong to CCP CC and CCP Northwest Bureau, 10 January 1950 (Excerpt)
To the Central Committee, and pass on to Liu [Bocheng], Deng [Xiaoping], He [Long] and the Northwest Bureau:
(1) I fully agree to the plan to dispatch troops into Xizang [Tibet] contained in Liu [Bocheng]’s and Deng [Xiaoping]’s telegram of 7 January.
Now Britain, India, and Pakistan have all recognized us, which is favorable to [our] dispatching troops into Xizang.

(2) According to Comrade Peng Dehuai, the four months needed for dispatching troops [to Xizang] will start in mid-May (in the previous telegram I mistakenly wrote “three months”).
[Source: JGYLMZDWG, 1:226-7; translation from Shuguang Zhang and Jian Chen, eds., Chinese Communist Foreign Policy and the Cold War in Asia, 136.]


Conversation between Stalin and Mao, Moscow, 22 January 1950
22 January 1950

Stalin: Any other questions?

Mao Zedong: I would like to note that the air regiment that you sent to China was very helpful. They transported 10 thousand people. Let me thank you, comrade Stalin, for the help and ask you to allow it to stay a little longer, so it could help transport provisions to [CCP CC member and commander of the PLA’s Second Field Army] Liu Bocheng’s troops, currently preparing for an attack on Tibet.

Stalin: It’s good that you are preparing to attack. The Tibetans need to be subdued. As for the air regiment, we shall talk this over with the military personnel and give you an answer.

The meeting took two hours.
Present at the meeting were comrs. Molotov, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Vyshinskii, Roshchin, Fedorenko and Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Li Fuchun, [PRC Ambassador to the USSR] Wang Jiaxiang, [CCP CC member]
Chen Boda, and Shi Zhe /Karskii/.


Telegram, Mao Zedong to Liu Shaoqi, 12 February 1950
From Comrade [Liu] Shaoqi:

Here is an internal party telegram I have just drafted. Please give it some consideration as soon as you receive it and dispatch it quickly[:]
All central bureaus, bureau branches, and front-line committee:
A new Sino-Soviet treaty and a series of agreements will be signed and published in days. Then, when different regions hold mass rallies, conduct discussions, and offer opinions, it is essential to adhere to the position adopted by the Xinhua News Agency’s editorial. No inappropriate opinions should be allowed.

1 After leaving Beijing by train on 6 December 1949, Mao Zedong arrived in Moscow on 16 December and stayed in the Soviet Union until 17 February 1950. Liu Shaoqi was put in charge during Mao’s absence. When Mao was in Moscow, he maintained daily telegraphic communications with his colleagues in Beijing, and all important affairs were reported to and decided by him.

2 After the Burmese government had cut off all formal relations with the GMD government in Taiwan, the PRC and Burma established diplomatic relations on 8 June 1950.

3 During the first two to three weeks of Mao Zedong’s visit in Moscow, little progress had been achieved in working out a new Sino-Soviet treaty that would replace the 1945 Sino-Soviet treaty. This telegram recorded the first major breakthrough during Mao’s visit to the Soviet Union.

4 China’s minister of trade at that time was Ye Jizhuang.

5 The full text of Zhou Enlai’s telegram to the United Nations, which was dispatched on 8 January 1950, was as follows: “Lake Success, to Mr. Carlos Romulo, President of the United Nations General Assembly; to Mr. Trygve Li, Secretary  General of the United Nations; also to the member states of the United Nations Security Council—the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, France, Ecuador, India, Cuba, Egypt, and Norway: The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China is of the opinion that it is illegal for the representatives of the remnants of the reactionary gang of the Chinese Nationalist Party to remain in the Security Council. It therefore holds that these representatives must be expelled from the Security Council immediately.
I am specially calling your attention to this matter by this telegram, and I hope that you will act accordingly.”

6 In this telegram, Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping reported that they planned to dispatch the 18th Army to Tibet by the summer and fall of 1950.

7 On 24 January 1950, the CCP Central Committee formally issued the order to dispatch the 18th Army to enter Tibet.

[Source: JGYLMZDWG, 1:260-1; translation from Shuguang Zhang and Jian Chen, eds., Chinese Communist Foreign Policy and the Cold War in Asia, 142-3.]


Conversation between Stalin and Zhou Enlai, 3 September 1952
3 September 1952

Present: on the Soviet side
comrs. Molotov, Malenkov, Bulganin, Beria, Mikoyan, Kaganovich, Vyshinskii, and Kumykin.
on the Chinese side
comrs. Chen Yun, Li Fuchun, Zhang Wentian, and Su Yu translated by comrs. Fedorenko and Shi Zhe.

Zhou Enlai says that in their relations with Southeast Asian countries they are maintaining a strategy of exerting peaceful influence without sending armed forces. He offers the example of Burma, where PRC has been trying to influence its government through peaceful means. The same in Tibet.
Asks whether this is a good strategy.

Stalin. Tibet is a part of China. There must be Chinese troops deployed in Tibet. As for Burma, you should proceed carefully.

Zhou Enlai says that the Burmese government is concealing its true position with regard to China, but is actually maintaining an anti-China policy, orienting itself with America and Britain.

Stalin. It would be good if there was a pro-China government in Burma. There are quite a few scoundrels in the Burmese government, who make themselves out to be some sort of statesmen.

Zhou Enlai explains that Chinese troops were deployed in Tibet a year ago, and are now at the Indian border. The question of whether there should be Chinese troops in Tibet is moot.
Emphasizes that maintaining communication with Tibet is difficult. In order to communicate with Lhasa one needs 4-motor transport planes, equipped with oxygen tanks and de-icing devices. Could not the Soviet Union provide such planes? 2-motor planes can go 3/5 of the way, but that’s as far as
they’ll go.

Stalin replies that Soviet Union can assist with this.

Zhou Enlai. In that case could China request 20 4-motor planes from the USSR?

Stalin replies that first we will provide 10, and then another 10.
Points out the importance of building a road to Tibet.

Zhou Enlai says that such a road is being built, but that its construction will take up all of next year and part of 1954.

Stalin notes that without a road it’s difficult to maintain the necessary order in Tibet. Tibetan Lamas are selling themselves to anyone - America, Britain, India – anyone who will pay the higher price.

Zhou Enlai says that, indeed, the Lamas are hostile. This year (February, March, April) they were planning a rebellion, but the Chinese People’s Government was able to suppress the rebels.
Notes that as a result of this, the Dalai Lama’s brother fled abroad.

Stalin says that a road to Tibet must be built, and that it is essential to maintain Chinese troops there.
At the end of the discussion a meeting was arranged for 4 September, at 9 o’clock in the evening.

Recorded by A. Vyshinskii [signature]
N. Fedorenko [signature]
[Source: APRF, f. 45, op. 1, d. 329, ll. 75-87; translation by Danny Rozas.]

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