Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Dalai Lama crosses the Indian border - rare documents

Today it is 62 years that the Dalai Lama arrived in India.
On the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the arrival of the Dalai Lama in India, I had posted on my website a very large collection of historical documents related to the flight of the Tibetan leader.
Click here to consult them.


Of particular interest, the reports of the Political Officer, Har Mander Singh about his first encounters with the Dalai Lama and his Cabinet ministers.
Some words are unfortunately missing in the file which seems to be attacked by white ants.
The file is from the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

Incidentally, an account based on Chinese Military Intelligence was recently published: The 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents: The Chinese Army Documents (China Secrets Book 16) Kindle Edition
It gave another view on the escape of the Dalai Lama to India.
Supposing that the assertion in this book is right, it is also very much possible that the Dalai Lama and his entourage did not know that Mao had ordered “Let him go, if he wants to go.”
The fact that the Dalai Lama ‘crossed the Himalaya under permanent danger of being caught or even killed by the Chinese’, can’t be doubted.
The author of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents himself admits that Mao would have changed his mind on March 17, 1959 and asked the PLA to stop the Tibetan leader.
Here are an extract of the 1959 Documents.

Misjudgment on the Escape of the Dalai Lama
Another legend related to the 1959 Tibetan uprising is the ‘escape’ of the Dalai Lama to India. Supposedly he managed to barely get away from advancing Chinese army units and crossed the Himalaya under permanent danger of being caught or even killed by the Chinese.
This rather romantic legend is disproved for many years. At least by the 1990s when new Chinese archive material became available it became clear that it was Mao himself who instructed the Tibet Military District "To let him go (over the border with India) if he wants to go." Mao issued this order on March 12. He seems to have changed his mind somewhat on March 17 and asked the army in Lhasa to stop him, but then it was too late. After receiving this surprising message, the high commanders of the Tibet Military District just decided to do nothing about it. [A good description of those events are in the back published by the Harvard University Press in 2016 and written by Jianglin Li with the title Tibet in Agony, Lhasa 1959, pages 216 to 225.]
Looking at all the original papers available to this author, there is no indication for a search or hunt after the Dalai Lama by any Chinese unit. Units like those stationed in Tsetang and located between Lhasa and the Indian border never received orders to go out and search for the Dalai Lama.
Another option would have been to send those Chinese soldiers stationed in Shigatse and Yadong [Yatung] in the direction of Southern Tibet to cut-off his escape route. Those garrisons just stayed in the same locations during March. The ultimate option would have been the use of paratroopers to block the main mountain passes. In the end, nothing was done, and Mao was not pushing for action.

Accompanied by an Assam Rifles' escort
More interesting is the first report of the Dalai Lama's arrival in India

Report on the entry of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into India.
Phase I- Chuthangmu to Lumla

April 5, 1959

On the 27th March, 1959, Shri TS Murty, Assistant Political Officer (APO) Tawang, received instructions about the possibility of the Dalai Lama seeking entry into India. He reached Chuthangmu to receive the party at 09:00 hours on the 31st March, 1959.
The advance party of the Dalai Lama under a comparatively junior officer had already reached Chuthangmu on the 29th March. They stated that the main party consisting of the Dalai Lama, his family, ministers and tutors were expected to enter our territory at 14:00 hours on the 31st March, that there was no sign of the Chinese pursuit and that the party was bringing a small number of porters and would be needing many more from our area.
At 1400 hours on the 31st March, the Dalai Lama and his party reached Kenze Mane [Khenzimane] which demarcates the frontier in Chuthangmu area. His holiness was riding a yak and was received by the Assistant Political Officer, Tawang. They proceeded to the checkpost without halting at the frontier.
Dronyer Chhempu [Chenpo or Lord Chamberlain], Personal Assistant to the Dalai Lama met the Assistant Political Officer in the evening and it was agreed that all porters brought by the party from Tibet would be sent back and that porterage arrangements thereafter would be made by us. It was also agreed that all pistols and revolvers, except those in possession of the Dalai Lama, his family and ministers (excluding their servants), and all rifles would be handed over to us for safe custody and that these could be collected at the frontier by those members of the body guard who were to return to Tibet after escorting the Dalai Lama to the plains or that alternatively, we would keep that in our custody and obtain disposal orders from the Government. It was further decided that a list of all Tibetan officers and of entering our territory would be prepared and handed over to the Assistant Political Officer.
The same evening, Shri Kumar, ACTO of the SIB [Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau] in Chuthangmu brought to the Assistant Political Officer [TS Murty], the copy of letter dated the 26th March from the Dalai Lama addressed to Prime Minister [of India] and requested that it should be delivered to the addressee. He stated that two messengers from the Dalai Lama carrying the original letter had already passed through Chuthangmu on the 29th and that he had transmitted the English translation over the wireless to Shillong. He had asked the messengers to hand over the letter to him for dispatched but they had insisted on carrying it themselves and had proceeded to the plains via Bhutan.
On the morning of the 1st April, 16 rifles and 9 pistols/revolvers were handed over to us for safe custody.
The Dzongpon [District Commissioner] of Tsona [in Tibet] who arrived in the meantime was refused entry after discussion with senior Tibetan officers.
At 09:00 hours the Assistant Political Officer was summoned by the Dalai Lama. Following points were made by His Holiness during conversation with him:
The policy of the Chinese was becoming increasingly anti-religious; the masses of Tibet were restive and he was no longer able to make them put up with the Chinese rule; the Chinese had attempted to endanger his person; Tibet should be free; his people would fight to win their freedom; he was confident that India’s sympathies are with the Tibetans; the seat of his Government had shifted from Lhasa to Ulgelthinse in Lhuntse Dzong and the Government of India should be informed of this very early.
At about 1800 hours, Lobsang [one word missing, probably, Lobsang Samten, brother of...] of the Dalai Lama, reached Chuthangmu and was [one word missing].
The party moved to Gorsam Chorten.
At 1500 hours, the Dalai Lama called the Assistant Political Officer and wanted to know if he had received any news of international developments in regard to his escape, especially the line adopted by India, the UK and the USA in this regard.
The Assistant Political Officer said that he had no information.
On the following day the party moved to Shakti and on 3.4.59 it reached Lumla.

Sd/-Har Mander Singh
Political Officer
April 5, 1959

Relaxing on the way...
Here is another document related to the first encounter between the PO and the Tibetan leader

Top Secret

SUMMARY OF DISCUSSION WITH SENIOR TIBETAN OFFICERS
AT LUMLA

APRIL 3, 1959.

Lyou Hsia [Liushar] Thubten, Foreign Minister, Kungo Shase [Shashur Shape], Minister and Chichyap Khempu [Kempo], Secretary to the Dalai Lama came to see me soon after their arrival in Lumla. It was meant to be a social gathering but the Chapes [Shapes] spoke about some important matters while they were with me. Shri [TS] Murty, Assistant Political Officer, Tawang, was also present.

2. After the usual formalities the Foreign Minister briefly recounted the circumstances under which the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet. He said that the relations between China and accepted as a spiritual leader by the Chinese Emperors. There was exchange of visits between the leaders of the two countries which brought them together. The Government of Tibet was, however, in possession of documents refuting Chinese claim of suzerainty over them and in support of theirs being an independent country. In recent past they had endeavoured to regulate their relationship scrupulously on the basis of the 17 point Treaty with China. The attitude of the Chinese after their “peaceful liberation of Tibet” had become increasingly anti-religious. For example, in order to popularize communism they had circulated a story in a periodical issued from Thachido, [Dartsedo or Kanding in Chinese] a town on Sino-Tibetan border, that Prince Sidhartha was forced to leave his kingdom because of the popular feeling against kingship and that he had attained ‘Nirvana’ because he had ultimately realized that peoples’ will was more important than that of the kings.

3. The Dalai Lama himself felt that they should work in and harmony with the Chinese. Indeed during his visit to India was advised by the Indian Prime Minister himself to cooperate with the Chinese in the interest of his country. In spite of [word missing] effort to accommodate the Chinese viewpoint, the Chinese interfere in the religious affairs of the Tibetans had [word missing]. They had desecrated several monasteries in Kham Province and had also killed several incarnate Lamas.

4. On the 10th March, the Dalai Lama was invited to attend cultural show in the Chinese area. The people came to know of this invitation and feared that it may be an attempt to remove the Dalai Lama from the scene or exert undue pressure on him. The news spread in Lhasa City and soon a large crowd gathered around the palace and prevented him from attending the Chinese function.

5. On the 11th, a procession of women went to the office of the Consul General, India and asked him to intervene on their behalf with the Chinese. They made a similar request to the Nepalese Consul General also. Their main demand was that the news about the Chinese interference in the religious affairs of the Tibetans and of their attempt to remove the Dalai Lama from Lhasa should be given publicity in the world press.

6. This kind of unrest continued for seven days. At 4 p.m. Lhasa time, on the 17th, the Chinese fired two mortar shells which fell only eighty yards short of the [word missing]. This convinced the Kashag that the Dalai Lama’s life [was endangered] and, therefore, they persuaded him to escape from [the Norbulinka] at 10 p.m. the same night with the Dalai Lama dress [word missing] clothes.

7. They had been listening [word missing] news ever since and had also been getting information through their sources. According to their information, the Chinese came to know of the Dalai Lama’s escape on the 19th March and shelled the Potala, the summer palace and the Gompa at Chakpori on the 20th March.

8. The Dalai Lama’s party escaped via the Southern route. There was a Chinese garrison of about 600 at Tsethang. They were surrounded by the rebel troops and Tibetan Government forces and could not, therefore, interfere with the movement of the party. On reaching Ulgelthinse in Lhuntse Dzong, they established the seat of the exile Government there temporarily on the 26th March. For the present, the Government would be run by the lay and monk commissioners of Southern Tibet known as Lhojes. They had sent instructions to Lhasa that all Government officers and records should be moved to this place.

9. Except for Tsedang there were no Chinese in Southern Tibet.

10. After leaving Ulgelthinse they spotted an aircraft flying over them near Tsona and feared that their party might be bombed but fortunately they were able to reach the Indian frontier without incident.

11. They reached the frontier at 2 p.m. on the 31st March and were received by Shri [TS] Murty, Assistant Political Officer, who brought them to Chuthangmu. They had felt very relieved after entering Indian territory.

12. They had heard the Chinese announcement that the Dalai Lama was forced to escape on the advice of 18 officers who were accompanying him and that these officers had been declared traitors. It was quite obvious, therefore, that they had no place in Communist Tibet.

13. They were quite prepared to negotiate with the Chinese for their return to Tibet and would welcome India’s good offices in this direction. They intended, however, to insist on complete [word missing] for Tibet and would continue their fight till their country was liberated.

14. I said that while we wanted friendship with all countries including China, we had much closer cultural and religious ties with Tibet and were, therefore, happy to receive them in our territory. I also said that our country’s good offices could be effective only if opposing parties had faith in our impartiality. It was, therefore, essential that no attempt should be made by bands of Khampas or Tibetan Government troops to violate the frontier. I said that I shall be grateful if they could suitably pass this on to the correct quarters. Our Government was, however, always prepared to grant asylum on humanitarian considerations and a case was already on record where we had brought the family of a favour Khmpa rebel to Tawang for medical treatment on these very considerations.

15. We briefly discussed the future programme of the party. The Foreign Minister indicated that they might like to stay upto ten days in Tawang. I explained briefly the disadvantages of their prolonged stay in Tawang and said that we could perhaps make them more comfortable in Bomdi La. I made it clear, however that we were prepared to accede to the Dalai Lama’s wishes in the [word missing]. The Foreign Minister said that it would be possible to cut down [word missing] Tawang to about three days.

16. I also said that we shall provide the facilities for travel beyond Tawang to all persons [word missing] the Dalai Lama but there was danger that stray persons escaping from Tibet may take this opportunity and come in along with the main party. It was, therefore, important that the list of persons authenticated by the party should be as comprehensive and accurate as it was possible to make it. The Foreign Minister agreed to this suggestion.

Sd/- Har Mander Singh
Political Officer
April 3, 1959.

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Return of Red Genes in Tibet

China has found a new love for history.
But it is history with strong Chinese characteristics, in other words, far from facts.
As mentioned in my previous post, March 28, which marked the dissolution of the Tibetan Government in 1959, is now celebrated as Serf’s Emancipation Day.
According to Xinhua, the Communist Party of China (CPC) “led the people in Tibet to launch the democratic reform, abolishing Tibet's feudal serfdom under theocracy.”
The propaganda goes on and on: “The emancipation of one million serfs was a groundbreaking event for Tibet. It was under the CPC leadership that Tibetans started to embrace happy lives.”

A Museum of the 'Emancipation'?
A Museum has now been opened in Lhasa to display “photos and items from the serfdom era, including torture instruments and ritual artifacts made from serfs' bones and skin, and those recording the democratic reform and serfs' new lives.”
The Tibetan society might not been perfect (which society is perfect?), but this interpretation is pure non-sense.
Che Dalha, chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) government declared on the occasion: “Tibet will keep pace with other parts of the country in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and embarking on a new journey toward socialist modernization.”
But are the people really happy under the Communist Party’s joke is another question.

Taking oath to follow the Party

Learn from History
In the meantime, the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party held public lectures on Party's history in Lhasa and all over-Tibet.
Everyone has to learn the glorious past of the Party, which killed hundreds of thousands Tibetans in the first two decades of its rule; the intention was of course only to 'liberate' them.
On March 27, Wu Degang, the Deputy Director of the Central Party History Research Office and Deputy Dean of the Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute, came to Lhasa to lecture the members of the Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

Guess who was in attendance with the big shots of the Party?
Pasang, the most infamous Maoist, who ruled Tibet during the dark days of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and who later escaped all purges, was sitting with the TAR's Standing Committee members.
Is it a sign of the ‘New Era’ heralded by Xi Jinping?
It strangely resembles the Darkest Days of the Land of Snows.

Pasang, the 84-year old 'ex-serf'
Who is Pasang?
According to the Communist propaganda, Pasang was born in a ‘slave’ family in Gongka County in 1937; she was named Kalsang by parents. As child she lived in Lhasa and worked as a ‘slave’ in a nobleman's estate.
Her Communist biography quotes her: “They were just treating us as ‘talking’ animals, just ‘talking tools’. We were not treated as a human being. At that time, there were really no human rights at all [in Tibet].”
Her biographer continues: “Because she could not bear this kind of abuse, she went to the Lhasa River several times. She thought of throwing herself into the river, but thinking of her father, sister and two younger brothers who had stayed in Lhoka [Southern Tibet] as slaves and because she had not met them for several years, each time, she decided to return to her master’s house.”
Soon after, Pasang heard that the PLA had arrived in Lhasa: “they were good to the poor, and some slaves had already joined the PLA.”
Her official biography says that Pasang remembered: "In July of the 56th Tibetan calendar, there was festival. When it became dark at night, I was asked to go to the slaughterhouse to pick up some meat, many guests had come for a festival. In the slaughterhouse, there was only beef and no mutton. I told the lady when I came back. Then she took me to a room in a warehouse and beat me up. I fainted on the spot. When I woke up, it was dark,  as the door was still open, I left and I ran away.”
After escaping from the host's house, she decided to change her name to avoid pursuit.
She explained: "How did I change my name? I walked along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway; it was already night. I was walking, and suddenly I saw the stars in the sky. The brightest star in Tibetan speaks Karma Pasang, which is Venus, so I thought my name should Pasang. My name was changed this way. From then on, Kalsang became Pasang [also Friday].”
Then, she came into contact with the PLA, but due to her illiteracy, she encountered many difficulties. Pasang was however sent to Tibetan Cadre School, she remembered later: “I didn’t learn anything at the Cadre School. At that time, the upper-level reactionary group of the Kashag [Cabinet] government led by the Dalai Lama opposed running schools and training ethnic cadres in Tibet, so they sent people there to sabotage it. As these schools failed, the central government [read the Communist Party] decided to set up schools in the Mainland to train Tibetan cadres."
This is obviously a very biased reading to modern Tibetan history. The Tibetan masses were upset by the imposition of the Communist ideology and the denigrating of the Tibetan culture, particularly, Buddhism considered as a ‘poison’ by Mao; they obviously opposed the Communist schools.
From then, Pasang became a good Communist, one of the main collaborators working for the Chinese occupying forces and an active Maoist during the Cultural Revolution.
Her reappearance on the Tibetan political scene is not a good sign.
As an indication, I give here some extracts of Pasang’s 'official' CV.

Pasang’s Personal History
•    1956: Joined a unit of the PLA
•    1957: Sent to study at Tibet Nationalities Institute
•    1959: Joined CCP
•    1965-68: Deputy Magistrate of Nang Dzong County
Pasang’s rise to the top dates from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. She came into prominence in May 1966 when she wrote an article in The People's Daily praising Mao Zedong's Thought.
It is always good to praise the Great Helmsman, yesterday or today.
In September 1969, when the Revolutionary Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) was established to replace regional government, she was elected Vice-Chairperson.
In 1971, she was made a deputy party secretary in the TAR Party Committee, a position she held until her retirement in 2002.
It is the highest position that a Tibetan has ever reached since 1959 till date.
Incidentally, two Tibetan leaders survived the purge of leftist officials and the fall of the Gang of Four in October 1976; it was Ragti and Pasang. They are still around and used by the Party when necessary. 

Very Few Tibetans Trusted by the Party
According to historian Tsering Shakya, the explanation given by CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang at the Second National Work Forum in 1984 for keeping these two Tibetans in their positions despite their Cultural Revolution background: “It was clear that even the most liberal leader was not prepared to carry out a purge of Tibetan leftists, perhaps because...only those Tibetans who had gained most under the Communists could be relied upon to support Beijing.”
This is a serious issue, even today; very few Tibetans can be trusted by the Party.
The return of Pasang on the centre stage is another proof of this.

Let us continue with her CV:
•    1971 August: She is reelected secretary of the new TAR Communist Party Secretariat towards the end of the Cultural Revolution
•    1973 July: Pasang is elected chairman of the Women's Federation of Tibet and member of the CCP Central Committee by the 10th People's Congress
•    1975 January: member of the Standing Committee of the 4th NPC; head of a women's delegation to Japan
•    1978 February: deputy for the TAR to the 5th NPC
•    1979 June: member of the Budget Committee at the 2nd Session of the 5th NPC
•    1979: August: Vice-person of the People's Government of the TAR; held post until 1983
•    1971-85: Secretary of TAR Party Committee
•    1982 November: Member of the Presidium, 5th Session of the 5th NPC
•    1983-1986: President of the Tibet Nationalities Institute (concurrently with Yang Dongsheng)
•    1984 May: Director of the office of the Party Rectification Guidance Group under TAR Party Committee and deputy secretary of TAR Party Committee
•    1984 July - 1987 November: Member of Standing Committee of 4th term of CPPCC Tibet Regional Committee
•    1985 November: secretary of the TAR Party Committee Discipline Inspection Commission
•    1986: Deputy Secretary of TAR Committee and secretary of TAR Party Committee Discipline Inspection Commission 

Pasang
•    1993: Vice-chairperson of the CPPCC 6th Tibet Regional Committee
•    1975-1978: Member of Standing Committee of 4th and 5th NPCs
•    1973-87: Member of CCP 10th through 12th Central Committees
•    1992: Deputy to CCP 14th National Congress. Member of 14th CCP Central Discipline Inspection Commission
•    From January 1993 to November 1994, he served as Deputy Secretary of the TAR.
•    In April 1994, he was clearly treated as chairman of the Government of the TAR
•    From November 1994 to September 1998, he served as Deputy Secretary of the CPC TAR Committee
•    After September 1998, she was Deputy Secretary of the TAR and Vice Chairperson Chairman of the All-China Women’s Federation
•    She was an alternate member of the 9th Central Committee and a full member of 10th, 11th, and 12th Central Committees, and a member of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection at the 13th and 14th National Congress and also a member of the Standing Committee of the Fourth and Fifth National People's Congress.

The return of Pasang symbolizes the return of the darkest era in the history of Modern Tibet; is it what Xi Jinping calls the “New Era?’
The Chinese propaganda today provides ‘education and guidance’ to all Party members and cadres who need “firm up their ideals and beliefs, inherit the red genes and always maintain their political qualities.”
Even in the PLA: “Every soldier should be loyal to the core, uphold the core, follow the core.” 

The 'core' is the new Helmsman. 

The objective is to make soldiers "appreciate the glorious truth about Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Isn't it frightening?


 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Have the Serfs been Emancipated?

Propaganda picture showing the 'serfs' being emancipated
The reality was different
I am reposting a two-year old article about the tragic Serfs' Emancipation Day.
Can Communist China forever continue to tell the world lies about the events of March 28, 1959?

On March 28 [2019], China celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Introduction of the Reforms in Tibet and the Serfs’ Emancipation Day.
Sixty years ago, following an uprising of the entire population, the Tibetan capital witnessed the massacre of thousands of Tibetans …Communist reforms could finally be introduced.
Last week, the Chinese media reported: “Representatives from various ethnic groups and walks of life gathered in the Potala Palace square in Lhasa to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the campaign of democratic reform in Tibet.”
The colonial mindset is immediately apparent: “various ethnic groups”, as if Tibetans belonged to different ethnic groups.
Of course, today the Tibetans are a minority in their native land, but the media should have written that “Tibetans and Hans have gathered” near the Potala.

Who is the Boss?
Another telling detail, the report started thus: “At 10 a.m., Losang Jamcan, director of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, declared the opening of the celebration meeting in both Tibetan and Mandarin, which was followed by a solemn ceremony of raising the national flag and singing the national anthem.”
Lobsang Gyaltsen (the correct spelling of his name), is the Chairman of the People’s Congress of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and the TAR’s Deputy Secretary; he is also a member of the CCP’s Central Committee
What is strange is that Lobsang Gyaltsen spoke before the Party’s Secretary (Wu Jingjie), though the Communist protocol is always extremely strict.
But after having proclaimed that sixty years ago, the Tibetan people have become their own masters, it would have not looked nice, if the Party Secretary, always from the Han nationality, would have spoken before a Tibetan.
A small adjustment of the protocol was necessary for the grand show.
Incidentally, not a single Tibetan has ever made it as Party Secretary in Tibet.
Why? Simply, because despite the propaganda, Beijing does not trust the Tibetans.
Look at the list of Party Secretary in Tibet (the most famous is President Hu Jintao):
Gen Zhang Guohua, (January 1950 - June 1951)
Gen Fan Ming (June 1951 - December 1951)
Gen Zhang Jingwu (March 1952 - August 1965)
Zhang Guohua (September 1965 - until the beginning of the Cultural Revolution)
Ren Rong (August 1971 - March 1980)
Gen Yin Fatang (March 1980 - June 1985)
Wu Jinghua (June 1985 - December 1988)
Hu Jintao (December 1988 - November 1992)
Chen Kuiyuan (November 1992 - September 2000)
Guo Jinlong (September 2000 - December 2004)
Yang Chuantang (December 2004 - November 2005)
Zhang Qingli (November 2005 - May 2006)
Zhang Qingli (May 2006 - August 2011)
Chen Quanguo (August 2011 -2016)
Wu Jingjie (Aug-16, 2016 till date)

The Function in Lhasa
Let us come back to the report of the function.
Xinhua explained: “In March 1959, the Chinese central government dissolved the aristocratic local government of Tibet and freed more than 1 million serfs, making them the masters of the nation and society.”
In several previous posts, I have shown that the so-called Emancipation of the Serfs is pure history rewriting of the events of 1959.
Wu Yingjie, the Party Chief, followed his deputy on the rostrum.
He solemnly declared: “Tibet has made historic achievements and undergone tremendous changes since the democratic reform that started 60 years ago,” and added: “The democratic reform completely obliterated the feudal serfdom of theocracy, changed the production relations of the old Tibet, smashed the shackles of feudal spirit and culture and freed local people from feudal political oppression.”
Wu asserted: “The democratic reform is a major historic event in Tibet's development and human rights advancement.”
I wonder if Wu really know what happened at the end the 1950s in Tibet?

The Reforms in Tibet
Interestingly, in January 1957, while on a visit to India, Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier had long discussions with Prime Minister Nehru on the introduction of the so-called reforms. It was decided to postpone them at least for six or seven years.
In the course of the conversation with the Indian Prime Minister, Zhou pointed a finger at non-existing foreigners in Lhasa: “those bent on trouble are preparing for an incident in Lhasa. These people have some armed forces. Some three temples in Lhasa have also armed forces and they want to create an incident with the People's Liberation Army there. If it happened, then there would be bloodshed.”
Nehru did not react.
Is it not strange than two years later, the Tibetan resistance was centered around three ‘temples’ or religious places (Ramoche, Norbulinka and Chakpori)?
Did Zhou already know what would happen in March 1959?
Although there was no ‘foreigner’ in Lhasa, except for the Indian staff of the Consulate General, the bloodshed indeed took place in March 1959; it helped Mao to firmly consolidate the position of the Communist regime, which continues to control the restive nation with an iron hand.

Forced to swear for the Communist Party

The Communist Party views
According to historian Melvyn Goldstein, the issue of the revolt was discussed in Beijing by the Party leadership as early as 1957: “If Tibetans revolted, Mao asserted clearly that he would use the PLA to destroy the rebels, wipe out the traditional manorial estate system, end the Tibetan ‘local’ government, and quickly implement forced reforms and create a socialist Tibet under direct control by the CCP.”
Goldstein thought that it was for Mao “an alternative path to success since it would enable the CCP to end the traditional system and ‘liberate’ the Tibetan masses much sooner than under the gradualist policy. Mao therefore presented his Tibet policy as a no-lose strategy for China.”
It is a matter of debate if it was an ‘alternative’ or not, but on May 14, 1957, a cable was sent by the CCP’s Central Committee to the Chinese generals in Lhasa.
It says: “In today’s Tibet, the separatists are still quite popular, and can still stir up troubles on the issue of reforms. This is not accidental. Rather it has its historical and social causes. Although Tibet became an inseparable part of China a long time ago, it has maintained an independent or semi-independent status in its relations with the motherland…”
This admission is interesting to note.
The note of the Central Committee continued: “The fact that it had achieved long-term independence and semi-independence historically distinguishes Tibet from other minority nationality areas in China. First, this is reflected in Tibetans’ centrifugal tendencies away from China and their distrust of Han Chinese. Not only does this exist widely among the upper classes, but also has a considerable influence among the masses. When the imperialist forces penetrated into Tibet toward the end of the 19th century, they instigated distrust between Tibet and China, nurtured pro-independence forces and created an impetus for separation, all of which exacerbated the Tibetans’ centrifugal tendencies away from the motherland.”
It mentioned serfdom and feudal rule in Tibet “[which] have remained intact until now. The upper classes still retain the ethnic banner and the religious banner, and they can still use these banners to influence the masses in order to maintain the old system and rule that is harmful for the development of the Tibetans. This is the reality we are facing. Besides the issues with the upper classes, we also have the issues of the masses.”
The cable continued in the same vein. Was force an alternative? the Central Committee thought: “If we use force, it very likely will create a situation in which not only the majority of the elite will oppose us but also the separatists’ conspiracies will succeed, the leftists will be isolated, and a considerable portion of the working class under the elite’s influence and control will follow them to oppose us. If this situation occurs, either it will force us to stop reforms and place us in a passive political situation, or we will need to start a war to mobilize the masses and implement reforms. This is the last resort in nationality areas…”
The conclusion of the Central Committee was: “If imperialists and traitors start an armed rebellion, that is something different; and then we will have to use armed forces to suppress the rebellion. The Central Committee has made repeated instructions about this. …Having considered the historical and current situations in Tibet, the Central Committee has decided that we will not carry out democratic reforms in Tibet for at least six years, or even longer.”
This followed the assurance given to Jawaharlal Nehru by Zhou Enlai in January 1957. It was the condition for the Dalai Lama, then in India, to return to Tibet and not seek asylum in India or America.

Do they really believe on the Party?

The events of 1959
In January 1959, according to Goldstein, Mao and the Central Committee realized that “the Tibetan insurgency had crossed the threshold from local uprisings to a full-scale revolt. The PLA had to be used to control the rebellion.”
On January 22, 1959, Mao wrote: “The next few years in Tibet will be a period when our enemy and we both will try to win over the masses, and both will try to reinforce their military power. After a few years, three or four years, five or six years, even seven or eight years, a big battle will definitely come, so we can solve the problems thoroughly. In the past, the rulers of Tibet only had a weak army. Now they have an armed force of 10,000 with high morale. This is a serious problem for us. However, it does not mean it is a bad thing. On the contrary, it is good, since there is a possibility for us to solve the problem militarily."
The 'great battle' came earlier than expected.
Mao's views were: "We must do the following: 1) we must win over the masses during the next few years, and isolate the reactionaries; 2) train our army to be strong fighters. These two things should be done during our struggle with the armed rebels.” [Quoted by Goldstein]. 

The Decision
Two days later, the Central Committee told the Chinese leadership in Tibet: “the armed uprisings have expanded to the next level. …The uprisings will continue to expand unless we have a one-time decisive battle. Then and only then will the problem be resolved thoroughly.”
It was indeed resolved thoroughly, the ‘reforms’ were imposed in a bloodshed, and the serfs were 'emancipated', the Communist way...

Today, the tragic episode is repacked by Beijing in a White Paper, showing how happy the Tibetans are.
President Xi Jinping should hold a referendum and ask the opinion of the Tibetan masses if they are happy or not.
I will be interested to see the results.

Ploughing over the Red Flag
 
Happy?
Celebrating near the Indian Border

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Big One

Recent developments not far from the Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh are worrying.
A notice from the Metok Border Management Brigade announced that from March 1, the Chinese authorities began “to check border pass, ID cards and other documents of people entering and exiting Metok.”
Metok is the last small, but strategic town located near the Great Bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo, north of the McMahon Line. Let us remember that the river becomes the Siang on entering Arunachal and later the Brahmaputra in Assam (and the Meghna in Bangladesh).
The notice says that the entire Metok region now comes under ‘border management’ and the area will thereafter be restricted: “People entering and leaving must comply with the relevant regulations of the border management area and need to show relevant documents at border checkpoints to be allowed to pass.”
Even the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not exempted from these new restrictions: “officers and soldiers of the PLA and the People’s Armed Police (PAP) who are not stationed in the area must present a certificate issued by the competent department at or above the regimental level to enter and leave the border area.” The notice adds that if an entire military unit wants to enter or exit the border area, the border inspection department should be notified in advance for inspection.
Why suddenly these new restrictions?
An answer maybe be found in an article in The Hindu; Ananth Krishnan says that a draft of China’s new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) would have given “the green light for the first dams to be built on the lower reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo river.” According to the Chinese version of the new Plan covering the period 2020-2025 as well as “long range objectives through the year 2035” which was submitted to National People’s Congress (NPC) for approval, “the building of hydropower bases on the lower reaches of the river as among the priority energy projects to be undertaken in the next five years.”
The draft later adopted by the Chinese legislature calls for “a hydropower base on the lower reaches of the river, along with clean energy bases in the upper and lower reaches of Jinsha river,” known as the Upper Yangtze in Sichuan Province.
On the occasion of the New Year, President Xi Jinping called the Communist Party “a gigantic vessel that navigates China's stable and long-term development;” he stated: “Upholding the principle of putting people first and remaining true to our founding mission, we can break the waves to reach the destination of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
As a result, Xi Jinping is thinking big.
The Seventh Tibet Work Forum (TWF), a mega meeting which decides the fate of Tibet for the years to come (to which Tibetans are rarely invited), was held in Beijing on August 28 and 29, 2020. It was a crucial event not only as far it concerns the fate of the Roof of the World, but for the Indian border too.
Soon after, some massive projects were announced; first, the Pai-Metok (Pai-Mo) Highway linking Nyingchi to Metok, north of Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh which should open in July 2021.
After the completion of the highway, the length of the road from Nyingchi City to Metok County will be shortened from 346 kilometers to 180 kilometers and the driving time will be shortened from 11 hours to 4.5 hours. Though only 67 kilometers long, in strategic terms the highway will be a game changer and greatly accelerate the developments of new model villages, and therefore relocation of populations on the border. But more importantly, it will pave the way for a mega hydropower plant (HPP).
In December 2020, The Global Times announced Beijing’s plan to build a cascade of mega hydropower plants (HPP) on the Yarlung Tsangpo.
The Metok County government confirmed that the project would be built north of the Indian border, while The Global Time added: “The head of Power Construction Corp of China (POWERCHINA) suggested the planned hydropower station - which is expected to have three times as much generating capacity as the world-leading Three Gorges power station - aims to maintain water resources and domestic security.”
A series of nine hydropower plants in cascade, producing thrice the amount of electricity generated by the Three Gorges Dam, will threaten the life in the entire North-East region.
But it is not all; already in 2016, The China Daily had reported the construction of a 1,629-kilometer Sichuan-Tibet railway. It has now entered a crucial phase. The railway will be connecting Chengdu in Sichuan to Lhasa; it will be divided into three sections from west to east: Lhasa-Nyingchi, Nyingchi-Kangding, and Kangding-Chengdu. It takes today 42 hours by train and three days by road to travel from Chengdu to Lhasa; the new rail line will shorten the travel time to less than 15 hours.
The Lhasa-Nyingchi section is scheduled to be opened in July.
All this will have incalculable strategic implications for India as the train will pass near the Indian border and the hydropower plant is located just north of the McMahon Line.
Last, but not the least, Xi is planning to start a mega lead-zinc mining project in Huoshaoyun area, in the China-occupied Aksai Chin in Ladakh; according to the Shanghai Nonferrous Metals Network: “In September 2016, Xinjiang geological prospecting made a new major breakthrough. Among them, the Huoshaoyun super large lead-zinc mine has a proven resource of 17.08 million tons, ranking seventh in the world, second in Asia, and first in China.”
Though the two first projects (the HPP on the Yarlung Tsangpo and the Sichuan Railway) are directly affecting India, the last one (the mining in the Aksai Chin) is located on Indian territory.
Further, nobody seems to have thought about the pollution generated by the mines; indeed, t is a great tragedy in the making; moreover for India, the development of the ‘dual-use’ (civil and military) infrastructure by China in the Ladakh sector will take place on a much larger scale than today.
How will the Mandarins of South Block react? They will probably try to keep the information under the carpet as long as possible. But if they wait too long, it may be too late. Remember the Aksai Chin road.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Mistake of the Century

President Xi Jinping is a poor strategist.
Chinese are known followers of the Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise written by Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and military authority in the 5th century BC. The treatise teaches all aspects of warfare and particularly how to win a War without fighting it, but today, it is clear that President Xi Jinping has not read the book properly.
Xi got the first basic wrong, “don’t take too many enemies in one go, take them one by one.”
As a result, Xi may win a few battles, but ultimately, the Chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission is certain to lose the war; the world will not let the Middle Kingdom dominate the planet.
Xi Jinping and his advisors did not take into account that China’s ‘enemies’ would react so quickly to Beijing’s aggressive expansionism.
Take India, how could the nation (and the government) ignore Chinese intrusions in Ladakh and accept a change of the status quo without taking measures to make Beijing pay a price.
Banning Chinese applications or cancelling State contracts for Chinese mining companies, Delhi has started acting. As China digs in in Ladakh and prepares for the winter, retaliating actions are bound to increase and certain policies taken in the 1950s, will certainly be debated afresh, particularly the ‘One-China’ policy.
It is where President Xi and his advisors have miscalculated.
India and the world can well reopen ‘unfinished’ business.
One is the Tibetan issue at the UN.
On November 7, 1950, a well-drafted appeal sent from Kalimpong (as there were no postal facilities in Lhasa), pointed to the fact that “the Tibetans were racially, culturally and geographically far apart from the Chinese.” It also made a parallel with the situation in the Korean peninsula: “The attention of the world was then riveted on Korea where aggression was being resisted by an international force.
Similar happenings in Tibet were taking place with the world covering its eyes: … [The problem is] largely the outcome of unthwarted Chinese ambitions to bring weaker nations on her periphery within her active domination,” said the Appeal, which continued: “As a people devoted to the tenets of Buddhism, Tibetans had long eschewed the art of warfare, practised peace and tolerance and for the defence of their country, relied on its geographical configuration and on non-involvement in the affairs of other nations.”
It added that the Chinese, in their natural urge for expansion, “have wholly misconstrued the significance of the ties of friendship and interdependence that existed between China and Tibet.”
Some twenty years ago, Claudia Johnston, an independent researcher in International Law at the University of Victoria, Canada, wrote a fascinating paper “Tibet: The International Mistake of the Century”.
The outcome of her research was that the Tibetan Appeal was still a pending matter in the UN …waiting to be reopened: “The UN and individual Member States, have been conducting their decisions based on the false assumption that Tibet is not a ‘State’, but ‘an internal affair’ of China. UN official records show this to be a mistake.” Tibet was then a State.
As a result, “the issue of Tibetan Statehood remains unconsidered by the United Nations. United Nations mechanisms for ‘States’ to employ peaceful solutions to ‘Disputes’ have not been utilised.”
All this was done …at the instance of India.
It is true that from the start, Delhi was pessimistic about the outcome of the UN appeal: “We doubt whether a discussion of Tibetan problem in General Assembly or in Security Council will yield any useful result,” wrote Nehru.
The friendship with China was already too important to be sacrificed for the fate a weak and peaceful neighbour like Tibet.
The Prime Minister frankly admitted that though Beijing had repeatedly expressed itself in favour of Tibetan autonomy “but of course we do NOT know what their idea of autonomy is.”
Delhi thought: “We do NOT think that legal argument will be helpful or that Assembly should attempt more than appeal to two parties to come to a peaceful settlement. Condemnation of China will NOT help Tibet; and neither Security Council nor Assembly is in any position to render physical aid to Tibet.”
As a result China was not condemned and could complete its task of entering Lhasa without hindrance; in Sun Tzu’s jargon, ‘liberating Tibet without waging war’.
In the course of the discussions at the UN in New York, most of the representatives indicated that India was the nation most concerned and that they would follow India’s lead.
In a note, Nehru sadly asserted: “I think it may be taken for granted that China will take possession, in a political sense at least, of the whole of Tibet.”
He further admitted that for the Tibetan people the “autonomy can obviously not be anything like the autonomy, verging on independence, which Tibet has enjoyed during the last forty years or so.”
His final words were: “We cannot save Tibet, as we should have liked to do so, and our very attempts to save it might bring greater trouble to it. It would be unfair to Tibet for us to bring this trouble upon her without having the capacity to help her effectively.”
The strange argument was: if we do anything to help Tibet, it will upset the Chinese and the fate of Tibet would be worse.
The case was eventually ‘put in abeyance’ at India’s demand.
Let us remember that Sardar Patel was by then a dying man; nobody could stand up to Nehru.
But today, if China stubbornly continues to occupy Indian territory in Ladakh or if the Chinese Western Theatre Command generals manage to convince the new Helmsman that India should be taught more lessons, there are plenty of old issues for India to reopen. For sure, Chairman Xi has not played his cards well.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Living in Fear of the Masses

According to a notice from the Metok Border Management Brigade, from March 1, the Chinese authorities will begin “to check border pass, ID cards and other documents of people entering and exiting Metok.”
Metok is the last small, but strategic town near the McMahon Line (north of Upper Siang District of Arunachal Pradesh).
The notice says that the entire Metok region now comes under ‘border management’ and the area will thereafter be restricted: “People entering and leaving must comply with the relevant regulations of the border management area and need to show relevant documents at border checkpoints to be allowed to pass.”
What is strange is that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not exempted from these new restrictions: “officers and soldiers of the PLA and the People’s Armed Police (PAP) who are not stationed in the area must present a certificate issued by the competent department at or above the regimental level to enter and leave the border area.”
The notice adds that if an entire military unit wants to enter or exit the border area, the border inspection department should be notified in advance for inspection.
Why is China so nervous? Fearing Indian infiltrations? Difficult to believe.
Radio Free Asia gives the beginning of an answer: “Chinese authorities in Tibet are tightening security and carrying out arrests in the regional capital Lhasa and along Tibet’s border with Nepal in the run-up to a month of politically sensitive anniversaries beginning in March.”
March is an ‘important’ month; the Two Sessions will take place in Beijing (the meetings of the National People’s Conference and The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference), but it is also the anniversary of March 10, the Tibetan Uprising Day, when the entire population in Lhasa revolted against the Communist rule in 1959, forcing the Dalai Lama to escape to India.
RFA gives more information: “Among those taken into custody are Tibetans suspected of sharing information on the deaths of Chinese soldiers killed in a border clash with India last June in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh.”
A source told RFA’s Tibetan Service: “the Chinese government has increased these arrests and crackdowns in Lhasa and in border areas and those who are suspected of exchanging information regarding the deaths of the Chinese soldiers on the border are immediately arrested.”
Beijing also still remembers that on March 14, 2008, riots started in Lhasa; it led to attacks on Chinese nationals and the destruction of many Han shops. The unrest later spread all over Tibet and it took two months for Beijing to regain control of the situation.
In the case of Metok, there is more.
On October 13, 2020, an article in China Tibet News (in Chinese) reported that the Pai-Metok Highway from Pai in Nyingchi City to Metok would be opened on July 1, 2021.
From Nyingchi, the travel time to Metok County would be shortened from 11 to 4.5 hours; the Chinese website said: “On October 12, our reporter learned from the Huaneng Linzhi Hydropower Project Preparation Office that in order to effectively improve the current status of the transportation from Nyingchi to Metok and to effectively improve the livelihood of the villages and towns along the route, the Pai-Metok Highway, is planned to be completed on July 1, 2021.”
What is Huaneng, a dam company, doing in the area?
The answer came less than two months later, The Global Times announced China’s plan to build a large hydropower project on the Yarlung Tsangpo River, which becomes first the Siang and later the Brahmaputra in India.
The Metok County government confirmed that the project would be built in the Metok County, north of the McMahon Line; sources told The Global Time that “the project will be designed by the Chengdu Engineering Corp under the Power Construction Corp of China, or POWERCHINA. The Chengdu company is helping Metok to build the second highway entering the remote county.”
According to Xinhua, the hydropower stations will produce thrice the electricity of the Three Gorges Dam.
Despite these new developments, the 1959 Uprising of the Tibetan ‘masses’ still haunts Communist China.
The first-hand report of Maj SL Chibber, the Indian Consul General in Lhasa to the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi, is telling; it was clearly a revolt of the 'masses' against the Chinese occupiers.
The Chinese propaganda would like us to believe that it was the doing of the Dalai Lama and the ‘upper strata’ of the Tibetan society who rejected the Chinese occupation, it is untrue.
Chibber, who witnessed these momentous days, wrote: “In the history of movement for free Tibet the month of March, 1959, will be most historic as during this month Tibetans high and low, in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, openly challenged the Chinese rule in Tibet. They set up an organisation called – ‘Pho Mimang Ranchen Chi Chog’, meaning, ‘Tibetan Peoples Independent Organisation’, renounced the Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951, staged demonstrations to give vent to their anti-Chinese feelings and demanded withdrawal of the Chinese from Tibet. But this challenge, before the MIGHT OF CHINESE People’s Liberation Army, who on 20th March, 1959, started an all out offensive against the ill-organised, ill-equipped, untrained-Tibetans with artillery, mortors, machine guns and all types of automatic weapons, was short lived.”
‘Smelling danger’, the Dalai Lama secretly left Lhasa on the night of March, 17; he would reach the Indian border in the Tawang sector on March 31.
Since then, mighty China shivers every month of March.
Chibber concluded: “In brief the booms of Chinese guns and fire from their weapons, which destroyed number of buildings including religious places, large scale killing of Tibetans followed by mass arrests, departure of Dalai Lama and high-ranking Tibetan officials from Lhasa completely shattered the morale of Tibetans in general and they were left with no other alternative but to bow before the Chinese.
The Indian Consul General concluded: "The future of Tibet is dark and only a miracle can save Tibet from the clutches of the Chinese Communist Colonialists."
On March 28, 1959, the State Council (Chinese Government) dissolved the Tibet Government and transferred all its functions and powers to the Preparatory Committee for the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), using a few Tibetan puppets in the process. Today, wanting to save face, Beijing celebrates March 28 as the Serfs Emancipation Day.
It is a yearly holiday in Tibet, the day when the 'reforms' could finally be implemented, says the Chinese propaganda, explaining that the Tibetan ‘serfs’ had been liberated from feudalism and theocracy; it was simply not true.
Today, after more than 60 years, the Communist Party still lives in fear of the Tibetan masses; they are probably right, even though Marx never explained the meaning of ‘Karma’.

Mao and the Tibetan Flag

On the occasion of the 62th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day, I repost this 2011 Article

My Himachal
reported that the Dalai Lama mentioned his encounter with Mao Zedong in 1954 in Beijing and the story of the Tibetan flag.
A few years back, I wrote an article, Flag and nationalities on the issue.

The recent unrest in Tibet has generated a healthy debate in India. Some sections of the Indian society like the Kashmiri Pandits now view their plight through the Tibetan prism (the bad luck of the Pandits is that they never had a charismatic leader like the Dalai Lama, though India’s ruling family belong to their community and they have remained a divided lot).
Some others say that we should give time to China to change and progressively evolve into a decent democratic system. They are probably not aware that the ‘time’ is also clocking against India’s interests. Last year alone 3.8 millions of Chinese ‘visited’ Tibet using the railway line to Lhasa; a few lakhs of them settled on the Roof of the World. Like in the Nepal case, when we will realize that the situation is irreversible, it will be too late. And it is India which will have to suffer.
More than twenty years ago, I had asked the Dalai Lama how will Tibet regain its independence (or autonomy). He had answer: “It does not depend on us Tibetans, changes will come from within China”.
It seems also clear that he was not expecting the United States or India to offer him on a platter the most cherished dream of his people. This statement may be disappointing to those who believe that he is only banking on the Great White Chief in Washington.
He repeatedly said that the people of China will bring about changes in their own country which will give a chance to the people of Tibet to fulfill their aspirations. 

 This is a far more plausible alternative than any other, including a dead-locked dialogue between Dharamsala and Beijing. In this context, three letters addressed to President Hu Jintao by the veteran Tibetan Communist leader Phuntsok Wangyal, who had led the Chinese troops into Lhasa in September 1951, could trigger a larger debate in China once the Olympics are behind us.
Wangyal (known as Phunwang by the Tibetans) told Hu several interesting things: the Dalai Lama’s demise would only radicalize young Tibetan hardliners frustrated with his ‘middle way’ approach; he reminded the Chinese President about his own objective to establish a harmonious society; and if Hu would strive for the return of hundreds of thousands of exiled Tibetans, he could turn ‘confrontation into harmony’.
The present debate veers around the place and status of the nationalities within the People’s Republic of China.
A historical incident about the Tibetan flag gives an indication of the direction in which the question could go.
In the 80’s, I had interviewed Phuntso Tashi Takla, the Dalai Lama’s brother-in-law who was in charge of the Tibetan leader’s security when the latter visited China in 1954-55. Takla recalled: “At that time [in 1954] because the Chinese occupation of Tibet was not complete, the Chinese extended full courtesy and cooperation to the Dalai Lama. On some occasions Mao Zedong came himself to the Dalai Lama’s residence [in Beijing]. During one of the several discussions that the Dalai Lama and Mao Zedong had, they were talking on some subject, when Mao [suddenly] said: “Don’t you have a flag of your own, if you have one, you can hoist it here [on the Guest House]”.
Takla was surprised to hear Mao Zedong speaking thus.
Personally I did not immediately realize the importance of Mao’s point, but when I later read Phunwang’s biography, I understood better the incalculable implications of the Chairman’s statement.
It is worth quoting Phunwang: “One day, Mao unexpectedly came to visit the Dalai Lama at his residence… During their conversation, Mao suddenly said, "I heard that you have a national flag, do you? They do not want you to carry it, isn't that right?"
Phunwang further recalled: “Since Mao asked this with no warning that the topic was to be discussed, the Dalai Lama just replied, "We have an army flag." I thought that was a shrewd answer because it didn't say whether Tibet had a national flag. Mao perceived that the Dalai Lama was concerned by his question and immediately told him, "That is no problem. You may keep your national flag." Mao definitely said ‘national’ flag [tib. rgyal dar].
The Chairman added that in the future the Communist Party could also let Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia have their own flag. He then asked the Dalai Lama if it would it be fine for him to host the national flag of the People's Republic of China in addition to the Tibetan flag. Phunwang says that the young Lama nodded his head and said ‘yes’: “This was the most important thing that Mao told the Dalai Lama, and I was amazed to hear it” later wrote Phunwang.
His mind immediately started racing. He was not sure if Mao had discussed this with other leaders in the Politburo or if it was his own idea: “As I had always paid great attention to the Soviet Union's nationality model, I was excited because I took Mao's comment that Tibet could use its own flag to mean that China was contemplating adopting the Soviet Union's ‘Republic’ model, at least for these three large minority nationalities.”
Phunwang realized that the innocuous remark of the Great Helmsman had far reaching consequences for the future of China and particularly for the Tibetans.
Unfortunately Phuwang was arrested in April 1958; he ‘needed to cleanse his thinking'. He spent the following 18 years in solitary confinement. This gave him time to ponder about Mao’s remarks on the flag and the ‘nationalities’ issue and their place in the People’s Republic of China. His studies of Marxism led him to believe that the relationship between nationalities in a multiethnic state should be one of complete equality.
He wrote: “In socialist states, the majority nationality does not (or should not) oppress the minority nationalities. All should be equal, and there should be complete unity and cooperation among nationalities.”
Most of the problems facing China today are due to the Great Han Chauvinism. The State (or Central Government) had to guarantee the equality amongst nationalities (by not imposing Chinese language over a ‘nationality language’ such as Tibetan for example).
Phunwang was finally rehabilitated at the end of the seventies.
In the early 80’s, Phunwang managed to send a 25,000 character memo to senior Party leaders such as Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang. He stressed that the outcome of a debate on the question of nationality would have a huge impact on future work in ‘minority nationality areas’ such Tibet.
After Hu Yaobang and Deng Xiaoping instructed the officials not to remove him as a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, his stand seems vindicated.
In May 1980, a delegation headed by Hu Yaobang, then General Secretary of the Communist Party of China visited Lhasa. Hu Yaobang was shocked to see the level of poverty in Tibet. During a meeting with the Party cadres, he asked “whether all the money Beijing had poured into Tibet over the previous years had been thrown into the Yarlung Tsangpo [Brahmaputra] river”. He said the situation reminded him of colonialism. Soon hundreds of Chinese Han cadres were transferred back to China and Tibetan language rehabilitated. Tibet witnessed a few years of glasnost.
The debate started by Mao’s remark more than fifty years ago and reignited by Phunwang twenty years later, is still on. Will Hu Jintao and his colleagues listen to Phunwang’s point on the issue of nationalities or will the Great Han Chauvinism prevail once again?
The fate of Tibet depends on which side the wind will blow in Beijing not on CIA operations?
In the meantime, it is not advisable to go around Lhasa with a national Tibetan flag: Mao’s Thought has not percolated that much in China.


Even Chairman Mao had no objection to displaying the Tibetan flag : Dalai Lama
My Himachal
Baldev S Chauhan
September 12 2011
Dharamsala : The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama spoke to a crowd of 30,000 Sunday in Mexico’s Mexico city on ‘Finding happiness in troubled times’.
He began his talk saying, “We’re all equal,we all want to have a happy life, and we all have a right to be happy”.
The nobel peace prize winner spoke for more than an hour standing, as the enthusiastic crowd of 30,000 people listened attentively despite the strong Mexican sun.
Later he also took questions from the audience.
Noted hollywood actor Richard Gere, a long time friend of Tibet and follower of the Dalai Lama introduced the Tibetan leader to the crowd.
When asked to comment about Mexicans carrying the Tibetan flag, he said in 1954 when he visited China and met chairman Mao Tsetung, he was told by Mao that Tibet had its own flag and Tibetans should use it.
So if people complained about displaying the Tibetan flag, the Dalai Lama said they should not since even Mao had no objection to displaying the flag.As he spoke these lines all the people carrying small Tibetan flags raised them in the air.
As he ended his talk, the crowd recited in unison in Spanish a popular longlife prayer for the Dalai Lama.
This was followed by musicians of traditional Mexican songs, ‘Mariacha’ coming up on the stage and playing an emotional farewell song along with the crowd for the Tibetan spiritual leader.
After completeing his three day visit to Mexico, the Dalai Lama leaves Monday to Buenos Aires capital of Argentina on a two day visit.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Communism in China: A hundred years later

My article Communism in China: A hundred years later appeared in The Daily Guardian

Here is the link...

As China prepares to celebrate the centenary of the Communist Party, the world must remember the massacres which Communist regimes have unleashed throughout history and question why Xi Jinping’s march towards the ‘New Era’ is marked by such aggression directed at neighbouring countries.

The year 2021 is supremely important for the Middle Kingdom and its Emperor: Not only will it bring the occasion to unveil the 14th Five-year Plan and China’s 2035 Vision, but, more importantly, Beijing will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China.
Already, in January, President Xi Jinping declared that “the party and country are on the right track… time and momentum are on our side”, and even though the country faced “unprecedented challenges and opportunities,” he urged his Politburo colleagues to “create favourable social conditions” for the important anniversary.
On 1 March, Xi spoke at the opening ceremony of the training class for young and middle-aged cadres at the Central Party School in Beijing. He told the young cadres that they were the successors of the old comrades, “the glory of the party is in your hands”, and exhorted them to be the “faithful successor of the tradition and fine work-style of the Communist Party, constantly enhancing willpower, perseverance and self-control and making contributions in the new journey of comprehensively building a modern socialist country in the New Era while striving to create a worthy party, worthy of the Chinese people!”
And, of course, “loyalty to the party is the primary political quality of Communists,” he added.
The words of the new Great Helmsman sound great, but there is another side to the coin.
In 1997, French scholar Stéphane Courtois, along with other European academics, published Le Livre noir du communisme. It was later translated in several languages, with the title The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression in English.
The Black Book, which sold millions of copies, is still considered by many as one of the most influential publications written about the history of Communism in the 20th century. The authors documented the history of political repression by Communist states, including genocides, extrajudicial executions, deportations, killing populations in labour camps as well as artificially-created famines.
Though some leftist ‘intellectuals’ objected to the Communist label being put on some of these dark events, the facts are difficult to change.
In the first chapter, The Crimes of Communism, Stéphane Courtois recalls, “Communist regimes turned mass crime into a full-blown system of government …and are responsible for a greater number of deaths than Nazism or any other political system. …Communism predated fascism and Nazism, outlived both, and left its mark on four continents.”
And today, it is still thriving in China and North Korea.
Quoting Plato’s Republic and Thomas More as Communist examples of ‘utopian philosophy’, Courtois explained, “We must make a distinction between the doctrine of communism and its practice. As a political philosophy, communism has existed for centuries, even millennia.”
Courtois gives figures, people killed by Communist governments amount to more than 94 million, including 65 million in the People’s Republic of China, 20 million in the Soviet Union, 2 million in Cambodia, 2 million in North Korea, 1.7 million in Ethiopia, 1.5 million in Afghanistan, 1 million in Vietnam.
In China alone, there is no doubt today that the Great Leap Forward resulted in 40 to 50 million deaths. According to Frank Dikötter in his masterly Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, “45 million people died unnecessarily …6 to 8 percent of the victims were tortured to death or summarily killed—amounting to at least 2.5 million people.” Yang Jisheng in Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958–1962 put the tally between 43 million and 46 million.
We could argue that it was another age, another time. But in this case, why continue to eulogise Communism and the Party?
Of course, Xi Jinping’s Thought is known as Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era. A couple of years ago, it was even enshrined in the Chinese Constitution.
But if it is a new era, why arrest all the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong? Recently, pro-China prosecutors argued in court that the defendants were involved in a “massive and well-organised scheme to subvert the Hong Kong government” by organising and participating in an unofficial primary election last July, although CNN commented, “such contests are a normal function in democracies around the world, during which political parties select the strongest candidates for an election.”
Look at the situation in Xinjiang where millions of Uyghur Muslims have been forced to live in ‘reeducation camps’, in Tibet, where the Communist regime wants to impose its own Dalai Lama (over one hundred years, the Party seems to have acquired great knowledge in spiritual matters), in Taiwan, which perpetually lives under Beijing’s invasion threat, or closer to us, India, which during the past nine months was subjected to an uncalled for aggression on its borders. Examples could be multiplied to show that China has not really entered a ‘New Era’.
A few weeks ago, I was watching a Chinese program on Tibet and, to my surprise, spotted an old Maoist figure named Pasang, along with the present Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). The old lady served Mao well during the darkest days of the Cultural Revolution. She managed to survive the purges of other leftist officials and even the fall of the Gang of Four in October 1976 to become a vice chairwoman of the TAR Revolutionary Committee in September 1968. In 1971, she was made a deputy party secretary in the TAR Party Committee, a position she held until her retirement in 2002.
The fact that China is ready to use figure-heads of the darkest days of Communism tends to prove that the New Era has not yet landed in the Middle Kingdom.
In the coming months, Chinese propaganda will try to convince us of the contrary.
Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, likes to say, “The original aspiration and the mission of Chinese Communists is to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation… This founding aspiration, this mission, is what inspires the Chinese Communists to advance.”
Today, former Premier Zhou Enlai, who joined the CPC in 1921, the year when the Party was founded, has become a ‘lofty character’ who selflessly pursued a just cause for the common good throughout his life, says Chinese propaganda.
We remember him in India as a Machiavellian politician who took the Nehru government for a ride. The recent happenings in Ladakh have their origin in Zhou’s lofty words—the world’s standard for ‘lofty’ are obviously different than the Chinese’s.
Large-scale massacre may not occur today (mainly due to the information revolution), but has the mindset really changed in Beijing?

It does not seem so, even in the New Era.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

How the Tibetans were emancipated ...by the guns

Sixty one years ago...

I am reposting this very special document: the Report for the months of March, April and May 1959 sent by the Indian Consul General in Lhasa (Maj SL Chibber) to the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.
This Top Secret document is dated June 1, 1959.
Maj Chibber, an Indian Army officer from the Jat Regiment had already spent nine years in Tibet.
He came first to Tibet in 1950 to replace Maj SM Krishnatry, the Officer Commanding the Indian Escort in Gyantse (Krishnatry was from the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment).
After his tenure in Gyanste with the Escort, Maj Chibber served on deputation as Indian Trade Agent in Yatung and Gyantse. He took over as Consul General in Lhasa from PN Menon (father of former Foreign Secretary and National Secretary Advisor, Shivashankar Menon) in February 1957, when the Dalai Lama returned from his trip in India.
In September 1959, he was transferred as First Secretary to the Political Officer's Office in Gangtok (he would later be integrated into the Indian Foreign Service).

Different accounts
India's views on the dramatic events of March/April 1959 never appeared before.
It is worth mentioning that a Kindle book The 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents - The Chinese Army Documents published early this year provided some documents from the Military Intelligence of the People's Liberation Army on the 1959 bloody events.
This publication provides several maps of the battle of Lhasa; it complements Maj Chibber's narration.
Another account of the events is given by Jianglin Li in her Tibet in Agony, "the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa in 1959. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, she reconstructs a chronology...", says the preface of her book.
Incidentally, since 2009, China celebrates March 28 as the Serfs Emancipation Day.
It is an yearly holiday in the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is supposed to be the day that the 'reforms' could finally be implemented on the Roof of the World. On March 28, 1959 the Tibetan government had been declared 'illegal' by the People's Republic of  China and the so-called serves had been liberated Tibetans from feudalism and theocracy ...by the guns.
But as described by Maj Chibber, it is clear that the uprising of March 1959 was the revolt of the 'masses' against the occupiers.
Maj Chibber's conclusions are worth noting: "The future of Tibet is dark and only a miracle can save Tibet from the clutches of the Chinese Communist Colonialists."

My website contains a large collection of documents relating  to the March 1959 Uprising.
Click here to consult
Volume 48 of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru dealing with this event is also downloadable

Report for the months of March, April and May 1959 from the Consul General of India in Lhasa, Tibet

GENERAL
In the history of movement for free Tibet the month of March, 1959, will be most historic as during this month Tibetans high and low, in Lhasa, Capital of Tibet, openly challenged the Chinese rule in Tibet. They set up an organisation called – ‘Pho Mimang Ranchen Chi Chog’, meaning, ‘Tibetan Peoples Independent Organisation’, renounced the Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951, staged demonstrations to give vent to their anti-Chinese feelings and demanded withdrawal of the Chinese from Tibet. But this challenge, before the MIGHT OF CHINESE People’s Liberation Army, who on 20th March, 1959, started an all out offensive against the ill-organised, ill-equipped, untrained-Tibetans with artillery, mortors, machine guns and all types of automatic weapons, was short lived.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, smelling danger, left Lhasa secretly on the night of the 17th March, 1959, with important members of his personal staff, three Cabinet Ministers and members of his family for Lhoka area (south of Lhasa), where at that time Khampas had full sway and from where it was easier for him to escape to India if need arose. Many other important and un-important-Tibetans followed him when the actual trouble started on the night of 19th March, 1959.
On the 28th March, 1959, the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China dissolved the local Tibet Government and transferred all its functions and powers to the Preparatory Committee for the Tibetan Autonomous Region, - which was set up by the Chinese on 22nd April, 1956, but due to various reasons was not functioning as desired by the Chinese, with Panchen Lama as its Acting Chairman, stating that Panchen Lama would act for the period the Dalai Lama was held in duress. Ngapho Shape [Ngabo Ngawang Jigme] and Phak-pa La [Phagpala Rinpoche] of Chamdo, a young incarnate Lama of Chamdo studying at Sera, were promoted as Vice Chairmen from their former positions of member of Standing Committee and Secretary General and member of Standing Committee respectively. Eighteen Tibetan members of the Committee who were labeled-traitors by the Chinese were dismissed and replaced by five Chinese and eleven Tibetans. The State Council also ordered the People’s Liberation Army stationed in Tibet to assume Military Control in Tibet except Shigatse, the seat of Panchen Lama. The Military Control commission in Lhasa was formally established on 23rd March, 1959.
During these months the Chinese with the help of their armed forces including air-force quelled the main Resistance Force in Lhoka area, carried out thorough – screening of Inhabitants in and around Lhasa, detained hordes of Tibetans and others on-slightest suspicion, impounded all the private vehicles except for a few belonging to pro-Chinese Tibetans but they were also not allowed to ply and thus made travel outside Lhasa impossible (their own Transport Department’s passenger service between Yatung/Shigatse/Gyantse and Lhasa was stopped many months before), promulgated dusk to dawn curfew, organized meetings and – rallies to condemn the former Tibetan Government and Imperialists, blamed Indians as expansionist and for interfering in the internal affairs of Tibet and rapidly installed Military Control Commissions in other places in Tibet. The preparatory Committee held two meetings after its reorganization, one under Chairmanship of the Panchen Lama and the other under General Chang Kuo-hua [Zhang Guohua] in absence of the Panchen Lama who had gone to Peking to attend the Second National People’s Congress Session there, and passed few resolutions.
In brief the booms of Chinese guns and fire from their weapons, which destroyed number of buildings including religious places, large scale killing of Tibetans followed by mass arrests, departure of Dalai Lama and high-ranking Tibetan officials from Lhasa completely shattered the morale of Tibetans in general and they were left with no other alternative but to bow before the Chinese.

Norbulinka Palce: in blue the Tibetan defences, in red the Chinese PLA movements
Tibet-China
The nationalist movement in Tibet, the climax of which reached on 10th March, 1959, had started sometime in 1955 in Kham, Eastern Tibet and then spread to west in Amdo region and north-east in Golok areas. In 1955 and 1957 it took shape of an open revolt against the Chinese regime in these areas. These people though did not succeed but they were a constant headache to the Chinese who had to resort to aerial bombing and deploy large number of forces to subjugate the local inhabitants. During operations number of monasteries were destroyed and the local people suffered heavy losses. Due to absence of proper means of communication and security measured adopted by Chinese to suppress the information the correct news of happenings in these areas-seldom reached out-side world. However, whatever little news trickled through traders and travelers contained horrible accounts of atrocities committed by the Chinese against the people of these areas, especially against the lamaseries. This naturally had an effect on the minds of Tibetans elsewhere and a stage had reached that some among these Tibetans who had thrown their lot with the Chinese previously, many became apprehensive and doubted Chinese promises of respect for religion and internal autonomy. The Khampas in east finding difficult to face the frontal attack of the Chinese troops resorted to guerilla tactics and moved towards the south where the Chinese garrisons were few and far between and the difficult terrain suited to hit and run type of war.
They were able to disrupt completely traffic on Sikang [Kham]-Tibet highway and managed to have a complete control of area called Lhoka (south of Tsangpo river) and some areas in north-east-of the river. In May, 1958, and later they were joined by Khampas and their kinds from Lhasa and elsewhere also. Number of monks from various monasteries, some Tibetan soldiers and other Tibetans also joined them. They were successful in their attacks on some convoys on Lhasa Shigatse road and Tsinghai Tibet highway.
There were also reports of air-drop of arms and ammunitions to these people in Lhoka area by unidentified planes. All the time the Chinese did not take any action against these Khampa, except on one or two occasions but pressed the Tibetan Government to suppress them. The Tibetan Government under pressure from Chinese sent Peace Missions comprising of monks and Iay officials to Kham and Lhoka areas but no useful purpose was served. – The Mission which went to Lhoka stayed on and never returned. It was said that the members of the Mission had joined the Khampas.
As a number of officials in the Tibetan Government did not like the presence of Chinese in Tibet no concrete stops were taken by the Tibetan Government and in all probabilities encouraged the movement secretly. All these encouraged the people in Lhasa, especially the intelligentsia and they thought it was high time for a general uprising. The Chinese did not sit quiet and were not blind to what was happening and were not taking chances by leaving thing to the Tibetan Government. They started preparing themselves for the show down; fortified their offices and residences with sand bags, dug trenches and prepared fire positions, all cadres were issued arms and ammunition and made to join militia under the pretext that these militia units were similar to those of China proper, stored rations and due wells on their promises and increased the strength of their troops considerably in and around Lhasa. The relations had been strained since a long time and at the close of the year 1958, the question was as to how and who should break the ice.
In January, 1959, General Tan Kwan San [Tan Guansan], Political Commissar, openly condemned Surkhang Shape, the senior most Cabinet Minister of the Tibetan Government, in a meeting of Chinese and Tibetans convened for congratulating Soviet Russia for their success on launching space rocket, for not taking any interest in the things Chinese were doing and threatened that if he (Surkhang) did not mend his ways he would be reduced to a labourer and if he still did not improve he would be done away with. This probably had a very serious affect on minds of the Tibetans who thought that if their highest official could be treated that way then there was no chance of survival for any one else. The anti-Chinese feeling among the Tibetans which had already mounted high further increased and the previous whisper campaign against the Chinese started tuning into open words and action.
During Monlam [Prayer Festival], the great prayer, 20,000 to 30,000 monks gather in Lhasa. Similarly large number of lay people of all classes from other parts of Tibet, including Kham, Golok and Amdo areas, come to Lhasa for pilgrimage and blessings of the Dalai Lama. Since 1954 this occasion was being utilized by the Tibetan nationalists for their anti-Chinese campaigns and exhorting people to rise against the Chinese. On two occasions anti-Chinese leaflets were thrown in Lhasa market square secretly and similarly hand written posters, containing Chinese anti-religious activities and atrocities committed by them, were displayed in the streets of Lhasa number of times.
The monks and other people who came from all over Tibet carried back these news and thus the anti-Chinese feelings among the masses were further intensified. Each Monlam after 1954 saw more and more of anti-Chinese feelings among the Tibetans. The incidents in which Tibetan and Chinese were involved and when the latter sided with their men aggravated hatred among the Tibetans against the Chinese.
In April, 1957, an armed Chinese who wanted to enter private apartment of Dalai Lama in Potala was arrested by the Tibetan soldiers on suspicion that he wanted to take life of the Dalai Lama and was sent by the Tashilhunpo authorities with the connivance of the Chinese. This naturally created wide spread resentment among the Tibetans, specially when the Chinese did not take any action against this man (he was simply returned to China).
During Monlam of 1959 two armed Chinese were arrested by the Tibetan soldiers during the Dalai Lama’s procession from Potala to main cathedral and the Tibetans charged those people with the same offence i.e. they had intention to kill the Dalai Lama and were agents of Tashilhunpo acting kill the Dalai Lama and were agents of Tashilhunpo acting under the direction of the Chinese. Under the pressure of the Chinese authorities the Tibetan Government handed over these people to them who after short while released them.
During Monlam, the Chinese took extra security measures. They distributed cash and their propaganda literature among the monks to gain their favour but in vain. By Monlam of 1959, the anti-Chinese sore only needed a pin prick to erupt it. The invitation to Dalai Lama by the Military Area Command to a Theatrical performance on the 10th March, 1959, provided an excuse to the nationalists to start their campaign openly in Lhasa against the Chinese.
The invitation, as far as we understand, was known only to a few top ranking Tibetan officials close to Dalai Lama. It seems that on the evening of 9th March and in the morning of 10th March Interested officials who know about the invitation quietly sent words to people in Lhasa asking them to come to Norbulingka to stop Dalai Lama from going to Chinese Military Headquarters as it was suspected that the Chinese might detain him and persuade him to go to Peking.
In the beginning, on the morning of 10th March, only few people came to Norbulingka but later when messages were sent from the office of the Sho Magistrate and the news got more currency men, women and children in large number started streaming towards Norbulingka. By about 10 A.M. about 15,000/20,000 people had assembled outside the summer palace.
Such a gathering of the public probably for the first time for a political issue in the history of Tibet after arrival of Communist Chinese. It is very difficult to say whether the danger envisaged by the Tibetan officials was real or they just used this excuse to stir up the minds of the public against the Chinese and thus start a mass movement against them.
The feelings, however, were running very high against the Chinese and the public was restless and any excuse would have served to mobilize them. Sawang Samdup Photrang, Cabinet Minister of Local Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Tibetan Army who was proceeding towards Norbulingka was stoned by the mob.


The battle around the Chakpori Hill
Another victim was Phak-Pa Khanchung Sonam Gyatso (brother of Chamdo Phak-Pa La Rimpoche), who was shot dead and his body was taken round the streets of Lhasa in most humiliating manner. We understand that the mob mistook Sawang Samdup Photrang as Sawang Ngapho who is an out and out pro-Chinese and hated by Tibetans.
In the meantime the wishes of the public were passed on to Dalai Lama who through Sawang Surkhang and Kalon Lama Luishar assured the public over the loud-speakers that he would not go to the party. The mob had also by this time formed a Committee representing all classes including Tibetan Army, monasteries and officialdom. This Committee decided to declare Tibet as independent from 10th March, 1959, denounced the Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951, and to request Dalai Lama not to go to any function of the Chinese including the meetings of the Preparatory Committee.
Tibetan officials, lay and monk, present in Lhasa except for a few pre-Chinese, started going towards Norbulingka to attend meetings there. In the above mentioned Committee it was also decided that a deputation representing all sections of Tibetans should call on Foreign Representatives and other foreigners in Lhasa viz. Consul General for India, Consul General for Nepal, Bhutan Agent and the Kashmiri Muslims, to apprise them of the situation and the decisions taken. Accordingly they visited us first.
Realising that it might create misunderstanding with the Chinese, in the first instance we snowed our disinclination to meet them as it was their internal matter. On their instance, however, the Consul-General met them but offered no comments. Later the deputation visited the Consul General for Nepal, Bhutan Agent and the Kashmiri Muslims. The situation was fast deteriorating and people fearing danger to the life of Dalai Lama assumed the responsibility of guarding Norbulingka with whatever arms and ammunition they had. On the assurance given by the Dalai Lama that he would not go to the party the public gathered outside Norbulingka formed a procession and went round the streets of Lhasa shouting anti-Chinese slogans and declaring themselves as independent.
The things started happening quickly from 11th March onward the Tibetan officials (both lay and monk) held series of meetings, the Tibetans destroyed the bridge on Chinghai Tibet highway on north of Potala, destroyed Water Controlling Station on Kyi-chu-river on south of Norbulingka, Tibetan troops were posted at strategic points and in the outlying parks around Norbulingka, the Tibetan guards of the Kusung Regiment discarded their Chinese dress and put on Tibetan-dress, voluntary armed guards from the public also joined the Tibetan soldiers in Norbulingka for doing the guard duties round the clock, the Tibetan employees of the Chinese and students of the Chinese schools were asked to abandon their jobs and to leave schools.
As a result the Chinese schools closed and majority of the Tibetan employees with Chinese left their jobs. Pro-Chinese officials (very few in number) and the Tibetan employees who did not leave their jobs, with their families were asked by the Chinese to move to the Chinese Military Headquarters or other areas which were fully guarded by Chinese soldiers. The meetings which were being hold in Norbulingka by Tibetan officials were also attended by the Representatives of the committee. What actually transpired in those meetings is difficult to say but we understand that they mostly discussed how to approach the Chinese and as far as possible to have peaceful negotiations but use of force if necessity arose was also agreed upon.
Since all the Shapes and other high ranking Tibetan officials were attending those meetings it became evident that Tibetan Government had now openly challenged the Chinese rule and were supporting the people’s movement. It is quite likely that in these meetings it was visualized that peaceful negotiations with the Chinese might not be possible as the latter would never agree to their demand of free Tibet and withdrawal of Chinese from Tibet and for that the Tibetans thought it essential to prepare themselves for an armed retaliation.



The battle for the Ramoche temple
A call for volunteers was made and the Tibetan Government started issuing arms and ammunitions to the volunteers and also supplemented the weapons and ammunitions of the Tibetan troops.
Nearly 10 thousand monks from various monasteries in an around Lhasa and lay people from the town volunteered, themselves. There was a report at that time that the villagers around Lhasa also volunteered to fight for the cause of freedom and life of Dalai Lama. Regular public meetings were held in the town and at Sho, below Potala, where young and old of both sexes took oath to fight against the Chinese and offer one person from each house.
A Women’s procession was also organized and about 5,000 women visited this Consulate and requested that we should accompany them to the Chinese to witness their talks. We politely refused to accede to their request. Similarly they requested Consul General for Nepal, Bhutan Agent and other foreigners in Lhasa. But none of them agreed to accompany them.
So far the Chinese had not taken any action even though there was provocation on one or two occasions. They, however, ordered their personnel to remain within their barracks and they tried to persuade the public through loud-speakers not to be misled by bad elements. Tibetan officials and Shapes (Surkhang, Shasur and Liushar) were severely criticized and blamed for the trouble. The non-interference attitude of Chinese was puzzling the Tibetans. We feel that the Chinese were preparing themselves and waiting for reinforcements and probably also for orders from Peking. It may be stated here that the Chinese had already enough troops in Lhasa but they were very young and inexperienced. The Chinese probably also wanted additional troops to crush the uprising not only in Lhasa but all over Tibet.
By 17th March all the strategic places between Norbulingka and Chakpuri/Potala were occupied either by Tibetan soldiers or volunteers. Since our area happens to be in between Norbulingka and Chakpuri number of volunteers and soldiers could be seen with arms and ammunitions at nearby places. Some of them for their convenience used to cross through our area though we tried various methods to stop them.
A rumour was afloat on 17th March that the Chinese had fired three mortor shells from their motor station in Chandannagar which is on north-east of Norbulingka towards latter. Between the 11th March and the evening of the 19th March the Tibetan troops sounded alarms number of accidentally by the in-experienced volunteers or fired to test their weapons or tried their skill on target shooting.
On 18th morning we came to know that the Dalai Lama had left Norbulingka on the previous night and was proceeding towards Lhoka area. We also noticed that number of Tibetan troops had considerably reduced and their places taken up by volunteers. Now it looked that fighting would start any time.
What actually made the Dalai Lama leave suddenly can only be told by him or his advisers but we feel that his advisers probably came to know of some plans of the Chinese that put fear in them and made them leave. The plan might have been about the whole sale arrest by the Chinese of all the Tibetan officials and others taking part in the movement. We don’t think that the departure was decided on the 17th March only. The Dalai Lama might not have thought of it but his advisers must have planned it immediately after the trouble started on the 10th March, 1959.
On the 17th March there was rumour that some Khampas had come to Liu Dzong about 6 to 8 miles from Lhasa on the south bank of Kyichu river on the way to Lhoka area. These Khampas probably came to escort the Dalai Lama and party upto Lhoka, from this it appears that the Plan was made earlier. The other reason could be that the Tibetans had a mind to attack Chinese positions and before that they wanted Dalai Lama to be away to a safe area. At that time Lhoka area was safest. They must have also thought that if situation worsened they would be able to take Dalai Lama to India from there easily (the actual events prove this).
The situation continued to be very tense on 18th and 19th March. All sorts of rumours were afloat, such as that Chinese had announced that they would finish Lhasa in one hour and they were only waiting for an opportune moment. There was also a report that Chinese had thrown stones on the Women’s procession on the morning of 19th March and injured few of them.
On the night of 19th March we went to bed as usual but the inner feelings were, after seeing the feverish activities of the Tibetans during the past two days, that the hour of danger was not far off. To avoid any confusion in the event of any trouble, I had issued clear instructions a couple of days earlier to all the members of staff to shut immediately to the main Consulate building when the we had started keeping our dresses handy during night so that when there was any danger we could immediately dress up and take shelter on the ground floor. When we heard bursts of fire from the automatic weapons at 01:50 hours local time on 20th March, it was not a surprise to us. From my bed-room window I saw continuous flash coming from a light machine gun which was firing from a position on the bund along the Kyi-chu river about 8 to 9 hundred yards away; from our observations during day we knew that the Tibetans were occupying all area on South of our Consulate upto bank of Kyi-chu river and as such the gun firing must be of Tibetans.
The fire from all types of weapons including heavy guns could be heard from all sides. It is very difficult to say as to who fired the first shot but as the firing started from Norbulingka side (this is also stated by one Shan Chao in his diary published in Peking Review dated May 5, 1959) it seems that the Chinese had sent some troops on the other side of the river with intention either to surround Norbulingka or reconnoitre the position of Tibetans who on seeing the Chinese troops started firing.
If the Tibetans were to start they would not start firing in their own area without the presence of Chinese and should in normal course had gone forward and started the battle where the Chinese were holding the ground. The intense firing continued for over an hour. At about 6 AM. some Tibetans came to the Consulate and among them I recognized Khenchung Thupten Zangpo and a junior monk official of Kundeling Monastery. Khenchung Thupten requested for our intervention saying that it would be disastrous for Tibetans if the fighting continued. He also mentioned that uptil then they had an upper-hand in the fighting. We regretted our inability to do anything and simply told him that we would inform Government of India about the situation. We thought the things had quietened down but suddenly at 8 A.M. the firing of mortors and heavy guns resumed and this time it was more intensive than earlier.
Since it was coming from Lhasa side, it was evident that the Chinese had now launched an whole sale attack on the Tibetans. Artillery from both sides was in action and the targets were not far from our area. The Chinese artillery was aiming at Tibetan’s gun position on the south hill of Chakpuri [Chakpori] and Kundeling Monastery. We could also see that the Tibetan heavy gun was also firing from its position on the south hill of Chakpuri towards Chinese Military Headquarters.
The volume of the fire was increasing every moment. In the meantime I had spoken to the Political Officer in Sikkim on the radio telephone and from the wireless station I could see the shells bursting on east of our area, about 100 years from where I was speaking. Seeing the danger I ordered the wireless operator to shift to the main building where I had already kept a spare set for emergency purposes but due to some technical difficulties we could not open our set that day. By 11 A.M. local time we noticed that Tibetan heavy gun had stopped firing, probably its ammunition stock had exhausted and Tibetans on Chakpuri hill started retreating towards Norbulingka. Soon after the Chinese occupied the Chakpuri and its side hills.
Booms of the guns and fire from automatics could be heard from north and south-side indicating that the battle was in full swing. From Chakpuri Chinese started firing from their machine guns towards Norbulingka and bullets were hitting parks south of our area, our area and parks after Kundeling Dzasa’s house. Some bullets also hit the Consulate building and a Tibetan water carrier who happened to come out of her quarter for naturals call was hit in the chest – she died after two days. Now the Chinese artillery and armoured cars started moving towards Norbulingka both on south as well as on the north side of our area.
At about 2 P.M. local time the Chinese artillery started shelling Norbulingka and in the meantime their troops covered by armoured cars moved along slowly. The Tibetans in the parks south of our area were still putting up resistance and only after Chinese had intensified their fire that they retreated and the Chinese were able to proceed beyond our area by about 4 P.M. During the day many Tibetans withdrew to our area with their bag and baggages and requested us for shelter but as they were armed and the situation was such that had we given them shelter we might have very well became the target of the Chinese guns and as such we persuaded them to leave our area. They, however, left behind their cycles, beddings, rations etc.
The Chinese troops entered our area at about 4:30 P.M. and according to our men the Chinese fixed their guns to fire at the main building but on seeing the Indian national flag withdraw and proceeded towards Kundeling Dzasa’s house. On their way they fired at the residential quarters of our staff and the hospital. The firing was deliberate and aimed and it was only sheer luck that the inmates escaped unhurt. From the Chinese soldiers actions of not firing at the main building prove that they had instructions not to fire at the Consulate and their action of firing at the residences was probably due to their ignorance of the extent of our area and took these Houses as belonging to Kundeling Dzasa.
Bullets from the Chinese machine guns passed through our area from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. and about 60 of them including the aimed ones had hit the Consulate buildings and later we picked up over 100 sharpenels from the Consulate garden and from the immediate vicinity and roof of the main building where we all except for few members of staff who due to intense firing could not shift were taking shelter.
By about 5:30 P.M. we noticed green very light signals fired from Norbulingka side indicating that they had complete control over these areas and the firing ceased. Later we saw heavy vehicles running on the south of our area. They were clearing their own casualties and this carried on till midnight. Though it was quiet around our area but the fire from heavy guns and automatic guns could be heard from north and east sides.
We could not know exactly what was happening in Lhasa and elsewhere but we could hear the fire of heavy guns and automatic weapons throughout the night of 21/22 March and this went on till 23rd March. Large number of Tibetans was taken prisoners – nearly 5,000 – and about 2 to 3 thousand killed or wounded. For continuous three to four days we noticed smoke coming from the Norbulingka side, probably the Chinese were burning the dead bodies. It is not possible for us to estimate the number of casualties on the Chinese side but they seemed to be heavy.
On the 21st March afternoon, Vice Director of Foreign-Bureau came in an armoured car from south side (this is not the normal route to our area) and from this it seemed that the Chinese had not yet been able to clear completely the Lhasa Norbulingka road on our north. He besides telling us that who local Government had revolted and it was an internal matter and no force on earth could take Tibet from China, asked us to shift to Foreign Bureau on grounds of safety.
We told him that we would prefer to stay on our own premises and if necessary they could arrange protection here itself. He also told that where their troops were stationed they would afford protection to the foreign nationals but where there were none he advised that they should withdraw. He wanted me to ask my nationals to strictly abide by the orders of their Government and stay indoors where the rebellious elements were active.
On the 22nd March about midday one Chinese Military Officer along with few soldiers came and informed us that he would be posting guards around our area. Few Tibetans who had managed to stay in the servants quarters surrendered to him. The Chinese officer requested that he would like to see the servants quarters to make sure that no bad element was hiding there to which we agreed. We were completely cut off from out-side as guards would not allow any one to come in or go out of our area. They would not even allow our water carriers to go out to fetch drinking water.
On the 25th March I was called to Foreign Bureau, travelling in their car, and told that as the rebellion had been put down basically there was no need for us to shift to Foreign Bureau. During my trip to Foreign Bureau and back I noticed that a considerable damage had been done to the Kundeling Monastery, some damage to Medical College at Chakpuri Monastery, Potala was hit at 7 to 8 places and the Sho village had received a considerable quantity of fire from automatic weapons as we could see that white wash of nearly all the houses had come off completely.
At the Foreign Bureau I noticed and was also told that Tibetans had done quite a lot of damage to their buildings from the artillery fire from Ramoche monastery. On the same day one of our nationals, Miss Sahabir along with her sister-in-law, managed to come to our area and from her we learnt that the Chinese had destroyed some portions of the main cathedral, shelled houses of Tibetan officials, took prisoners and the people were made to surrender through threats that the main cathedral would be completely destroyed. In the mean time Chinese had set up a Military Control Commission started taking census in and around Lhasa.
Strict restrictions were imposed on the movements of people and no one was allowed to leave Lhasa. A dusk to dawn curfew was also promulgated. Soon after the situation in Lhasa was in hand they sent their troops towards Lhoka and according to Chinese they took complete control of that area by about 18th April. From whatever we could see it area by about 18th April.
From whatever we could see it appears that they deployed a large force and with the help of air-force suppressed the Tibetans in the Lhoka area. In Lhasa the Chinese arrested practically all the Tibetan officials and number of other Tibetans, especially traders and intelligentsia on slightest suspicion and they are still hold under detention. Since no proper system of justice exists there is no question of any appeal. Anyone arrested is doomed for months together whether he is guilty or not. During the period of detention one is made to do manual work.
The Chinese confiscated millions of rupees worth of property of the Tibetan officials who either left for India or took part in the rebellion and also of those monasteries from where operations against them were carried out. The confiscated Tsampa (barley atta) was distributed by the Chinese among the beggars and destitutes and to this they gave much publicity to show that they were kind. Repairs to main-Cathedral and Norbulingka was started in order to show that they had respect for the religious places.
Blame for all these happenings has been thrown on bad elements. Simultaneously they started their propaganda campaign against the Tibetan officials, imperialists and reactionary elements. Besides the street corner meetings which were routine for a month or so rallies were arranged on 15th April and 1st May in which locals including monks from various monasteries were ordered to joint People out of fear attended and listened to the speeches made by the pro-Chinese Tibetans and Chinese. The speeches were centered round one theme i.e. the Tibetan Government and its officials in collusion with the foreign reactionaries were responsible for all this trouble.
The Chinese also rounded up all the Khampas, Amdowas, Sinkiangese, Golokpas and many Chinese civilians who were doing trade or other petty business and sent them back to their respective areas. Their families were also given option to follow them. The prisoners captured in Lhoka area, who were mostly Khampas were also sent away from Lhasa. Though the Chinese said that they were being returned to their homes – but people feared that they were sent to work on China-Tibet railway.
All the able bodied prisoners are being utilized as forced labour either at Nanchen Hydro Electric Project or other construction works. There are reports that in addition to the population census Chinese are collecting detailed information regarding private property owned by an individual including number of heads of cattle etc. all – over Tibet. The Chinese are showing utter disregard for the will of the Tibetans and are going ahead with their plans for in Tibet on the similar lines as in China proper.
The Peking and Lhasa Radios were silent about happenings in Tibet till the 28th March, 1959, though the trouble had started from the 10th March and the free world Radios were giving news about fighting from the 20th March. The Chinese, only after taking complete control of the situation in Lhasa, announced on the 28th March, 1959, the State Council’s order asking the Tibet Military Area Command in Tibet to put down rebellion, dissolved the Tibet local Government and asked the Preparatory Committee to take its – functions. The same day the Peking Radio also broadcast the proclamation of the Tibet Military Area Command and the Hsinhua [Xinhua] News Agency’s communiqué on rebellion in Tibet.
The communiqué said that out of total population of 1,200,000 only about 20,000 were rebel bandits, in other words nationalists, and this included some people from Kham. We feel that the actual position was other way round and not some Khampas but many of them and large number of Amdowas, Golokpas had joined the crusade, some actively and openly and others gave their moral support.
The anti-Chinese feelings existed all over Tibet since Chinese entry in 1950 but only bayonets of the Peoples Liberation Army were keeping these suppressed. If the broad masses of the Tibetans were with them, as the Chinese claim, then there was no reason to have military rule all over Tibet as they did not feel the necessity in Shigatse, seat of the Panchen Lama and where they were confident that nothing would go against them, and also when the rebellion in Lhasa and Lhoka had been quelled.
They suspected every Tibetan and according to talk of the town-it-was only after threats and show of force that the Chinese were able to establish their military administrations in other places in Tibet after establishing it in Lhasa by force. Even now except for their hirelings they do not trust Tibetans in general. The dusk to down curfew continues and the general security measures have not-so-far been relaxed. Except for about 500 prisoners the rest still continue to be in detention. The prisoners released were probably unfit for manual work and their release effected for propaganda campaign to show to Tibetans their magnanimity towards the prisoners.
Almost 99 per cent of the Tibetans did not want Chinese rule though many of them were leading hard life under the feudal system. The main reason for this was the ‘fear’ that the Godless Chinese Communists, not allow them to profess their religion after they completely took over control of things in Tibet. They were prepared to sacrifice everything for religion and for life of the Dalai Lama. The peoples challenge met with failure and proved disastrous for Tibet. The failure was mainly due to inexperience both on part of the leaders and the masses.
The people should have on no account resorted to an armed revolution and similarly at no cost the Tibetan Government should have associated with the movement and encouraged the armed up-rising. The Chinese used force with no reserve for carrying out reforms in adjoining provinces of Tibet including Kham, Eastern Tibet but as for Central Tibet they were careful and as far as possible wanted to use peaceful means i.e. by winning over Tibetans by hook or crook. The reason for this was probably that while they could carry out their reforms by force in those places without outside world knowing about their methods but in case of latter they knew that things would leak out through foreign missions, traders and pilgrims going to India and Nepal and this would bring bad name and material for propaganda for free world.
They were quite aware of the opposition for reforms and for that they postponed these for six years from 1st January, 1957, with a provision that even after six years these would be carried only if people were prepared for it. Whether their offer of postponement was genuine or not it is difficult to say but one thing is clear that the Chinese never lost any opportunity to enforce on Tibetans any item of reforms and they kept a critical eye on all Tibetan officials and day to day functioning of the Tibet Government.
An incident in Gyantse gave them an opportunity to introduce a resolution in the Preparatory Committee exempting Tibetan employees and students from payment of taxes to their Tibetan masters. No Tibetan official could be promoted or granted leave for going outside Tibet on business or pilgrimage, unless it was approved by the Chinese. These coupled with the news of maltreatment to the high ranking Lamas and others by the Chinese in the liberated areas (Lamas and dignitaries being used for manual work, deprived of all privileges and properties etc.) was worrying the Tibetans in Central Tibet as the promised period of the postponement of reforms was coming to an end.
They preferred to risk their lives rather than to undergo the Chinese ‘Liberation’. On the other hand the Chinese were looking for an opportunity, if possible an armed uprising, to take things in their hands, and unfortunate for Tibet such an opportunity did arise on 10th March.
The Tibetan’s apprehension of Chinese way of treatment was not wrong as the events after the revolution are proving. The high ranking officials and Lamas, who could not escape to India or stayed behind after the Dalai Lama’s departure, are being subjected to humiliation. Servants, subjects and disciples are forced to beat their former masters and Gurus. They are also employed for manual work including carriage of rubbish etc. for manure. Beating in one case was so severe that the person died the next day while another high ranking official (Tsarong Dzasa) died couple of days before he was scheduled for such a treatment, probably on account of shock.
They have a mind to eliminate the upper class as it is alleged that this class was responsible for the uprising and luring workers and peasants to rally around them.
We have no authentic information as to what actually transpired in Lhoka area, which was under the complete control of the Khampas, when the Chinese forces carried a three prong drive against the defenders of the faith there. According to the Chinese 2000 rebels were either killed, wounded or captured, many surrendered while some fled to India.
The Chinese are adopting all methods to bring the Tibetans into their fold and it is feared that in due course the Tibetans will lose their individual identity and culture. The Chinese do not even call the Tibetans as Tibetans. Many Tibetans have already done away with their pig-tails and Bakoos (Tibetan cloak) and instead started wearing Chinese dress, to please Chinese masters. Unless something extraordinary happens we do not think the Tibetans have any chance of getting independence or real regional autonomy in foreseeable future as the Chinese have now established themselves so firmly that they will not care about anything even world opinion and will go ahead with their policy of annihilating the Tibetan race.
They would not bother about the Tibetans who have left Tibet, not even for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They would write off these as traitors. They, however, would not mind Dalai Lama’s return on their terms. The Chinese are not missing him as in his place they have Panchen Lama who harps their tune and is good enough to fill in the formalities of the office and as religious pontiff. As for the broad masses, who have great faith in the Dalai Lama, will under intimidation accept the Panchen Lama as their religious guide in due course of time Chinese are also taking steps to see that the religion does not play an important role in the life of the Tibetans in the coming generation. For this they are vigorously enrolling children of all classes and imparting education on the communist lines.
The future of Tibet is dark and only a miracle can save Tibet from the clutches of the Chinese Communist Colonialists.
(Source: National Archives of India)