History Speaks

Q: Under what circumstances did the PLA decide to march into Tibet?


A: In 1949, China's War of Liberation reached its final stage. All of China's inland territory except Tibet had been liberated. Some pro-imperialist elements in the local government of Tibet, in collaboration with the American and British imperialists, tried to block the PLA's advance into Tibet to complete the unification of the motherland. In July 1949, on the pretext of "preventing the Communists from entering Tibet," they demanded that the Kuomintang government withdraw all of its representatives from Tibet. This is known as the "Incident of Expelling the Hans Meanwhile, they gave enormous publicity to the "independence of Tibet" and planned a so-called "goodwill mission" to the United States and Britain to seek aid and support. They also expanded their armed forces and placed troops along the Jinsha River, saying that they would not allow the PLA to enter Tibet.

Such actions by the Tibetan local government aroused public indignation among people of all nationalities. Many requested that the Central People's Government send troops to liberate Tibet, drive out the imperialist forces, and put an end to the pro-imperialists' scheme to separate Tibet from the motherland. When the Bainqen Kambu Lija heard that the Tibetan local authorities planned to send a "goodwill mission" abroad, it sent a cable to the Central People's Government on behalf of the patriots in Tibet: "Tibet is part of Chinese territory. It is recognized by the whole world. All Tibetans regard themselves as members of the Chinese multi-national community. What the Lhasa authorities have done is a violation of national territorial integrity and against the will of Tibetan people. We, on behalf of the Tibetan people, request the prompt dispatch of the PLA to liberate Tibet."

Under such circumstances, the Central People's Government made the decision to strive for a peaceful liberation of Tibet. It ordered the PLA to prepare to march into Tibet. Meanwhile, through many channels, it told the Tibetan authorities to dispatch a delegation to Beijing for negotiations. Later, the Central People's Government also sent several peace missions to Lhasa to declare the government's position, with the hope that the local authorities could cut off with the imperialists and return to the multi-national family of the motherland. However, the pro-imperialist elements, headed by the Regent Tagecha still clung to their separatist stand and refused to send any representatives to negotiate for peaceful liberation. They expelled Shirob Jaltso, commissioner of the Central People's Government, from Tibet, and exiled the Living Buddha Datse and three cadres of Han nationality to the Sharman area. In addition, the Living Buddha Geda was killed by poison in Qamdo. As a result, an armed confrontation became inevitable.

On October 7, the battle of Qamdo was fought. In .1 3 days, the PLA inflicted a sizable defeat on the main forces of the Tibetan army to cross the Jinsha River and liberate Qamdo, a town of strategic importance in eastern Tibet.

In the spring of 1951, Regent Tagecha stepped down and the 14th Dalai Lama took over. The Tibetan authorities sent a delegation, headed by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, to Beijing and entered into negotiation with the delegation of the Central People's Government. After more than 20 days, the Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet was signed on May 23, 1951.

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