|The Dalai Lama with Chinese officials in the early 1950s|
On May 14, 1957, the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee decided to downsize the Chinese presence in Tibet and postpone the so-called democratic reforms in Central Tibet.
A few months earlier, 'reforms' had started being implemented in Eastern Tibet (in Kham province particularly); it provoked violent reactions from the 'masses' and so-called 'elite'. (The Communist Party speaks of other 'elites' as if the Party itself had not its own 'elite').
The Partys' decision followed the visit of the Dalai Lama to India and the possibility (already in 1956-57) for the Dalai Lama to take refuge in India.
The document published by Goldstein is interesting because it is probably the first time that the Central Committee, the highest authority in the Party under Mao's leadership, admits that "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."
Though it mentions an imaginary "nominal subordination to the Beiyang government [from 1912 to 1928] and the Guomindang administration [from 1928 to 1949]", it asserts that between the Xinhai Revolution (the 1911 Revolution) and the so-called Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in 1951, "Tibet once again restored its semi-independent status".
Though couched in Communist jargon, it also says: "If we use force, it is very likely that it 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 will follow the elite to oppose us under their [the upper classes] influence and control. Therefore, peaceful reforms will be impossible to achieve."
The conclusion was "to not carry out reforms for six years is a compromise with the elite in Tibet This compromise-is necessary because the elite still holds the nationality banner and the religion banner which could still influence the masses as mentioned above."
President Xi Jinping should perhaps read and read again this decision of the Central Committee (his father Xi Zhongxun was an active party to it), and implement today a similar a policy then known as 'The Great Retraction' on the Tibetan plateau.
Would he decide to transfer 50% or 60% of the Communist Han cadres and a similar percentage of the People's Armed Police, to the mainland, the situation would undoubtedly improve in Tibet.
Xi would also discover that it is not so difficult to fulfill the Dalai Lama's demands for genuine autonomy of Tibet.
But perhaps Beijing does not want the situation to improve.
Tibet Work Committee's Decisions on Our Future Work in Tibet
May 14, 1957
The CCP’s Central Committee
The Central Committee basically approves the ‘Decisions on the Future Work in Tibet’ and ‘the Plan for Downsizing the Institutions and Reducing Expenses’ proposed by the TWC [Tibet Work Committee] on 19 March 1957.
Democratic reforms in Tibet are one of the most important items in the Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet and have to be carried out sooner or later. Only through democratic reforms can Tibetans achieve political and economic liberation, and acquire the prerequisites to transit to a socialist [society]. However, since the time when this issue [of democratic reforms] was raised at the inaugural meeting of the PCTAR [Preparatory Committee for the Tibetan Autonomous Region] last year, the opinions generated by this among people from all walks of life have demonstrated that it is not the right time for carrying out democratic reforms in Tibet. Not only does it [reforms] lack true consent from the leaders of the elite, but it also lacks support from the masses. After democratic reforms started in the Tibetan areas in Sichuan, a portion of the elite in Tibet openly or privately supported the rebels in Ganzi [Kartze] using the excuse of 'errors made doing the reforms in Ganzi'; and launched or expanded armed rebellions in Chamdo. During the Dalai Lama’s visit to India, separatists carried out the so-called ‘Tibet Independence’ campaign instigated by imperialists, which has garnered sympathy and approval among a relatively large number of aristocrats and upper-class lamas. 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. The unification of Tibet was achieved during Qianlong's reign [1736-1795] in the Qing dynasty. Nevertheless, during the forty years between the Xinhai Revolution [The Chinese Revolution of 1911 which overthrew the Manchu dynasty] and the [so-called] peaceful liberation of Tibet [in 1951], Tibet once again restored its semi-independent status while maintaining a nominal subordination to the Beiyang government [from 1912 to 1928] and the Guomindang administration [from 1928 to 1949] as local to central administrations.
The fact that it had achieved long-term independence and semi-independence historically distinguishes Tibet from other minority nationality areas in China. First of all, this fact 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 it also has a considerable influence among the masses. When the imperialist forces penetrated into Tibet toward the end of nineteenth 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. These imperialist conspiratorial activities have continued until today, even after the peaceful liberation of Tibet Historically, the tendency to separation among Tibetans has to do with the oppression of a minority nationality, but generally speaking, the tendency more importantly reflects the independent or semi-independent status of Tibet that existed for a long period of time in history. Religion has a long and great influence among the Tibetan people, and the elite Tibetans use religion to maintain the serf system and the feudal governing system.
Serfdom and feudal rule in Tibet 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, which are harmful for the development of Tibetans. This is the reality we are facing. Besides the issues with the upper classes, we also have the issues with the masses.
When we do work in Tibet, this reality is the first thing we need to consider regarding doing our work. The Tibetans will not make progress without social reforms; but due to the reality we are faced with, we must carry out peaceful reforms and apply the policy of peaceful reforms to our decisions regarding the timing, the sequential steps, and the methods of the reforms. The democratic reforms that we advocate, no matter how peaceful they are, will inevitably touch the foundation of feudalism, because the main goal [of democratic reform] is to transform the system of Tibetan serfdom into a people's democratic Tibet.
If we do reforms without the genuine consent of the elite leaders and the necessary support of the masses, [the reforms] will become imposed, and carrying out the reforms will depend only on us. This is contrary to the principle of "Allow sufficient time for the masses of all nationalities and the public leaders who are connected to the masses of all nationalities to consider things and make a decision based on their own wishes" (from the report regarding the draft constitution of the PRC). It is also contrary to point 11 of the Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. [In matters related to various reforms in Tibet, there will be no compulsion on the part of the Central Authorities. The local government of Tibet should carry out reforms of its own accord, and when the people raise demands for reform, they must be settled through consultation with the leading personnel of Tibet.]
If we use force, it is very likely that it 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 will follow the elite to oppose us under their [the upper classes] influence and control. Therefore, peaceful reforms will be impossible to achieve. 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 thus implement reforms. This [going to war] is the last resort in nationality areas.
In Tibet, because of the above-mentioned historical and practical reasons, together with its geographical isolation from inland China and the inconvenience of transportation, carrying out reforms in this way [without the consent and support of the elite and masses] is politically passive and militarily not worthwhile in the long-term. Therefore, we should avoid adopting this way [of doing things].
[However,] if imperialists and traitors start an armed rebellion, that is something different; and then we have to use armed force to suppress the rebellion. The Central Committee had made repeated instructions about this.
Having reconsidered 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. Whether or not to carry out reforms after six years pass will be decided by us based on the actual situation at that time.
To not carry out reforms for six years is a compromise with the elite in Tibet This compromise-is necessary because the elite still holds the nationality banner and the religion banner which could still influence the masses as mentioned above. This compromise is not to reduce the whole work nor to give up our positive goals. On the contrary, the reason to compromise [now] is exactly in order to create advantageous conditions to achieve positive goals in the future.
In Tibet, we will not carry out reforms for at least six years, but the peaceful reforms in Sichuan and Yunnan should be continued and completed. These are the policies of the Central Committee...