Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951 (So- called 17 Point Agreement which was forced on to the Tibetan delegation to sign on 23rd May 1951 by the Chinese Government.)

From 1951 – 1959 His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Government of Tibet tried to live within the framework of the 17 Point Agreement. But slowly and surely the Chinese Government started interfering in the internal structure of the Dalai Lama and the Government of Tibet. This resulted in the March uprising against the Chinese occupying force by the Tibetan people and subsequently the escape of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into India. (Thuten Kesang, New Zealand)

17 Point Agreement 23rd May 1951

  1. The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive force from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Motherland – the People’s Republic of China.
  2. The local government of Tibet shall actively assist the PLA to enter Tibet and consolidate the national defences.
  3. In accordance with the policy towards nationalities laid down in the Common Programme of the CPPCC, the Tibetan people have the right of exercising national regional autonomy under the unified leadership of the CPG.
  4. `The central authorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet. The central authorities also will not alter the established status, functions and the power of the Dalai Lama. Officials of various ranks shall hold office as usual.
  5. The established status, functions and powers of the Panchen Ngerhtehni shall be maintained.
  6. By the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama and of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni are meant the status, functions and powers of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni when they were friendly and amicable relations with each other.
  7. The policy of freedom of religious belief laid down in the Common Programme of the CPCC shall be carried out. The religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people shall be respected and lama monasteries shall be protected. The central authorities will not effect a change in the income of the monasteries.
  8. Tibetan troops shall be reorganised step by step into the PLA and become a part of the national defence force of the CPR.
  9. The spoken and written language and school education of the Tibetan nationality shall be developed step by step in accordance with the actual condition in Tibet.
  10. Tibetan agriculture, livestock raising, industry and commerce shall be developed step by step and the people’s livelihood shall be improved step by step in accordance with the actual condition in Tibet.
  11. 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 shall be settled by means of consultation with the leading personal of Tibet.
  12. In so far as former pro-Kuomintang officials resolutely sever relations with imperialist and the Kuomintang and do not engage in sabotage or resistance, they may continue to hold office irrespective of their past.
  13. The PLA entering Tibet shall abide by all the above-mentioned policies and shall also be fair in all buying and selling and shall not arbitrarily take a needle or thread from the people.
  14. The CPG shall have centralised handling of all external affairs of the area of Tibet; and there will be peaceful Co-existence with neighbouring countries and establishment and development of fair commercial and trading relations with them on basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect for territory and sovereignty.
  15. In order to ensure the implementation of this agreement, the CPG shall set up a Military and Administrative Committee and a Military Area HQ in Tibet. And-apart from the personnel sent there by the CPG- shall absorb as many local Tibetan personnel as possible to take part in the work. Local Tibetan personnel taking part in the Military and Administrative Committee may include patriotic elements from the local government of Tibet, various districts and various principle monasteries; the name-list shall be set forth after consultation between the representatives designed by the CPG and various quarters concerned and shall be submitted to the CPG for appointment.
  16. Funds needed by the Military and Administrative Committee, the Military Area HQ and the PLA entering Tibet shall be provided by the CPG. The local government of Tibet should assist the PLA in the purchase and transport of food, fodder and other daily necessities.
  17. This agreement shall come into force immediately after signature and seal are fixed on it.
Signed and sealed by delegates of the CPG with full powers:
Chief Delegate- Li Wei –Han (Chairman of commission of Nationalities Affairs); Delegate- Chang Ching-Wu, Chang Kuo-hua, Sun Chib-yuan, Delegates with full powers of the local government of Tibet: Chief Delegate- Kaloon Ngabou Ngawang Jigme (Ngabo Shape); Delegate- Dazasak Khemey Sonam Wangdi, Khentrung Thupten Tenthar, Khenchung Thupten Lekmuun, Rimshi Samposey Tenzin Thundup. Peking 23rd May 1951.

(Copied from Tibet and its History by H.E Richardson 1962)

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Soon after his arrival in Tezpur, India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a statement on 18th April 1959, explaining the the 17-Point Agreement was signed under duress and that the Chinese government had deliberately violated the terms of the Agreement. Thus from that day onwards, he declared that the agreement would be considered null and void, and he would strive for restoration of Tibet’s independence –Thuten Kesang