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From: China Daily 2011-05-23 13:20:00
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Milestone in Tibet

As the Tibet autonomous region celebrates the 60th anniversary of its peaceful liberation, Dharamshala and its sympathizers exhibit an intense fear of looking history in the eye.

They need to study the Agreement between the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on the Methods for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, also known as the 17-Article Agreement, signed on May 23, 1951, because it contradicts many of Dharamshala's and its sympathizers' claims.

First and foremost, the document displays a self-evident historical truth that is meticulously concealed in Dharamshala's account. In what the 14th Dalai Lama himself once described as an agreement reached "on friendly terms", and the 10th Panchen Lama said was completely consistent with the interests of the people of Tibet, the document shows in its very title that it was one between a central and local government.

Lest that is not clear enough, the government of Tibet did not consider the region as a "country" at the time, nor was it "independent". The subsequent deployment of the People's Liberation Army in Tibet, therefore, has nothing to do with "aggression".

Tibet has never assumed independent statehood in the eyes of modern international law. Instead, it has been under Chinese jurisdiction since the mid-13th century. The very title and authority of the Dalai Lama were created and first bestowed by China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) government.

At the ceremony in 1940, whereby Lhamo Dondrub became Tenzin Gyatso, or the 14th Dalai Lama, a representative of the Nationalist government was present as a co-chair, not as a guest from a neighboring "country", as some choose to interpret.

Those in and close to Dharamshala have skirted cautiously around the 17-Article Agreement and corresponding historical facts because they leave no room for maneuvering. Instead they resort to distortion.

Mary Beth Markey, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, for one, is uneasy about today's celebrations in Lhasa. As she reportedly put it, the 17-Article Agreement is one "about promises made to Tibet but not kept".

Markey was correct in finding that there are "unmet pledges" in the document. But who has been unfaithful to those bilateral commitments?

The text signed by plenipotentiaries of the central and Tibetan authorities, includes both the central government's obligation to not impose reforms upon Tibet and that of the Tibetan local government to conduct reforms on their own terms.

The "large measure of self-rule" never contained the promise that the savage serfdom would be enshrined eternally.

Democratic reform was not made until the rulers of Tibet broke their promises and masterminded armed rebellions in 1959.

Today should indeed be an occasion for reflection, as Markey suggested, but not just in Beijing.

[editor : ]
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