(3) The Local Government of Tibet Refused Peace Talks and the PLA Was Forced to Fight the Qamdo Battle

On May 29, 1950, the CPC Central Committee approved the 10 terms proposed by the CPC Southwest Bureau for peace negotiations with the local government of Tibet. The 10 terms are as the follows:

  1. The Tibetan people unite to drive the British and US imperialist forces out of Tibet, and return to the big family of the motherland---the People's Republic of China.
  2. Practicing national regional autonomy in Tibet.
  3. Various existing political systems in Tibet remain unchanged; there will be no change with regard to the position and power of the 14th Dalai Lama and officials at various levels remain in their original office.
  4. Practicing religious freedom, protecting lamaseries, and respecting the Tibetan people's religious belief and their habits.
  5. Effecting no changes to the existing military system of Tibet whose army becomes part of the PRC national defense armed forces.
  6. Developing Tibet's national language and writing, and school education.
  7. Developing Tibet's agriculture, animal husbandry, industry and commerce, and improving the life of the people.
  8. The Tibetan people and Tibetan leaders consult to decide on various kinds of reforms in Tibet in the light of the will of the Tibetan people.
  9. All officials who were pro-British, pro-US and pro-Kuomintang in the past continue to remain in their original office and their past behavior will be forgiven, so long as they stop having ties with the British and US imperialists, and the Kuomintang, and engage in no sabotage and resistance.
  10. The PLA enters Tibet to consolidate national defense. The PLA observes the above policies and their expenses will be covered totally by the Central People's Government. The PLA pays fairly for what they buy.

The 10-point policy gained a strong response among people of the upper ruling class in the Tibetan areas in related provinces. Xage Daodain held that this policy was absolutely correct and vowed to make explanations among Tibetans living on the western bank of the Jinshajiang River. Tibetans in Xikang and Qinghai voiced support for the 10-point policy, but there were some who deemed this policy was too lenient. Deng Xiaoping said at the plenary session of the Military and Government Committee in Southwest China on July 21: "There should indeed be leniency," and this policy "shall be implemented genuinely." (Selected Works by Deng Xiaoping 1931-1965, p.163)

Acting in accordance with the CPC Central Committee's instruction to urge the local government of Tibet to send people to Beijing for negotiations, the PLA advance troops conducted necessary political work.

When the 18th Army advance troops had entered Garze, the Living Buddha Geda who came to know Commander-in-Chief Zhu De and Commander Liu Bocheng, made a special trip from his residence monastery of Baili to Garze to visit the commanders of the advance troops. He told them he was willing to go to Tibet in the capacity of a peace envoy if there was the need. The CPC Southwest Bureau filed a report with the CPC Central Committee, which approved the request. The Living Buddha Geda then left his Baili Monastery and went westward on July 10. He crossed the Jinshajiang River and entered the areas controlled by the Tibetan army. In spite of all obstacles put up by the Tibetan army, the Living Buddha Geda did his best to publicize the 10-point policy and tell how the PLA officers and men respected the religious freedom and customs of the Tibetans. He asked local headmen and the Tibetan army officers and men not to be enemies of the PLA. The Living Buddha Geda finally reached Qamdo on July 24.

While the Living Buddha Geda went to Tibet, the 18th Army advance troops managed to win over, through other channels, Lhalu, the Qamdo manager of the Tibetan government, and the 9th Regiment of the Tibetan army. 3839e.jpg (22319 bytes)

In early May, the CPC Northwest Bureau organized a delegation composed of the Living Buddha Dangcai, elder brother of the 14th Dalai Lama, the Living Buddha Xarcang and others from the upper ruling class in the Tibetan area in Qinghai. The delegation left Xining for Tibet on a peace mission in July.

Departments of the Central Government, under the direct leadership of the CPC Central Committee, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, worked hard for the peaceful liberation of Tibet. The Central People's Radio Station publicized the Central Government's attitude and policy for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, and invited Xirab Gyamco, an influential religious figure in the Tibetan areas in Qinghai, to make radio broadcasts and write letters to the 14th Dalai Lama. The Chinese Embassy in India also worked on Xagabba and other Tibetan officials delegated to return to Tibet.

With the influence of the CPC and the PLA gradually expanding into Tibet, and thanks to efforts made by the CPC Central Committee to bring Tibetan government officials to the negotiation table, the upper ruling class in Tibet was split into peace and war factions.

From July to September 1950, the local government of Tibet under control of the war faction, obeyed the "advice" of the high-powered British officials in India "not to negotiate with China." Turning a deaf ear to the demand of the Central People's Government, it delayed in sending representatives for negotiation. In the meantime, it rushed reinforcements to Qamdo and Jingshajiang areas. It was determined to stop the PLA's entry into Tibet by force. When the Living Buddha Geda reached Qamdo and demanded to be allowed to visit the 14th Dalai Lama in Lhasa, the local government placed him under house arrest in accordance with the suggestions made by British special agents Reginald Fox and Robert Ford. Under the instigation of Robert Ford, these pro-British elements poisoned the Living Buddha Geda on August 22. In his "materials on Geda event" which he wrote after he was taken prisoner, Robert Ford admitted that "Lama Geda was murdered in Qamdo" with the purpose that he would not be able to "raise the Communist Party's conditions on the peaceful liberation of Tibet when he reached Lhasa." (Archives on Robert Ford's poisoning of Geda) Murdering the Living Buddha Geda and closing the door to peace talks was therefore the decision made by the local government of Tibet in accordance with the plot engineered by the British.

Since the local government of Tibet had closed the door to peace talks and Tibet had to be liberated, the Central People's Government was forced to decide to take military means to promote talks.

Mao Zedong cabled the CPC Southwest and Northwest Bureaus on August 23: "If our army can capture Qamdo in October, this will urge the Tibetan delegation to come to Beijing for negotiation for peaceful settlement." (CPC Chronicles on Tibet 1949-1966, P.13) This clearly shows that fighting the Qamdo battle was aimed at winning the possibility for the peaceful negotiation for the settlement of the Tibetan issue.

On September 23, Yuan Zhongxian, Chinese Ambassador in India, told Xagabba: The PLA40e.jpg (17156 bytes) troops on way to Tibet will operate in accordance with the set plan. If the Tibetan authorities continue to delay negotiations with the Central Government, it will have to bear the results thus incurred thereafter. Premier Zhou Enlai pointed out solemnly at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on September 30: The PLA is determined to liberate Tibet. We are willing to achieve this by peaceful means. We hope the Tibetan authorities will no longer hesitate. The local 41e.jpg (18743 bytes)government of Tibet, however, turned a deaf ear to this advice.

When all the efforts made by the Central People's Government failed to have any effect, and when the local government of Tibet continued to uphold the policy of armed resistance, the PLA troops launched the Qamdo battle on October 6 and pressed ahead smoothly. On October 12, Deboin Dege Galsang Wangdui led his 9th Regiment of the Tibetan army in revolt and crossed over in Mangkam. The PLA advance detachment captured Qamdo on October 19, forcing the Qamdo officials and Tibetan troops, totalling 2,700, into the Chugesi gully. Newly-appointed Qamdo chief manager Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei sent people to contact the PLA troops for negotiation. Shortly after, Ngapoi ordered the Tibetan army to lay down their arms and hand over the British special agent Robert Ford. The Qamdo battle thus came to a victorious end on October 24, with 114 PLA soldiers and 180 Tibetan troops killed or wounded.

During the Qamdo battle, the broad masses of the 43e.jpg (19777 bytes)Tibetans in the Kam areas went all out to support the PLA troops. Before the battle was fought, Dege Headman Xage Daodain and Headwoman Jamyang Baimo generously produced more than 10,000 yaks for transportation for the PLA troops. A Tibetan supply station in Dengke supplied 255,000 kg of42e.jpg (28773 bytes) firewood and horse fodder in 20 days. Tibetans in Shiqu gathered 2,500 leather bags for the transportation of food grain. Tibetans in Batang made 19 wooden boats and 41 yak hide rafts to ferry the PLA soldiers across the Jinshajiang River. Tibetans in Chuqing, Dege County, gathered 35,000 kg of horse fodder and more than 50,000 kg of firewood. During the battle, there were Tibetans who braved bullets to transport with yak hide rafts the PLA team across the river at the Gamtog Ferry. On the battlefields, Tibetans were often seen to carry wounded PLA soldiers back to field clinics. On the long-distance transport line, Tibetans in their hundreds strong transported food grain and other materials for the PLA troops. It should be said that the PLA won the Qamdo battle with the help of the Tibetans.

Patriotic Tibetans felt happy with the victorious Qamdo battle. Jijigmei, Sandain Gyamco and some other Tibetans then in Beijing held a discussion meeting to celebrate the victory. The 40 Tibetan students with the Lanzhou Northwest Institute for Nationalities wrote a letter of thanks to the PLA troops in Tibet. Xage Daodain said in Kangding: The positive support for the PLA from the Tibetans living on both banks of the Jingshajiang River shows how the Tibetans love their own troops.