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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


April 6, 1952

[Inner-Party directive drafted for the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. It was sent to the Southwest Bureau and the Working Committee in Tibet and communicated to the Northwest Bureau and the Sinkiang Sub-Bureau.]

The Central Committee essentially approves the instructions which the Southwest Bureau and the Southwest Military Area cabled on April 2 to the Working Committee and Military Area in Tibet. It holds that the basic policies (except the point about reorganizing the Tibetan troops) and the various specific steps set forth in the telegram are correct. Only by following them can our army establish itself in an invulnerable position in Tibet.

Conditions in Tibet are different from those in Sinkiang. Tibet compares poorly with Sinkiang, whether politically or economically. But even in Sinkiang, the first thing the army units under Wang Chen did when they got there was to pay the utmost attention to strict budgeting, self-reliance and production for their own needs. They have now gained a firm foothold and won the warm support of the minority nationalities. They are carrying out the reduction of rent and interest and will proceed to agrarian reform this winter, and by then we can be sure of even greater support from the masses. Sinkiang is well connected with the heartland of the country by motor roads, and this is of great help in improving the material welfare of the minority nationalities. As for Tibet, neither rent reduction nor agrarian reform can start for at least two or three years. While several hundred thousand Han people live in Sinkiang, there are hardly any in Tibet, where our army finds itself in a totally different minority nationality area. We depend solely on two basic policies to win over the masses and put ourselves in an invulnerable position. The first is strict budgeting coupled with production for the army's own needs, and thus the exertion of influence on the masses; this is the key link. Even when highways are built, we cannot count on moving large quantities of grain over them. India will probably agree to send grain and other goods to Tibet on the basis of exchange, but the stand we must take is that our army should be able to carry on even if India stops sending them some day. We must do our best and take proper steps to win over the Dalai and the majority of his top echelon and to isolate the handful of bad elements in order to achieve a gradual, bloodless transformation of the Tibetan economic and political system over a number of years; on the other hand, we must be prepared for the eventuality of the bad elements leading the Tibetan troops in rebellion and attacking us, so that in this contingency our army could still carry on and hold out in Tibet. It all depends on strict budgeting and production for the army's own needs. Only with this fundamental policy as the cornerstone of our work can we achieve our aim. The second policy, which can and must be put into effect, is to establish trade relations with India and with the heartland of our country and to attain a general balance in supplies to and from Tibet so that the standard of living of the Tibetan people will in no way fall because of our army's presence but will improve through our efforts. If we cannot solve the two problems of production and trade, we shall lose the material base for our presence, the bad elements will cash in and will not let a single day pass without inciting the backward elements among the people and the Tibetan troops to oppose us, and our policy of uniting with the many and isolating the few will become ineffectual and fail.

Of all the views set forth in the Southwest Bureau's telegram of April 2 there is only one that calls for further consideration, what I refer to is the feasibility and advisability of reorganizing the Tibetan troops and setting up a military and administrative commission fairly soon. It is our opinion that the Tibetan troops should not be reorganized at present, nor should formal military sub-areas or a military and administrative commission be established. For the time being, leave everything as it is, let this situation drag on, and do not take up these questions until our army is able to meet its own needs through production and wins the support of the masses a year or two from now. In the meantime there are two possibilities. One is that our united front policy towards the upper stratum, a policy of uniting with the many and isolating the few, will take effect and that the Tibetan people will gradually draw closer to us, so the bad elements and the Tibetan troops will not dare to rebel. The other possibility is that the bad elements, thinking we are weak and can be bullied, may lead the Tibetan troops in rebellion and that our army will counter-attack in self-defence and deal them telling blows. Either will be favourable for us. As the top echelon in Tibet sees it, there is no sufficient reason now for implementing the Agreement [1] in its entirety or for reorganizing the Tibetan troops. But things will be different in a few years. By then they will probably find that they have no choice but to carry out the Agreement to the full and to reorganize the Tibetan troops. If the Tibetan troops start one or even several rebellions and are repulsed by our army each time, we will be all the more justified in reorganizing them. Apparently not only the two Silons [2] but also the Dalai and most of his clique were reluctant to accept the Agreement and are unwilling to carry it out. As yet we don't have a material base for fully implementing the Agreement, nor do we have a base for this purpose in terms of support among the masses or in the upper stratum. To force its implementation will do more harm than good. Since they are unwilling to put the Agreement into effect, well then, we can leave it for the time being and wait. The longer the delay, the stronger will be our position and the weaker theirs. Delay will not do us much harm; on the contrary, it may be to our advantage. Let them go on with their insensate atrocities against the people, while we on our part concentrate on good deeds -- production, trade, road-building, medical services and united front work (unity with the majority and patient education) so as to win over the masses and bide our time before taking up the question of the full implementation of the Agreement. If they are not in favour of the setting up of primary schools, that can stop too.

The recent demonstration in Lhasa should be viewed not merely as the work of the two Silons and other bad elements but as a signal to us from the majority of the Dalai clique. Their petition is very tactful because it indicates not a wish for a break with us but only a wish for concessions from us. One of the terms gives the hint that the practice of the Ching Dynasty should be restored, in other words, that no Liberation Army units should be stationed in Tibet, but this is not what they are really after. They know full well that this is impossible; their attempt is to trade this term for other terms. The Fourteenth Dalai is criticized in the petition so as to absolve him from any political responsibility for the demonstration. They pose as protectors of the interests of the Tibetan nationality, being aware that while they are inferior to us in military strength, they have an advantage over us in social influence. We should accept this petition in substance (not in form) and put off the full implementation of the Agreement. The timing of the demonstration to take place before the Panchen's arrival in Lhasa was deliberate. After his arrival they will probably go all out to work on him to join their clique. If on our part we do our work well and the Panchen does not fall into their trap but reaches Shigatse safe and sound, the situation will then become more favourable to us. Nevertheless, since neither our lack of a material base nor their advantage over us in social influence will change for the time being, neither will the unwillingness of the Dalai clique to carry out the Agreement fully. At present, in appearance we should take the offensive and should censure the demonstration and the petition for being unjustifiable (for undermining the Agreement), but in reality we should be prepared to make concessions and to go over to the offensive in the future (i.e., put the Agreement into force) when conditions are ripe.

What are your views? Please consider and wire your reply.


1. This refers to the Agreement Between the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, May 23, 1951.

2. The "Silons" were the highest ranking administrative officials under the Dalai. The two Silons referred to here were the reactionary serf-owners Lukhangwa and Lozang Tashi.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung