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A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 3

A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 3: The Storm Clouds Descend, 1955–1957

Melvyn C. Goldstein
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 588
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  • Book Info
    A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 3
    Book Description:

    It is not possible to fully understand contemporary politics between China and the Dalai Lama without understanding what happened in the 1950's. The third volume in Melvyn Goldstein's History of Modern Tibet series,The Calm before the Storm, examines the critical years of 1955 through 1957. During this period, the Preparatory Committee for a Tibet Autonomous Region was inaugurated in Lhasa, and a major Tibetan uprising occurred in Sichuan Province. Jenkhentsisum, a Tibetan anti-communist émigré group, emerged as an important player with secret links to Indian Intelligence, the Dalai Lama's Lord Chamberlain, the United States, and Taiwan. And in Tibet, Fan Ming, the acting head of the CCP's office in Lhasa, launched the "Great Expansion," which recruited many thousands of Han Cadres to Lhasa in preparation for beginning democratic reforms, only to be stopped decisively by Mao Zedong's "Great Contraction" which sent them back to China and ended talk of reforms in Tibet for the foreseeable future. In Volume III, Goldstein draws on never-before seen Chinese government documents, published and unpublished memoirs and diaries, and invaluable in-depth interviews with important Chinese and Tibetan participants (including the Dalai Lama) to offer a new level of insight into the events and principal players of the time. Goldstein corrects factual errors and misleading stereotypes in the history, and uncovers heretofore unknown information on the period to reveal in depth a nuanced portrait of Sino-Tibetan relations that goes far beyond anything previously imagined.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95671-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xx)
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
    (pp. xxv-xxxiv)
    (pp. xxxv-xxxv)
  9. MAPS
    (pp. xxxvi-xlii)
  10. 1 First Steps
    (pp. 1-34)

    When the Dalai Lama returned from his trip to Beijing in 1955, five years had passed since the Chinese had invaded Tibet’s easternmost province, in October 1950.¹ Mao at that time had decided to make Tibet a part of China for nationalistic and geopolitical reasons and was willing to do so entirely by force if need be, although he preferred to accomplish it through “peaceful liberation”—that is, through a written agreement with the Tibetan government/Dalai Lama. Mao understood that Tibet was unlike all other areas that Beijing sought to “liberate,” in the sense that after the fall of the...

  11. 2 Pushback
    (pp. 35-74)

    The Beijing agreement quickly ran into trouble from several directions. Despite the Dalai Lama’s approval and support, opposition to the reforms was strong because these changes represented the loss of key symbolic attributes of Tibet’s previously independent statehood. Even moderate lay officials like Shatra, who favored modernization and development in Tibet and agreed with the Dalai Lama that Tibetans had to work and cooperate with the Chinese, were opposed. As Shatra recalled,

    I was not satisfied, and that I must tell you truthfully, right? One concern was the Tibetan paper currency that the Central Committee was going to exchange [for...

  12. 3 Mao’s “Socialist Transformation Campaign” and Democratic Reforms in Sichuan
    (pp. 75-115)

    At about the same time that Mao Zedong was advising the departing Dalai Lama to go slowly when he returned to Lhasa and instructing his officials in the TWC to make a restrained response to the pushback of the antireform Tibetans, Mao was also launching a diametrically opposite leftist campaign in the rest of China that was aimed at shaking up the party and rapidly accelerating the collectivization of agriculture.

    When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ascended to power in China, they ended the old social and political system and enacted reforms (Ch. tu gai) that expropriated the property and...

  13. 4 The Khamba Uprising Begins
    (pp. 116-140)

    Khamba society and religion in Litang and the rest of Ganzi in late 1955 had changed little in the six years since being incorporated into the PRC. The Chinese government had set up new administrative offices, but as mentioned in chapter 3, core aspects of the old society, such as land tenure, trade, religion, social hierarchy, monasticism, and even the local settlement of disputes, had been left intact. Tibetans in Ganzi, therefore, continued to function at the local level much as they had when they were politically semiautonomous under the GMD. Consequently, on the eve of the start of reforms,...

  14. 5 The Rise of Jenkhentsisum
    (pp. 141-169)

    While events in Sichuan were unraveling, a new and important political force had emerged in India in the form of a loosely organized, anti-Chinese, Tibetan émigré group called Jenkhentsisum (JKTS). The leading figures in this group or coalition were three elite Tibetans—the Dalai Lama’s older brother Gyalo Thondup, the well-known Tibetan aristocratic official Tsipön Shakabpa, and Lobsang Gyentsen, a monk official of the fourth rank (khenjung).¹

    Gyalo Thondup left Tibet in 1943 at age fourteen to attend school in Chiang Kai-shek’s China and remained there until 1949, when the Chinese Communists were about to seize power from the GMD....

  15. 6 Jenkhentsisum Expands and India Invites the Dalai Lama
    (pp. 170-206)

    JKTS grew in confidence in 1955–56, expanding their scope to include two different but intersecting directions: increasing its connections in Tibet, and developing a closer relationship with the GOI. Both of these would grow rapidly and have a tremendous impact on the history of the second half of the 1950s.

    JKTS worried about the Chinese keeping the Dalai Lama in Beijing, so his return to Lhasa on 23 June 1955 was welcomed. However, their relief turned to distress when they learned of the army and currency reforms that he had agreed to in Beijing and, especially, of his acceptance...

  16. 7 The Mönlam Incident of 1956 and Its Aftermath
    (pp. 207-224)

    At the end of 1955, JKTS, as mentioned in the previous chapter, decided to launch a major protest in Lhasa that by its very audacity would embarrass the Chinese and embolden nationalist sentiments in Tibet. Working with their allies, the Phala clique, they developed an ingenious plan to distribute four thousand anti-Chinese leaflets in the heart of Lhasa during the Mönlam Prayer Festival held at the time of the New Year’s celebration of 1956. There had, of course, been other leaflets stuck up on walls in Lhasa by Phala’s clique and others, but this was to be the first major...

  17. 8 The Chinese Government Responds to the Uprising
    (pp. 225-281)

    As we saw in chapter 4, when the Khamba uprising spread over most of Ganzi Prefecture, the cadres and soldiers who were not killed at the outset were forced to barricade themselves in their compounds. This resulted in series of small sieges, since the Khambas, despite their overwhelming numerical superiority, did not have the military skill or heavy armament to overpower the barricaded cadres and troops. Instead they cut off the supply of water, surrounded the compounds, and waited for them to surrender or try to escape. Conversely, the Chinese did not have enough troops on hand to immediately launch...

  18. 9 The Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region (PCTAR)
    (pp. 282-305)

    The agreement between the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government to proceed with the creation of the PCTAR was, as mentioned in chapter 1, a major victory for Mao’s gradualist strategy for Tibet. The Dalai Lama and the Kashag had finally taken a major step toward integrating Tibet into the administrative structure of the PRC by accepting the creation of a political entity that was institutionally distinct from the Tibetan “local government” and under the State Council.¹

    The Chinese wanted to emphasize the significance of the PCTAR, so they organized an elaborate inauguration ceremony in Lhasa. A large delegation of...

  19. 10 Fan Ming’s “Great Expansion”
    (pp. 306-334)

    After the Central Committee’s inauguration delegation returned to Beijing, Fan Ming, as the head of the TWC, moved at once to start democratic reforms in Tibet in a number of interrelated directions that together are known as the Great Expansion. To justify this, he misrepresented the conclusions of the PCTAR meeting and the speeches of Chen Yi and Zhang Guohua, asserting that they had approved a plan to move ahead and start trial reforms and then full reforms—or as he put it in a 10 July report, cited here—that they had agreed to “putting democratic reforms on the...

  20. 11 The Dalai Lama Visits India
    (pp. 335-382)

    The Great Expansion was the main focus of the Fan Ming–led TWC after the inauguration of the PCTAR, but on the international stage another important issue—the Dalai Lama’s attendance at the Buddha Jayanti celebration in India—was playing out, with enormous possible consequences for modern Tibetan history.

    At the end of 1955, the GOI sent the crown prince of Sikkim to Lhasa to invite the Dalai Lama to attend the Buddha Jayanti celebration on behalf of India’s leading Buddhist organization—the Maha Bodhi Society—of which he was the president. As we saw in chapter 6, the TWC...

  21. 12 The Khambas, JKTS, and the CIA
    (pp. 383-409)

    While the Chinese were trying to persuade the insurgents in Litang to stop their rebellion, the twenty-seven young Khambas sent by Andrutsang were living in Kalimpong, trying to secure foreign training and military assistance. Litang Athar, one of those twenty-seven, recalled this time in Kalimpong:

    At first we did not know anybody there, with the exception of two older Litangba traders, Gyadotsang Gelong and Andrutsang, Lodrö Phüntsog [who was Gombo Tashi’s nephew]. . . . We didn’t know the Tibetans [Tibetan government officials] like JKTS and Gyalo Thondup.

    When we met Gyadotsang and Andrutsang Lodrö, we told them that our...

  22. 13 The Dalai Lama Returns
    (pp. 410-444)

    After his initial meetings at the end of November with Nehru and Zhou Enlai, the Dalai Lama and his entourage visited various cities and pilgrimage sites in India. However, leaving Delhi did not relieve the pressure on the Dalai Lama to decide in favor of remaining in India, since his brothers and the People’s Association representatives followed him around, imploring him and his officials to stay and lead their movement. The Dalai Lama recalled the relentless pressure he was under and the indecision he felt:

    They said that there is no use in going to Tibet and that I must...

  23. 14 The “Great Contraction” and the “Great Discontinuance”
    (pp. 445-466)

    In order to reestablish tight control over the TWC and marginalize Fan Ming, Mao and the Central Committee acted decisively by convening a major Tibet Work Conference in Beijing to determine how to reverse the Great Expansion that Fan Ming had orchestrated over the previous ten months. Its goal was to decide precisely how much was to be cut back in Tibet. And this was to be done in the presence of the TWC leaders so there would be no confusion or ambiguity after the TWC cadres returned to Lhasa. Mao wanted the Great Contraction (Ch. da shousuo) and “Great...

  24. 15 Final Thoughts
    (pp. 467-488)

    The significant changes that occurred during the two years following the Dalai Lama’s return from Beijing in June 1955 have been examined in detail. Here, some final thoughts on the salient events of this period and their implications for modern Sino-Tibetan history are presented using excerpts from important documents, speeches, and interviews.

    The large revolt in Ganzi/Sichuan, the widespread shock and anger it generated among the Tibetan elite at the time of the PCTAR inauguration, and the small insurgency that began in July 1956 in parts of Chamdo as a result of Fan Ming’s attempt to start democratic reforms in...

  25. APPENDIX A. Appeal of Thubten Nyenjik [JKTS] to the Queen of England
    (pp. 489-493)
  26. APPENDIX B. Correct Tibetan Spellings
    (pp. 494-518)
    (pp. 519-530)
  28. INDEX
    (pp. 531-547)