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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
History
Tibet Under Chinese Communist Rule

By 1956 the CCP had secured the Dalai Lama’s agreement to set up a Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region (PCTAR), the meaning of which the Tibetans were led to believe would mean that Tibetan autonomy would be formalized and guaranteed. Actually administrative authority was transferred from the Tibetan Government to the PCTAR, whose nominal head was the Dalai Lama and most of whose members were Tibetans. But real power lay in the hands of its Chinese members and Tibetans under Chinese control. Ultimate authority resided in the PLA and the CCP Political Committee in Tibet, all of whose officers and members were Han Chinese.

In the part of Tibet that constituted the future Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) the CCP refrained from instituting the “Democratic Reforms” and “Socialist Transformation” campaigns standard for Han Chinese and all other minority nationality areas. They did, however, cultivate upper class collaborators with salaries and privileges and they recruited many lower class students for minority nationality institutes in Beijing, Chengdu and Xianyang (near Xian).

Because the CCP had determined that eastern Tibetan areas outside the future TAR, where more than half of Tibetans resided, were not subject to the Seventeen-Point Agreement, they began Democratic Reforms and collectivization there. This resulted in widespread revolt, repression by the PLA, and the flight of many Tibetans to central Tibet, leading to the Lhasa revolt of March 1959 and the exile of the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan revolt was an international embarrassment to China but it removed all organized opposition to Chinese control over Tibet. “Democratic Reforms” were implemented immediately, in conjunction with the suppression of the revolt, which illustrated the repressive character of the Chinese “reforms.” Democratic Reforms involved land reform, class divisions and the initiation of class struggle. Tibetans whom the Chinese categorized as “serfs” were given title to the lands of the former feudal lords; however, these same lands were later confiscated by the state during “Socialist Transformation,” or collectivization.

Tibetans, especially those who could be accused of having “exploited” others or of having supported the revolt or who continued to oppose Chinese control, were subjected to “struggle” sessions, thamzing in Tibetan. Most of those who were not killed were arrested and sent to prisons and labor camps. The Chinese used the reforms to identify and eliminate all Tibetan opposition.

Many lamas were also subjected to public criticisms and challenged to summon divine intervention to relieve their torment. Monasteries were depopulated and there was forced secularization of monks. Many monasteries were closed because of evidence that they had supported the revolt, even if only by giving food to rebels or if any of their monks had fled into exile.

Monasteries were systematically looted by the Chinese state in an intentional destruction of Tibet’s cultural heritage. Tibetan statues and other religious implements were trucked to the Chinese interior and melted for their metal. This was justified according to the Democratic Reform principle of the transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor. Tibet’s cultural wealth, primarily in the form of religious artifacts and works of art in monasteries and the household shrines of the wealthy, was to be redistributed to “the people.” By “the people” the Chinese meant not just Tibetans but all the Chinese people. Since the CCP claimed to represent the people, it felt justified in confiscating Tibet’s wealth for its own purposes. Tibet’s cultural heritage and wealth was thus looted by China and justified with Communist ideology.

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Tibet:
Location:  Asia - Eastern China
Capital:  Lhasa
Communist Rule:  1950 - Current
Status:  Occupied
Victims of Communism:
1.2 million