Seventeen Point Agreement

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Seventeen Point Agreement
Seventeen-Point Plan Chinese 1.jpg
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese中央人民政府和西藏地方政府關於和平解放西藏辦法的協議
Simplified Chinese中央人民政府和西藏地方政府关于和平解放西藏办法的协议
Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet
Traditional Chinese十七條協議
Simplified Chinese十七条协议
Tibetan name

The Seventeen Point Agreement is a short form of the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, (Chinese: 中央人民政府和西藏地方政府关于和平解放西藏办法的协议; Tibetan: བོད་ཞི་བས་བཅིངས་འགྲོལ་འབྱུང་ཐབས་སྐོར་གྱི་གྲོས་མཐུན་དོན་ཚན་བཅུ་བདུན་) or the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet which was signed by the plenipotentiaries of the Tibetan Government in Lhasa and the plenipotentiaries of the Central People's Government on 23 May 1951,[1] and ratified by the 14th Dalai Lama in the form of a telegram on 24 October 1951.[2]

In September 1951, the United States informed the Dalai Lama that in order to receive assistance and support from the United States, he must depart from Tibet and publicly disavow "agreements concluded under duress" between the representatives of Tibet and Chinese Communists.[3] On 18 April 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama issued a statement declaring the agreement was made under pressure of the Chinese Government.[4] The Central Tibetan Administration which was formed after 1960 considers the agreement invalid.[5] while Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, head of the Tibetan Delegation to the Beijing Peace Negotiations, reported that there was no duress involved.[6][7] The validity of the agreement continues to be a source of controversy.


After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, the 13th Dalai Lama declared the independence of Tibet.[8] This de-facto independence was repeatedly challenged by the Chinese Government in Beijing.[9] On 1 October 1949, the 10th Panchen Lama wrote telegraph to congratulate the liberation of the Northwest, and the establishment of People's Republic of China, he was excited to see the liberation of Tibet.[10] The People's Liberation Army crossed the Jinsha River on 6 or 7 October 1950 and defeated the Tibetan army by 19 October.[11][12] Instead of continuing with the military campaign, China asked Tibet to send representatives to Beijing to negotiate an agreement. The Dalai Lama believes the draft agreement was written by China, and Tibetan representatives were not allowed to suggest any alterations. China did not allow the Tibetan representatives to communicate with the Tibetan government in Lhasa. The Tibetan delegation was not authorized by Lhasa to sign, but ultimately submitted to pressure from the Chinese to sign anyway, using seals which had been specifically made for the purpose.[13]


The seventeen points[edit]

  1. The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the family of the Motherland the People's Republic of China (PRC).
  2. The local government of Tibet shall actively assist the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to enter Tibet and consolidate the national defenses.
  3. In accordance with the policy towards nationalities laid down in the Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC; 中國人民政治協商會議共同綱領; 中国人民政治协商会议共同纲领), the Tibetan people have the right to exercise national regional autonomy under the unified leadership of the Central People's Government (CPG) of the PRC.
  4. The central authorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet. The central authorities also will not alter the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama. Officials of various ranks shall continue to hold office.
  5. The established status, functions and powers of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni shall be maintained.
  6. By the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama and of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni are meant the status, functions and powers of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and the ninth Panchen Ngoerhtehni when they had friendly and amicable relations with each other.
  7. The policy of freedom of religious belief as laid down in the common program shall be carried out. The religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people shall be respected, and lama monasteries shall be protected. The central authorities will not effect a change in the income of the monasteries.
  8. Tibetan troops shall be gradually reorganized into the PLA, and become a part of the PRC's defense force.
  9. The spoken and written language and education system of the Tibetan nationality shall be developed step by step in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet.
  10. Tibetan agriculture, livestock raising, industry, and commerce shall be developed step by step and the people's livelihood shall be improved step by step in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet.
  11. In matters relating to various reforms in Tibet, there will be no compulsion on the part of the central authorities. The local government of Tibet shall carry out reforms of its own accord, and, when the people raise demands for reform, they shall be settled by means of consultation with the leading personnel of Tibet.
  12. In so far as former pro-imperialists and pro-Kuomintang (KMT) officials resolutely sever relations with imperialism and the KMT and do not engage in sabotage or resistance, they may continue to hold office irrespective of their past.
  13. The PLA entering Tibet shall abide by all the aforementioned policies, and shall also be fair in all commerce, and shall not arbitrarily take a needle or thread from the people.
  14. The CPG shall have centralized handling of all Tibetan external affairs; there will be peaceful coexistence with neighboring countries as well as establishment and development of fair commercial and trading relations with them on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respect for territory and sovereignty.
  15. In order to ensure the implementation of this agreement, the CPG shall set up a Military and Administrative Committee and a Military Area headquarter in Tibet and – apart from the personnel sent there by the CPG – shall absorb as many local Tibetan personnel as possible to take part in the work. Local Tibetan personnel taking part in the Military and Administrative Committee may include patriotic elements from the local government of Tibet, various districts and various principal monasteries; the name list shall be set forth after consultation between the representatives designated by the CPG and various quarters concerned and shall be submitted to the CPG for appointment.
  16. Funds needed by the military and Administrative Committee, the Military Area HQ and the PLA entering Tibet shall be provided by the CPG. The local government of Tibet should assist the PLA in the purchase and transport of food, fodder and other daily necessities.
  17. This agreement shall come into force immediately after signature and seals are affixed to it.


The Tibetan delegation initially objected to point #1's reference to "imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet", but later conceded that there might be such forces operating that they were not aware of. Points #2 and #3 were queried for the meaning of "local government", although the meaning of "national regional autonomy" was not discussed, since the Tibetan delegation assumed that things would go on as before. Ngapoi's delegation tried to remove the guarantees of the power for the Panchen Lama in points #5 and #6, but the Chinese delegation countered that the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama should be treated in the same manner; either both have their power guaranteed, or neither does. The Tibetans conceded the point. Fundamental disagreements about point #8, the disbandment of the Tibetan army, resulted in a promise to renegotiate the issue later. The most contentious point was #15, concerning the establishment of a military and administrative committee, since Tibetan delegation felt that it contradicted point #11 about the local Tibetan government conducting reforms on its own. Most of the other points were accepted without comment, or with minor translation adjustments. In order to avoid embarrassment for the Chinese delegation, accommodations to the Tibetan delegation about issues like the maintenance of the Tibetan army were to be concluded subsequently in separate, secret agreements.[14]

Signing of the agreement[edit]

The agreement was signed by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, who advocated Tibetan acquiescence to China, and sealed in Beijing on 23 May 1951 and confirmed by the government in Tibet a few months later.[1] In addition, a public announcement was made by the Dalai Lama to ratify the agreement, his acceptance also being sent to Beijing in the form of a telegram on 24 October 1951:[2]

"This year, the plenipotentiary of the Tibetan Local Government, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme and other five people, arrived in Beijing at the end of April 1951 to conduct peace talks with the plenipotentiary designated by the Central People’s Government. On the basis of friendship, representatives of the both sides signed the agreement on measures for the peaceful liberation of Tibet on 23 May 1951. The Tibet Local Government, as well as ecclesiastic and secular folk, unanimously support this agreement, and under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Central People's Government, will actively support the People's Liberation Army in Tibet in consolidating national defense, drive out imperialist influences from Tibet, and safeguard the unification of the territory and the sovereignty of the Motherland."[15][16]

Mao Zedong replied on 24 October 1951:

Your telegraph on October 24, 1951 has already been received. I thank you for your efforts to implement the agreement on the peaceful liberation of Tibet, and I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations.[17][18]

According to the Tibetan government-in-exile, some members of the Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), for example, Tibetan Prime Minister Lukhangwa, never accepted the agreement.[19] But the National Assembly of Tibet, "while recognizing the extenuating circumstances under which the delegates had to sign the 'agreement', asked the government to accept the 'agreement'...the Kashag told Zhang Jingwu that it would radio its acceptance of the 'agreement'."[20]

Full text of the agreement[edit]

Seventeen-Point Plan Chinese 1.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 2.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 3.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 4 2.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 5.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 6.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 7.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 8.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Chinese 9.jpg
Full text of the Seventeen Point Agreement (Chinese)
Seventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 0.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 2.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 3.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 4.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 5.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 6.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 7.jpgSeventeen-Point Plan Tibetan 8.jpg
Full text of the Seventeen Point Agreement (Tibetan)

Repudiation of the agreement[edit]

The signing of the Seventeen-Point agreement was later contested as invalid in the Tibetan exile community, who charged that the Tibet delegates were forced to sign under duress and that the Chinese allegedly used forged Tibetan government seals. The exile community and their supporters continue to assert that the Tibetan representatives were not allowed to suggest any alterations and that the Chinese government did not allow the Tibetan representatives to communicate with Lhasa.[13]

German legal scholar Eckart Klein considers the agreement invalid and as having been signed under duress.[21]

According to Tibetologist Melvyn Goldstein, the agreement may still be valid even if signed under military threat by the Chinese, but not if the Tibetan negotiators did not have the powers to concede to the Chinese:

The Chinese did make new seals for the Tibetans, but these were just personal seals with each delegate's name carved on them. Other than this, there were no forged government seals. Part of the confusion derives from the fact that Ngabo had in his possession the seal of the governor of Eastern Tibet but chose not to use it. That seal, however, was not the official seal of the Tibetan government, so not using it did not lessen the validity of the agreement. In his autobiography, the Dalai Lama states that the Tibetan delegates claimed they were forced 'under duress' to sign the agreement...
Their feeling of duress derives from the general Chinese threat to use military force again in Central Tibet if an agreement was not concluded. However, according to international law, this does not invalidate an agreement. So long as there is no physical violence against the signatories, an agreement is valid. However, the validity of the agreement is premised on the signatories' full authority to finalize an agreement, and this, as we saw was clearly not the case. So in this sense, the Dalai Lama actually had grounds to disavow it.[22]

More than 8 years after the agreement was ratified, on the path that was leading him into exile in India, the 14th Dalai Lama arrived 26 March 1959 at Lhuntse Dzong, where he repudiated the "17-point Agreement" as having been "thrust upon Tibetan Government and people by the threat of arms"[20] and reaffirmed his government as the only legitimate representative of Tibet.[23][24] On 20 June 1959, at a press conference convened at Mussoorie, the 14th Dalai Lama repudiated the agreement once more, explaining that, "since China herself had broken the terms of her own Agreement, there could no longer be any legal basis for recognizing it."[23]

In his essay Hidden Tibet: History of Independence and Occupation published by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives at Dharamsala, S.L. Kuzmin writes that the Agreement had critical defects.[25] The use of newly made personal seals instead of official governmental seals was not legal. The Tibetan delegates exceeded their authority by signing the Agreement without the approval from the Dalai Lama and the Kashag. The preamble to the Agreement contained ideological cliches that do not correspond to reality. The Chinese Government ordered PLA soldiers that entered Tibet to command the "local" government to send their people for negotiations with the center (i.e. central government); the contracting parties acknowledged this in the Preamble and Point 2, so the agreement was signed under a military threat. The Agreement was drawn up in such a way that a number of terms were ambiguous and allowed for different interpretations by the Chinese and the Tibetans. It also contains some internal contradictions.[25]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Goldstein 1989, pp. 812–813
  2. ^ a b A. Tom Grunfeld (30 July 1996). The Making of Modern Tibet. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 107–. ISBN 978-0-7656-3455-9.
  3. ^ Melvyn C. Goldstein (August 2007). A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 2: The Calm Before the Storm: 1951–1955. University of California Press. pp. 232–. ISBN 978-0-520-24941-7. Your Holiness will understand, of course, that the readiness of the United States to render you the assistance and support outlined above is conditional upon your departure from Tibet, upon your public disavowal of agreements concluded under duress between the representatives of Tibet and those of the Chinese Communist aggression.
  4. ^[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "Statement of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile | Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile".
  6. ^ 罗勇[need quotation to verify] (2017). "西藏和平解放进程中的阿沛". 阿沛等在信中说:"目前进行和谈是个时机,共产党确无强迫命令的想法和作法,一切可以心平气和地进行商谈决定。Ngapoi and others said in the letter: "It is now time for peace talks to proceed. The Communist Party really does not give of giving pressure, and everything can be negotiated and decided in a calm manner. ”{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ 潘强恩 编著 (20 February 2014). 西藏解放. 青苹果数据中心. pp. 258–. GGKEY:TJAJY7937FT. 阿沛:大民族绝不压迫小民族 (Ngapoi:duress won't be forced by big ethnic group against small ethnic group)
  8. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C. On Modern Tibetan History: Moving Beyond Stereotypes (PDF). p. 217.
  9. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C. ,p.218
  10. ^ 西藏现代史 [History of Tibet]. 香港大學出版社 [Hong Kong University Publisher]. July 2014. ISBN 9789888139699. "北京中央人民政府毛主席、中国人民解放军朱德司令钧鉴:钧座以大智大勇之略,成救国救民之业,义师所至,全国欢腾,班禅世受国恩,备荷优崇。二十余年来,为了西藏领土主权之完整,呼吁奔走,未尝稍懈。第以未获结果,良用疚心。刻下羁留青海,待命返藏。兹幸在钧座领导之下,西北已获解放,中央人民政府成立,凡有血气,同声鼓舞。今后人民之康乐可期,国家之复兴有望。西藏解放,指日可待。班禅谨代表全藏人民,向钧座致崇高无上之敬意,并矢拥护爱戴之忱。”—十世班禅致中华人民共和国中央人民政府电报 [To President Mao of the Central People's Government of Beijing and Commander Zhu De of the Chinese People's Liberation Army: The scorpion is based on the wisdom of the great wisdom and the courage to save the country and the people. The whole country is full of joy, and the Panchen Lama is blessed by the country. For more than 20 years, I have been dealing with integrity of Tibet territorial sovereignty, without rest. Since result has not been obtained, I felt guilty. I will stay in Qinghai and wait for possible return. Fortunately, under your leadership, the northwest has been liberated, and the Central People’s Government has been established, we're all excited. In the future, the people’s well-being can be expected, and the country’s revival is expected. The liberation of Tibet is just around the corner. On behalf of the entire Tibetan people, please accept my supreme respect and support. " ---- The 10th Panchen Lama to the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China]
  11. ^ Shakya 1999 pp. 32–45.
  12. ^ Goldstein 1997 p. 45
  13. ^ a b Powers 2004, pp. 113–6
  14. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C (1989). A History of Modern Tibet, 1913–1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State. University of California Press. pp. 765–769.
  15. ^ Shakya 1999 p. 90
  16. ^ 今年西藏地方政府,特派全权代表噶伦阿沛等五人,于1951年4月底抵达北京,与中央人民政府指定的全权代表进行和谈。双方代表在友好基础上,已于1951年5月23日签订了关于和平解放西藏办法的协议。西藏地方政府及藏族僧俗人民一致拥护,并在毛主席及中央人民政府领导下,积极协助人民解放军进藏部队,巩固国防,驱逐帝国主义势力出西藏,保护祖国领土主权的统一,谨电奉闻。
  17. ^ 勝利的困境: 中華人民共和國的最初歲月(簡體版). The Chinese University Press. 15 December 2011. ISBN 9789629964702.
  18. ^ 你于一九五一年十月二十四日的来电,已经收到了。我感谢你对实行和平解放西藏协议的努力,并致衷心的祝贺。
  19. ^ In 1952, Lukhangwa told Chinese Representative Zhang Jingwu: "It was absurd to refer to the terms of the Seventeen-Point Agreement. Our people did not accept the agreement and the Chinese themselves had repeatedly broken the terms of it. Their army was still in occupation of eastern Tibet; the area had not been returned to the government of Tibet, as it should have been." My Land and My People, Dalai Lama, New York, 1992, p.95
  20. ^ a b "The 17-Point Agreement" The full story as revealed by the Tibetans and Chinese who were involved Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Klein, Eckart. "Tibet’s Status Under International Law". Tibet-Forum., Vol. 2; 1995.
  22. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C., A History of Modern Tibet (Vol 2): A Calm before the Storm: 1951–1959, 2007, pp. 106–107
  23. ^ a b Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile Harper San Francisco, 1991.[page needed]
  24. ^ Michel Peissel, "The Cavaliers of Kham, the secret war in Tibet" London: Heinemann 1972, and Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1973
  25. ^ a b Kuzmin, S.L. Hidden Tibet: History of Independence and Occupation. Dharamsala, LTWA, 2011, pp. 184–187.


  • Goldstein, Melvyn C. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913–1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State (1989) University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-06140-8
  • Powers, John. History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China (2004) Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517426-7
  • Shakya, Tsering. The Dragon in the Land of Snows (1999) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11814-7

External links[edit]