Central Tibet from the Sino-Tibetan Seventeen-Point Agreement to the Tibet Autonomous Region

  • Susan J. Henders


Given the cycle of protest and rebellion and state repression that has characterized Sino-Tibetan relations in recent years, it is easy to forget that, for most of the 1950s, the governments of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and of the Dalai Lama coexisted in central Tibet. The special status framework that made this possible was formally called the Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, but known as the Seventeen-Point Agreement (hereafter, the Agreement). A 1951 accord between the central Tibetan and PRC authorities, the Agreement affirmed the PRC takeover of Tibet, but temp orarily gave central Tibet a degree of autonomy unavailable to local authorities elsewhere in China. The Agreement allowed the continuation of the religiously based central Tibetan government under the Dalai Lama, of Tibetan Buddhist institutions and practices, and of the Tibetan manorial socioeconomic system. The PRC authorities also agreed to delay socialist reforms until Tibetan elites voluntarily agreed to them. It was the only time the new regime settled the terms of its takeover of a territory through a written agreement.


Autonomous Region Central Authority Chinese Communist Party Tibet Autonomous Region Political Autonomy 
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© Susan J. Henders 2010

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  • Susan J. Henders

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