Legal Materials on Tibet
United Nations

Secretary-General's Report: Situation in Tibet, E/CN.4/1992/37

B. Reply of the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva

3. On 18 December 1992, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva replied as follows:

"I have the honour to refer to your letter G/SO 214 (74) addressed to the State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China on 16 December 1991 concerning a resolution entitled 'Situation in Tibet' and reply as follows:

"As you know, the Government of China has all along attached importance to and protected the full range of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Chinese citizens, respect the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and actively performed all its international obligations. Regrettably, groundless accusation was made in a resolution of 'Situation in Tibet' adopted by the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities subordinated to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 23 August 1991. The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed solemnly on 24 August the Chinese Government's position of categorically rejecting that resolution. In order to further clarify the fact, expose the lies and protect the reputation of the United Nations, I hereby wish to reiterate the following viewpoints.

"1. In recent years, a handful of Tibetan separatists in exile and some anti-China forces in the world have repeatedly stated that Tibet used to be an 'independent State' in history and it lost its status of independence only after the 'armed invasion' and 'occupation' of Tibet carried out by China in the early 1950s in this century, thus 'violating' human rights in Tibet. All this is nothing but distorting history and altering facts. It is known to all that the Tibetan nationality is one of the 56 nationalities in China with long history. As early as in the thirteenth century, Tibet, as one of the main concentrated communities for Tibetans, had become an administrative region of China and inalienable part of the Chinese territory. Over the past 700 years or more, the successive central Governments of China exercised effective sovereign control over Tibet. Since the beginning of the contemporary history, though the imperialist and colonial forces adopted political and diplomatic measures or even launched armed invasions against Tibet, imposed pressures on the central Governments of China and drove wedges between local authorities in Tibet and the central Governments in an attempt to separate Tibet from China, they never succeeded in changing the fact that China possesses the complete sovereignty over Tibet. No country in the world has ever recognized the so-called 'independence in Tibet', After the founding of new China in October 1949, it is the Chinese Government's responsibility as well as the shared demand of all the Chinese nationalities, including the Tibetans, to liberate its own territory Tibet, expel the imperialist forces, remove outside obstacles preventing the Tibetan people from enjoying rights of equality and freedom, and safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under such circumstances, through the concerted efforts of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet, the two sides sent delegations and conducted friendly negotiations. Agreement was reached on various matters related to the peaceful liberation of Tibet and the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet was signed on 23 May 1951. This Agreement is an important and legally-binding document for the Government of new China to settle its domestic ethnic question. On 24 October of the same year, the Dalai Lama, as the highest leader of the local government of Tibet at the time, sent a telegram to Chairman Mao Zedong of the Central People's Government to express his complete approval of and support to this Agreement and his willingness to implement it. The local government of Tibet had also indicated on many occasions the same attitude. Facts have shown explicitly that the realization of the peaceful liberation of Tibet is a concrete demonstration of the Chinese Government's exercising of sovereignty over Tibet as well as an internal affair of China. To call this event, which falls, in essence, into the domain of domestic control of any country, 'invasion' and 'occupation' of Tibet by China and thus accusing the Chinese Government of violating norms of international law and human rights in Tibet is nothing but an act that runs counter to the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations and willfully interfering in the internal affairs of China.

"2. The Chinese Government succeeded in abolishing the feudal system of serfdom and establishing a socialist democratic system, making a great historic contribution to ensuring for the Tibetan people human rights and fundamental freedoms. During several hundred years when Tibet was governed by the local government of Tibet led by successive Dalai Lama, a feudal system of serfdom which integrated religion with politics was practiced there. This dark system is even more backward than the social system practiced in Europe through the Middle Ages and the slave system practiced in the United States before the war between the North and South. Ruled by such a system, the serfs and slaves accounting for more that 95 percent of the population had no political and social rights to speak of, and they were even deprived of their most basic personal freedoms and most fundamental right to subsistence. They possessed no means of production whatsoever, and they themselves and their descendants were part of the property of the slave owners. The slave owners could let the slaves and serfs live or die at will and could also sell, present as gifts and kill them. Many unbelievably cruel punishments such as cutting off ears and noses, gouging out eyes or amputating hands or feet were practiced. In 1959, the democratic reform was successfully carried out in Tibet by the Government of China and the dark feudal system of serfdom was abolished, and the Tibetan People thus completely freed themselves from their untold sufferings under the slave owners, attained for the first time their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and started to enjoy their citizen's and political rights guaranteed by the Constitution of China and all the economic, social, and cultural rights. In the face of all this, a small number of self-exiled Tibetan separatists and certain supporting political forces have called the abolishment of the feudal system of serfdom in Tibet deprivation of the Tibetan people's basic human rights and freedoms. This is nothing but confusing the rights and wrongs.

"3. China is a unified multinational State. In addition to the Han Nationality which accounts for the overwhelming majority of the country's population, there are another 55 minority nationalities, including the Tibetans. In such a multinational State, the proper handling of the ethnic question and relationship is always a major issue concerning the country's stability and development. Therefore, ever since the founding of the People's Republic, the Government of new China has attached great importance to the ethnic question and work. In this connection, its basic lines and policies are designed to promote national equality and unity, practise {sic} regional autonomy in the areas of minority nationalities, conduct mutually beneficial cooperation and achieve common development and prosperity of all nationalities. There are explicit provisions in both China's Constitution and the Law on Regional National Autonomy stipulating that different nationalities enjoy completely equal rights in the political, economic, cultural, and other fields. These provisions have been carried out fully in Tibet. Tibet is one of the autonomous regions of China and a administrative unit at the provincial level. The people's congress and government of the Tibet Autonomous Region not only have the same range of power as enjoyed by the local State organs in other provinces, but also enjoy many special rights for autonomous regions provided for in the Law on Regional National Autonomy. These special rights include establishing autonomous organizations, exercising regional national autonomy, using and developing the spoken and written Tibetan language, formulating regulations on the exercise of autonomy and separate regulations according to the political, economic and cultural features of Tibet, implementing State laws and policies in line with the local actual conditions, formulating and implementing special policies, managing and independently arranging projects of local economic development, independently managing educational, cultural, and public health undertakings, protecting and developing traditional culture, protecting local natural environment, and independently exploring and using local natural resources. The Tibetan people, like other nationalities in China, enjoy all the citizen's rights embodied in the Constitution and the State laws, such as freedom of religious belief, and also enjoy other special rights designed by autonomous organizations' rules and regulations to preserve the special interest of the minority nationalities. Over the past 40 years, achievements recognized by the whole world have been achieved in Tibet's economic and cultural development. The splendid traditional culture of Tibet has been inherited and developed with unprecedented progress in such fields as education, science, culture, public health as well as other social welfare undertakings for public benefit. The people's living standard has been raised remarkably and the religious belief of the Tibetan people is fully respected and protected. According to the statistics in 1990, the average life expectancy in Tibet was prolonged from 35 years in the early 1950's to 65 years, and the population increased from around 1 million to 2.19 millions {sic} among which 2.09 millions {sic} are Tibetans. In the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the number of Tibetan cadres reached 37,000 or more, accounting for 66.6 percent of the number of cadres there. At the levels of autonomous region and county, the percentage of Tibetan cadres are 72 percent and 61.2 percent respectively. All the major responsible posts at various levels of the people's congress, government, court and procurator's office are held by Tibetans. All this has proved, beyond all dispute, that the accused efforts made by the Chinese Government to 'destroy' and 'threaten' the special cultural, religious and ethnic characters of the Tibetan people are nothing but fabrications with ulterior motives.

"4. 'To safeguard State unity and national unity' and 'to prohibit any act which undermines the unity of the nationalities or instigates national division' are basic principles of China's Constitution and basic obligations that should be performed by every Chinese citizen. However, since autumn in 1987, a handful of Tibetan separatists, supported by certain anti-China foreign forces, designed and instigated many rounds of riots in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Under the pretext of 'independence of Tibet', they engaged in attacking, smashing, looting and burning many government institutions, breaking into shops, setting fire to public facilities, damaging schools, and even opening fire on policemen and innocent citizens. Their acts seriously disrupted social order and harmed and threatened the life and property of the Lhasa people and their normal operation of work and living. It is obvious that such actions are not 'peaceful demonstrations' to achieve and safeguard human rights in Tibet, they are out and out violent and harmful actions, constituting a gross violation of China's Constitution and laws. Such incidents of violence which gravely endanger State unity and disrupt national unity and normal social order cannot be tolerated by the Government of any sovereign State in the world. It is entirely necessary and justified for the Chinese Government to adopt measures to absolutely suppress such riots. Such measures are not violations of human rights, on the contrary, they are just and indisputable actions indispensable for the maintenance of the legitimate rights of the large number of citizens.

"5. During the process of suppressing the riots, the public security and legal departments of the autonomous region, based on law took away from the rioting places 1,025 people engaged in riots for interrogation, among which 807 were released after interrogation and education within the legal timeframe, 97 received disciplinary sanction and only 121 were sentenced according to the law. Nobody was executed. The judiciary departments of the autonomous regions, strictly observing provisions of prohibiting maltreatment to prisoners, rendered humanitarian treatment to the criminals serving their sentences. It should be pointed out that in recent years, in order to deceive national opinions, the Tibetan separatists abroad have told, again and again, various fanatic and absurd lies, accusing the Chinese Government of conducting 'cruel punishment' and 'arbitrary execution' to prisoners. A small number of western media and NGOs, in disregard of the facts, irresponsibly collected such materials, gave enormous publicity to them and raised various accusations against China through the United Nations human rights agencies. However, it is proved, after earnest investigations by the Chinese departments concerned, that some of the accusations have distorted the facts and others are groundless. For instance, the Sub-Commission of Human Rights stated in one of the documents sent to us though the United Nations Centre for Human Rights on 22 June 1990 that Tseteb Norgye, a Tibetan arrested after participating in the riot in Lhasa, was beaten blind in prison. The fact is that he is enjoying good health with normal eyesight. At the forty-seventh session of the Commission of Human Rights, delegates from many countries saw the photo showing normal eyesight. Another example is the case, raised on many occasions by some NGOs such as Amnesty International, concerning Yulo Dawa Tsering saying that this person underwent cruel punishment in prison. Yet, in November 1991, diplomatic envoys of some Nordic States met him when they visited Lhasa Prison. They admitted after the meeting that the outside report on this case was 'not true'. Facts are facts, and false accusations based on distorted reports and lies cannot become truth and fact merely through repeated citing. In recent years, the Chinese Government, with the earnest and responsible attitude, has given timely, comprehensive and detailed replies and clarifications to different kinds of inquiries and accusations transferred to us through the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, Special Rapporteurs as well as the Working group on Communications. The overwhelming majority of these replies are included in the relevant documents of the Commission on Human Rights. I am confident that a careful study of these documents will help people see the true nature of 'the human rights question in Tibet' and arrive at fair judgment and conclusion.

"6. For many years, certain international forces have supported and connived at the activities carried out by a handful of separatists to separate Tibet from China. In order to find excuses for such activities, the have used 'the human rights question in Tibet' to willfully attack and slander the Chinese Government. This is the background to why some members of the Sub-Commission plotted the adoption of this resolution is not only a gross violation of China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also a grave infringement on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. If such erroneous actions were tolerated, the reputation of the United Nations and its human rights agencies would be severely jeopardized."

4. At the request of the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, attachments 1, 2, and 3 of the government's reply are reproduced in Annex I to the present note.

Secretary-General's Report: Situation in Tibet, E/CN.4/1992/37

Tibet Justice Center Home | Legal Materials on Tibet | United Nations