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October 8, 1951

Conversation from [Mao Zedong's] Audience with the Tibetan Tribute Mission


(October 8, 1951)

            Regarding religion, the Communist Party has adopted a policy of protection, whether you are a believer or an atheist, whether you believe this religion or believe another religion, the rule is you are protected, and your faith is respected.  Today we have adopted the policy of religious protection, and in the future we will continue to adopt this policy of religious protection.

            The issue of land reform is somewhat different from that of religion.  We have already divided up land in the Han regions, but religion is still protected here.  In minority nationality regions the issue of whether the land is divided will be up to the minority nationalities themselves to decide.  In the Tibetan region, at present we aren’t even discussing land reform, and in the future it will be up to you yourselves to decide [when], and it will be up to you to divide the land – we won’t implement land reform on your behalf.

            Establishing a Political-Military Commission and reorganizing the Tibetan military is stipulated in the Agreement.* Because you have fears, I have informed the comrades working in Tibet that they should implement it slowly.  The Agreement has to be implemented, but since you are worried, it has to be implemented slowly.  If you are worried this year, so we can wait until next year to implement [the Agreement]; if next year you are still worried, then we’ll wait until the year after to implement it.

            Tibet is a big place, with a small population.  The population must develop [i.e., increase], developing from its current two or three million to five or six million, and after that it would be fine for to it reach more than ten million.  The economy and culture also need to  develop.  Culture includes schools, newspapers, movies and so on, including religion.  The former reactionary rule of the Qing dynasty emperors and Chiang Kai-shek oppressed and exploited you, as did Imperialism, preventing your population from growing, keeping your economy weak, with no development in culture either. The Communist Party treats all nationalities equally, it won’t oppress and exploit you, but instead wants to help you; help you develop your population, develop your economy and culture.  The People’s Liberation Army has entered Tibet in order to implement this policy of assisting you.  When it first entered it couldn’t yet [provide] assistance, and it won’t be able to provide much assistance for three or four years, but later it will be able to assist you, that is certain.  If the Communist Party cannot help you increase your population, develop your economy and culture, then the Communist Party wouldn’t be of much use.


* Translator’s note: The Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, signed in May 1951 and ratified by the Dalai Lama by telegram from Lhasa on October 24, 1951, shortly after this meeting took place.

Mao promises that the CCP will protect religious freedom and assist with development in Tibet.


Document Information


Gang er si Wuhan daxue zongbu et al, eds., Mao Zedong sixiang wansui (Long Live Mao Zedong Thought), vol. 3 (1949-1957) (Wuhan, internal circulation, May 1968): 20. Translated by Simon Schuchat.


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