Writing in a government White Paper released on May 21, two days before the 70th anniversary of the document’s May 23, 1951 signing, China said the agreement had freed Tibet to move forward on a “bright road of unity, progress and development with all the other ethnic groups of China.” However, language used in the agreement makes clear that Tibet was a self-governing region with its own government, army, culture, and traditions, Chung Tsering—a lecturer in Tibetan language at the Australian National University—told RFA’s Tibetan Service in an interview.
“Among the 55 minority ethnic regions in China, Tibet is the only one with which the Chinese government has made such an agreement. And we have to consider that this makes Tibet unique and distinct,” Tsering said. “If we look at the 17-Point Agreement in detail, one can see that Tibet is shown to have the features of a proper country with its own government, political and religious leader, distinct social and cultural norms, military, and language. And now, when one looks at this agreement even after 70 years, these facts are even more clear,” he said.