Knowing tibet: Information gathering and policy consultation in the prc’s tibet campaign in the early 1950s*

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This article concentrates on the formation rather than the implementation of People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s policies toward Tibet in the early 1950s. In particular, it examines the three stages of information gathering and policy consultation in the PRC’s decision-making process regarding Tibet. It argues that before the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet, the PRC leaders showed genuine respect for their advisers and took their suggestions seriously, even though not all of these suggestions were politically correct from the Communist perspective, and the advisers were also independent and free enough to express their opinions. After the PLA entered Tibet, PRC officials and PLA officers became investigators who were organized to collect information either for decision making or for justifying decisions that had already been made. These data collectors were no longer independent thinkers since they had to follow detailed and strict guidelines in conducting their fieldwork, and their primary task was not to give advice but to provide raw data. Some leaders now believed that they had learned enough about Tibet and therefore no longer needed to seek the opinions of the advisers. Meanwhile, some early advisers had lost their credibility by this time for political reasons. These factors combined to contribute to the suppression of dissenting views regarding Tibet and became one of the possible causes of the radicalization of PRC policies in some Tibetan regions, which prompted the revolt in the late 1950s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-345
Number of pages39
JournalChina Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • China, Tibet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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