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Tibetan who signed peace accord with China dies

December 24, 2009

Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:36pm IST

BEIJING (Reuters) - The former Tibetan army commander who surrendered to
the People's Liberation Army and went on to sign a peace accord in
Beijing has died just short of his 100th birthday, the Xinhua news
agency said on Wednesday.

Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, the son of a Tibetan aristocrat, was commander in
chief of Tibetan forces in 1950, as they sought to repel Chinese forces
near what is now the border of Tibet and Sichuan. He surrendered to the
People's Liberation Army after a short battle.

As head of a Tibetan delegation to Beijing in 1951, he signed the
Seventeen Point Agreement, which established Chinese sovereignty over
Tibet in return for guarentees of autonomy and religious freedom. Eight
years later, after an abortive uprising in Lhasa, the Tibetan spiritual
leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India with tens of thousands
of followers.

Ngapoi served in a variety of military and government roles in the
People's Republic of China. He died on Wednesday in Beijing.

Tibetan demonstrations against Chinese rule broke out again across the
Tibetan plateau in March of 2008, denting China's international image
just before it hosted the Olympic Games.

China's Communist Party says Beijing has ruled Tibet since the 12th
century Yuan dynasty, when Mongolians ruled China, while many Tibetans
point to centuries of independence before Ngapoi's 1951 surrender.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Ron Popeski)
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