Thursday, April 14, 2016

The day Indian and Chinese officials met in Lhasa

Dekyilingka, the Indian Mission in Lhasa
I am posting below a fascinating description of the first encounter between a General Zhang Jingwu, (September 3, 1906 – October 27, 1971) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and an Indian diplomat in Lhasa. It occured soon after the PLA arrived in the Tibetan capital.
At that time General Zhang was the Representative in Tibet of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; he later became First Secretary of the Tibet Work Committee, overseeing the administration of Tibet.
Sumul Sinha, an IFS officer, was the head of the Indian Mission in Tibet; a year earlier, he had replaced Hugh Richardson, who had served at this post between August 1947 and August 1950 (he had earlier served the British).
During their first meeting, the Chinese general followed the diplomatic etiquette and appeared even enjoying his visit to Dekyilingka, the Indian Mission.
He is accompanied by a controversial Tibetan Alo Chonzed, then a leader of the Tibetan People’s Association.
Interestingly, Zhang told Sinha that “his Government would be agreeable to the establishment of an Indian Consulate General at Lhasa.”
It would happen at the end of 1952 when the Indian Mission would be downgraded into a Consulate General; practically, it meant that Tibet had lost the right to have direct foreign relations with India: Tibet was no more an independent country.

Copy of a Memorandum dated September 23, 1951
from Sumul Sinha, Officer in Charge, Indian Mission in Lhasa (Tibet)
to Harishwar Dayal, the Political Officer in Sikkim, Gangtok.

In our telegram No. 60, dated 21st September, 1951, we briefly reported General Chang Ching-wu’s [Zhang Jingwu] visit to our Mission with his staff on Thursday the 20th September. He was due to arrive at our Mission at 10 (Tibetan time), but was late by 30 minutes or so, not having made, as he said, any allowance for the distance between Trimon house and the Indian Mission at Dekyilingka.
General Zhang Jingwu
General Chang and party came riding but dismounted a few yards from the gate and walked up to the entrance of the Mission building. Chang and Alo [Chonzed] were riding ponies, presented to them by the Dalai Lama, with resplendent saddle-carpets made of expensive silk and satin. The officials were light grey uniform with caps to match, while their military escort (2 young soldiers of the P.L.A.) was in the normal outfit of the liberation army (khaki woolen battle dress), carrying automatic rifles and Mauser pistols. Chan was received at the entrance by members of my staff and brought upstairs, where I greeted him. He expressed very great concern over my health, and enquired whether I would accept over my health, and enquired whether I would accept the services of his physician.
I thanked him cordially for the offer, and told him that as I was on the road to recovery o hoped it would not be necessary to trouble his doctor. Chang then formally presented me with 3 copies of a booklet regarding ‘Deliberations and Agreement between the Central People’s Government and the local Government of Tibet on methods for the peaceful liberation of Tibet’ [known as the 17-Point Agreement].
Two copies in ordinary coarse paper were, he said, for general use. The other bound in red silk with printed characters in golden types was specially inscribed to me in Chang’s own calligraphy. The paper need in this copy is of a superior quality and the printing is excellent.
I am sending you herewith one of the two ordinary copies we have received from Chang for ‘general use’.
Along with it, I am sending you a copy of the People’s Daily dated 28th May 1951, which Chang also left with us, and Chang’s calligraphy declaring eternal friendship between China and India.
While the Chinese officers were entertained to lunch and tea upstairs, separate arrangements were made below to feed their guards. We put on a cinema show for the entire party and the following films were shown:
1.    Glimpses of Mahatma Gandhi.
2.    No. 22 and 26.
3.    Shantiniketan
4.    Festival Time
General Zhang Jingwu distributing alms

They thoroughly enjoyed the show, and said that they hoped soon to invite us to a show of Chinese films.
During the 7 odd hours Chang Ching-wu remained with us, he was in an emotional mood, at lunch, he was several times on his feet, toasting our Prime Minister [Jawaharlal Nehru] and eternal friendship between China and India.
Twice he went into flights of oratory in Chinese, denouncing war and declaring that he had sacrificed 26 years of his life for the younger generation, referring in particular to our wireless operator and to my Stenographer.
Although Chang had no further desire to carry arms, he was prepared at all times to take up the challenge of Imperialist bounds, particularly the Americans. He told us that he could discard his reserve and be frank and free with us because he was not a diplomat but a rough and rude soldier. He extended an invitation to me to visit his home in Peking and stay with him as his guest.
Confidentially, he announced to me that his Government would be agreeable to the establishment of an Indian Consulate General at Lhasa.
Chang and Alo have promised to repeat their visits to our Mission, and have asked us to allow them to join us at tennis whenever we play.
Chang was also in a mood to flatter himself.
He said General Yuan Chong-hsien, [Yuan Zhongxian] Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi, was his comrade, while the Chinese Ambassador in Rangoon was his departmental assistant.
Chang left early at 5 P.M. because he had arranged a meeting with General Wang Ching-ming [Wang Qimei] at 2:30 PM at Trimon house.
Wang Ching-ming sent a messenger with a note to remind Chang of the appointment, but Chang was persuaded to remain with us a little longer. But for his secretaries who were constantly pressing him to return, he would have stayed on till late in the evening.

No comments: