Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When Tibet was not yet in the hands of 'visionaries'

Harishwar Dayal in front of the Residency in Gangtok
In the first week of January 1950, as the Colombo Plan was under discussion, Harishwar Dayal, the bright ICS officer posted as Political Officer in Sikkim (responsible for Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet), was asked to prepare a note on the legal status of Tibet.
What is the Colombo Plan?
I quote Wikipedia: “In the Spring 1949, the Indian Ambassador to China, K.M. Panikkar proposed a multilateral fund to the British and Australian ambassadors, in order to help the states of southeast Asia to battle communist movements in their countries. The United States was to be by far the largest contributor of aid to the organization.”
Also according to online dictionary: “Formally, the organization was born out of a Commonwealth Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in January 1950. At this meeting, a plan was established to provide a framework within which international cooperation efforts could be promoted to raise the standards of people in the region. Originally conceived as lasting for a period of six years, the Colombo Plan was extended several times until 1980, when it was extended indefinitely. Initially it was called the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia. It has grown from a group of seven Commonwealth nations - Australia, Britain, Canada, Ceylon, India, New Zealand and Pakistan - into an international organization of 27, including non-Commonwealth countries. When it adopted a new constitution in 1977, its name was changed to "The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific" to reflect the expanded composition of its enhanced membership and the scope of its activities.”
Though the case of Tibet was probably not specifically discussed in Colombo, Dayal sent his note to Delhi."
It is posted below:
Following Nehru's 'instructions', Dayal concluded: "We should continue to deal with Tibet as an autonomous country on the basis of the 1914 Convention and, when the occasion arises, should let this fact be known to the Communist Government of China. We are also to meet the Tibetan Government’s request for arms and military training on a modest scale, on the basis of existing understandings."
As mentioned somewhere else on this blog, in December 1950, a few weeks after the PLA entered Tibet, Harishwar Dayal, while discussing the Chinese advance towards the McMahon Line with his Indian Trade Agent (ITA) in Gyantse, informed the latter of Sardar Patel’s death, “It is a heavy blow. He was the one person in this Government who had strong realistic view of things, including on foreign relations. Now, we are left at the mercy of the visionaries.”
The present note was written 11 months earlier.
The first treaty negotiated directly with Tibet by the Government of India was signed at Lhasa in 1904, after the occupation of that city by the Younghusband Mission. The treaty authorized the Government of India to establish Trade Agencies at Gyantse, Yatung and Gartok. Its terms were confirmed by the Chinese Imperial Government in the Anglo-Chinese Convention signed at Peking in 1906; and trade regulations granting certain rights to Indian traders at Gyantse, Yatung and Gartok were drawn up in 1908. The 1908 Trade Regulations were agreed to by all parties, namely, the British (acting through the Government of India), the Chinese and the Tibetans. 
At this period the Chinese were active in their efforts to establish control over Tibet. Early in 1910 a Chinese force under Chao Erh-fehg [Zhao Erfeng] occupied Lhasa; the Dalai Lama fled to India and was 'deposed' by a decree of the Chinese Government. The Chinese Revolution of 1911 led to the collapse of the Chinese regime in Tibet and all Chinese officials and troops were forced to flee from Tibet through India. The Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa in January 1913.

2. Tripartite negotiations were held at Simla in 1913-14 to arrive at a fresh settlement on Tibet, consequent on these events, and a new Convention was initialed by the British, Chinese and Tibetan plenipotentiaries. The main features of the 1914 convention and of its accompanying instruments were:
(1)  Chinese suzerainty over Tibet was to be recognized but China was to recognize Tibetan autonomy.
(2)  The Chinese and the British were not to station troops in Tibet, but were allowed to provide their officials in Tibet with limited military Escorts.
(3)  The British Trade Agent at Gyantse was authorized to visit Lhasa when necessary.
(4)  The boundaries between Tibet and China were laid down.
(5)  The frontier between India and Tibet on the Assam border (the McMahon Line) was defined.
New Trade Regulations were also drawn up in 1914. The Chinese Government refused to proceed to full signature of the 1914 Convention, their objections at the time being directed only against the Tibet-China boundary line as laid down in the Convention. 

They formally declared that they would not recognize this document. The Government of India and the Tibetans accordingly signed it without Chinese participation, and issued a declaration that all advantages under the Convention would be denied to China until she signed it. In later declarations the British Government stated that they would treat Tibet as an autonomous State under Chinese suzerainty, and in 1943 they made it clear to the Chinese Government that their recognition of Chinese suzerainty was conditional on the acknowledgment by China of Tibet’s autonomy and on her acceptance of the frontier between Tibet and China as defined in the 1914 Convention.

3. By an informal arrangement the British Trade Agent at Gyantse, who accompanied the Political Officer in Sikkim to Lhasa in 1936, was left behind at Lhasa to carry on discussions with the Tibetan Government. The Mission has since continued on this informal basis, but since August 15, 1947, the British Mission and the British Trade Agencies have become the Indian Mission and Indian Trade Agencies. Similarly, the Chinese sent a Mission to Lhasa in 1934, ostensibly to condole on the death of the late Dalai Lama, and their Mission remained in Lhasa until July 1949, when it was expelled by the Tibetan Government.

4. In 1947, the Tibetan Government was informed by the United Kingdom Government that all rights and obligations arising out of the 1914 Convention would devolve on the Government of India after the transfer of power in India, but that the U.K. Government would maintain their friendly interest in the preservation of Tibetan autonomy and would remain in contact with the Tibetan Government through the British High Commissioner in New Delhi. At the same time, the Government of India formally assured the Tibetan Government that their relations with Tibet would continue to be governed by the 1914 Convention; this assurance has been repeated on various occasions since then.

5. The Tibetan Government is now gravely alarmed at the possibility of an invasion by the Chinese Communists, who have declared their intention of 'liberating' Tibet and are using one of the candidates to the Panchen Lamaship for the purpose of creating anti-Lhasa feeling. The Tibetan Government has affirmed their determination to resist attack and have appealed to the Government of India for a declaration that Tibet is an independent country, and for arms and ammunition and military training facilities. They have also asked for help from the Governments of the U.K., the U.S.A. and Nepal, and are planning to send special Missions to these countries as well as to India. They have asked for the help of the U.K. and U.S. Governments in securing Tibet’s admission to membership of the United Nations, but, so far as is known, these Governments do not consider this proposal opportune and are not anxious to receive Missions from Tibet. The Tibetan Government are also planning to send a Mission to Hong Kong or Singapore to maintain contact by correspondence with the Chinese Communist Government. They have already dispatched a letter to Mao Tse-tung asserting that Tibet has always been independent, asking him to ensure that no Chinese troops cross the Tibetan border and adding that they wish to discuss boundary questions with the Communists after the civil war is over. It is not known whether this letter has reached Mao Tse-tung. Conscription is now in progress in Tibet, and the Tibetan Government are also introducing administrative reforms to counteract Communist propaganda among the people.

6. In regard to India’s policy, the Prime Minister has decided that we should continue to deal with Tibet as an autonomous country on the basis of the 1914 Convention and, when the occasion arises, should let this fact be known to the Communist Government of China. We are also to meet the Tibetan Government’s request for arms and military training on a modest scale, on the basis of existing understandings. We are not, however, to take any action which may lend colour to the allegations which have already been made by the Communists that the Government of India are acting in Tibet as an instrument of the Anglo-American bloc or that they are coming Tibet against Communist China.

(Source: National Archives of India, file 10(11) NEF, 1950)
When Tibet was not yet in the hands of 'visionaries'

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