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A brief survey of fourteen centuries of Sino-Tibetan relations.

At a time when the issue of Sino-Tibetan relations has come to public attention once more, it has become very evident how much they are shrouded in confusion. While the antiquity of the Chinese nation and culture have long been internationally recognised, the history of the land-locked nation of Tibet, and similarly that of the peoples of Mongolia and Turkestan are less well known. Due to this a popular misconception has arisen that China has always been the predominant power in the region. This is not the case, for over the centuries various tribes and nations of Central Asia have gained ascendancy at different times and for different periods with a variety of relations between them. To clarify the historical relations between Tibet and China, what follows is a brief survey of the fourteen centuries (641-1987) over which they have been recorded.

In 641 the 33rd Tibetan Emperor Btsan-po khri srong-btsan requested Wen-ch'eng Kung-chu as a bride from the Emperor T'ai-tsung of the T'ang dynasty of China.

In 695 the Tibetan minister Khri-'bring btsan brod of mgar and the Chinese minister Wong-ker-zhang-she (Wang Hsiao-Chie?) exchanged words of disputation. General Wong-ker-zhang-she led the mighty Chinese army forward, and when his troops had reached their objective, he sent a message addressing Khri-'bring btsan-brod of mgar who was in the region of the Kokonor:
   I have sent a load of millet and load of mustard-seed, for I have
   (as many troops as these), while your numbers may be counted as
   tigers or yaks may be counted. Just measure your heads and make
   caps. Measure your feet and make boots. The Tibetan troops flow on
   to their maximum capacity, but my forces are so many. Once one has
   made room through the narrow neck, one can count on entering the
   great stomach. When our lightning strikes, not one will escape.

Khri-'bring of mgar replied:
   There is no disputing the matter of numbers. But many small birds
   are the food of a single hawk, and many small fish are the food of
   a single otter. The deer has a multitude of horns, but are they
   upstanding? The yak has (just two) short horns, and we see how
   upstanding they are. A pine-tree has been growing for a hundred
   years, but a single axe is its enemy. Although a river runs
   ceaselessly, it can be crossed in a moment by a boat six feet long.
   Although barley or rice grows over a whole plain it is all the
   grist of a single mill. Although the sky is filled with stars, in
   the light of a single sun they are nothing. If a single fire
   spreads from the lower valleys, all the trees of both valley and
   mountain are burned. If a flood emerges from the source of a single
   spring, all the trees of both mountain and plain are carried away.
   If a stone is rolled into a whole plain of pebbles, one will see
   whether the stone or the pebbles are broken. If one leaves a load
   of hay and a single iron rake bound together in a great field, one
   will see whether the hay or the iron rots first. If one throws a
   pinch of salt into a full cauldron one will see whether there is a
   taste of water or a taste of salt. As for thunder and lightning,
   although thunderbolts are few in number, there is a mighty great
   noise to the four limits of the sky. Your troops are like gnats
   over the surface of a lake. They would be useless for working our
   fields. Like mountain mists, they do not press upon men. My army
   will cut its way through just as a single scythe cuts its way
   through numerous blades of grass. If a single arrow is shot into a
   yak, one can count on the yak being killed.

Wong-ker-zhang-she replied
   If a heavy mountain crushes a small egg, one can count on its being
   broken. If the waves of a great lake extinguish a blazing fire, one
   can count on its being extinguished.

Khri-'bring of mgar continued,
   On the great mountain there is a rock. On the rock there is a tree.
   In the tree there is a nest. In the nest there is an egg. If the
   mountain does not fall, the rock will not split. If the rock does
   not split, the tree will not will not break. If the tree does not
   break, the nest will not be destroyed, and if the nest is not
   destroyed, the eggs will not be broken. The mountain does not break
   the egg like that. If the tire blazes on the mountain and the water
   descends the valley, it cannot reach it to extinguish it. sPu-rgyal
   of Tibet is like the sun. The Lord of China is like the moon.
   Although he is certainly a great king, his splendour is of a
   different kind.

      What is there in big and small? Although the king of crocodiles
   rules over other species in the vast ocean, just watch him killed
   in a moment by a flash of lightning. Also, notice how a devastating
   lightening strike reduces even a rock hard mountain to dust.

      The King of Tibet is a divine person, in union with heaven he
   will not spare even the the son of the monstrous
   spirit--'Bal-lji-mang hidden nine levels under the earth, he will
   be seized, tried strictly and put to death.

The Chinese general Wong-ker-zhang-she could not answer and retreated. The great minister Khri-bring had chalked out a plan like the unbreakable knot to overcome the enemy. The brave dauntless and skillful army fought the battle to the best of their ability and with courage, in the manner of a greedy tiger leaping upon meat or a wild yak racing down a rocky mountain. The army swept down like a storm filling the air with the blood-thirsty cries of "kill" and "cut them to pieces", loud as a lion's roar. They showered spears, arrows and swords upon their enemies, and ten thousand Chinese soldiers were killed and wounded.

The Chinese general Wong ker-zhang-she along with about a hundred thousand troops were captured and threatened with death. But the great minister Khri'bring said, "It is completely unheard of for a Tibetan to kill an unarmed soldier in his custody or to flay the skin of a bound horse." So they lifted up a Chinese corpse and everybody pierced it with his weapon as a gesture symbolic of killing a hundred thousand Chinese soldiers. The battle field became a burial ground for the many Chinese troops killed there, and became known as Stag-la Chinese cemetery and Rma Chinese cemetery (1).

In 709 the Chinese were defeated in a polo match by a Tibetan envoy (Blonchen Zhang-btsan-to and others) in the Pear-garden Pavilion (2).

In 710 the Tibetan Emperor Btsan po mes ag tshoms married the Chinese T'ang princess Chin-ch'eng (gyim-shang kong jo).

When the Chinese king Kwang peng-wang failed, in 763, to pay the regular annual tribute to Tibet of 50,000 pieces of silk, the chief Tibetan general Stagsgra klu-khong and Zhang mchims-rgyal-zigs attacked and captured the Chinese capital Ch'ang-an. The Chinese king fled, was deposed and in his place Gwang-bu Hwang was enthroned as the new emperor. The Tibetan soldiers stayed only fifteen days in the capital and departed (3).

Between 821 and 822 a great peace treaty was concluded between the Tibetan Emperor Btsan po Khri-ral-pa-can and the Chinese

Emperor Mu-tsung. In the words of the treaty we find that its purpose was to establish a great era when Tibetans would be happy in Tibet and the Chinese would be happy in China (4).

During the two centuries of relations between the Emperors of Tibet and the T'ang dynasty of China, the Chinese were regularly defeated either on their own doorstepts or at the four garrisons in East Turkestan (5). Be it a witty exchange of words of disputation or a polo match, the Tibetans inevitably triumphed.

During the Sung dynasty (960-1279) there were no direct political relations between China and Central Tibet. Although this period also saw the beginnings of the disintegration of the mighty Tibetan Empire, its continued military presence in various Chinese border regions (especially in the Tsong-kha area) and the growing strength of the Tangut kingdom put the Sung emperors on the defensive throughout their reign (6).

The question of the territorial division of Tibet under Yuan domination concerns one of the major administrative acts of the Yuan dynasty in the creation of provincial governments. Although several provinces bordered on geographical Tibet, Tibet itself was not included in any of them. Tibet did not belong to China proper and was treated as a separate geographical entity that had nothing in common with the direct administration of China (7).

Moreover, the Mongols (Yuan dynasty) did not actively participate in the day to day government of the territory, (this was left to the Sa-skya-pa hierarchs). To a certain extent the situation resembled the Mongol occupation of other territories, especially Russia. Although further study is required, there appears to have been a close correspondence between the Yuan administration of Tibet and Mongol administration of Galicia, Volynia, Smolensk and Chernigov (8).

Relations between the Sa-skya-pa hierarchs and the Mongols (Yuan) were epitomised by the relationship between the ruling Lama 'Phags-pa and Qubilai Khan, which was one of priest and Patron (mchod-Yon) rather than of vassal and overlord. In 1260 'Phags-pa was appointed Kuo-sheh, Teacher of the Empire, Qubilai, 'Phags-pa and Qubilai's queen, Chabu, entered a mutual concordat of four articles:

i. That while giving religious discourse, and also at small gatherings the lama ('Phags-pa) would sit in the centre on the prominent throne.

ii. At a large gathering of royal blood, including his brothers-in-law, lesser chieftains and the public, the king (Qubilai) would sit on the prominent throne in the centre to ensure the maintenance of order.

iii. With regard to Tibetan affairs, the king would honour every word of the lama, indeed the king was not even allowed to give an order without first consulting him.

iv. However, in other matters of lesser importance, to prevent anyone taking advantage of the lama's great compassion and to maintain a position of domination over the people, the lama was not to interfere with the king's administration. (9)

From these four articles we gain a fair understanding of the relationship between the Tibetans and the Mongol Yuan dynasty and their individual functions within it.

Furthermore, when the Mongol-supported Sa-skya-pa administration was over thrown, 1349-50, Byang-chub rgyal-mtshan of Phag-mo-gru-pa became the defacto ruler of an independent Tibet.

During the Ming dynasty (1368-1643), although Tibet posed no threat to the new rulers, nor disputed their legitimacy (which the Mongols did), certain Ming circles still considered the problems along the Sino-Tibetan border worthy of serious consideration. They periodically commented on this, noting how much hardship the Tibetans had created for the T'ang dynasty (10).

Like all Chinese dynasties in their early days, the Ming too bestowed titles upon the foreign rulers and notables who sent friendly embassies to China, accepting their gifts as tribute and bestowing gifts and honours in return, all in accordance with the prescribed rules of Chinese protocol. By such means the Ming hoped to maintain good will and influence in Tibet. (11)

This was the last time a united China had to deal with an independent Tibet. Early Ming policy aimed, ultimately, not at the subjugation of Tibet, but at averting any kind of Tibetan threat (12). There is no indication that Chinese imperial troops were ever dispatched against Tibet. The circumstances suggest that, contrary to the modern claim that suzerainty was thus maintained, the Ming Emperors actually had little, or no, political or military interests in Tibet per se.

The intention of Ming policy was to encourage nationalistic fragmentation among Tibetan lamas, and to discourage the restoration of the "priest-patron" relationship between any one of them and the Mongols. It was a policy of covert bribery aimed at luring the lamas away from the Mongols. Thus it is not surprising that once the 'priest-patron' relationship was indeed resumed between Altan Khan and the Third Dalai Lama, the Ming Emperors ceased bestowing lavish rewards and titles on the Lamas, nor that thereafter, "Lamas rarely went to China". (13)

The great Fifth Dalai Lama assumed religious and secular power over Tibet in 1642. In 1644 the Manchu dynasty was founded. The Manchu were well aware of the tensions between the forces along the Chinese and Mongolian border, and their main defensive concern was naturally the northern border with the Mongols, which also bordered on Amdo. The Manchus were also aware of the strong priest-patron relationship between the Third Dalai Lama and Altan Khan, ruler of the Tumet Mongols and later between the Fifth Dalai Lama and Gu-shri Khan of the Khoshot Mongols. Thus knowing of the influence the Dalai Lama had over the Mongols, they sought to keep them at bay and avert the threat they (the Mongols) posed to the Manchu dynasty through the influence of Fifth Dalai Lama, while at the same time attempting to gain a direct priest-patron relationship for themselves. The Shun-chih Emperor of the Manchu invited the Fifth Dalai Lama to China between 1651-53 which was the beginning of the priest-patron relationship between the Dalai Lamas and the Manchus. Some modern Chinese writers have since claimed that instead of a priest-patron relationship this began the relationship of vassal-overlord between Tibet and the Manchus. Let me quote the regent Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho (ruled: 1679-1705), who throws some light on the Tibetan view:

"Regent 'Phrin-las rgya-mtsho (ruled 1660-1668) took Dar-rtse-mdo. (Tachienlu) out of the hands of Bla-ma Rab jams-pa and incorporated it under his own rule. Otherwise, it would not have slipped from the control of the Chinese Emperor. Later, some (local) Chinese leaders laid claim to Dar-rtse-mdo and a dispute arose between them and the (local) Tibetan leaders. Also, in the recent past Lamo rtse pa and Lcags la got into a dispute over the case of the murder of Lcags la mi chen (chieftain of Lcags-la?)

The story of Nor-bzang in the Jataka Tales entitled Wish-ful-filling Tree says:
   A foolish king imposes taxes
   And disappoints his good subjects,
   Just as when night falls
   The lotus petals close.

As stated here, the District Magistrate and his staff, unlike their predecessors, harassed the people by imposing on them many new taxes such as the rta 'ul, taxes paid in services and transport facilities, and 'bam tshong, taxes paid through the compulsory purchase of goods. Gradually news reached (Lhasa) that the people were so harassed that they were even losing their loyalty (to the Tibetan Government).

"Although Chinese troops started to pour into Dar-rtse-mdo towards the end of the previous autumn, it seems that this was due not to the Chinese Emperor's orders, for he is a farsighted person, but to the local Chinese officials and others. As Nyi-thang-can had stated that the Emperor was aware of and in control of everything that was going on, the advice to the people in Dar-rtse- mdo was, that as there were but a small number of soldiers in 'Ba' and Li-thang, rather than send a larger army, it would be better, to do nothing more provocative than to maintain our position undefeated. This policy, however, proved mistaken as, for this and many other reasons, the Chinese captured Dar-rtse-mdo and Mi nyag during the first month.

"In the long run both the Tibetans and the Chinese depended on the market in Dar-rtse-mdo. Not only did the Tibetan Government get its own share of tea from there, but also the tea essential for many other purposes such as for rituals and prayers. On the one hand the situation necessitated a swift military reaction, but on the other we relied on the sagacity of the Chinese Emperor (to prevent the situation getting out of control.) Thus, a doubt persisted over what should be done. At a meeting most of the concerned people--important lamas, Tibetan officials in the northern region and the chiefs of localities like Stag rtse--spoke in favour of a swift military response.

"From Lithang and so forth repeated requests were made (to the Tibetan Government) to send an able ambassador, who would not become entangled in trivial concerns in dealing with the situation. Thus, the sending of a delegation to the border area became inevitable and a divination was made regarding who would be suitable for the mission. Rtse-mgron gnyer blo-bzang dngos-grub saw the result of the divination and decided to accompany Shod mgron-gnyer Dol-sngon'jams-dbyangs, who had also been approved by the divination." (14)

The above passage clearly shows how a Tibetan regent saw the position of the Manchus in regard to Tibet. Nowhere in this long passage does he state or even imply that he felt Tibet was a vassal to the Manchu overlord. It distinctly reflects his feeling that the two countries were totally separate and independent. The incident took place in the heyday of the Manchu Emperor Kang-hsi (ruled; 1661-1722).

During the Manchu dynasty, there existed the Li-fan-Yuan, the bureau that oversaw Tibetan (& also Mongol etc.) affairs. its regulations are still extant and reveal that Tibet was, at most, a colony of the Manchu Empire but not an 'integral' part of China) Also the priest-patron relationship gave the Lcang-skya Qutugtus a large role in Beijing. (16)

In 1736 the versatile Mongolian prince, Scholar Ujumujin Gung-mgon-poskyabs, described the dominions of the Manchu empire in his History of Buddhism in China. Nowhere in the comprehensive description that follows do we find any reference to Tibet. "It touches the so called Shanghai Sea to the cast, mingles with the barbarians such as Annan (vietnam) and Dongjin (northern Vietnam) to the south and the other two directions are thoroughly defended by Changcheng, the Great Wall. China extends a hundred thousand le'bar in each direction. Generally, the south-eastern part of the country is more slanting, however, since, the main land falls on the track of the summer solstice, the centre . of the country becomes: Yucmu (?), and this great region (China) is known for its thirteen (Shisan) regions. Due to the expansion and contraction of the territories, as well as the increase and decrease in the population, an exact measurement of both the people and the land is not possible. However, at present, there are the sixteen regions: Zhili, Shenyang, Jiangnan, Shandong, Shanxi, Honan, Shaanxi, Huguung, Jejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou.

And the five great (sacred) mountains or Meru, Songgao, Taishan Nanheng, Huashan and Beiheng; the four great famous mountains, Wutai, Putuo Emei and Jiuhua; the four unfordable rivers, Dajiang, Huangho, Huaishui and Jishui; and the five great lakes, Taihu, Poyanghu, Qingcaohu, Danyanghu and Dongtinghu. Furthermore, there are Taihangshan and Longhushan and other great mountains, and great rivers such as Weishui and Hanshui. There are the sacred places of pilgrimage blessed with various majestic phenomena such as Wudangshan(?) and Luishan(?) that have the potential to transform one's vision by a mere visit! There are Beijing, Chang'an, Loyang and Nanjing, the four great palaces which are the permanent residences of the Emperor. Then there are Shengjing, Chengdu, Bianliang, Datong and Hangzhou, the five separate palaces of mediocrity, and seven other modest palaces such as Piogyang and Changde (?). Shutianfu and others are great cities, Chengde/Jehol(?) etc., are of middling size and Dh'isibsyn(?) is the principal small city. Altogether there are two thousand cities and more than a hundred thousand towns. Taxable subjects constitute around one hundred thousand million families, but because of those that could not be brought under proper census, the number of population is incalculable. (17)

Thus while the Tibetans viewed the relationship with the Manchus as one of priest and patron, the Manchu viewed it as one of vassal and overlord. However it may be described, it was a weak and ceremonial relationship throughout its duration.

During the Tibet-Ladakh-Moghul War of 1681-83 (18), the Tibet-Dogra War of 1841-42, the Tibet-Gurkha War of 1855-56, the first Anglo-Tibetan War 1888 and the second of 1903-1904, where was the Manchu's protection and how did they express their concern, whether the relationship was one of priest-patron or vassal-overlord?

Let us review the functions and powers enjoyed by the Manchu government's resident Amban in Lhasa. During the reign (1718-1747) of Pho-lha bsod-nams stobs-rgyal who was the one pro-Manchu ruler in Tibetan history, relations between him and the resident Amban became strained in 1733 over the difficulties of maintaining Manchu troops in Lhasa. As a result the haughty Amban, Me Tazhen, even declined an invitation to the grand New Year feast. To this Pho-lha remarked, "The generous, though angry, are gentle when one bows before them. The mean, when yielded to, grow haughty. Gold and silver though hard may be melted, but dog's shit stinks when burned." Not only the Ambans, but their staff, and all the Manchus and Chinese from Beijing were then excluded from the invitations to the party of that year. (19)

In 1750 'Gyur-med rnam-rgyal, who then ruled Tibet, was murdered in cold blood by the Manchu Ambans Fucing and Labdon. Enraged by the Amban's treachery, Blo-bzang bkra-shis the attendant of 'Gyur-med rnam rgyal, along with other supporters, gathered reinforcements and besieged the Am ban's residence. Both the Ambans and over one hundred Manchu/Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed and the residence was put to the torch. The office of the Manchu military paymaster was also looted and the lighting lasted several hours. (20)

These two incidents show the degree of Amban influence and power in the Tibetan hierarchy. Another good example of their importance is that between 1872-91, four Western travellers, a Russian Colonel Nikolai Prejevalsky (18721879) and Englishmen Colman Macaulay (1886) and finally Captain Hamilton Bower and Surgeon-Captain W. G. Thorold, were all refused permission by the Tibetan authorities to approach Lhasa from the border, even though they carried passports issued by the Manchu Government for travel in Tibet.

During the Anglo-Tibetan war of 1903-1904, the Amban Yu-t'ai was always in Lhasa. When the British troops finally reached Lhasa, he was among the first to pay a call on the British and told Younghusband, "He had hoped to meet him (Younghusband) before, and had hastened to Lhasa at unusual speed, but the Tibetans had refused to furnish him with transport, and he had, therefore, been unable to proceed beyond Lhasa." (21)

Again during 1904 when the Anglo-Tibetan convention was signed in the Potala, Lhasa, the Manchu/Chinese were not involved. If the Manchus had suzerain power over Tibet, why was the convention between the British and Tibetans? It should have been handled by the Amban and resulted in an Anglo-Manchu/ Chinese convention. One is bound to ask why the Amban Yu-t'ai was a silent spectator at this time, and to wonder just how much power, prestige and influence the Amban wielded during those days. In the light of the Tibetans' refusal to furnish him with transport and his apparent neutrality at the convention with the British, the Amban held a merely ceremonial post in Tibet.

In 1911 when the Chinese were protesting and demonstrating against their Manchu rulers, did they not carry banners denouncing the Manchus as forgein devils who should be driven out of China, and claiming China for the Chinese and so forth? In 1911 the Chinese finally managed to overthrow Manchu rule and established the Chinese Republic. Shortly afterwards, 1912, the Tibetans drove the Amban and all Manchu/Chinese forces out of Tibet through India.

In 1913, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama declared independence from the Manchus, so from 1912 until 1951 Tibet maintained de facto independence. In 1913 Tibet and Mongolia signed a treaty at Urga, in which both countries declared themselves free from Manchu rule and separate from China.

Also in October 1913 at the Simla Tripartite convention, the British, Chinese and Tibetan plenipotentiaries met on an equal footing. In March 1914 the Indo-Tibetan frontier was negotiated directly between the British and Tibetan plenipotentiaries. The Chinese government refused to ratify the initialed draft of the Simla tripartite convention. Subsequently British and Tibetan plenipotentiaries signed a declaration making the convention binding on their governments and excluding China from all advantages under the treaty until the Chinese government should adhere to it.

In early 1918 Tibetan troops pushed the Chinese beyond the 'Bri-chu (Yangtse river) in Kham and the Chinese appealed to the British to mediate and bring about a ceasefire.

In August of the same year Eric Teichman of the British Consular Service, Liu Tsan-ting, a Chinese general, and Bka' blon bla-ma Byams-pa bstan-dar, a Tibetan general, signed a tripartite agreement at Chamdo. A supplementary agreement was drawn up in October 1918 at Rong-ba-tsha by the Tibetan and Chinese representatives and witnessed by Eric Teichman.

In 1932 Tibetan and Chinese military officers negotiated a temporary ceasefire at Kam-thog gru-kha. Another such ceasefire agreement was signed at Nangchen Spre tsha dgon in 1933.

In 1934 the Republic of China was allowed to set up a mission in Lhasa and in 1936 the British were likewise allowed to establish a mission.

Between 1942-43, under pressure from both the British and Chinese governments to allow passage of war supplies for China through Tibet, the Tibetans firmly maintained their own neutrality and withheld permission. Sino-Tibetan relations were obviously not felicitous, to say the least, and it is clear that China's suzerain status meant little in practical terms. Indeed, in organizing the Tolstoy mission, the United States discovered it had to obtain permission to enter Tibet from the Tibetan Government itself and not from the Chinese, and that this diplomatic approach could only be facilitated through the Government of India. (22) The Tolstoy and Dolan mission gained much experience of Chinese deceit, even though they eventually found routes to help the Chinese receive war materials. "The Chinese representative in Lhasa had told us we would be met at the pass by a detachment of Chinese soldiers, but runners sent ahead returned to say that no Chinese were anywhere in sight and none of the nomads had seen any Chinese in that region for a couple of years." (23)

In 1946 the Tibetan government sent a goodwill mission to India and China to congratulate the Allies on their victory in the Second World War.

In early 1947 Tibetan delegates attended the Asian-Relations Conference in New Delhi, (24) where they were accorded equal status with the Chinese delegates. In 1948 the Tibetan government sent a trade delegation to India, England, the United States and China, travelling on Tibetan passports.

In 1949 the Chinese nationalist government was overthrown by the Chinese Communists, who established the People's Republic of China. In July of that year the Tibetan government expelled all the Chinese then in Tibet, including the officials of the Chinese missions, through India.

In October 1950 the Chinese attacked eastern Tibet in eight different places. A month later the Tibetan government appealed to the united Nations for intervention against the Chinese invasion.

In 1951 an agreement (the seventeen point agreement) was reached between the Central People's government and the "local" government of Tibet on measures for the peaceful liberation of Tibet in Beijing.

In 1954 H. H. the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama visited China. In 1956 the Chinese inaugurated the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. In March 1959 the Lhasa uprising took place and Tibet abrogated the 1951 agreement. H. H. the Dalai Lama along with some 85, 000 Tibetans escaped to India, Nepal and Bhutan where they received asylum. In 1965 the Chinese formally inaugurated the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China.

The years 1966-1976 saw the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a decade when China went mad and completely lost the ability to think for itself. This was part of the "great helmsman" Mao's personal vendetta against Liu Shao-chi, then the General Secretary of the CCP, who had saved China's fast deteriorating economic situation in the wake of Mao's fanciful idea of the Great Leap Forward (1958-60). For ten years the whole of China and particularly Tibet were paralyzed and their culture, history and identity of 3,000 years were reduced to ashes and rubble.

In 1979 the Chinese introduced a policy of greater relaxation and the first contacts took place between Tibetans inside and outside Tibet since 1959 through the reintroduction of mails and personal visits. The first fact-finding delegation sent by H. H. the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile visited Tibet from August to December of that year.

In May, 1980, Hu Yaobang, then general secretary of the CCP, and Wan-li, vice-chairman, toured Lhasa and the adjacent areas. The great proletarian leaders found the conditions in Tibet to be unimaginably poor and conceded the appalling havoc the parties had wrought on Tibet. They were quick to introduce the so called eight point development programme for Tibet.

Between May and August 1980, the second fact-finding delegation from Dharamsala visited Tibet. Between June and October 1980, the third fact-finding delegation visited Tibet to investigate educational conditions.

The first high powered Tibetan delegation went to China to open a Dharamsala-Beijing dialogue between April-June of 1982. This was followed by a second delegation who continued the dialogue between october and December, 1984, in Bejing.

The fourth fact-finding delegation from Dharamsala visited Tibet between June and September, 1985.

What these four delegations to Tibet established was that, during the period 1959-79, the people of Tibet suffered tremendous physical and economic deprivation and at least 1.2 million (lied as a direct result of the occupation. (25) Almost all of Tibet's wealth--especially priceless religious images, such as statues and paintings that adorned the thousands of monasteries and temples, were plundered and taken to China. virtually all of the 5, 700 monasteries and 500 temples of which records exist were destroyed. (26) And there were at least 250, 000 Chinese troops and 1.7 million (Chinese) civilian personnel occupying Tibet. (27)

Ecological conditions have also deteriorated. Many species of mammals and birds, previously both common and rare, have reached the brink of extinction in Tibet. (28) At the same time the Chinese authorities have been carrying out a massive deforestation programme with most of the forest products being taken away to China. The total worth of this timber is put at US $54 billion at current exchange rates. (29) Sixty-five percent of Tibet's literary heritage has been destroyed and lost forever. One third of her natural resources have been exhausted. Ninety percent of the intellectuals and religious and political leaders of the country have been exterminated or left physically and mentally frail through long imprisonment, brutal treatment, harsh physical labour and torture, along with extensive indoctrination or re-education. The list of voilences against the Tibetan people is endless.

On 21 September 1987 H. H. the Dalai Lama proposed a five point peace plan in an address to the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington D. C. The five points were:

(1) Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace;

(2) Abandonment of China's population transfer policy;

(3) Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedom;

(4) Abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the storage of nuclear weapons and the disposal of nuclear waste and

(5) Earnest negotiations on the future of Tibet.

China rejected the plan out of hand.

On 27th September, 1st October and 6th October 1987, the Tibetan public in Lhasa demonstrated against the unlawful occupation of Tibet and reminded the Chinese of the completely independent status Tibet enjoyed before 1959. During those three public demonstrations at least 19 people died and many more were wounded and arrested. Similar public demonstrations took place in Shigatse on the 4th October 1987. There are also unconfirmed reports of demonstrations having taken place in Nag-chu, Chab-mdo, Kong-po, Rtse-thang and Li-thang.

To sum up Sino-Tibetan relations, I would like to recall the public speech made by H. H. the Dalai Lama on 10th March 1984. His Holiness said, "We have struggled for our independence by claiming various political rights. First of all, on what grounds do we fight for our rights? The answer lies in the fact that as a people we (Tibetans) have our own unique characteristics. our ancestors, the great religious kings said: 'The Chinese should feel happy in China and the Tibetans in Tibet.' The Chinese are a different people, who speak Chinese and love to eat shell-fish. I often joke about the Chinese fondness for shell-fish. They also eat birds, but they particularly like to eat all kinds of shell-fish, like shrimps that live and swim in the sea.

Whereas we Tibetans love tsampa (roasted barley flour). We eat chunks of yak-meat, but not tiny shell fish, because in fact they are not found in Tibet. Therefore, those who love to eat shell fish will be happy living in the plains (near the sea) and because we (Tibetans) do not like to eat them (shell-fish), but prefer yak meat instead, we feel happy to live on a high plateau where yaks are found. For such reasons as these our early kings said "The Chinese should feel happy in China and the Tibetans in Tibet." Despite deliberate attempts to amalgamate the Tibetans and Chinese in Tibet, this has not been possible because the uniqueness of the cultures, traditions and habits of the two peoples speaks for itself. Likewise there is much documentary evidence in both the countries relating to the separate identities of the two peoples." (30)


Zahiruddin Ahmad, New Light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Moghul War of 1679-84 in East and West, Rome, XVIII, 3/4 1968.

C. I. Beckwith, The Tibetan Empire in the West, in Michael Aris and Aung San Sun Kyi (ed.) Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Warminster, 1979.

H. H. the Dalai Lama, A Vast Sea of Chinese Threatens Tibet, in The New York Times, August, 9, 1985.

Tyrone L. Danlock, "The Wildlife of Tibet-Introductory Commentary ", in Tibetan Review, New Delhi, June, 1985.

John K. Fairbank & Ssu-yu Teng, Ch'ing administration; Three Studies, Harvard University Press, Mass, 1960

Samuel M. Grupper, "Manchu patronage and Tibetan Buddhism during the first half of the Ch'ing dynasty", in The Journal of the Tibet Society, Bloomington, 1984, Vol. 4.

Norman C. Hall, The United States, Tibet & China in Tibetan Review, New Delhi, Jan. 1978.

Luc Herman M. Kwantan, Tibetan-Mongol Relations during the Yuan Dynasty, 1207-1367, University of South Carolina, 1972. (An unpublished Ph. D. dissertation)

Berthold Laufer, Loan Words in Tibetan, in T'oung Pao, 1916, Vol. XVII.

Luciano Petech, Tibetan Relations with Sung China and with the Mongols, in Morris Rossabi(ed.) China Among Equals, The Middle Kingdom and its Neighbours, 10th-14th Centuries, University Press, Berkeley, 1983.

Luciano Petech, "The Tibetan-Ladakh-Moghul War of 1681-83" in Indian Historical Quarterly Vol. XXIII, No. III, September, 1947

H. E. Richardson, A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions, Royal Asiatic Society, Leiden, 1985.

Tenzin D. Sampho, Reminiscences of the Asian Relations Conference, in Tibetan Review, New Delhi, June, 1987.

David Snellgrove and Hugh Richardson, A Cultural History of Tibet, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1968.

Ariane Spanien et Yoshiro Imadeda, Choixe de Documents Tibetains, Bibliothique Nationals, Paris, 1979.

Elliot Sperling, The 5th Karmapa and some aspects cf the relationship between Tibet and the early Ming, in Michael Aris & Aung San Suu Kyi (ed.) Tibetan Studies in Honour of hugh Richardson, Warminster, 1979.

Elliot Sperling, Early Ming Policy-toward Tibet all examination of the proposition that the early Ming Emperors adopted a "divide and rule" policy toward Tibet, Indiana university, 1983. (An unpublished Ph. D. dissertation)

Tashi Tsering, "Gandhi: An Old Friend of Tibet", in Tibetan Review, New Delhi, Jan. 1984.

Ilia Tolstoy, "Across Tibet from India to China", in The National Geographic Magazine, Vol. XC, No. II, August, 1946.

Tsering Wangyal (ed.) Tibetan Review, New Delhi, July, 1987.

Turrell V. Wylie, "Lama Tribute in the Ming Dynasty", in MichaelAris & Aung San Suu Kyi (ed.) Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Warminster, 1979.

Sir Francis Young husband, India and Tibet, Oriental Publishers, Delhi, 1971.

Asian Relations, being a Report of the Proceedings and Documentation of the first Asian Relations Conference, Asian Relations Organization, New Delhi, 1948.

Dkon-mchog 'jigs-med dbang-po, (written in 1785-86) Rje bla-ma srid zhi'i gtsug rgyan Panchen thorns cad rnkhyen pa blo bzang dpal ldan ye shes dpal bzang po'i zhal snga nas kyi rnm par thar pa nyi ma'i od zer, Bkra shis 'Khyil edition.

Mkhas-btsun bzang-po, Bod kyi rgyal rabs sa 'og nas brnyes pa'i dun bsgrigs snaba'i bdudrtsi, Kathmandu, 1986.

Mgon-po-skyabs, Rgya nag chos 'byung, Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, Sichuan, 1983.

Sngags-'chang ngag-dbang Kun-dga' bsod-nams grags-pa rgyal-mtshan, (written in 1629) Sa skya'i gdung rabs ngo mtshar bang mdzod, Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, Beijing, 1986.

Lcang-skya Rol-pa'i rdo-rje (written in (1758-1759) Rgyal ba' i dbang po thams cad mkhyen gzigs rdo rje 'chang blo bzang skal bzang rgya mtsho dpal bzang po'i zhal snga nas kyi rnam par thar pa mdo tsam brjod pa dpag bsam rin po che'i snye ma, 'Bras spung redaction.

Don-grub-rgyal and Khren chin dbyin (Trans.) Thang yig gsar rnying las byung ba'i Bod chen po'i srid lugs, Mi rigs dpe skrun Khang, mtsho sngon, 1983.

Mdo mkhar zhabs-drung tshe-ring dbang-rgyal (written in 1733) mi dbang rtogs brjod, Mi rigs dpe skrun Khang, Sichuan, 1981.

Sde-srid Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho, (completed in 1701) Thams cad mkhyen pa drug pa blo bzang Rin then tshangs dbyangs rgya mtsho'i thun mong phyi'i rnam par thar pa du ku la'i 'phro 'thud rab gsal gser gyi snye ma, Lhasa blocks.

Sangs-rgyas Rin chen, "Blon po mgar gyi rnam rnam thar mdo tsam brjod pa mu tig phreng mdzes," in mtsho sngon mang tshogs sgyu rtsal, 1983 Vol. V.

Bsam-pho bstan-'dzin don-grub and Kun-dga' rgyal-mtshan, "Bod sa gnas srid gzhung nas 'thus mi btang ste rgya gar ldi li Eshaya mi rigs gser (sic) po'i tshogs 'dur zhugs pa'i gnas tshul" in Bod kyi rig gnas lo rgyus rgyu cha bdams bsgrigs, Bod rang skong ljongs chab srid gros tshogs rig gnas lo rgyus rgyu cha u yon lhan Khang, Lhasa, 1983, Vol. II.

H. H. the Dalai Lama, Chab srid lam ston, (1960-86) (gsum bcu'i gsung 'phrin dang bka' slob phyogs bsgrigs) Bod gzhung dril bsgrag khang nas snar thang par khang, du bskrun, Dharamsala, 1986.


(1.) Pelliot Tibetain 1287, Ariane Spanien et Yoshiro Imaeda, Choix de Documents Tibetains, Bibliothique Nationale, Paris, 1979, Vol II pl. 557-558. Also see, Sangs-rgyas rin-chen, Blon po mgar gyi rnam thar mdo tsam brjod pa nzuu tig phreng codes, (Mu tig phreng mdzes in subsequent references) Mtsho sngon mang tshogs sgyu rtsal, 1983, Vol. V, pp. 20. Mkhas-btsun bung-po, Bod kyi rgyal rabs sa 'og nas brnyes pa'i dum bsgrigs sna ba'i bdud rtsi, Kathmandu, 1986, pp. 362-367, Don-grubrgyal and khren Chin dbyin, (trans) Thang yig gsar rying las byung ba'i Bod chenpo'i srid lugs (Thang yig gsar rnying in subsequent references). Mtsho sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1983, pp. 146, 323. First half of the English translation of the Pelliot Tibetain 1287, see, David Sneligrove and Hugh Richardson, A Cultural History of Tibet, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968 pp. 61-62. The second half of the English translation was kindly done by my colleague ven. Lotsawa Tenzin Dorje to whom I am grateful.

The era of the Tibetan Empire was one of constant Ptghting between China & Tibet, with Tibet conquering & colonizing large areas of China (i. e. as described in Thang yig gsar rnying). This particular incident is cited at length because it is one of the few for which a detailed account of the actual happenings exists.

(2.) Berthold Laufer, Loan Words in Tibetan, in T'oung Pat), 1916 Vol. XVII, p. 542. Also see Thang Yig gsar rnying, pp, 150, 325-326.

(3.) Thang yig gsar rnying, pp. 183, 332-333. H. E. Richardson, A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions, (CETI in subsequent references). Royal Asiatic Society, Leiden, 1985, pp.1-25.

(4.) For an account of Tibetan outer dominions in Central Asia, refer to Dr. C. I. Beckwith, "The Tibetan Empire in the West" in Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Warminster, 1979, pp. 30-38. Also see his book, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia, Princeton, 1987, which was unavailable at the time of writing this paper. Mu tig phreng mdzes, pp. 12-20. Thang yig gsar rnying, pp. 16-17, 171, 320, 329.

(5.) CETI, pp. 106-143. Thang yig gsar rnying, pp. 101, 103, 335-336.

(6.) For this particular period, see Prof. Luciano Petech, "Tibetan Relations with Sung China and with the Mongols", in China Among Equals, the Middle Kingdom and its Neighbours, 10th-14th Centuries, Morris Rossabi (ed.) University Press, Berkeley, 1983, pp. 173-179, 195-196.

(7.) See, Luc Herman M. Kwantan, Tibetan-Mongol Relations during the Yuan dynasty, 1207-1367; (TMRYD in subsequent references), University of South Carolina, 1972, (A Ph. D. disser-tation, unpublished) pp. 140, 145-146.

(8.) TMRYD, P. 162 and footnote No. 84.

(9.) Sngags-'chang ngag-dbang kun-dga' bsod-nams grags-pa rgyal-mtshan (written in 1629) Saskya'igdungrabsngo mtshar bangmdzod, Mi rigs dpe skrun Khang, Beijing, 1986. p. 153-54. The four articles of the concordat were kindly translated by my colleague Ven. Lotsawa Tenzin Dorje, to whom I am grateful.

The full text of the concordat runs like this: "chos zhu ba dang/ mi nyung dus bla ma gung la bzhugs/rgyal brgyud mag pa mi dpon mi dmangs tshogs dus mi gnon dwogs pas rgyal po gung la bzhugs/ Bod phyogs kyi bya ba la bla ma ci gsung dang du long/ Bla ma la ma zhus par rgyal pos lung mi gnang/ Bya ba che chung gzhan la bla ma snying rje che bas zhu ngo 'chol du'ong na rgyal khams mi non pas bla ma'i gsung dang zhal 'jug ma mdzad/"

(10.) Elliot Sperling, "The 5th Kartnapa and some aspects of the relationship between Tibet and the early Ming (Tibet and the early Aging in subsequent references)" in Michael Aris & Aung San Suu Kyi (ed.) Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Aris & Phillips, Warminster, 1979, p. 281. Elliot Sperling, "Early Ming policy-toward Tibet: an examination of the proposition that the early Ming Emperors adopted a "divide and rule" policy toward Tibet, (Early, Ming policy toward Tibet in subsequent references). Indiana University, 1983: (An unpublished Ph. D. dissertation) pp. 23-25.

(11.) Tibet and the Early Ming, pp. 280-281.

(12.) ibid, pp. 284, Early Ming policy Towards Tibet, pp. 26, 244.

(13.) Turrell V. Wylie, "Lama Tribute in the Ming dynasty," in Michael Aris & Aung San Suu Kyi, (ed.) Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Warminster, 1979, p. 338.

(14.) Sde-srid Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho (Completed in 1701) Thams cadmkhyen pa drug pa blo bzang Rin chen tslrangs dbyang rgya mtsho'i thun mong phyi'i rnampar thar pa du ku la'i 'phro 'thud rab gsal gser gyi snye ma. Lhasa blocks, pp. Recto, 464:1-Recto, 465:1. I must express my gratitude to my colleague Ven. Lotsawa Tenzin Dorje for translating the relevant passage. I feel this passage is very important to the world of Tibetologists for a better understanding of Tibeto-Manchu relations. Therefore I will quote the original Tibetan in full so that others may read and interpret it as they will and publish their conclusions in the near future.

"(1701 Second Tibetan Month) De yang Dar rtse mdo sa skyong 'phrin las rgya mtsho'i dus bla ma rab 'byams pa'i lag nas bzhes pa'i gzhung zhabs su chug pa las/gong ma rgyal po'i conga' zhabs nas shor ba sogs min rung/ phyis rgya bod kyi sue mo ba 'ga'i byed rkyen la brten Dar rtse mdo rgya 'og yin pa'i rtsod gleng dang/ Nye lam la mo rtse pa dang lcags la bzlos pa'i mi chen dpon bsad min gyi skor dang/ gtso bo dpag bsam 'khri shing nor bzang gi rtogs brjod las / rgyal blun mtshan mor byed pa ni / gsar pa'i dpya zer 'bebs pa yis/ mchog to skye bo'i tshogs pa 'di/ Pad mo can bzhin zum par gyur/ zhes gsungs pa ltar rdzong sdod snga ma rnams kyi dus med pa'i ngo g-yog las byed kyi rgyun gtan rta 'ul 'bam tshong sogs gsar spros kyi khag bsun mang pas mi ser rnams zhen shor gyi rnam pa yod pa'i gnas tshul rim 'byor dang/ rgya dmag byung tshul snga lo ston mjug nas byung yang gong ma rgyal po gzhan dang mi 'dra bas sa sne'i mkhar dpon sogs kyi las rgyal po'i bka' phebs pa min 'gro zhing gang ci thams cad gong mas mkhyen tshul Nyithang-can la gnang gshis mdo pa rang gis 'phrod btang gi 'ba' la'i (sic) dmag phran las dmag rigs mi 'gab cing rang phyogs ma shor tsam las thal song gang chung gyis byas pa skyon song lta bu sogs rkyen rnam pa du ma zhig la brten z1a ba dang po skor nas mdo mi nyag rgyar shor ba'i gnas tshul byung bar/ mdo'i tshong 'dus rang rgya bod gnyis kar dgos gshis phugs chags pa gzhir bcas rung gzhung gi ja'i bzhes 'bab kyi rkangs (sic) dang sku rim sogs gang cir ja med thebs med pas de lan tsha mo'i thog na mo zhig babs la ka med dang / Yang gong in gzhan dang ma 'dra ba bcas yid gnyis che bar gtso bo bla ma rnam pa/ byang rigs dpon khag/stag rtse sogs sde dpon gyis dbus tshang ma cha bsdur bar phal cher dmag rang gi tsha len 'gab gleng zhing Li thang sogs nas sku tshab rdo chod drag po dgos kyang chang chung blos gcod nus pa rdzong bda dgos pa'i zhabs bskul mang bar brten sa mtshams su nye len sku tshab zhig mi gnang ka med la su 'gab' di yin thugs brtag gnang ba babs pa bzhin/ rtse'i mgron gnyer blo-bzang dngos 'grub dang/ shod kyi mgron gnyer dol sngon-jam-dbyangs gnyis 'gro dgos par blo-bzang dngos grub rang gis thugs brtag mthong ba ltar la thag bcad."

(15.) John K. Fairbank & Ssu-yu Teng, Ch'ing administration; Three studies, Harvard-Yenching Institute Studies, XIX, Harvard University Press, Mass, 1960. pp.130-135

(16.) For more detail see, Samuel M. Grupper, "Manchu Patronage and Tibetan Buddhism during the first half of the Ch'ing dynasty," in The Journal of the Tibet Society, Bloomington, Vol. 4, 1984, pp. 47-75.

(17.) Mgon-po-skyabs, Rgya nag chos 'byung, (Rgya nag gi yul du dam pa'i chos dar tshul gtso bor bshad pa blo gsal kun to dga'ba'i rna rgyan) Sichuan Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, Chengdu, 1983, pp. 46. I am grateful to Mr. Tsepak Rigzin for translating this quote.

(18.) Zahiruddin Ahmad, "New light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War of 167984," in East and West, Rome, XVIII, 3/4, 1968,pp. 340-61. Luciano Petech, "The Tibetan Ladakh Moghal War of 1681-83," in The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXIII, No. Ill, September, 1947, pp. 169-199.

(19.) Mdo-mkhar zhabs-drung tshe-ring dbang-rgyal, (written in 1733),Mi dbang rtogs brjod, Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, Sichuan, 1981. pp. 787-791.

(20.) Lcang-skya Rol-pa'i rdo-rje, Rgyal ba'i dbang po thams cad mkhyen gzigs rdo rje 'chang blo bzang bskal bzang rgya mtsho dpal bzang po'i zhal snga nas kyi rnam par thar pa mdo tsam brjod pa dpag bsam rin po che'i snye ma, 'Bras spung redaction, pp. 417 v-418v. Dkon-mchog 'jigs-med dbang-po, Rje bla ma srid zhi'i gtsug rgyan Panchen thams cad mkhyen pa blo bzang dpal ldan ye shes dpal bzang po'i zhal snga nas kyi rnam par thar pa nyi ma'i 'od zer, Bkra shis 'khyil edition, p. 90v.

(21.) Sir Francis Younghusband, India and Tibet, Oriental publishers, Delhi. (1971 Indian reprint) p. 264.

(22.) H. E. Richardson, Tibet & Its History, Shambhala, Boulder, 1984, pp. 163164. Norman C. Hall, "The United-States, Tibet & China," in Tibetan Review, Jan. 1978, p. 16.

(23.) Ilia Tolstoy, "Across Tibet from India to China," in The National Geographic Magazine, Vol. Xc No. 11, August 1946, pp. 215-217.

(24.) See Asian Relations, being a Report of the Proceedings and Documentation of the First Asian Relations Conference, New Delhi, March-April 1947. Asian Relations Organization, New Delhi, 1948. Tashi Tsering, "Gandhi: An Old Friend of Tibet," in Tibetan Review, Jan., 1984, p. 12.

A distorted and corrupted account of the Conference, written in the names of Tenzin Dhondup Sampho and Kunga Gyaltsen, the two Tibetan participants, appeared entitled "Bod sa gnas srid gzhung nas 'thus mi btang ste rgya gar ldi ti Eshaya ma rigs gser (sic) po'i tshogs 'dur zhugs pa'i gnas tshul," in Bod kyi rig gnas lo rgyus rgyu cha bdams bsgrigs, Bod rang skong ljongs chab srid gros tshogs rig gnas lo rgyus rgyu cha u yon lhan khang, Lhasa, 1983, Vol. II, pp. 28-37. See Tenzin D. Sampho, "Reminiscences of the Asian Relations Conference," in Tibetan Review, June, 1987, pp. 19-21. Written after he left Tibet and resettled in India. There will also be a further detailed account in Mr. Sampho's forthcoming autobiography called Mi tshe'i rba rlabs 'khrugs po.

(25.) The Dalai Lama, "A Vast Sea of Chinese Threatens Tibet," in The New York Times, August, 9, 1985.

(26.) ibid

(27.) ibid.

(28.) Tyrone L. Danlock, "The Wildlife of Tibet--Introductory Commentary," in Tibetan Review, June, 1985, pp. 10-11.

(29.) Tibetan Review, July, 1987, p. 5

(30.) Chab srid lam ston, 1960-1986, (A collected statements of H. H. the Dalai Lama on the 10th March) Information office of H. H. the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, 1986, pp. 395-396.
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