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Between rhetoric and reality: nationalist China's Tibetan agenda during the second World War (1).


Previous researches have suggested that the Japanese invasion of China proper, and the emergence of a group of powers allied with China in her straggle against Japan, provided the Kuomintang (KMT) Nationalist Government with an opportunity to advance its claims to the "lost" border regions and restore China's past territorial glory. Scholarly works have also argued that, being a member of the "Great Four" after Pearl Harbor, the Chinese talked volubly about restoring their authority over traditional frontier peripheries. In addition, it has been suggested that, with regards to Tibet, in the early 1940s, Chiang Kai-shek's wartime regime in Chongqing was even prepared to resort to military force to bring the long-lasting Tibetan issue to an end. (2) This research intends to offer a different story. Here it is suggested that, efforts made by the KMT during wartime to assert its rights in the southwest frontier peripheries were primarily based on considerations of regime security and military strategy. These considerations were felt to be more important than the ideological contours of Chinese nationalism shaped as early as Sun Yat-sen's era. In other words, China's so-called "positive policy," if there was such a thing, towards Tibet in the Second World War was actually a reluctant yet unavoidable alternative that Chongqing had to adopt to ensure the survival of their weak regime in a precarious milieu. As will be revealed in the following discussions, Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT regime were actually taking a far more pragmatic stance towards the Tibetan issues. Moreover, wartime China's professed frontier and Tibetan policy at the highest official level did not necessarily affect the actual Sino-Tibetan political scenario.

By sifting carefully through available sources, particularly the recently released Chiang Kai-shek Papers and the Nationalist Government Archives, this study intends to reconstruct a sober picture of wartime Sino-Tibetan relations and to re-examine the facts. Here it will be argued that there is actually a discrepancy between what we have learned from wartime Chinese supreme leaders' political propagandist work, and the superficially presented facts which present-day scholarly works have heavily relied upon, and how policymakers of the wartime Chinese government perceived and implemented their frontier agendas. This study further suggests that as late as the early 1940s the formulation of a definite and clear Chinese territoriality, with Tibet unconditionally included, remained a pending and unresolved issue to the Chinese Nationalist authorities.

I. The Tibetan Agenda in the Context of a New Political Milieu

The Nationalist Government, a reincarnation of Sun Yat-sen's southern local regime in Canton, was officially inaugurated in July, 1925. Within three years, the Nationalist Revolutionary Army, under Chiang Kai-shek's leadership, defeated several warlords in south and central China. When the KMT troops captured Beijing in the summer of 1928, the Nationalist government formally declared its reunification of China. Since its inception, the Nationalist regime had grand ambitions that made it look different from other so-called "warlord regimes." In their propaganda, the Nationalists not only sought to defend the far-flung borders that the Chinese Republic inherited from the Manchu empire, but also to reunify the whole nation and to protect its sovereignty. With a view to achieving this grandiose goal, a revolutionary political construct emerged for the first time in China's long political history. (3) At various political functions, the Nationalist government constantly reiterated its claim of the "lost" outlying territories, such as Outer Mongolia and Tibet, as inseparable part of Chinese territory (see Figure 1). Concerning frontier and minority affairs, the KMT high echelons repeatedly reinforced revolutionary and nationalist spirit as well as party guidelines in its official propaganda. The ideal "five-race republic," promoted unanimously by Sun Yat-sen and the Beijing warlord regimes, became the ultimate goal for the new authorities in Nanking vis-a-vis its thorny border and ethnic agendas.


The building-up of a nationalist image and the promise of implementing a revolutionary policy towards foreign and frontier affairs to a great extent allowed the KMT nationalists to convince people in the 1930s and 1940s that they were the only remedy for a weak, disparaged China to become a great power. Concerning China's Tibetan agenda, as one study put it recently, the rise of Chinese nationalism and the formation of the KMT Nationalist regime in 1928, also ended an era in which international negotiations over the status of Tibet might be possible. (4) Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that given political and military fragmentation in China proper during the prewar decade (1928-37) the Nanking Nationalist regime was actually in no position to implement any effective policy towards China's Tibetan or frontier issues. As a result, outlying territories continued to be deemed China's "lost" territories, while the Nationalists in their official propaganda still indefatigably insisted upon their fictitious rights over unattainable border regions.

The all-out Japanese invasion in 1937 forced the Nationalist government to retreat from coastal China to the interior, and the seat of the government was removed from Nanking to Chongqing. After Pearl Harbor in December 1941, when China was accepted as one of the Allied Nations fighting against the Axis, a subtle shift in the political climate could be perceived in unoccupied West China. In 1943, the abolition of China's unequal treaties, along with the Nationalist Government's participation in the Cairo Summit and the Four-Power declaration in Moscow, promoted China's status as, at least theoretically, a leading world power. This was to have a strong, positive psychological effect on both the KMT leaders and Chinese mass opinion. The changing international arena invited keen discussion in China, from the highest official level to the grassroots, about the grandiose restoration of past territorial rights not only over areas lost to the Japanese but also former Qing imperial possessions in Inner Asia. The growing attention of public opinion to reclaiming China's "lost frontiers," in particular, was based primarily on the following two theories. Politically, wartime Han Chinese intellectuals, expecting American support to ensure the establishment of China as a great power, were deeply convinced that the central government was more qualified than ever and in a position to restore Chinese territorial controls over border regions. (5) Economically and strategically, scholars and mass media in Chongqing also asserted that abundant natural resources in the traditional border areas, such as wool, furs, copper, gold, and timber, would be of great military significance to wartime China vis-a-vis the Japanese. They believed that the improving war situation after Pearl Harbor would provide the government with a decent opportunity to open up previously unexploited frontier territories for the benefit of the whole country. (6)

Chiang Kai-shek's book, China's Destiny, (7) which was officially published in the spring of 1943, attracted attention both within China and abroad. In it, Chiang bluntly pointed out that the five major peoples within China, namely Han Chinese, Manchus, Mongols, Uighurs, and Tibetans, were merely "various clans of the same racial stock." His statement differed saliently from the former ideas developed by Sun Yat-sen, that these were "Five Races" united only by some spiritual bond. (8) Chiang further argued that China's traditional territorial domains reached the Himalayas, the Pamirs, the Mid-South Peninsula, and other Inner Asian peripheries such as Tibet, Chinese Turkestan, Outer Mongolia, and Tannu Tuva. He took an especially hard stance towards Tibet and Mongolia, asserting that these territories were necessary to China's national defense and that "no area can of its own accord assume the form of independence." (9)

As the supreme leader of wartime China, Chiang Kai-shek's perception of how China's territoriality should be formulated, as embodied in China's Destiny, drew serious diplomatic attention. Officials in the United States observed that the spirit of nationalism was rampant in high quarters in Chongqing, and that China was still "in the throes of revolution." (10) The British also found it difficult to believe that the KMT Nationalists had no imperialist ambitions. London saw China as not only determined to reassert political domination over the border peoples, but also as having a strong desire to exercise a preponderant influence in Thailand, Indo-China, and possibly Burma. Furthermore, in the eyes of British officials, relations between Britain and Nationalist China were overshadowed by the threat of a direct clash over Tibet and Hong Kong, and the possibility of friction over the future of China's southwestern neighbors. (11)

Chiang Kai-shek's momentary confidence in the possibility of restoring China's "lost territories" can be understood in the context of not only a changing international environment, but also a shifting domestic political situation in beleaguered China. In 1941, following the removal of the Muslim leader Ma Buqing from the Gansu Corridor, Chongqing successfully extended its direct authority into Western Gansu. Ma Buqing and his Muslim cavalry were sandwiched between Ma Bufang in Kokonor and Ma Hongkui in the Alashan territory of Western Inner Mongolia. These three Muslim warlords had actually constituted a continuous bloc of Muslim influence across the Northwest, and a barrier between the KMT authorities in south Gansu and de facto independent Xinjiang. In early 1942, Chongqing successfully broke up this Muslim bloc by ordering Ma Buqing to transfer his troops to the Tsaidam Basin of Kokonor on the pretext of "colonizing and guarding" that area. Since then, Chiang Kai-shek's lineal troops had moved into the strategically important Gansu Corridor on the road to Xinjiang, (see Figures 1 and 2) and were to be found, as one British diplomat observed, "in every district city as far west as the furthest outposts of Gansu Province in the sands of Central Asia." (12) The successful out-maneuvering of Ma Buqing's Muslim influence over Western Gansu also contributed to Chiang Kai-shek's first "inspection tour" of the warlords' domains of Kokonor, Ningxia, and the KMT's newly-achieved Gans Corridor in the summer of 1942. (13)


Almost simultaneously, the Xinjiang warlord Sheng Shicai brought about a change of policy that would put an end to his long and independent rule in Chinese Inner Asia. Expecting that Germany would defeat Russia, Sheng swung from a pro-Soviet to an anti-Communist stance and tried to patch up his relations with the KMT regime. In the autumn of 1942, Madame Chiang flew to the capital city of Xinjiang and negotiated with Sheng. The result of this discussion was outwardly satisfactory to Chongqing, for shortly afterwards Sheng made a declaration announcing his full allegiance to Chiang Kai-shek. Soon afterwards, the KMT provincial party headquarters was inaugurated formally in Urumqi. For the first time since 1928 the national flag as well as the KMT party flag could be flown throughout Xinjiang, and the Chongqing Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Waijiaobu) was able to dispatch its own officials to Urumqi, charged with the conduct of the foreign affairs of this province. (14) Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek's military lineal forces, now deployed in the Gansu Corridor, began to march further northwestwards and stationed themselves in Hami. The well-known Soviet "Eighth Regiment" infantry force, on the other hand, was obliged to withdraw from Eastern Xinjiang. Towards the end of 1943, when Sheng Shicai realized that Russia's defeat was neither imminent nor even likely, he attempted once more to reverse his policy. It did not work, and in 1944 the KMT regime replaced him with Wu Zhongxin, one of Chiang Kai-shek's most trusted frontier advisors, a move that symbolized Chongqing's temporary success in asserting its political authority in Chinese Turkestan. (15)

It was a preliminary achievement for the authority of Chongqing to have reached the borderlands of Chinese Turkestan and Muslim-ruled territories of Kokonor, the Gansu Corridor, and the Alashan region in Inner Mongolia. It therefore came as no surprise that KMT policy planners took positive steps to devise ways of bringing another "lost dependency"--Tibet--into closer Nationalist control. Among various plans broached around 1942-43, some of Chiang Kai-shek's military advisors undertook a set of political moves that merit scrutiny. In a joint conference attended by several top governmental bodies in March 1943, the KMT military staff unusually proposed the gradual abolition of Tibet's politico-religious dual system. This implied a transformation of the Tibetan traditional structure, both politically and socially. Given that the KMT regime had previously always maintained that the Tibetans should be granted autonomy within the Chinese republican system, this change in position was significant. While claiming to preserve Tibet's autonomy, and to strengthen the existing Chinese Mission in Lhasa, some KMT military leaders were actually proposing that Chonging should send in more pro-Han monks and political activists from China proper to Lhasa. This was the first step in their plans to infiltrate Tibetan governmental structure. As a result, non-aristocratic and non-ecclesiastical Tibetans would gradually be recruited into the political circle to conduct political affairs, whereas the number of monk officials would slowly be reduced to a minimum. It was also suggested that the KMT regime should dispatch well-trained Han Chinese monks to Tibet to participate in local monasterial affairs and encourage Han-Tibetan Buddhist interactions. The Chongqing military officials believed that with time and effort, the Tibetan political system would eventually be separated from the religious sector, and a new, purely secular governmental structure favorable to the penetration of KMT influence could be established in Lhasa. (16)

The flourishing of various economic and financial projects related to Tibet around 1942-43 also revealed how Chongqing unilaterally perceived its relations with Tibet, as well as how an ideal Sino-Tibetan interaction should be shaped after Pearl Harbor. One novel idea was for the demarcation of Tibet and, as it was referred to by some KMT officials, "freshly-submitted" Xinjiang into "special economic zones." These Chongqing planners proposed that, given that their sovereignty over Xinjiang and Tibet was "soon going to be restored," these two outlying regions should maintain their independent economic and monetary systems. By doing so, the worsening inflation in Sichuan proper would not spill over into these areas. Chongqing policy designers also suggested that regulations for currency exchange between southwest China and these newly-proposed frontier economic zones should be promulgated as soon as possible, with a view to meeting the "expected blooming commercial intercourse between Sichuan proper and the frontiers." (17) Obviously exhilarated by the belief that the renovation of China's full authority in the frontiers was imminent, Chongqing officials meanwhile brooked no delay to schedule the importation of urgently-needed war materials, such as wool, fur, and other heavy industry raw materials from Xinjiang and Tibet. (18)

An on-the-spot investigative report written in May 1943 also elaborated upon how wartime KMT officials formulated a closer Sino-Tibetan financial and commercial affiliation once this "lost dependency" returned to the fold of the Chinese Republic. After personally surveying the economic and commercial situations in Xikang (see Figure 1) and India in early 1943, two of Chiang Kaishek's senior officials advised that, with Tibet being further integrated with southwest China, the Central Bank of China should institute branch headquarters in Lhasa. This arrangement would accordingly facilitate the Chinese purchase of Tibetan wool and would help establish Chongqing's financial presence in this region. They meanwhile advocated that the KMT regime should make full use of overseas Chinese merchants in India, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal, all of whom had business connections with the Tibetan firms, in order to facilitate trade between beleaguered China and Tibet. (19) Another report also indicated that the Central Government should extensively promote the Sino-Tibetan tea business, and should provide the Tibetans with preferential tax and customs treatment. It was further suggested that Chongqing should invest a significant amount of capital in KMT-backed firms to purchase Tibetan traditional products on a large scale. By doing so, the report concluded, the Government of India would no longer be able to monopolize Tibet's economy, and China' s status in this region would be perpetually consolidated. (20)

II. Sino-Tibetan Political Maneuvering in Reality: The Roadway Issue

Chiang Kai-shek's novel approach towards China's racial and territorial themes, along with vigorous frontier planning at an official level, revealed how the KMT leadership crafted their Tibetan proposition both ideally and subjectively. However, the wishes of wartime Chinese planners regarding the mapping out of their future Tibetan agenda by no means equated with real political interactions between China and Tibet. As a matter of fact, instead of adopting a hard-line and revolutionary policy embracing the spirit of nationalism illustrated in Chiang Kai-shek's grandiose statements, during the war, the Nationalist officials took a rather pragmatic, if not ad hoc, stance concerning the a real southwest-frontier scenario. In other words, there was a discrepancy between the policy-making and official statements by the top leaders and planners, and the execution of these policies in the actual Sino-Tibetan political setting. To better understand the reality of wartime China's interaction with Tibet, one must not be misled by the professed policy.

I shall start by depicting a different picture of China's wartime Tibetan agenda with the story of a roadway issue. Japanese military expansion in the Far East had been growing intensively since the autumn of 1940. In September, Japanese forces occupied the northern part of French Indo-China, where Tokyo set up its military bases and established a substantial protectorate o fits own. Soon afterwards, in order to blockade unoccupied southwest China both militarily and economically, the important rail line between Hanoi and Kunming was sealed by the Japanese. This action coincided with the temporary closure of the Burma Road by the British due to strong pressure from the Japanese (see Figure 3). These events dealt a damaging blow to the Chinese, whose international supply routes were now cut off entirely and whose wartime materials previously transported via these routes into Japanese-besieged China, became unavailable. (21) Although the British reopened the Burma Road three months after its closure, the establishment of Japanese authority in Indo-China continued to heighten Chinese fears of an attack on this route. Chiang Kaishek, for instance, expressed his concern to the British Ambassador in Chongqing in late 1940 that the Japanese might attack Yunnan very soon in order to destroy the Burma Road, China's last means of contact with the outside world. Chiang further pointed out that if Tokyo's offensive eventually succeeded, the Chinese armies would be surrounded and there would be an end to Chinese resistance. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, also shared Chiang's pessimistic viewpoint. In an audience with the Chinese ambassador in London, Mr. Churchill expressed his deep concern that south China might be the next Japanese military objective. (22)


The unexpected Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought together China, the United States, and Britain as new allies against the Axis Powers. Yet for the Chinese government, the formation of a new alliance could not immediately reverse its deteriorating military situation in the Far East. Neither were the Chongqing officials, who theoretically no longer fought a lone battle against their enemy, able to avoid the likelihood of the breakdown of their regime caused by the relentless Japanese military advance. From the end of 1941 through to early 1942, Japanese forces captured the Philippines, followed by other Pacific islands, attacked Hong Kong, and ultimately forced the British to withdraw from Singapore and Malaya. In the spring of 1942, key cities in south and central Burma such as Rangoon, Bhamo, and Myithyina, also fell into Japanese hands.

In contrast with the Japanese victories in the Far East and Southeast Asia, the British had suffered severe military setbacks which had had an extremely bad effect on Chinese morale. For some time, Chiang Kai-shek and his regime were haunted by the possibility of the eventual British abandonment of their Burmese and Indian domains. The fears of Chongqing officials were not without reason, particularly when considering that the United States had declared that all available resources would be used to secure the Philippines. Meanwhile no similar declaration came from London to give the Indians something for which to fight. On the other hand, in early 1942 the situation in south China was alarming. The Sixth Army of the Chinese army, now a part of the allied forces that were to be sent to the Burma theatre, was kept in Kunming until it was known whether the Japanese were about to attack Yunnan or Burma. (23) At one point, people in Chongqing were seemingly convinced of the threat of a domino effect, whereby the whole of Burma, the Indian subcontinent, as well as Tibet and other Himalayan states would sooner or later fall into Japanese hands. (24)

News of pro-active Japanese activities in Kokonor, southern Tibet and the vicinity of northern India also inflicted considerable anxiety on KMT officials about regime security. By 1939, the headquarters for Japanese secret service activities, based in Tokyo-controlled Inner Mongolia, had extensively infiltrated Ningxia, Kokonor (Qinghai Province), and northern Xinjiang and was conducting propagandist activities with a view to creating disaffection among the local minority inhabitants (see Figure 1). (25) A confidential report of the Military Affairs Commission in late 1942 further confirmed the news that the well-known Japanese "fifth column" was already reaching deep into north India, south Tibet, and adjacent areas where they vigorously propagated rumours that the "defeated British" were soon going to surrender to the Japanese empire. The Tokyo authorities meanwhile went to great lengths to declare their good faith to the Tibetans, convincing Lhasa that due to military setbacks the withdrawing Allied forces, together with their political and cultural influences, would soon enter Tibet. Meanwhile the Japanese took pains to persuade Lhasa that they were the only nation genuinely willing to help the Tibetans in a fulfilling of their desire for national salvation and self-determination. (26) The Chinese Embassy in London even reported to Chongqing that a group of Congress Party members were intriguing with the Japanese in north India, where they had recruited Tibetan outlaws and bandits and were plotting to seize war materials for the use of anti-British campaigns. (27)

The precarious military and political situation in the Far East, as well as the likelihood of Japanese encroachment in South Asia, inevitably forced the jeopardized Nationalist government to seek to advance its authority in China's southwestern peripheries to counteract its opponents. The development of new routes to secure the supply line of unoccupied China, in particular, was one of the most imperative items on the Chongqing policy planners' agenda. (28) In addition, after the nightmarish experience of the Burma Road being closed, the Chinese were obliged to consider the feasibility of opening up alternative routes. Towards the end of 1940, the idea of building a China-India roadway first emerged as a priority in Chongqing and was strongly supported by Chiang Kai-shek. After a series of internal discussions held by the KMT officials in February 1941, Chiang formally ordered the construction of a motorway from southwest Sichuan Province, through Rima in southwest Tibet, to the Assam border in India. In May, two Chinese survey parties were dispatched as preparation for the road project. (29)

Before long, however, the program had to be suspended temporarily when the Chinese attempted but failed to secure Tibetan support. Having been informed of the possible construction of such a roadway, the Lhasa authorities resolutely refused to accept it, regarding China's intention as yet another attempt to regain a foothold in their country. In July 1941 the Tibetan frontier officials were instructed by their government to turn back any Chinese survey parties that they encountered in the border districts. According to the Chinese, Tibetan frontier garrison forces not only drove back the unarmed Chinese survey groups but even went as far as bombing bridges and roads on the border in order to prevent the attempted entry of the Chinese. (30)

The Tibetan objection to the Chinese proposed roadway forced Chongqing to consider an alternative route. In February 1942, Chiang Kai-shek paid an unofficial visits to India. During his short stay, Chiang endeavored to persuade the British and Indian governments to accept the idea of constructing a motor road "outside" Tibet, from the Assam rail and river heads at Sadiya and Ledo, through Fort Hertz, south to Myithyina in Burma, and then to Longling in Yunnan Province (see Figure 3). (31) Chiang's modified road project revealed his realistic stance towards the Tibetans. Even if the Chinese failed to secure Lhasa's full support over the road issue, Chongqing could not risk armed conflict with the Tibetans, especially during the critical period when in the face of the possible fall of Rangoon, the transportation of U.S. lend-lease stores to China was imperative. (32) Yet though the British agreed to Chiang's latest road proposal, the deteriorating situation in Upper Burma and the fall of Myithyina in May 1942 resulted in the withdrawal of Allied forces from Burma to India. Eventually the construction of this newly proposed China-India motorway via Upper Burma would be aborted.

While the China-India roadway scheme had become impractical due to the unfavorable war conditions, it was the British who unilaterally reopened negotiations with the Tibetans for the shipping of goods from India via Tibet to China. (33) In March 1942 the British sent an official to Lhasa to persuade the Tibetans that they could best protect their future interests by helping Britain and China in their hour of need. At first, Lhasa categorically turned down any suggestion of using Tibetan soil for the purpose of transporting supplies to China, emphasizing that Tibet would rather remain neutral in the war. However, the British continued to exert pressure on Lhasa, and in the early summer of 1942, the Tibetans grudgingly agreed to allow the transport of "non-military" supplies from India to China through their territory. (34) As a matter of fact, the British not only managed to open a pack route via Tibet, they also supported the Chinese in the establishment of several other international supply lines from Sichuan via Soviet Central Asia. In the summer of 1942, one of these pack routes was opened from Baluchistan through Iran, Soviet Turkestan and Kazakhstan, to Xinjiang. With the opening of this route, the transport of at least 2,000 tons of goods per month was made possible by rail and lorry from India, via Mashhad in Iran to Askabad on the Russian trans-Caspian railway. The Russians would take over the service from Askabad to Alma Ata in eastern Turkestan by rail and thence by lorry to Hami in eastern Xinjiang (see Figure 1). The Chinese would then carry on from Hami to Lanzhou in Gansu, and beyond. (35) Chongqing officials later proposed other new pack routes, including the Leh-Karakoram line and the Gilgit-Hunza-Kashgar line (see Figure 2). These pack routes were once again encouraged by the British and American Governments. (36)

In early 1941 Chiang Kai-shek ordered the construction of several highways in southwest China to link up Sichuan proper with new international supply lines in Chinese Inner Asia. By 1942, two important Sichuan-Xikang roads were nearing completion. These motor roads not only served to strengthen Yunnan in the event of that province being attacked, but would also relieve some of the Burma Road traffic. Transportation facilities in unoccupied China were further enhanced when a third road, from Kangding (Tachienlu) to Sining was undertaken in 1943 to link up with Xinjiang and even as far west as Soviet Russia. (37) Nonetheless, it was the building of two other motor roads, the Qinghai-Xinjiang route, and the Qinghai-Tibet route (Sining to Jyekundo), that deserve attention. The completion of these two roads was to be of far-reaching significance for the development of KMT influence in Central Asia. Chiang Kai-shek therefore allocated a huge amount of financial resources to Ma Bufang, who took primary responsibility for their construction. Thousands of local Qinghai Mongolians and Tibetans were mobilized to participate in the task. Ma Bufang's co-operative attitude in assisting in the construction of these motor roads clearly revealed his political ambitions. Apart from seeking to further tighten control over his Kokonor domain, Ma also intended to extend his political and military authority into north Gansu and south Xinjiang. On the other hand, the KMT's huge investment reaped considerable rewards: communications between Sichuan proper and Inner Asian territories greatly improved, and the moving of Chinese forces from Kokonor to Tibet and Xinjiang was much easier than before. By the same token, the realization of these road routes suggested that the advancement of Nationalist influence into Tibet and Xinjiang was now more than a mere fantasy. (38)

The Japanese military expansionism to East Asian theatres unwittingly offered the beleaguered KMT regime opportunities to reinforce its authority in Tibet and other outlying peripheries in Inner Asia. More significantly, in order to secure the transport of lend-lease materials from the outside world to unoccupied China, Chiang Kai-shek took a rather practical stance over wartime China's Tibetan issue. This tendency was fully revealed in the course of the China-India road issue. On receiving the news that the British had unilaterally persuaded Lhasa concerning its pack-route agenda, the Chongqing officials at first demurred, viewing the British good offices as an affront to their traditional position in Tibet. (39) Yet before long, a realistic stance was formulated within the National government. In July 1942 the Military Affairs Commission, the top organ of the wartime Chinese government chaired personally by Chiang Kai-shek, proposed that cooperation with the British over the new pack route via Tibet should be effected without delay. This body pragmatically suggested that China should not take the direct contact between Britain and Tibet too seriously. For the sake of the development of the supply line as well as the transport of war materials, the Commission further proposed that China should not interfere with the Anglo-Tibetan negotiations, and should even "allow the British to continue their unilateral diplomatic activities in Lhasa." (40)

After the release of this message, there was a subtle shift in the political climate surrounding China's frontier agenda and there followed a flurry of "pragmatic" proposals from Chongqing. In particular, the feasibility of organizing a joint Sino-British transport administration in Tibet was seriously discussed among KMT officials. Interestingly, ideas such as this were no longer regarded as being "politically incorrect": it was not necessarily deemed as undermining China's national dignity to be seen co-operating with the "imperialists" over the frontier and territorial issue. Chongqing was even ready, albeit quite reluctantly, to accept the British proposal of establishing a bureaucratic agency entitled the "Indo-Sino-Tibetan Transportation Office," managed by Chinese, British, and Tibetan officials who would conduct route affairs. Chongqing's tentative acceptance of such a tripartite arrangement implicitly revealed that the Nationalist officials were tacitly acknowledging the existence of Tibet's independent status outside China's effective political jurisdiction. (41)

The KMT leadership's realistic attitude merits our attention. Since the 1913-14 Simla Conference, when the Beijing republican government reluctantly accepted the participation of a Tibetan plenipotentiary in this tripartite conference, no Chinese central regime had been willing to consent to any public co-operation with the British over Tibetan issues. Now the Sino-Japanese war had left the Nationalist Government with no choice but to readjust its Tibetan policy for the sake of regime survival. In order to alleviate British suspicion about possible Chinese political penetration of Tibet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not delay in its attempts to convince London that in wartime the only goal of the Chinese Government was to defeat Japan, and therefore Chongqing possessed "no political ambitions towards Tibet." (42) According to Dr. Wellington Koo, China's wartime Ambassador to Britain, Chiang Kai-shek had reluctantly agreed not to bring up the subject of Hong Kong and Tibet in the course of negotiations for a new Anglo-Chinese Treaty in order to secure comprehensive British support for KMT China. (43)

III. The Tibetan Foreign Office Bureau and the Kong Qingzong Incident

The KMT regime's compromising attitude was not only shown on the roadway issue, but was also revealed in the face of several other of Lhasa's unilateral diplomatic demarches during the war. In the summer of 1942, the Tibetan government suddenly notified the British, Nepalese, and Chinese representatives in Lhasa that a "Foreign Office Bureau" had been officially instituted under the Tibetan cabinet and they would have to deal with this new office. According to Tibetan officials, this body was created in order to improve the structure of their government, for it was not usual that foreign representatives in any country should have direct access to the Cabinet or Executive Council. (44) The British complied, believing that their daily work would be facilitated since the head of the Bureau would be far more readily available for consultation than the Tibetan Chief Councilors of State. The Chinese, however, regarded this unilateral action by the authorities in Lhasa as evidence of their "sinister attempt" to transfer their de facto autonomous status to an even bolder de jure independence. Furthermore, senior advisors of the KMT regime were convinced that, if Chongqing failed to respond negatively to the existence of such an office created by the Lhasa "separatists," it would be misunderstood, giving the impression that the Chinese government was prepared to recognize Tibet's independence from China's territorial domain. (45)

However, in addition to the above viewpoints, there was also a group of KMT high officials who held a much more realistic view of this development. These officials asserted that the establishment of a Tibetan Foreign Affairs Bureau would not pose any immediate problems for China's wartime diplomacy. What concerned them more seriously was that once the Japanese had invaded India from Burma or Western Yunnan, there would be a genuine possibility that Tibet might fall into Japanese hands. These practical-minded officials could not rule out the possibility of collaboration between Japan and Lhasa. They therefore envisaged that, as a result of this collaboration, southwest China would be exposed to a real military threat far more perilous than the emergence of a Foreign Affairs Bureau in Lhasa. (46) Therefore, having considered the delicate political and military situation in South Asia and southwest China from a practical viewpoint, the high authorities in Chongqing in the end simply made an official announcement refusing to acknowledge this newly created office in Lhasa. On the one hand, the KMT regime instructed its representative office in Lhasa not to have dealings with this body. Yet on the other hand, the KMT officials pronounced that henceforth, all negotiations between China and Lhasa would be carried out by the MTAC and the Tibetan representative office in Chongqing. Consequently, the Nationalist government avoided losing too much face over the uncompromising sovereignty issue, while the bilateral communication channel between Chongqing and Lhasa was skillfully preserved. (47)

The disputes that arose in late 1942 between the Chinese representative in Lhasa, Dr. Kong Qingzong, (48) and the Tibetan government provides us with another chance to examine the reality of how wartime China interacted with the Tibetans. In 1940 Kong assumed office as China's new representative to Tibet. According to British sources, since the beginning of his tenure in Lhasa, Kong's arrogant attitude and his inclination towards favoring Han-Chinese chauvinism had caused resentment among Tibetan officials. (49) In October 1942, a half-Chinese Tibetan became involved in a serious brawl with a half-Nepalese Tibetan. When four Tibetan policemen intervened, the half-Chinese man fled to the Chinese Mission, where he sought refuge as a Chinese national. The Tibetan policemen pursued him into the Mission and Kong, furious, captured the Tibetan policemen. The infuriated Lhasa authorities decided to cease providing the Chinese Mission with daily necessities and demanded that Chongqing recall Kong. (50)

On hearing this news, the Chongqing MTAC officials decided that the whole episode was a political plot orchestrated by the Lhasa Government. These Chinese officials were convinced that Lhasa was capitalizing upon this incident to test Chongqing's bottom line towards the Tibetan independent movement. In the eyes of the MTAC advisors, the Tibetans were also seeking to force the Chinese officials in Lhasa to contact, and even recognize, the new Foreign Affairs Bureau. The MTAC policymakers therefore insisted that no concessions should be made to Lhasa. Officials dealing with frontier and minority affairs from this body meanwhile warned that, once Chongqing complied with Lhasa and relieved Kong of his position, they could not be confident that a newly appointed representative would be dispatched to Tibet and take over Kong's position smoothly. (51) Nevertheless, regardless of the MTAC officials' cautious warnings, Chiang Kai-shek was determined to compromise. He ordered the replacement of Kong with Shen Zonglian, who was then serving in the Office of Aides. By dispatching one of his trusted subordinates to Lhasa, Chiang hoped that a deteriorating Chongqing-Lhasa relationship might therefore be improved. On Chiang Kai-shek's insistence, moreover, almost all former staff of the Chinese Mission in Lhasa were withdrawn and replaced. (52)

IV. Reconsidering China's Military Proposals Towards Tibet

Perhaps the best illustration of the disparity between the Chongqing leaders' theoretical version of their Tibetan formula and their actual reaction to the political scenario in southwest China is Chongqing's wartime disposition of military troops on the Sino-Tibetan borders. Let us draw our attention back to the roadway issue. Since the summer of 1942 when the Tibetans officially accepted the pack-transport route for the first time, their resistance to any possible influx of Chinese influence was as steadfast as ever. Lhasa's determination was demonstrated when they firmly rejected the dispatch of Chinese technicians along the route to supervise the work. In November 1942, when the Chinese realized that the Tibetans would not allow the posting of any Chinese officials along the route, Chongqing compromised by contacting private Tibetan transport firms as a way of "de-politicizing" the route issue in order to appease Lhasa's suspicions. The British agreed to this arrangement and continued in their attempts to persuade Lhasa to come to terms with the Chinese. (53) However, the Tibetans responded by forbidding any private Tibetan trade firms to contact the Chinese without Lhasa's consent. In January 1943, Chongqing officials were further informed by Lhasa that no permission would be granted for shipments through Tibet unless a tripartite agreement with Britain was signed. (54) The Chinese authorities did not actually reject such a tripartite disposition. Yet even as late as March 1943, almost nine months after Lhasa had consented to the transport of non-military goods via Tibet, there was still no China-Britain-Tibet tripartite agreement for the transport of war materials needed by the Chinese. The Tibetan government had even taken the rather rash step of ordering all Tibetan firms to stop the shipment of all goods, including non-military ones, to China, a move which infuriated Chiang Kai-shek. (55)

The possible threat of all-out Japanese activity in Upper Burma, north India, and the adjacent Himalayan areas, along with Tibet's unco-operative manner with regard to the pack route issue, caused the Chinese government to gradually lose patience. Relations between China and Tibet became so tense that, in the spring of 1943, news was rife that Chinese forces were being mobilized towards the Sino-Tibetan borden The alarmed Tibetans were alleged to have sent their troops to south Kokonor to guard against any possible Chinese invasion. (56) While the Chinese and Tibetans accused each other of threats of aggression, Chiang Kai-shek privately assured the Allied leaders that his country would not resort to force to invade Tibet, and any movement of troops would be made for the purpose of China's "self-defense." (57) In addition, as some sources indicate, Chiang Kai-shek's orders to the warlords to move their troops to the borders were ostensibly intended to overawe the "obstinate" Tibetans. However, there was also the underlying hope that Chongqing might be able to take this opportunity to send Chiang's own forces into these border provinces under the pretext of reinforcement. (58)

The mobilization of Chinese troops towards Tibet, which is portrayed in contemporary literature as the best evidence of the Chinese intention to use military means to solve the Tibetan issue, merits closer examination. Actually as early as mid-1942, when confidential reports were submitted to the Chongqing government about the growing danger of Japanese encroachments in south Tibet and north India, both Liu Wenhui in Xikang and Ma Bufang in Kokonor had been instructed to move their troops to the Sino-Tibetan borders. (59) According to Chinese sources, Ma Bufang immediately followed Chiang's instruction and moved his Muslim cavalry towards the borden On the other hand, Liu Wenhui, who strongly suspected Chiang's motive, tentatively agreed to mobilize his forces so long as Chongqing was willing to offer him more military resources. (60) Yet from Chongqing's point of view, placing troops on the Sino-Tibetan borders reflected, in reality, how Chiang Kai-shek's military advisors and planners conceptualized their regime security and national defense at this particular moment during the war. As they saw it, once India or Tibet actually fell under the Japanese control, then the whole of Interior China, including Sichuan proper, would be exposed to direct Japanese threats. In other words, instead of genuinely attempting to launch an attack on Tibet, Chongqing was actually arranging a military barrier on the Xikang-Tibetan and Kokonor-Tibetan borders. (61) Although only implicitly, Chiang Kai-shek was actually viewing Tibet as a buffer zone, with which the Chinese might keep out any possible Japanese military infiltration arriving from a politically unstable India, or a militarily vulnerable Tibet. (62)

The above argument can be further consolidated by examining how Chiang Kai-shek's trusted top military advisors viewed their Southwestern border defense. Considering that any military deployment within the Tibetan boundary would have been virtually impossible to carry out, Chiang Kai-shek's policy planners in a confidential scheme shrewdly suggested that it would be best to leave the unresolved Sino-Tibetan border disputes aside. They also preferred to shelve any foreseeable negotiation over boundary issues in southwest China. They were convinced that, given Chongqing's negligible control over Tibet and the adjacent Lhasa-administered Kham area, a deliberately-managed nebulous borderline between China and Tibet would be favorable in terms of allowing Chongqing free military action if and when needed. (63) Some KMT officials meanwhile suggested that a small number of Chinese troops should be sent into areas bordering Bhutan, Sikkim, and other Himalayan regions with a view to guarding against possible Japanese penetration. Yet Chiang Kai-shek never looked with favor on such an idea. He still regarded the Kokonor-Tibetan and Xikang-Tibetan boundaries as the front line for China's wartime military defense in the Southwest. (64)

V. Concluding Remarks

In 1943 Chiang Kai-shek's KMT China was accepted into the ranks of the "Big Four." This gesture may be regarded as having basically realized Sun Yat-sen's bequeathed task of "the elevation of China to a position of freedom and equality in the family of nations." It was also around this time that the Chongqing KMT authority first reached China's traditional outlying possessions of Xinjiang, the Gansu Corridor, and the eastern part of Inner Mongolia. The presence of KMT influence along the frontier territories would inevitably inspire high Nationalist policymakers with enough confidence to draw a grandiose picture of the Sino-Tibetan integration. Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek's China's Destiny not only attracted tremendous attention among the political circles of the 1940s, but also greatly influenced contemporary historiography focusing on the Republican and Nationalist Chinese frontier and minority issues. (65) Chiang's fresh racial and territorial statements in 1943 concerning China's traditional peripheries are often referred to in scholarly works as the corollary of China' s post-Pearl Harbor hard-line stance vis-a-vis its pending territorial issues over Tibet.

In this paper, however, it is argued that implementation of Chongqing's Tibetan agendas after Pearl Harbor in reality presented a rather different scenario, which could hardly be portrayed as fitting the "revolutionary" or "nationalist" spirit. Written in the midst of the Second World War, China's Destiny undeniably demonstrated Chiang Kai-shek's solid commitments towards China's frontier and minority issues. Yet Chiang's political bible by no means offered a genuine Sino-Tibetan political scenario in the post-Pearl Harbor era. According to this analysis, during wartime when the issue of regime security came to the fore, the KMT Nationalists were taking a rather pragmatic stance towards their frontier agenda. The Chongqing ruling officials, whose influence was still feeble in Tibet and adjacent areas, were substantially more concerned about the security and defense of their precarious regime than with issues such as whether their fictitious legitimate status in Tibet would be damaged, or whether their national dignity would be preserved in the border regions. When scrutinizing how the Nationalists dealt with a more realistic and important issue such as the China-India route, we also discover that there was a substantial gap between what the KMT leaders officially claimed in their nationalist propaganda, and how their regime operated in reality. As can be shown in the pack-route issue, in the course of negotiations the KMT policy planners accepted the idea of joint action by China and Britain over route affairs. They did not even reject the appearance of a prospective tripartite administration to deal with the transport affairs and to secure wartime materials. This was a vivid contrast to the hard-line attitude adopted over Tibetan questions in the prewar decade, when the KMT officials, whose attention was focused primarily on China proper, felt they had no substantial interests to win or lose over China's territoriality in the frontier peripheries.

Beginning from mid-1937, the Sino-Japanese war forced the Nationalist government to cope with semi-independent warlords and to painstakingly build a KMT-controlled state in southwest China. The Japanese imposition of military and economic blockades further compelled the besieged Nationalists to straggle for the survival of their regime by seeking new supply lines in Inner Asia. With hindsight, it is one of the ironies of history that the Japanese had unwittingly contributed to the partial introduction of KMT authority in Tibet, as well as along southwestern borders and other Inner Asian frontiers where Nationalist influence had barely existed before. As a result, it was not so much the "Great Power" created in wartime that sought to restore its territorially glorious past in Tibet as it was a precarious regime that was grudgingly given a bitter opportunity for the advancement of its influence into China's traditional outlying territories.

Another point deserving attention is the matter of how Chiang Kai-shek and his military staff once formulated their viewpoint regarding the national defense at the "backdoor" of their southwestern Chinese domain. In the heyday of the Japanese offensive in Southeast Asia, the fall of India, Burma, and Tibet was entirely possible in the eyes of Chongqing officials. The KMT authorities at one point greatly feared that the approach of the Japanese via a defenseless Tibet, marching eastwards all the way down to Sichuan via Xikang, was imminent. Chongqing's fear was increased by the fact that the government was in no real position either to control Tibet or to deploy its own troops in this region for defense purposes. As a result, Chiang Kai-shek could only attempt to order his disloyal warlord subordinates to move their forces on the Sino-Tibetan borders, on the pretext of punishing the "treacherous," "obstinate," and unco-operative Tibetans. This was a defensive reaction to possible Japanese infiltration. Half a century earlier, the British, concerned that Russian and Chinese influences might approach from the north, managed Tibet as a buffer state to protect their Indian domain. Interestingly, yet ironically, half a century later it was the Chinese, fearing Japanese encroachment from the south, who harboured the idea of viewing Tibet as a buffer zone to keep away any possible invasion from their enemy.

According to L.K.D. Kristof, a frontier is an outward-oriented march line, a border area in which the effective territorial control of the central state is limited. It is also an area of potential expansion, for a forward-moving culture bent on occupying the whole belt in front. A boundary, by contrast, is an inward-looking "bound", a sharp dividing line incorporating territories under the exclusive jurisdiction of a modern state. (66) The evolution of Sino-Tibetan relations from the late Qing period until the Communist takeover in the 1950s, as one source suggests, clearly demonstrates this frontier-boundary transformation. (67) If this argument is correct, then this present study may further suggest that, as late as the early 1940s, the formulation of a definite and clear Chinese territoriality, with Tibet unconditionally included, remained implicitly a pending and unresolved agenda to the Chinese Nationalist authorities.

(1) I gratefully acknowledge the supervision of Dr. Laura Newby (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford). Special thanks also go to Dr. David Faure, Dr. Jie-sheng An, Hsien-chun Wang, Hsin-yi Lin, Ivy Lim, and Josh Yiu for their most helpful comments and suggestions when this paper was first presented in the Chinese Institute, University of Oxford. I should also like to thank Hiromi Kinoshita for her help in preparing this manuscript for submission. Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the facilities and guidance offered by the Academia Historica (Taipei), where recently released Chiang Kai-shek Papers are collected.

(2) See, for example, G. Moseley, "The Frontier Regions in China's Recent International Politics," in Jack Gray, ed., Modern China's Search for a Political Form (Oxford, 1969), pp. 299-329; Alastair. Lamb, Tibet, China and India, 1914-1950: A History of Imperial Diplomacy (Hertfordshire, 1989), pp. 299-349; Yan Ce and Peng Wulin eds., Zhongguo Jindai Minzu Guanxishi [History of the relationship between the Nationalities in modern China] (Beijing, 1999), pp. 390-97.

(3) William C. Kirby, "The Nationalist Regime and the Chinese Party-State," in Merle Goldman and Andrew Gordon (eds.), Historical Perspectives on Contemporary East Asia (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2000), pp. 211-12.

(4) Warren W. Smith, Tibetan Nation: A History of Tibetan Nationalism and Sino-Tibetan Relations (Boulder, Colorado, 1996), p. 228.

(5) See, for example, wang Jianmin, "Lun siqiang zhiyi" [On becoming one of the Great Four], Zhongyang Zhoubao [KMT Central Weekly; hereafter cited as ZZ], 4 (1942), 220; Ze Ren, "Lun bianjiang gongzuo zhi zhanwang" [On the prospect of frontier affairs], Bianzheng Gonglun [Frontier Affairs, hereafter cited as BG], 3 (1944), 1-3; An Qinglan, "Hui Han ronghe zhi guanjian" [Key factors to a Han-Muslim fusion], Bianjiang Tongxun [Frontier Newsletter], 1 (1943), 5-9.

(6) See: Xu Yitang, "Bianjiang jingji zhi xiangduei fazhan" [The relative economical development of the border region], BG, 3 (1944), 48-50; Jiang Junzhang, "Xikang Jinkuang kaifa wenti," ZZ, 5 (1942), 3.

(7) There has been considerable controversy as to how much of the actual writing of China's Destiny was done by Chiang Kai-shek himself. However, it is certain that Chiang's attitudes towards China's territorial and minority issues were considerably revealed in this book, the publication of which could not have been done without Chiang's ultimate consent. See Philip J. Jaffe's introductory article "The Secret of China's Destiny," in Chiang Kai-shek, China's Destiny (London, 1947), pp. 20-21.

(8) Writing shortly after the birth of the republic, Sun Yat-sen asserted that "Although there are a little over ten million non-Han in China, including Mongols, Manchus, Tibetans and Tatars, their number is small compared with the purely Han population...." He further explained that, "The name Five-Race Republic exists only because there exists a certain racial distinction which distorts the meaning of a single republic. We must facilitate the dying out of all names of individual peoples inhabiting China ... we must satisfy the demands of all races and unite them in a single cultural and political whole." See Leonard Shih-lien Hsu (ed.), Sun Yat-sen: His Political and Social Ideals (Los Angeles, 1933), pp. 167-69; Sun Yat-sen, Memoirs of a Chinese Revolution (Taipei, 1953), p. 180. Thus Sun Yat-sen recognized the existence of four distinct minority groups and is unequivocally on record as favoring the equality of all racial groups in China, although his ideas on minorities in China lacked a general theory of what a nationality actually was.

(9) Chiang, China's Destiny, pp. 35-43. Chiang's fresh statements concerning frontier and nationality themes became the paramount political focus around 1943-44. Chiang's new arguments were put in textbooks, and China's Destiny became the designated work of reference for all of government officials. Chongqing also ordered local provincial authorities to propagate these freshly proposed frontier and minority thoughts to the masses. See Xingzheng Yuan Dang'an [The Executive Yuan Archives, hereafter cited as XZYD], Academia Historica (Taipei), 062/1197, Chiang Kai-shek's instruction to the KMT Central Committee, Kong Xiangxi (Vice Premier), the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior Affairs, and the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC), all dated 27 Aug. 1943.

(10) Liu Xiaoyuan, A Partnership for Disorder: China, the United States, and their Policies for the Postwar Disposition of the Japanese Empire, 1941-1945 (Cambridge, 1996), p. 23.

(11) Public Record Office (London), Foreign Office Record [hereafter cited as PRO FO] 436/16680 F 1003/34/10, "Monthly Summary for January 1944," enclosed in H. Seymour (British Ambassador to China) to FO, 7 Feb. 1944; PRO FO 436/16680 F807/310/10, FO minutes paper entitled "China's Destiny," dated 15 Feb. 1944. In the last document, the FO regarded Chiang's work as, from the foreign point of view, a "serious blemish." London thought that Chiang was taking an "imperialistic line towards Tibet and Mongolia that hardly squares with the doctrine of self-determination which Chiang himself advocated for other parts of East Asia."

(12) PRO FO 436/16518 F5103/254/10, E. Teichman (in Lanzhou) to Seymour 3 Sept. 1943, enclosed in Seymour to FO, 14 Sept. 1943.

(13) See: PRO FO 436/16518 F6275/254/10, Teichman (in Urumqi) to Seymour, 24 Sept. 1943, enclosed in British Embassy to FO, 10 Nov. 1943; Jin Shaoxian, "Yishu Kuomindang yuanlao Wu Zhongxin" ["A memorial narration of the KMT veteran Wu Zhongxin"], Wenshi Ziliao Xuanji [Selections of Literary and Historical Materials, hereafter cited as WZX], 118 (1989), 78-79. According to the author, who later went on to serve in Wu Zhongxin's new Xinjiang Government in 1944, Chongqing first persuaded Ma Bufang to collaborate with Chiang Kai-shek in helping the KMT to gain the control of Western Gansu. In return, Chongqing later issued an order allowing Ma Bufang to take over the forces in the Tsaidam. By doing so, Ma Buqing's political and military authority in the Northwest thus came to an end.

(14) PRO FO 436/16373 F7411/1689/10, "News Summary of September 1942," enclosed in Seymour to FO, 5 Oct. 1942. Chiang Kai-shek's pleasure over Xinjiang's return to the KMT fold was sufficiently revealed in his diary. See Keiji Furuya, Chiang Kai-shek: His life and Times (New York, 1981), pp. 744-45.

(15) Allen Whiting and Shen Shih-ts'ai, Sinkiang: Pawn or Pivot? (East Lansing, 1958), pp.51-53. According to British sources, in late 1943 Chongqing successfully launched its land-settlement policy in Eastern Xinjiang. More than 20,000 Han Chinese were moved to Hami and Turfan to do reclamation work. There were also a series of KMT programmes of cultural and economic development aiming at an eventual strengthening of political and administrative control in the Inner Asian border regions. See PRO FO 436/16407 F6692/254/10, British Embassy (Chongqing) to FO, 6 Dec. 1943; PRO FO 436/16680 Fl003/34/10, "Monthly Summary for January 1944," enclosed in Seymour to FO, 7 Feb. 1944. In addition, according to the firsthand report of the British Consulate-General at Kashgar, after the successful opening of several pack routes from China to Soviet Central Asia, KMT authority had considerably infiltrated South Xinjiang. In Kashgar, the KMT party branch was established in the spring of 1943. In public places, Sheng Shicai's photos were replaced by those of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek. Even the police cap-badge was changed. See PRO FO 436/16459 F4725/67/10, the British Consul-General at Kashgar to the Government of India [hereafter cited as GOI], 22 Apr. 1943, enclosed in GOI to India Office [hereafter cited as IO], 29 Jun. 1943.

(16) XZYD 062/1204, "Opinions regarding the Tibetan political-religious dual system," proposed by the Ministry of Military Ordinance, enclosed in the Nationalist Government to the Executive Yuan, 26 Mar. 1943. The KMT military advisors' opinions on the transformation of the Tibetan dual system caused serious debate among Chongqing officials. The Executive Yuan officials, for example, thought it impractical to reverse the Tibetan social and political structure. Yet they were generally convinced that it was necessary to dispatch more KMT intelligence agents to Lhasa for clandestine activities. See XZYD, 062/1204, the Executive Yuan confidential memo and draft letter by the Executive Yuan, both enclosed in the Executive Yuan to the Ministry of Military Ordinance, dated 12 Feb. 1943.

(17) Guomin Zhengfu Dang'an [The Nationalist Government Archives, hereafter cited as GZD], Academia Historica (Taipei), 392/1250-392/1256, K. proposal submitted to the "National" [Nationalist] Government regarding the stabilization of the economic situation of Xinjiang and Tibet, dated 10 Aug. 1942.

(18) "Directives of party affairs in the frontier regions," 23 Sept. 1942, in Zhongyang Dangwu Gongbao [Gazette of the Central Party Affairs], 4 (1942), 23-24; Zhu Jiahua (Head of the KMT Organization Department), "Bianjiang wenti yu bianjiang gongzuo" [Frontier questions and frontier affairs], ZZ, 5 (1942).

(19) GZD, 419/1887-419/1897, report submitted to Chiang Kai-shek by Gu Yuxiu (Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs) and Shen Zonglian (senior offficial of the Office of Aides), 12 May 1943. Shen later became China's wartime representative to Tibet.

(20) GZD, 419/1930-419/1935, Kesang Yeshe (Director of the Xikang-Tibet Commercial Company) to Chiang Kai-shek, 19 Jan. 1944.

(21) N. Clifford, Retreat from China: British Policy in the Far East 1937-1941 (London, 1967), pp. 149-50.

(22) PRO FO 436/16158,F4871/57/10, A Clark-Kerr (British Ambassador to China) to FO, 19 Oct. 1940; PRO FO 436/16158 F4890/57/10 Clark-Kerr to FO, 24 Oct. 1940; Minutes of meeting between Chiang Kai-shek and Clark-Kerr, 31 Oct. 1940, 9 Nov. 1940, in Zhonghua Minguo Zhongyao Shiliao Chubian [Preliminary compilation of important historical records of the Repulbic of China], 3 (1976), 44-51.

(23) PRO FO 436/16158 F3916/895/10, "China Summary No. 9," enclosed in Clark-Kerr to FO, 3 Oct. 1940.

(24) According to Chinese public opinion, the Japanese were expected to occupy key cities along the Indian coast as a first step towards controlling India. After this, several puppet regimes would be set up to take advantage of the chaotic political situation in India. Finally, the Chinese believed that the Japanese would utilize Buddhism to win over Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet. The result would be the end of Nationalist dominance in southwest China. See: Jiang Junzhang, "Kang Zang Jiaotong yu Kanzhan jianguo" [The Xikang-Tibetan communication and the war of resistance], BG, 5/6 (1942), 39-47; Zhu Shaoyi, "Lun Kang Zang yiyun" [On the Xikang-Tibetan pack transportation], BG, 9/10 (1942), 60-62. It was obvious that the Chinese could not rule out the possibility of a dreadful collaboration between their Japanese enemy and the Tibetans even if the Japanese would not risk attacking and occupying at least north India and Tibet.

(25) PRO FO 436/16157 F3882/1064/10, "Political Review for 1939," enclosed in Clark-Kerr to FO, 24 May 1940.

(26) Waijiaobu Dang'an [Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Academia Historica (Taipei), hereafter cited as WJBD] 172-1/13012, Military Affairs Commission to Waijiaobu, 24 Dec. 1942; WJBD, 172-1/0016, memo of Chiang Kai-shek's conversation with the Tibetan representative in Chongqing, 27 Oct. 1942. Regarding Japanese propaganda in north India and south Tibet, see WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Chinese Consulate-General in Calcutta to Waijiaobu, 3 Jun. 1942. Kong Qingzong, then the Chinese Representative in Tibet, did not really believe that there were already quite a large number of Japanese in Lhasa. He was, however, convinced that a considerable number of Mongolians or Tibetans, who could easily cross the Tibetan boundary from Gansu and Kokonor, were already working as spies for the Japanese. See British Library (London), India Office Record [hereafter cited as BL-IOR], L/P&S/12/4201, weekly report by the British Mission in Lhasa ending 7 Jun. 1942.

(27) WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Wellington Koo (Chinese Ambassador to Britain) to Waijiaobu, 9 Jul. 1942.

(28) Some scholars have suggested that the real threat to China's war effort came not only from the Japanese military machine, but also from impending economic collapse. The Japanese economic blockade, China's increasing isolation from the outside world, and vetoes imposed on imports were particularly damaging. All these factors were directly or indirectly related to the issue of China's supply lines. See, for example, A. N. Young, China and the Helping Hand, 1937-1945 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963), p. 216.

(29) BL-IOR, L/P&S/20/D222, Tibetan Precis, p.70; WJBD, 172-1/0099-1, conference minute of the Executive Yuan, dated 8 Feb. 1940; ibid., Ministry of Communication to Waijiaobu, 3 Apr. 1941.

(30) WJBD, 172-1/0099-2, MTAC to Waijiaobu, 13 Sept. 1941, Chang Kia-ngau (Minister of Communication) to Guo Taiqi (Chinese Foreign Minister), 6 Oct. 1941. According to the Chinese, the Tibetans at first agreed, but then refused to let the Chinese survey parties into the Tibetan territories.

(31) PRO FO 436/16373 F3456/1535/10, "China Political Review-1942," enclosed in Seymour to FO, 22 Jun. 1943.

(32) WJBD, 172-1/0099-2, Waijiaobu to Ministry of Communication, 7 Mar. 1942; Waijiaobu to Chinese Embassy in London, 23 Mar. 1942.

(33) In May 1942 the Military Affairs Commission questioned the MTAC about the possibility of shipping goods to China via Tibet proposed by the British. Yet the MTAC was totally unaware of such a matter. See WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Military Affairs Commission to MTAC, 11 May 1942. On the other hand, on hearing of the Government of India's direct contact with Lhasa to discuss a possible pack transport via Tibet, the British Ambassador to China, Sir H. Seymour, warned that such unilateral action would not be accepted by the Chinese. See PRO FO 436/17087 F3820/1289/G, Seymour to FO, 20 May 1942.

(34) PRO FO 436/17087 F3470/G, FO to the British Embassy in Washington, 15 May 1942. The British unilateral action in Lhasa was first revealed by the Chinese Embassy in London. See WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Wellington Koo to Guo Taiqi, 12 Jun. 1942.

(35) Zhou Yishi, Zhongguo Gonglu shi [A History of China's Highways] (Taipei, 1957), pp.236-42.

(36) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/757, FO draft letter dated 23 Jul. 1943; L/P&S/12/4609, Seymour to GOI, 19 Nov. 1942; FO draft paper dated 3 Feb. 1943. In the latter document the British Government sought to make the most of the newly opened Karakorum pack route to impress upon the Chinese that their British ally was doing something to help them. With regards to the question of transit rights via Soviet territory, see also John W. Garver, Chinese-Soviet Relations 1937-1945: The Diplomacy of Chinese Nationalism (Oxford, 1988), pp. 187-91.

(37) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4182, report by the British Consular-General in Chongqing, 31 Jan. 1942.

(38) The Qinghai Provincial Government ed., Qinghai San Ma [The three Mas of Qinghai], (Beijing, 1988), pp. 157-58; See also Merrill R. Hunsberger, Ma Bufang in Qinghai Province, 1931-1949, Diss. Temple University, Philadelphia, 1978.

(39) For example, the Waijiaobu thought that the British were not genuinely willing to help China, and were merely concerned about their fallback position in the face of a worsening situation in India. The MTAC thought that, whether or not the British were indeed trying to help China, they should first inform the Chinese before taking any action. See: WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Waijiaobu memo, dated 11 Jun. 1942; ibid., MTAC to Chiang Kai-shek, enclosed in MTAC to Waijiaobu, 7 Jun. 1942.

(40) WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Military Affairs Commission to Waijiaobu, 1 Jul. 1942.

(41) WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, conference minute of the Military Affairs Commission, 14 Jul. 1942; BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4201, weekly report by the British Mission in Lhasa ending 28 Jun. 1942. In this telegram, the British officials reported that the Chinese Representative in Tibet was instructed by Chongqing to cooperate and associate with the British Mission in Tibet "in every possible way." Similarly, according to the British Embassy in Chongqing, the KMT regime clearly instructed its representative in Lhasa, Dr. Kong Qingzong, to contact the British Political Officer in Sikkim who was in charge of the Tibetan affairs, and negotiate a tripartite contract regarding pack route issues. See PRO FO 436/17097 F5837/78/10, Seymour to FO, 17 Aug. 1942.

(42) PRO FO 436/17097 F5220/78/10, Seymour to FO, 9 Jul. 1942; WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Waijiaobu memo dated 9 Jul. 1942; Waijiaobu conference minute dated 13 Jul. 1942.

(43) See ASS, Institute of Modern History (Beijing) trans., Gu Weijun Huiyilu [Memoirs of Dr. Wellington Koo, hereafter cited as GWJH], (Beijing, 1987), V, 154-155. Meeting between Koo and Chiang took place on Dec 13, 1942, one month before the signing of new Anglo-Chinese treaty. See also: PRO FO 436/17097 F8482/828/10, A. Eden to the U.S. Charge d'Affaires, 29 Dec. 1942; PRO FO 371 F8566/828/10, London War Cabinet to the British Embassy in the U.S., 31 Dec. 1942; WJBD, 172-1/0011, Waijiaobu memo dated 12 Aug. 1948.

(44) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4201, weekly report of the British Mission in Lhasa, dated 5 Jul. 1942; Tibetan Precis, pp. 68-69.

(45) GZD, 419/1600-419/1606, Kong Qingzong (Chinese Representative to Tibet) to MTAC, enclosed in MTAC to Chiang Kai-shek, 11 Jul. 1942; WJBD, 172-1/0016, Waijiaobu memo dated 1 Jul. 1942.

(46) GZD, 419/1615-419/1618 Weng Wenhao (Minister of Economic Affairs) to Chiang Kai-shek, 22 Sept. 1942; WJBD, 172-1/0016, conference minute of the National Government, 22 Jul. 1942. Weng's pragmatic suggestions invited Chiang Kai-shek's particular attention. After receiving Weng's submitted opinions Chiang immediately instructed his subordinates of the Military Affairs Commission to meticulously study Weng's proposal.

(47) GZD, 419/1621-419/1629, He Yingqing (Chief of General Staff) and Wu Zhongxin (head of the MTAC) to Chiang Kai-shek, 22 Sept. 1942.

(48) Kong was born in 1898 in Sichuan. He received his Ph.D from the University of Brussels, Belgium. Before his appointment as the KMT representative in Tibet, he was the professor of the National Central University in Nanking and National Sichuan University. Between 1936 and 1940, he served as counselor of the MTAC and then director of the Tibetan Affairs Division of this organ. See Who's Who In China: Sixth Edition (Shanghai, Review, 1950), p. 115.

(49) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4201, weekly report of the British Mission in Lhasa, dated 24 Aug. 1942.

(50) Ibid., dated 1 Oct., 20 Oct. and 22 Nov. 1942; GZD, 419/0065-419/0070, the Tibetan representative in Chonqing to MTAC, enclosed in MTAC to Chiang Kai-shek, 30 Nov. 1942.

(51) GZD, 419/0018-419/0021, Wu Zhongxin to Chiang Kai-shek, 20 Oct. 1942; 419/0061-419/0064, Wu to Chiang, 30 Nov. 1942.

(52) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4201, weekly report by the British Mission in Lhasa, 11 Oct. and 8 Nov. 1942; British Mission in Lhasa to the Political Officer in Sikkim, 26 Nov. 1944. Chiang's attitude was obviously influenced by Wellington Koo. According to Koo, when conversing with Chiang in early March 1943, he persuaded Chiang to dispatch an able, senior diplomat as China's representative to Tibet. Koo also suggested that China should avoid a hard line policy towards Tibet, believing that a conciliatory stance would be favorable to both Sino-Tibetan and Anglo-Chinese relations. Chiang agreed with Koo's. See GWJH, volume 5, pp.231-32.

(53) WJBD, 172-1/0016, conference minutes of the executive Yuan, 22 Jul. 1942; Tibetan Precis, p.73.

(54) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4201, GOI minutes, 27 April 1943.

(55) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4201, weekly report of the British Mission in Lhasa dated 15 Aug. 1943. Chiang Kai-shek was so furious about the Lhasa authorities that in May 1943 he personally summoned the Tibetan Representative to Chonqing for a reproach. See Chiang Kai-shek's instruction to the Tibetan rep., May 1943, undated, in Jiang Zhongzheng Dang'an [The Chiang Kai-shek Archives, Academia Historica (Taipei), hereafter cited as JZZD], Tejiao Dang [Miscellaneous Papers], volume 61, no. 42462. Another reason why Chongqing desperately wished to develop the China-India pack route was because the Chinese officials thought that, once India and the rest of Burma fell, the China-India route would be the only possible route by which oversea Chinese and their materials could withdraw to southwest China. See WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, MTAC to Waijiaobu, June, undated, 1942.

(56) JZZD, Choubi [Directives and Plans], 09-1541, Chiang Kai-shek to Ma Bufang, 8 May 1943; Tejiao Wendian [Exchanged Messages], volume 6, no. 32017694, Ma to Chiang, 12 Jun. 1943; PRO FO 371 F4322/40/10, FO to the British Embassy in Washington, 29 Aug. 1943.

(57) BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4210, Seymour to FO, 8 May 1943, IO to GOI, May 26, 1943; Tibetan Precis, pp. 73-74; JZZD, Choubi, 09-1556, Chiang Kai-shek to T. V. Soong (Chinese Foreign Minister), 23 May 1943.

(58) See: Liu Wenhui, "Zoudao renmin zhenying di lishi daolu" ["The historic path of my walking towards the mass's side"], WZX, 33 (1986), 1-58; Wu Peiying, "Jiang Jieshi jia zheng Zang yi tu Kang di jingguo" ["The story of how Chiang Kai-shek plotted for Xikang under the pretext of attacking Tibet"], WZX, ibid., pp. 140-54. According to Liu's own account, Chiang Kai-shek's attempt to infiltrate Xikang and Yunnan militarily eventually failed. The warlords counteracted Chiang's idea of attacking Tibet by asking for more military equipment and other resources from Chongqing, which Chiang refused. See also BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4210, British Embassy to FO, 25 May 1943. In this report the British recorded that Liu Wenhui disregarded Chiang's order to move Liu's troops to the Tibetan border, and Liu was reported to have flown to Chengdu to negotiate with Chiang's officials.

(59) Tibetan Precis, pp. 72-73; JZZD, Choubi, 09-1413, Chiang Kai-shek to Xu Yongchang (Minister of Military Ordinance), 19 Oct. 1942.

(60) Ibid.; Liu, "Zoudao renmin zhenying di lishi daolu," pp. 15-16. Relevant reports regarding the moving of Chinese troops to the Sino-Tibetan borders, see also: BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4201, weekly report by the British Mission in Lhasa dated 13 May 1942; PRO FO 436/16459 F2132/1955/10, Seymour to FO, 22 Apr. 1943; PRO FO 436/16459 F2385/40/10, Seymour to FO, 8 May 1943.

(61) In his telegram to the Minister of Military Ordinance, Chiang thought it impractical to use the Chinese troops stationed in India for the Tibetan issue, as such an idea would not be accepted by the United States and Britain. But Chiang pointed out that an exception might arise if the "situation suddenly shifted in the Burma or India theatres." Clearly Chiang only considered that it might be necessary to use force towards Tibet if this region happened to be under Japanese control and thus a threat to the safety of southwest China. See JZZD, Choubi, 09-1413, Chiang to Xu Yongchang, 19 Oct. 1942.

(62) Such viewpoints and concerns of Chinese officials were revealed in the following documents: WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, minutes of the informal conversation between Liang Long (Head of the European Affairs Department, Waijiaobu) to Eric Teichman (Councilor of the British Embassy in Chongqing), 9 Jul. 1942; WJBD, 172-1/0100-2, memo of the Executive Yuan, 5 Aug. 1942; GZD, 419/1592-419/1593, Wu Zhongxin to Chiang Kai-shek, 4 Apr. 1942; GZD, 419/1621-419/1629, Ho Yingqin and Wu Zhongxin to Chiang Kai-shek, 14 Dec. 1942. See also BL-IOR, L/P&S/12/4210, Seymour to FO, 22 Apr. 1943. In his telegram, the British Ambassador to China reported "there was a story that the Japanese were sending munitions of war to the Tibetans who were preparing airfield in Xikang for Japanese aircraft."

(63) XZYD, 062/1204, "Opinions regarding readjustment of the Sino-Tibetan boundary," enclosed in the Executive Yuan to the Ministry of Military Ordinance, 10 Feb. 1943.

(64) WJBD, 172-1/0100-1, Kong Qingzong to MTAC, 21 Mar. 1942; Chiang Kai-shek's instruction to the Military Affairs Commission, enclosed in Chiang to Waijiaobu, 6 Jun. 1942.

(65) In these works, Chiang Kai-shek's China's Destiny is unanimously taken as the orthodox evidence for discussions of wartime, or even the whole Nationalist China's frontier and minority agendas. See, for example, June Teufel Dreyer, China's Forty Millions (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1976), chapter 2; Wolfram Eberhand, China's Minorities: Yesterday and Today (Belmont, California, 1982), pp. 152-55; Linda Benson, The Ili Rebellion: The Moslem Challenge to Chinese Authority in Xinjiang, 1944-1949 (London, 1990), pp. 10-18; Colin Mackerras, China's Minority: Integration and Modernization in the Twentieth Century (Hong Kong, 1994), chapter 3.

(66) See: Alastair Lamb, The China-India Border: the origin of the disputed boundaries (Oxford, 1964), pp. 14-15; G. Curzon, Frontiers (Oxford, 1908); L.K.D. Kristof, "The Nature of Frontiers and Boundaries," Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 49 (1959), 269-71.

(67) Wim van Spengen, Tibetan Border World: A Geohistorical Analysis of Trade and Traders (London, 2000), p. 49.

Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford
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Author:Lin, Hsiao-ting
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Date:Dec 1, 2002
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