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the macmillan company new york 1960 

Frank Moraes 1960 

All rights reserved no part of this book may 
be reproduced in any form without permission 
in writing from the publisher, except by a re- 
viewer who wishes to quote brief passages in 
connection with a review written for inclusion 
in magazine or newspaper. 

First Printing 

The Macmillan Company, New York 
Brett-Macmillan Ltd., Gait, Ontario 

Printed in the United States of America 

Library of Congress catalog card number: 



Communist China's brutal seizure of Tibet has roused re- 
vulsion and indignation throughout the free countries of 
Asia and in the democratic world. This book deals with the 
events in Tibet which led finally to the Dalai Lama's flight, 
and with the relations between China and Tibet. It also offers 
a brief survey of Tibet's history and people, together with 
an assessment of the impact made by the Communist aggres- 
sion in Asia, particularly on India. 



Flight from Lhasa i 


Roof of the World 32 


The Dragon Leaps Forward 64 


Land of Lamas 94 


India, China, and Tibet 117 


The World Outside 144 


Han Imperialism 172 


Agonizing Reappraisal 197 

With the Dalai Lama (A Postscript) 220 



BHUTAN \ OTawang 



A gray-brown mist of swirling sand enveloped the Nor- 
bulingka, summer abode of the Dalai Lama at Lhasa. It was 
the evening of March 17, 1959. 

All that morning, while the Kashag * and the Tsongdu f 
debated whether the twenty-four-year-old God-king should 
leave Lhasa, the sun had shone brightly on the tiled roofs 
of the massive gateways and on the poplars in the gay green 
park and gardens surrounding the palace. Inside the palace 
the members of the Tsongdu and the Kashag had been debat- 
ing since March i ith whether Tibet's stability and the Dalai 

* The Tibetan Cabinet comprising six ministers, two of them monks. They 
are appointed by the Dalai Lama, and outwardly the Kashag is the supreme 
administrative body. The six ministers are known as shapes or kalons, but 
the monks who are the senior members are called Kalon Lamas. The four 
lay members are nobles. 

fThe Tsongdu is the National, or Grand, Assembly, a nominated body 
comprising 350 high officials, including the abbots of the three Great Monas- 
teries of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, whose views have great authority. The 
Tsongdu meets whenever important matters are referred to it by the Dalai 
Lama or the Kashag. 

2 The Revolt in Tibet 

Lama's safety lay in yielding to the increasingly peremptory 
threats of the Chinese or in flight. 

The crisis, simmering for some months, had boiled over 
on March loth. About four weeks earlier the Dalai Lama 
had agreed to attend a cultural show in the auditorium of 
the Chinese military headquarters at Lhasa. This was in no 
way abnormal; for, although relations between him and the 
Chinese authorities had grown cool since he had evaded 
their demand to deploy his bodyguard of five thousand men 
against the rebellious Khamba tribesmen, who had been en- 
gaged in intermittent guerrilla warfare against the Chinese 
for over three years, their dealings with each other had been 
polite and even superficially cordial. By February the war- 
like Khambas, whose revolt began late in 1955 * n *he dis- 
trict of Kanze in the border region of Szechwan, had spilled 
over the Sino-Tibetan frontier, and were harassing Chinese 
outposts within less than fifty miles of Lhasa. Chinese efforts 
to inveigle the Living Buddha into moving his troops against 
them had failed. A showdown was inevitable. 

It came early in the first week of March when a letter from 
Lieutenant General Tan Kuan-san, political commissar of 
the Chinese Army units in Tibet, was delivered with calcu- 
lated indifference to Tibetan protocol, directly to the Dalai 
Lama. It curtly called on the God-king to present himself un- 
escorted at the Chinese military headquarters of General 
Chang Ching-wu, the Peking Government's representative 
in Tibet. There was consternation at the Norbulingka when 
the contents of the letter became known. It was unheard of 
that a communication should go directly to the Dalai Lama 
instead of being respectfully submitted, as usage demanded, 
through the Kashag. To order His Holiness to appear unes- 
corted was near-blasphemy, since religion and ceremonial re- 
quired that the Living Buddha should not move in public 
without his train of senior abbots and courtiers. What was 

Flight from Lhasa 3 

behind the Chinese demand? The suspicion grew in Tibetan 
minds that the purpose was to abduct the Dalai Lama, isolate 
him from his advisers and people, and use him as a helpless 
instrument to advance Chinese policies and designs in Tibet. 
Lhasa's streets that week were teeming with crowds gath- 
ered to celebrate the Tibetan New Year, and among them 
were many hundreds of Khamba tribesmen who had made 
their way into the capital. It was not long before news of 
General Tan's letter to the Dalai Lama reached the milling 
mob. Among the first to hear the news from the Norbulingka 
was Gyusm Chemo,* fifty-seven-year-old mother of the Dalai 
Lama, and her distress infected the crowds in the streets, 
which were soon filled with wailing women. On March i2th 
a procession of Tibetan women waited on the Indian consul 
general, whose official residence, midway between the Potala, 
the Dalai Lama's winter palace, and the Norbulingka, was 
to be damaged a few days later by Chinese mortar and artil- 
lery fire directed at these two targets. The women requested 
the Indian representative to accompany them to the Chinese 
Foreign Bureau and be a witness while they presented their 
demands. Quite properly the consul general expressed his 
inability to do so, but undertook to bring such matters to the 
notice of the Chinese authorities. 

Meanwhile, on March loth, as news of the Chinese com- 
munication to the Dalai Lama spread through Lhasa, a vast 
crowd estimated at about thirty thousand surrounded the 
Norbulingka, demanding that His Holiness should on no 
account expose himself to the risk of visiting the Chinese 
military headquarters. The Tibetans made no secret of their 
deep hostility to the Chinese. Tibetan officials and army per- 
sonnel arrested Communist sympathizers, and anti-Chinese 
manifestoes were openly distributed. Arms and ammunition 
secreted in the monasteries and other hiding places were 
Meaning Great Mother. 

4 The Revolt in Tibet 

passed out to the populace, including the Khamba warriors 
who strutted the streets, their feet encased in great shaggy 
boots, their bodies bristling with rifles, daggers, and swords, 
and accompanied by lean, savage dogs. Those suspected of 
collaboration with the Chinese were given short shrift. Sampo 
Tsewong-rentzen, deputy commander of the Tibet military 
area command and a member of the Kashag, was attacked 
and wounded but escaped death. Significantly, he and Ngapo 
Ngawang Jigme, who was also strongly pro-Chinese in his 
sympathies, were the only two members of the Kashag who 
stayed behind in Tibet when the Dalai Lama fled to India. 
Another collaborationist, a monk known as Lama Pebala 
Soanamchiato, was less fortunate. He was lynched by a 
furious crowd, and his corpse was dragged ignominiously by 
the feet through the streets. 

Faced with these demonstrations of defiance and open 
hostility, the Chinese grew nervous. They could rely on 
very few Tibetans, and they knew that even the local Tibetan 
Army of a little over three thousand men, under the con- 
trol of the Dalai Lama's government, sympathized with the 
rebels. With three hundred thousand of their own troops in 
Tibet, and with many thousands more available should the 
need arise, the Chinese could never have doubted the ulti- 
mate outcome. In arms and equipment they were also vastly 
superior. But for the vehemence and violence of Tibetan hos- 
tility they were not prepared, and it shook them badly. 
Nervously they set up machine-gun posts, reinforced their 
numbers in Lhasa, and trained their artillery on the Potala 
and the Norbulingka. 

Inside the Norbulingka the Dalai Lama and his advisers 
played for time. They too could have no illusions about the 
outcome. Though the majority of the National Assembly was 
in favor of the Dalai Lama leaving Lhasa, a few were hesitant, 
some of them genuinely concerned as to whether it would not 

Flight from Lhasa 5 

be wiser in the interests of Tibet and His Holiness if the 
God-king stayed on. Others, with their loyalties divided be- 
tween the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities, were of 
two minds, and urged caution. On March i7th the Chinese 
themselves brought matters to a head when in a foolish at- 
tempt to intimidate the Dalai Lama and his advisers they 
lobbed a couple of mortar shells into the grounds of the 
Norbulingka which fell harmlessly into a pond. The shells 
helped to make up the mind of the National Assembly, which 
decided to advise the Dalai Lama to leave Lhasa. 

In the crucial six days between March nth and March 
i^th the Living Buddha, though outwardly serene, and con- 
tent to leave any decision concerning himself to his advisers, 
had not been idle. To allay Chinese suspicions that the 
demonstrations around the Norbulingka on March loth 
were organized, the Dalai Lama entered into a correspond- 
ence with General Tan Kuan-san in the course of which six 
letters were exchanged between the two. The authenticity 
of these letters was originally questioned among others, by 
India's prime minister, Mr. Nehru but there can now be 
no doubt that they were genuine, and written by the God- 
king with calculated purpose, as he himself admitted to Mr. 
Nehru. On March loth His Holiness in a letter to the gen- 
eral explained that he was prevented from coming to the 
Chinese headquarters by the crowds who besieged his sum- 
mer palace. The general's letters are dated March loth, nth, 
and i5th, and the second of these is icily polite but minatory 
in tone. From addressing the God-king as "Respected Dalai 
Lama" in his letter of March loth, the general changes to a 
curt "Dalai Lama" in his letter of March nth. He reverts to 
the recognized form of address in his last letter, but the 
threats grow more insistent. Following his first letter, the 
Dalai Lama wrote to the general on March nth and again on 
March 12th, signing the last communication not with the 

6 The Revolt in Tibet 

customary "Dalai Lama" but merely "Dalai." In all of these 
letters, however, the God-king attempted to soothe Chinese 
susceptibilities and suspicions by describing in the stylized 
Communist phraseology the crowds who prevented him from 
leaving his palace as "reactionary evil elements" and "the 
reactionary clique" whose "unlawful actions . . . break my 
heart." While his advisers debated the question of his flight, 
the Dalai Lama was stalling. 

When finally, in the afternoon of March i7th, the Kashag 
and Tsongdu decided that the Living Buddha should leave, 
it was agreed that the decision should be conveyed to His 
Holiness by a small delegation which included the three ab- 
bots of the Great Monasteries of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, 
who had taken a prominent part in the discussions. The 
Dalai Lama received them with his accustomed serenity, his 
tall loose-jointed figure wrapped in the customary wine-red 
cashmere toga, his right shoulder bare as custom also or- 
dains. They bowed reverently before him and conveyed their 
advice urging him to leave. Their average age was at least 
twice that of the twenty-four-year-old God-king. His Holiness 
listened calmly to their pleas but seemed momentarily hesi- 

"I shall go," he said, "if by going I can help my people and 
not merely save my life." 

At this the delegation prostrated itself at the God-king's 
feet, pleading with him to leave, and to leave immediately. 

"Your Holiness must go before it is too late." 

The upturned corners of the Dalai Lama's mouth curved 
in the boyish, strangely wistful smile which the world now 

"If that is your unanimous wish, I shall go." 

Sunlight shone on the courtyards and filtered through the 
trees of the wooded gardens and pathways surrounding the 
palace. It was decided that the God-king, accompanied by 

Flight from Lhasa 7 

his mother, sister, and brother, his tutors, cabinet ministers, 
and senior officials, should leave within a few hours. As eve- 
ning came, even before night had descended, a sandstorm 
swept Lhasa, enveloping the Norbulingka behind a curtain 
of gritty sand and dust. Conditions could not have been more 
ideal for the God-king's escape. 

Outside, the restive crowds, by now increasingly militant, 
milled around the palace where it was known that the 
Kashag and the Tsongdu were in session. In his letter of 
March nth Tan had complained to the Dalai Lama that 
the rebels were "openly and arrogantly" carrying out "mili- 
tary provocations" by posting machine guns and armed per- 
sonnel "along the national defense highway north of the 
Norbulingka." The Dalai Lama in his reply dated March 
12th, while admitting some minor incidents, attempted to 
appease the general. "I am making every possible effort to 
deal with them," he assured him. "At eight-thirty this morn- 
ing a few Tibetan Army men suddenly fired several shots 
near the Chinghai-Tibet highway. Fortunately, no serious 
disturbances occurred." It was evident that the Tibetans, 
military and civilian, were in an ugly mood. 

Even before the final decision was taken, preparations had 
been made for the Living Buddha's departure. Food had 
been stocked, and part of the treasure at the Dalai Lama's 
command was packed on a train of mules. Apart from the 
sandstorm, the celebration of the Little New Year festival, 
when groups moved about the streets, facilitated the royal 
party's escape. It was agreed that the party should split up 
into small groups, leaving the palace separately, and meet 
at Nethang, thirty-five miles south of Lhasa, between the 
river Kyi Chu, one of whose tributaries skirts the southern 
rim of the Norbulingka, and the river Tsangpo, as the 
Brahmaputra is known in Tibet. 

From Lhasa to the Indian border is about 150 air miles, 

8 The Revolt in Tibet 

but the route traversed by the Dalai Lama covered about 
three hundred miles across some of the world's most treacher- 
ous mountain territory, over rivers and through valleys and 
snow-covered passes. The fifteen-day trek was accomplished 
on foot, by horseback, on mules, and by inflated yak-skin 
coracles, the party moving at a pace of around twenty miles 
a day. The route lay across the river Kyi Chu, up the 17,000- 
foot-high Che Pass, and then down over the other side of the 
mountain range to the river Tsangpo. South of the Tsangpo 
the terrain varies between open plateau and inhospitable 
mountains, and there the Dalai Lama's party was enabled to 
move from village to village because the territory was con- 
trolled by the Khambas. Once the party emerged from the 
Brahmaputra Valley they were comparatively safe, for the 
Loka Province, the Yarlung Valley, and the district of Tsona 
Dzong were studded with rebel strongholds, among them 
Mindol-ling, thirty-five miles from the south bank of the 
Tsangpo, and others strung in the region of Lake Trigu. 
From then on, the dramatic race down from the Roof of the 
World to the Indian border more or less followed the ancient 
caravan trail to Tawang. 

Throughout the evening of March iyth members of the 
National Assembly, cabinet ministers, and other officials 
trickled out of the Norbulingka in groups of three or four. 
They included the Dalai Lama's mother, his twenty-six-year- 
old sister, Tsering Domme, and his younger brother, four- 
teen-year-old Ngari Rimpoche. Also in the party were his two 
tutors, the senior of them being the erudite, grave-faced 
Trichang Rimpoche, and three cabinet ministers Surkong 
Wonching-galei, Neusha Thibten-tarpa, and Hsika Jigme- 
dorje. The fourth member of the Kashag, Yuto Chahsi- 
dongehu, had fled to India as far back as 1956. In addition to 
the ministers and officials were lesser monks and a retinue of 
servants, the party numbering around ninety. 

With the crowds in the streets and byways surrounding the 

Flight from Lhasa 9 

Norbulingka were soldiers of the Tibetan Army and scores of 
stray Khambas who provided a protective screen to the royal 
party against the inquisitive gaze of the Chinese soldiers 
garrisoned about three hundred yards from the walls of the 
palace. The Khambas had been instructed to start a diver- 
sionary movement should the Chinese discover the flight of 
the Dalai Lama, and the commander of the Tensung Khamba 
Regiment had been alerted. The Chinese, however, suspected 
nothing and had no idea of what was afoot. It had been ar- 
ranged that a detachment of twenty-five soldiers from the 
Dalai Lama's personal bodyguard, the Kusung Regiment, 
should accompany the party. South of the Tsangpo they 
would be met by another squad of Khamba tribesmen, who 
would take over from the God-king's personal bodyguard the 
duty of protecting him. 

Around 10:00 P.M. the Dalai Lama, accompanied by three 
attendants, emerged from the south gate of the palace. He 
had discarded his spectacles, and wore the garb of a poor 
monk, consisting of a russet-brown chub a, or loose mantle, 
with a stocking cap not unlike a balaklava, swathing his face 
against the sandstorm. The Tibetans call this cap o-mo-su. 
He walked nonchalantly through the gate and on to the 
street, with no one even glancing at him. 

"His Holiness left the palace just as if he were taking a 
normal walk," one of the attendants remarked later. "No one 
interfered. No one tried to stop us." 

In the dry bed of the tributary of the river Kyi Chu was 
an encampment of Chinese soldiers alongside which the Dalai 
Lama had to walk. Here again his luck held. The sandstorm 
still blew across Lhasa, and through its haze the royal party 
passed unnoticed and unrecognized. At the Kyi Chu crossing 
point the Living Buddha and his attendants boarded the 
public ferry together with a score of other passengers. No one 
recognized him. 

On the other bank horses were waiting, ready and saddled 

10 The Revolt in Tibet 

for the royal party. Mounting, the four disappeared into the 
night. By midnight the various groups had reached their 
rendezvous at Nethang. From there the party proceeded on 
horseback to the Che Pass, dismounting at the summit and 
walking down to the valley of the Tsangpo. It is a Tibetan 
custom to ride uphill but to walk downhill. An old Tibetan 
jingle runs: 

Kyan-la mi chi-na, ta omen: 

Tur-la mi pap-na, mi-men. 

(If you do not carry him up a hill, you're no horse. 

If you do not walk down the hill, you're no man.) 

At early dawn the Dalai Lama was ferried across the river 
in a yak-skin coracle, and again awaiting the party on the 
other bank were horses saddled for the long ride ahead. Here 
they were in comparatively safe territory, for the Khamba 
tribesmen controlled a large sector of southeast Tibet be- 
low the Tsangpo. So hurried, however, was their departure 
from Lhasa that it was not possible to give advance warning 
to the villages and forts through which the Dalai Lama 
passed, and only after two days' travel was the party met by 
an escort of Khamba tribesmen who replaced the God-king's 
personal bodyguard. As the party moved, requests for fresh 
horses were sent ahead by the Tibetan "arrow service," a 
highly efficient system which ensures that messages under 
the Dalai Lama's seal are dispatched by couriers on horse- 
back who in the manner of a relay race hand them over from 
courier to courier until they reach their destination. 

News of the Living Buddha's presence soon seeped through 
the area, and at various points he was met by reverential 
crowds who bowed or prostrated themselves before him. Con- 
trary to general belief the party traveled largely by day. It 
was essential that no time should be lost, since the Chinese 
were bound to discover the fact of the Dalai Lama's flight 

Flight from Lhasa 11 

within a day or two of his departure. Actually, they did so on 
March igth while the royal party was between Mindol-ling 
and Tsetang where the Khamba tribesmen took over the duty 
of protecting the God-king. 

Having negotiated the grueling i7,ooo-foot Che Pass 
which separates the Lhasa Valley from the plain of the 
Brahmaputra, the Dalai Lama's party found itself not only in 
friendly territory but on less difficult terrain. South of this 
broad plain was more broken country, but the Khambas were 
loyal escorts and good guides. The original plan, on crossing 
the Tsangpo, was to make for the semi-independent border 
kingdom of Bhutan, but on hearing that the Chinese had 
blown up bamboo and rope bridges spanning mountain 
streams near the frontier of Bhutan it was decided to seek 
refuge in India. 

From Tsetang, capital of Loka Province, to the Indian 
border is approximately one hundred miles. When on March 
igth the Chinese realized that the Dalai Lama had fled, 
they were infuriated. But by then they must have realized 
that His Holiness was beyond the Brahmaputra, in Khamba- 
controlled territory, and that no practical purpose would be 
served by sending columns in pursuit of him. Moreover, their 
hands were full. At Lhasa and elsewhere in Tibet the hostility 
of the Tibetans had erupted into open violence, and follow- 
ing the departure of the Dalai Lama the Tibetans intensified 
their anti-Chinese activities, destroying bridges, erecting 
road blocks, setting fire to Chinese buildings, and surround- 
ing units of the Red forces. One of the last acts of the Kashag 
before leaving Lhasa was to denounce the Sino-Tibetan 
agreement of May 23, 1951, whereunder Tibet, in return for 
Chinese recognition of Tibetan national regional autonomy, 
had conceded Peking's right to control her foreign rela- 
tions and had acknowledged "the unified leadership of the 
Central People's Government/' This repudiation was pro- 

12 The Revolt in Tibet 

yoked by persistent violations of the agreement by the Chi- 
nese, of whom the Tibetan Government now demanded that 
the Chinese withdraw their occupation forces since Tibet in 
view of these violations considered herself independent. 
Though the declaration was never officially delivered to the 
Chinese authorities, the Tibetans adopted it as a charter of 
independence, and on March isth a women's procession at- 
tempted to deposit it at the Chinese Foreign Bureau in Lhasa. 

Open rebellion broke out in the Tibetan capital on the 
night of March igth when the Dalai Lama's bodyguard, the 
Kusung Regiment, along with the Trapchi Regiment and 
units of the Gyantse Regiment, launched armed attacks 
against the People's Liberation Army garrison. They were 
assisted by monks, who took a prominent part in the rebel- 
lion, and by other individuals to whom arms had been dis- 
tributed. The Chinese put the total number of the rebels at 
around twenty thousand, their own number in Lhasa being 
estimated at forty thousand. Fighting began in earnest the 
next day when the Chinese trained their artillery on the 
Potala and Norbulingka palaces and on several monasteries, 
including Drepung and Sera, and on the great temple of the 
"Jo," or Lord Buddha, called the Jokhang, which has been 
described as the Lateran of Lamaism. All these ancient edi- 
fices were damaged, some badly, and hundreds of priceless 
treasures and manuscripts were destroyed. The official resi- 
dence of the Indian consul general, between the Potala and 
the Norbulingka, being in the line of fire, was slightly 
damaged. It houses the only foreign wireless transmitter in 
Lhasa with access to the free world, which is perhaps one rea- 
son why the Chinese were anxious to see the Indian consular 
personnel vacate it during the fighting. The consul general 

Of the final outcome there could be no doubt. By March 
22nd the Chinese had succeeded in putting down the Lhasa 

Flight from Lhasa 13 

revolt; they claimed to have taken four thousand Tibetan 
prisoners and to have seized eight thousand small arms, over 
one hundred heavier weapons, including machine guns, mor- 
tars, and mountain guns, and 10 million bullets. The Chi- 
nese estimate of Tibetans killed is two thousand, though 
figures vary, some placing the total closer to five thousand. 
But in northern and northeastern Tibet, as in the area south 
of the Tsangpo, scattered rebel forces held out. 

The Chinese were particularly vengeful toward the monks, 
concentrating on the monasteries, among them Rongbuk on 
the northern face of Mount Everest, which they surrounded 
with about four hundred soldiers. Mass deportations of 
Tibetans from Lhasa were also reported, one estimate giving 
the number at around fifteen thousand. Savage reprisals were 
inflicted on loyal Tibetans, and a large number of them were 
summarily executed. 

Traders and refugees to India brought tales of Chinese 
attempts to launch an offensive south of the Brahmaputra 
in the region of Nagartse, east of Gyantse, where the Khamba 
rebels have some strongholds around Yamdrok Lake. The 
Sikang-Lhasa road, built by the Chinese, extends west from 
the Tibetan capital to Shigatse, seat of the Panchen Lama,* 
and from there to Gyantse, which lies on the trade route 
from Lhasa to Gangtok, capital of the semi-independent 
frontier state of Sikkim, a neighbor of Bhutan. Gyantse is 
about one hundred miles southwest of Lhasa. Dr. Satyanarain 
Sinha, a former member of the Lok Sabha (Lower House of 
Parliament f ), who was trekking in the southern regions of 
Tibet around this time, claimed that some Khambas had told 

* The Panchen Lama, who is twenty-two, and tenth of his line, is 
second only to the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan ecclesiastical system. He has 
local political power only in the region around Shigatse, 130 miles west of 
Lhasa, but the Chinese Communists enlarged his political power and used 
him as a counterweight to the Dalai Lama. 

( Lower House of India's Parliament. The Upper House is known as 
Rajya Sabha (Council of States). 

14 The Revolt in Tibet 

him that they had deliberately circulated false rumors to 
mislead the Chinese into thinking that the Dalai Lama would 
be coming to India by the Lhasa-Gyantse-Yatung-Gangtok 
trade route. As diversionary tactics they had cut off the Chi- 
nese communications between Yatung and Lhasa. Early in 
April Chinese troops appeared in this area and were sub- 
jected to continuous harassment by Khamba guerrillas. One 
trader told of seeing white soldiers, "tall, with blue eyes, 
light hair, wearing black boots and khaki trousers," in the 
vicinity of Gyantse on April 22nd. They were accompanied 
by women, also European, who "looked like nurses in white 
uniforms/' They came in trucks and in a trailer attached to 
a jeep which was equipped with machine guns on top, and 
were given a warm welcome by the Chinese. Could they have 
been Russians? Or were they technicians with their wives? 

The Chinese had made efforts to prevent the Dalai Lama 
leaving Tibet. Within a few hours of realizing that His 
Holiness had left Lhasa, they began a mammoth manhunt 
by air and land. Their land operations are reckoned to have 
involved some fifty thousand troops, and not long after the 
Dalai Lama's departure heavy artillery fire was heard south 
of Lhasa where the Chinese shelled rebels entrenched at 
Nethang, the royal party's rendezvous in the first stage of 
their flight from the capital. This rebel group comprised a 
rearguard party left behind to cover up the Dalai Lama's 
flight and to check pursuit. The Chinese air operations 
were equally painstaking and thorough. The area which the 
Dalai Lama's party were traversing after March igth was 
over 350 miles wide and around 75 miles deep, stretching 
south of the Brahmaputra from Nagartse to Lho Dzong in 
the east, and inhabited, apart from the Khambas, by the 
equally rebellious and independent Amdo and Golok tribes. 
While the planes flew low over the valleys and towering 
peaks the troops combed villages and mountain monasteries 

Flight from Lhasa 15 

in a desperate but vain attempt to intercept the Dalai Lama. 
In the twenty hours which elapsed between the God-king's 
crossing of the Tsangpo and the Chinese discovery that he 
had fled Lhasa, the royal party had covered over fifty miles. 
Mindol-ling lies thirty miles southeast of the Tsangpo, and 
twenty-five miles farther east is Tsetang. Persistent grilling 
of villagers and monks along the route north of the Tsangpo 
produced little of value to the Chinese, for the journey had 
been made under cover of night. 

Nor were the aerial reconnaissances any more fruitful. Here 
two things hampered the Chinese. In their reckoning, the 
Dalai Lama would either stay in southwest Tibet, as he had 
done during the Han "liberation" of Tibet in 1950 when he 
had moved his temporary government to Yatung near the In- 
dian border, or proceed to Bhutan or Sikkim. The Dalai 
Lama did neither. Another retrogressive factor affecting the 
Chinese was the weather. For the greater part of the eleven 
days which the royal party required to cover the hundred-odd 
miles from Tsetang to the Indian frontier, a thick wall of 
cloud hung over the eastern Himalayas, making visibility 
poor and hindering aerial pursuit. Under the blanket of 
cloud enfolding the mountaintops, the Dalai Lama slipped 
into India. It is curious but true that on the morning after 
the night of March 3ist when the Dalai Lama entered India 
the clouds lifted and the sun shone brightly. Some Tibetan 
lamas have been known to claim occult powers which en- 
able them to control the weather, inducing rain in a season 
of drought or sunshine when the clouds threaten a flood. 

Whatever the cause, the fact is that the Dalai Lama's party 
after crossing the Brahmaputra sighted aircraft only twice 
the first time on the fifth day out of Lhasa when in the 
vicinity of Tsetang, and the second time when approach- 
ing the Indian border. On the first occasion the Chinese 
plane, which passed at some distance, did not spot them; the 

i6 The Revolt in Tibet 

second plane they believed to be Indian. Twice again they 
heard aircraft while south of the Brahmaputra, but were 
unable to see anything owing to the dense, unseasonable 
clouds. It is doubtful if the Chinese parachuted troops at any 
point along the Dalai Lama's route, for the simple reason 
that they never sighted him. Nor did the party at any time 
see Chinese troops or hear of them being in the vicinity. 

From Tsetang the Living Buddha with his entourage 
moved up the mountains south through the Trigu Valley, 
traveling some forty miles to Trigu Lake in the heart of the 
Nyem area, the chief stronghold in rebel hands. The region 
is fairly populous, and enmeshed with caravan routes which 
thread their way through the mountains and the plain. 
Crowds gathered at every encampment where the Dalai Lama 
halted, and wherever he could give them a public audience 
and his blessing. It was imperative, however, that no time 
should be lost unnecessarily, and such halts and delays as 
were inevitable were reduced to the minimum. 

Some fifty miles to the south of Trigu Lake is Tsona 
Dzong. While approaching this district, and while still two 
days' ride from the Chuthangmu Pass which leads into the 
Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA), whose eight-hundred- 
mile frontier of mountainous terrain abuts on Tibet, the 
Dalai Lama dispatched two emissaries with a message re- 
questing the Government of India to permit him and his 
party to enter India and to seek asylum there. The emissaries 
reached officials at the Indian checkpost of Chuthangmu on 
March ggth. They informed the Indian authorities that the 
God-king was expected to reach the border at Kanzey Mane 
near Chuthangmu in the Kameng Frontier Division of NEFA 
on March 3oth. His route from Tsona Dzong to the Indian 
frontier ran for ten miles along the Towang Chu River. 
The Government of India, already apprised of the possi- 
bility of the Dalai Lama's seeking asylum in India, had, in 

Flight from Lhasa 17 

Mr. Nehru's words to Parliament, "instructed the checkposts 
round about there what to do in case such a development 
took place." On the evening of March gist the God-king, 
accompanied by his mother, brother, sister, three cabinet 
ministers, and two tutors, was received by the assistant politi- 
cal officer of the Tawang subdivision, and crossed into Indian 
territory. He was followed shortly afterward by the remainder 
of his party. Dividing later into two groups, they proceeded 
to Tawang, the site of one of India's largest Buddhist monas- 
teries, which is about forty miles down the valley, close to 
the eastern border of Bhutan. 

Mr. Nehru disclosed the news of the Dalai Lama's entry 
into India in a statement to the Lok Sabha on April grd, but 
Hong Kong newspapers, quoting the official Chinese news 
agency report, had released the news the day before. Obvi- 
ously the course of the Living Buddha's journey in the last 
stages of his three-hundred-mile trek was known to the Chi- 
nese, but by then he was beyond their reach. It must also 
have been known to their intelligence agents inside India, 
who are concentrated largely in Kalimpong, a hill station 
in the foothills of the Himalayas which teems with spies and 
counterspies of varied political hues. Indifferent communica- 
tions in NEFA accounted for Mr. Nehru not receiving the 
Dalai Lama's message of March 2gth until April ist, for no 
direct wireless facilities exist between the border checkposts 
and New Delhi; messages have to be relayed by wireless from 
Bomdila, headquarters of the Kameng Frontier Division, to 
Shillong, capital of Assam State. 

Once the Chinese realized that the God-king was heading 
for India, their tone and attitude to that country changed 
perceptibly. On March gist, the day the Dalai Lama crossed 
into India, the Peking People's Daily, while referring to India 
as China's "great and friendly neighbor," pointedly warned 
against foreign intervention in the developments in Tibet, 

i8 The Revolt in Tibet 

which, it stressed, "are entirely internal affairs of China/' 
It underlined this by stating flatly that Kalimpong was being 
used as "a commanding center of rebellion'* against Tibet, 
although only three days previously the Indian prime min- 
ister had categorically denied the charge. The circulation of 
the Peking editorial by the Chinese Embassy in Delhi an- 
gered the Lok Sabha, which was also indignant that the 
National Council of the Indian Communist party had almost 
simultaneously issued a statement supporting the charge. 
Tempers ran high in Parliament, and were concentrated on 
the Communist members, who were angrily shouted down. 
Mr. Nehru, who was not present in the Lok Sabha that day, 
sought to mollify the mood of the House on the following 
day. But it was obvious that, aside from the Communists, the 
other members were not in a mood to be appeased. 

Nor were the Chinese. Since the Dalai Lama's flight Peking 
had been insisting that the Living Buddha had been "ab- 
ducted" by his "traitorous advisers," an interpretation which 
Mr. Nehru unequivocally declared that he did not accept. "As 
for the Dalai Lama himself," he remarked in a speech to the 
Lok Sabha, "I imagine that he left Lhasa of his own free will. 
I cannot conceive of the Dalai Lama being pushed about 
by his own people. People revere the Dalai Lama so much 
that it is difficult to believe that the great mass of Tibetans 
are against him." This could hardly have been to the liking 
of Peking, whose tone in the face of mounting public criti- 
cism and indignation in India stiffened visibly. India was now 
accused of expansionist aims in Tibet, and "Indian expan- 
sionist elements" were charged by the New China News 
Agency of having "inherited this shameful legacy from the 
British." The NCNA went on to explain: "That is why the 
members of this gang [of Tibetan rebels] were of a mind to 
join with foreign forces from within our country, with their 
faces turned to India and their backs to the motherland. See 

Flight from Lhasa 19 

how affectionate they are with each other, calling each other 
sweet names and reluctant to part!" Mr. Nehru in a dignified 
rejoinder dismissed the allegation, affirming that "India had 
no political or ulterior ambitions in Tibet." He also repudi- 
ated the Chinese charge that the Dalai Lama was being held 
in India under duress. "They [the Chinese]," he observed in 
a speech to Parliament on April syth, "have used the lan- 
guage of cold war regardless of truth and propriety. . . . 
The charges made against India are so fantastic that I find it 
difficult to deal with them. ... It is therefore a matter of 
the deepest regret and surprise to us that charges should be 
made which are both unbecoming and entirely void of sub- 

When Mr. Nehru said this, nine days had elapsed since the 
Dalai Lama himself had made his first statement on Indian 
soil at Tezpur. It had taken the party eighteen days to cover 
the 220-odd miles from Chuthangmu across the Sela Pass 
by way of Tawang and Bomdila to the railhead of Tezpur, 
which they reached after an arduous journey on foot, by 
horse, jeep, and car. For security reasons the Indian author- 
ities had originally planned not to release the news of the 
Living Buddha's arrival until he was safely ensconced at 
Tawang within the "inner circle" of the NEFA area. But the 
premature Chinese announcement of his arrival in India in- 
duced a hasty change of plans. A strong detachment of Assam 
riflemen was sent to the border checkpost to ensure the 
safety of His Holiness, who was urged to lose no time in leav- 
ing for Tawang. The Northeast Frontier Agency was sealed 
off, only accredited officials and the local population being 
allowed entry. Private traffic was banned in the foothills 
region of Assam State, and identity cards were rigorously 
checked. At Chuthangmu the Dalai Lama's bodyguard sur- 
rendered their arms to the Indian authorities, and the Assam 
riflemen became the Living Buddha's escort. It was not 

so The Revolt in Tibet 

expected that the Chinese would pursue the God-king across 
the Indian border, but there was always danger from sabo- 
teurs and other terrorist elements. 

The point where the Dalai Lama entered India consists of 
mountainous, generally snow-clad terrain, but in the early 
spring the Sela Pass is aglow with flowers. Inside the giant 
white-walled monastery at Tawang, some ten thousand feet 
up in the mountains, six hundred shaven-headed monks 
chanted prayers for the God-king's safe journey, lit candles, 
and planted "prayer flags" on the green hillside. At Thong- 
leng, a village not far from Tawang, the party split into two 
groups, the larger traveling ahead of the smaller group, which 
comprised the Dalai Lama and his entourage. These included, 
besides cabinet minister and tutors, a lord chamberlain, three 
lord attendants master of ceremonies, master of robes, and 
master of tea an Incarnate Lama,* and one representative 
each from the monasteries of Sera and Drepung. On the 
afternoon of April 5th the Dalai Lama's party was seen 
wending its way up the steep path leading to the monastery. 
This was lined with Buddhists in ceremonial robes and 
saffron-clad monks chanting hymns. The Dalai Lama, though 
cheerful, looked tired. Contrary to earlier reports he was 
neither injured nor ill. For security reasons it was decided 
that the Living Buddha should not put up at the monastery 
as originally arranged, but in a separate residence ringed by 
a unit of the Assam Rifles. 

On April 8th the Dalai Lama set out for Bomdila, sixty-two 
miles from Tawang, along a mule track which traversed diffi- 
cult mountain passes and deep valleys, through Jang, where 
the party halted briefly, to Sengi Dzong, some sixteen miles 

* An Incarnate Lama, also known as Tulku Lama, is believed by the Tibet- 
ans to be a reincarnation of a bodhisattva, i.e., a holy man who attains nirvana 
(boundless bliss) but renounces his right to it in order to be reborn for the 
benefit of his fellow creatures. There are about 1,000 Tulku Lamas in Tibet 

Flight from Lhasa 21 

away, a journey which entailed some arduous trekking and 
riding on mules or on small Bhutan ponies. Bomdila which 
stands about nine thousand feet above sea level, is the highest 
administrative center in India. Overlooking the mountains 
are three snow peaks. The country is picturesque, with dense 
forests interspersed with gay flora. For the comfort of the 
royal party the Indian authorities had set up tents and bam- 
boo shelters at intervals along the route. 

Waiting to receive the royal party at Bomdila was P. N. 
Menon, former Indian consul general at Lhasa, whom Mr. 
Nehru had specially sent to meet the God-king and who was 
later attacked by the Chinese as the man responsible for 
master-minding the Living Buddha's Tezpur statement. The 
Dalai Lama reached Bomdila on April lath, the last lap of 
his journey being along a bridle path winding through for- 
ested hills. From Bomdila a jeep track runs some seventy 
miles to the foot of the hills, where just across the border is 
an Assam Rifles post known as Foothills, which controls the 
border separating NEFA from the State of Assam. About the 
time of the Dalai Lama's arrival at Bomdila, an official 
spokesman in Delhi announced that the God-king would 
ultimately reside in the hill station of Mussoorie, and it was 
later learned that his residence would be in a house put at 
his disposal by the well-known Indian industrialist G. D. 
Birla. It was also officially stated that Mr. Nehru would see 
the Dalai Lama on April 24th, when the prime minister 
would be visiting Mussoorie for the conference of the All- 
India Association of Travel Agents. 

At Bomdila a convoy of about thirty jeeps awaited the 
arrival of the party, which rested at this post for two days. 
The Living Buddha was described by a Tibetan who saw 
him there as looking "big and shining, wearing a magenta 
robe with a knitted handkerchief on his head." On April 
i7th the party reached Khelong, ten miles from Foothills, 

22 The Revolt in Tibet 

where they proceeded after a night's rest to Foothills and 
from there through the Darrang district of Assam to Tezpur. 
About twenty miles from Foothills on the Assam side is 
Missamari, where arrangements were later made to set up a 
camp for the Tibetan refugees. 

Over fifty foreign and Indian correspondents had gathered 
at Foothills, which the Dalai Lama reached on the morning 
of April i8th a little after 7:30 A.M. It had been drizzling 
intermittently, and a mist hung over the mountainside. Be- 
fore leaving Bomdila the God-king had held his first confer- 
ence with his advisers on Indian soil. It was attended by the 
three cabinet ministers who had accompanied him, a former 
general of the Tibetan army, and high officials and monk dig- 
nitaries. The Dalai Lama impressed on his party the need to 
be inspired by Buddhist ideals, and adjured them not to 
abuse the hospitality of India, the land of the Buddha's birth. 
At the conference a code of conduct for Tibetans in India 
w r as framed which generally discussed the outlines of the press 
statement which the Dalai Lama was expected to issue at 
Tezpur. To the correspondents assembled at Foothills the 
God-king made no statement, but he looked buoyant and 
cheerful, and the serene smile rarely left his face. 

After a brief halt at Foothills, the Dalai Lama, who was 
now transferred to a limousine which carried the Indian and 
Tibetan flags, the latter hastily improvised with crayons, left 
for Tezpur, arriving there about two hours later. Shortly 
before his arrival at the Circuit House, where the corre- 
spondents had assembled, a statement by the God-king was 
read on his behalf, first in Tibetan by Rimshi Surkhang 
Lhawang Tobgey, an official in his party, and then in English 
by another official, Jigme Pangdatshang. Copies of the state- 
ment were distributed to the correspondents. 

In Peking at this time the second Chinese National Peo- 
ple's Congress was in session, and among the delegates was 

Flight from Lhasa 23 

the Panchen Lama, clad in a gold robe and seated near Chou 
En-lai. On the day the Dalai Lama reached Tezpur and issued 
his historic statement categorically denying that he was in 
India "under duress," and challenging the Chinese accusation 
that he had been "abducted'* by the rebels, the Chinese prime 
minister repeated these charges. "Although the Dalai Lama 
has been abducted to India/' said Chou, "we still hope he 
will be able to free himself from the hold of the rebels and 
return to the motherland." At Tezpur on the same day the 
Dalai llama's statement declared: "The Dalai Lama would 
like to state categorically that he left Lhasa and Tibet and 
came to India of his own free will and not under duress. It 
was due to the loyalty and affectionate support of his people 
that the Dalai Lama was able to find his way through a route 
which is quite arduous." 

Even this categorical statement was repudiated by Peking 
in a desperate effort to "save face." Commenting on it, the 
Panchen Lama insisted: "The statement issued in the name 
of the Dalai Lama, which turns things upside down, is a sheer 
distortion of the facts and a complete fabrication. It is obvi- 
ously a result of coercion by the reactionaries, and certainly 
not of the Dalai Lama's own will." Evidently the term "reac- 
tionaries" was intended to include the Dalai Lama's Indian 
hosts. But Peking could not erase facts merely by contradic- 
tions and insinuations. 

The Dalai Lama's statement of April i8th was notable for 
some other significant declarations. It began with the flat 
assertion that "the Tibetan people are different from the Han 
people of China," and went on to say that "there has always 
been a strong desire for independence on the part of the 
Tibetan people. Throughout history this has been asserted 
on numerous occasions." The statement then discussed the 
Sino-Tibetan agreement of 1951 when "the suzerainty of 
China was accepted, as there was no alternative left to the 

24 The Revolt in Tibet 

Tibetans/' and declared that the full autonomy which Tibet 
was promised in return had not been respected and recog- 
nized by the Chinese. "In fact/' observed the Dalai Lama's 
statement, "after the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese 
armies, the Tibetan Government did not enjoy any measure 
of autonomy even in internal matters, and the Chinese Gov- 
ernment exercised full powers in Tibetan affairs/' The pic- 
ture of a small nation struggling unceasingly but unsuccess- 
fully to preserve its independence from its powerful and 
aggressive neighbor emerges clearly from this account. 

The statement went on to reveal that "by the end of 1955 
a struggle had started in the Kham Province, and this as- 
sumed serious proportions in 1956." By early February, 1956, 
"the relations of Tibetans with China became openly 
strained." There followed a brief description of the events 
which had finally compelled the Living Buddha's advisers to 
suggest that the God-king should leave Tibet. In expressing 
his gratitude to the Indian people and government "for their 
spontaneous and generous welcome, as well as for the asylum 
granted to him and to his followers/' the Dalai Lama's state- 
ment referred to the ancient religious, cultural, and trade 
links between India and Tibet, and described India as "the 
land of enlightenment, having given birth to the Lord 
Buddha/' There is noticeable even in the reference to India 
an implied desire that Tibet should be treated as equal and 
sovereign, and not as a humble suppliant dependent on 
India's benefactions. 

It is also significant that the statement, while demanding 
freedom from China, implying either independence or real 
autonomy, did not shut the door on any solution on nego- 
tiation, arbitration, or reference to the United Nations. But 
there could be no going back to Tibet's post-igsi status. The 
Dalai Lama concluded his statement, couched throughout 
in the third person, a fact to which the Chinese later were to 

Flight from Lhasa 25 

attach a sinister significance, with the fervent hope that, 
"These troubles will be over soon without any more blood- 
shed. As Dalai Lama and spiritual head of all Buddhists 
in Tibet, his foremost concern is the well-being of his people 
and in ensuring the perpetual flourishing of his sacred reli- 
gion and the freedom of his country." The emphasis the 
statement lays on the Dalai Lama's religious and secular 
functions and on the right to religious and political freedom 
flowing therefrom is interesting and revealing. 

Confronted with this frank, forthright, and assertive docu- 
ment, the Chinese Communists reacted characteristically, 
mounting a barrage of vituperative denial and abuse which 
questioned the authenticity of the "so-called statement of the 
Dalai Lama," describing it as "a crude document, lame in 
reasoning, full of lies and loopholes." The Chinese dismissed 
the Tibetan claim to independence as contrary to historic 
facts, and insisted that Peking had controlled Tibet's political 
and religious systems from the thirteenth to the eighteenth 
centuries. "Not even the title, position and powers of the 
Dalai Lama were laid down by the Tibetans themselves," 
affirmed the New China News Agency. The Tibetans, it 
conceded, are different from the Hans, but so are the Mon- 
golians, Manchus, Uighurs, Huis, Chuangs, Miaos, Yaos, and 
"dozens of other small nationalities in the southern prov- 
inces." None of these small nationalities had claimed inde- 
pendence, though they had enjoyed regional autonomy 
"within the big family of their motherland." The same 
NCNA commentator observed, with an implied innuendo 
on Indian involvement: "The publication at this time of this 
so-called statement of the Dalai Lama, which harps on so- 
called Tibetan independence, will naturally cause people to 
ask: Is this not an attempt to place the Dalai Lama in a 
position of hostility to his motherland and thus to block the 
road for him to return to it? Is this not an attempt to create 

26 The Revolt in Tibet 

a situation for compelling the Indian Government to permit 
the Tibetan rebels to engage in anti-Chinese political activ- 
ities in India?" The rebels were, of course, denounced as 
"reactionaries," representative of vested interests who were 
opposed to the reforms and modernization schemes intro- 
duced by the Chinese Communists. The Panchen Lama again 
added his voice to this noisy chorus, particularly of critics 
of "Indian expansionism/' and sarcastically referred to 
India's sudden solicitude for Buddhism, a religion it had 
successfully edged out of the country. 

Meanwhile in India the Dalai Lama continued to receive 
the most friendly welcome by enthusiastic crowds along the 
rail route from Tezpur to Mussoorie. He left Tezpur in an 
air-conditioned coach at noon on Saturday, April i8th, after 
receiving an address of welcome from the citizens of Tezpur 
and giving his blessings to them in the traditional Buddhist 
way. On Sunday morning the special train halted at Siliguri 
in West Bengal for nearly seventy-five minutes, and there a 
mammoth crowd, estimated at several thousands, greeted 
him. They included the children of the Dalai Lama's elder 
brother, who had come from their school in Darjeeling to 
greet him. Also there to pay the God-king his respects was 
the Maharajkumar of Sikkim with members of his family. 
Waiting to welcome him were monks bearing wooden in- 
cense burners, some with long trumpets and other musical 
instruments with which they greeted the God-king. The 
crowds shouted, "Down with Chinese imperialism!" As the 
Dalai Lama stepped onto the rostrum which had been 
erected before the station, hundreds of Tibetans, men, 
women, and children, showered the traditional white scarves 
at him. A request for yellow flowers for his daily devotional 
prayers had been transmitted to Siliguri, and a large posy 
of saffron and yellow dahlias awaited the God-king when he 
alighted. The open space before the station presented a color- 

Flight from Lhasa 27 

ful scene with the thousands of Tibetans in flamboyant cos- 
tumes of magenta, claret, pink, and purple. His Holiness 
looked wan but cheerful. 

On the way to Siliguri crowds had gathered by the wayside 
stations in the hope of getting a glimpse of the God-king. The 
train had halted at some points, and at the first stop on Satur- 
day evening at Rangapara in Assam a large crowd broke 
through the police cordon and gathered around the Dalai 
Lama's coach. Farther on, at a small wayside station, Rangiya, 
through which the train passed late at night, a crowd of a 
few hundred villagers waited in the pouring rain merely to 
see the train go by. These scenes were repeated throughout 
the night as the heavily guarded royal coach moved toward 
Siliguri. Early in the morning the train stopped at Bonarhat, 
where among the crowd were some European planters from 
the tea estates in the vicinity. 

From Siliguri the train moved into the State of Bihar, an 
area hallowed by Buddhism, for in Bihar Gautama centuries 
ago had become the Buddha. Chapra was the last station in 
Bihar, and there the Dalai Lama's train halted at 2:00 A.M. 
amidst a huge crowd waving banners and shouting slogans, 
greeting the God-king, who at that late hour was resting. 
Shortly afterward the train crossed the frontier of Bihar into 
Uttar Pradesh, which is Nehru's home state. 

At Sarnath, where the Buddha had preached his dharma, 
or eightfold way of life, the Dalai Lama alighted later that 
morning on a platform festooned with flags and banners in a 
station constructed on the lines of Buddhist architecture. 
Along with the Tibetan monks were others from Ceylon, 
Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and India. The Dalai 
Lama, accompanied by this colorful retinue, proceeded to 
the Dhamek Stupa, reputedly built by India's great apostle- 
emperor Asoka, a convert to Buddhism, where the God-king 
knelt in prayer. He also offered a silk scarf to the golden 

2 8 The Revolt in Tibet 

image of the Buddha in the Mulganda Kuti Vihara, whose 
great bell, tolled only for highly distinguished visitors, 
chimed throughout the morning in the Living Buddha's 

At Banaras, the Rome of Hinduism, the Dalai Lama's 
party changed into a broad-gauged train for Dehra Dun, and 
arrived there early in the morning of April sist. A crowd of 
over three thousand awaited His Holiness, and in a long 
motorcade he drove to Birla House at Mussoorie, which was 
his journey's end, some 1,500 miles from Lhasa. It was a little 
over a month since the God-king had left his capital. At 
Gandhi Chowk, the center of Mussoorie, the Dalai Lama was 
welcomed with flowers by the chairman of the local municipal 

What was his status to be in India? On April 2oth, a day 
before His Holiness arrived at Mussoorie, questions were 
asked in the Lok Sabha at Delhi to which initially Nehru 
gave equivocal replies. The Dalai Lama, said India's prime 
minister, would be free to carry on his religious activities in 
India, "but political activities are not carried on from one 
country against another." When a veteran Independent 
member, the highly respected Dr. H. N. Kunzru, pointed out 
that in Britain, when asylum was granted, refugees were al- 
lowed to carry on normal propaganda in favor of their views 
but were prohibited from collecting arms or making warlike 
preparations, Mr. Nehru observed that it was difficult to 
draw the line. It would be permitted to one to some extent 
but not to another. In reply to other questions the prime 
minister said that the Dalai Lama was a responsible person 
acting in a responsible way but that there were many others 
and that "we do not know how they might function." It was, 
continued Mr. Nehru, the ordinary right of any country, 
including Britain, to limit the function of foreigners who 
created difficulties with other countries. The rule of law was 

Flight from Lhasa 29 

that a country had the right to limit such activities to what 
extent and in what manner was a matter of circumstances and 

The Indian prime minister's replies and elucidation are 
interesting in view of subsequent developments, and might 
conceivably affect and influence future events. On April 24th 
Mr. Nehru met the Dalai Lama, whom he had last seen some 
three years before. As the prime minister remarked to a 
group of newspapermen shortly after his four-hour talk with 
the God-king: "He does not come to us as a vague, mystical 
figure. He comes here as one we know/' Mr. Nehru revealed 
that the Dalai Lama had admitted writing the letters to 
General Tan Kuan-san but said that the God-king "was then 
passing through highly troubled times." He had had, he said, 
"a fairly good talk and I hope a helpful talk with the Dalai 
Lama/' Had it not been that the prime minister had another 
engagement, he might have continued the discussion for 
another hour or so. India's interest in Tibet, Mr. Nehru 
stressed, was "historical, sentimental and religious, and not 
essentially political." Of course, he himself would try for a 
peaceful solution of the Tibetan problem, and he would 
welcome the Panchen Lama "or anyone else . . . the Chi- 
nese ambassador or any Chinese emissary," who might want 
to meet the Dalai Lama. Mr. Nehru hoped that subsequently 
conditions would be created for the return of the God-king 
to Tibet but said that "this as well as other things should not 
be the subject of heated exchanges and debate." The prime 
minister observed that his government was anxious "not to 
muzzle" the Dalai Lama but that at the same time "we do 
expect him to keep in view the difficulties of the situation 
and speak or act accordingly." He revealed that when the 
Dalai Lama visited India in 1956 the God-king had told him 
that Tibet was spiritually advanced but socially and econom- 
ically backward. His Holiness had repeated the statement in 

30 The Revolt in Tibet 

his talk that day. Mr. Nehru suggested that the Dalai Lama 
"has more anxiety for conditions in Tibet, in a peaceful solu- 
tion, and not in giving press interviews/' It was an oblique 
but obvious hint to the God-king. 

Nonetheless, about two months later, on June 2oth, the 
Dalai Lama chose to receive press correspondents at Mus- 
soorie and to circulate a two-thousand-word statement which 
went specifically and categorically far beyond his Tezpur 
statement. Nothing short of the pre-ig5o status of Tibet, he 
flatly declared, would be acceptable to him, and this would 
be a condition precedent to the reopening of negotiations 
with the Chinese, wherein he would welcome a foreign medi- 
ator. "We ask for peace and for a peaceful settlement," he 
declared. "But we must also ask for the maintenance of the 
status and rights of our state and people/' The Sino-Tibetan 
agreement of 1951 had been concluded as "between two 
independent and sovereign states." At the same time the 
Dalai Lama accused the Chinese of obtaining the agreement 
under duress, and charged them with forging the Tibetan 
seal affixed to the document. "Wherever I am," he declared 
in answering a question, "the Tibetan people will recognize 
me as the Government of Tibet." Indeed, the Dalai Lama's 
statement, with its frequent reiteration of the phrase "I and 
my Government," read like the pronouncement of an emigrd 

His Holiness charged the Chinese not only with obstruct- 
ing reforms which his own government sought to introduce 
in Tibet but also of instituting a reign of terror. They had, 
he alleged, introduced forced labor, indulged in compulsory 
exactions, persecuted the people, and plundered and con- 
fiscated property belonging to individuals and the monas- 
teries. Thousands of Tibetans had been imprisoned and 
hundreds executed. The Dalai Lama stated that he would 
welcome an investigation into these charges by an interna- 
tional commission. "I and my Government," he declared, 

Flight from Lhasa 31 

"will readily abide by the verdict of such an impartial body/' 
His Holiness also disclosed, though this was widely known, 
that during his last visit to India he had told Mr. Nehru that 
he was unwilling to return to Tibet "until there was a mani- 
fest change in the attitude of the Chinese authorities/' and 
had sought the Indian prime minister's advice. At that time 
Chou En-lai was also in India; and Nehru, after consulting 
him, and on receiving assurances that China would respect 
her undertakings with Tibet, had advised the Dalai Lama to 
return. His Holiness was asked whether the Chinese would 
gain or lose by his being in exile. 

"The Chinese should be able to answer that question," 
said the God king with a seraphic smile. 

He estimated that since 1956 the number of Tibetans 
killed while fighting the Chinese forces exceeded the figure 
of 65,000 given in a report filed before the International Com- 
mission of Jurists. What the Chinese aimed to do, said His 
Holiness, was to exterminate Buddhist religion and culture 
in Tibet and to absorb the Tibetan people. 

Would he appeal for arms on behalf of the rebel patriots 
who, according to him, were still fighting in eastern and 
northern Tibet? 

"Although," said the Dalai Lama, "I have no intention to 
leave the National Volunteer Defense Army unaided, I am 
intending to help them by all means of a peaceful solution 
rather than by military force/' 

It was an answer as skillful as any Nehru might have given 
in similar circumstances. The God-king seemed well aware 
that he had no effective sanctions behind him except the 
moral conscience and indignation of the civilized world, and 
to that also he appealed "to the conscience of all peace- 
loving and civilized nations," as he put it. 

But would the civilized world respond to his appeal? Tibet 
was even more mysterious and remote than Czechoslovakia 
had seemed two decades earlier. 



"Where is your God?" A Chinese Communist once sarcas- 
tically demanded of a Tibetan. "You are born. You die/ 1 

"He is everywhere," said the Tibetan simply. 

The Chinese filled a bowl with water and, tilting it, poured 
the water onto the ground between them. 

"Like this water/' he said somberly, "you too will go down 
into the earth. Where is your God?" 

Tibet, land of lamas,* is inevitably a land of religion. 
Since at least one son from each family is expected to become 
a monk, it is estimated that about one-quarter of all Tibetan 
males enter the priesthood. Lhasa's "Big Three" monasteries 
Drepung (Rice Heap), Sera (Rose Fence), and Ganden 

* A lama is a senior monk who has studied the Tibetan scriptures closely, 
done religious penance, and practiced meditation. Junior monks are known 
as da bos or trapas. 


Roof of the World 33 

(Joyous) are said to house between them some 20,000 in- 
mates, almost half the population of the capital city. In the 
whole of Tibet there are believed to be over 300,000 monks 
attached to the numerous monasteries scattered over the coun- 
try, as well as many thousands of nuns. From childhood every 
Tibetan is taught to pray in the shrine room of his house, and 
most Tibetans carry their io8-bead rosaries and their prayer 
wheels, which are called korlos. 

Since the Dalai Lama sought asylum in India nearly twelve 
thousand Tibetan refugees are believed to have entered the 
country. Their reason for leaving is mainly Chinese efforts to 
exterminate their religion and to absorb them. More than 
any other coercive measures of the Han intruders, this has 
deeply affected the lives of the common people. "They started 
talking very nicely and sweetly/' said a Tibetan refugee. 
"But later on they troubled us quite a bit." 

The Tibetans, a cheerful, friendly people, have always 
been sturdily independent. Geography and history have con- 
spired to encourage this outlook. Until the Communist ag- 
gression of 1950 Tibet was one of the most isolated and im- 
penetrable countries in the world. It covers a vast plateau in 
Central Asia, in area about 500,000 square miles, bounded on 
the north by Sinkiang, or Chinese Turkestan, on the south 
by Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim, along with 800 miles of 
mountainous Indian territory; on the west by the Ladakh area 
of Kashmir, and on the east by China. Tibet's terrain is 
around 10,000 feet above sea level; but large areas in the 
north are over 16,000 feet in elevation, with mountains alter- 
nating with plains and valleys, the so-called northern plains 
being known as the Chang Tang. It is bitterly cold there 
and the area is desolate, inhabited for the most part by hardy 
nomadic tribes. Southern Tibet, which contains Lhasa, the 
capital, and which also encompasses the valleys of the 
Tsangpo, the Indus, and the Sutlej rivers, really forms Tibet 

34 The Revolt in Tibet 

proper, with the two important towns of Shigatse and 
Gyantse. Western, or Upper, Tibet has three districts, in- 
cluding the gold mines of Jalung, to which Herodotus re- 
ferred in somewhat mythical terms. Along the eastern border, 
on both sides of the Sino-Tibetan frontier, reside the warlike 
Khambas and the Goloks, with the Amdos just across the 
northeast border. A large part of the population in the Chi- 
nese districts abutting Tibet's northern and eastern frontiers 
is Tibetan. These districts include Chinghai and Szechwan, 
and Yunnan in the south. Many mountain ranges run across 
the plateau in a west-east direction, the most important being 
the Tangla Range, which is an extension of the Karakoram. 
Eastern Tibet, also known as the Land of the Great Corro- 
sions, is crisscrossed with canyons and high mountains, par- 
ticularly in the region around Chamdo, which is inhabited 
by the Khambas. Through this area run the Yangtse, Mekong, 
Salween, and Irrawady rivers with their tributaries. 

The Tibetans call their country Bhot, a term widely used 
in India, where the inhabitants of Tibet are called Bhotias. 
Probably the word Tibet is a European adaptation of To- 
bhot, or High Bhot, the name by which the great plateau 
with its uplands bordering the frontiers of China, Mongolia, 
and Kashmir is known to Tibetans. The term "Tibet" first 
occurs about A.D. 950 in the works of the Arab writer Istakhri, 
who calls the country "Tobbat." 

Since no official census has been taken in Tibet except by 
the Chinese Communists, whose statistics are somewhat re- 
silient, it is not possible to estimate the population accurately. 
Their number is probably in the neighborhood of two mil- 
lion in Tibet with around another two million outside its 
frontiers. Moreover the spiritual authority of the Dalai Lama 
is not confined to Tibet alone, but extends to Ladakh, Sik- 
kim, Bhutan, Sinkiang, the Buriat-Mongolian Republic of 
the Soviet Union, and the Kalmucks, who inhabit a region 
northwest of the Caspian Sea and south of the Volga. 

Roof of the World 35 

Landlocked by geography, Tibet has also historically re- 
mained the Hidden Land. Of its history prior to the seventh 
century after Christ little is known, its real history beginning 
with the reign of the great Song-tsan Gampo who ruled Tibet 
from A.D. 620 to 650. He introduced an alphabet, formulated 
a code of criminal law and a code of morals, and conquered 
Upper Burma and western China, subjecting the Chinese to a 
humiliating treaty which entailed giving the Tibetan king a 
Chinese princess in marriage. Her name was Wen-Cheng, and 
equally lovely and intelligent was the king's other wife, Prin- 
cess Bhrukuti-Devi, daughter of the king of Nepal. Both the 
queens were devout Buddhists, and although Buddhism had 
entered Tibet about two hundred years earlier the queens 
persuaded the king to restore the influence of that religion, 
whose power had waned. It was Song-tsan Gampo who laid 
the foundations of the Potala and made Lhasa his capital. 

In the second half of the eighth century, a Tantric * teacher 
from India, Padma Sambhava, known as Guru Rimpoche 
(the precious teacher), was summoned to the court of King 
Ti-Song Detsan, grandson of Song-tsan Gampo. The strength 
of Buddhism had flagged again, and Guru Rimpoche was 
successful in reviving it by adapting Buddhism to the earliest 
form of worship in Tibet, known as Bon. This was a mixture 
of Shamanism or nature worship, divination, the exorcising 
of devils, propitiation of various spirits, and animal sacrifice. 
Devil worship was a prominent feature of this primitive cult. 
By incorporating many Bon beliefs and practices into the 
Buddhist ritual, Guru Rimpoche evolved Lamaism, which 
is the religion of Tibet. It includes a widespread belief in 
reincarnation. We shall have occasion to examine its develop- 
ment and sects in greater detail later. 

During the reign of Ti-Song Detsan, China paid a yearly 
tribute of 50,000 yards of Chinese brocade to Tibet. This was 
in the era of the glorious T'ang dynasty which ruled China 

Tantricism is the worship of the divine energy (Shakti) in a female form. 

36 The Revolt in Tibet 

from A.D. 618 to 907 and gave that country a strong central- 
ized administration. In A.D. 763 the Tibetans invaded the 
border regions of China in great strength and sacked the city 
of Chang An. During the second half of the eighth century 
and the first half of the ninth, the Tibetans continued their 
encroachments upon Chinese territory, acquiring most of 
western Kansu and large parts of western Szechwan, and it 
was only around A.D. 850, when internal rivalries sapped the 
strength of Tibet's ruling dynasty, that the Chinese were able 
to hold the Tibetans in check. 

In the eleventh century the long line of Tibetan kings 
came to an end with the death of Lang Darma, and interne- 
cine warfare reduced Tibet from a monarchy to a congeries 
of small principalities ruled by petty chieftains. In this 
political chaos the religious strength of Lamaism began to 
assert itself, and by the end of the eleventh century the new 
religion took strong root throughout the country. Lamaism 
received a tremendous impetus in the second half of the 
thirteenth century when the hierarchy of the Sakya lamas, 
taking their name from the monastery at Sakya in Central 
Tibet, obtained political recognition from the Mongol em- 
peror of China, Kublai Khan, who embraced Lamaism and 
gave the sovereignty of Tibet to the high priest of the Sakya 
lamas. This dynasty of priest-kings ruled for some seventy 
years until 1345, when twenty successive Sakya lamas had 
administered the country. 

Genghiz Khan, who laid the fortunes of the Mongols, de- 
scended on China in 1210, capturing Peking but leaving the 
task of conquering the rest of the country to his generals while 
he turned to western Asia. The accession of Kublai Khan and 
the foundation of a new capital at Peking in 1263 mark the 
establishment of a separate Mongol Empire. Historically the 
reign of the Mongol Yuan dynasty begins in 1279 when the 
last of the Sung pretenders was destroyed and Kublai Khan's 

Roof of the World 37 

domains covered all China and Tibet. The Mongol Empire, 
based on terror, remained peaceful only as long as its rulers 
were strong. Kublai Khan's death in 1294 saw the decline of 
his dynasty, which was replaced by the Mings in China in 
1368. The Mings made way for the Manchus in 1644. 

During the Ming period, and indeed for some years before 
that, Tibet functioned as a virtually independent kingdom. 
The Mings were more interested in extending their authority 
northward than in ensuring stability in the south. Some fifty 
years after Kublai Khan's death the Sakya priest-kings whom 
he had entrenched in sovereignty over Tibet were replaced 
by the Sitya dynasty, who continued to rule until 1635, and 
successfully asserted their independence vis-a-vis China. In 
the second half of the seventeenth century Tibet was blessed 
by the rule of a remarkable Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatse, 
known as "The Great Fifth," * who journeyed to Peking, 
where he was acknowledged by the then Manchu emperor of 
China as an independent sovereign. Lobsang Gyatse, a strong 
and farsighted ruler, rebuilt the Potala, much of which the 
Mongols had destroyed. He was able to control the Mongols 
who were concentrated in Yunnan, which was one reason why 
the Manchus, who were troubled by them, cultivated his good 
will. During his lifetime the first European, a Portuguese 
named Antonio de Andrada, entered Tibet, but did not reach 
Lhasa or Shigatse. 

The sixth Dalai Lama, Tsang-Yang Gyatse, a talented poet 
but a man of dissolute habits, was murdered in eastern Tibet 
by the Chinese in 1706. There was trouble in Tibet following 
the installation of the seventh Dalai Lama, Lobsang Kesang 
Gyatse, and the Manchus took advantage of the dissensions to 
dispatch a military expedition to Lhasa in 1720. Tibet was 
compelled to recognize Chinese sovereignty in 1727, and a 
system of diplomatic relations was established whereunder a 

* He was the fifth Dalai Lama. 

38 The Revolt in Tibet 

Chinese amban, or representative, was stationed at Lhasa. 
The number of ambans was later raised to two, and they 
interfered in Tibetan administration. In 1750, resenting the 
interference of the ambans, who had put the Tibetan regent 
to death, the Tibetans in turn massacred the Chinese in 
Lhasa, but Peking's authority was soon reestablished by an 
army dispatched by the emperor of China. Significantly, this 
period of Tibetan subservience coincides with the apex of 
the Manchu dynasty under the emperors Yung Cheng and 
Chien Lung. Following the example of the Emperor Kang 
Hsi who preceded them, they extended the boundaries of 
the Chinese Empire, subduing not only Tibet but also con- 
quering Mongolia and Turkestan. 

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Tibet was vir- 
tually a vassal of the Celestial Empire, which through its 
ambans at Lhasa supervised the nomination of every new 
Dalai Lama. In 1893 the thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tupten 
Gyatse, who was born in 1876, assumed temporal power, 
holding it through various vicissitudes until his death in 
1933. He succeeded in 1911 in getting rid of the Chinese who 
had forced him to flee to India a year earlier. It was not his 
first exile. At the time that the Younghusband expedition * 
had moved on Lhasa in 1904, the Dalai Lama took refuge in 
Mongolia, returning to Tibet five years later. By steering 
skillfully between the Chinese, the British, and the Russians 
he was able eventually to restore de facto independence to his 

The Mongols were no more Han than are the Tibetans. 
Nor were the Manchus, who, like the Mongols, also inter- 
mittently attempted in later years to assert their sovereignty 
over Tibet. Though Tibet's relations with China go back to 

* This expedition, led by Sir Francis Younghusband, was launched in 
1904 during Lord Curzon's viceroyalty in India, and was actuated by British 
suspicions that the Dalai Lama was allegedly plotting with the Russians to 
keep the British out of Tibet. 

Roof of the World 39 

the seventh century, their character has never remained con- 
stant but has varied with the strength of China's central gov- 
ernment. Thus, taking advantage of geography to influence 
history, the Tibetans have asserted their independence when 
the Chinese were weak and unwillingly accepted Peking's au- 
thority when the Chinese were overwhelmingly strong. This 
has been so even up to the eve of the Dalai Lama's flight 
from Lhasa in March, 1959. 

The contention, therefore, that in assessing Tibet's po- 
litical status only the views of China should be taken into 
account is manifestly unfair to the Tibetans, whose own point 
of view cannot be brusquely brushed aside. For considerable 
stretches of their history the last, for forty years from 1911 
to 1951 they have remained aloof from the Chinese claim 
to overlordship and have functioned as an independent gov- 
ernment. Even in negotiating the Lhasa Convention in 1904, 
following the Younghusband expedition, the British Govern- 
ment dealt directly with Tibet, thereby impliedly recognizing 
its special status, although the Chinese Imperial Resident 
was allowed to "examine" the treaty before the signatures 
were appended. In fact Britain claimed and was accorded 
recognition as the most-favored nation with "special inter- 
ests" in Tibet. 

By Article 9 of the Convention, Tibet agreed not to send 
out representatives abroad or to permit any foreign power to 
intervene in its affairs without the previous consent of the 
British. Thus China, though nominally consulted, was really 
excluded. By the Peking Convention of 1906 China con- 
firmed the Lhasa Convention, with some minor modifications 
affecting customs dues and the establishment of trading sta- 
tions, but also secured one major point from Britain that 
the preservation of Tibet's integrity should be China's re- 
sponsibility and that China alone should have the right to 
concessions in Tibet. The Tibetans greatly resented their 

40 The Revolt in Tibet 

exclusion from the conference in Peking. The term "suze- 
rain" as governing the relations between China and Tibet 
was first used in the St. Petersburg Convention of 1907 when 
Russia also recognized Britain's "special interest'* in the 
maintenance of the status quo in the external relations of 
Tibet, but both Powers agreed to enter into negotiations with 
Tibet only through the intermediary of China, "except on 
matters arising out of the Lhasa Convention/' Britain 
thereby secured what she had set out to achieve to keep 
Russia out of Tibet, which henceforth would serve as a buffer 
between India (then under British rule) and China. The 
price for this was the recognition of Chinese "suzerainty" 
while simultaneously acknowledging Tibet's autonomy. Yet 
this fiction of suzerainty soon wore thin, as Britain demon- 
strated in 1914 when she invited China and Tibet to a tri- 
partite conference with herself at Simla, Tibetan plenipoten- 
tiaries taking part in the discussions on an equal footing 
with the British and Chinese delegates. 

At Simla the Tibetans on British persuasion agreed to 
accept a treaty by which the Chinese were accorded the right 
to maintain a mission in Lhasa, though they were strictly for- 
bidden to interfere in the internal affairs of Tibet. In 1911, 
after the decrepit Manchu Empire had collapsed, the Ti- 
betans expelled the Chinese forces, and the Dalai Lama 
declared Tibet independent. China's first Republican presi- 
dent, Yuan Shih-kai, proclaimed Tibet to be an integral part 
of China, but he was unsuccessful when he attempted to 
implement his declaration by military force. The Simla Con- 
vention, held on British initiative, followed this attempt. 

Although the Chinese plenipotentiaries had agreed to the 
terms of the Convention, Peking refused to ratify them, 
thereby releasing the Tibetans from their undertaking to 
acknowledge Chinese suzerainty. From then until the Sino- 
Tibetan agreement of May, 1951, following the first Com- 

Roof of the World 41 

munist aggression designed to "liberate" Tibet, that country 
functioned for all practical purposes as independent until 
again this time under the guns of the Communist Chinese 
she was forced to recognize "the unified leadership of the 
Central People's Government/ 1 but did so only on Peking's 
pledge that "the Tibetan people have the right of exercising 
national regional sovereignty." More specifically, the Com- 
munists undertook not to alter the existing political system in 
Tibet or the established status, functions, and powers of the 
Dalai Lama, and to respect the religious beliefs, customs, 
and habits of the Tibetan people. Additionally they prom- 
ised that "in matters related to various reforms in Tibet, 
there will be no compulsion on the part of the central au- 

The Chinese violated every one of these pledges. Even as 
in 1914 repudiation by Peking of the Simla Convention re- 
leased the Tibetans of their undertaking to recognize Chinese 
suzerainty, the violation by Peking of its pledges under the 
Sino-Tibetan agreement of 1951 permitted Lhasa to de- 
nounce the agreement and proclaim Tibet's independence. 
In international as in private agreements all the parties con- 
cerned must fulfill their undertakings if their contracts are 
to be valid and enforceable. 

What sort of people are the Tibetans? Most of what is 
known of them prior to the seventh century of the Christian 
era is based on myth and legend. According to Tibetan tradi- 
tion the human race was born in Tibet and originated from 
the marriage of a monkey with an ogress. Indians identify 
the monkey with Hanuman, the monkey-god of the Hindu 
pantheon, who was a protege of Avalokiteshwara, the Lord 
of Mercy, whom the Tibetans call Chen-re-si, the Compas- 
sionate Spirit. Tibetan legend holds that the Compassionate 
Spirit entered into the body of the monkey. Thus the Ti- 
betans trace their descent from Chen-re-si, who permitted 

42 The Revolt in Tibet 

Hanuman to marry the mountain ogress. From their saintly 
paternal ancestor the Tibetans claim the virtues of piety, 
fortitude, charity, and diligence, while their deficiencies, such 
as greed, lust, love for trade, obstinacy, and bad temper they 
attribute to their female progenitor. 

Whatever the legend, the likely fact is that Tibet's people, 
like its plants, have a postglacial origin, being immigrants 
from the steppes and deserts farther to the north when Tibet, 
which apparently was once an ice desert, became habitable. 
In appearance they vary greatly, although the Mongoloid 
strain is pronounced. Some might be taken for Annamese 
or even for Persians or Navajo Indians. Their complexions 
range from pink, generally among the children, to brown. 
By temperament they are rugged and gay, smile spontane- 
ously, and have a simplicity of manner which places them 
among the most natural people in the world. 

Before the Communist invasion Tibet's people fell broadly 
into four classes nobles, traders, peasants, and nomads. The 
nobility, which owned most of the country's land and wealth, 
formed a class apart and traced its descent from one of three 
sources. The oldest and smallest section of the aristocracy 
comprised descendants of the early monarchs who ruled 
Tibet before the tenth century of the Christian era. The sec- 
ond were descendants of the families in which a Dalai Lama 
or a Panchen Lama was born, for these families were auto- 
matically ennobled and given large estates by the govern- 
ment. The third section was composed of individuals whose 
ancestors had rendered meritorious service to the country and 
were duly rewarded. Certain peculiar customs relating to 
property prevailed among the nobility. Although property 
generally descended from father to sons, it was bestowed on 
the daughter where there were no sons, and when she married 
she adopted her husband into the family. This meant that she 
did not change her name but that the husband took hers. 

Roof of the World 43 

The name by which the family of an existing Dalai Lama is 
known is Yap-shi Sar-pa, which means the New Patrimony. 
But the moment the Dalai Lama dies, or in the Tibetan 
phrase "retires to the heavenly fields," his family changes its 

Traders in Tibet constitute what might be called the mid- 
dle class, though there has never been a real middle class in 
the country. But they rank intermediately between the 
landed gentry and the peasants. Though simple, the Tibetans 
are by no means artless, and have a strong commercial sense. 
Besides the professional traders, nobles and monks also en- 
gage in trade. Tibetan women are free from seclusion, and 
many of them manage shops and engage in small retail busi- 
ness while their menfolk take charge of the commercial deal- 
ings which necessitate long and often arduous journeys. 

Tibet does not lack arable land, but most of it is under- 
developed owing to want of manpower because large num- 
bers of the male population take to a monastic life which 
ordains celibacy, which in turn controls the birth rate. The 
position of peasants vis-i-vis their landlords has been virtually 
that of serfs, for no peasant is allowed to quit his land with- 
out the landlord's permission. This is rarely given, and then 
only for a monetary compensation. Though slavery is not 
common in Tibet, slaves exist; and, oddly enough, they are 
often treated better than the paid servants or tenants. They 
are also allowed to move freely, and theatrical troupes that 
tour Tibet are mainly drawn from the menial classes. 

In the fourth class fall the shepherds and herdsmen, the 
nomads who work largely in the uplands, descending once a 
year to lower levels to sell their produce of wool, salt, yak 
tails, and butter, and in return to purchase commodities not 
available in the uplands, such as barley, wheat, tea, and 
woolen clothes. This grazier class is known for its hardihood 
and independence. 

44 The Revolt in Tibet 

Women enjoy a remarkably high status, and in an older 
day, when Tibet was split into principalities, the chieftain 
was often and sometimes still is a woman. Like the women 
of Burma, the women of Tibet are influential not only in 
home affairs but also in business and, where their husbands 
are officials, in affairs of state. The only realm in which their 
position might be described as inferior is the religious do- 
main, where, significantly, of the three forms of blessings ac- 
corded by the Dalai Lama the lowest is reserved for all 
women except one. The exception is Dor-je Pa-mo, the only 
female incarnation in Tibet, who is the head of a monastery 
with male monk inmates at Sam-ding on Yamdrok Lake. Her 
name is interpreted as "Thunderbolt Sow," based on the 
Tibetan belief that she can change into that animal at will. 
Her predecessor, Pal-den Lha Mo ("The Glorious Goddess"), 
was also known in Sanskrit as "The Adamantine Whore/' 
This female divinity is known as one of the "Eight Terrible 
Ones" and is depicted as riding on a white mule through a 
sea of blood. She is venerated as a special protector of the 
Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. 

Marriage in Tibet is generally an arranged affair, a son 
being consulted by his father on the suitability of a bride 
chosen for him, while a daughter's opinion on her future hus- 
band is rarely, if at all, canvassed. Monogamy, polygamy, and 
polyandry are all practiced in Tibet, monogamy being the 
normal type of marriage. If a man is affluent, he may, if he 
so desires, indulge in polygamy, while at the other end of the 
economic ladder polyandry might be more convenient. In 
polyandry, practiced largely among the nomadic herdsmen 
and farmers, the wife is shared by her husband and his 
younger brothers but not by any elder. 

Because Tibet is a theocratic state, its ruler, both civil and 
ecclesiastical, is the Dalai Lama, who theoretically enjoyed 

Roof of the World 45 

absolute powers until the Chinese Communists whittled 
down his authority, which depended largely on his person- 
ality and prestige. He appointed and dismissed officials, and 
his judgment was invoked in all important cases, civil, crim- 
inal, and administrative. Custom decreed that all questions 
requiring his decision should be put into writing and ten- 
dered to His Holiness. Against each question was written the 
sentence "To be or not to be/' and the Dalai Lama signified 
his command by placing a dot of bright blue ink, which no 
other person is permitted to use, over whichever of the two 
phrases he desired. 

The first Dalai Lama was Ge-dun Truppa, who founded 
the monastery at Tashi-lhunpo in the fifteenth century. Two 
hundred years later it became the residence of the Panchen 
Lama, a creation of the fifth Dalai Lama. Ge-dun Truppa 
was a nephew of the great Lama Tsong Ka-pa (The Man 
from the Land of Onions), who reorganized Lamaism late in 
the fourteenth century and established the Gelugpa (The 
Virtuous Way) sect, whose members were known as Yellow 
Hats from the color of their headgear. Tsong Ka-pa also 
founded the monasteries of Ganden and Sera. He might be 
described as the Luther of Tibet. Earlier the dominant sect 
was the Kadampa, or Ngingmapa, which was established by 
an Indian pundit, Atisha, who came from Bengal to Tibet 
in the opening years of the eleventh century. Members of 
this sect wore red hats, and were known as such. Monks of 
that order had been permitted to marry and drink, and they 
soon became notorious for their lax living. The Yellow Hats 
set out to reform Lamaism, and their monks were required 
to observe celibacy, refrain from intoxicants, and to follow 
a strict code of morals. Both the Dalai and the Panchen Lama 
are members of the Gelugpa sect. 

Ge-dun Truppa died in 1474, but his spirit was supposed 
to have entered the body of a baby boy born two years later. 

46 The Revolt in Tibet 

This child became his successor, and thus there came into be- 
ing the system of priestly incarnation, the reincarnated being 
known as Incarnate Lamas. The Dalai Lama was the first and 
greatest of these, but the Tibetans acknowledge reincarna- 
tion in other lamas, who now number about a thousand. Two 
of the present Dalai Lama's brothers, one of them older than 
he, are held to be Incarnate Lamas. The elder one was pro- 
claimed as such even before the discovery of the Dalai Lama. 

In Tibet the Dalai Lama is known as Gyalpo Rimpoche 
(Great Gem of Majesty). The title of Dalai Lama, which 
means Ocean of Wisdom or Ocean Wide, was conferred on 
the third Incarnate Lama, Sonam Gyatse, who as the third 
Grand Lama of the Gelugpa sect converted a Mongol chief- 
tain, Altan Khan, and spread the new faith to Mongolia. Like 
Kublai Khan before him, Altan Khan sought to reward his 
religious benefactor not by bestowing a kingdom on him 
but by investing him with a title. This happened in 1517. 

The temporal overlordship of all Tibet was conferred 
some years later, in 1640, on Lobsang Gyatse, the "Great 
Fifth," who, allying himself with the Mongols, subdued the 
lords of Tsang, a province at the gates of Lhasa. These 
chieftains had disputed the power of the Gelugpa sect. In 
return the Mongol Prince Gusri Khan conferred on the Great 
Fifth the sovereignty of Tibet. Lobsang Gyatse also assumed 
divinity, claiming to be the incarnation of Chen-re-si. 

The procedure governing the search for and discovery of 
the new Dalai Lama on the death of his predecessor is com- 
plicated and often protracted. Those responsible for the 
choice are the heads of the three great monasteries of Dre- 
pung, Sera, and Ganden who are assisted by the state oracle 
at the Nechung monastery near Lhasa and the oracle at 
Samye, Tibet's oldest monastery. The search is generally in- 
stituted about three or four years after the Dalai Lama's 
death, though the interval is sometimes longer. According 

Roof of the World 47 

to Lamaist belief the soul of the dead Dalai Lama goes to 
dwell for forty-nine days in Lake Cho Kor Gye in southern 
Tibet before taking up residence in a newborn infant. The 
theory underlying this belief is that Tibet is ruled not by 
different Dalai Lamas but by successive appearances among 
mankind of the same spiritual entity, the bodhisattva Chen- 
re-si, who is known in India as Avalokiteshwara, the em- 
bodiment of compassion and benevolence. In the Lamaist 
pantheon the most important gods are the Buddha, Avalo- 
kiteshwara, and Amitabha, "the Boundless Light," whose re- 
incarnation is held to be the Panchen Lama. 

Sometimes one of the two oracles goes into a trance and is 
able to indicate where the new Dalai Lama lives. In the case 
of the present Dalai Lama, the oracle of Sainye, after going 
into a trance, following a fruitless four-year search, advised 
that the investigation should be extended to the Chinese 
province of Chinghai, whose Amdo region is largely popu- 
lated by Tibetans. Incidentally the great Tsong Ka-pa was 
born in Amdo. Here, along the shores of Lake Koko Nor, the 
fourteenth Dalai Lama, child of a humble peasant family, 
was discovered. 

Before the child is accepted as the Living Buddha he is 
put through various tests. Some of his predecessor's posses- 
sions, such as his rosaries, liturgical drums and bells, hand- 
kerchiefs and teacups, are mixed with those belonging to other 
individuals, and the child is required to identify them. He 
is also examined for physical "signs of distinction." These 
include large ears, outstanding shoulders, "tiger-skin" spots 
on the legs, an imprint like a conch shell on one of the palms, 
and curving eyebrows. Normally he is invested with full au- 
thority on attaining eighteen, but until then a regent, assisted 
by a council of ministers, rules in his name. 

The present Dalai Lama, whose name at birth was Lhamo 
Dhondup, later elongated to Jetsun Jampal Ngawang Lob- 

48 The Revolt in Tibet 

sang Yishey Tenzing Gyatso Sisunwangyur Tshunpa Getson 
Mapal Dhepal Sango, together with a litany of titles Gentle 
Glory, Mighty in Speech, Pure in Mind, of Absolute Wisdom, 
Holder of the Dharma, Ocean Wide was born on June 6, 
1935, eighteen months after the death of the thirteenth. 
However, two years of negotiations were required before he 
could be conveyed to Lhasa, as the Chinese warlord of Ching- 
hai demanded 30,000 dollars before he would let the child 
leave, and later upped it by another 90,000 dollars. In Feb- 
ruary, 1940, the four-and-a-half-year-olcl child was solemnly 
installed as the Dalai Lama on the golden throne in the 
Potala, and Sir Basil Gould, who headed the British delega- 
tion at this ceremony, remarked later on the child's com- 
posure, poise, and gravity during the long hours of blessings 
and prayers. When the Chinese invaded Tibet in October, 
1950, the God-king was not quite sixteen, but it was decided 
by his advisers to invest him with his full powers even though 
he had not attained the recognized age for the conferment of 
sovereignty. This was done on November 17, 1950, and on 
December i8th the Dalai Lama left Lhasa for Yatung near 
the Indian border, where he established a temporary govern- 

Second only in status and importance to the Dalai Lama is 
the Panchen Lama who, as noted, was a creation of the fifth 
Dalai Lama. The title actually conferred by the "Great Fifth" 
on one of his revered teachers was Panchen Edreni (His Holi- 
ness the Great Teacher), but the Tibetans call him Panchen 
Rimpoche (The Precious Grand Sage). The first Panchen 
Lama was made the Grand Lama of the Tashi-lhunpo 
monastery at Shigatse and proclaimed to be an incarnation 
of Amitabha, "the Boundless Light" who is known in Tibet 
as Opame. Since Amitabha was the spiritual guide of Avalo- 
kiteshwara, whose reincarnation is the Dalai Lama, the spirit- 
ual prestige of the Panchen Lama would appear to be higher 

Roof of the World 49 

than that of the Dalai Lama. In theory, the Panchen Lama's 
functions are almost exclusively spiritual, his political au- 
thority being localized in the region around Shigatse, 130 
miles west of Lhasa. In practice, however, foreign Powers 
particularly China have tended to use the Panchen Lama as 
a political foil against the Dalai Lama. 

Just as the degree of Tibet's independence varied with the 
strength or weakness of the Chinese Government, so also the 
influence of the Panchen Lama has varied with the authority 
exercised by Peking. Whenever China was capable of exert- 
ing pressure on Tibet, the authority of the Dalai Lama has 
been weakened or compromised. Conversely, the Panchen 
Lama has tended to feel insecure when Tibet has been 
strong enough to resist Chinese threats or force. By and large 
the Panchen Lama has invariably looked to the Chinese for 
support against his temporal master in Tibet. And as in- 
variably the Chinese have been quick to respond. 

In the eighteenth century the dissensions which gave the 
Chinese an excuse to interfere in Tibet were caused largely 
by the differences and rivalries between the twin pillars of 
the Gelugpa sect the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. 
In 1780 the latter visited Peking for the Emperor Chien 
Lung's seventieth birthday and was given a reception com- 
parable to that accorded to the fifth Dalai Lama a century 
earlier. The Tibetans interpreted this as a Chinese way of 
playing off the Panchen against the Dalai Lama, and for a 
while there was nervousness at Lhasa, but the Panchen Lama 
fortuitously died the same year of smallpox. When, again, in 
1904 the thirteenth Dalai Lama fled to Mongolia from the 
British, the Chinese sought to "depose" him, and issued a 
proclamation to that effect which the Tibetans ignored. The 
Chinese also tried to install the Panchen Lama in the Dalai 
Lama's place, but this also the Tibetans ignored. On the 
Dalai Lama's -return in 1909 the God-king found the Chinese 

50 The Revolt in Tibet 

Resident Lien-Yu entrenched firmly in authority, and had 
difficulty in asserting his own. In 1910 he was again forced 
to flee this time to India, as the Chinese demands grew 
more peremptory. The collapse of the Manchu Empire in 
1911 enabled the Dalai Lama to return, expel the am bans 
and the Chinese forces, and by June, 1912, reestablish 
Tibetan authority completely. It is noticeable that when 
the God-king returned to Lhasa from his Indian exile he 
roundly rebuked the Panchen I^ama for not fighting the Chi- 
nese garrison troops. Relations between the two grew so 
strained that in 1923 the Panchen Lama fled to China, where 
he died in exile in 1937. 

In the fall of 1930 the then Kuomintang Government of 
China addressed eight questions to the Dalai Lama, seeking 
clarification of Sino-Tibetan relations and of the status of 
the Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama's answers are illuminat- 
ing. In reply to a question as to how good relations between 
Tibet and the Central Government might be restored, His 
Holiness answered: "If the Central Government would treat 
the patronage relationship between China and Tibet with 
sincerity and good faith, as it previously did, Tibet, on its 
part, having always shown sincerity in its dealings in the 
past, would from now on make an even greater effort to give 
full support to the Central Government." To another ques- 
tion regarding Tibet's autonomy the Dalai Lama's reply is 
even more emphatic: "The area over which autonomy is to 
be exercised should naturally be the same as before. It is ex- 
pected that the Central Government will return to Tibet 
those districts which originally belonged to it, but which 
are under its control, so that a perpetual peace and harmony 
will surely be the result." And again regarding the Panchen 
Lama's status: "His duty has always been confined to the re- 
ligious affairs of Tashi-lhunpo, for he has no political af- 
fairs to attend to. He should be available for membership of 

Roof of the World 51 

Lhe Kuomintang.* It must be understood, however, that he 
lias never had any say in the settlement of Tibetan affairs." 
The Dalai Lama also describes his relationship with the 
Panchen Lama as a "tutor-disciple relationship." 

On December 17, 1933, the powerful thirteenth Dalai 
Lama died, and Tibet was again torn by factions and eyed 
covetously from abroad. If Tibet had got no nearer to the 
outside world, the outside world had got nearer to Tibet. 
Within the country there was rivalry between the strongly 
nationalist, forward-looking Young Tibet group and the 
vested interests of the monasteries which resented attempts 
to curtail their power. Abroad, China and Britain watched 
Tibet uneasily. 

In the absence of the Dalai Lama a regent had to be 
elected, and the lamas succeeded in getting Reting Rimpoche, 
the abbot of a monastery, elected regent. But the Young Tibet 
group were influential with the army, and when the Chinese 
Nationalist Government attempted a tour de force by peremp- 
torily demanding of Lhasa recognition of Peking's overlord- 
ship the Chinese were rebuffed. The demand was made 
through General Huang Mu-sung, who had been dispatched 
to Lhasa as Special Commissioner to Tibet, and the Tibetan 
reply was contained in a ten-point rejoinder. Some of the 
clauses of this document are revealing. The first point reads: 
"In dealing with external affairs, Tibet shall remain an in- 
tegral part of the territory of China. But the Chinese Gov- 
ernment must promise that Tibet will not be reorganized 
into a province." The Tibetans request that "the Chinese 
Government will not interfere with the Tibetan civil and 
military authorities. . . . One representative of the Chinese 
Government may be stationed in Tibet, but his retinue shall 
not exceed twenty-five. There shall be no other representa- 
tive, either civil or military. This representative must be a 
* The Panchen Lama was then in exile in China. 

52 The Revolt in Tibet 

true believer in Buddhism/' There is a reference to border- 
area disputes: "For permanent harmony and friendship, to 
avoid any possible disputes and to maintain peace on the 
borders, the northeastern boundary between Koko Nor and 
Tibet should be maintained as proposed during the negotia- 
tions of the year before last, with O-Lo, which has long been 
under Tibet, to be included on the Tibetan side. As for the 
boundary between Tibet and Szechwan, the territory and 
people, together with the administration of De-ge, Nyarong, 
and Tachienlu, should be turned over to the Tibetan Gov- 
ernment at the earliest possible moment/' 

The Kuomintang Government, being in no position to 
force the issue, wisely held its hand. General Huang went 
back to Peking with no more than Lhasa's reluctant consent 
to the return of the Panchen Lama. When China attempted 
to secure the Panchen Lama's reentry into Tibet, the regent 
stalled. The problem was solved by the death of the Panchen 
Lama on December i, 1937. But other problems arose. On 
February 22, 1940, the fourteenth Dalai Lama was installed 
at the Potala, and the opposition of the Young Tibet group 
to the regent Reting Rimpoche came to a head. In 1941 he 
retired in favor of Tagtra Rimpoche, head of a small mon- 
astery. Six years later the former regent, who had the back- 
ing of the monks of Sera monastery, attempted a revolt, 
which was quickly subdued and in which Reting Rimpoche 
lost his life in mysterious circumstances. 

All these years, during the war and after, the Kuomintang 
Government, harassed by the Japanese and menaced by their 
own Communists, were too preoccupied to threaten Tibet. 
In August, 1945, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek conceded 
that "if and when the Tibetans attain the stage of complete 
self-reliance in political and economic conditions, the Chi- 
nese Government would like to take the same attitude as it 
did toward Outer Mongolia, by supporting their independ- 

Roof of the World 53 

ence. . . . Tibet should be able to maintain and promote 
its own independent position in order that the historical 
tragedy of Korea might not be repeated." The tone of this 
declaration is more subdued than the ultimatum delivered 
to the Tibetans some five years earlier. History was repeating 

Though the Young Tibet group was able to keep China at 
bay, on one issue it was unable to assert itself. This concerned 
the choice of a new Panchen Lama, whose selection is gov- 
erned roughly by the same procedure employed in the choice 
of a new Dalai Lama, and was similarly supervised by the 
Chinese representative at Lhasa. The ninth Panchen Lama, 
as noted, had died in exile in China in 1937, Search for his 
reincarnation was finally narrowed down to three boys, o 
whom one died before the selection was completed. Of the 
other two China backed one over whose choice Lhasa was 
not happy. Nonetheless he was installed in 1944 as the tenth 
Panchen Lama at the Kumbum monastery in the Chinese 
province of Chinghai. He is the present Panchen Lama, who, 
though selected by the Kuomintang Government, is sub- 
servient today to the Communists. There he follows tradi- 
tion; for the Panchen Lama, like his predecessors, serves as 
China's Tiojan horse in Tibet. 

The tenth Panchen Lama, who is twenty-two, was born 
in Chinghai, a Chinese province carved out of Tibet a few 
generations earlier, and was declared a reincarnation of the 
ninth Panchen Lama in 1943. By a curious coincidence both 
he and the present Dalai Lama were born, or reincarnated, 
in the same province. While the Dalai Lama was taken to 
Lhasa at the age of four, the Panchen Lama remained in 
China until 1952 when he was brought by the Communists 
to Tibet for the first time and formally installed at the 
Tashi-lhunpo (Mount of Blessing) monastery at Shigatse. 
Slightly taller than the Dalai Lama, he is not as personable 

54 The Revolt in Tibet 

or pleasant, and lacks the graciousness and cultured charm 
of His Holiness. The Panchen Lama bears the honorific of 
His Serenity. 

When the Communists seized power in China they were 
quick to exploit the Panchen Lama, Early in their advance 
across the Chinese mainland, the Chinese Communists an- 
nounced that Tibet was an integral part of China and would 
be "liberated from the imperialists." In July, 1949, as the 
Communist troops were converging on Peking, the Tibetan 
Foreign Affairs Bureau politely asked the Chinese Nationalist 
Mission and all Chinese traders suspected of Communist 
sympathies to leave the country. Two months later the 
bureau requested Mao Tse-tung to respect Tibet's terri- 
torial integrity. Alive to the political value of the Panchen 
Lama, then a boy of twelve, the Chinese Communists began 
to cultivate him and his advisers, and when in October, 1950, 
the Communist armies marched into Tibet they persuaded 
the advisers to send a telegram from Chinghai in the Panchen 
Lama's name to Mao Tse-tung, by then Chairman of the Chi- 
nese People's Central Government, and to General Chu Teh, 
commander in chief of the People's Army, to express His 
Serenity's support for the "liberation" of Tibet. Shortly after- 
ward the Panchen Lama was invited to Peking. 

In January, 1950, General Chu Teh had declared China's 
decision to "liberate" Tibet from "imperialistic influences/' 
and it was announced by the Chinese Government, two days 
after India had recognized the Communist regime, that one 
of the "basic tasks" of the People's Liberation Army during 
1950 was the "liberation" of Tibet. Meanwhile the Tibetans 
reaffirmed their independence and hastily organized mis- 
sions to rally support for Tibet's cause in India, Nepal, the 
United States, and Britain. Peking countered this move by a 
blunt warning that any country which received such an 
"illegal" mission would thereby demonstrate its hostility to 

Roof of the World 55 

China. Eventually only a single seven-man mission, ap- 
pointed by the Dalai Lama's Government, left in April, 
1950, for India en route to Hong Kong, where it hoped to 
meet representatives of the Peking Government. The British 
authorities, however, refused to grant visas to the Tibetans 
on the ground that such negotiations might exacerbate the 
already "delicate situation" in Hong Kong, and the mission 
consequently found itself marooned in Kalimpong. 

The first Chinese Communist ambassador arrived at New 
Delhi in September, and on Lhasa's instructions the Tibetan 
mission opened negotiations with him, but the talks ended 
inconclusively on October ist. According to one report the 
Tibetans were offered a choice between immediate surrender 
or invasion and given to understand that nothing less than in- 
corporation of Tibet within the "new China" would be ac- 
ceptable. Peking demanded that the delegation should come 
to the Chinese capital. As is their habit when placed in dif- 
ficult situations, the Tibetans played for time, and Peking 
characteristically construed the delay as due to hostile foreign 
intrigue and interference. 

India had all along counseled that the Sino-Tibetan dis- 
pute should be settled peacefully. On October 25, 1950, the 
Tibetan delegation left Delhi, and almost simultaneously 
came the news that the "People's Liberation Army units have 
been ordered to advance into Tibet." India protested at 
this use of force majeure but was curtly told by the Chinese 
to mind her own business. 

Actually the Chinese armies had marched into Tibet on 
October 7th, crossing the headwaters of the Yangtze, Mekong, 
and Salween rivers at several points simultaneously on that 
day, and had attacked isolated garrisons on the outer fringe 
of the Tibetan fortress town of Chamdo. This town is in the 
eastern region of Kham and was once part of Sikang Prov- 
ince, which no longer exists. At Chang-tu, about ninety miles 

56 The Revolt in Tibet 

from the Sino-Tibetan frontier, the Tibetans made a valiant 
but vain attempt to defend their country. According to the 
Chinese some four thousand men and officers were taken 
prisoner or killed by the People's Army. Among those cap- 
tured was the governor of the Chamdo area, Ngabon 
Ngawang Jigme, who was also a member of the Kashag. He 
was subjected by the Communists to some months of ' 'brain- 
washing," and proved a docile pupil, for, as noted, he was 
one of two members of the Kashag who did not accompany 
the Dalai Lama when His Holiness fled to India in March, 


Chamdo fell on October 13th, and there was little re- 
sistance by the Tibetans after that. The main military de- 
fense of Tibet had been breached, and thereafter the Chinese 
advanced in a leisurely way, one army moving from Central 
China through the former Sikang Province, the other from 
northwestern China through Chinghai Province both con- 
verging on Lhasa and both building highways as they ad- 
vanced. Late in April, 1951, a delegation of six Tibetans, led 
by the pro-Chinese Ngabon Ngawang Jigme, arrived in 
Peking from Lhasa, and on May 23, 1951, the Communist- 
imposed seven teen-point agreement was signed. We shall 
examine this later. During the negotiations and after, the 
tenth Panchen Lama, along with some forty of his followers, 
was present at Peking. It was said after Napoleon's fall that 
the Allies had brought the Bourbons back to France in 
their baggage. The Panchen Lama was to go to Tibet with 
the Chinese as their creature. 

Meanwhile, on August 8, 1951, the first official repre- 
sentative of the Peking regime, General Chang Ching-wu, 
arrived at Lhasa, a month ahead of the vanguard of the 
Chinese Army. Nine days later the Dalai Lama returned 
from Yatung to the Potala, but not until October 24th did 
he officially intimate to Mao Tse-tung the Tibetan Govern- 

Roof of the World 57 

ment's acceptance of the May ggrd agreement. On October 
s6th the divisions of the People's Army which had entered 
Tibet from the east marched into Lhasa under Lieutenant 
General Chang Kuo-hua, and they were reinforced on De- 
cember ist by the divisions which had entered Tibet from the 
northwest. On February 10, 1952, the Tibet Military District 
of the Communist Chinese Army was formally established at 
Lhasa under the command of General Chang. China's mili- 
tary stranglehold on Tibet was complete. 

Before examining in detail the developments from Com- 
munist China's invasion of Tibet in 1950 to the flight of the 
Dalai Lama in 1959, let us look at the governmental struc- 
ture of Tibet as it was prior to the Communist infiltration. 

Under the Dalai Lama, Tibet was divided for administra- 
tive purposes into five main zones which in turn were sub- 
divided into several provinces and districts. The five main 
zones were U-Tsang (Lhasa and Shigatse), Gartok (western 
Tibet), Kham (eastern Tibet), Loka (southern Tibet), and 
Chang (northern Tibet). In each of these zones was a repre- 
sentative of the government known as chi-kyap. Below the 
chi-kyaps were the dzongpons (captains of the fortresses) who 
act as local magistrates and tax collectors. These officials, both 
at the top and lower levels, could be either lay or clerical, 
monks figuring in the civil and military administration. 

The ultimate control of all civil and ecclesiastical matters 
lay in the hands of the Dalai Lama, whose authority was 
supreme. During his minority or absence a regent who was 
appointed by the Tsongdu (National Assembly) could act for 
the Dalai Lama; but no one else, including the Panchen 
Lama, may exercise his temporal or religious authority. The 
regent chosen was traditionally an Incarnate Lama from one 
of seven specified monasteries. 

Like the Dalai Lama, who exercised both secular and ec- 

58 The Revolt in Tibet 

clesiastical authority, so also the administration retained a 
dual character, with a secular and an ecclesiastical official 
functioning jointly at each post. During the periods when 
the Dalai Lama ruled (but not when there was a Regent), 
there were usually two prime ministers, one an ecclesiastical 
prime minister and the other a prime minister of state for 
civil affairs. They were known as silons, and served as inter- 
mediaries between the Kashag and the Dalai Lama. One of 
the first moves of the Chinese Communists was to dismiss 
the Dalai Lama's two prime ministers, Lukhang, a noble- 
man, and Lobsang Tashi, a lama. 

The Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet) originally consisted of four 
members, one a monk and three nobles who are known as 
shapes or kalons. Later the number was enlarged to six, four 
of them lay and two monks. Each member held one or more 
portfolios in the government, but matters of foreign policy 
were under the direct charge of the Dalai Lama, though in 
1942 a Bureau of Foreign Affairs under the state prime 
minister was created. The Chinese Communists compelled 
the Kashag to dissolve the bureau. On the secular side of the 
government was an Accounting Office composed of four 
tsepons (chief accountants or financial secretaries), and the 
secular side of the government also supervised the provincial 
governors (depons) with their subordinate prefects known as 
dzongpons, a pair consisting of a monk and a layman, who 
were in charge of the districts (dzongs) into which the coun- 
try was divided. 

The ecclesiastical counterpart of the Kashag was the 
Yiktsang (Nest of Letters), and this body was composed en- 
tirely of monks, normally four in number. The Yiktsang 
holds the Dalai Lama's seal, which is affixed to all docu- 
ments of importance, and also appointed the monks who 
shared power with the lay nobles at the higher rungs of the 
administrative ladder. It administered all the monasteries 

Roof of the World 59 

except the Three Great ones (Drepung, Sera, and Ganden). 
The Lord Chamberlain (Chi-kyap Khempo) who was in 
charge of the Potala was the counterpart of the silons and 
acted as intermediary between the Yiktsang and the Dalai 
Lama. The present Dalai Lama's third elder brother, 
Lobsang Samten, who had been with His Holiness to Yatung, 
held the office of Lord Chamberlain. The treasuries within 
the Potala were in charge of the ecclesiastical section of the 

Assisting the Kashag was the Tsongdu, or National Assem- 
bly, which was summoned by the Kashag only to discuss 
matters of great national importance. Its functions were ad- 
visory, its decisions being transmitted through the Kashag, 
which could add its own recommendations, to the Dalai 
Lama. In this assembly the opinions of the abbots and 
treasurers of the Three Great Monasteries carried the larg- 
est weight. The Tsongdu had some 350 members made up of 
an equal proportion of priests and laymen. A Small Assembly 
(Tsongdu Dupa) composed of about forty laymen and twenty 
monks was occasionally invited to discuss matters of lesser 

Despite the centralized character of the administration, 
the degree of local autonomy in Tibet's outlying areas de- 
pended largely on the personality and prestige of the Dalai 
Lama. Of the modern Dalai Lamas the greatest so far has 
been the thirteenth, ranking only second to the Great Fifth. 
The peculiar misfortune of Tibet has been that at a crucial 
period of her history, when the Hans who were hammering 
down the door finally forced it open, both the Dalai Lama 
and the Panchen Lama were minors, for in 1950 the Dalai 
Lama was around fifteen while the Panchen Lama was a lit- 
tle over twelve. Both were susceptible to environment and 

It cannot be denied that the numerical preponderance of 

60 The Revolt in Tibet 

the lamas and their pervasive influence in the secular and 
ecclesiastical spheres, combined with the fact that the monas- 
teries relied mainly on the lay population for financial 
support, even though the state had endowed them gener- 
ously with landed property, rendered this class a heavy bur- 
den on the people. They enjoyed many privileges which 
attracted not a few masculine drones to the profession of 
priesthood. The Chinese Government, even before the 
Communists came to power, realized the political value of 
Tibet's vast army of lamas and monks, and capitalized on it 
by heavily subsidizing various monasteries, including the 
three great seats which in moments of stress could be relied 
upon to support them. This has paid dividends no less in the 
days of the Manchus than of Mao Tse-tung. 

Since the Communist offensive has been concentrated 
largely on the lamas, it is necessary to peer more closely at the 
social and religious structure of Lamaism, which is Tibet's 
religion. That the monks form a superior caste is evident in 
and acknowledged by the fact that wherever they share au- 
thority with a layman and this is widespread in Tibetan 
administration the voice of the monk prevails. On the other 
hand, the procedure which governs the selection of the Dalai 
Lama combines both conservative and liberal practices re- 
specting the aristocratic and democratic. It also ensures a 
measure of social stability. In so far as the Dalai Lama may 
emerge from economically the lowest in the land the Great 
Fifth was the son of a poor peasant from Chung-gye the 
method of his selection makes for national unity. There is 
no class consciousness where the Living Buddha is con- 
cerned. His office is no one's privilege. And the manner of his 
choice combines respect for popular democracy with regard 
for metaphysical monarchy, perhaps deliberately, since if he 
came from a rich family its automatic ennoblement might tend 

Roof of the World 61 

to make an already influential family excessively powerful. 

Tibetan life has been medieval and feudal. But, oddly 
enough, the Tibetans seem to be among the really happy 
people of the world, which is not an excuse for perpetuating 
prevailing social and economic conditions but a sound reason 
for inducing change within the pattern of Tibetan thinking, 
though not by the imposition of a cast-iron Chinese mold. 

To the average Tibetan his religion is what really matters. 
"The one thing," said a refugee, "which the Chinese want to 
break is our worship of our Gods. That is why we left/' And 
another, pulling out from beneath his shirt a string of bags 
with sacred relics which encircled his neck, remarked, "If my 
heart is pure, fifty bullets can't kill me/' The strength and 
influence wielded by the monasteries, which are the strong- 
holds of Lamaism, are undoubtedly enormous. There are 
over three thousand of these in Tibet. But Lamaism as 
practiced is a living faith, not merely the privilege and 
perquisite of an ambitious and avaricious monastic brother- 
hood, but a truly popular religion which saturates the life 
and mind of the Tibetan people. 

Actually, the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet is not 
vastly different from Indian Buddhism, being of the same 
type as the Mahayana or theistic form of Buddhism. First 
in order of importance in the Lamaist pantheon is the Bud- 
dha, then Amitabha, whose reincarnation is the Panchen 
Lama; and next Avalokiteshwara, whose spirit lives in the 
Dalai Lama. Highest in the Lamaist pantheon is the Adi 
Buddha, or First Buddha the One, the External, the Un- 
created. In Tibet he is known by different names representa- 
tive of different attributes. Thus the Gelugpa sect call him 
Dorje-chang (He Who Holds the Lightning), while the 
Ngingmapa or Kadamba sect call him Samantabhadra (Uni- 
versal Kindness). The Kargyupa lamas, who practice an oral 
tradition, know him as Dorje-sempa (Whose Essence Is 

62 The Revolt in Tibet 

Light). The Adi Buddha has five manifestations, the Five 
Dhyani Buddhas (Buddhas of meditation), each presiding 
over one of the five kalpas (epochs) * of the world, and each 
emanating one of the five elements, one of the five senses, 
one of the five colors, and one of the five vowels. These 
Dhyani Buddhas are depicted as ascetics seated in the 
Adamantine posture, the posture of most meditation. They 
represent the thought and order behind our multiple uni- 
verse. Each Dhyani Buddha has his Dhyani Bodhisattva 
whom he generates, and each Dhyani Bodhisaltva creates a 
universe over which he presides, and has two aspects 
samsara (militant) and karuna (benevolent compassion). Once 
in every epoch each Dhyani Buddha generates a Manushi 
Buddha, a terrestrial Buddha like Gautama himself, who was 
born Prince Siddhartha and became the Lord Buddha. 
Succession by reincarnation governs the line of the two 
Grand Lamas, who are linked in a metaphysical interde- 
pendence representing two aspects of the Buddha the 
Panchen Lama being an incarnation of the Dhyani Buddha 
Amitabha while the Dalai Lama is the incarnation of the 
Dhyani Bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara. The Bodhisattvas, be- 
ing potential Buddhas, are in contact with the vortex of life, 
while a Dhyani Buddha lives only on the plane of pure 
thought. This is the reason why the Panchen Lama is sup- 
posed to wield no secular power, confining himself only to 
the spiritual, though it does not always happen in practice. 
The Dalai Lama exercises both spiritual and secular author- 

Everywhere in Tibet one sees inscribed or hears chanted 
the sacred words Om Mane Padme Hum, which translated 
literally mean "Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus. " 

Yet as an Incarnate Lama explained to an Indian visitor, 

* Lamaists reckon the present to be the fourth epoch. Each epoch runs 
into thousands of years. 

Roof of the World 63 

"The Jewel is none else but the Buddha, and the Lotus is the 
heart. So its real rendering is 'Hail to the Buddha in our 
hearts!' " 

God, according to the Tibetans, resides in every one of 
their hearts. 




"Recognizing that each nationality has the right to self- 
determination does not mean that each nationality must be 
independent and isolated," declared Radio Peking in the 
first of two lectures on "Basic Marxism- Lenin ism" delivered 
on May 9, 1956. "Whether it is appropriate for a nationality 
to be independent ... is for the Communist party to de- 
cide. Lenin expressed the essence of the right of nations to 
self-determination in a simple formula: 'To separate in order 
to unite/ " 

On May loth, in the course of the second lecture, the 
speaker observed: "The various national minorities are 
politically, economically, and culturally backward as com- 
pared to the Han nationality. They live in extensive areas of 
rich natural resources, highly significant to the socialist con- 
struction of the motherland. ... In accordance with the 


The Dragon Leaps Forward 65 

situation the Chinese Communist party formulated its 
policy toward nationalities. This is a policy to consolidate 
. . . and build up the great motherland." 

Five years earlier the Chinese Communists had applied 
this policy to Tibet, emphasizing in the preamble to the Sino- 
Tibetan agreement of May 23, 1951, that "in order that the 
Tibetan nationality and people might be freed and return 
to the big family of the People's Republic of China to en- 
joy the same rights of national equality as all the other na- 
tionalities in the country/' the seventeen-point agreement 
was being signed. In effect this declaration implied two 
things first, that Tibet had not before this, for some time at 
least, been a member of the big family of the great mother- 
land and, second, that the agreement was between two equal 
and independent countries. For instance, the preamble to 
the agreement states, inter alia, that "the Central People's 
Government appointed representatives with full powers to 
conduct talks on a friendly basis with the delegates with full 
powers of the local government of Tibet. As a result of these 
talks both parties agreed to conclude this agreement and 
carry it into effect." The reference to "full powers" implies 
an independent and equal status for both sides which is re- 
inforced by the fact that the essential purpose of the agree- 
ment was not the grant of power by the Chinese Govern- 
ment to the Government of Tibet but the transfer of certain 
rights by Tibet to the Chinese authorities. In order to be 
able to transfer rights a state must possess them more spe- 
cifically under Article 14 of the agreement. Tibet undertook 
to surrender to China her right to conduct her foreign af- 
fairs, a right which automatically carries with it an interna- 
tional status and recognition. 

To turn to the agreement itself. Clause i, accordingly, says: 
"The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist 
aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall re- 

66 The Revolt in Tibet 

turn to the big family of the Motherland the People's Re- 
public of China." Since the agreement was a result of aggres- 
sion by the imperialist Chinese, the irony of the clause was 
perhaps noted but not relished by the Tibetans. In return 
for this gesture the Chinese conceded that "the Tibetan 
people have the right of exercising national regional au- 
tonomy under the unified leadership of the Central People's 
Government/' The content and character of this national 
regional autonomy was indicated negatively by Chinese 
promises not to interfere in certain spheres. 

Thus Clause 4 specifically stated that "the central au- 
thorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet. 
The central authorities also will not alter the established 
status, functions, and powers of the Dalai Lama. Officials of 
various ranks shall hold office as usual." 

Clause 5 ensures that the established status, functions, 
and powers of the Panchen Lama shall be maintained; while 
the following clause, interpreting what is meant by the es- 
tablished status, functions, and powers of these two Grand 
Lamas, defines them as those enjoyed by the thirteenth Dalai 
Lama and the ninth Panchen Lama when they were in 
friendly and amicable relations with each other. Clause 7 
promises that "the religious beliefs, customs, and habits of 
the Tibetan people shall be respected, and the lama monas- 
teries shall be protected. The central authorities will not af- 
fect a change in the income of the monasteries." 

There is yet another promise which the Chinese Com- 
munists must have given with their tongues well in their 
cheeks. Under Clause 1 1 they pledge that "in matters related 
to various reforms in Tibet, there will be no compulsion on 
the part of the central authorities. The local Government of 
Tibet shall carry out reforms of its own accord, and when 
the people raise demands for reform they shall be settled 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 67 

by means of consultation with the leading personnel of 

These promises were no sooner given than they were 
broken. Yet with characteristic cynicism the Chinese Com- 
munists continued to give bland assurances of their inten- 
tion to respect Tibetan autonomy. In a reference to projected 
land reforms, Mao Tse-tung while receiving a Tibetan dele- 
gation in 1952 assured them that "it is as yet premature to 
speak of distributing the land in Tibet. The Tibetan peo- 
ple themselves must decide whether it is to be distributed in 
the future. Moreover the land, when it is distributed, will be 
distributed by the Tibetan people themselves/' Such as- 
surances were probably provoked by the growing resistance 
in Tibet to the Communist policy of infiltration, indoctrina- 
tion, and domination, a conclusion supported by similar 
statements made by lesser Chinese dignitaries with the sole 
intention of allaying Tibetan fears and suspicions while 
pressing Communist policies forward. This was virtually ad- 
mitted by General Chang Kuo-hua, commander of the Tibet 
military district, in a speech at Lhasa some three weeks after 
the Dalai Lama's flight when he confessed that Tibetan re- 
sistance to Communist "reforms" had begun as early as 
1951. Nonetheless in the late fall of 1954, when the Indian 
prime minister was in Peking, Mao Tse-tung utilized the 
opportunity to stage a pantomime of his own. In the presence 
of Mr. Nehru he assured the Dalai Lama, who was there 
with the Panchen Lama, that Tibet would enjoy autonomy 
which "no other Chinese province enjoyed in the People's 
Republic of China." Earlier, on September 2Oth, when the 
Chinese ruler received the two Grand Lamas he had indi- 
cated that among impending changes the Chinese intended 
to colonize Tibet at a ratio of around five to one. This was 
disclosed two years later in a speech at Lhasa on April 26, 

68 The Revolt in Tibet 

1956, by General Chang Kuo-hua, who paraphrased Mao's 
statement: "Tibet is a huge area but is too thinly popu- 
lated. Efforts must be made to raise the population from 
the present level of two million to more than ten million. 
Besides, the economy and culture need development. Under 
the heading of culture, schools, newspapers, films, and so on, 
are included, and also religion. . . ." 

The last clause of the Sino-Tibetan agreement stipulated 
that it "shall come into force immediately after signatures 
and seals are affixed to it," which implied that it would not be 
operative unless and until the Dalai Lama's seal was affixed 
to the document. Accordingly the Tibetan delegates, accom- 
panied by one of the Chinese signatories, Chang Ching-wu, 
proceeded to Yatung, where the Dalai Lama had moved his 
government from Lhasa. They arrived there on July 14, 1951, 
and showed the document to His Holiness, who in August 
decided to return to his capital, reaching it on August 17th. 
He did not, however, formally accept it until October 24th. 
As the God-king explained to the world press in his state- 
ment issued from Mussoorie on June 20, 1959: "While I 
and my Government did not voluntarily accept the agree- 
ment, we were obliged to acquiesce in it and decided to abide 
by the terms and conditions in order to save my people and 
country from danger of total destruction. It was, however, 
clear from the very beginning that the Chinese had no inten- 
tion of carrying out the agreement." His Holiness at the same 
time alleged that the Tibetan seal affixed to the agreement 
"was not the seal of my representatives but a seal copied and 
fabricated by the Chinese authorities in Peking and kept in 
their possession ever since." 

If this is correct, the Dalai Lama's approval of the agree- 
ment was not only obtained under duress but enforced by 
chicanery. That it was obtained under duress is clear from the 
three-month interval which occurred between the submission 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 69 

of the document to His Holiness and the God-king's reluc- 
tant consent. The Dalai Lama did not accept the agreement 
until after the vanguard units of the People's Liberation 
Army arrived in Lhasa on September 9, 1951, and the main 
body of the army was on the outskirts of the capital. Signifi- 
cantly, too, the Tibetans attached no validity to the agree- 
ment until the Dalai Lama had formally assented. Why in 
the circumstances the Chinese should have fabricated the 
God-king's seal which should have been attached to the 
agreement is less easily explained. It is possible that the 
Yiktsang, which holds the Dalai Lama's seal in custody, was 
reluctant to transport it to Peking and that the Chinese, 
interpreting this as the traditional Tibetan method of play- 
ing for time, forestalled it by devices of their own. 

Having established the Tibet Military Area Headquarters 
in February, 1952, and opened the Lhasa branch of the Peo- 
ple's Bank of China in the same month, the Communists 
around April began to assert their authority more overtly. 
The Dalai Lama was first compelled to dismiss his two prime 
ministers under the threat, as he revealed at Mussoorie, "of 
their execution without trial because they had in all honesty 
and sincerity resisted unjustified usurpation of power by the 
representatives of the Chinese Government in Tibet." The 
Kashag, as noted, was also ordered to dissolve its Foreign 
Affairs Bureau, and was replaced by a Lhasa Foreign Affairs 
Office of the Peking regime, "to dispose of all foreign affairs 
of the Tibet area." This, however, was in accord with the 

Having accomplished this, the Chinese Communists then 
set out systematically to erode the powers of the Dalai Lama 
and enlarge those of the Panchen Lama. On April 28, 1952, 
the Panchen Lama, never previously in Tibet, was brought 
to Lhasa under the auspices of the People's Liberation Army 
and formally installed later in the Tashi-lhunpo monastery 

70 The Revolt in Tibet 

at Shigatse. The Dalai Lama's prestige and power were still 
considerable, however, and the Chinese, behind a facade of 
Tibetan representation, could only bypass these by subtly 
altering the governmental structure to enlarge the Panchen 
Lama's domain and authority and simultaneously to curtail 
those of the Dalai Lama. 

They did this in three ways over a period extending from 
1951 to 1956. In 1951 the Chinese Communists organized the 
People's Liberation Committee of the Chamdo Area, where 
their armies had first penetrated when they had invaded 
Tibet the year before. This area in the western half of what 
was then Sikang Province was formerly governed from Lhasa 
by the Tibetan Government.* It now came under the con- 
trol of the Liberation Committee, which set up its own 
organs of administration at the local and regional levels, 
abolished the "feudal service systems" of the former govern- 
ment, and established state trading companies and controlled 
schools. Five years later, when the Communists set up the 
Preparatory Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Area, 
which effectively neutralized the Dalai Lama's authority, the 
People's Liberation Committee was one of its three compo- 
nent units. One of the other two was the local Tibetan Gov- 
ernment headed by the Dalai Lama, and the third was to 
be the Panchen Kanpo Lija, under the Panchen Lama's 

In March, 1954, the Communists established at Shigatse, 
seat of the Panchen Lama, the so-called Panchen Kanpo Lija, 
or Council, staffed by followers of the Panchen Lama whose 
primary loyalty was to His Serenity and not to His Holiness. 
The exact extent of the territory administered by the 
Panchen Kanpo Lija was never defined, but it covered the 
populous sections of the province of Tsang, which forms a 

* Sikang Province was abolished on July 18, 1955, and incorporated partly 
into Tibet and partly into Szechwan Province. 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 71 

large portion of central Tibet. Of about 200,000 people in 
Tsang, the Panchen Lama's followers number over 100,000. 

Thus by 1954 Tibet was divided into three administrative 
areas, over only one of which the Dalai Lama, with his seat at 
Lhasa, exercised effective authority. Even this restricted 
power, as noted, was neutralized by the establishment in 
Lhasa on April 22, 1956, of the Preparatory Committee for 
the Tibet Autonomous Region, whose creation had been 
first authorized by the Chinese State Council in March, 1955. 
The Chinese division of Tibet into three administrative areas 
added a new element to the existing Han-Tibetan rivalries 
- mtra-Tibetan disunity, which was crystallized, fostered, 
and accentuated by the establishment of the Preparatory 

Of the fifty-one members of the Preparatory Committee, 
fifteen represented the local Tibetan Government, which was 
under the Dalai Lama's control, while ten were from the 
Panchen Kanpo Lija and ten from the People's Liberation 
Committee of the Chamdo area. In addition there were five 
members from the cadres of the Central People's Government 
now working in the Tibet area, and eleven others, including 
representatives from the major monasteries, religious sects, 
and public bodies. The Dalai Lama was appointed director, 
with the Panchen Lama and General Chang Kuo-hua as first 
and second vice directors. Simultaneously, the Chinese made 
it clear that the Preparatory Committee would function 
under the direction of the State Council at Peking. On ad- 
ministrative matters (a compendious and comprehensive 
term) the three organizations the local Tibetan Govern- 
ment, the Panchen Kanpo Lija, and the People's Liberation 
Committee of the Chamdo Area were also directly respon- 
sible to the Chinese State Council. It was, moreover, stipu- 
lated that all the enterprises under the State Council which 
operated in Tibet would be controlled by the various respon- 

72 The Revolt in Tibet 

sible departments of the State Council, and that the agency 
for carrying out the State Council's directives would be the 
PLA Tibetan Military District Command. Thereby Tibet's 
administrative matters were in practice controlled by the 
Chinese Army authorities, though theoretically the power 
resided in a body with a facade of Tibetan representation. 
Many of the committee's subordinate offices were headed by 
Chinese Communists. Of forty-nine "leadership personnel" 
seventeen were Chinese and thirty-two Tibetans, while ac- 
cording to the list released by the New China News Agency a 
Chinese was among the "leadership personnel" of every one 
of the fifteen committees except that of Culture-Education. 
This office, however, was in the safe hands of the Political 
Committee of the Tibet Military Command. As the Dalai 
Lama observed in his statement of June soth at Mussoorie, 
"They [the Chinese Communists] did not lose any opportu- 
nity to undermine my authority and sow dissension among 
my people." 

Behind the facade of Tibetan autonomy the Chinese 
worked methodically to undermine the Dalai Lama's influ- 
ence in every sphere. Before the end of 1952 branches of the 
People's Bank of China were opened in the principal cities 
and towns of Tibet. On May i, 1952, the Chinese created the 
Tibet Regional Working Committee of the Communist 
Youth League to aid their efforts to indoctrinate the country's 
youth who they felt could be most easily "educated" into 
accepting Chinese rule and the Marxist philosophy. Simulta- 
neously they planned to utilize this new youthful cadre to 
eliminate education in the Buddhist religion and deprecate 
other traditional Tibetan social values. By January, 1953, 
a New China News Agency dispatch was able to claim that 
fourteen primary schools with thirteen hundred pupils had 
been opened and over four hundred Tibetans trained. Hun- 
dreds of Tibetan youths were taken to China for "training," 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 73 

and returned to their country duly indoctrinated. In April, 
1957, the Chinese Communists claimed that during the past 
six years some seventy primary schools with accommodation 
for six thousand students had been established in various 
localities in Tibet. 

Propaganda proceeded with indoctrination. By 1953 the 
Political Department of the Tibet Military District had 
begun publication of a monthly paper called Tibetan News, 
and this was reinforced three years later in April, 1956, by a 
daily, the Tibet Jih Pao, published in Tibetan and Chinese, 
which served as the organ of the Preparatory Committee. 
Many thousands of handouts of propaganda material in the 
Tibetan language were distributed by PLA units in various 
parts of the country. 

Yet even here, in propaganda and indoctrination, on which 
the Communists concentrated from the beginning, the Ti- 
betans offered resistance. Until the Communists came, educa- 
tion in Tibet was practically non-existent except in a reli- 
gious form, and was confined to the monks, nobles, mer- 
chants, and other affluent classes. Many Tibetan monks are 
educated and well versed in the complexities of Lamaism and 
Tibetan politics. For the most part the nobles and others of 
their ilk are educated partly in Tibet by monks and partly 
abroad, in English-teaching schools in India. In 1913 Sir 
Charles Bell, British Representative at Lhasa, persuaded the 
Tibetan Government to send four Tibetan boys for edu- 
cation to England. One of the four was Dorje Tsegyal Lung- 
shar, who for a brief period after the thirteenth Dalai Lama's 
death was the dominating political force in Tibet. 

For the serfs and artisans there were no educational facil- 
ities, and the Communists have concentrated on them as 
good and pliable material for their purposes. At the new 
Lhasa Primary School the children of the aristocracy now sit 
alongside the children of the serfs, and about two-thirds of 

74 The Revolt in Tibet 

the pupils come from the homes of commoners. The pattern 
is repeated in the one hundred and more primary schools 
which the Communists have established in the country. 
These institutions are coeducational. No religious instruc- 
tion is now given, but there is a course on the Han language. 
In more advanced educational institutions, such as the col- 
leges of social education at Lhasa and Shigatse, political 
studies have a high place in the curriculum and consist 
largely in the study of Sino-Tibetan agreements (particularly 
the agreement of 1951), the Chinese Constitution, and the 
policy of the Chinese Communist Government on religion 
and national minorities. The Communists have also set up 
technical colleges, devoted largely to agriculture and live- 
stock farming the two main branches of Tibetan economy 
and institutions for training in administration, medicine, 
banking, and industry. 

In themselves these are welcome reforms, and would have 
been accepted as such by the vast mass of Tibetans had their 
objective not been the undermining and eventual uprooting 
of the Tibetan religion, culture, and way of life and the in- 
doctrination of the country's youth with Communist ideas. 
In his June 2oth statement at Mussoorie the Dalai Lama de- 
clared that the Tibetan Government was not opposed to 
reforms. Indeed, it realized the need for them. "I wish to 
emphasize," said His Holiness, "that I and my government 
have never been opposed to reforms which are necessary in 
the social, economic, and political systems prevailing in 
Tibet. We have no desire to disguise the fact that ours is 
an ancient society and that we must introduce immediate 
changes in the interests of the people of Tibet." The Dalai 
Lama went on to say that during the previous nine years he 
and his government had proposed several reforms but that 
the Chinese had strenuously resisted them and prevented 
their realization. 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 75 

The only reforms the Communists were prepared to intro- 
duce were those molded to suit Marxist ends. What the Chi- 
nese aimed at in Tibet was the production of reliable pro- 
Chinese Communists, and this involved a complete break 
with Tibetan traditions. The zeal with which the Chinese 
carried out this indoctrination is revealed in a report sub- 
mitted late in 1957 by Fan Ming, Secretary of the Chinese 
Communist party's Tibet Work Committee. "Now," he re- 
ports, "there are more than 5,000 local revolutionary cadres 
of Tibetan nationality, more than 1,000 Communist party 
members of Tibetan nationality, and more than 2,000 Youth 
Communist League members. At the same time, there are 
more than 6,000 members of the Patriotic Youth Cultural 
Association, and more than 1,000 members of the Patriotic 
Women's Association." Members of the last two associations, 
apart from their collective activities, were required to set up 
home study groups in each village. The Tibet Jih Pao of 
December 11, 1957, carried a report of the activities of one 
such association at Yatung: "They not only study policy on 
'no reform in six years,' * but also study articles on major 
foreign and home events carried in the Tibetan edition of the 
Tibet Jih Pao. The Yatung branch of the C.C.P. Work Com- 
mittee gave them reading materials." 

The same Fan Ming about this time was driven to confess 
that the problem of Chinese disregard for Tibetan customs 
and sensitivities was becoming worse, and that Tibetan re- 
sentment was increasing. "Great-Han chauvinism in Tibet," 
he complained, "is manifested in the feeling of superiority 
of the Han race, repugnance at the backwardness of Tibet, 
discrimination against Tibet, distortion of Tibet, failure to 
respect the freedom of religious belief and traditional cus- 
toms of the Tibetan people. ... As a result, some cases 

* This refers to the Chinese decision, announced in 1957, not to proceed 
with "democratic reforms" in Tibet until after 1962. 

76 The Revolt in Tibet 

have occurred where the nationalities policy was impaired, 
law and discipline were violated, and the freedom of religious 
belief and the customs of the Tibetans were not respected." 
The Communist phrase for describing these lapses was to 
label them "the phenomenon of commandism." 

Not long after the Dalai Lama's flight a communiqu is- 
sued by Peking on March 28, 1959, admitted that Tibetan 
officials had begun to organize resistance to Communism 
soon after the Chinese armies had entered Tibet. It declared 
that ever since 1951 highly placed Tibetans, including four 
of the six members of the Kashag, had "been plotting to tear 
up the [seventeen-point] agreement and preparing for armed 
rebellion." This was later reiterated by the Chinese Commu- 
nist military commander in Tibet, General Chang Kuo-hua, 
who revealed in a speech on April 8, 1959, to the Preparatory 
Committee that the Tibetan Government's opposition to 
Communist policies began soon after the Sino-Tibetan agree- 
ment of 1951 was signed. According to Chang, "a group of 
reactionaries" headed by Sitzub Lokangwa, Tsewong Routen, 
and Lozong Drashi of the former local Tibetan Government 
had in 1952 organized a people's conference with the inten- 
tion of starting a counterrevolutionary plot. This group had 
submitted a memorandum to the Chinese through the Dalai 
Lama demanding that His Holiness should be given full con- 
trol over Tibet, that the over-all strength of the Chinese occu- 
pation troops should be reduced, that conditions in the 
Tibetan monasteries should be improved, and that the food 
situation should be seriously considered because food prices 
were rising dizzily. Not only had the local Tibetan Govern- 
ment failed to deal with the "reactionaries," but it had, 
alleged Chang, actively connived with and supported them. 
The general was referring to the Tibetan patriotic organi- 
zation called Mimang, which means in Tibetan the "masses" 
or the "majority." 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 77 

Thus opposition to the Chinese Communists was by no 
means confined, as they asserted later, to the feudal minority, 
but was widespread among the people. On this point Mr. 
Nehru shared the Tibetan view, and said so in his speech to 
the Lok Sabha on April 27, 1959: "To say that a number 
of 'upper strata reactionaries' in Tibet were solely responsi- 
ble for this appears to be an extraordinary simplification of a 
complicated situation. Even according to the accounts re- 
ceived through Chinese sources, the revolt in Tibet was of 
considerable magnitude and the basis of it must have been 
a strong feeling of nationalism which affects not only the 
upper-class people, but others also. No doubt, vested interests 
joined it and sought to profit by it. The attempt to explain 
a situation by the use of rather worn-out words, phrases, and 
slogans is seldom helpful." 

Naturally the Chinese Communists did not relish the 
Indian prime minister's frank statement. But Nehru's analy- 
sis had in fact been earlier borne out by the declarations of 
the Chinese leaders themselves, including Mao Tse-tung and 
Chou En-lai, the former having ordered a tactical retreat in 
Tibet in his famous speech on ' 'contradictions" on February 
27, 1957. "Because conditions in Tibet are not ripe, demo- 
cratic reforms have not yet been carried out there/' explained 
Chairman Mao. "It has now been decided not to proceed 
with democratic reform in Tibet during the period of the 
second Five-Year Plan,* and we can only decide whether it 
will be done in the third Five-Year Plan in the light of the 
situation obtaining at that time." On April 22, 1957 the 
first anniversary of the formation of the Preparatory Com- 
mittee a government decree formally announced that social 
reforms in Tibet would be postponed until after 1962. If 
opposition to them had been confined only to the upper 
strata, Peking would not have bowed even temporarily before 

The second Five-Year Plan was initiated in 1957. 

78 The Revolt in Tibet 

the storm. In fact the Tibet Jih Pao of August 23, *957> ad- 
mitted that the opposition was widespread. "Although a 
minority of the people is eager for the reforms, the majority 
still lacks an enthusiastic demand/' it confessed. 

One of the Communists' earliest activities was to open up 
Tibet to China. In that sense the former state of geograph- 
ical isolation was replaced by one of political insulation. The 
improvement of communications with China by air, rail, and 
land enjoys a high priority in the Communist development 
programs, for politically and economically it brings Tibet 
closer within the Han fold. 

As the Chinese troops advanced into Tibet in the late fall 
of 1950, they were directed by Peking to undertake, with the 
help of the "work personnel" also entering Tibet, the con- 
struction of two major arteries to link Tibet with China. 
These were the Sikang-Tibet and the Chinghai-Tibet high- 
ways, the former linking Lhasa with Central China, the latter 
connecting the Tibetan capital with northwestern China. 
Both represent considerable engineering feats, the 1,41 3-mile 
Sikang-Tibet highway being reckoned the world's highest 
road, perched at an average height of 13,000 feet across four- 
teen high mountain ranges and twelve rivers, including the 
Mekong and the Salween. The Chinghai-Tibet highway also 
traverses difficult terrain over the desolate swampland and 
desert of northern Tibet, running from Sining east of Lake 
Koko Nor to Zamsar about fifty miles northwest of Lhasa. 
The two highways meet at Zamsar from where the Sikang- 
Tibet road has been extended southwest to Shigatse and 
through Gyantse to Phari, the nearest town from the mouth 
of Nathu La, the old caravan pass leading to Gangtok, capital 
of Sikkim, which lies some thirty miles on the other side of 
the border. Northward the Tibet-Sikang highway reaches out 
from Sining by an older highway to Lanchow in the Chinese 
province of Kansu. 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 79 

Both these highways were completed by December, 1954, 
and according to Radio Peking "the journey from Peking or 
Shanghai to Lhasa has been cut to less than twenty days as 
compared with three months needed by the old caravan 
routes." On the Sikang-Tibet highway the first convoy of 
trucks, again according to Radio Peking, took eight days to 
go from Chengtu, where the road begins, to the southern 
bank of a tributary of the river Kyi Chu which runs through 
Lhasa. This journey had formerly taken "more than thirty- 
eight days." The extension of the Sikang highway from Lhasa 
to Shigatse, seat of the Panchen Lama, and beyond almost to 
the Bhutan-Sikkimese border is indicative of the Commu- 
nists' political motives and their calculated efforts to increase 
the authority of the Panchen Lama at the cost of the Dalai 
Lama. The extension of the road to Shigatse meant that one 
could drive from there to Lhasa within a day, a journey 
which had formerly taken a week by horse. The political 
influence of the Panchen Lama could thereby make a propor- 
tionately closer impact. On the economic side Shigatse was 
put on the main route from India to Lhasa and Peking, and 
its economic importance was consequently increased. 

It is evident that the Dalai Lama and his advisers were not 
unaware of these implications, for despite continuous, even 
rigorous, Communist control and supervision His Holiness 
was able by subtle suggestion in his public statements to indi- 
cate that he did not wholly approve of Chinese policies. He 
had noted that while the Communists sought to denigrate his 
political authority vis-a-vis the Panchen Lama, they had also 
attempted unsuccessfully to deprecate his spiritual influence. 
In May, 1954, both the Grand Lamas were summoned to 
Peking for the First National People's Congress as deputies 
from Tibet, and in August they left the country by different 
routes for the Chinese capital. In their absence the Commu- 
nists began a campaign against the Dalai Lama, even re- 

8o The Revolt in Tibet 

writing Tibetan Buddhist history to suggest that the Panchen 
Lama was the ruler of Outer Tibet, which includes the Lhasa 
region, while the Dalai Lama's authority was alleged to be 
restricted to the disputed districts of Inner Tibet, which 
comprise areas in Chinghai, Szechwan, and Kansu provinces. 
These efforts did not impress the Tibetans, but it is note- 
worthy that the Chinese Communist attempts to whittle 
down the Dalai Lama's prestige extended to Chinese-popu- 
lated areas abroad. About this time, in 1954, the Hong Kong 
Communist daily Ta Kung Pao blatantly declared that after 
the death of Tsong-kapa, founder of the Gelugpa sect of 
Yellow Hats, "two of his disciples ruled over Inner and Outer 
Tibet respectively in accordance with his will. The elder 
disciple, the Dalai Lama, became ruler of Inner Tibet and 
the younger disciple, the Panchen Lama, ruler of Outer 
Tibet." These palpable efforts to diminish the Dalai Lama's 
prestige were not unnoticed by him. 

The two major highways linking Tibet with China, as 
well as the network of new roads inside Tibet, were described 
by the Chinese as having been constructed by voluntary 
labor. In fact long stretches of these roads were built by 
forced Tibetan labor and with the "loan" of vast quantities 
of grain and silver from the reserve granaries and treasury of 
the Government of Tibet. A Tibetan official has since com- 
puted that during four years of road construction largely 
for Chinese military purposes the Tibetans were required 
to "lend" the equivalent of nearly 10 million dollars in terms 
of grain and another 300,000 dollars in silver coinage. Work- 
ing under conditions of extreme hardship comparable to 
those which attended the building of the Great Wall of 
China, thousands of Tibetans who were dragooned for this 
purpose paid with their lives, while others were subjected to 
much misery and suffering. 

At the inaugural meeting of the Preparatory Committee in 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 81 

Lhasa, the Panchen Lama was obsequious in his flattering 
references to the "achievements" of the Chinese Commu- 
nists, but the Dalai Lama, while deferential, was obliquely 
critical. In a reference to the road construction program His 
Holiness mentioned "the many people who have sacrificed 
their valuable lives/' and said, "I wish to express here my 
sincere condolence for the martyrs." He also referred point- 
edly to the indoctrination of the country's youth. "Several 
hundreds of the finest youths of the country," he remarked, 
had been sent by the Communists to study Marxism-Lenin- 
ism in Peking's institutes for national minorities. "Tibet," 
said the Dalai Lama, "is the center of Lamaism. The whole 
population has a deep belief in Lamaism. The people treas- 
ure and protect their religious belief like their life. . . . Re- 
cently news from neighboring provinces and municipalities 
where reforms are being carried out or under preparation 
has reached Tibet and roused the suspicion and anxiety of 
some people here. . . . Tibet has no other alternative but 
to take the road of socialism. We must carry out reforms 
step by step." The statement was polite, but its implied note 
of protest and criticism could not have been lost on the 

In April, 1956, at the first meeting of the Preparatory 
Committee, the Chinese Vice Premier Chen Yi announced 
that "a railway from Lanchow to Lhasa will be built in the 
future." The Khamba uprising more than slightly dislocated 
this project, whose blueprint envisaged a rail line across the 
Chinghai Province area of Inner Tibet where in the Tsidam 
Basin, according to the Chinese Communists, potentially rich 
oilfields exist. On May 26, 1956, a Peking-Lhasa air-transport 
service on a ten-hour schedule was inaugurated, the first 
plane flying the new route being a Soviet IL-12. 

What did this calculated opening of communications by 
land and air bring to the Tibetans? As a Tibetan refugee 

82 The Revolt in Tibet 

described it: "The first Chinese invaders proclaimed that 
they had come only to help the Tibetan people, not to inter- 
fere in their affairs, disturb their religion, or take anything 
from them 'not even needle or thread/ But they brought 
nothing with them but their mugs and their chopsticks, and 
the effect of their chopsticks and the effect of their inroads 
on essential supplies was to make prices rise by five or six 
times/' The Tibetans had hoped that the opening of com- 
munications would ease many of their economic stresses and 
strains, as the Chinese had promised, but to their dismay 
these were increased. 

"When the first vehicles began to arrive in 1953," said an- 
other Tibetan refugee, "they brought not more supplies but 
more and more Chinese. Prices rose still further/' 

Since the Chinese working personnel in Tibet "came only 
with their mugs and chopsticks," this was not surprising. The 
Dalai Lama himself drew the attention of the Preparatory 
Committee in 1957 to the growing inflationary trends, and 
mildly suggested that the administration had failed to notice 
the comparatively poor harvests turned out in many localities 
on account of drought. Therefore, it was difficult to reduce 
the prices of daily necessities when the prices of certain com- 
modities, especially food and butter, "were gradually increas- 
ing." In fact, prices were mounting steeply. 

The "difficulties" encountered in Tibet were confirmed 
by General Chang Ching-wu, Peking's chief representative in 
Tibet, in a speech to the State Council at Peking in 1955. 
"Owing to communications and transport difficulties and 
many other factors," he admitted, "what we have achieved 
is very little as far as the construction of Tibet and the con- 
solidation of national defense are concerned. There have 
been grave misunderstandings among the nationalities. This, 
coupled with the unthorough education on the implementa- 
tion of the Agreement of 1951, caused misunderstandings 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 83 

and doubts on the part of the Tibetan personnel, thus hinder- 
ing the smooth progress of our work." It is odd that the 
Chinese, refusing to learn from experience, should repeat in 
Tibet the mistakes they made in China. To cite one instance: 
for the purpose of manufacturing steel in a primitive way 
the Communists in China proper mobilized some 50 million 
workers, building furnaces everywhere, regardless of com- 
munications and of the distance from the source of raw 
materials. According to a correspondent in the Yugoslav 
paper Borba, each of these 50 million workers manufactured 
at most two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of steel per day. Enor- 
mous quantities of ore, coal, coke, and metal scrap had to be 
transported, and suddenly there appeared the bottleneck: 

In the year of "the great leap forward/* the Communists 
in China intensified their land reforms by the introduction 
of communes, and by the end of December, 1958, there were 
a total of 26,000 communes in the country covering 99 per 
cent of China's peasant households. The primary aims of the 
communes are to step up agricultural production, overcome 
China's immediate labor shortage (due to lack of mechanical 
equipment), and curb the long-term problem of overpopula- 
tion. Yet during this year, to quote Borba again, there was 
stricter food rationing than before, and a concerted drive to 
limit consumption. 

This experience has not deterred the Communist Chinese 
from introducing land reforms and attempting to establish 
communes in Tibet. That there was undoubtedly need for 
such reforms is widely acknowledged, and the Dalai Lama 
himself in his June 2Oth statement testified to the urgency 
for drastic changes in the prevailing system. "In particular," 
he declared, "it was my earnest desire that the system of land 
tenure should be radically changed without further delay and 
large landed estates [should be] acquired by the state on pay- 

84 The Revolt in Tibet 

merit of compensation, for distribution amongst the tillers 
of the soil. But the Chinese authorities deliberately put every 
obstacle in the way of carrying out this just and reasonable 
reform. I desire to lay stress on the fact that we, as firm be- 
lievers in Buddhism, welcome change and progress consistent 
with the genius of our people and the rich traditions of our 
country. But/' His Holiness warned, "the people of Tibet 
will stoutly resist any victimization, sacrilege and plunder in 
the name of reforms, the policy which is now being enforced 
by representatives of the Chinese Government in Lhasa." 

In the absence of statistics, the extent of the lands held by 
the monasteries, nobles, and other wealthy classes in Tibet 
cannot be accurately computed. Nor can their personal treas- 
ure in money, jewels, and other possessions be correctly esti- 
mated. But there is no denying that as Lamaism grew in influ- 
ence the political importance and economic wealth of the 
monasteries expanded proportionately. The politico-religious 
domination of the lamas enabled them to achieve both power 
and privilege representing a vast vested interest steeped for 
the most part in archaic feudal customs. So also the rich 
nobility whose families are reckoned to number around two 
hundred. Tibet, in fact, is or rather was a medieval country 
with preponderating power and wealth in the hands of the 
church and the nobility. Yet its economic basis is agriculture 
and stockbreeding, with the tillers and the herdsmen as the 
chief props of this agricultural-pastoral society. Both these 
classes together constitute the largest numerical unit, enjoy- 
ing no rights and certainly no riches. 

Under the guise of introducing "democratic reforms/' a 
comprehensive term for communization, the Chinese at- 
tempted to introduce a double-pronged program of land 
reforms and Han colonization in the border regions of Inner 
Tibet. The campaign was initiated in February, 1956, in 
western Szechwan, which contains a large number of Ti- 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 85 

betans, but even earlier the Communists had imposed this 
socio-economic pattern in Inner Mongolia and Sikiang, both 
of which are officially "autonomous areas/' a fact which 
throws a revealing light on what the Chinese mean by au- 
tonomy. In Inner Mongolia the Chinese outnumber the 
Mongols, as they do the Uighurs in Sinkiang. These moves 
created restiveness in the other minority regions, such as 
Szechwan, where the Khambas were in no mood to be 
clamped within a rigid superimposed mold. 

There are some 60 national minorities in China occupying 
some 50 to 60 per cent of her total area, including regions 
rich in mineral resources; but their population, about 35 
millions, is only about 6 per cent of the total. Although in 
theory they are guaranteed equal rights, in practice the key 
posts in the administration are held by Han cadres. "Without 
the help of the Han nationality and Han cadres, it is impos- 
sible to carry out Socialist reforms in the minority areas/' a 
Chinese official statement proclaimed. From their own dec- 
larations the Chinese Communists in Tibet behaved like 

As a first step they ordered the formation of collective 
farms in the Kanze area of Szechwan province, transferring 
wholesale the farms, cattle, and sheep of the lamaseries and 
monasteries to "farm cooperatives/ 1 In April, 1956, Commu- 
nist China's Vice Premier Chen Yi and General Chang Kuo- 
hua, addressing the Preparatory Committee, announced that 
"necessary reforms would be introduced to rid Tibet of its 
backward situation/' adding arrogantly that this was also 
necessary to bring the Tibetans up to the level of "the ad- 
vanced" Han nationality. Khamba repercussions were swift, 
and in June, 1956, the New China News Agency divulged 
that Jao Chia-tso, chairman of the Communist-controlled 
Chinese Buddhist Association, had informed the National 
People's Congress of rebellions on the eastern Tibetan border 

86 The Revolt in Tibet 

as a result of local dissatisfaction with Communist policies. 
Jao complained that "there were recently some improper 
measures on land reform, and commercial taxes on lamaseries, 
farmland, and cattle," and advised caution. For one thing, the 
lamas resented being asked to participate in agricultural cul- 
tivation, as this was contrary to traditional Buddhist regula- 
tions and customs. The conversion of their farmland and 
cattle into cooperatives deprived them of a major source of 
monastic revenue, while Chinese insistence that the lamas 
and monks should join in extirpating rats, birds, insects, and 
various types of vermin deeply offended their Buddhist sus- 
ceptibilities, which regarded all forms of life as sacred. These 
"reforms'' confirmed the suspicions of the lamas and their 
followers that the Chinese aimed at destroying the Buddhist 

The Khamba uprisings were concentrated in those regions 
where the "democratic reforms" were most widespread. 
These comprised the three autonomous areas of Liangshan, 
Apha, and Kanze, where some 4,800 agricultural cooperatives 
were set up with a total membership of 120,000 households, 
and which were the scene of rioting and rebellion from the 
opening months of 1956. Even before the Preparatory Com- 
mittee held its inaugural meeting in April, reports of revolts 
in Tibet had reached Kalimpong and Khatmandu. Peking 
was forced to admit that guerrilla warfare was widespread in 
eastern and northeastern Tibet in the territories inhabited 
by the Khambas, Amdos, and Goloks. In the Batan-Litang 
area of Szechwan the Tibetans accused the Chinese of mas- 
sacring over four thousand men, women, and children, bomb- 
ing monasteries and other dwellings, and perpetrating cruel- 
ties on the local population. Within a few months the trouble 
had spilled across the Sino-Tibetan border into the Chamdo, 
Dinching, Nagchuka, and Loka areas of Tibet, where the 
rebels attacked agencies and army units of the Central Peo- 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 87 

pie's Government. The uprisings compelled the Chinese 
Communists to revise their policies temporarily, and induced 
Mao Tse-tung to make his declaration of 1957, that the 
"democratic reforms" might be postponed until the third 
Five-Year Plan was inaugurated. In April this decision was 
formalized in a government decree. 

But the Tibetans no longer respected the promises of the 
Communist Chinese, and were resentful of attempts at Han 
domination. As usual the Chinese and their henchmen at- 
tempted to explain away the uprisings as the work of feudal 
and religious reactionaries, the Panchen Lama denouncing 
the revolts as "the treacherous activities of the imperialists 
and separatists." On their part the leaders of the revolt made 
it clear that they were not opposed to land reforms, and in a 
declaration on January i, 1959, proposed some radical 
changes in the social and political organizations of the coun- 
try. These proposals included the acquisition of large landed 
estates on payment of compensation, the introduction of the 
elective system on the basis of adult suffrage, and the princi- 
ple of individual liberty according to the accepted constitu- 
tional concept. The leaders of the revolt also declared: "We 
pledge ourselves for the improvement of the condition of our 
people and their standard of living. We engage ourselves to 
introduce all necessary reforms in the country in consonance 
with the natural conditions, customs, and genius of our peo- 
ple. In the field of economic development we pledge ourselves 
to improve the life of our nomadic people, of the tillers of the 
land, of the artisans and the handicraft men to the best of our 
ability and to effect changes in all by peaceful means." This 
declaration was supported not only by the masses but had the 
backing of the nobility, both lay and ecclesiastical. Certainly 
the tribesmen who spearheaded the revolt could hardly be 
described as members of the privileged classes. 

The Tibetans were justified in their suspicion of Chinese 

88 The Revolt in Tibet 

promises to go slow, for the Communist tactics were con- 
sistent with the doctrine which Mao propounded of letting 
a hundred flowers bloom, a device to trap those opposed to 
the Red ideologies to come out and expose themselves. The 
flowers soon turned to weeds, and the Chinese then got down 
to the job of uprooting them. Late in 1957 the Central Com- 
mittee of the Chinese Communist party dispatched a five- 
man mission to Lhasa for "weeding out reactionaries' ' who 
"come in the way of modernizing Tibet on socialistic lines/' 
Peking thereafter prepared to get tough. 

The Chinese infiltration tactics were resumed, and pursued 
several courses, and these in turn provoked Tibetan resistance 
which culminated in the revolution spreading to Lhasa and 
in the flight of the Dalai Lama. In September and October, 
1958, the Communists launched a campaign in Chinghai and 
Kansu having as its obvious purpose the destruction of the 
Buddhist religion, which the Chinese sought to undermine 
by labeling the lamas as oppressors of the masses. Undoubt- 
edly many of Tibet's religious fraternity are noted for their 
rapacity. But the age-long attachment of the Tibetans to 
Lamaism, to reverence for the Buddha and for traditional 
values asserted itself against the Communists. The failure of 
the Chinese to rouse the Tibetan masses against the lamas 
was demonstrated when the Communists were driven to play 
even the nomadic herdsmen against each other by placing 
"reactionary herd owners" in the same category as the lamas 
and inviting the masses to attack both. With few exceptions 
these ignorant, illiterate, and landless people did neither, for 
even to their unlettered minds the Chinese attack seemed to 
be an offensive against religion, not against privilege. 

Han chauvinism, though deprecated officially by word of 
mouth, then began to be implemented by deed. In 1956 Gen- 
eral^ Chang Kuo-hua had mildly warned the Tibetans that 
an influx of Chinese settlers was imminent and had implied 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 89 

that these immigrants would help to advance the country's 
economy more rapidly. The two major highways from Tibet 
to China had been completed the year before, and a trickle 
of Han immigrants had begun to seep in since then. In 1958 
this trickle assumed menacing proportions as masses of Chi- 
nese youths descended on the country. Although the Peking 
press described their reception in Tibet as enthusiastic and 
friendly, one report claiming that the Tibetans had warmly 
welcomed the Hans "in a manner in which they might cele- 
brate their own festivals" and that the Tibetans and Chinese 
had "told one another about their own customs and ex- 
changed production experience," the actual Tibetan reaction 
was neither friendly nor enthusiastic. Peking had inspired 
this fresh drive for mass Chinese settlement in Tibet, and 
this is borne out by Marshal Chu Teh's appeal in December, 
1958, to the youth of China to go and colonize the "frontier 
areas" a modern and Eastern variant of "Go west, young 

The Chinese immigrants settled largely in the populous 
and arable regions of eastern Tibet, particularly in the Kham 
and Amdo districts. Their number * is not known but it was 
enough to alarm the frontier Tibetans, who are mostly tribes- 
men, and to unite them in a common front against this alien 
influx. The Chinese sense of superiority vis-a-vis the Tibetans 
aggravated the latter's hostility. "Part of the Han cadres/' 
noted the Peking Government representative in a report to 
the Chinese State Council, "have demonstrated a varying 
degree of the remnant concept of Great Hanism, such as lack 
of due respect to the religious beliefs, customs, and habits 
of the Tibetans, the insufficient recognition of the merits of 
the Tibetan cadres, and the lack of due respect and warm sup- 
port of them." Even so pronounced a Tibetan collaborator as 

* One estimate gives it at 500,000, but no authentic figures are available. 
Another estimate places the total at 5,000,000. 

go The Revolt in Tibet 

Ngabon Ngawang Jigme observed that "in individual cases 
some Chinese Communist cadres and Chinese army officers 
and soldiers, owing to ignorance of Tibetan customs and 
habits and because of language difficulties, occasionally com- 
mitted defects and errors in trading and transport work in 
certain districts/' 

Apart from the fear of being swamped by the Chinese in- 
flow, the Tibetans were disturbed by its economic conse- 
quences and by the impact on their religious traditions of the 
Communist infiltration. "The economic effect of the 'libera- 
tion' of Tibet," stated Thubten Nyenjik, former abbot of 
Gyantse monastery who was also governor of Gyantse Prov- 
ince and is now a refugee in India, "has been disastrous. 
Before the advent of the Chinese the economy of Tibet was 
sound, the cost of living low, and the Tibetan Government 
was in a position to aid its people in their economic, social, 
cultural, and religious aspirations. But now, owing to the 
influx of 100,000 Chinese soldiers who live off the Tibetans, 
their granaries are empty, for the Chinese take 'loans' which 
are never repaid; the vast herds of yaks and flocks of sheep 
have been decimated, trees in government- and private-owned 
parks uprooted for firewood, and the economy of the country 
has been so disrupted that the cost of living for the bare 
necessities of life has risen nine and ten times, and where 
formerly there was a large exportable surplus, these com- 
modities have now to be imported/' Thubten Nyenjik also 
warned that, despite Communist talk of autonomy, the Chi- 
nese "are committed to the obliteration of the religion, cul- 
ture, and tradition of a non-Chinese people so that the 
people might become indistinguishable from the millions of 
Chinese. . . . Such is the meaning of Chinese autonomy for 

Parenthetically it might be noted that during the past three 
years some 1,380,000 Han people have migrated to northeast 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 91 

and northwest China and Inner Mongolia. Peking decided, in 
November, 1958, to transfer more Chinese manpower to the 
Ninghsia region, where one-third of the population is already 
of Han stock. In this Moslem region the China Association 
for the Promotion of Moslem Culture was by a curious coin- 
cidence concluded during the same month. The Chinese ex- 
plain this mass migration by claiming that it satisfies the 
demand of the various nationalities for help in construction 
work over the next few years. But the Tibetan reaction, as 
well as the repercussions in other minority areas, does not 
endorse this interpretation. The real reason animating Com- 
munist policy is revealed in a Chinese statement: "The ques- 
tion of whether or not to accept the Han cadres and immi- 
grants is precisely also the question of whether or not to 
accept Socialism." 

In other minor ways the Chinese Communists have also 
sought to harass the Tibetans into subservience. Under the 
1951 agreement the Tibetan Government had agreed actively 
to "assist the People's Liberation Army to enter Tibet and 
consolidate the national defense/' It had, moreover, con- 
sented to the Chinese demand that the Tibetan troops would 
be "reorganized" by stages and become a part of the national 
defense forces of the People's Republic of China. The Tibet 
Military Area Headquarters of the Chinese Army was estab- 
lished, as noted, in February, 1952, and almost immediately 
efforts were made by the Chinese to undermine the loyalty 
of Tibetan officers and soldiers. Since Tibet was virtually 
governed by the PLA Tibetan Military District Command, 
this presented few difficulties; but it is eloquent of the aver- 
age Tibetan's antipathy to the Han intruder that the loyalty 
of very few Tibetan soldiers was suborned. 

The indoctrination of the armed forces proceeded along- 
side that of the civilian population. Like other Tibetans, 
they were inundated with Communist propaganda through 

9* The Revolt in Tibet 

posters, pamphlets, lectures, and study classes but proved 
equally impervious and immune. Including the Dalai Lama's 
personal bodyguard of 5,000 soldiers, the Tibetan armed 
forces numbered around 10,000, and it is significant of the 
failure of the Chinese Communists to undermine their loy- 
alty that the army took a prominent part in the revolt against 
the invaders. The first local congress of the Chinese Commu- 
nist party was held in Lhasa in December, 1952, and was 
attended by nearly 340 delegates representing party mem- 
bers in the various units of the Tibetan military command. 
It was reported here that over four hundred Tibetans had 
been trained by PLA units in the school set up for this pur- 
pose. Three years later the State Council at Peking decided 
"to expand and strengthen" the Tibetan Military District 
Cadres School, changing its name to Cadres School for the 
Tibet Area. The same meeting of the State Council, on the 
initiative of Ngabon Ngawang Jigme, considered a "request" 
by the Tibetan Government for help in reorganizing the 
Tibetan Army and redeeming the Tibetan currency. 

Although a great deal of trade inside Tibet is by barter, 
the country has its own currency, with the sang as the mone- 
tary unit. Until the Chinese came, Indian rupees circulated 
freely inside Tibet, but the Communists have succeeded in 
largely replacing these, as well as Tibetan coinage, by Chi- 
nese currency. Shortly after the flight of the Dalai Lama 
Indian currency was not allowed to circulate in the country. 
Tibet had also its postal system, and the Dalai Lama's gov- 
ernment issued its own postage stamps. Until about two 
years ago the Government of India arranged for the carriage 
of mail from Lhasa to the outside world through Gyantse, but 
the mail is now routed north and east through China to for- 
eign lands. Chinese postage stamps are gradually replacing 
the Tibetan. 

So Tibet, whose previous window on the world was mainly 

The Dragon Leaps Forward 93 

India, is being reoriented toward China, and taught to regard 
herself as part of the great motherland of the Han world. 
Pressures and pinpricks are collectively and cumulatively 
being applied to force her into the Communist mold. The 
greatest of these pressures is the Chinese effort to destroy the 
power of the lamas, undermine Buddhism, and substitute 
the supremacy of Communism. But of all pressures the Ti- 
betans are most antipathetic to this one, for from time im- 
memorial Tibet has been the Land of Lamas. 





In the theocratic society of Tibet, as we have seen, the lamas 
constituted the predominant class not only concerned with 
their ecclesiastical duties but also participating in trade and 
sharing in the work of government, civilian, and military as 
well. Their power, before the Chinese Communists took 
over, was pervasive, their wealth immense and immeasurable. 
They were indeed a caste apart, for only through them could 
the ordinary person approach the gods of the Lamaist pan- 
theon. Tibet was a country ruled by priests. 

We have noted how Lamaism evolved as a mixture of Bon, 
the ancient Tibetan animistic religion, Buddhism, and cer- 
tain Hindu practices of the Tantric type. The Tantras, the 
sacred books of the cult of Siva,* date from the sixth and 
seventh centuries of the Christian era, and consist of dia- 
logues between Siva and his Shakti, or Female Energy, one 

* One of the gods of the Hindu Triad representing destruction and crea- 


Land of Lamas 95 

of whose names is Durga (The Inaccessible). A shakti is usu- 
ally depicted in a carnal embrace with the god who generated 
her. While the male divinity represents karuna (compassion) 
the female embodies prajna (perfect knowledge), which sug- 
gests a certain equality of the sexes. 

Buddhism has gone through three main evolutions since 
Gautama first preached it six centuries before Christ. In their 
pristine form the Buddha's teachings and monastic rules are 
contained in the Tripitka written in Pali by the early Bud- 
dhists of South India and Ceylon. Tripitka means "three 
baskets," and these are the Vinaya, which deals with monastic 
rules; the Sutra, the repository of the doctrine of the Buddha; 
and the Abhidhamma, which contains the metaphysical and 
philosophical discussions on Buddhist doctrine. 

The gist of Gautama's teaching is to be found in the Four 
Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path which the 
Buddha discovered while meditating under a pipal tree and 
which he first proclaimed to his five companions in the Park 
of the Gazelles at Banaras. To them he expounded the Four 
Noble Truths and showed how they led to the Noble Eight- 
fold Path: 

"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of pain: birth is pain- 
ful, old age is painful, sickness is painful, death is painful, 
sorrow, lamentation, dejection and despair are painful. Con- 
tact with unpleasant things is painful, not getting what one 
wishes is painful. . . . 

"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the cause of pain: 
the craving which tends to rebirth, combined with pleasure 
and lust, finding pleasure here and there, namely the craving 
for passion, the craving for existence, the craving for non- 

"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of 
pain, the cessation without a remainder of craving, the aban- 
donment, forsaking, release, non-attachment. 

96 The Revolt in Tibet 

"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the way that leads 
to the cessation of pain: this is the noble Eightfold Way, 
namely right views, right intention, right speech, right action, 
right livelihood, right effort, right mindedness, right concen- 

"This is the noble truth of pain: Thus, monks, among doc- 
trines unheard before, in me sight and knowledge arose, wis- 
dom arose, knowledge arose, light arose." * 

With the Buddha's death his teachings took various forms, 
according to the interpretations of his disciples and followers. 
Attempts were made to resolve controversial points, and at 
least three councils were summoned for this purpose but with 
no positive result. In time the original philosophy evolved 
into a religion with the Buddha elevated to the status of a 
deity. Buddhism reached its apogee in India in the reign of 
the great emperor-apostle Asoka in the third century B.C. 

Thereafter it went through several vicissitudes, moving 
away from Gautama's agnosticism to a sort of metaphysical 
polytheism, dividing finally into two schools the Hinayana 
or Theravada, which survives in Ceylon and is faithful to 
the Buddha's original doctrine; and the Mahayana, poly- 
theistic and metaphysical, where each individual trains him- 
self to become a Buddha, being known in the process of 
attainment as a Bodhisattva, that is, a being destined for en- 
lightenment, who deliberately renounces nirvana, the state 
of ultimate bliss, to remain among his fellow men and serve 
them. The Mahayana school flourishes in Tibet and Japan, 
and was once active in China. 

In Tibet, Buddhism took the form of Lamaism with, as we 
noted, the animistic elements of Bon and the Tantric prac- 
tices of Hinduism grafted onto it. This type of Buddhism 
is known as Vajrayana, the Buddhism of the Adamantine 

* Edward J. Thomas's translation in Early Buddhist Scriptures (Routledge 
& Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1935). 

Land of Lamas 97 

Vehicle, with a strong belief in reincarnation, and influenced 
by demonology. 

Like Buddhism, which in time was divided into sects, 
Lamaism also took various forms the Kadampa, or Red 
Hats, established by Atisha; the Gelugpa, or Yellow Hats, the 
predominant sect, to which the Dalai Lama and the Panchen 
Lama belong; and various other sects the Sagya, or Colored, 
sect, founded by Basba, tutor of Kublai Khan, which estab- 
lished the lay-ecclesiastical system of government; and the 
Kargyupa, or White, sect founded by Marpa, the guru of 
Milarepa, the hermit-philosopher of eleventh century Tibet. 

Lamaism has an extensive literature contained in the 108 
volumes of the Kangyur, which comprises the scripture of 
Tibetan Buddhism, including the Vinaya, or canon law, 
and the 225 volumes of the Tangyur, which consists of com- 
mentaries on the scriptures. Although the larger monasteries 
in Tibet grant degrees in divinity, the scholarship is said to 
be of a not very high order. The highest intellectual of the 
Lamaist church is the Ganden Dzeba, the Enthroned of 
Ganden monastery, who holds his office for seven years, and 
whose mastery of philosophy and religious knowledge en- 
titles him to sit in the seat of the great Tsong Ka-pa, founder 
of the Yellow sect. During the New Year even the Dalai Lama 
had to bow to the Enthroned. Succession at the end of the 
Ganden Dzeba's seven-year term was determined by examina- 
tion, this being conducted by the Dalai and Panchen lamas 
and by the monk vacating the seat. 

Head of the religious hierarchy was the Dalai Lama, who 
was also the supreme secular power, with the Panchen Lama 
exercising only spiritual authority until the advent of the 
Chinese. The local Tibetan Government headed by the 
Dalai Lama had its seat in Lhasa, and His Holiness's direct 
authority extended over U, the largest single area of Tibet, 
comprising nearly no dzongs, or counties. The Panchen 

98 The Revolt in Tibet 

Lama's authority was confined to the much smaller area of 
Tsang, and even here a number of counties were controlled 
by the Dalai Lama's followers and by adherents of the Sagya, 
or Colored, sect. 

Ranking below the two Grand llamas were the Incarnate 
Lamas, numbering about one thousand, and headed by the 
abbots of the Three Great monasteries of Drepung, Sera, and 
Ganden, all situated in the vicinity of Lhasa. The Dalai 
Lama studied at these centers until he was installed on the 
Golden Throne, and the abbots of these monasteries wielded 
great spiritual and political power. Drepung, some six miles 
west of Lhasa at the foot of the hills which flank the plain 
on the north, is one of the largest monasteries in the world, 
housing around ten thousand inmates. Sera, three miles north 
of the capital, has a temple dedicated to Dorje-chang, also 
known as Vajradhara; while Ganden, some twenty-five miles 
east of Lhasa, is the oldest monastery of the Yellow sect, hav- 
ing been founded by Tsong Ka-pa, who was its first abbot. 
From the "Big Three" came the majority of monk-officials 
and high ecclesiastics. The Incarnate Buddhas are trained at 
these centers. 

Tibet is studded with about three thousand monasteries, 
but the vast majority are small local monasteries and her- 
mitages with often less than one hundred inmates, though 
some of the bigger ones house as many as one thousand or 
more. Besides the Big Three there are other well-known 
monasteries, or gompas, as the Tibetans call them. These in- 
clude the monastery at Samye, about forty miles from Lhasa, 
which was once used as a government treasury; Tholing, 
Tsaparang, and Kochar in western Tibet; and many others 
spread throughout the country. Nuns and nunneries are 
also numerous, but they occupy an inferior place despite the 
Tantric doctrine, since women are not deemed the spiritual 
equals of men. Other centers of religion are the temples. 

Land of Lamas 99 

\mong the better known are the Jokhang and Ramoche in 
Lhasa and the Kumbum at Gyantse, which has been de- 
scribed as the Assisi of Mahayana Buddhism. Dominating 
Lhasa are the golden roofs and sloping walls of the Potala, 
winter residence of the Dalai Lama, which at one time 
housed a veritable army of monks and retainers. In the cen- 
ter of the Potala is the Red Palace containing the principal 
halls, chapels, and shrines of past Dalai Lamas. Here also 
are life-sized effigies of Song-tsan Garnpo and of his two 
wives. The Potala hill on which stands the palace of the 
Dalai Lama is named after a hill at Cape Comorin in South 
India. There is a third Potala, a hill on the coast of the Chi- 
nese mainland. 

The Lamaist hierarchy has similarities with that of the Ro- 
man Catholic Church, the Dalai Lama being for all practical 
purposes the Pope of Lamaism. Below him and the Panchen 
Lama are the abbots of the great monasteries, known as 
chuluktus, whose status corresponds in many respects to that 
of the Roman cardinals. Like the two Grand Lamas, they 
bear the title of Rimpoche, or Glorious. Next in order of 
gradation are the chubilkans, who are abbots of the lesser 
monasteries, and, like the chutuktus, they are regarded as 
Incarnate Lamas. A number of monasteries in Tibet contain 
one or more of these Incarnate Lamas. 

Aside from the Incarnate Lamas there are ordinary lamas, 
whose number runs into thousands and who are distinguished 
from the monks by their learning of the Tibetan scriptures 
and by the practice of meditation and penance. The junior 
monks are known as dabas or trapas, and sometimes function 
in a servile capacity to the lamas as servants. The ordinary 
lamas hold various ranks and degrees corresponding roughly 
to the Western hierarchy of deacon, priest, dean, and doc- 
tor of divinity. The larger monasteries are theological col- 
leges, but the Big Three alone confer the coveted degree of 

zoo The Revolt in Tibet 

Ge Shi (Devoted to Virtue) on the lamas who have mastered 
scriptural and other esoteric studies. Of the Ge Shi lamas a 
small number are chosen to enter one of the two academies 
attached to the Ganden monastery. These are the Gyu-Me 
and Gyu-To academies, which specialize in advanced studies 
in Tantric Lamaism. Ultimately, as noted before, the most 
learned scholar and master of religious theory, as well as of 
esoteric practices, is installed as the Enthroned at Ganden 
with the title of Ganden Dzeba, the office originally occupied 
by Tsong Ka-pa. Until the Dalai Lama left Tibet, the abbots 
of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, along with eight government 
officials, presided over the Tsongdu, or National Assembly. 
No decision was taken without the assent of the clerics. 

Those who aspire to priesthood in Tibet generally enter 
a monastery around the age of eight, though there have been 
entrants aged only four. Here the candidate lives a life of 
strict discipline, celibacy, and abstinence enforced more often 
than not by the whip. Whereas the Dalai and Panchen lamas 
invariably come from poor families, the status of an acolyte 
or monk inside a monastery is often determined by his 
wealth, and wealthy monks have houses of their own inside 
the monastery, do no menial work, and have their food pre- 
pared for them. Some among those from poor families are 
able in time to read and write and advance in the monastic 
hierarchy, but the majority are condemned to work for the 
greater part of their lives as servants catering to the needs of 
the more affluent monks. These serving monks are known as 
monk-servants. A monk is allowed to sow seed but not to dig 
or plow, which again places the poor monks at a disadvan- 
tage, for they cannot afford to pay their lay tenants to till the 
soil. On the other hand they can engage in trade, and to be a 
monk, whether one is the son of a peasant or herdsman, is 
to enjoy a status superior to that of the laity. 

A candidate for priesthood passes through three stages be- 

Land of Lamas 101 

fore he becomes a fully ordained monk. He begins as a pupil 
probationer or ge-nyen, advances to be a novice or get-isul, 
and finally is graduated as a fully ordained monk or ge-long. 
As a Buddhist monk he is required to observe no less than 
some 250 vows, and there are said to be fifteen ways of ap- 
proaching nirvana after overcoming the 84,000 human pas- 
sions which in the Lamaist vocabulary afflict mankind. 

Over the centuries a vast mass of wealth in the form of 
gold, treasure, and land has congealed in the vaults and rec- 
ords of these monasteries which without exception possess 
land and engage in trade. One estimate reckons that collec- 
tively the monasteries of Tibet own a third of the coun- 
try's arable lands. These lands are worked by serfs, who 
earn no wages but are paid in kind, in the form of food 
grains and crops according to a tariff arbitrarily fixed by the 
lamas or landlords. The higher rank of monks augment their 
income from trade, rent, and moneylending, with presents, 
monetary and material, for officiating at marriages, births, 
deaths, festivals, and in sickness. 

Undoubtedly lamaism meant lucrative living. According to 
Heinrich Harrer, who spent seven years in Tibet,* during 
one month a monastery in Lhasa received from the govern- 
ment three tons of tea and fifty tons of butter in addition to 
subsidies totaling over 100,000 dollars. Liberal gifts of 
tsamba, a flour of baked barley or wheat, which the Tibetans 
usually knead with their butter-tea, are not uncommon. 

In their campaign to undermine Lamaism and finally to 
uproot it, the Communists have been following in Tibet the 
same tactics they employed against the Buddhists in China. 
According to the Chinese the number of Buddhist monks and 
nuns in China, including Tibet, is roughly 500,000, while 
the number of Buddhist followers totals 100 million. Of the 
500,000, about 200,000 monks reside in Tibet proper, while 

* Seven Years in Tibet (New York: E. P. Button & Company, Inc., 1954). 

102 The Revolt in Tibet 

another 100,000 live in the Tibetan-populated areas of 
Chinghai, Szechwan, and Kansu. In Inner Mongolia there are 
20,000. This leaves a balance of 180,000 Buddhist monks in 
China proper. Before the Communists seized power, there 
were 700,000. 

"Followers of Marxism-Leninism are from top to bottom 
atheists," declared the People's Daily, official organ of the 
Chinese Communist party in November, 1951. In the Com- 
munist view, religion, as Marx propounded, is the opium 
of the people, lulling them into docility and meek acqui- 
escence with their way of life. If the Communists make a 
show of religious tolerance, it is only to achieve their ulti- 
mate political ends. In his book Principles of New Democ- 
racy, Mao Tse-tung indicates how religion can be exploited 
for this purpose. "Communist party members," he explains, 
"may very well form an anti-imperialist united battlefront 
in political activities with certain proponents of idealism, and 
even with religionists, but they should never agree with their 
idealism or their religious doctrines." 

In China, as later in Tibet and other "national minority 
areas," the Communists mounted their offensive against re- 
ligion under various guises. Although in China as in Tibet 
they first made a show of tolerance and even of appeasement, 
it was not long before they made their real purpose plain. 
In October, 1948, a year before they officially assumed power, 
the Central China Bureau of the Chinese Communist party 
announced a set of regulations called "Principles Governing 
Rental and Interest Reductions" whereunder they promised 
that "land owned by religious bodies shall remain untouched. 
If it is not being administered by any special body, it shall 
come under the provisions governing disposal of land be- 
longing to runaway landlords. Land belonging to runaway 
landlords shall be placed under the custody of their rela- 

Land of Lamas 103 

tives. If there are no relatives the Government will take cus- 

These promises and provisos seemed reasonable enough in 
theory but were far different in practice. The Agrarian Re- 
form Law of 1949 contained an article abolishing ownership 
rights of religious bodies, temples, monasteries, and churches, 
though no drastic efforts were immediately made to imple- 
ment the policy. The official line was still to appease Bud- 
dhism, thereby lulling the fear and suspicions of indigenous 
Buddhists and simultaneously gaining the good will of Bud- 
dhists abroad. By 1951 the Red regime in China had begun 
to stabilize itself, and the Communists then shifted cautiously 
to the attack, working largely through their front, the so- 
called Chinese Buddhist Association founded in June, 1953, 
which initially had only two branches one significantly in 
Tibet and the other in the Thai-Chingpo autonomous chou, 
or district, of Yunnan. Other branches were established later 
in Inner Mongolia, Kansu, Shansi, Liasoning, the Sibsong- 
Pana autonomous chou in Yunnan, and the Apha-Tibetan 
autonomous chou in Szechwan. 

Behind this front the Chinese Communists sought to dis- 
credit Buddhism under cover of land reform, accusing Bud- 
dhism of "serving the purpose of feudalism/' and labeling 
the Buddhist clergy as "lackeys of the exploiting class." A 
Central Government decree of August 4, 1950, classified 
monks and nuns, both Buddhist and Taoist,* along with 
geomancers, fortunetellers, diviners, and superstitious prac- 
titioners. Since in China as in Tibet the monasteries un- 
doubtedly owned extensive properties, and since religious 
custom ordained that the Buddhist clergy could not till the 
soil themselves, they proved an easy target for the Commu- 

* Taoism is a religion of China founded by Lao Tzu in the sixth century 

104 The Revolt in Tibet 

nists. Head monks or abbots were particularly denounced as 
"feudalistic landlords who depend for a living on the blood 
and sweat of the working people, not working themselves but 
living on the spoils of their exploitation/' 

Through the Chinese Buddhist Association the Commu- 
nists thereupon set out to ' 'reform" the clergy whose property 
holdings of temples and monasteries, with a few exceptions 
for show purposes, had already been confiscated. They did 
this by emphasizing three themes. First, all Chinese Buddhist 
monks and nuns were called upon to accept the leadership of 
the Communist party and resolutely take the road to So- 
cialism. This meant, in the words of Ulanfu, chairman of the 
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, that the lamas must 
"either join a cooperative or operate a joint public-private 
stock farm." They have in fact been dragooned into doing 
so, and in one cooperative in Inner Mongolia every lama 
is required to do 260 days of work a year, which, though 
permitted by a few Buddhist sects such as the Zen, leave the 
average monk after attending the "thought reform" or 
"brainwashing" classes very little time to perform his re- 
ligious duties. The compulsion to undergo ideological re- 
molding constitutes the second major theme, the two being 
sometimes lumped under the composite head of "the move- 
ment of productive labor and study." The third major 
theme is the necessity for all the clergy to "draw a clear line 
of demarcation between the enemy and themselves" and "to 
expose bad men and bad things to the government." Not 
only are Buddhists set against Buddhists but they are also 
set against the Taoists. In March, 1958, a meeting of Bud- 
dhists in Kiangsi pledged to "fight to the end against reac- 
tionary Taoist sects." Similarly Chinese Moslem imams or 
priests and Mongolian lamas have since early 1950 been the 
especial objects of Communist-inspired denunciations. Like 
the old landowners in China, religious leaders in Tibet and 

Land of Lamas 105 

other national minority areas are put on platforms and the 
masses are invited and incited to accuse and denounce them. 

The Chinese have began to adopt these tactics in Tibet. 
There, as in China, the lamas are being "persuaded" to work 
rather than pray, to earn rather than beg, and to participate 
in the world rather than reject it. Such compulsory partici- 
pation often takes strange forms. In November, 1958, Shirob 
Jaltso, chairman of the Buddhist Association in Chinghai, 
declared in a speech to a group of Tibetans that "the killing 
of rats and locusts is compatible with our religion. We kill 
not only locusts but also any other harmful elements such as 
imperialists and counterrevolutionaries." The first rule of 
the Vinaya ordains that a Buddhist shall not take the life of 
any sentient being. Around this time a meeting of Tibetan 
monks in Chinghai was called upon to shout, "American 
troops, get out of Lebanon!" The Buddhist Association, one 
of whose honorary presidents was the Dalai Lama, was used 
to bolster up the Communist peace front, and Buddhist 
monks from China and Tibet were prominent among the 
delegates to the conference of World Peace Supporters held 
in Tokyo in April, 1954. 

Chinese pressure on the lamas in Tibet proper was at first 
cautious. Even in the border areas such as Chinghai the 
drive against the monasteries was calculatedly moderate in 
its tempo, and for some time the lamaseries there continued 
to receive their original rents from peasant villages even after 
these had been made cooperatives. Only in 1958 when the 
Khambas in western Szechwan stepped up their resistance 
did the Chinese Communists clamp down on the rebels and 
direct a fierce offensive against the monasteries. 

In Tibet proper, the Chinese, realizing that Lamaism had 
its roots in the people, proceeded slowly. "Members of the 
Tibetan race, be they roving herdsmen or agriculturists, are 
all believers in Lamaism/' the Peking Kwang Ming Daily 

io6 The Revolt in Tibet 

News acknowledged. "Tibet's rulers therefore utilize Lama- 
ism to intoxicate the general populace and as a means of 
support for their measures of domination and exploitation/' 
But the Chinese Reds were themselves not averse to exploit- 
ing religion. Aware of the wide geographical distribution of 
Buddhism in countries and states such as Burma, Ceylon, 
Viet Nam, Thailand, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal, the Com- 
munists behind a show of respect for religion set about 
utilizing it politically. They pursued this policy with charac- 
teristic cynicism, and while respectfully welcoming the Dalai 
and Panchen lamas and several of the Incarnate Lamas 
from Tibet they had no compunction in ravaging famous 
centers of worship such as the Ta Euh temple in Chinghai 
and requisitioning the Chin Yah temple (The Temple of 
Golden Tiles) to house the Military and Political Institute 
of Chinghai Province. Nor did Communist vandalism stop 
there. Images of the Buddha, bronze figures, and holy relics 
taken from temples and monasteries were sent abroad to 
other countries, including the Soviet Union. Sometimes this 
was done as a political stunt. Thus a tooth of the Buddha 
was loaned to Burma in 1955-1956 while the bones of the 
scholar-pilgrim Hsuan Tsang were dispatched to the Nalanda 
Institute in India. Another of Hsuan Tsang's bones was pre- 
sented to the Buddhists of Ceylon, and in Japan the Chi- 
nese Buddhist Association sponsored a monthly magazine 
from June, 1957, entitled Japanese and Chinese Buddhism. 
When the Chinese Communists ventured on the "peace- 
ful occupation" of Tibet in October, 1950, the Northwest 
China Administrative Council made a formal announcement 
"exempting land owned by the monasteries of Lamaism from 
requisition and distribution"; but, as General Chang Kuo- 
hua later explained, freedom of religious belief was not to 
be confused with freedom of counterrevolutionary activities 
carried out by "bandits under red robes." Nonetheless soon 

Land of Lamas 107 

after the occupation of Tibet the Chinese Communists at- 
tempted to bring the lamas into line, but met with strong 
resistance. Not only the monasteries but the people at large 
resisted measures such as the formation of cooperatives and 
the enforcement of agricultural cultivation by the monks. 
The opposition was so widespread and firm that the Com- 
munists had to beat a retreat, and in April, 1957, ^ey for- 
mally postponed, as we noted, their "democratic reforms" 
until after 1962. At the Eighth Congress of the Chinese Com- 
munist party in Peking in September, 1956, Liu Shao-chi, 
the party theoretician who was then vice chairman of the 
Politburo, advised: "In regard to religious belief in the 
areas of national minorities, we must for some time adhere to 
the policy of freedom of religious belief and must never in- 
terfere in that connection during social reform/* In other 
words, the Chinese Communists were counseled to bide their 

They had not very long to wait, for by March, 1959, the 
train of rebellion lighted by the Khambas in western Szech- 
wan as far back as December, 1955, exploded in Lhasa with 
the flight of the Dalai Lama. After that the Communists had 
no need even for pretense. The crushing of the rebellion in 
Lhasa by March 22nd though it still continues in the out- 
lying northern and eastern regions was followed less than a 
week later by Peking's peremptory dissolution of the Dalai 
Lama's local Government of Tibet on March 28th and the 
declaration that the Preparatory Committee set up in 1956 
for the proposed Tibetan Autonomous Region should "exer- 
cise the functions and powers of the local Tibet Govern- 
ment." The Dalai Lama's supporters on the Preparatory 
Committee, who numbered eighteen, were summarily dis- 
missed and replaced by sixteen supporters of the Panchen 
Lama, who was appointed acting chairman of the committee, 
the Dalai Lama still being nominally permitted to retain the 

io8 The Revolt in Tibet 

chairmanship o that body. The Chinese action had a double 
motivation. In the first place, by keeping the chairmanship 
open to the Dalai Lama the Communists, flourishing an 
olive branch, probably still hoped to inveigle him back. Sec- 
ond, Tibetan tradition ordains that if the Dalai Lama hap- 
pens, for whatever reason, to be incapacitated the Panchen 
Lama can assume neither the God-king's secular nor his re- 
ligious authority. In the prevailing circumstances the Chinese 
had to make a show of respecting indigenous custom. 

However, there was no longer any need for Peking to 
pretend that its authority was other than omnipotent in 
Tibet. An official news agency comment flatly announced 
that "until further notice" Chinese Communist troops 
would control all religious, social, and governmental func- 
tions in Tibet. The Chinese openly abandoned their policy 
of "gradualism." Among the first acts of the new Preparatory 
Committee was the administrative redivision of Tibet from 
five into seven zones, designed, as was frankly announced, 
to erase the "old feudalistic carving up of land" between the 
lamas, the nobility, and the traders. The Tibet Autonomous 
Area now consists of seven Zones Shigatse, Chamdo, Takun, 
Loka, Gyantse, Tsangchuka, and Ari, with Lhasa, seat of the 
Dalai Lama, converted into a municipality. For all practical 
purposes the Dalai Lama has been written off, and along with 
him the lamas and nobility, as well as the official hierarchy 
of the chi-kyap and the dzongpons. Evidently the Chinese 
aim at substituting for them in Tibet the so-called official 
cadres of glorified clerks recruited largely from the rural 
areas, such as exist in China. 

That the Tibetan rebellion still continues is obvious from 
the order of priorities listed by the Chinese Communists 
and their creatures in Tibet. According to the Panchen Lama 
and General Chang Kuo-hua, both of whom addressed the 

Land of Lamas 109 

second plenary session of the Preparatory Committee in July, 
1959, at Lhasa, the first task was to suppress the rebellion and 
the second to introduce "democratic reforms." What shape 
these would take was indicated in some detail. 

"A campaign/' said General Chang, "will be carried out in 
the monasteries and temples to oppose rebellion, privileges, 
and exploitation. At the same time," he continued blandly, 
"the policy of the Communist party and the government of 
the freedom of religious belief will be firmly adhered to." 
He termed redistribution of land the second stage of Tibetan 
reform under the Communists, when the old order would be 
abolished and "peasants' associations" would be established. 
These associations would become the basic form of mass lead- 
ership and would exercise the functions and power of the 
government "at basic levels," a clue to what the administra- 
tive redivision portends. 

The Panchen Lama dutifully endorsed the general's re- 
marks, adding more specifically that "temples and monas- 
teries will inevitably be involved during the reform since 
the temples and monasteries and some of the high-ranking 
lamas in them possess manorial estates and are serf owners.* 
It will not be beneficial to religion if the serfs of the aristo- 
cratic feudal government are emancipated while the serfs of 
the lamaseries are to remain in bondage. Genuine and 
philanthropic religion must not retain any stigma of serfdom. 
Therefore, many feudal systems of oppression and exploita- 
tion existing in the lamaseries should also be reformed." In 

* This seems highly ironic in the context of the description of the Panchen 
Lama's palace at Shigatse by the pro-Communist Alan Winnington in his 
book Tibet (Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1957). Winnington describes the 
Tashi-lhunpo monastciy where the Panchen Lama resides in the following 
terms: "A greater sense of wealth and pomp pervades the Tashi-lhunpo 
monastery, winter home of the Panchen Lama, than any single monastery 
in Lhasa. The biggest pieces of turquoise I ever saw are let in as floor slabs 
before some of the altars." 

no The Revolt in Tibet 

the light of Wilmington's observations, reform might ap- 
propriately begin with the Tashi-lhunpo monastery of the 
Panchen Lama. 

Both the Panchen Lama and General Chang Kuo-hua 
warned the Tibetan "rebels" who had been loyal to the Dalai 
Lama that they would be punished in various ways, includ- 
ing the confiscation of all their lands and properties. This is 
now being done. On the other hand, in accordance with the 
traditional Marxist tactics, "collaborators" in the landlord 
class who took no part in the rebellion were promised that 
they would be treated "with consideration." Their lands, 
livestock, and property holdings in excess of the maximum 
allowed under the property redistribution plan would be 
paid for in full by the government naturally according to 
the government's assessment. "Those," said the Panchen 
Lama, "who have used the land to exploit the broad masses of 
the people for centuries and thus become debtors of the peo- 
ple should, as a matter of course, return the land to the peo- 
ple without receiving any compensation." Who these "debt- 
ors of the people" are would again naturally be determined 
by the government. 

The Panchen Lama, echoing his master's voice, announced 
that the policy of "buying out" landowners would also be 
adopted toward "the upper strata members who have not 
taken part in the rebellion." As a general rule, he added, 
herds would not be redistributed except in the case of "rebel" 
owners. Livestock under such ownership would be handed 
to herdsmen who had not opposed the Chinese. 

How did the Communists redeem these equivocal prom- 
ises? In Inner Mongolia and the border areas, as noted, they 
had bunched together "reactionary herd owners and lamas" 
in an attempt to identify one with the other, and to turn the 
more indigent monks and herdsmen against both. In Tibet 
itself, along with the herd owners, the more affluent lamas 

Land of Lamas in 

were obliged to appear on public platforms where they were 
made the targets of an "antifeudal complaints struggle/' 
Unfortunately for the Communists, the masses displayed no 
great enthusiasm for this campaign, which led the Chinese to 
accuse "the reactionary clique of the upper strata in Tibet" 
of ignoring "the interests of the broad masses of the people, 
ecclesiastical and secular/' It is not that "the broad masses" 
did not want reforms. They were eager for them, but the 
methods adopted by the Communists to enforce these reforms 
seemed to the ordinary Tibetan calculated attempts by the 
Han foreigners to undermine their religion and destroy their 

On March 31, 1959, about a fortnight after the Dalai 
Lama had left Lhasa and three days after the local Tibetan 
Government was dissolved, the Peking People's Daily sug- 
gested in an editorial that the rebellion "has proved the 
necessity of instituting democratic reforms." The Reds were 
preparing to apply to Tibet the ideological pattern they had 
tried to impose in Szechwan and Chinghai. "How long 
can the lamas remain privileged in Tibet while they are re- 
formed in Chinghai?" the Communists demanded. As far 
back as October, 1956, the Reds had forced the establish- 
ment in Tibet of the Buddhist Association which had been 
launched in China three years before. But Tibetan non- 
cooperation rendered this organization more or less quies- 
cent. The Chinese complained that their efforts were being 
nullified by the "idealism-theism" of the Tibetan masses, and 
the Kuang Ming Daily News was moved later to confess, 
"We dared not publicize materialism and atheism out of fear 
that this would come in conflict with religious policy and 
arouse the apprehensions of the masses." 

With the departure of the Dalai Lama and the installa- 
tion of the Panchen Lama in political authority, Peking set 
out to institute its land reforms in Tibet on the lines fol- 

ii The Revolt in Tibet 

lowed by the Communists in China from 1949 to 1951. First, 
peasants' associations were formed to exercise governmen- 
tal powers on the village level, this "reform" following al- 
most automatically the elimination of the chi-kyaps and 
dzongpons. Among the duties of these associations is the 
task of seeing that land is given only to those who are po- 
litically reliable. In the pastoral area herds belonging to 
Tibetan rebels were confiscated, and since a large percentage 
of herdsmen took part in the revolt this policy gave the Com- 
munists wide scope to eliminate political opposition. 

In Chinghai, Szechwan, and other parts of Communist 
China inhabited by Tibetans, "democratic reforms" had in- 
cluded confiscation of herds, the formation of communes, and 
campaigns intended to reduce popular respect for Tibetan 
monks and the Buddhist religion. These "democratic re- 
forms" were now promulgated in Tibet proper, where the 
Chinese got the Panchen Lama to declare that "feudal op- 
pression and exploitation in monasteries would be abol- 
ished." The Panchen Lama had been summoned to Peking 
early in April, 1959, soon after the Preparatory Committee 
was designated Tibet's new local administration, and re- 
mained in China until late June. 

"Struggle meetings" were organized on a wide scale 
throughout Tibet where the lamas were charged with char- 
latanism, robbery, torture, fraud, and all manner of mis- 
demeanors. Since the monasteries were large landowners 
these "struggle meetings," while utilized to denigrate the 
lamas and their "superstitious practices," were also used to 
propagate "land reform." In the past the Tibetans, en- 
couraged by their lamas, had refused to accept collectiviza- 
tion. Now they had no alternative, for anyone who dared 
to oppose the "reforms" was instantly branded as a counter- 
revolutionary and a criminal. As in the border areas, not 
only are the landless Tibetan herdsmen urged to denounce 

Land of Lamas 113 

the "reactionary" herd owners but the poorer lamas also are 
encouraged to retail their sufferings at the hands of the richer 
lamas or Incarnate Lamas. 

Heading this campaign is the Panchen Lama, who since 
being invested with political authority by the Chinese Com- 
munists has spearheaded the attack on the monasteries and 
obliquely even on some Buddhist practices. Thus in July His 
Serenity was quoted by Peking Radio as saying: "Things 
keep changing and developing. Some irrational religious sys- 
tems should be constantly reformed. Temples and monas- 
teries will inevitably be involved in the reforms since the 
temples and monasteries and some of the high-ranking lamas 
in them also possess manorial estates and are serf owners. It 
will not be beneficial to religion if the serfs of the aristocratic 
feudal government are emancipated while the serfs of the 
lamasaries remain in bondage." Such statements are inevita- 
bly accompanied by assurances that there will be no inter- 
ference with the people's freedom of worship. 

Peking's land reforms are pervasive and cover wide spheres 
of activity, for though ostensibly economic their purpose is 
political. The blow at the lamaist monasteries is calculated to 
eliminate the power of the Buddhist priesthood, whose es- 
tates are now in the process of being broken up. On the 
surface many of the reforms instituted by the Communists 
seem reasonable and accord with a widely quoted Han say- 
ing in Tibet: Alan man ti lai (Slowly, but it will come). It 
certainly will; for as experience in China and the national 
minority areas proves, this tactic merely represents the thin 
end of the wedge which in time will prise wide open the en- 
tire political, economic, and social systems. 

It is worth recalling in the light of what is happening in 
Tibet today what was promised to that country by the Chi- 
nese as late as April, 1956. At the inaugural meeting of the 
Preparatory Committee, General Chang Kuo-hua outlined 

H4 The Revolt in Tibet 

what he described as "the established policy of the Central 
People's Government on the question of reforms in Tibet." 
According to him the Tibetan region differed greatly, so- 
cially and economically, from the areas of the Han people and 
the other minority nationalities. "The measures to be taken 
in future to carry out reforms in the Tibetan region must 
also be different from those adopted in other areas/' the gen- 
eral assured his Tibetan audience. "Future reforms in the 
Tibet region must be carried out from the upper to the lower 
levels and by peaceful consultation, in accordance with the 
will and desire of the majority of the Tibetan people. During 
and after reforms, the government must take whatever steps 
are necessary to ensure that the political status and living con- 
ditions of the upper-class Tibetan people (including upper- 
class ecclesiastics) will not be reduced but will possibly be 
raised. That is to say: changes can only be for the better and 
not for the worse. This method is to the advantage of the 
aristocracy and of the monasteries and also of the people. 
After future reforms in Tibet the religious beliefs of the peo- 
ple can remain completely unchanged." 

The brazen brashness and effrontery of these assurances 
in the context of later events reveal the cynicism underlying 
Communist promises. They were in fact endorsed at the 
same meeting by Chinese Vice Premier Chen Yi, who said: 
"The Communist party of China and the Central People's 
Government hold that reforms in Tibet can only be carried 
out when the Tibetan leaders and people unanimously de- 
mand them and are determined on them. They can never 
be carried out by any other nationality." 

Today the Chinese in Tibet are engaged in "reforms" 
which, far from ensuring that the political status and living 
conditions of the upper-class Tibetan people lay and secu- 
lar are not merely maintained but improved, are calculated 
to destroy both. No genuine democrat denies the need for 

Land of Lamas 115 

changes in Tibet's political, economic, and social structure, 
and the Dalai Lama himself has expressed this view both be- 
fore and after leaving Tibet. But what is taking place in that 
hapless country today represents the first step on the road to 
Communism which will end only with the "conversion" of 
Tibet into a Communist land absorbed in the great mother- 
land of Han imperialism. Many of the reforms so far initiated 
by the Chinese Communists in Tibet would have been ac- 
ceptable to the Dalai Lama and his government if their pur- 
pose had not been the consolidation of Han overlordship. 
Furthermore it was obvious that the Chinese were out to 
destroy traditional Tibetan values and to replace them by a 
superimposed Marxist ideology and rule. 

Two-thirds of Tibet's population comprise agricultural and 
pastoral serfs living in a feudal economy which denies them 
wages, payment being made in the form of grain, crops, and 
other commodities which they help to produce. The vast 
majority of them are metaphorically chained to the land, 
and they cannot leave it without obtaining their landlord's 
permission and paying him compensation. The former is 
generally refused, while the latter is too often beyond the 
serf's resources. The Communist plan to abolish the system 
of unpaid, forced labor and to give the serfs freedom of their 
persons is therefore in principle unexceptionable. The Com- 
munists also plan to "buy out" landed estates from the ma- 
norial lords and redistribute them among the peasants, a meas- 
ure whose justice will obviously depend on the amount of 
compensation which the Reds pay to the landlords. If past 
experience is any guide, this is nothing but a form of virtual 
expropriation. Lands belonging to the monasteries will also 
be "bought out," and the lamas are promised subsidies if the 
revenue from the land left to them is insufficient to support 
them. Debts owed up to the end of 1958 by the "laboring 
people" to the manorial lords are annulled. Freedom of wor- 

n6 The Revolt in Tibet 

ship is promised, but since the survival of each monastery de- 
pends on the loyalty of its inmates to the regime this con- 
stitutes a form of political blackmail holding up the lamas 
to ransom. Their ultimate fate is not likely to be vastly dif- 
ferent from that of the erstwhile Buddhist monks and nuns 
in China who have been "persuaded" to leave their monas- 
teries, engage in "productive labor," and marry. The Com- 
munist policy on the Tibetan religion, and its use as a politi- 
cal instrument, were foreshadowed in October, 1957, when 
General Chang Kuo-hua commented on the role he expected 
the Tibet branch of the China Buddhist Association to 
play. As reported in the Tibet Jih Pao of October i8th, 
Chang said: "In order to implement better the policy of re- 
ligious freedom, it is the duty of the Tibetan Buddhist Asso- 
ciation to transmit regularly and propagate to the Buddhists 
the policies, laws, and decrees of the Party and government; 
organize them to engage in study and positively take part in 
the anti-imperialist and patriotic campaign and the campaign 
for defending world peace, as well as in various constructive 

In short the Tibetan lamas, like the Panchen Lama, are 
expected to be the mouthpieces of their political masters. 





In the period of British rule India's policy on Tibet was gov- 
erned by the primary consideration of securing a buffer state 
between India and China from which Russia, at first tsarist 
and later Communist, would also be excluded. This was the 
underlying purpose of the successive conventions of Lhasa, 
Peking, St. Petersburg, and Simla. 

Two years after India attained independence China be- 
came Communist, and the situation between India, China, 
and Tibet altered radically. It was Nehru's mistake that he 
continued to treat the situation as static on the specious plea 
that independent India's policy on Tibet was a heritage 
from the British raj. Lord Curzon, who was Viceroy of India 
at the time of the Younghusband expedition, had described 
Chinese suzerainty over Tibet as "a political affectation" and 
"a constitutional fiction" and had pressed for an "altered 


n8 The Revolt in Tibet 

policy" to fill the vacuum which, he feared, Russia might 
occupy. Nehru's policy, it would seem, was activated prin- 
cipally by a desire to appease China while respecting Tibetan 
autonomy. Thereby he hoped to ensure his main aim, which 
was the preservation of the security and integrity o India. 

In doing this he underestimated the strength of Han ex- 
pansionism reinforced by the even more purposeful ag- 
gressiveness of Communist imperialism. It cannot be claimed 
that he was not forewarned. What the Russians did in Hun- 
gary, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Poland, Bulgaria, and Al- 
bania the Chinese did in Tibet. In fact in 1959 the Chinese 
merely completed that which they had begun in 1950 and 
against which India, then as later, had protested ineffectually. 

No reasonable person or government expected India to go 
to war with China over Tibet in 1950 or in 1959. But by re- 
fraining from recognizing Tibet as a sovereign, independent 
state between 1947 and 1949, at a time when neither the 
Chinese Communists nor the Nationalists could have effec- 
tively intervened, India lost the opportunity of bringing 
Tibet into the forum of independent nations and simultane- 
ously of ensuring the existence of a buffer state between her- 
self and China. That mistake might still cost India dearly. 
But its consequences were aggravated by New Delhi's at- 
titude to China and Tibet in 1950, and again in 1959. 

In both instances India began by protesting vigorously, 
but when faced with a fait accompli she meekly acquiesced. 
Had New Delhi supported the request of the El Salvador 
delegate in November, 1950, that the Tibetan plea should be 
heard by the United Nations it is possible that both the 
United States and Britain would have voted in its favor. The 
record of the U.N. proceedings suggests this. But the Indian 
attitude, as we shall see, was unfortunately equivocal. Simi- 
larly in 1959, having allowed the Dalai Lama and some 
12,000 Tibetans asylum in India, the Government of India 

India, China, and Tibet 119 

appeared to be currying favor with the Chinese by announc- 
ing that it would again sponsor Communist China's admis- 
sion to the U.N. Peking's reaction to New Delhi's humble 
gesture has been one of lordly and calculated disdain, and 
the U.N., as expected, has rejected the plea after a remark- 
ably brief speech by the normally loquacious Krishna Menon. 

The Chinese invasion of Tibet in October, 1950, while the 
Tibetan mission was on its way from India to Peking, pro- 
voked a sharp exchange of communications between the In- 
dian and Chinese governments. In its first note of October 
26th the Indian Government complained that, despite the 
fact that "we have been repeatedly assured of a desire by 
the Chinese Government to settle the Tibetan problem by 
peaceful means and negotiations," and notwithstanding the 
departure of the Tibetan delegation for Peking on October 
25th, the Chinese Government had ordered its troops to in- 
vade Tibet. Actually the invasion had already taken place 
on October 7th, but Peking did not announce its decision 
to move its troops until about October 25th. On October 
30th the Chinese replied in pointedly sharp tones. "Tibet/* 
Peking affirmed, "is an integral part of Chinese territory. 
The problem of Tibet is entirely a domestic problem of 
China. The Chinese People's Liberation Army must enter 
Tibet, liberate the Tibetan people, and defend the fron- 
tiers of China. This is the resolved policy of the Central Peo- 
ple's Government. . . . No foreign interference will be tol- 
erated/' The reference to defending the frontiers of China 
in relation to Tibet is interesting, for the Tibetan frontiers 
abut on India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Ladakh, the other 
frontiers on the north and east abutting on China itself. 
Peking's note went on to characterize the Indian viewpoint 
as "deplorable" and as "having been affected by foreign in- 
fluences hostile to China in Tibet." 

In its second note, dated October 3ist, New Delhi repudi- 

120 The Revolt in Tibet 

ated the Chinese charge that it was affected by foreign in- 
fluences. Earlier, on October 8th, the U.N. forces in Korea 
had crossed the 38th parallel, and the Indian Government 
was anxious to contain the area of conflict. It accordingly 
appealed to the Chinese to refrain from doing anything 
"calculated to increase the present deplorable tensions of the 
world," emphasizing simultaneously that "Tibetan autonomy 
is a fact which, judging from reports they have received from 
other sources, the Chinese Government were themselves 
willing to recognize and foster." While reiterating that New 
Delhi had "no political or territorial ambitions" in Tibet, 
the Indian Government emphatically stated that "there was 
no justification whatever for such military operations" which 
represented "an attempt to impose a decision by force." On 
November i6th the Chinese Government replied, insisting 
that Tibet was an integral part of Chinese territory and that 
the problem of Tibet was entirely a domestic problem of 
China. Peking's note of November i6th makes some dis- 
quieting disclosures which New Delhi has so far not chal- 
lenged. The note refers to an aide-memoire dated August 28, 
1950, by the Indian Government to the Chinese Government 
wherein, according to the latter, New Delhi had accepted 
Peking's view that "the regional autonomy granted by the 
Chinese Government to national minorities inside the coun- 
try is an autonomy within the confines of Chinese sover- 
eignty." The note also asserts that "on August 31 the Chi- 
nese Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the Indian Gov- 
ernment through Ambassador Panikkar that the Chinese 
People's Liberation Army was going to take action soon in 
west Sikang." New Delhi did not deny this, which suggests 
that at least a month before the Chinese actually launched 
their offensive on Tibet, New Delhi was aware of Peking's 

Looking back on these episodes, the Chinese strategy vis4- 

India, China, and Tibet 121 

vis India on Tibet emerges more clearly. Once Peking had 
decided on "liberating" Tibet, it was anxious to secure New 
Delhi's support or, at the very least, the Indian Government's 
noninterference. Seen in that light its actions assume a con- 
sistent pattern. First, Peking skillfully extracted an acknowl- 
edgment by New Delhi in the aide-memoire referred to above 
that the Government of India recognized Chinese sovereignty 
over regionally autonomous Tibet. Having secured this, 
Peking next proceeded to inform New Delhi of its decision 
to act soon, thus attempting to make India privy to the Chi- 
nese plan. What the Indian Government's reactions to this 
were has not been disclosed, but consistent with its later at- 
titude New Delhi probably urged China to settle the matter 
"peacefully." When China ignored this advice, all that 
India could do was to protest. 

It could in fact have done more. On December 6th Nehru, 
speaking in the Lok Sabha, declared that India wanted the 
Sino-Tibetan question settled peacefully, and in a reference 
to Chinese talk of "liberating" Tibet confessed it was not 
clear to him from whom the Chinese were going to "liberate" 
Tibet. Yet when the helpless Tibetans turned to New Delhi, 
pleading with India to sponsor their case before the U.N., 
Lhasa was advised to appeal to the U.N. directly. This, in 
view of Tibet's ambiguous international status, could not 
be done by her except through a sponsor. Even so, the 
Tibetans assumed that India, having given this advice, would 
support their plea to the point of censuring China for using 
force against a helpless people. In this also they were doomed 
to disappointment. As Jayaprakash Narayan, well known 
once as a Socialist leader but now associated with Vinoba 
Bhave's Bhoodan (land renunciation) movement, observed: 
"It is true that we could not have prevented the Chinese 
from annexing Tibet. But we could have saved ourselves 
from being party to a wrong." 

122 The Revolt in Tibet 

Unfortunately, India's attitude when the Tibetan ap- 
peal came up before the U.N. in November, 1950, was 
equivocal and, in the context of the facts, inexcusable. The 
representative of El Salvador in sponsoring Tibet's case 
pointed out that while Tibet was not a member of the 
U.N., a duty rested on that organization to maintain peace 
not only between member states but throughout the world. 
He urged the General Assembly not to dismiss the Tibetan 
case unheard. The Indian representative, the Jam Saheb of 
Nawanagar, in reply observed that India as a neighbor of 
China and Tibet, "with both of which it had friendly rela- 
tions," was particularly anxious that the matter should be 
settled peacefully. The Chinese forces, he pointed out, had 
ceased to advance after the fall of Chamdo, "a town of some 
480 kilometers from Lhasa." The Indian Government was 
certain that the Tibetan question could still be settled by 
peaceful means and that such a settlement could safeguard 
the autonomy which Tibet had enjoyed for several decades 
while maintaining its historical association with China. 

By a coincidence which did not go unnoticed, the British 
representative, Mr. Younger, had earlier spoken in broadly 
the same terms as the Jam Saheb, and had proposed that the 
committee * should defer decision on the request made by 
the El Salvador delegate. The Jam Saheb concluded his 
speech by endorsing the British representative's suggestion. 
"My delegation," he observed, "consider that the best way of 
obtaining this objective [a peaceful settlement] is to abandon, 
for the time being, the idea of including this question in the 
agenda of the General Assembly." The Australian representa- 
tive, Sir Keith Officer, dutifully concurred. That the United 
States only reluctantly agreed to this proposal was made clear 
by its representative, Mr. Ernest A. Gross. He had voted for 
adjournment, he explained, in view of the fact that the Gov- 

The General Committee of the U.N. General Assembly. 

India, China, and Tibet 123 

ernment of India, whose territory bordered on Tibet and 
which was therefore an interested party, had told the Gen- 
eral Committee that it hoped that the Tibetan question 
would be peacefully and honorably settled. In accordance 
with its traditional policy, the United States would in usual 
circumstances have voted for the inclusion of the item in the 
General Assembly agenda. His government had always sup- 
ported any proposal to refer to the U.N. international dis- 
putes or complaints of aggression, which could thus be aired, 
considered, and settled at international hearings. That was 
the principle applied by the United States Government even 
in the case of accusations made against the United States and 
despite the illogical and fraudulent nature of those accusa- 
tions. However, in the present case, the United States delega- 
tion wanted to support the proposal made by the member 
states most directly concerned in the subject matter of the 
request submitted by the El Salvador delegation. 

Like Czechoslovakia twelve years before, Tibet was sold 
down the river. The irony lay in Nehru's contrasting attitudes 
to these two tragedies. In 1938 he had visited Czechoslovakia 
while in Europe and had watched with growing irritation 
and dismay the devious strategy of Lord Runciman, who was 
endeavoring simultaneously to soften up the Nazi Henlein 
and, as Nehru put it, "to break the back of the Czechs/' He 
had listened to the League of Nations as it debated on Czech- 
oslovakia and was contemptuous of the entire proceedings. 
Did these thoughts recur to him when the Indian delegate, 
on New Delhi's instructions, assumed the same equivocal 
posture in the United Nations debate on Tibet? 

An eastern Munich was not far away, and to that also India 
unhappily lent her imprimatur. Pledges and promises mean- 
ing nothing to the Communists, Peking signed an agreement 
with Tibet on May 23, 1951, recognizing Tibet's regional au- 
tonomy under the unified leadership of the Central People's 

124 The Revolt in Tibet 

Government of China. We have seen how these pledges, easily 
given, were easily broken. 

In 1950 Nehru, lulled by Communist China's assurances 
of her intention to reach a peaceful settlement with Tibet, 
not only induced that country to negotiate directly with 
Peking but persuaded the democratic nations of the U.N. to 
refrain from censuring China. The Communist armies, well 
aware of India's proclivities on this issue, had temporarily 
halted at Chamdo. They were marking time. No sooner did 
the U.N., on India's assurance, flash the green light than the 
Communists resumed their march on Lhasa. The Sino- 
Tibetan agreement, dictated by Peking and assuring Tibet 
of regional autonomy, was hailed as a great diplomatic vic- 
tory in New Delhi and as an endorsement of the Government 
of India's farsighted policy. Events were to prove how near- 
sighted that policy was. 

Charmed and beguiled by the "sweet reasonableness" of 
the Chinese, New Delhi went a step further. The British had 
recognized Chinese suzerainty over Tibet in return for Chi- 
nese recognition of Tibetan autonomy. India for no discerni- 
ble reason proceeded beyond this. In the Sino-Indian treaty 
on Tibet of April, 1954, to which, incidentally, Tibet was not 
a signatory, India by implication recognized Chinese sover- 
eignty as distinct from suzerainty. By dealing directly with 
China and ignoring Tibet, India officially recognized the 
special status of the former vis-&-vis the latter. Moreover, in 
the agreement itself it adopted the Chinese phrase, "the 
Tibet region of China," thereby impliedly recognizing Chi- 
nese sovereignty over Tibet. This interpretation is borne out 
by Nehru's speech in the Lok Sabha where the agreement was 
attacked by several members, including the veteran Congress- 
man Purushottamdas Tandon, the late Dr. S. P. Mookerjee, 
Dr. Satya Narayan Sinha, and Dr. H. N. Kunzru. "Some criti- 
cism has been made that this is a recognition of Chinese sov- 

India, China, and Tibet 125 

ereignty over Tibet/' said the prime minister. "I am not 
aware of any time during the last few hundred years w hen 
Chinese sovereignty or, if you like, suzerainty, was challenged 
by any outside country, and all during this period whether 
China was weak or strong and, whatever the Government of 
China was, China always maintained this claim to sovereignty 
over Tibet." Clearly in Nehru's mind the distinction between 
suzerainty and sovereignty was of no great consequence. That 
was also the Chinese view. 

The agreement, signed at Peking, dealt with trade and 
other matters concerning pilgrims between India and Tibet, 
and was to remain in force for eight years. It permitted Indian 
trade agencies to function in the Tibetan border towns of 
Yatung, Gyantse, and Gartok in return for Chinese trade 
agencies operating in India's capital, New Delhi, Kalimpong, 
and the leading commercial city of Calcutta. Certain markets 
for trade were specified in both countries. Traders and pil- 
grims, except "inhabitants of the border districts of the two 
countries who cross the borders to carry on petty trade or to 
visit friends and relatives," were required to hold entry cer- 
tificates or permits in addition to the usual passports and 
visas. The agreement was confirmed in a subsequent note 
addressed by the Government of India to the Chinese Gov- 
ernment wherein New Delhi undertook to withdraw within 
six months the military escort which had been stationed at 
Yatung and Gyantse ever since the Lhasa Convention of 1904 
for the protection of Indian pilgrims and traders. It also 
promised to hand over to the Government of China, "at a 
reasonable price," the post, telegraph, and public telephone 
services together with their equipment operated by the Gov- 
ernment of India in "the Tibet region of China." New Delhi 
later decided, "as a gesture of good will," to waive its claim 
to compensation for the postal, telegraph, and telephone 
equipment in Tibet. 

126 The Revolt in Tibet 

The preamble to the Sino-Indian agreement on Tibet 
enunciated for the first time the now famous five principles of 
coexistence known in India as Panchshila* which though not 
formally accepted by all the countries of Asia and Africa, 
notably Pakistan, Thailand, South Viet Nam, Malaya, Tunis, 
and Morocco, is still regarded by them as an intangible safe- 
guard against the incursions of Red China. The preamble 
reads: "The Government of the Republic of India and the 
Central People's Government of the People's Republic of 
China, being desirous of promoting trade and cultural inter- 
course between the Tibet region of China and India and of 
facilitating pilgrimage and travel by the peoples of China and 
India, have resolved to enter into the present agreement 
based on the following principles: (i) Mutual respect for 
territorial integrity and sovereignty (2) Nonaggression (3) 
Noninterference in internal affairs (4) Equality and mutual 
benefit (5) Peaceful coexistence." 

The principles of Panchshila were reiterated and re- 
affirmed in a joint statement by the prime ministers of India 
and China in June, 1954, when Chou En-lai visited New 
Delhi, and in April, 1955, the principles were incorporated 
in the final communique of the Afro-Asian Conference at 
Bandung in Indonesia. If pious verbal assurances of this 
character really meant what they said, the world would by 
now have talked itself into peace. Nehru's misguided trust 
lay in accepting without question Chinese assurances of 
good faith and good conduct, although the experience of 
Tibet in 1950, which exposed simultaneously the character 
of Han expansionism and Communist imperialism, should 
have warned him against any such facile belief. 

At Bandung, Chou En-lai was to wear the same mask and 
deceive not only India but many countries of Asia and Africa. 
Never was the calculated cynicism and opportunism of Com- 

The word means "five tenets/' 

India, China, and Tibet 127 

munist China more skillfully deployed than at this Afro- 
Asian conference where Chou blandly assured the small na- 
tions of Asia that they had nothing to fear from their big 
neighbor China, even though at that very time Peking was 
in the process of "softening up" Tibet for the final kill. 
Where the borderline between China and a neighboring 
country had not yet been fixed, announced Chou, his country 
was willing to do so "by peaceful means." China had demon- 
strated in Tibet and Korea what she understood by that 
phrase. Doubtless in good time the same means would be 
employed to settle the frontier between China on the one 
hand and India and Burma on the other. 

In the Lok Sabha, shortly alter the signing of the Sino- 
Indian agreement, Nehru, faced with criticism that the 
Indian Government had shown great weakness in dealing 
with the Chinese on Tibet, particularly in admitting that 
China had full authority over Tibet or that China was con- 
trolling Tibet, defended the agreement firmly. "In my opin- 
ion," he asserted, "we have done no better thing than this 
since we became independent. I have no doubt about this. 
... I think it is right for our country, for Asia and for the 
world." The critics had fastened on the withdrawal of the In- 
dian military escorts from Yatung and Gyantse. "Is it proper 
that troops of our country should be stationed in another in- 
dependent country?" the prime minister demanded. "The 
number of troops was not too large, barely three hundred, but 
what does it indicate? What right does India have to keep a 
part of her army in Tibet, whether Tibet is independent or a 
part of China? The British Empire in the days of Lord Cur- 
zon, about fifty years ago, had expanded into and made sev- 
eral types of arrangements in Tibet. Now it is impossible and 
improper for us to continue any such arrangements as the 
British Empire had established." If so, the question naturally 
arose: Why then accept the British "imperialist" concept of 

1*8 The Revolt in Tibet 

Chinese suzerainty over Tibet? Either India accepted the 
British legacy wholesale or not at all. To pick and choose 
was to be selective at the cost of China or Tibet, and to ex- 
pose oneself to the charge of being guided more by expedi- 
ency than by principle. 

Dr. Satya Narayan Sinha, in criticizing the Indian Govern- 
ment's attitude to Tibet, had referred to various treaties and 
maps going back to the period of British rule in India. Ac- 
cording to Dr. Sinha these documents proved that independ- 
ent India had gone further than the British had done in their 
commitments to China. Nehru contemptuously brushed aside 
these charges. "Let me tell him/* he declared answering Dr. 
Sinha, "these treaties and maps were all prepared by British 
imperialists. These treaties and maps are intended to show 
that we must act as they did." In saying this, the prime min- 
ister overlooked one fact: that he himself had accepted Chi- 
nese suzerainty over Tibet as a political legacy from the 
British. He also did not anticipate that the Communist Chi- 
nese themselves would so adjust their maps that they would 
ultimately prepare a blueprint for a Himalayan federation 
consisting of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Ladakh, and parts of 
India's Northeast Frontier Agency, to function doubtless 
under Chinese sovereignty or, in the prime minister's words, 
"if you like, suzerainty/' 

The integrity and security of India must inevitably govern 
that foreign policy which, like that of every country, is mo- 
tivated by "enlightened self-interest." India's prime minister 
was obviously impressed by the Communist revolution in 
China which repeated after the Second World War what the 
Bolsheviks had succeeded in establishing in Russia in the 
closing years of the First. "Now we must realize," Nehru 
apostrophized his audience in the Lok Sabha, "that this revo- 
lution that came to China is the biggest thing that has taken 
place in the world at present, whether you like it or not. 

India, China, and Tibet 129 

. . . For the first time in several hundred years of history 
China now has a strong central government. This fact is a 
very important fact for Asia and the world." Those who do 
not know Nehru would immediately accuse him of thereby 
placing might before right. Nothing could have been further 
from his mind; but from the language he used even the Com- 
munist Chinese can be excused for reading into it the conclu- 
sion which the Indian prime minister's critics deduced. 

In the same speech Nehru referred to Panchshila in words 
which the hindsight of history exposes as both pathetic and 
prophetic. "Live and let live," he proclaimed. "No one 
should invade the other, no one should fight the other. . . . 
This is the basic principle which we have put in our treaty 
with China." 

In the light of China's ruthless aggression on Tibet in 
1959, the assurances are ironic. "These," said India's prime 
minister, referring to Panchshila, "are words we have used: 
'recognition of territorial integrity and sovereignty, nonag- 
gression, noninterference/ and we consider other things like 
'mutuality.' Now 'territorial integrity' and 'sovereignty' mean 
that there should be no invasion. 'Nonaggression' also means 
the same thing, and 'noninterference' means that there 
should be no interference in domestic affairs because some 
people are in the habit of interfering in other people's 

The puzzle is why Nehru, confronted with accumulating 
evidence of Chinese duplicity and bad faith, should have 
continued to take Peking's promises on trust. Surely he had 
read his Marx and Lenin and remembered Lenin's dictum 
that "in the battle for the victory of socialism every means is 
allowed." Did India's prime minister believe that Peking 
was making a distinction between the West and Asia and was 
bound to the latter by fraternity and blood? Or did he feel 
that the Communists used the methods of duplicity and force 

130 The Revolt in Tibet 

only against the capitalist world? Russia had pledged to re- 
spect the freedom of the peoples of East Europe in the Yalta 
Agreement, and thereafter had proceeded to subjugate Czech- 
oslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, and Al- 
bania, all of which had desired to be friendly with her. In the 
Communist code friendliness is not enough, and international 
agreements are respected only so long as they are advan- 
tageous. China was shortly to give a proof of peaceful coexist- 
ence in Tibet. 

In 1956 the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama visited 
India, and also in India at the time was the Chinese prime 
minister. The Dalai Lama has since revealed * that he was 
even at that time acutely unhappy over the situation in 
Tibet. "As I was unable to do anything for the benefit of 
my people/' he confessed, "I had practically made up my 
mind when I came to India not to return to Tibet until 
there was a manifest change in the attitude of the Chinese 
authorities/' In this predicament the Dalai Lama sought the 
advice of the Indian prime minister, who, as His Holiness 
acknowledged, "has always shown me unfailing kindness and 
consideration/' Nehru thereupon spoke to Chou En-lai, who 
promptly gave him the usual assurances, which as usual 
Nehru accepted at their face value. He assured the Dalai 
Lama that all would be well, and urged him to return to his 
country. "I followed his advice/' said His Holiness, "and re- 
turned to Tibet in the hope that conditions would change 
substantially for the better. And I have no doubts that my 
hopes would have been realized if the Chinese authorities 
had on their part carried out the assurances which the Chi- 
nese prime minister had given to the prime minister of India. 
It was, however, painfully clear soon after my return that the 
representatives of the Chinese Government had no inten- 
tion of adhering to their promises. The natural and inevita- 

* In his statement of June 20, 1959. 

India, China, and Tibet 131 

ble result was that the situation daily grew worse until it be- 
came impossible to control the spontaneous upsurge of my 
people against the tyranny and oppression of the Chinese 

What were the assurances which Chou En-lai so glibly gave 
and which Nehru so easily accepted? A clue was given by the 
Indian prime minister in a speech in the Lok Sabha on March 
30, 1959. "When Mr. Chou En-lai was last in India/' said 
Nehru, "he laid stress first of all that Tibet was and had al- 
ways been a part of the Chinese State, part of the larger fam- 
ily of China. Then he said that Tibet was not a province of 
China. It was different from China proper, and he recognized 
that and therefore we [India] consider it an autonomous re- 
gion of the Chinese State. The Chinese people are called the 
Han people. The Tibetans are not Hans. Tibetans are Ti- 

Chou, however, clearly did not mean what he said. In 
Nehru's view China, while claiming Tibet as part of its larger 
family, recognized Tibet's regional autonomy, and had no de- 
sire to assimilate it by making it a province or part and parcel 
of China. This, however, is precisely Communist China's 
aim, for the Chinese Constitution, unlike the Soviet Consti- 
tution, does not give the national minorities the right of 
secession. The Communist Chinese aim has always been to 
assimilate the national minorities, including the Tibetans, 
and to absorb them totally within the political, economic, 
and social structure of the Communist State. According to 
the Chinese the Tibetan view is irrelevant in the overriding 
context of the Chinese concept of the state. 

This is contrary to the orthodox Marxist-Leninist approach 
to nationality, though it is not the only instance where Mao 
Tse-tung has deviated from the recognized line. When the 
Bolsheviks seized power in Russia under Lenin, they pro- 
claimed the right of self-determination, including the right 

132 The Revolt in Tibet 

of secession as a fundamental right of the national minor- 
ities, though in practice no nationality has been allowed to 
exercise that right. Article 15 of the Soviet Constitution states, 
"The U.S.S.R. protects the sovereign rights of the Union 
Republics/' while Article 17 says, "The right freely to secede 
from the U.S.S.R. is reserved to every Union Republic." The 
fact that the right is theoretical undoubtedly detracts from 
the principle, but it is of interest in so far as it shows that the 
Communist Chinese attitude to the national minorities is 
both theoretically and in practice more rigid than that of the 

Initially the Communist Chinese approach was similar to 
that of the Soviet Union. In the 1931 Constitution of the so- 
called Kiangsi Soviet of which Mao Tse-tung was chairman, 
the national minorities were promised the right of self- 
determination and secession from any Union of Chinese 
Soviets that might be established in the future. In his state- 
ment "On Coalition Government/' published in 1945, Mao 
reaffirmed this by suggesting that the various races should 
form a Union of Democratic Republics of China. In 1949, 
however, when the Communist Chinese State was founded, 
the idea of independent republics was dropped in favor of 
"autonomous areas," and the Common Program by which the 
new government was guided made no mention of the right of 
secession. The National Constitution of Communist China, 
which was promulgated in 1954, went further. It stated une- 
quivocally that China is "a unified, multinational State." 

Federalism is an idea foreign to the Chinese, who regard 
themselves more as a civilization than as a nation, and a civi- 
lization in which anyone can be accepted. Hence the inherent 
expansionist thrust in Chinese society and civilization which 
makes it far more propulsive than that of the U.S.S.R. 

The Indian Communist party's attitude to national minor- 
ities inclines toward Soviet policy but goes further. Not only 

India, China, and Tibet 133 

does it support the right of self-determination, including the 
right of secession for linguistic minorities, but in the 1940*5 
it actively promoted the creation of Pakistan by backing up 
the Moslem League's claim to a separate Islamic State. As 
long as it functions within a democratic state, this will prob- 
ably be the policy of the Indian Communist party, but in 
the unhappy event of Communism coming to India it is likely 
that the Red attitude to the linguistic minorities will approxi- 
mate to that of Communist China. Despite their present pol- 
icy in India, the Indian Communists were vociferous in their 
support of Peking's action in Tibet, forgetting for the mo- 
ment their own proclaimed adherence to national self-deter- 

Nehru's adherence to peaceful coexistence automatically 
implies tolerance for a Communist party functioning in 
India. Indeed, the Indian President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, 
once described Kerala, then under Communist rule, as a 
beautiful example of coexistence. But the Indian Communist 
party is the Trojan horse of international Communism in 
India. When criticism of Communist China mounted shortly 
after the Dalai Lama's flight from Lhasa and tempers ran 
high, the Chinese Embassy in Delhi summoned some Indian 
Reds for a briefing. As a result these Peking patriots dutifully 
echoed their master's voice and were not ashamed to say so. 
"The People's Government of China, in all sincerity, has 
asked us to look into this matter," a Communist leader con- 
fessed in the Lok Sabha. As we have noted earlier, the Na- 
tional Council of the Indian Communist party passed a reso- 
lution supporting China's action in Tibet, and its spokesmen 
in Parliament upheld Peking's charge that the Tibetan revolt 
was Indian-inspired and that Kalimpong was the command 
center of a revolt by "feudal elements" in Tibet against the 
"people." The reaction of other parties to the Communist 
attitude was indignant, some members demanding that 

134 The Revolt in Tibet 

India's chief election commissioner should cancel the Com- 
munist party's accreditation as a national party. "The Com- 
munists/' commented Nehru, "cease to be Indians, having 
shown a total absence of feelings of decency and nationality." 
If the general Indian reaction to China's aggression on 
Tibet was sharp and angry, the Government of India initially 
pursued a more cautious and less consistent course. When 
early in March, 1959, the Indian prime minister was ques- 
tioned in the Lok Sabha on reports reaching India of clashes 
between the Tibetans and Chinese, Nehru deprecated such 
accounts as colorful and exaggerated, and described the re- 
ported clash as "a conflict of minds." This phrase should rank 
high in any list of political euphemisms. When the Dalai 
Lama visited India in 1956 he extended an invitation to the 
Indian prime minister to visit Tibet, but when in the fall 
of 1958 Nehru proposed to go to Lhasa he was cryptically 
asked to postpone his visit. Even after the fact of the uprising 
in Lhasa was world news, New Delhi remained circumspect. 
The matter was again raised in Parliament late in March 
when the Chinese accused India of allowing Kalimpong to be 
used as "a commanding center of rebellion," a charge which 
Nehru had repudiated three days earlier. "This is a difficult 
and delicate situation," said the prime minister, "and we 
should avoid doing anything which will worsen it. We have 
no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of China, 
with whom we have friendly relations. In 1954 the Sino- 
Indian agreement was concluded. It was in this that for the 
first time the principle of Panchshila was stated. . . . India 
wishes to have friendly relations with the people of Tibet 
and wants them to progress in freedom. At the same time it 
is important for us to have friendly relations with that great 
country China. That does not mean that I, the Government 
or the Indian Parliament or anyone else should submit to 
any kind of dictation from any country, howsoever great it 

India, China, and Tibet 135 

may be. But it does mean that in a difficult situation we 
should exercise a certain measure of restraint and wisdom in 
dealing with the situation and not in excitement do some- 
thing which will lead our country into difficulties/' 

Wise words, and in the context justifiable. But their wis- 
dom and justification depended on how they would be im- 
plemented. New Delhi's official attitude was politically im- 
peccable, but newspaper correspondents at this time were 
interested to notice that in some official circles another line 
was privately canvassed. Nehru had expressed India's wish 
to see Tibet ''progress in freedom/' and it was subtly implied 
that the Chinese were helping this progress by undermining 
Tibet's feudal society. It was a line sedulously peddled by 
the Communists and fellow travelers, as well as by their sym- 
pathizers inside and outside the citadel of the government. 
Jayaprakash Narayan made the most effective retort to these 
transparent tactics. "It is said/' he remarked, "that even if 
the Chinese are behaving a little roughly in Tibet, why be 
so squeamish about it? Are they not forcibly rescuing the 
Tibetan masses from medieval backwardness and forcing 
them toward progress and civilization? It is strange that as 
soon as some people put themselves outside their own coun- 
try, they become screaming imperialists. If the right is con- 
ceded to nations to thrust progress forcibly down the throats 
of other nations, why were the British not welcomed as torch- 
bearers of progress in India?" The issue also depended, as 
Jayaprakash Narayan went on to say, on what one meant by 
human progress. Did one equate it with industrialization, 
rising production statistics, communes, and sputniks? He pre- 
ferred another view that saw progress in terms of humanity 
the growth of human freedom, the decline of selfishness 
and cruelty, the spread of tolerance and cooperation. 

If Nehru thought that his verbal rebukes would halt the 
Chinese in their aggressive tactics and induce a reexamina- 

136 The Revolt in Tibet 

tion of conscience, he was mistaken. No sooner did the Chi- 
nese realize that the Dalai Lama was heading for India than 
they loosed a vituperative barrage against India which later 
they were to reinforce by troop movements along the Indo- 
Tibetan border. The New China News Agency spearheaded 
this attack with a series of reports and comments accusing 
Indians of "expansionist aims" in Tibet, and this theme pro- 
vided the keynote for the subsequent stream of virulent abuse 
directed against India. ''Some Indian papers/' lamented the 
NCNA, "openly advocated to convene a conference by India 
to discuss the rebellion in Tibet which was purely China's 
internal affair. Such an absurd advocation fully reflected the 
conspiracy and ambition of the Indian expansionists." In 
Bombay followers of the Indian Praja Socialist party and 
other groups had demonstrated before the Chinese Consulate, 
hurling rotten tomatoes at posters of Mao Tse-tung and 
shouting slogans such as "Long Live Free Tibet!" "Down 
with Stalinists!" and so on. In an angry tirade the NCNA 
denounced these "slanderous slogans against China," referred 
to the "ravings" of Indian politicians over the "rebellion in 
Tibet" and harped again on "Indian expansionism." Even 
the pro-Communist Bombay weekly Blitz, which, following 
the Red line, had justified Peking's aggression on Tibet, was 
taken to task by the NCNA for making "a nonsensical sug- 
gestion." This was a proposal for a tripartite conference of 
India, China, and Tibet. The NCNA, while commending 
Blitz's general attitude, complained: "The editor of the 
weekly in this open letter completely disregarded the fact that 
Tibet is an integral part of China and that the rebellion in 
Tibet is China's internal affair which allows no foreign inter- 
vention." More specifically the Chinese attacked the views ex- 
pressed by the Congress party president, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, 
daughter of Nehru, who had sponsored a Citizens' Committee 
in Delhi to organize relief for the Tibetan refugees. Their 

India, China, and Tibet 137 

ire was aroused by a speech wherein Mrs. Gandhi, according 
to the NCNA, "attempted to defend the stand of India on 
the Tibet question." All that Mrs. Gandhi had said was that 
"India's stand on the Tibetan issue and the granting of asy- 
lum to the Dalai Lama were in keeping with the country's 
tradition and its independent foreign policy/' 

Peking objected violently to "the conspicuous notice" 
which the Dalai Lama was receiving in India and to the "unu- 
sual reception" accorded him. Here it scented a device to con- 
demn China indirectly, and in proof quoted an article by 
Prem Bhatia, the well-known editor of the Tribune of Am- 
bala, Punjab. Bhatia had written: "The highly probable ex- 
planation of such a reception, and one which is much more 
important in terms of foreign policy, is Nehru's wish to ex- 
press indirect disapproval of China's stand over Tibet. While 
India cannot with complete justification sermonize the Chi- 
nese over what has been accepted as the internal affair of 
China she can . . . make her attitude known through this 
oblique condemnation of China's bad faith." 

Had New Delhi at this juncture maintained a firm and 
correct attitude, Indian repercussions to China's aggression 
on Tibet would have crystallized in a consistent mold. But 
Nehru preferred to be circumspect. Although an overwhelm- 
ing proportion of the press and public opinion was deeply 
stirred against China, Nehru leaned backward to preserve 
the old cordial relations with Peking. The daily newspaper 
National Herald which he founded in the days before inde- 
pendence and in which he still takes intimate interest, de- 
clared editorially that "certain parties and individuals in this 
country [India] have no doubt been striving to utilize devel- 
opments in Tibet to malign China and undermine Sino- 
Indian friendship." Nehru meanwhile continued to proclaim 
and protest India's friendship for China. Although he pub- 
licly rebuked the Chinese for using "the language of cold 

138 The Revolt in Tibet 

war/' and repudiated their accusations and calumnies as "un- 
becoming and entirely void of substance/' he reiterated con- 
stantly the need for Sino-Indian friendship. After visiting 
the Dalai Lama at Mussoorie in April, 1959, Nehru, talking 
to newspaper correspondents, expressed a desire to create 
conditions for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and 
urged that this as well as other matters "should not be the 
subject of heated exchanges and debates." They had to be 
considered quietly with a view to preventing the situation 
from getting worse. 

The Chinese, however, were in no mood to reciprocate 
these soothing gestures. They stepped up their verbal barrage 
against India, reinforcing it with hostile acts. "The People's 
Republic of China/' insisted a writer in the People's Daily of 
Peking, "enjoys full sovereignty over the Tibet region just 
as it does over the regions of Inner Mongolia, Sinkiang, 
Kwangsi, and Ninghsia. There can be no doubt whatever 
about this, and no interference by any foreign country or by 
the United Nations under whatever pretext or in whatever 
form will be tolerated/' The more moderate New Delhi's 
tone became, the more aggressive grew Peking's attitude. 

When on June 2Oth the Dalai Lama in an interview with 
newspaper correspondents declared, "Wherever I am, accom- 
panied by my ministers, the Tibetan people recognize us as 
the Government of Tibet," New Delhi issued a statement 
ten days later that the Government of India did not recognize 
any separate Government of Tibet and that there was no 
question of a Tibetan Government under the Dalai Lama 
functioning in India. In reply the Dalai Lama a fortnight 
later stated that what he had said represented "a historical 
truth." His Holiness affirmed that the Panchen Lama had no 
locus standi and his government was "a deceptive one." In 
July the Government of India announced that it would again 

India, China, and Tibet 139 

press at the next U.N. session for the admission of Commu- 
nist China to the United Nations. 

If New Delhi reckoned that by these gestures it would mol- 
lify Peking, the Communist Chinese soon disabused the In- 
dian Government of the notion. Not only did the Red tirade 
continue but it was now accompanied by pointedly un- 
friendly acts to India. Indian and Nepalese traders were 
branded as "bloodsuckers," and Nehru, though not openly 
labeled a "running dog of imperialism," was impliediy ac- 
cused of being in league with the so-called "upper strata" in 
Tibet, particularly the lamas who were denounced as "yellow 
brigands and red robbers." Every effort was made to discour- 
age Tibetan traders from dealing with their counterparts in 
India, thereby making it difficult for the Indians, who were 
now suspect, to function normally in Tibet. Simultaneously 
through a hate campaign the Chinese attempted to stir up 
hostility to the Indians among the Tibetans as a counter to 
the latter's continuing loyalty to the Dalai Lama. While the 
anti-Indian campaign temporarily subsided after a while 
in China, it was continued in Tibet where it was virulently 
waged at certain trade centers like Gyantse. Later it was re- 
vived in China. Until 1955 a small Indian military force had 
been stationed in Gyantse, which still harbors memories 
of the Younghusband expedition, following which an In- 
dian military force had been quartered at the town. Com- 
munist propaganda, carried on through bulletins and broad- 
sheets and by word of mouth, described the Indians as 
inheritors of British imperialist traditions, with expansionist 
aims in Tibet. Indian nationals in that country were now 
subjected by the Chinese to various forms of harassment, pri- 
marily by interference with their trade. The majority of these 
traders come from Ladakh, and some of them have married 
Tibetan women. On the ground that a Tibetan woman 

140 The Revolt in Tibet 

though married to a foreigner retains her nationality, several 
Ladakhi traders were asked to quit Tibet, leaving their wives 
and families behind. 

Indian officials were also subjected to petty harassments 
and humiliations. The Indian Trade Agent in western Tibet, 
Laxman Singh Jangepani, normally spends the summer 
months at various trade marts in his area, returning to India 
for the winter. In June, two months after the Dalai Lama 
was given asylum in India, Jangepani obtained a visa from 
the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi which specified that he 
should enter Tibet by the Niti Pass. This was convenient for 
him, as in returning to India during the previous October he 
had left his tents and other heavy equipment near the Ti- 
betan end of the pass. After a journey of over three weeks 
Jangepani reached a Chinese checkpost in the Niti Pass and 
was coldly informed that he could not proceed by that route 
but should go by way of the Lepuleh Pass near the eastern 
border of Nepal and some three weeks' journey from the Niti 
Pass. This meant, apart from the personal discomfort and 
hardship involved, that the Indian trade agent would be able 
to spend only three months out of the four months' trading 
season in western Tibet. 

Meanwhile the inflow of Tibetan refugees into India con- 
tinued, and has now reached a total of nearly thirteen thou- 
sand, including some six thousand Khambas. Camps were 
initially set up for these refugees in Assam and West Bengal 
from where they are now being dispersed to various parts of 
the country, mostly to the mountainous northeast, and to Sik- 
kim, where around three thousand refugees have settled and 
found work, mainly on road construction. It is possible that 
some of the Khambas will be settled in the Northeast Frontier 
Agency. The biggest resettlement problem is posed by the 
lamas, who number nearly three thousand, but efforts are 
being made in consultation with the Dalai Lama to place 

India, China, and Tibet 141 

them in Buddhist monasteries in India, Bhutan, and Sikkim. 
To date, not a single one of the Tibetan refugees has asked 
to be sent back to his homeland. Among non-Indian agencies 
the Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere, Inc. 
(CARE), has played a most useful part. Food provided by 
CARE was waiting for the first refugees who reached the 
camps near Tezpur in Assam in mid-May, and the organiza- 
tion undertook to supply the basic ration for up to eight 
thousand people. Self-help programs were also devised to en- 
able the refugees to learn new skills, apart from their tradi- 
tional skills, such as wood and metalworking, bootmaking, 
the painting of Tibetan religious pictures, the weaving of 
Tibetan aprons and small rugs, the care of sheep and other 
livestock. Arrangements are also being made by CARE to 
find places for Tibetan scholars and students in universities, 
museums, and other institutions overseas so as to help them 
to go out into the world to study engineering mechanics, ag- 
riculture, medicine, and much else "to build a new Tibet/' 

The areas where these refugees are for the most part now 
being rehabilitated are regions which the Communist Chinese 
have cartographically already appropriated to themselves, de- 
spite India's protests. Chinese maps show many thousands of 
square miles of Indian territory spread over the Northeast 
Frontier Agency, along with Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, and 
Ladakh, as belonging to the People's Republic. At the same 
time Peking blandly assures New Delhi that "China never 
has interfered and never will interfere in India." In 1958 
Nehru, speaking in the Lok Sabha, disclosed that Indian 
grazing lands on the Tibetan border had been forcibly occu- 
pied by Chinese herdsmen. Even before the Dalai Lama's 
flight to India a party of Indian officers, skiing in the Ladakh 
region of Kashmir, were suddenly kidnaped by some mem- 
bers of the Chinese Army on the ground that they had tres- 
passed on territory belonging to the People's Republic. A 

14* The Revolt in Tibet 

similar incident occurred on the Indo-Tibetan border in 
the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh where ten Indian Army 
men were arrested by superior Chinese forces, taken across 
the border, interrogated, and then returned to the frontier 

More recently the Communist Chinese have ceased even to 
pretend good will for India. Shortly after the Indian Govern- 
ment announced that it would again press for Communist 
China's admission into the U.N., Nehru disclosed in the Lok 
Sabha that the Chinese authorities had passed orders declar- 
ing Indian and Tibetan currencies illegal in Tibet. It was not 
clear, said India's prime minister, whether this order had 
been enforced. "However," he added, "it is not in keeping 
with the spirit of the 1954 Sino-Indian agreement." 

Nehru also admitted that India's trade with Tibet had 
suffered very considerably "after the disturbances in Tibet." 
Indian imports from Tibet had dropped from Rs.i5 lakhs 
($300,000) in February, 1959, to Rs. 2 lakhs ($40,000) in June, 
1959, exports during the same period dropping from 
lakhs ($200,000) to Rs. 3 lakhs ($60,000). Nehru confirmed 
that Indian traders in Lhasa were facing many difficulties: 
"Sometimes they could not travel about. Sometimes they 
could not get transport to carry their goods." 

All this is part of a planned pattern. New Delhi has lodged 
more than one protest with Peking against these flagrantly 
discriminatory practices, but Peking has ostentatiously ig- 
nored the protests, and continues its calculated policy of 
harassment. Merchandise held by Indian traders has been 
frozen, and in some cases entire stocks have been "purchased" 
by the Chinese at arbitrary prices. Various payment difficul- 
ties have been artificially created. In certain areas stocks of 
Tibetan wool traditionally purchased by the Indians have 
been bought up by the Chinese. Although Nepal's trade with 
western Tibet has also suffered, owing partly to unsettled 

India, China, and Tibet 143 

conditions, the Chinese have adopted a policy of treating the 
Nepalese better than the Indians, thereby planning to play 
off the one against the other. Pressure on Indian traders 
varies with localities. It is less strong in western and southern 
Tibet, traditionally supplied from India, than in the central 
and eastern regions. Local transborder trade has not yet been 
seriously affected, but obviously the Chinese plan to orientate 
the entire economy of Tibet toward China. External trade 
with India, as we noted, has slumped steeply, and the time is 
not far away when such external trade as Tibet is permitted 
will pass into the hands of monopoly official agencies. 

All this constitutes a clear breach of the 1954 Sino-Indian 
Trade Agreement on Tibet whose preamble enshrined 
Panchshila. The agreement was made with the specific pur- 
pose "of promoting trade and cultural intercourse" between 
Tibet and India, and the fourth of the five tenets of Panch- 
shila postulates "equality and mutual benefit/' Neither exists 
today in Tibet. 





Tibet's history is very largely the history of a struggle to 
maintain her independence against foreign countries which 
schemed for political mastery. The most aggressive of these 
was China, but there were others, notably Britain, Russia 
and, in a much smaller degree, Nepal. Over the centuries 
the chief concern of the Tibetans has been twofold to pre- 
serve their religion and to maintain their independence. 

Although little is known historically of Tibet before the 
seventh century of the Christian era,* legend and tradition 
tell of links with China and India long before that time. 
While the Chinese association with Tibet even in this dim 
period was motivated very largely by expansionist aims, that 
of India has always been religious, cultural, and commercial. 
Even in the some two hundred years of British rule in India, 

* The first source of this knowledge was Chinese. "The History of the Yuan 
Dynasty" (1280-1368) enumerates the administrative divisions of Tibet under 
the Mongol emperors, but there are earlier references to Tibet in Chinese 
historical documents. 


The World Outside 145 

interest in Tibet was primarily concerned with trade until 
late in the nineteenth century when the contending rivalries 
of Britain, China, and Russia made it political. 

According to Tibetan folklore the very origin of the Ti- 
betans, as we have seen, derives from the marriage of an 
ogress with a monkey identified as the Hindu deity Hanu- 
man, a proteg of the Lord of Mercy who is called Avalo- 
kiteshwara by Indians and Chen-re-si by Tibetans. 

The early legendary kings of Tibet commence with Nya-tri 
Tsen-po, who is said to have been the fifth son of the Indian 
King Prasenojit of Kosala. Today the Tibetan language, 
which consists of several dialects, is allied most intimately 
with the Burmese family of languages, but the link between 
the two is provided by the dialects spoken in the Himalayas 
and in North Assam. The Tibetan-Burman languages are 
closely related to Chinese and, less closely, to Thai, but it is 
a historical fact that during the reign of Song-tsan Gampo in 
the seventh century after Christ, the king sent scholars to 
India to fetch Buddhist scriptures and another to Kashmir to 
devise a Tibetan alphabet. This was done, the script being 
modeled on the Brahmi characters of Devanagari Sanskrit. A 
form of grammar was also introduced, and translations were 
made from Pali and Sanskrit manuscripts. Only in the fif- 
teenth century, under the patronage of the Ming emperors, 
did Tibetan scholars turn to Chinese literature, which in 
time was to influence Tibetan ideas and writing. The Lama- 
ist scriptures, compiled mostly between the eighth and thir- 
teenth centuries, are for the major part translations from 
Sanskrit and Pali texts, though a few come from Chinese 

In other cultural fields, as in religion, Tibet has been af- 
fected greatly by India. Thus Tibetan art, particularly in 
the realm of painting, shows strong Indian influences going 
back to the medieval Buddhist art of Bihar and Orissa, which 

146 The Revolt in Tibet 

under the Pala kings were the strongholds of Indian Bud- 
dhism during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Legend re- 
lates that the most ancient Buddhist sculpture imported into 
Tibet came from Magadha or South Bihar (a district inti- 
mately associated with the development of Buddhism) but 
that it reached Tibet by way of China, having been brought 
there by Wen Cheng, the Chinese princess who married King 
Song-tsan Gampo. This statue is preserved in the Jokhang 
temple in Lhasa. Both sculpture and painting in Tibet, like 
language, came in time under Chinese influences, so that 
Tibetan art might be said ultimately to have acquired three 
aspects Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan. An interesting exam- 
ple of an Indian form is the swastika which the Tibetans 
paint on walls, pillars, and lintels on the eve of their New 
Year and which is reminiscent of the rangoli drawn on the 
floors of Indian households during the Hindu New Year. 

Tibetan medical science has also borrowed heavily from 
the Indian Ayur-Veda, or indigenous system of herbal treat- 
ment, though wide recourse is made in case of illness to spells, 
incantations, and the exorcism of evil spirits. Again, the Ti- 
betan calendar shows traces of Hindu astrology. Its cycle of 
sixty years is divided into five twelve-year groups based on 
the five elements which accord with the Indian panch-mahab- 
hoot earth, water, fire, iron, and wood. 

In the domain of religion India's impact has been strong- 
est. Buddhism came to Tibet early in the sixth century, but 
not until around A.D. 650 in the reign of Tsong-tsan Gampo 
was Buddhism established as a state religion. According to 
Tibetan tradition the first Buddhist objects are said to have 
fallen from heaven on the palace of King Lha-to To-ri Nyan- 
tsan, but in all likelihood they came from Nepal. After the 
advent of Buddhism in Tibet there was a flow of earnest 
scholars from that country to India, where students from 
other countries such as China, Cambodia, and Java also 

The World Outside 147 

converged to study the Tripitaka and Buddhist tomes like 
the Lalita-Vistara, which is the chief source of the legend of 
the Buddha's life. The first Indian scholar to cross the Him- 
alayas to the Roof of the World was the Tantric teacher 
Padma Sambhava who, as we have seen, founded Lamaism 
late in the eighth century and is revered as the patron saint 
of the Red Hat sect, followers of the Tantric form of Lama- 
ist Buddhism. In 1013 the Indian pundit Dharmapala came 
to Tibet accompanied by his disciples, and he was followed 
early in the eleventh century by another Indian sage, Atisha, 
founder of the Red Hat sect which was to be reorganized 
some three centuries later by Tsong Ka-pa, the new form being 
known as the Yellow Hat sect. It is worth noting that Lama- 
ism was first opposed by the Chinese Buddhists, one of whom 
named Hwa Shang protested against the teachings of Padma 
Sambhava, but he is said to have been defeated in argument 
and expelled from Tibet. The religious link between India 
and Tibet was strong enough, until the Communist advent, 
to see a yearly flow of Tibetan pilgrims to Bodh-Gaya in 
India where Gautama became the Buddha, and in the other 
direction of Hindus to Mount Kailasa in western Tibet 
where the deity Siva is supposed to reside with his consort 
Parvati. The Tibetans also regard Mount Kailasa, which 
they call Kang Rimpoche, as their holiest mountain; to both 
Hindus and Tibetans the Himalayan Mountains are sacred. 
Mount Kailasa overlooks Lake Mansarovar, again a place of 
pilgrimage for Hindus and Tibetans. In Hindu as well as in 
Buddhist cosmography Mount Kailasa is identified with 
Sumeru, the cosmic center of the earth, and Mansarovar is 
said by Hindus to have been created by the God Brahma's 
mental projection. 

Trade between India and Tibet goes back almost to time 
immemorial. Tibetan exports consist largely of raw wool furs, 
hides and skins, rock salt, borax, medicinal herbs, and 

148 The Revolt in Tibet 

pasham, the soft underwool of the shawl goat. Ponies and 
mules are also exported, along with Tibetan metalwork and 
jewelry, more often than not heavily set with turquoises. The 
largest market of the Tibetan wool trade is Kalimpong, 
through which passes quite half the entire trade between 
India and Tibet. Indian exports include cotton goods, food 
grains, precious stones, corals, tobacco, hardware, and mis- 
cellaneous stores. From China before Communist days Tibet 
received silk, satin, brocade, cotton goods, and brick tea. It 
used to be said that the Chinese emperor exploited tea and 
silk to control Tibet. 

In pre-Communist days most of the merchandise from the 
outside world was brought in by an almost continuous train 
of mule caravans, and the Lhasa Bazar made a colorful spec- 
tacle with traders from Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Ladakh, and 
from Kalimpong and northern India. The caravan routes still 
operate, but the construction by the Chinese of two major 
highways linking Tibet closer with China, as well as the new 
network of internal roads capable of carrying traffic by motor 
trucks, might soon displace the muleteers on the old trails. 
Today the most important trade route between India and 
Tibet starts from Kalimpong in the district of Darjeeling, 
running through Gangtok, capital of Sikkim, through Nathu 
La * into the Chumbi Valley to Phari. There is another 
route, also starting from Kalimpong, which traverses Sikkim 
to enter Tibet by the Jelep La. From Phari, before the con- 
struction of the Sikang-Tibet highway, there were two routes 
to Lhasa one skirting the eastern side of Hram Tso (Otter 
Lake) and the other through Gyantse, the latter being the 
longer route. With the extension of the Sikang-Tibet road 
southwest to Shigatse and through Gyantse to Phari, the 
Chinese have come up almost to the mouth of Nathu La. 
There are other passes leading from western Tibet into Sik- 

* La means Pass. 

The World Outside 149 

kim and Bhutan, such as the Niti Pass and the Lepuleh Pass 
near the eastern border of Nepal. 

China's relations with Tibet, unlike those of India, have 
never contented themselves with being cultural and commer- 
cial. With the Mongols, Mings, Manchus, the Kuomintang, 
and Communists, and even in prehistoric days, commerce 
and culture have served primarily as instruments of political 

From ancient times the vast majority of China's northern 
and northwestern neighbors were nomadic peoples like the 
Mongols and Tibetans. An old Chinese pictograph of a 
Tchiang, or Tibetan, shows a man driving a sheep, which 
suggests a pastoral herdsman. Chinese tradition describes 
the emperor Yu, founder of the first Hsia dynasty around 
2000 B.C. as descended from the nomads. So apparently were 
the forebears of the Chou dynasty in the Feudal Age. Even 
more specifically, the ancestors of the Chin dynasty which 
ruled in the third century B.C. are legendarily held to have 
come from the region of Tibet. According to Chinese chron- 
iclers the nomads, of whom the Tchiang constituted a con- 
siderable proportion, occupied from about 2000 B.C. to 60 
B.C. a region covering Kansu, northern Szechwan, Shensi, and 
Shansi, and were independent of the Chinese. During the 
Han dynasty a Chinese general defeated the Tibetans for the 
first time in their own homeland. This was around 60 B.C. 
Thus for some two thousand years if these legends are cred- 
ible the nomads who counted the Tibetans among them 
held the Chinese at bay and sometimes even attacked them. 

With the decay of Han power the Tchiang again asserted 
themselves, and for over three hundred years, from 200 to 
580 of the Christian era, the whole of north and northwest 
China was again in the hands of the nomadic peoples. It was 
only in the period of the Second Empire, covering the Sui 
and Tang dynasties from around 590 to 907, that the Chinese 

150 The Revolt in Tibet 

were able to dislodge the nomads, including the Tibetans, 
from the northern and northwest regions, the Tibetans being 
prised out of the Koko Nor area where they had established 
their rule. 

This brings us to the historical period of the seventh cen- 
tury and to the reign of the great Song-tsan Gampo and of his 
father Nam-ri Song-tsan, who died in 630. The latter relaid 
the foundations of Tibetan independence by uniting the no- 
madic tribes and chieftains in Central Tibet, creating so 
prosperous a country that it was said that "the king built his 
palace with cement moistened with the milk of the cow and 
the yak." * It was Song-tsan Gampo who extended his sway 
over Ladakh in the west and the untamed Kiang tribes of 
the north. Moving south he conquered Nepal, penetrating 
the Himalayas into India where he established his rule in 
Bengal. Chinese historians, mentioning this period of Ti- 
betan rule in India, which ended in the eleventh century with 
the dissolution of the Tibetan monarchy, describe the area 
ruled as the whole of Bengal up to the sea. The Bay of Bengal 
was christened the Tibetan Sea. Nepal rebelled, and recov- 
ered her independence in 703. 

In the latter half of the eighth century Ti-Song Detsan, 
grandson of Song-tsan Gampo, was king of Tibet, and in his 
reign the country reached its zenith. "All the countries on 
the four frontiers were subdued," notes a Tibetan chronicler 
of this period. "China in the east, India in the south, Baltis- 
tan and Gilgit in the west, and Kashgar in the north were 
brought under his [Ti-Song Detsan's] power." His successor, 
Ral-pan-chan, consolidated his conquests. "The range of the 
Sro-long-shen mountains," f notes another chronicler, "re- 
sembling a curtain of white silk, was the frontier with the 

* A squat, shaggy bull used mainly as a beast of burden at high altitudes in 
Tibet. The female of the species is sometimes referred to as dri. 
f In eastern Tibet, now in China. 

The World Outside 151 

Chinese king of astrology. Near the great river Ganges, there 
was an iron pillar which was the frontier with the Indian 
king of religion. The gate of Pa-ta Shadung was the frontier 
with the Persian king of wealth, and the ridge of sand which 
looks like the back of Nya-mang-ma was the frontier of the 
king of Be-ta." Tibetans know the three kings, Song-tsan 
Gampo, Ti-Song Detsan and Ral-pa-chan as "The Three Re- 
ligious Kings, Men of Power." 

With Sino-Tibetan relations since then we have already 
dealt, but the more significant high-lights might be noted. 
Early in the thirteenth century the Mongol hordes of Genghiz 
Khan, as we saw, set out to conquer the world. The signifi- 
cant fact is that while the whole of the Chinese world up to 
Annam came under Mongol rule, Tibet alone was able not 
only to preserve her then ramshackle independence but to 
strengthen it by wooing Kublai Khan to Lamaism. The disso- 
lution of the Mongol Empire was accompanied by the de- 
cline of Lamaism, which under the succeeding dynasty of the 
Mings suffered a further setback as the Ming emperors, un- 
able to impose their direct authority on Tibet, attempted 
indirectly to retain their influence by playing off the lamas 
against one another and by encouraging secular leaders to 
come forward. This weakened Tibet internally but did not 
impair her independence. The extraordinary fact emerges 
that over 3,500 years, with a brief interlude during the Han 
dynasty, the Chinese were unable to assert their authority. 

Even before the Mings collapsed to make way for the 
Manchus, Lamaism received a fresh lease of life in Mongolia 
and Tibet. History repeated itself, the Mongol chieftain 
Altan Khan being converted to Lamaism, as we saw, by the 
third Incarnate Lama Sonam Gyatse, who was thereupon 
invested with the title of Dalai Lama. Similarly the Great 
Fifth, as we have also noted, was later invested with sover- 
eignty over Tibet by another Mongol chieftain, Gusri Khan. 

152 The Revolt in Tibet 

These episodes vividly illustrate the resilience of the Ti- 
betans, their will for freedom, and their willingness to fight 
in order to retain or achieve it. 

The death in 1680 of the Great Fifth, which was kept secret 
for some ten years by the regent Sangye Gyatso, saw the rise 
of discord and dissension within Tibet. Taking advantage of 
this, the Manchus asserted their authority over Tibet, which 
for the next two centuries, until the dynasty's fall in 1911, 
was subject to Chinese control and direction. The details of 
these developments we have noted. From this account it 
would appear that from prehistoric days until 1951 the Ti- 
betans have functioned as a free people for around 3,500 years 
with two interruptions, each of about two hundred years 
the first during the Han dynasty and the second during the 
Manchu era. Although Tibet was part of Kublai Khan's 
domains, his conversion to Lamaism ensured its independ- 
ence under the Sakya priest-kings. 

Developments in China during the Manchu period af- 
fected the course of events in Tibet. Until about 1840, when 
the Manchus found themselves embroiled in the First Opium 
War with Britain and when China was increasingly exposed 
to the rapacity of foreign Powers, the Manchus held the reins 
of authority. By the end of the Second Opium War, in 1860, 
the power of China, as well as that of the Manchus, had 
waned, and Tibet found itself eyed with more than usual 
interest by certain foreign Powers, notably Britain and 

Until then the interest of Western countries in the Hidden 
Land was exploratory and commercial. Some accounts name 
Friar Odoric of Pordenone as the first European to have 
reached Lhasa around 1328, but this is open to doubt. It is 
more likely that the first pioneer was the Portuguese Jesuit 
Antonio de Andrada (1580-1634) who, traveling from India, 

The World Outside 153 

appears to have entered Tibet in the Manasarovar Lake re- 
gion on the west. The first Europeans to enter Lhasa were 
two Jesuit priests, an Austrian named Grueber and a Belgian, 
D'Orville. They came from Peking in 1661, traveling by Lake 
Koko Nor to the Tibetan capital. Thereafter followed a long 
train of missionaries, explorers, and traders. 

British interest in Tibet goes back to 1774 when George 
Bogle, a writer (or clerk) of the East India Company, was 
sent by Warren Hastings, first governor general of British 
India, to explore the possibilities of trade between Tibet and 
and the East India Company. Bogle visited Shigatse where 
he saw the then Tashi Lama,* now known as the Panchen 
Lama, who referred the British proposition to Peking, 
whence no more was heard. The Manchus were firmly in 
the saddle. Bogle's account is interesting. He mentions having 
observed among the treasures in the Panchen Lama's palace 
some goods from Russia, presumably transported from what 
is now the Buriat-Mongolian Republic of the U.S.S.R. In 
1783 Hastings dispatched another envoy to Tibet, Captain 
Samuel Turner, who again got no farther than Shigatse, with 
the same negative result. The Chinese, unversed in the ways 
of Western diplomacy, traditionally regarded foreign envoys 
as mere bearers of tribute, and as such not entitled to be 
treated as equals. Turner was rebuffed, but from his account 
it would appear that the Chinese were also suspicious of Brit- 
ish intentions in Tibet, particularly since Hastings' efforts 
followed a move against Bhutan, then a tributary of Tibet.f 
In 1772 the Bhutanese had invaded the principality of Cooch 
Behar in Bengal, which appealed to the British for aid. 
Hastings had then sent a force which drove out the invaders, 

* He was at the time regent for Tibet. 

(According to Bhutanese records Tibetan troops invaded the country at 
the end of the ninth century, "drove out the Indian princes and their sub- 
jects/' and settled down in occupation of the land. 

154 The Revolt in Tibet 

pursuing them into their own territory. At this juncture the 
Tashi Lama in his capacity as regent for Bhutan * inter- 
vened, and a treaty of peace was negotiated in 1774. In his 
account of his mission Turner refers to a letter sent by the 
Chinese amban in Lhasa to the Panchen Lama which clearly 
reflects the suspicions of the Chinese. Paraphrasing the 
amban's letter, Turner writes: "The Ferenghi [Westerners] 
were fond of war, and after insinuating themselves into a 
country raised disturbances and made themselves masters of 
it; and as no Ferenghis had ever been admitted to Tibet he 
advised the Tashi Lama to find some method of sending them 

During the next hundred years Britain's interest was ab- 
sorbed by the frontier areas of Sikkim and Bhutan, both of 
which were then tributaries of Tibet, and by Nepal. These 
three frontier states are adjacent to one another, with Sikkim 
bounded on the west by Nepal and on the east by Bhutan. 
The northern frontiers of all three abut on Tibetan terri- 
tory, and all of them contain a number of Tibetans known 
as Bhotias. All have had associations with Lhasa. 

After the peace treaty of 1774 British relations with Bhutan 
were marked by no incident until 1826 when the British oc- 
cupied Assam. It was then discovered that the Bhutanese had 
usurped a tract of territory in Assam known as the Duars, 
and for this the British exacted an indemnity. The Bhu- 
tanese, however, failed to pay the tribute and resisted British 
demands for compensation. Relations deteriorated, and in 
1863 the British sent an envoy to Bhutan to demand repara- 
tions for certain alleged "outrages," but the Bhutanese held 
him captive and forced him under duress to sign a treaty 
ceding the disputed territory to Bhutan. This treaty was 
repudiated by the British and an expedition dispatched. In 

* Here is an early example of the Chinese efforts to invest the Tashi (or 
Panchen) Lama with political authority vis-a-vis the Dalai Lama. 

The World Outside 155 

November, 1865, Bhutan sued for peace, restored the dis- 
puted territory, and in return received an annual subsidy 
from the British Government which was later increased. In 
1910 another treaty was concluded whereby the Bhutanese 
Government agreed to be guided in its external affairs by the 
British Government and the latter in turn undertook to 
exercise no interference in its internal affairs. It is worth not- 
ing that in the same year the Chinese Government formally 
claimed Bhutan as a feudatory; but the British, rejecting 
the demand, asserted that Bhutan was independent of China 
and that its external affairs were under the British Govern- 
ment. To this legacy, with all its commitments and responsi- 
bilities, the present independent Government of India has 
succeeded. Nor has the attitude of the present Communist 
Government of China changed. Communist Chinese maps 
today show Bhutan as part of China. 

Sikkim's associations with Tibet are even closer than those 
of Bhutan, for its ruling family claim descent from one of the 
gyalpos, or princelings, of eastern Tibet, and Lamaism is the 
state religion. Until the end of the eighteenth century Sikkim 
was practically a dependency of Tibet, and its ruler was desig- 
nated Governor of Sikkim. In 1816, at the end of the 
Nepalese-British War, to which we refer below, the terrai, 
or submontane, portion of Sikkim which the Nepalese had 
occupied was restored by the British to Sikkim's ruler but 
was taken back in 1849 as retaliation for certain injuries and 
insults inflicted on two British travelers who had been im- 
prisoned by the Sikkimese. Relations with the British grew 
increasingly strained, and in 1861 came the usual show of 
force with the dispatch of British troops to Sikkim, which 
was obliged to sign a treaty "defining good relations/' The 
Sikkimese, however, continued to be stubborn, the ruler 
spending most of his time in Tibet. In 1888 the British sent 
another expedition into Sikkim to eject some Tibetan sol- 

156 The Revolt in Tibet 

diers who had built a fort there, and a convention was then 
signed in 1890 with China whereby the British protectorate 
over Sikkim was acknowledged and the boundary of the state 
defined. It is noteworthy that the Tibetans formally repudi- 
ated this treaty, thereby asserting their independence. 

Nepal, like Bhutan and Sikkim, also has affinities with 
Tibet. Its people are of mixed Mongol origin and, besides 
the Bhotias or Tibetans, include many other races such as 
the Newars, Lepchas, and Gurkhas. The Gurkhas, a martial 
race, are descendants of the Brahmans and Rajputs who 
were driven out of India by the Moslems, took refuge in 
Nepal, and intermarried there. The state religion is Hindu- 
ism, and even the Buddhism that exists is so intermingled 
with and influenced by Hinduism as to be hardly recogniz- 

Until the fall of the Manchus, Nepal maintained rela- 
tions with China, occasionally sending an envoy with pres- 
ents to Peking. From ancient days it has had commercial re- 
lations with Tibet, the principal trade routes being two 
one running northeast from Katmandu to the frontier post 
of Nilam, crossing the Himalayan Range at a height of 
14,000 feet; the other passing out of the northwest valley 
over the Himalayas into Tibet. The Kalimpong-Lhasa route 
has taken away much of the trade along these two trails. 

Nepal has always regarded itself as independent both in its 
foreign relations and in its internal affairs, a status recognized 
by the British Government in December, 1923, though only 
after some shifts in relationships. This status is also recog- 
nized by the present independent Government of India. 
Within a period of some seventy years the Gurkhas of Nepal 
have twice invaded Tibet, but met with stout resistance, 
though they were successful on the second occasion. In 1788 
the Gurkhas who had gained ascendancy in Nepal occupied 
some Tibetan districts near the Nepal frontier and three 

The World Outside 157 

years later captured Shigatse. The Chinese thereupon sent 
reinforcements to the Tibetans, and a mixed Chinese- 
Tibetan force under Chinese generalship repulsed the 
Gurkhas, pursuing them to Noakote, a few miles from Kat- 
mandu, where the Chinese dictated terms to the Nepalese 
whereunder the latter were required to send tribute to 
Peking every fifth year. This was in 1792 when the Manchu 
dynasty had reached its apogee under the celebrated Em- 
peror Chien Lung. The Chinese, perhaps justifiably, believed 
that the British had a hand in the Gurkha invasion, and the 
suspicion was probably well grounded, for in 1791 the 
Nepalese had entered into a commercial treaty with the 
British, who, after the Gurkha reverse, had sent their repre- 
sentative, Colonel Kirkpatrick, to Noakote. Kirkpatrick, how- 
ever, arrived only after the conclusion of peace, but managed 
to extricate another commercial treaty in Britain's favor from 
the chastened Nepalese. 

The Chinese reaction to these events is interesting. They 
closed Tibet as far as possible to foreign influences, and 
decreed that all foreign questions should be dealt with by 
the ambans, and not by the Tibetan Government. All for- 
eigners in Tibet were henceforth suspect. Chien Lung died 
in 1795, and with his passing the power of the Manchu 
dynasty and of China rapidly declined. Simultaneously 
Western interference and intrigue in both China and Tibet 
intensified. In 1850, following the visit of Jung Bahadur, 
ruler of Nepal, to Britain, Nepalese-British ties grew stronger, 
and five years later the Gurkhas were again emboldened to 
invade Tibet. The Manchus, irked by multiple foreign in- 
filtration into China, were in no position to help. Nine years 
earlier the Tibetans, faced by an invasion of Dogras from 
Kashmir, had dealt with the intruders effectively, almost ex- 
terminating them, but the Nepalese posed a more formidable 
threat. The Tibetans were forced to sue for peace, and the 

158 The Revolt in Tibet 

resultant treaty secured for Nepal extraterritorial rights, the 
establishment of an agency in Lhasa and other centers, an 
annual subsidy of 10,000 rupees (now equivalent to $2,000), 
and the right of free trade with Tibet. 

Had it not been for the Indian Mutiny of 1857, it is pos- 
sible that the British might have attempted to peer closely 
into Tibet earlier than they did. The Ming period in China 
saw an influx of European voyagers and traders, beginning in 
the sixteenth century. The Portuguese, French, Dutch, and 
British opened trade with China, and in 1784 the first ship 
from the United States entered Chinese waters. In 1669 
China signed her first treaty with a European power, Russia, 
and between 1839 an d *86o the two opium wars and a long 
series of foreign treaties took place, crippling China and leav- 
ing her the victim of rival imperialisms. By 1860 the Manchus 
were at their last gasp. 

In 1876 Britain exacted from China as the annex to a 
treaty the right to send an official to Tibet on what was 
euphemistically described as "scientific exploration." If the 
enervated Manchus were pliant the Tibetans were not, and it 
sheds a revealing light on Chinese claims to sovereignty over 
Tibet that the Tibetan Government refused to permit the 
entry of a British official into Tibet. The Chinese had no 
alternative to withdrawing a concession which they had 
nominal authority to give but no real authority to enforce. 

Tibetan suspicion of British intentions had earlier been 
aroused by the dispatch from 1863 onward of surveying spies 
who were Indians for the most part but who also included a 
few Tibetans. The best known of these was Pandit Nain 
Singh who entered Tibet in the disguise of a merchant from 
Ladakh. He carried a prayer wheel in which a compass was 
secreted, and his io8-bead rosary served his survey purposes, 
for he dropped a bead with every hundred paces he took. 
Nain Singh entered Tibet twice, the first time in 1866 and 

The World Outside 159 

again eight years later. Another Indian to enter Tibet on 
behalf of the British was the well-known Pandit Krishna 
(called A.K.) who visited Lhasa in 1878, staying there for 
about a year. A Tibetan from Sikkim, U-gyen Gya-tso, was 
also employed by the British, and he was instrumental in 
securing the permission of the authorities of the Tashi- 
Ihunpo monastery for an Indian, Sarat Chandra Das, to enter 
Tibet as a student. In this guise Das made a series of ex- 
ploratory journeys inside Tibet, bringing back, besides much 
valuable information, a large number of books in Tibetan 
and Sanskrit. When the Tibetans discovered the real char- 
acter of these explorations, particularly those of Das, they 
were incensed and took even more stringent precautions 
against the entry of foreigners. In 1892 an Englishman, 
Lieutenant Colonel L. Austin Wadell, who attempted to 
reach Lhasa from the Nepal side in the disguise of a Tibetan 
pilgrim, was summarily bundled out of the country. 

Although the Tibetans refused in 1890 to accept the Sino- 
British treaty whereby Sikkim became a British protectorate 
the Tibetans insisted it was still feudatory to them they 
were unable to enforce their repudiation of the treaty nor 
were the Manchus in any position to assist them. The 1890 
treaty had stipulated for the opening of a trade mart at 
Yatung and for the entry of duty-free imports from India into 
Tibet. Compelled to comply with these provisions, the 
Tibetan attitude to the British grew more and more recalci- 
trant. The thirteenth Dalai Lama was now on the Golden 
Throne, and as Manchu authority waned he embarked on a 
policy of preserving Tibet's de facto independence by playing 
off the Russians against the British and the Chinese against 
both. Faced with British hostility and suspicion, he leaned 
more heavily on the Chinese and the Russians. Communica- 
tions addressed by the British Government to the Dalai Lama 
were returned unopened on the plea that His Holiness could 

i6o The Revolt in Tibet 

only receive letters from foreign Powers through the ambans. 

The first Slav to enter Tibet was the explorer Prjewalsky, 
who is described as a Russian though his name sounds Polish. 
He traveled a great deal in northern Tibet, the last of his 
four journeys taking place between November, 1883, and 
October, 1885. In the course of his travels Prjewalsky 
studied closely the topography of the northeastern and east- 
ern mountain systems, making an intensive investigation of 
the Tsaidam Basin. It is these areas that have always inter- 
ested Russia most, just as in China proper Moscow's eyes 
have been focused on Outer Mongolia and on Sinkiang 
which abuts on Tibet and Kashmir. China's relationship with 
Outer Mongolia, which until the Communist advent was for 
all practical purposes independent, was similar to its rela- 
tionship with Tibet. Outer Mongolia's natural orientation 
was through the Trans-Siberian railway to the U.S.S.R., but 
the Sino-Soviet treaty of 1924 recognized that "Outer Mon- 
golia is an integral part of the Republic of China and re- 
spects China's sovereignty therein." Tsarist Russia, how- 
ever, with other European countries was anxious to have its 
slice of the Chinese melon, and in 1898 China was forced 
to recognize the territory north of the Great Wall as a Rus- 
sian "sphere of interest." The British with their Indian Em- 
pire were naturally wary of Russian moves in China and 

In the opening years of the twentieth century there ap- 
peared on the Tibetan scene a mysterious individual referred 
to as "the Russian agent" Dorjieff. He seems to have been 
a lama hailing from Buriat-Mongolia, and his arrival in 
Tibet aroused acute British suspicion. Being of the Lamaist 
faith, Dorjieff received a warm welcome in Tibet. In 1903 
Russia's incursions into Manchuria had disturbed the Japa- 
nese, and relations between the two countries deteriorated. 

The World Outside 161 

They were to erupt in the following year in the Russo-Japa- 
nese War. 

To the British this seemed an opportune* moment for 
moving against Tibet. On the plea that the Tibetans and 
Chinese were stalling with the British while intriguing with 
the Russians, the British in December, 1903, dispatched a 
military force to open a way into Tibet for a mission headed 
by Colonel (later Sir Francis) Younghusband. China was too 
feeble to render any effective aid. The Tibetans, in the 
words of some foreign observers, "were shot down like 
partridges. " Younghusband entered Lhasa in August, 1904. 
A large insect, as the Tibetans put it, had eaten a small in- 
sect. Younghusband discovered that the Dalai Lama with 
his entourage had fled to Mongolia, but he negotiated a 
treaty with the Tibetan delegates which in effect virtually 
made Tibet a British sphere of influence. Henceforth, it 
was ordained, no Tibetan territory could be ceded or leased 
to any foreign Power without previous British consent. Never 
was China's prestige in Tibet so low. 

The Dalai Lama who returned to Tibet in 1909 enter- 
tained no great respect for the Chinese, who during his 
exile had compelled him to kowtow before the Imperial 
Throne at Peking, where he was condescendingly dismissed 
by the emperor with the title of "Loyally Submissive Vice 
Regent." Even while on his way back reports reached His 
Holiness of various aggressive acts by the Chinese in Tibet. 
After signing the Lhasa Convention the British had with- 
drawn their forces, thereby creating a vacuum into which the 
Chinese stepped. Enraged by their own impotence and the 
unconcealed contempt of the Tibetans, the Imperial Gov- 
ernment in Peking had sent an army to Tibet accompanied 
by an official to reimpose Chinese authority. The army was 
commanded by General Chao Erh-feng, whose entry was re- 

162 The Revolt in Tibet 

sisted by the Tibetans. Feng Chien, the Chinese deputy 
amban, was assassinated. In retaliation General Chao's troops 
destroyed several monasteries and were ruthless in suppress- 
ing the revolt. Chao anticipated the Communists by inaugu- 
rating schemes for having the land cultivated by Chinese 
immigrants, depriving the monasteries of their secular 
powers, limiting the number of lamas, and replacing Tibetan 
magistrates by Chinese. 

Meanwhile the Dalai Lama had returned to Lhasa to find 
the Chinese ensconced firmly in authority. His Holiness soon 
found himself at loggerheads with the Chinese amban Lien 
Yu. As the Manchus' enfeebled grip relaxed on China, their 
attitude to the Tibetans grew more vengeful. The Dalai 
Lama was forced to flee again this time to Darjeeling in 
India where the British authorities accorded him great con- 
sideration. There is a curious parallel between the events 
which followed the thirteenth Dalai Lama's flight to India 
in February, 1910, and the flight of the fourteenth Dalai 
Lama nearly fifty years later. Then as now the Chinese 
troops overwhelmed the Tibetans and ruthlessly restored or- 
der. The Chinese amban at Lhasa took all power into his 
hands, the Tibetan ministers being reduced to a status of 
servility. Meanwhile, according to Sir Charles Bell,* the 
Government of China informed the British minister at 
Peking "that they had no intention of altering the adminis- 
tration of Tibet, still less of converting it into a province, 
which, as they were careful to point out, would be a contra- 
vention of treaties. Both promises/' notes Bell dryly, "were 
soon to be broken." Then as now the Chinese Government 
sought the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Soon after 
His Holiness's flight Peking made overtures to the British 

* In his book Tibet: Past and Present (Oxford University Press, 1924). Sir 
Charles, who is rated the foremost British authority on Tibet, served for 
some time as British representative at Lhasa. 

The World Outside 163 

Government in India, inviting it to induce the Dalai Lama 
to return. On this move Sir Charles Bell's comment is in- 
teresting: "It would have suited the Chinese book to keep 
him [the Dalai Lama] as a State prisoner, and, if harsher 
measures were necessary, it would have been easy to adopt 
them. But to such betrayal our government declined to agree 
and the idea was accordingly abandoned. Had it been fol- 
lowed, there would have been an end of the Dalai Lama/' 
On subsequent developments on the collapse of the Man- 
chu dynasty, the return of the Dalai Lama, the ejection of 
the Chinese from Tibet, and the Dalai Lama's declaration of 
Tibet's independence we have briefly dwelt.* 

Between the Lhasa Convention of 1904, following the 
Younghusband expedition, and the Dalai llama's proclama- 
tion of Tibet's independence in 1912, several interesting de- 
velopments occurred, to which we have also referred. In 1906 
China by the Peking Convention confirmed the Lhasa Con- 
vention, but the very fact that the British Government sought 
Chinese approval of their treaty with Tibet was an implied 
recognition of the special relationship between China and 
Tibet. What was that relationship? The St. Petersburg Con- 
vention of 1907 between Britain and Russia gave it a name. 
For the first time the term "suzerain" was employed to de- 
scribe the relationship between China and Tibet. By this 
convention Britain and Russia recognized Chinese author- 
ity over Tibet and stipulated that neither Britain nor Russia 
should interfere in the internal administration of that coun- 
try. They also bound themselves not to seek concessions 
there or take any part of the revenue or depute representa- 
tives to Lhasa. 

The motivations which induced the signing of the conven- 
tion were probably similar on both sides. Britain and Russia 
were each anxious that the other should not secure too pre- 

See Chapter Two. 

164 The Revolt in Tibet 

dominant a place in China, and if the convention ensured 
this in Tibet it served the purposes of both Powers.* Tibet 
has a strategic situation, its high plateaus dominating India; 
moreover, both parties were well aware of the Dalai Lama's 
spiritual influence in Manchuria and Mongolia. So were the 
Chinese. Within a year of the St. Petersburg Convention they 
implemented their suzerainty by seizing administrative power 
in Tibet, bringing in troops and forcing the Dalai Lama to 
flee to India in 1910. The fall of the Manchus, the return of 
the Dalai Lama to Lhasa, and his proclamation of Tibet's 
independence called for a reevaluation of the situation. 

This the British proceeded to do by inaugurating a tri- 
partite conference at Simla in October, 1913, to which they 
invited Chinese and Tibetan representatives. Here, as we 
have seen, the Tibetans were persuaded by the British to 
accept Chinese suzerainty in return for Peking's assurance 
that Tibet would be internally autonomous. Tibet, for ad- 
ministrative purposes, was divided into Outer Tibet, con- 
taining Lhasa, Shigatse, and Chamdo, and Inner Tibet, the 
area adjoining China which includes Bitang, Litang, Tachi- 
enlu and a large portion of eastern Tibet. The terms Outer 
and Inner are applied to Tibet as seen from China much as 
the same labels are applied to Mongolia. As far as Outer 
Tibet was concerned, its autonomy was Recognized; China 
undertook not to interfere in its administration, and to re- 
frain from sending troops and officials there; not to establish 
a Chinese colony nor to require Tibet to be represented in 
the Chinese Parliament. The Chinese delegates at the con- 
ference agreed to these terms, but Peking refused to ratify the 
convention following differences on what constituted the 
boundary line between Inner and Outer Tibet. Peking laid 
a claim to Chamdo, Litang, and Batang in Outer Tibet which 

* As a result of the Bolshevik Revolution this convention is believed to 
be no longer in force. 

The World Outside 165 

the Tibetans resisted. Since the Chinese failed to ratify the 
treaty, the Tibetan plea is that this absolved Lhasa from its 
recognition of Chinese suzerainty. 

In various ways since then, until the Chinese Communists 
imposed their control, the Tibetans have attempted to assert 
their independence. During the First World War they offered 
to send a thousand soldiers to fight alongside Britain, an index 
to their increasingly friendly feelings toward that country. 
China, meanwhile, was disrupted by civil war, and the au- 
thority of the Central Government did not extend to the 
outlying areas. Seizing the opportunity, a Chinese garrison 
commander on the Sino-Tibetan border in the east attacked 
the Tibetans but was repulsed by them. The incident oc- 
curred in 1917, and is related by Sir Eric Teichman,* who 
was then the British consular agent in Tibet. Not only did 
the Tibetans repulse the Chinese but they also recaptured 
certain areas of Tibetan territory previously annexed by the 
Chinese. Teichman's intervention secured a truce. In his 
opinion had the fighting continued, "another month or so 
would possibly have seen several thousand more Chinese 
prisoners in Tibetan hands and the Lhasa force in possession 
of all the country up to Tachienlu." Tachienlu is on the 
border between eastern Tibet and China, and on the main 
route between the two countries. 

In the Tibetan view, the sentimental and religious bonds 
which existed between China and Tibet were broken by the 
Chinese revolution of 1911. "Tibet thereafter/' according 
to the Tibetan appeal to the United Nations in November, 
1950, "depended entirely on her isolation, her faith in the 
wisdom of the Lord Buddha, and occasionally on the support 
of the British in India for protection/' From 1912 onward 
Tibet maintained independent relations with neighboring 

* In his book Travels of a Consular Officer in Eastern Tibet (Cambridge 
University Press, 1922). 

166 The Revolt in Tibet 

countries such as India and Nepal. In this period the Tibetan 
Government conducted its own foreign affairs, maintained 
its own army, had its own coinage, and controlled its internal 
administration. In the Second World War Tibet did not com- 
promise her position by throwing in her forces on the side of 
China, and in 1942, when the Kuomintang Government 
pressed for the opening of communications through Tibet, 
Lhasa successfully resisted the claim. Until the Chinese Com- 
munist invasion all officials and other functionaries in the 
country were appointed by Lhasa independently of the Chi- 
nese Government. Indeed, it would not be incorrect to say 
that in this period Tibet had closer relations with India 
than with China, both when India was under British rule 
and when in August, 1947, it became independent. 

When the Nationalist Government ruled China several 
attempts were made to reassert China's authority in Tibet, 
but all of them were consistently rebuffed. In 1933 Chiang 
Kai-shek sent a mission to Lhasa calling on the Tibetan 
Government to let China handle its foreign affairs and share 
in its internal administration. The Tibetans refused. They 
also declared that they would not recognize Chinese suze- 
rainty unless certain frontier territory inhabited by a major- 
ity of Tibetans was ceded to Tibet. This is interesting in 
view of the present Dalai Lama's declaration of June 20, 
*959 that not only must Tibet return to her pre-igso status 
but that the disputed areas on her northern and eastern fron- 
tiers should be given back to her. His Holiness was alluding 
to the Tibetan-inhabited regions of Chinghai and western 
Szechwan, possibly also to Kansu, though he made no specific 
reference to any area. 

In 1939 the Chinese Nationalist Government tried again, 
and again failed. Thereafter the Sino-Japanese War absorbed 
China's attention, and in this difficult period relations be- 
tween China and Tibet improved, though in 1942 the Na- 

The World Outside 167 

tionalist Government refused to have any dealings with the 
newly established Tibetan Foreign Affairs Bureau which 
the Communists were later summarily to demolish. To other 
efforts by Nationalist China we have previously referred, but 
late in 1945 a Tibetan mission visited China and asked for 
the recognition of Tibet's independence and for the return of 
all Tibetan territory occupied by the Chinese. To Chiang 
Kai-shek, who had categorically proclaimed that "the fron- 
tiers of China lie in Tibet/' this request was inadmissible. It 
was also the Nationalist Government which by its announce- 
ment in 1944 that a new Panchen Lama had been found 
and enthroned in Chinghai despite Tibetan protests put 
a powerful weapon later in the hands of the Chinese Com- 
munists. The Panchen Lama whom the Chinese Nationalists 
hoped to exploit is now being exploited by the Communists. 
Between the end of the First World War and the begin- 
ning of the Second, Tibet moved closer within the British 
orbit. In 1921 Sir Charles Bell, who since 1908 had handled 
British relations with Tibet, Bhutan, and Sikkim, was re- 
called from retirement and sent again to Lhasa as head of a 
diplomatic mission. Its object, as Bell subsequently revealed 
in his book Portrait of the Dalai Lama,* was to persuade 
Tibet to accept British arms, allow Britain to train Tibetan 
troops as well as Munitions workers who would turn out ex- 
plosives and rifles, accept British mining prospectors and 
machinery, and allow an English-teaching school to be 
opened at Gyantse with a British headmaster. Mainly with 
the support of the wealthy and influential Tsarong Dzasa, 
who though born a commoner rose to be commander in chief 
of the Tibetan Army and one of the thirteenth Dalai Lama's 
principal advisers, Bell was able to persuade the Tibetans to 
agree in principle to his proposals. Tsarong lived to see the 
Communists come in but did not long survive the Red 

Cambridge University Press, 1945. 

168 The Revolt in Tibet 

regime. He had been instrumental as commander in chief 
in defeating the Chinese troops in the revolution of 1911 and 
forcing them out of Tibet. In the previous year when the 
thirteenth Dalai Lama fled to India pursued by Chinese 
troops, Tsarong, with a handful of soldiers and monks, had 
held up the Chinese pursuers at the Chaksam ferry on the 
river Tsangpo and enabled His Holiness to escape. When the 
fourteenth Dalai Lama fled to India in March, 1 959, Tsarong, 
by then a man of seventy-two, courageously decided to stay 
behind in Lhasa. His death was reported not long afterward. 
Apparently he committed suicide after being publicly beaten 
by some of his servants and a few pro-Chinese monks and 
humiliated before his people. This is one of the methods by 
which the Chinese Communists attempt to denigrate and dis- 
pose of Tibetan dignitaries opposed to them. 

With Bell's departure from Tibet in 1921, Lhasa showed a 
shift in relations. By 1925 the thirteenth Dalai Lama seemed 
to be moving away from the British orbit to the Chinese. 
What His Holiness was really engaged in doing was attempt- 
ing to maintain Tibet's de facto independence by playing 
off the Chinese against the British. The Russians, after the 
Bolshevik Revolution, having voluntarily relinquished their 
extraterritorial rights in China no longer represented a threat 
to Tibet. The Dalai Lama's Government had also always re- 
sented the British Government's acceptance of the concept 
of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet. 

What the concept of suzerainty exactly implies has long 
been a matter of dispute among international jurists. The 
Tibetan view was stated in Tibet's appeal to the United Na- 
tions in November, 1950. "There were times," this appeal 
declared, "when Tibet sought, but seldom received, the pro- 
tection of the Chinese Empire. The Chinese, however, in 
their natural urge for expansion, have wholly misconstrued 
the significance of the ties of friendship and interdependence 

The World Outside 169 

that existed between China and Tibet as between neighbors. 
To them China was a suzerain and Tibet a vassal state. It is 
this which aroused legitimate apprehension in the mind of 
Tibet regardless of the designs of China on her independent 
status. . . . The Chinese claim Tibet as a part of China. 
Tibetans feel that racially, culturally, and geographically 
they are apart from the Chinese. The conquest of Tibet by 
China will only enlarge the area of conflict and increase the 
threat to the independence of other Asian countries/' 

The Chinese have laid claim not only to suzerainty but to 
sovereignty, insisting that Tibet is an integral part of Chi- 
nese territory and that Tibetan borders are Chinese borders. 
When the Tibetan appeal came before the United Nations, 
the Kuomintang Chinese delegate Mr. Liu stated that "Tibet 
had been part of China for seven hundred years, and all Chi- 
nese, whatever their party or religion, regarded it as such/' 
Mr. Liu, however, referred to Sun Yat-sen's declaration af- 
firming the equality of the five branches of the Chinese race 
the Han, Manchu, Mongolian, Hui, and Tibetan. He re- 
called that the representatives of Tibet had taken part in 
drafting the new Chinese constitution in 1946 and in elect- 
ing the president and vice president of the Republic in 
1947; but he also recalled that Sun Yat-sen had stated that "if 
disputes arose between those branches they should never be 
settled by force/' The Kuomintang condemned the Com- 
munists for settling the dispute by force. 

Britain's attitude, as we have seen, was equivocal and 
sometimes inconsistent. The British were prepared to treat 
the Tibetans as "gentlemen" but not to recognize their in- 
dependence in principle, though they conceded it in practice. 
They realized that the Lhasa Government was virtually in- 
dependent and that Chinese sovereignty was only technically 
maintained. But they were reluctant to say so openly. Hence 
they sought a compromise, simultaneously persuading the 

170 The Revolt in Tibet 

Russians, Chinese, and Tibetans to accept it by supporting 
the principle of Tibet's internal independence within the 
orbit of Chinese suzerainty. Peking, as we have seen, refused 
to ratify the Simla Convention; consequently Tibet resiled 
from her earlier acceptance. Suzerainty was left dangling like 
a floating kidney in the Sino-Tibetan body politic. Independ- 
ent India had a chance between 1947 and 1949, when the 
Chinese National Government was on its way out and when 
the Communists were not yet in, to recognize Tibet as an 
independent sovereign state and thereby secure a buffer 
region between China and herself. Unfortunately she chose 
to inherit the British legacy and to recognize the Chinese 
Government as the suzerain authority in Tibet. 

What exactly does suzerainty imply? As we noted, it is a 
juristic concept which eludes precise definition and has been 
more often than not described in negative terms. Origi- 
nally the word "suzerain" was one of feudal law where the 
vassal owed certain duties to the feudal lord and the lord in 
turn was bound to perform certain reciprocal duties. It was 
therefore even in its pristine form a two-way obligation. In 
modern times suzerainty has come to be used as descriptive 
of relations, vague and ill defined, which exist between 
powerful and dependent states. But a state under suzerainty 
is different from a protectorate. In the latter case there is a 
diminution of the sovereignty of a protected state, whereas 
in the case of suzerainty there is a reduction in the sov- 
ereignty of the dominant state. Where suzerainty exists the 
vassal state has larger powers of action than those belonging to 
a protected state, since suzerainty proceeds from a concession 
by the suzerain. There is reciprocity of obligation, and the 
vassal state acquires certain of the powers of an independent 
country, which might extend to the conferring of its 
exequatur on foreign consuls or the making of commercial 
conventions. As subject to suzerain authority, a vassal state 

The World Outside 171 

cannot normally conclude treaties unless specifically em- 
powered to do so by its suzerain. 

The character of suzerainty has varied greatly, and its very 
ambiguity has been exploited, this being its main recom- 
mendation to imperialists in a hurry or in difficulties. Suze- 
rainty might be nominal, as it was in feudal times when the 
Papacy held Naples in fief. Or it might be real, as it was in 
the case of the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. The sign of vas- 
salship is the acceptance and approval by the suzerain power 
of the individual who heads the internal government of the 
subordinate state. China attempted to do this in the case of 
the Dalai Lama in Tibet, but with no great success except 
at intermittent intervals under the Manchus. 

The international status of a vassal state under suzerainty 
is again ambiguous, one reason why another state, in this case 
El Salvador, had to sponsor Tibet's case against China before 
the United Nations in 1950. In the opinion of the celebrated 
international jurist Dr. L. Oppenheim, a vassal state which 
has absolutely no relations whatever with other states is "a 
half-sovereign State/' But Tibet does not fall into this cate- 
gory, since at various times she has had relations with other 
states, and China's suzerainty is itself a matter of reciprocal 
obligation where a lapse on the part of the suzerain authority 
releases the vassal state from its obligation. 

This is the core of Tibet's contention against China. 



With China's forcible seizure of Tibet the Communist Chi- 
nese have come to the straggling 2,ooo-mile-long Indian fron- 
tier running from Ladakh in Kashmir to the eastern fringes 
of the Northeast Frontier Agency, and including within it 
the 500-mile frontier of Nepal. Until 1959 Tibet, "the high- 
est country in the world/' with its bleak desolate northern 
tracts, and ringed by the Himalayas to the south, provided an 
ideal buffer state between India and China. So long as 
China did not dominate the uplands, the valleys, and the 
plains leading through the Himalayan passes to India, Tibet 
offered an effective barrier. Shut off by geography and partly 
by design from the outer world, Tibet had for centuries lived 
a conservative feudal existence, suspicious of foreigners and 
eager to maintain her independence and way of life. 

All this has now changed. From a buffer state Tibet has 
become a potential springboard, and the Chinese dragon 
may well take its long leap forward into Southeast Asia from 
there. In the vulnerable areas of Ladakh, Nepal, Bhutan, 
Sikkim, and in some districts of NEFA, reside many people 
religiously and racially akin to the Tibetans. The Chi- 


Han Imperialism 

nese, who now control the Tibetans, can use them as instru- 
ments of political infiltration into the regions which carto- 
graphically they already claim. Under the Shadow of the 
new dispensation on the Indo-Tibetan border, foreign and 
defense policies must change, for behind these frontier re- 
gions is the great land mass of India with Pakistan and Burma 
to the west and east and, beyond, the polyglot countries of 
Southeast Asia, with a considerable Chinese population. The 
Himalayan region might prove to be the cockpit of the world. 

The construction by the Communists of two major high- 
ways in China others are being planned not only links 
Tibet closer with China but makes the Indo-Tibetan fron- 
tier more accessible to motor-truck traffic coming from China 
and Tibet. Since 1951 the Chinese have also been busy con- 
structing military bases and airfields in southern Tibet. 
Henceforward the Han colonization of Tibet will be intensi- 
fied, converting Tibet within a few years into a Chinese 
settlement with a preponderating Chinese majority. 

To appreciate better and to assess more accurately the 
danger and threat which these activities pose, the real na- 
ture of Communist Chinese policy toward the national 
minorities should be understood. Although these minorities, 
according to the 1953 Chinese census, number only 35 mil- 
lion (roughly 6 per cent of the population) they are spread 
over areas covering 60 per cent of the country. The frontier 
province of Sinkiang, or Chinese Turkestan, to the north of 
Tibet is one-sixth of all China. The largest minority are 
the Chuangs, who number over six million and who live 
mostly in Kwangsi Province; other minorities include the 
Uighurs (3.6 million) of the northwest; the Hui, or Chinese 
Moslems (3.5 million); the Yi (3.2 million), who reside largely 
in Yunnan; and the Mongols (1.4 million), living mainly in 
Inner Mongolia. The Chinese estimate the number of 
Tibetans at 2.7 million, though a recent article in the Peo- 

174 The Revolt in Tibet 

pie's Daily* of Peking places their total at 1,200,000. Com- 
munist Chinese statistics are notoriously resilient and elastic. 
Of these minorities only the Hui speak Chinese. 

Though the areas occupied by the national minorities are 
generally designated as autonomous, in practice the Chinese 
through the local Communist party branch, which is con- 
trolled by the National Council at Peking, have consistently 
attempted to consolidate centralized rule while keeping up 
the pretense of regional autonomy. Among the autonomous 
areas are Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Ningsia, and Kwangsi. The 
Communists have made a great show of their impartiality by 
condemning at times the sin of "Great Han Chauvinism/' 
though simultaneously they stress that the Hans constitute 
"the overwhelming majority of the population and the main 
revolutionary force." On these grounds, the Communists 
explain their colonization tactics by stating that it is there- 
fore necessary to send Han personnel into the national 
minority areas. Incidentally the Chuangs, who are the largest 
minority, are outnumbered almost three to one in Kwangsi. 
In these autonomous regions the Han cadres play down the 
differences between the national minority and the ruling 
race, and highlight the class differences among the former. 
They thus attempt to divide the minorities within themselves 
and at the same time draw them closer to the ruling Han 

Land reform met initially with considerable resistance 
among the nomads of Sinkiang and Inner Mongolia, where 
the herd owners slaughtered their livestock rather than sur- 
render them to the Communists, who were thereby com- 
pelled to go slow. In many areas the Han cadres had no alter- 
native to winking at local feudal practices such as slave own- 
ership, concubinage, and even human sacrifices, which for a 
time were permitted among the primitive Kawas. But ulti- 

Issue of May 6, 1959. 

Han Imperialism 175 

mately, under the guise of "democratic reforms/' the minori- 
ties were brought to heel. 

In some respects Tibet offered a tougher problem. Of all 
the non-Chinese races the Tibetans are the most nationalistic, 
and among the minority areas Tibet was closest to Mongolia, 
to whom in pre-Communist days she was accustomed to turn- 
ing when Britain or Russia failed her against China. Mon- 
golia lies to the northeast of Tibet, divided from that region 
only by a strip of the Chinese province of Kansu which the 
two separated regions claim is inhabited largely by Tibetans 
and Mongols. On the Chinese mainland Mongolia is Tibet's 
natural ally, each being closely related to the other in race, re- 
ligion, and outlook. Urga is the capital of Mongolia, and the 
Grand Lama of Urga, head of the Mongolian church, has in- 
variably been a Tibetan. Inner and Outer Tibet, as we have 
noted,* have their counterparts in Inner and Outer Mon- 

In Mongolia as in Tibet the Communist Chinese en- 
countered strong opposition to their "democratic reforms" 
and were compelled to go slow. In both areas separatist 
tendencies were strong, and both resisted the infiltration of 
Chinese settlers and were particularly afraid of assimilation. 
Their opposition to Communism, apart from the fact that it 
sought to undermine their religion and way of life, stemmed 
from the fact that Communist party leadership meant Chi- 
nese leadership. Neither Tibet nor Mongolia wanted to be 
absorbed, nor did the other so-called autonomous areas. 

But all, of course, are now being rapidly absorbed and 
assimilated into the great family of Han imperialism. In the 
minority areas "Great Han Chauvinism" was initially con- 
demned by the Communists, but this appeasement campaign 
was soon abandoned in favor of an all-out drive against 
"local nationalism." Significantly, one of the main features 

This division was made at the Simla Conference of 1914. 

176 The Revolt in Tibet 

of the drive was a new migration of Chinese, from the over- 
crowded regions of North China and the Yangtse plains to 
the northwest, to Sinkiang, Chinghai, to the Khamba areas 
of West Szechwan (formerly the province of Sikang), and to 
Chamdo in Tibet. This assimilation drive, as we saw, lit a fire 
in northeast Tibet which finally reached Lhasa, enveloping 
almost the whole of Outer Tibet and large areas of Inner 
Tibet. The flames still flicker. 

At his press conference at Mussoorie on June 20, 1959, the 
Dalai Lama claimed that the revolt was still going on and that 
"several places in the east and north of Lhasa" were still un- 
der the control of the Khambas who were Tibetans. At the 
time of the Dalai Lama's flight the Khambas, as we noted, also 
controlled a corridor running south of the Tsangpo to the 
Indian border along which the God-king made his way to 
India. The final outcome of this one-sided struggle, how- 
ever, was never in doubt, for the Chinese aim was not only 
the armed suppression and political subjugation of Tibet but 
also its extinction as a separate civilization represented by a 
distinctive language, culture, religion, and government. This 
involved genocide and the suppression of human rights. 

Because the Chinese Communists refused to allow an In- 
ternational Commission to visit Tibet to investigate the 
charges of Chinese crimes, an International Commission of 
Jurists was set up on a nonpolitical, nongovernmental basis 
at Geneva. This distinguished body, comprising twenty-two 
members drawn from different countries, is headed by Mr. 
Joseph T. Thorson, of Canada, and is representative of over 
thirty thousand lawyers in fifty countries. At the initiative of 
the commission its general secretary, Purshottam Trikamdas, 
a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India, was deputed 
to make a preliminary inquiry and report. Trikamdas, who 
was assisted by a team of Indian experts, conducted his in- 
quiry for two months, examining "reliable witnesses from 

Han Imperialism 177 

Tibet" and sifting through a mass of documents and ma- 
terials, including press and radio reports, both Chinese and 
Indian. The report, released early in June and* published the 
following month, constitutes a formidable indictment of the 
Peking regime. 

"From 1912 to 1950," states Trikamdas, "there was no Chi- 
nese law [in Tibet], no Chinese judge, no Chinese police- 
man on the street corner; there was no Chinese newspaper, 
no Chinese soldier, and even no representative of the Chi- 
nese Government." The report then covers the developments 
following the Chinese occupation and culminating in the 
Tibetan rebellion of 1959. It describes the large-scale Chinese 
immigration into Tibet, particularly in the northeast and 
eastern areas, and estimates, "according to reliable sources," 
that about five million Chinese have already been settled in 
Tibet.* The report refers to the building of the new roads 
and highways with Tibetan labor involving some 200,000 
men, women, children, laymen and monks, "many of them 
forcibly drafted for the work." Of this number, about one- 
fourth are said to have died of cold, hunger, and fatigue. 
From 1952 a policy of systematic destruction of religious 
freedom and persecution of monks was instituted. In Khan 
Province alone, 250 monasteries were destroyed. Of seven 
leading lamas charged with offenses "which fit into the gen- 
eral scheme of attack on religion," only one Zongsar 
Khentse Rimpoche escaped to India, the others , being ex- 
ecuted or imprisoned. Several heads of monasteries were 
killed, jailed, or publicly humiliated. "One case in our files," 
notes the report, "refers to a very highly respected lama who 
was stripped and dragged with a rope over a rocky terrain, as 
a result of which he died. . . . Cases have been reported of 

* The report quotes the Dalai Lama as estimating the number of Chinese 
immigrants who had arrived in Tibet, or were being sent there, at nine 

178 The Revolt in Tibet 

Head Lamas being dragged to death by horses, and a fairly 
large number sent as prisoners to concentration camps in 

Coming to the rebellion of 1959 the report observes that 
large-scale aerial bombing was resorted to, since ground 
troops could not be extensively employed against the rebels 
in mountainous terrain. Reliable estimates of the number 
killed are about 65,000.* Another 20,000 are believed to 
have been deported, and after the suppression of the rising 
in Lhasa all Tibetan males from the ages of fifteen to sixty 
were removed from the capital to an unknown destination. 
The report recommends full investigation into the "alleged 
deportation of 20,000 Tibetan children/' It was apparently 
not uncommon for high personages, suspected to be hostile 
to the Chinese, to be invited to parties by the Chinese mili- 
tary commanders, who then ordered them to be imprisoned 
or executed a fact which impelled the Dalai Lama's advisers 
to counsel him against accepting an invitation to come to 
the Chinese military headquarters in Lhasa unescorted. 

Trikamdas' report, which covers two hundred pages, was 
submitted to the commission which appointed him, and it 
was decided to set up a Legal Inquiry Committee in Tibet to 
collect further evidence for a more detailed report which 
will be submitted to the United Nations. "What at the mo- 
ment appears to be attempted genocide/' the report had 
warned, "may become the full act of genocide unless prompt 
and adequate action is taken/ 1 The Legal Inquiry Com- 
mittee will continue to collect documents, and obtain inter- 
views, commentaries, and statements for a final report to de- 
termine whether the crime of genocide is established. If it 
is, the commission will initiate action to refer the charge to 
the United Nations under the Genocide Convention of 1948 
and the United Nations Charter itself. Several distinguished 
* The Dalai Lama placed the figure higher but gave no specific total. 

Han Imperialism 179 

legal luminaries, including Lord Hartley Shawcross, former 
attorney general in Britain, and lawyers from India, Burma, 
Malaya, Ghana, Thailand, and the Philippines, have ac- 
cepted membership on the committee whose first meeting is 
scheduled to be held in Delhi. 

The Hans who swallowed up the Manchus are now ready 
to ingest the 35 million who constitute their national minori- 
ties. They have already done so in Inner Mongolia, in 
Sinkiang, Ningsia, Kansu, Chinghai, Szechwan, Kweichow, 
Yunnan, and Kwangsi. Tibet cannot for long survive the 
swoop of the dragon. Though pockets of resistance continue 
to the north and east of Lhasa, the back of the Tibetan rebel- 
lion has been broken as it was bound to be against the over- 
whelming superiority of numbers and equipment of the Chi- 
nese. According to the latter, the rebels numbered 20,000 of 
whom about one-third were Khambas. The Chinese Com- 
munists as far back as May were boasting that "the rebellion 
was utterly routed in the twinkling of an eye, in spite of the 
national and religious signboards held up by the rebels, the 
difficult terrain with high mountains and precipitous valleys 
and the many different kinds of foreign aid they got." The 
boast was premature; but events since then suggest that 
Tibet, like the other national minority areas, will soon be 
bound hand and foot to the chariot wheels of Communist 
China. "The fusion of one nationality with another," de- 
clared a Red spokesman, "is an inevitable process of his- 
torical development which no nationality can avoid." 

The Khambas are good guerrilla fighters but so are the 
Chinese, particularly the Communist legions trained over the 
years by Mao Tse-tung and Chu Teh. They proved it in 
Korea against superior equipment and force. Those who have 
fought the Tibetans, including the British, have testified to 
their valor in battle. Writing of the Younghusband expedi- 
tion, Sir Charles Bell observes: "The bravery of the Tibetans 

i8o The Revolt in Tibet 

came as a surprise to their opponents, but they had no mili- 
tary training and were in the main armed with antiquated 
muzzle-loaders locally made. Neither these, nor the swords 
that they carried, were of any use against modern firearms." 
It is possible that against the Communists the Tibetans were 
armed with more modern weapons than flintlocks and 
muzzle-loaders. But the odds were immeasurably against 

Early in August, Nepalese border forces intercepted fleeing 
Khamba remnants from Tibet, survivors of a group which 
had fought a strong Chinese unit on the southern bank of the 
Tsangpo River while the Dalai Lama headed southeast. They 
had suffered heavy losses but had managed for nearly four 
months to remain inside Tibet, harassing stray Chinese forces 
until they were compelled to take refuge in Nepalese terri- 
tory northeast of Katmandu in the Everest region. A Nepalese 
unit keeping vigil on the border intercepted and disarmed 
them. They asked to be sent to India and were sent across 
the Indo-Nepalese border. Their number was not disclosed, 
but with some five thousand Khambas already in India it 
would seem that a considerable proportion of these guerrilla 
fighters who resisted the Chinese are outside Tibet. 

While the system of ruthless assimilation proceeds inside 
Tibet and the national minorities are being absorbed accord- 
ing to the "inevitable process of historical development/' the 
Chinese Communists are by no means inactive outside their 
national boundaries. As compared with the 35 million minor- 
ity peoples inside China, there are 14 million Overseas Chi- 
nese who over the past thirty years have been wooed in turn 
by the Kuomintang and the Communists. Although many of 
them are strongly opposed to the Communist regime and 
these include a large proportion of those who left China for 
that reason a substantial number are inclined to Peking. 
The vast majority of them are inclined to favpr Peking and 

Han Imperialism 181 

constitute the Chinese Communists' shock brigades in the 
countries of Southeast Asia. Though divided by a dozen na- 
tional boundaries, they are influential within individual 
countries and regions ranging from Burma and Singapore to 
Malaya, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In recent 
years the propagandist activities of the hua-ch'iao, as the 
Overseas Chinese are called, has been curbed in the last three 
countries. At the Bandung Conference in the summer of 
1955, Chou En-lai tried to pose as the apostle of reasonable- 
ness by signing an agreement with the Indonesian Govern- 
ment on the Chinese minority, and also advised his country- 
men abroad to be loyal citizens of their host countries. 

In terms of percentage as compared with the indigenous 
population, the Chinese do not constitute an impressive pro- 
portion, but when broken down the figures reveal the extent 
of their influence, particularly in the commercial sphere. 
Thus in Thailand as a whole they are only 16 per cent of 
the population; but in the capital, Bangkok, the nerve center 
of political and economic activity, they number 45 per cent. 
In Indonesia they are only 3 per cent, but the important 
cities of Jakarta and Soerabaja have a large Chinese popu- 
lation. This is also true of Burma, where the Overseas Chi- 
nese constitute less than 2 per cent of the population but 
where the Chinese section of Rangoon contains some of the 
most important electoral constituencies. Chinese are prom- 
inent in Manila and Cebu, but here again their over-all per- 
centage in the Philippines is 1.5. In Singapore however they 
constitute 65 per cent of the population, and Malaya with 
Singapore accounts for 45 per cent. Every important city on 
the Malayan mainland is predominantly Chinese. 

"If the Japanese hadn't conquered Malaya in 1942 the Chi- 
nese would have," was a remark one heard very often in 
Singapore soon after the last war. 

Although Indians form part of the polyglot pattern of 

182 The Revolt in Tibet 

Southeast Asia, they are neither politically, economically, nor 
numerically as influential as the Chinese. Even in Ceylon, 
where they cohstitute a considerable proportion of the popu- 
lation, the majority of them are descendants of indentured In- 
dian laborers who were imported into the island many years 
ago. Malaya also contains an Indian population of around 
700,000, but they are mainly laborers. In Singapore there are 
less than 100,000 Indians. The Indian community in South- 
east Asia has been reinforced in recent years by a thin layer of 
businessmen with a leavening of doctors, lawyers, and teach- 
ers. But neither in numbers nor influence are the Indians 
comparable to the Chinese, who are as prolific as they, more 
sturdy, venturesome, disciplined, and purposeful. 

Of all the Asian settlers in this region of lotus-eaters the 
Indians and Chinese are most industrious, and in almost 
every country of Southeast Asia both have left the stamp of 
their civilizations, cultures, and commerce. The Indian, how- 
ever, unlike the Chinese, has never been politically expan- 
sionist. His interests have been commercial, cultural, or reli- 
gious, and in the long history of India's association with this 
region the only rulers who have shown expansionist maritime 
ambitions in these waters were the Cholas who reigned from 
A.D. 850 to 1 150. The impact which India has made on South- 
east Asia has been likened by Western historians to the im- 
pact of Greece on the peoples of the Mediterranean. 

Southeast Asia, containing nearly 200 million people and 
straddling two oceans, the Indian and the Pacific, represents 
the soft underbelly of Asia. A strategic area, it is peculiarly 
susceptible to the purposeful thrust of an aggressive Asian 
power, for it represents a plural polyglot society with no ra- 
cial, linguistic, or religious bonds among its varied peoples. 
There exist, for instance, no racial affinities between the 
Burmese and Indonesians nor any linguistic link between 
the Thais and the Malays. Religiously the Buddhist Cam- 

Han Imperialism 183 

bodians and the Catholic Filipinos are far apart. But the 
eyes of all of them are fixed on the two giants of Asia India 
and China whose close understanding untifl the Tibetan 
affair they viewed with uneasy suspicion. 

Now that Sino-Indian relations are strained and the Chi- 
nese stand poised along India's long frontier, the countries 
and peoples of Southeast Asia see in India their main bul- 
wark against the Red tide. The Chinese irredentist urge is 
not confined only to Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, and Ladakh. 
Over forty years ago the late Sun Yat-sen cited a long list of 
so-called lost territories which China would reclaim. "We 
lost/' he declared, "Korea, Formosa, and Peng Fu to Japan 
after the Sino-Japanese War, Annam to France and Burma 
to Britain. ... In addition the Ryukyu Islands, Siam, Bor- 
neo, Sarawak, Java, Ceylon, Nepal, and Bhutan were once 
tributary States to China." This is a pretty inclusive list, 
embracing as it does almost the whole of Southeast Asia and 
beyond. Chiang Kai-shek subsequently repeated these claims, 
and Mao Tse-tung has reiterated them. Mao in fact traces 
the beginnings of his political consciousness to his realization 
of China's territorial losses. Edgar Snow quotes him as saying, 
"I began to have a certain amount of political consciousness, 
especially after I read a pamphlet telling of the dismember- 
ment of China ... of Japan's occupation of Korea and 
Formosa, of the loss of suzerainty in Indo-China, Burma and 

Apart from their strategic importance the countries of 
Southeast Asia are rich in mineral wealth and natural prod- 
ucts. Before the last war 90 per cent of the world's rubber 
output came from this region, along with 60 per cent of its tin 
and 90 per cent of its quinine. Burma, Thailand, and Viet 
Nam constitute Asia's rice bowl, and though Thailand is not 
in actual territorial proximity with Red China, being sep- 
arated from it by the northern wedge of Laos and the Shan 

184 The Revolt in Tibet 

States, all three are in dangerous proximity to China and each 
is vulnerable. The Sino-Burmese frontier has not been de- 
marcated, and Rangoon has more than once protested to 
Peking against territorial encroachments by Chinese troops. 
In 1955, a year after the declaration of Panchshila, Commu- 
nist Chinese units moved into the Kla States on the plea that 
the boundary was vague and not defined. 

Southeast Asia, though vulnerable to China, represents 
the "rimland" of the democratic bloc against the continental 
"heartland'* of Communist China. This ''rimland/' but- 
tressed by the vast land mass of India, is a challenge to China, 
a deterrent for the time being to that country which attempts 
to reach out to the Indian and Pacific oceans. Beyond the land 
curtain of Southeast Asia lie the Antipodes, a vast territorial 
area conspicuously underpopulated. 

China's irredentist urge in these regions is concentrated in 
the Overseas Chinese who function as its fifth column in this 
area and who are the nuclei of its shock brigades. The hua- 
ch'iao serve as instruments to propagate the message of Com- 
munist China, not only politically but by commercial and 
cultural means. Through the Bank of China, which has 
branches all over Southeast Asia, the Communists bring pres- 
sure and persuasion to bear on Chinese businessmen to ad- 
vance Peking's commercial policies which have basically po- 
litical motivations. India and Indian businessmen have good 
reason to know this, for Asian economic rivalry in Southeast 
Asia is mainly Indo-Chinese. Since 1958 Peking has made 
determined efforts to undercut Indian trade and to drive 
Indian exporters out of Southeast Asia's markets. Chinese 
goods, amazingly low priced and often of high quality, have 
been dumped in this region, thereby stimulating the state- 
subsidized Chinese trade drive throughout this area. Cultural 
propaganda is purveyed through nearly 2,000 Chinese pri- 
mary schools, over 180 middle schools, and the Nanyang 

Han Imperialism 185 

University in Singapore, and at one time this led to a small 
exodus of Chinese students to their homeland, only to bring 
back the majority of them disillusioned. Buf pride in the 
"achievements" of Communist China is still a big selling 
point, and appeals to the Chinese as Chinese, irrespective of 
their beliefs. Another medium for cultural as well as eco- 
nomic and political propaganda is the Chinese Overseas press. 
There are some seventy-five daily Chinese-language news- 
papers published in Southeast Asia in addition to scores of 
journals, and an output of motion pictures. Many of them 
help in propagating the Communist cult. With Peking and 
Taiwan two Chinas exist. But in reality there are three, for 
the 14 million Overseas Chinese are not negligible, and the 
vast majority have their eyes focused on Peking. 

China's occupation of Tibet, by bringing the Communist 
menace to the doors of India, thus threatens the whole of 
Asia and the democratic world. Happily, as in India, the 
Chinese Communist aggression has created a revulsion of 
feeling against China and Communism not only in Asia but 
in the Middle East. Asian feeling was reflected in the sharp 
comments of the press and of public leaders in countries 
ranging from Burma to Indonesia, Ceylon to Japan, Malaya 
to Cambodia. "Here," wrote the Singapore Straits Times, "is 
colonialism blood-stained and rampant. Asia must condemn 

Asia did. Until the Hungarian tragedy of 1956 Asia had 
identified imperialism solely with the domination and exploi- 
tation of the black, brown, and yellow races by the white, 
and also with the belief that Western capitalism, with its urge 
for cheap labor and raw materials and its hunger for new 
markets, incited colonialism. Hungary stirred some faint 
doubts. Was Communism equally capable of imperialist ruth- 
lessness? It is true that Soviet Russia even before this had 
brought the countries of East Europe under her heel, but in 

i86 The Revolt in Tibet 

the confused aftermath of the last war this seemed in Asian 
eyes the normal projection of a European war fought for 
power. Neither Britain nor France, Asia noted, had shed its 
imperial domination even after a war fought for freedom 
and democracy. Tibet registered another important fact, for 
Communist China's aggression proved that imperialism was 
not necessarily a European monopoly but could extend to 
an Asian Power capable of exercising it against a weaker 
Asian country. True, Japan had ravaged China before the 
war; but, more than China, Tibet high-lighted an imperial- 
ism at once Asian and Communist. Japan had run amok with 
militarists at her helm. But Chou En-lai had pledged China 
to Panchshila and peace. 

Peking's oppression and tyranny in Tibet were an eye- 
opener to Asia, particularly to India. This was unashamed 
Machtpolitik. To flout Panchshila was bad enough, but to 
pervert it as China did by claiming that India's protest was 
"interference in China's internal affairs" and therefore con- 
trary to the five principles seemed brazen and cynical effron- 
tery. "In Tibet," wrote Jayaprakash Narayan, "we see at this 
moment the workings of a new imperialism, which is far 
more dangerous than the old because it marches under the 
banner of so-called revolutionary ideology." 

Tibet unmasked China as a wolf in sheep's clothing. Until 
the Tibetan tragedy Asia had assumed that the freedom and 
neutrality of the newly independent nations were threatened 
more by the old colonial imperialists of the West buttressed 
by a bitterly anti-Communist America than by Russia and 
China, both of whom preached peaceful coexistence. Suez 
had deepened Asia's suspicion that the old imperialism was 
only dormant, not dead. But Tibet provoked a radical change 
in outlook. It appeared to Asia that Communist imperialism 
was even worse than the Western imperialism it had known 
and suffered under, for Communist imperialists had hitherto 

Han Imperialism 187 

posed as the liberators of downtrodden countries and indi- 
viduals. In Tibet, China proved that Communism was not 
only out to crush capitalism but that it was also equally will- 
ing to mow down the peasants and workers of any country 
which tried to throw off its tyrannical yoke. 

It proved another thing. Asia had drawn a distinction only 
between the old Western imperialists and the new Commu- 
nists, but as between Soviet Russia and Communist China 
it had also naively believed that while Russia could in certain 
circumstances be ruthless China somehow was "different." 
China was Asian and, like other Asian countries, had once 
been oppressed by the West. Now China showed itself capa- 
ble of being equally ruthless against a weak and helpless 
Asian country. 

Asia's credulity had its counterpart in the Middle East 
where over a long period President Nasser of Egypt had been 
inclined to woo the Russians. Their intervention during the 
Suez crisis further fortified the link. But Moscow soon showed 
in Iraq and elsewhere that Russia's professed friendship for 
the Arab world was by no means disinterested and that its 
clasp of friendship only too often signified the clutch of 
death. What both Russia and China sought to do by protesta- 
tions of peace and professions of friendship was to lull the 
neutral independent countries into dreamy unawareness and 
thereby to foster the growth of Communist influence in 
those states which would ultimately wake up to find that they 
had lost both their neutrality and their independence. Mos- 
cow has demonstrated in the Arab world as China has in 
Tibet what exactly the Communists mean by peaceful co- 
existence, noninterference, and respect for territorial integ- 

The onus and responsibility for preventing further Com- 
munist infiltration into Asia now rest largely on India. De- 
spite New Delhi's efforts to maintain friendly relations with 

188 The Revolt in Tibet 

China while expressing deep sympathy for and continued 
belief in at least the regional autonomy of Tibet, it is be- 
coming increasingly obvious that a firmer attitude and more 
positive action are called for if the main objective of this 
policy the preservation of the security and integrity of India 
is to be ensured. New Delhi's conciliatory gestures have in- 
duced no reciprocal manifestations in Peking. On the contrary 
Communist China's attitude has hardened, is hardening, and 
is likely to harden further. The harassment of Indian traders 
in Tibet continues, and despite India's protests, which have 
been ignored, the Chinese appear to have launched on a 
policy of systematic persecution. 

During the uprising the Chinese authorities placed various 
obstacles in the way of persons of Indian origin, residing in 
Tibet, who wished to register themselves as Indian citizens 
at the Indian Consulate General in Lhasa. Three Indians 
were held in custody by the Chinese for not having travel 
papers or documents of nationality, although the Indian 
Government pointed out that these persons had gone to Tibet 
at a time when there was no obligation to take out such 

According to the Government of India there are 97 regis- 
tered Indian traders in Yatung, Phari, and Gyantse and about 
21,000 seasonal traders in western Tibet. No precise statistics 
are available about the number of Kashmiri Moslems and 
Ladakhi lamas, but as far as can be ascertained there are 1 24 
families of Kashmiri Moslems with a total number of 583 
individuals residing in the Lhasa-Shigatse area, while the 
number of lama students from Ladakh studying in various 
Tibetan monasteries was about 400 before the uprising. Of 
the latter, around 40 were among the refugees who came to 
India. A few of the Kashmiri Moslems are descendants of the 
prisoners captured by the Tibetans when a Dogra force of 
5,000 men led by Zorawar Singh unsuccessfully attacked 
western Tibet in 1841. 

Han Imperialism 189 

Prior to 1954, when the Sino-Indian agreement on trade 
with Tibet was signed, travel between Ladakh and Tibet was 
practically free, and traditionally hundreds of Ladakhi Bud- 
dhists visited Tibet every year for religious purposes, many 
of them staying on as students in the monasteries. Similarly, 
Moslem traders came in large numbers from the same area. 
Very few of these traders and students had troubled to regis- 
ter as Indian nationals because the Chinese authorities had 
not been insistent on documents of nationality. There has 
been no response from Peking so far * to the Indian Govern- 
ment's plea that persons of Indian origin in Tibet who con- 
sidered themselves Indian nationals should be allowed, if 
they so wished, to seek the advice and protection of the 
Indian Consul General in Lhasa or, alternatively, should be 
permitted to return to India. 

More perturbing than these harassments is the reported 
concentration of large Chinese forces on Nepal's northern 
border and all along the Indo-Tibetan border. Disclosing 
this early in August, the Nepalese prime minister, B. P. 
Koirala, announced that his government planned to spend 
an additional Rs. 15 lakhs ($300,000) on defense this year. 
The defense of Nepal's southern border is very largely India's 
responsibility. Koirala also referred to "adequate measures" 
taken by the Nepalese Government against the infiltration of 
Communist agents in the northern districts and to their re- 
ported efforts for "the amalgamation of certain parts of Nepal 
with Tibet." Earlier reports had spoken of "the suspicious 
and subversive activities of some Tibetans who are perhaps 
Peking's agents" in the Solo Khumbu area. 

Since 1856 when the Gurkhas of Nepal, having defeated the 
Tibetans in battle, imposed a treaty on them, Nepal has re- 
garded Tibet as a tributary. The Manchus at that time were 
in no position to help the Tibetans, who were badly beaten. 
Under the treaty Tibet was required to pay Nepal an annual 
* This is being written in August, 1959. 

The Revolt in Tibet 

tribute of Rs. 10,000 ($2,000) and grant extraterritorial rights 
to the Nepalese in Tibet which gave them the privilege of 
being tried in their own country for any offense committed 
in Tibet and which also exempted them from trade duties. 
Nepal continued to receive the tribute and enjoy these 
extraterritorial rights until some time after the Chinese Com- 
munists overran Tibet in 1950. In a recent reference to this 
treaty the Nepalese prime minister remarked that "Tibet 
was almost under Nepal's suzerainty and paid Nepal a fixed 
amount for its defense. This position has changed after the 
occupation of Tibet by the Chinese." Incidentally Nepal 
itself, after being defeated by the Chinese in 1792, was re- 
quired to send a quinquennial tribute to Peking which Kat- 
mandu discontinued in 1908. 

Not surprisingly, relations between Nepal and Tibet have 
never been too cordial, though the Chinese Communists, as 
we noted, by favoring the Nepalese traders in Tibet as against 
their Indian counterparts have tried to play off the one 
against the other. During the period of British rule in India, 
Nepal, though friendly with Britain, tried to preserve her 
own independence by playing off China against Britain, and 
at times helped China to be strong in Tibet. Thus in 1909, 
when General Chao Ehr-feng was advancing into Tibet, 
Katmandu advised Lhasa not to resist. Nor, though under 
the 1856 treaty with Tibet the Nepalese undertook "to 
afford help and protection" to Tibet "as far as they can, if 
any foreign country attacks it," did Nepal go to Tibet's 
assistance when a British military expedition marched into 
the Chumbi Valley in 1888 or when the Younghusband ex- 
pedition entered Lhasa in 1904. 

It would therefore not be surprising if the first Commu- 
nist probe from Tibet were directed at Nepal, which has also 
a considerable pro-Communist element, headed by Dr. K. I. 
Singh, who about eight years ago, when the Communist party 

Han Imperialism 191 

was outlawed in Nepal, took refuge in Tibet. Singh has since 
returned to Nepal and is now a member of its legislature. 
China should find it to her advantage to exploit Tibetan 
antipathy to the Gurkhas by persuading the Tibetans to infil- 
trate politically into Nepal as a prelude to its absorption. 
Nepal is thus threatened by potential fifth columns inside 
and outside her borders. The mountain ranges to the north, 
which contain some of the highest peaks of the Himalayas, 
including Everest and Kinchin junga, were at one time 
thought to be an impenetrable barrier. But a range of moun- 
tains no more than a barbed-wire fence can keep out ideas. 
The Ranas, or feudal ruling class, were overthrown in Nepal 
in January, 1951, and their counterparts in Tibet are on their 
way out. Of all the regions strung along the Indo-Tibetan 
border, Nepal would seem to be the most vulnerable, though 
Bhutan and Sikkim may also fall easy prey to Chinese infil- 

Shortly after Communist China's first aggression on Tibet 
in 1950, the Indian prime minister declared that any trans- 
gression of the Indo-Tibetan border would be resisted by 
India and that the same principle would apply to the 
Nepalese-Tibetan border. India declared her determination 
to do this by guaranteeing the integrity of the Himalayan 
border states of Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan. Nepal's northern 
frontier which faces Tibet occupies, as we saw, some five 
hundred miles. To the east lies Sikkim, a former tributary of 
Tibet, with the Kumaon district of India's Uttar Pradesh 
on the west separated from Nepal by the Kali River. The 
southern border, whose defense, according to Nepal's prime 
minister, is largely India's responsibility, adjoins a part of 
Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. 

From the ethnographic standpoint Sikkim, Bhutan, and 
Ladakh are Tibetan, which would make the area of ethno- 
graphic Tibet around 800,000 square miles with a population 

192 The Revolt in Tibet 

of about five million, the majority living in the area between 
Lhasa and the Chinese border. Three-fourths of Sikkim's 
inhabitants ate Indians of Nepalese origin, but its ruler and 
leading personages are Tibetan, and Sikkim was originally 
under Tibetan rule. It is a curious fact that while along 
the northern border of Nepal westward to Ladakh there are 
many Tibetan settlements on the Indian side, no Indian set- 
tlements exist on the Tibetan side. Bound to Tibet by ties 
of race and religion, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Ladakh are there- 
fore highly susceptible to propaganda from across the border. 

Even in the days of British rule in India more than one 
Chinese spokesman urged the blending of the "five colors/' 
these being China, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan. By 
bringing the three Himalayan border states under their influ- 
ence, the British reared an effective barrier against Chinese 
infiltration, and this barrier was consolidated by the buffer of 
autonomous Tibet, which with its lofty altitude and large size 
constituted an ideal protective screen. British policy was de- 
signed to prevent military infiltration, but independent India 
finds itself faced with a dual threat the threat of military 
infiltration and, more insidious, of political infiltration. 

In the three Himalayan states which, unlike Tibet, are on 
the Indian side of the Himalayas, the Indian Government has 
taken over the policy of the British raj. No longer, however, 
do the Himalayan ranges and the lofty uplands of Tibet pro- 
vide an effective barrier, while the MacMahon Line which 
defines the frontier east of Bhutan up to the intersection of 
the Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese borders has never been 
officially recognized by China, though Nehru in reply to 
questions in the Lok Sabha on August 13, 1959, said that 
Chou En-lai had given him the definite impression some 
years back * that, "having regard to all the circumstances, 
they accepted the MacMahon Line as the international fron- 

* Presumably either in 1954 when Nehru visited China or in 1956 when 
Chou En-lai visited India. 

Han Imperialism 193 

tier." This, like Chou's other assurances, was probably de- 
signed to lull India without completely committing China. 

Recent reports tell of a mass meeting in LHasa when the 
cry for the "liberation" of Ladakh, Sikkim, and Bhutan was 
raised by the Chinese. As on the Nepalese frontier, the Chi- 
nese are said to be massing troops on the borders of Sikkim 
and Bhutan. Questions were asked in the Lok Sabha in mid- 
August; but Nehru, while reiterating that India's territorial 
integrity would be "safeguarded at all costs/' observed that 
he did not think that any large forces were concentrated on 
India's frontiers, although there were "very large Chinese 
forces all over Tibet" in the wake of the Tibetan rebellion. 
No doubt, said the prime minister, there were some Chinese 
forces on "our frontier," but India was "quite awake and 
alert over the matter." Replying to a query as to whether it 
was a fact that "as many as twenty divisions of Chinese troops 
are stationed in Tibet at present," Nehru remarked that he 
could not say "I do not know exactly." 

The questions asked in the Lok Sabha were sparked by a 
dispatch appearing in the London Daily Telegraph from its 
Kalimpong correspondent, quoting a speech made by the 
Chinese commander in Lhasa, General Chang Kuo-hua, 
wherein the general had declared that "the Bhutaiiese, Sik- 
kimese, and Ladakhis form a united family in Tibet. They 
have been subjects of Tibet and the great motherland of 
China and must, once again, be united and taught the Com- 
munist doctrine." In his reply Nehru said that he had read 
the report of the speech which had appeared in "the official 
Chinese newspaper" but that the particular passage men- 
tioned was not there. "That, of course," he commented, 
"does not lead us to believe that it is not possible, but it is 
not there. . . . Anyhow, he would be an exceedingly foolish 
person who would make the remarks attributed to this gentle- 

Despite the assurances which India's prime minister said 

194 The Revolt in Tibet 

he had been given on the MacMahon Line by the Chinese 
prime minister, which Peking was later officially to deny, 
thereby impliedly branding the Indian prime minister as a 
liar, Nehru disclosed that "discussions had taken place about 
some pockets along the MacMahon Line which, no doubt, 
would be continued." He did not specify where the disputed 
pockets lay. The MacMahon Line, which was defined in the 
Simla Convention of 1914, is concerned with securing India's 
northeast frontier running some eight hundred miles east of 
Bhutan along the northern and eastern borders of Assam to 
the meeting place of China, Tibet, and the Burmese hinter- 
land. Since this frontier is around a hundred miles from the 
plains of India, with difficult hills and valleys between, it 
forms a useful barrier. Bhutan is contiguous for a little 
under 250 miles with the Tibetan frontier, while the bound- 
ary between Tibet and Sikkim is the crest of the mountain 
range separating the waters flowing into the Tista River and 
its affluents in Sikkim from the Machu River in Tibet and 
northward into other Tibetan rivers. The NEFA's northern 
frontier is defined by the MacMahon Line. At one point, 
near the 95th meridian, the line is broken by the Brahma- 
putra River, and although it traverses difficult terrain it 
has been fully surveyed except for a strip of about one 
hundred miles west of the Brahmaputra defile. Possibly the 
disputed pockets to which Nehru referred lie in this region, 
but the Chinese can conveniently ignore the MacMahon Line 
when it suits them, since the Simla Convention, in which it 
was incorporated, was not ratified by China. Nehru, however, 
has left China in no doubt that so far as India is concerned 
the MacMahon Line is the country's "firm, northern frontier 
firm by treaty, firm by usage and firm by geography/' 

Ladakh, which the Chinese also claim as their natural 
sphere, is in northeast Kashmir, belonging to the broad 
valley of the upper Indus which flows from West Tibet, and 

Han Imperialism 195 

is bounded to the east by the Tibetan districts of Nagri and 
Rudok. It contains a considerable Moslem population, de- 
scendants of the invaders from neighboring Baltistan who 
ravaged Ladakh in the seventeenth century. Almost all the 
Ladakhi traders in Tibet are Moslems, but there is also an 
influential community of Buddhists owing religious alle- 
giance to the Dalai Lama. The Ladakhis, by nature quiescent, 
are no soldiers. This region formed part of the Tibetan Em- 
pire until its disruption in the tenth century, but its religious 
ties continued with Lhasa until disrupted by the Communist 
Chinese invasion. Now it looks as if Peking would like to 
revive these links under its own auspices and for its own 
particular purposes. 

It is no longer possible to conceal (even if some in New 
Delhi might wish to do so) the grave deterioration in Sino- 
Indian relations with the turn of events in Tibet. In its long 
history Tibet has known many reverses and humiliations at 
the hands of China, but it has also had its eras and spells of 
good fortune, the last being when the Manchus were toppled 
from their throne in 1911 and Tibet knew and enjoyed 
nearly a half-century of freedom. As China's captive, Tibet, 
with its long experience of Chinese ways and means, realizes 
that its future role is to serve as a decoy in order to make its 
smaller Buddhist neighbors also captive. 

Communist China will not risk a world conflagration by 
launching a frontal attack on India's two-thousand-mile fron- 
tier, for the ways of Communism are more insidious and 
calculated. What is likely to happen is a general "softening 
up" of the Himalayan states at India's front door as a prelude 
to infiltration within the inner citadel, while simultaneously 
the same tactics are employed elsewhere, as they have been in 
Burma and more recently in Laos. The Communists invari- 
ably nibble at the flanks. Inside China the national minor- 
ities will be used as baits to lure the other minorities across 

196 The Revolt in Tibet 

the border into Peking's vast and widening maw. Outside, in 
the sprawling regions of Southeast Asia, the fifth columns of 
the Overseas Chinese will be deployed. Behind the Laotian 
imbroglio is the long arm of Communist China. 

The Indian Government, while it has given asylum to the 
Dalai Lama and to some twelve thousand Tibetan refugees, 
has repudiated the Dalai Lama's claim to regard himself and 
his ministers as the Government of Tibet. But the Dalai 
Lama, if he is an embarrassment to New Delhi inside India, 
is a menace and a nuisance to Peking as long as he remains 
outside China. His Holiness claims the allegiance of many 
thousands in the border states of Ladakh, Nepal, Bhutan, 
and Sikkim, as well as in parts of the Northeast Frontier 
Agency. He is India's best insurance and deterrent against 
Communist efforts to lure the peoples and rulers of the Hima- 
layan states into the Chinese orbit. As long as the Dalai Lama 
remains an honored guest on Indian soil, he is the best safe- 
guard against the witchery and wiles of Communist China 
in the frontier regions, as well as in the Buddhist lands of 
Southeast Asia. India knows only what the Communists do. 
The Dalai Lama knows what Communism is. He is a victim 
of its treachery, and as such the symbol of his followers' 
hopes and faith. 



With China's aggression on Tibet the scales have fallen from 
Asia's eyes, and Asia, more particularly India, is now in the 
process of agonizing reappraisal. 

Whether the countries of Southeast Asia succumb finally 
to Communist blandishments and threats depends largely on 
the attitude India immediately adopts. The Tibetan tragedy 
has high-lighted as nothing else has done the inherent contra- 
dictions in India's foreign policy. On principle India's policy 
is the right policy for India and for the newly independent 
countries of Asia, provided neutrality or nonalignment is 
positive and not "on one side." India cannot consistently con- 
demn Communist China for her oppression in Tibet and 
sponsor her membership for the United Nations. If nothing 
else, Tibet has proved that the distinction between the ag- 
gressor and the victim is no more academic than the distinc- 
tion between Communist and democratic beliefs. India was 
rightly vigorous in her condemnation of the Anglo-French 
aggression on Egypt in October, 1956, but it is difficult to 
defend her lukewarm attitude to the brutalities perpetrated 
in Hungary by Soviet Russia about the same time. If Indian 

198 The Revolt in Tibet 

condemnation of the Western action in Suez was justified, as 
it undoubtedly was, and did not lead to any intensification 
of the hot war, why make the excuse that India's restrained 
criticism of China's action on Tibet was inspired by a desire 
to do nothing to aggravate an inflammable situation? It is 
unconvincing. As a result of her attitude to Suez, India did 
not lose the friendship of Britain and France, but she seems 
to have lost the good will of Communist China by her mild 
criticism of its government's action in Tibet. Nothing could 
demonstrate more clearly the difference between what the 
democratic and Communist worlds understand by friend- 
ship. To the Communists friendship plainly is friendship on 
their own terms. 

The revulsion which Russia's brutal suppression of the 
Hungarian uprising provoked in Europe is paralleled in Asia 
by China's crushing of the Tibetan rebellion. Asia has sud- 
denly discovered that the Chinese Communists are not differ- 
ent from the Soviet Communists and that the objectives and 
methods of Communist imperialism, whether Russian or 
Chinese, are the same. Communism is by nature expansion- 
ist, for its aim is to transform and rule the world. 

Tibet has highlighted the menace posed by this fact, and 
dramatically if also tragically revealed the cynicism and 
cruelty of Communism. Less than a year after the Budapest 
rising, Khrushchev was impudently asserting that Hungary 
was "an independent State with its own independent Gov- 
ernment," * while Chou En-Iai in the eight years preceding 
the Chinese absorption of Tibet had blandly assured Nehru 
more than once that Peking meant to respect Tibetan au- 
tonomy. While Russia was the strongest power in Europe, 
China emerged after Japan's defeat in the Second World War 
as the major military state in Asia, determined to assert her 
right to Central Asia and to be that continent's leading 

* In an interview given to the New York Times, May 10, 1957. 

Agonizing Reappraisal 199 

Power. In the former plan her ambitions lay, ironically 
enough, across the path of Russia, for in north and northwest 
China are the frontier regions of Manchuria, Kfongolia, and 
Sinkiang, whose peoples are akin to those across the border 
in Soviet Russia. One reason why Peking, unlike Moscow, 
has not given its so-called autonomous regions the theoretical 
right of secession may possibly be because of China's lurking 
fear that these frontier regions might cast their lot with their 
neighbors across the border. To believe that there are not 
internal rivalries within the camp of international Com- 
munism is to misread its character. 

Basically, however, the impulses which motivate Com- 
munist states are similar, for Communism grows by what it 
feeds on and its intrinsic expansionist urge is impelled by 
the necessity to clear obstacles in its path inside and outside 
its boundaries. An autonomous region such as Tibet, Inner 
Mongolia, Sinkiang, Ningsia, or Chinghai was an obstacle 
not only to the fulfillment of the Communist program in its 
own area but to some extent in China itself. Opposition in 
Tibet combined with the Dalai Lama's threat to remain in 
India in 1956 induced Peking the following year to call a 
temporary halt to its "democratic reforms" in Tibet. Sim- 
ilarly the Chinese encountered resistance to their efforts at 
ideological infiltration in Chinghai, which borders Tibet and 
which has a population consisting largely of national minor- 
ities such as the Moslem Dungans and the Tibetan Bud- 
dhists who acknowledge the spiritual authority of the Dalai 
Lama. It became necessary for the Chinese Communists to 
sweep aside both these obstacles. The same pattern repeats 
itself in Europe. West Germany is an obstacle to the fulfill- 
ment of the Soviet plan not only in East Germany but in 
Eastern Europe and therefore requires to be swept away. 
Hence the Russian description of West Berlin as "a cancerous 
growth. " 

200 The Revolt in Tibet 

What the Tibetan tragedy has done is to expose the real 
character of Communism to Asia and to impress on it the 
fact that Communism changes its mask but never its charac- 
ter, whether such Communism masquerades as Asian or Euro- 
pean. Those in its dangerous propinquity see the point when 
the menace actually threatens them as India has belatedly 
done, and also the United Arab Republic. A Cairo pamphlet 
issued by the Information Department of the U.A.R. Govern- 
ment shortly after China's aggression in Tibet described 
Peking's action as "imperialistic/' and linked Tibet with 
Iraq as part of a grand plan by international Communism to 
"subvert positive neutrality and nonalignment." It is an 
interesting comment since its implication is that what the 
Communists expect from the neutral nations is to be "neutral 
on one side." The logical conclusion which follows from this 
is that Panchshila means peaceful coexistence on Communist 
terms and as the Reds understand and interpret it. These are 
the facts to which non-Communist Asia has at last awakened. 

It has been hinted in New Delhi that the facts of history 
must be recognized and that Tibet having been under Chi- 
nese domination off and on, the question of her independence 
cannot be raised at this stage. Hungary, for one, was long 
under the domination of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and 
is now, despite Khrushchev's assertion, under the heel of 
Soviet Russia. Does that mean that Hungary is thereby con- 
demned to perpetual subjugation? The Chinese Communists, 
it is also hinted, are converting Tibet from a feudal into a 
progressive ^tate, an argument often advanced by British 
apologists for British rule in India, and rightly condemned 
at the time by Indian nationalists, including Nehru. How can 
India square her justification of the fact of China's imposition 
of "progress" on Tibet with her condemnation of the same 
process by the British in India? 

Tibet should induce not only second thoughts but clearer 

Agonizing Reappraisal 201 

thinking. The hard-won freedom of the newly independent 
countries of Asia is no longer threatened by the old colonial- 
ism of the West but by the new imperialism o( the Commu- 
nist bloc which must burst its boundaries or be broken. 
Expansionism is endemic to the Communist system. "We 
Communists and revolutionary cadres/' declared a Chinese 
monthly,* "should not merely know the world but, what is 
more important, transform the world." The Communism of 
Stalin, Khrushchev and Mao Tse-tung is far removed and 
different from the Communism preached by Karl Marx, who 
propounded it as a scientific study of society. Though Nehru 
has stated that he dislikes dogmatism and the treatment of 
Karl Marx's writings or any other books as "revealed scrip- 
ture which cannot be challenged/' and has also expressed 
his detestation of regimentation and heresy hunts, it would 
seem from his attitude toward Soviet Russia and Communist 
China that what he objects to in them is primarily their too 
easy resort to violence. He did not, for instance, object in 
1950 to China's claim to assert its "sovereignty or, if you like, 
suzerainty" in Tibet but only asked Peking to do it "peace- 
fully." This was tantamount to asking a tiger to deal with a 
lamb mercifully. 

By her aggression on Tibet, China is revealed as a cruel 
imperialist Power with the old Han spirit of expansionism 
intensified by the new spirit of Communist colonialism. Had 
Communism, as Jayaprakash Narayan pointed out, been a 
truly liberating and anti-imperialist force, the Chinese Com- 
munists on assuming power would themselves have shed 
voluntarily the old imperialist notion of suzerainty and 
entered into a treaty with Tibet of equality and friendship. 
This would have been in line with what the early Bolsheviks 
did on assuming power in Russia and with what Lenin laid 
down when the Soviet took over the government of the coun- 

Hsuch Hsi (Political Study), monthly Peking periodical No. 5, 1955. 

202 The Revolt in Tibet 

try. "If," declared Lenin,* "any nation whatsoever is de- 
tained by force within the boundaries of a certain State, and 
if that nation contrary to its expressed desire whether such 
desire is made manifest in the Press, National Assembly, 
Party decisions, or in protests and uprisings against national 
oppression is not given the right to determine the form of 
its state of life by free voting, and completely free from the 
presence of troops of the annexing or stronger State and with- 
out the least pressure, then the adjoining of that nation by 
the stronger State is annexation, i.e., seizure by force and 

India's mistake, as we saw, was twofold. Presented with an 
opportunity to treat Tibet as independent, New Delhi chose 
to accept the Chinese claim to suzerainty on the plea that this 
concept was a British legacy left in the lap of independent 
India which India could not repudiate, even while New Delhi 
repudiated other imperialist legacies in Tibet, such as the 
privilege of stationing small Indian military units at Yatung 
and Gyantse. The second mistake which India made, and 
under which the Indian Government still seems to labor, 
was to trust explicitly and implicitly every assurance given 
to it by the Chinese Communists even when experience had 
proved how utterly untrustworthy were the pledges and 
promises freely made by Peking. History might find it hard to 
exonerate India of the charge that consciously or uncon- 
sciously she aided and abetted Peking on obliterating and 
absorbing Tibet. If she did it consciously, a theory which 
this writer does not accept, it was undoubtedly a crime. If 
India did it unconsciously, as the records suggest, it was 
folly. The celebrated words of Fouch on the murder of the 
Due d'Enghien are apposite in this context: "It was worse 
than a crime. It was a blunder." 

In "Decree on Peace" (1917), quoted in Works (4th Russian edition), 
Vol. 26, p. 218. 

Agonizing Reappraisal 203 

There is an interesting parallel in the development of 
Communism and capitalism to which many Asian intellec- 
tuals, notably Jayaprakash Narayan, have drawn insistent 
attention. Nineteenth century capitalism under the leader- 
ship of Britain, France, and Germany became progressively 
aggressive and expansionist, acquiring in time in Asian and 
African eyes the stamp of colonialism. So also now, the 
Communism of Marx, which once stood for the freedom of 
the proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world, who 
were invited to throw off the chains and shackles which 
bound them, has emerged as an imperialism which threatens 
the liberty of both. As Jayaprakash Narayan again has ob- 
served: "Somewhere or the other Marxism had gone wrong. 
Lenin wrote a famous thesis on imperialism as the last phase 
of capitalism. Someone should write another thesis on Com- 
munism as the first phase of a new imperialism/' In short, 
Communism, in its contemporary form, whether Asian or 
European has revealed itself for what it really is not a pro- 
gressive force identified with humanism, equality, and free- 
dom, but a medieval tyranny threatening the liberty of 
millions of unoffending peoples, members largely of the 
weaker nations of the world. 

Nehru's moderation in condemning the new Communist 
imperialism, as compared with his unequivocal attacks on 
the old colonialism of the West, puzzles and confuses not only 
India but also Asia and Africa, which still lay great store 
and rightly by his utterances. Until quite recently Nehru 
was inclined to view Marxism through the rose-tinted spec- 
tacles of the early 1930'$ when as a member of the Com- 
munist-sponsored League Against Imperialism he saw Com- 
munism not as another form of totalitarianism which threat- 
ened democracy, but as a shield protecting the weaker 
colonial countries against the unceasing rapacity of the im- 
perialist Powers masquerading behind the mask of democ- 

204 The Revolt in Tibet 

racy. As matters have developed in Tibet, the choice before 
India is plain. As long as it was possible to press for the 
recognition of Tibetan autonomy, while maintaining friendly 
relations with Communist China in order to ensure the major 
aim of Indian policy, which is the security and integrity of 
India itself, what the veteran Chakravarti Rajagopalachari * 
described as New Delhi's "tightrope-walking line" was justi- 
fied. But once it was clear that the two could not be simul- 
taneously pursued, one of them had to be dropped. Nehru's 
mistake lay in continuing to maintain both, even when con- 
fronted by mounting obloquy from China. The contrast in 
Peking's reactions to New Delhi's protests over China's ag- 
gression on Tibet in 1950 and again in 1959 is striking and 

In 1950, after first sharply rebuffing India and asking it to 
mind its own business, Peking found it wise to assume a pose 
of reasonableness, and in the Sino-Tibetan treaty of May, 
1951, agreed to respect Tibetan autonomy and the position of 
the Dalai Lama as the supreme spiritual and temporal ruler 
of Tibet in return for Lhasa's recognition of Chinese suze- 
rainty and of Peking's authority over its external affairs. 
Peking, of course, had no intention of keeping these promises; 
but at that time, with the Korean War on her hands, Com- 
munist China was in no position further to exacerbate world 
opinion and intensify Asian uneasiness. At this juncture India 
was the monkey that the Chinese tiger utilized for pulling 
Peking's chestnuts out of the fire. 

In the following years China's strategy was to lull and 
mollify opinion abroad, particularly in Asia, while trying to 
stifle Tibet's regional autonomy behind the screen of the 
bamboo curtain. Hence her pose as the defender of Asian 
interests, the champion of the war against colonialism, and the 

* Former Governor General of India and now leader of the newly formed 
Swantantra party in opposition to the Congress party. 

Agonizing Reappraisal 205 

protector of the freedom of the newly independent countries 
o Asia. With the same purpose in view Peking subscribed to 
Panchshila in the preamble of the Sino-Indian treaty on 
Tibet in April, 1954, reaffirmed it in the Sino-Indian state- 
ment of June, 1954, and at Bandung in the following year 
reiterated its belief in the Five Principles while protesting 
its "peaceful intentions" toward the small nations of Asia. 

Simultaneously inside Tibet the Chinese Communists were 
trying in every way to browbeat and batter that country into 
subjection. As the Dalai Lama observed in an interview to a 
Burmese newspaper editor in August, 1959: "The cruel at- 
tempt to wipe out the Tibetan race has not just come about. 
It is a long-range program which was first introduced in 
1949-50." * Not long after the Chinese forces had entered 
Lhasa, the Tibetans, as we saw, grew restive and by the end 
of 1951, on the testimony of General Chang Kuo-hua, they 
were beginning to organize resistance. In the Dalai Lama's 
words, the Communists at first tried "subversion without 
open violence. Their earliest primary schools taught the 
Tibetan language as well as Tibetan prayers. But gradually 
the Tibetan prayers were dropped and then the Tibetan lan- 
guage gave way to Chinese." Yet, as we have seen, the tempo 
of Tibetan resistance grew and in time erupted into open 
rebellion, compelling the Communists in 1957 temporarily to 
retrace their steps. 

In April, 1958, Peking set up its rural communes inside 
China proper in the central province of Honan, and by De- 
cember, 1958, the Communists claimed to have established a 
total of 26,000 communes covering 99 per cent of China's 
peasant households, that is, 120 million households. Before 
the spring of 1959, when it was planned that the communes 
would be fully operational, opposition to this policy of 

* Presumably when the Communists had established their regime in 

206 The Revolt in Tibet 

"regimentation of the people" had crystallized both in China 
proper and in the minority regions where the communes had 
almost simultaneously been imposed. On October 9, 1958, 
the Peking People's Daily castigated the critics and skeptics, 
adding that the ideologies of individualism, parochialism, 
and capitalism could still cause mischief, and urging that "the 
struggle" be continued. Two days previously the same paper 
had ominously recommended that a "little rectification cam- 
paign" should be launched. Early in 1959 party cadres were 
summoned from Tibet to China to study the working of the 
new communes, and the Dalai Lama himself had been invited 
to Peking in April. Internal exigencies and external pressures 
thus compelled Communist China to drop its mask. This it 
finally did when the revolt of the Khamba tribesmen in west- 
ern Szechwan infected Tibet, threatening Lhasa itself. The 
mailed fist replaced the not so velvet glove. 

Peaceful coexistence served the countries of Asia as long 
as Peking was prepared to respect the principles of Panch- 
shila. China's naked aggression on Tibet had shocked not 
only the smaller Asian countries such as Burma and Cam- 
bodia, but also India, into the realization that unless they con- 
front the new imperialism more resolutely the same fate 
awaits them. This is the great lesson which Tibet has taught. 
In retrospect it was foolish and complacent for India to have 
taken Communist China's assurances at their face value and 
to have believed that a powerful totalitarian state could be 
trusted to respect a small country's autonomy which it had 
pledged itself to honor. India, however, is not the only victim 
of Communist guile. 

Nehru's statements in the Lok Sabha on August i3th sug- 
gest that the Indian Government has at long last awakened 
to the threat which Communist imperialism poses to Asia. 
Some faint stirring of doubt was already evident in an earlier 
statement Nehru had made in the course of a speech in 

Agonizing Reappraisal 207 

August, 1958, explaining to his party the difference between 
Communism and Indian Socialism. "It [Communism] is 
failing/' he observed, "because of its rigidity,* because sup- 
pression of individual liberty is bringing about powerful 
reactions, because of its contempt for the moral and spiritual 
side of life, and because it tends to deprive human behavior 
of standards of values." Owing to these deficiencies, Nehru 
prophesied that Communism "eventually will be over- 
thrown." As was to be expected, neither the analysis nor the 
prophecy was received kindly by Moscow or Peking. Yet 
even to many democrats Nehru's prophecy that the Com- 
munist system would eventually be overthrown because of 
the intrinsic evil it enshrines would seem to presuppose that 
only the good flourish on earth which as a presumption is 
glib and dangerously near wishful thinking. 

Peking has not only denied Nehru's statement that Chou 
En-lai had repeatedly assured him that China accepted the 
MacMahon Line but it has also claimed an area of 90,000 
kilometers on the Indian side of the Himalayas which would 
include the entire NEFA area and more, and bring the Chi- 
nese to the north bank of the Brahmaputra River. As Nehru 
said in the Lok Sabha, it amounted to a claim by the Chinese 
for "the Himalayas being handed over as a gift to them," and 
added, "It is the pride and arrogance that is showing in their 
language, in their behavior to us, and in so many things that 
they have done." 

Characteristically, having repudiated his previous assur- 
ance on the MacMahon Line, the Chinese prime minister 
now assures India that Sikkim and Bhutan do not enter into 
the present Sino-Indian dispute. Nehru, a wiser and sadder 
man, in announcing this to Parliament reiterated the Indian 
Government's pledge to protect the borders of those states, 
interference with which would be the same as interference 
with the borders of India. At the moment of writing, the Chi- 

208 The Revolt in Tibet 

nese are still in possession of the Indian checkpost of Longju, 
ten miles inside the Indian border, and have declined to 
accept New Delhi's suggestion that they withdraw as a pre- 
liminary to negotiations on disputed points in the Mac- 
Mahon Line. 

Communism cannot be wished out of existence any more 
than it can be wished out of international life. Some more 
purposeful and positive attitude and action are needed if 
Asia is first to counter and then to conquer this menace. 
Nehru has often emphasized and is himself sincere in declar- 
ing that India's foreign policy is not motivated by fear, but 
there is no denying that the attitude of the general Indian 
public toward Communist China is a mixture of admiration 
and fear, and in turn provokes from the Chinese a mixture 
of threats and blandishments. Some foreign observers see in 
the passionate attachment of India, Burma, Indonesia, and 
Cambodia to the principles of coexistence an admission by 
these countries of their belief that these principles provide 
the only guarantee against aggression by China. The alter- 
native is war, which they are not prepared to face. But this 
alternative is precisely what they must realistically face and 
be prepared for. On the surface China's attitude toward India 
is one of condescending friendship, described starkly by a 
recent Indian visitor to that country, Dr. Chandrasekhar, as 
an attitude ranging from "total ignorance to absolute con- 

In 1948, a year before the Communists officially assumed 
the government of China, the so-called Southeast Asian Youth 
Conference, a Communist front, which met in Calcutta, 
adopted the Zhdanov line decreeing violent revolution 
against the governments of the newly independent countries 
of Asia, including India, Burma, Indonesia, and other areas 
such as Malaya and Indonesia. Although India had been 
among the countries which very early decided to recognize 

Agonizing Reappraisal 209 

Red China, the Communist Chinese had no hesitation in de- 
nouncing the members of the Indian Government as "bour- 
geois reactionaries/' "lackeys," "stooges of capitalism," and 
"running dogs of Anglo-American imperialism." India was 
labeled in the Peking press as "an Anglo-American gendarme 
in the East." Even when another change of front was later 
decreed by international Communism, China's attitude to- 
ward India remained one of suspended judgment. When the 
nonaligned countries of Asia, headed by India, pressed for 
Communist China's admission to the United Nations, and 
refused to declare China an aggressor in Korea and to put an 
embargo on war materials to China, Peking displayed no 
great gush of gratitude. It blew hot and cold according to 
what its own interests demanded. 

The primary aim of New Delhi's policy being to ensure 
the country's security and integrity, anything which endan- 
gers either cannot but be resisted. This also Nehru has lat- 
terly emphasized. On his first visit to the United States in 
1949, while addressing the House of Representatives, the 
Indian prime minister declared: "Where freedom is menaced, 
or justice threatened, or where aggression takes place, we 
cannot be and shall not be neutral." He had earlier expressed 
the same sentiment in a speech he made soon after inde- 
pendence in March, 1948: "We are not citizens of a weak or 
mean country, and I think it is foolish for us to get frightened 
even from a military point of view, of the greatest of the 
Powers today. Not that I delude myself about what can hap- 
pen to us if a great Power in a military sense goes against us; 
I have no doubt it can injure us. But after all in the past as 
a national movement, we opposed one of the greatest of 
World Powers." Joint defense measures have recently been 
initiated between Indian and Nepal should the latter's north- 
ern frontier be encroached upon by forces across the border 
in Tibet, while in NEFA the Assam Rifles have been replaced 

210 The Revolt in Tibet 

by regular military units and maintain a ceaseless vigil along 
the border. Within India the Union Home Ministry has 
alerted those 'responsible for detecting and preventing the 
percolation of subversive ideas from outside or clandestinely 
from inside through the Communist "grapevine or under- 
ground. The dismissal by India's president of the Communist 
Government of Kerala in July, 1959, and the establishment 
of President's Rule in that state have irked the Reds, who 
had looked on Kerala as a springboard for more extensive 
infiltration, and regarded it as India's Yenan. 

Public opinion in India had even earlier begun to assert 
itself more vigorously in favor of a firmer policy toward Red 
China. The past ten years' developments have shown that in 
the Communist vocabulary friendship is a unilateral business 
where the Communists invariably take but rarely give. India's 
friendly gestures have provoked, at the most, condescending 
acknowledgment and sometimes, as after Tibet, cold indif- 
ference and open contempt. Nothing reveals this more clearly 
than the language employed by the Chinese in the notes ex- 
changed between Peking and New Delhi since 1954. In April, 
shortly after a procession of Indian demonstrators in Bombay 
had pelted a portrait of Mao Tse-tung with rotten tomatoes 
and eggs, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi sent the Indian 
Ministry of External Affairs the following note: "Such an act 
of pasting the portrait of the Chairman of the People's Re- 
public of China on the wall and throwing tomatoes and rot- 
ten eggs at it is a huge insult [which] the masses of 650 mil- 
lion Chinese people absolutely cannot tolerate, and it must 
be reasonably settled. ... In case the reply from the Indian 
Government is not satisfactory the Embassy is instructed to 
make it clear that the Chinese Government will again raise 
this matter, and the Chinese side will never come to a stop, 
that is to say, never come to a stop even for 100 years/' 

Later, on May i6th, the Chinese ambassador followed up 

Agonizing Reappraisal 211 

this elegant epistle with another note: "The Chinese Govern- 
ment has no obligation to give assurances to any foreign 
country, nor can it tolerate others under the 'pretext of so- 
called different autonomy to obstruct Chinese sovereignty in 
Tibet. . . . Nevertheless there appeared in India before and 
after the rebellion in Tibet large quantities of words and 
deeds slandering China and interfering in China's affairs. For 
instance, responsible politicians and publications openly 
called Tibet a 'country,' and demanded that the Tibet ques- 
tion be submitted to the United Nations. . . . 

"You can wait and see. As the Chinese proverb goes, 'The 
strength of the horse is borne out by the distance trav- 
elled. . . .' You will ultimately see whether the relations be- 
tween the Tibet region of China and India are friendly or 
hostile by watching up to a hundred years. The quarrel 
between our two countries in the past few years and particu- 
larly in the past three months is but an interlude and does not 
warrant a big fuss." The note concluded: "Our Indian 
friends! What is your mind? Friends! It seems to us that you 
too cannot have two fronts. Is it not so? If it is, here, then, 
lies the meeting point of our two sides. Will you please think 
it over?" 

To this India's rejoinder was polite but pointed: "It is a 
matter of particular surprise and disappointment that a 
Government and people noted for their high culture and 
politeness should have committed this serious lapse and 
should have addressed the Government of India in a language 
unbecoming even if it were addressed to a hostile country. 
Since it is addressed to a country which is referred to as 
friendly, this can only be considered as an act of forgetful- 

Referring to the Bombay incident, the reply of the Indian 
Secretary General of External Affairs reminds the Chinese 
ambassador that in "India, unlike China, the law recognizes 

212 The Revolt in Tibet 

many parties and gives protection to the expression of differ- 
ing opinion/' It goes on to state: "That is a right guaranteed 
by our constitution and contrary to the practice prevailing 
in China. The Government of India is often criticized and 
opposed by sections of the Indian people. It is evident that 
this freedom of expression and civil liberties in India are 
not fully appreciated by the Government of China. 

"From the statement made on behalf of the People's Gov- 
ernment of China, it appears that the five principles of peace- 
ful coexistence may or may not be applied according to con- 
venience or circumstances. This is an approach with which 
the Government of India is not in agreement. They will 
continue to hold to these principles and endeavor to apply 
them/' Peking, however, has artfully if obviously sought to 
differentiate between Nehru and the Indian people with the 
probable intention of inducing the prime minister to pay 
more heed to Peking's ruffled feelings than to the indignant 
opinions voiced by his own people. Those who know Nehru 
realize how vain are China's hopes and how mistaken and 
confused is their understanding of the relationship between 
India's people and their prime minister. After referring to 
the "large volume of slanderous utterances" which had ap- 
peared in India, an article in the Peking People's Daily of 
May 6, 1959, states: "Prime Minister Nehru is different from 
many persons who bear obvious ill-will toward China. He 
disagrees somewhat with us on the Tibetan question. But in 
general he advocates Sino-Indian friendship. Of this we have 
no doubts whatsoever." Obviously the Chinese Communists, 
despite their vituperative outbursts against India, lay great 
store by Sino-Indian "friendship," which, however strained 
and tenuous, they calculate on utilizing and exploiting when 
the occasion suits them. 

The likelihood, however, is that the Chinese will not ven- 
ture the risk of being involved in a global war which would 

Agonizing Reappraisal 213 

almost certainly follow any armed incursion into India. 
Their methods of infiltration will be more subtle and sub- 
terranean. They will try to seep through SoutHeast Asia, not 
by force of arms but by the injection of subversive ideas in 
regions which provide the classical conditions for the recep- 
tion of Communist dogmas. These regions combine illiteracy 
and economic underdevelopment with poverty and wide- 
spread unemployment. 

Since the last war Asia has loomed large on the global 
horizon, and in Asia Communist China has the advantage of 
working in an area which Soviet Russia has "softened up" 
over a period of thirty years. Like the Japanese who before 
the last war preached "Asian co-prosperity" when they meant 
Japanese prosperity, the Russians had preached freedom for 
Asia when their design was to substitute Soviet domination 
for Western domination. A great many Asian countries real- 
ized this with time; but when the Communists seized power 
in China, Asia tended to look starry-eyed at Peking with a 
mixture of friendly interest, admiration, and sympathy. Later 
came fear and, with it, caution. In the early years of Commu- 
nist rule in China, Mao Tse-tung and his henchmen cate- 
gorized countries such as India, Burma, Thailand, and the 
Philippines as "colonial and semicolonial" lands whom the 
Communists should "liberate." In November, 1948, a year 
after India achieved independence, Liu Shao-chi, who has 
been elected to succeed Mao Tse-tung as Chairman of the 
Chinese People's Republic, in his book Internationalism and 
Nationalism called on the Communists in Asian countries to 
"adopt" a firm and irreconcilable policy against national be- 
trayal by the reactionary section of the bourgeoisie, especially 
the big bourgeoisie which has already surrendered to im- 
perialism. If this were not done it would be a grave mistake. 
Naturally when Peking talked of "liberation" it meant being 
"liberated" to Communism. 

214 The Revolt in Tibet 

Though Liu's call was directed to the indigenous Reds, it 
was also an invitation to the fifth columns within the Over- 
seas Chinese to overthrow their "bourgeois" regimes. In this 
dewey-eyed period China posed as the savior of all Asia, the 
Communist Moses who would lead the downtrodden peo- 
ples of Asia into the Promised Land. There were, as we saw, 
to be shifts and changes in this original line, but the general 
strategy was to remain consistent. "All Overseas Chinese/' 
said Ho Hsiang-ming, director of Overseas Chinese Affairs 
in April, 1950, "should unite, support the motherland, and 
strengthen their unity. Strong and broad patriotic unity 
among all Overseas Chinese, irrespective of class, occupation, 
political views, or religious beliefs should be developed/' 
Peking evidently lost no time in organizing and mobilizing 
its shock brigades abroad. After the developments in Tibet 
this process is likely to be intensified, and pressure brought 
to bear on those Overseas Chinese still reluctant to commit 
themselves to Peking. 

Singapore, Malaya, and Indonesia, along with Burma, will 
probably be the focal points of this infiltration, though South- 
east Asia as a whole, with its large Chinese communities, is 
generally vulnerable. Burma has been bedeviled in her rela- 
tions with both Peking and Taiwan, for Kuomintang troops, 
retreating before the Communists, were at one time settled 
in fairly large numbers * in northern Burma along the Chi- 
nese and Thai borders. America's good offices have more 
recently been used to persuade Chiang Kai-shek to withdraw 
them from the country. The dispute with the Chinese Com- 
munists, on the other hand, concerns Upper Burma where a 
triangular northern tip of territory, comprising some 75,000 
square miles, abuts on Yunnan. The greater part of this dis- 
puted line was settled by 1941, when the war interrupted the 
negotiations, but a considerable stretch north of 25 35' north 

* Estimated at around 12,000. 

Agonizing Reappraisal 215 

latitude remained unsettled, and gave the Communists an 
opportunity to use the stratagem of shifting frontiers in a 
region where borders and boundaries are largely notional. 
In 1955, as we saw, the Communist Chinese marched their 
troops into the Kla States on the plea that the boundary was 
vaguely demarcated. This area, it has been claimed by both 
the Nationalists and the Communists, was part of a state 
which had paid tribute to China since the Tang dynasty in 
the seventh century. In 1947 the Nationalist Government 
laid claim to the northern triangle, but the Burmese Gov- 
ernment reacted strongly. When the Communists seized 
power in China they neither reiterated the Nationalist claim 
nor renounced it, preferring to leave the position ambiguous 
until circumstances favored direct intrusion. The 1955 in- 
cursion is a portent of things to come, but the Burmese 
Government will probably be as unyielding as it was with 
the Nationalists in 1947. Inside Burma the Communists have 
been weakened by factionalism and, though offering fitful 
opposition to the government, constitute no immediate 
threat. More dangerous and insidious are the 300,000 Over- 
seas Chinese in Burma. 

In Indochina, Peking has its shock brigades in the Com- 
munist Government of North Vietnam headed by the faithful 
Ho Chi-minh. This Red baliwick covers approximately 
62,000 square miles with its capital at Hanoi, and through 
it Peking seeks to stir up trouble in the southern Republic 
of Vietnam and in Cambodia, having already done so in 
Laos. Indochina, north and south, contains around one 
million Chinese, and its proximity to China which lowers 
over it to the north, makes it an easy and obvious prey. 

In Thailand and Indonesia the national governments have 
cracked down vigorously on any infiltration move by the 
Chinese. Thailand maintains diplomatic relations with the 
Nationalists and is vigilant in its scrutiny and control of its 

si 6 The Revolt in Tibet 

Chinese population, which numbers nearly three million. 
Adjacent to Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, it is sensitive and 
susceptible to* pressures in this area, whether generally Chi- 
nese or specifically Communist. Thailand is not afraid of 
Communism. Thailand is afraid of China. Throughout 
Southeast Asia every regime following the Manchu dynasty 
has sought to expand Chinese influence, and Thailand, 
which tried to preserve a precarious independence between 
the contending rivalries of France and Britain, only to be 
overrun by the Japanese in the last war, does not relish the 
prospect of being subject to another manifestation of Chi- 
nese chauvinism which is Han Communism. 

Sukarno's government once came down heavily on the Na- 
tionalist Chinese by closing their schools, newspapers, and 
banks and rounding up their leaders, but Indonesia, with its 
totalitarian tendencies, might still be more susceptible to 
Chinese Communist influences than most other areas in 
Southeast Asia. The Chinese number over two million in 
Indonesia and, despite Chou En-lai's much propagandized 
appeal to be good and loyal citizens, they know that Peking 
does not spurn such local citizens as potential Chinese citi- 
zens. They realize only too well that they are Peking's fifth 
column in Indonesia, and many of them appreciate their 
role and are prepared to play it. 

Singapore, with its preponderating Chinese majority, as 
well as the Malayan mainland, whose population is 45 per 
cent Chinese, would appear to be more vulnerable than Indo- 
nesia to the threats and blandishments of Peking. But both 
these regions, having had a taste of Communist violence in 
the prolonged bandit insurrection, might be expected to 
know not only what the Communists do but what Commu- 
nism is. Unfortunately, in Singapore the results of the latest 
elections show that Peking has found fertile soil in the con- 

Agonizing Reappraisal 217 

tentious class conflicts which assail that island, proving one 
fact that the future of the Overseas Chinese will be spelled 
out in local terms and measured largely by local problems, 
although the achievements or setbacks of the mainland Com- 
munists will undoubtedly help to tilt the scales one way or 
the other. Taiwan offers no practical alternative to Peking. 
But more and more Chinese intellectuals and businessmen 
in Malaya, disillusioned by the fate of their class in Com- 
munist China, are beginning to think again. 

In the Overseas Chinese Peking has a weapon, at once 
secret and overt, which the democracies would be foolish to 
discount or dismiss. The Red-inclined among them can and 
are being used, as they will be employed in the near future, 
for various purposes to incite unrest and provoke strife, to 
serve as the advance guards of Communist infiltration, to 
work as spies and contact men, to be exploited as alibis for 
sudden intervention. They are the Praetorian guard within 
the citadel and among the forces of Communist expansion- 

To counter their insidious influence will be a difficult 
task, for through them the Chinese Communists hope to 
breach the walls which ring the countries of Southeast Asia. 
The one sure way of countering Communist China's divisive 
moves is by the rapid growth of a free Southeast Asia where 
the Overseas Chinese, as members of a free country and com- 
munity, would be assimilated in this region's multiracial 
polyglot fabric and by their industry, enterprise, purpose- 
fulness, and skills help in the creation of strong, independent 
Southeast Asian governments. A move has already been made 
in this direction with the establishment of self-government 
on the Malayan mainland and the first elections in Singapore. 
But it is worth noting that the government elected is pro- 
Communist. The Marshall Plan forced the Soviet steam- 

2i8 The Revolt in Tibet 

roller into reverse in Europe. An Asian Marshall Plan might 
yet salvage that continent from Communism and stop the 
Chinese juggernaut in its tracks. 

Is Russia as complacent as she seems over the aggressive 
thrust of Communist China in Asia? If India were to be 
converted to or coerced into Communism, Moscow would be 
faced by a mammoth land mass peopled, along with China, 
by over one-third of the world's population, and capable, 
despite the Atomic Age, of trading space for time and num- 
bers for nuclear power. It is in Soviet Russia's interests that 
Asia should not be made Communist too quickly. Just as 
Peking has been wary of Russia as a potential threat to her 
northern and northwestern flanks in the frontier regions of 
Manchuria, Mongolia, and Sinkiang, so also Moscow is 
acutely sensitive to the threat posed by the presence of an 
Asian colossus which is also Communist along the exposed 
southeastern border of Soviet Russia. What has been de- 
scribed as "a muted controversy" has been proceeding for 
some time between Communism's two leading protagonists, 
and it dates back even before Khrushchev and the final as- 
cendancy of Mao in China. Mao's tactics in the struggle 
against the Kuomintang deviated from orthodox Commu- 
nist methodology, which had stipulated that in colonial or 
semicolonial countries the proletariat or urban workers must 
spearhead the revolution against capitalist-colonial power. 
China's revolution was achieved successfully by the peasantry. 
Peking has acknowledged itself as an ally of Moscow but 
never as its satellite. Stalin had presented a characteristically 
ambivalent front toward Mao, and shortly after Potsdam 
had signed a treaty with Chiang Kai-shek. Not until late in 
1954, when Khrushchev and Bulganin visited China, were 
Sino-Russian relations made normalized. They have yet to 
be stabilized. Mao for a brief period in 1956 seemed to en- 
courage the Polish Communists to break away from Mos- 

Agonizing Reappraisal 219 

cow's apron strings, while during the interlude of the llh^rti- 
dred flowers" Chinese suspicions of Russian designs on the 
peripheral provinces of China were freely expressed. More 
recently the differences came to a head with the introduc- 
tion of communes into China, which Khrushchev scoffed at 
as an exploded experiment in which Russia had unsuccess- 
fully indulged. At the root of this quarrel was Moscow's 
suspicion that China was "growing assertive and was too big 
for its boots" and was aspiring to the political and ideological 
leadership of the Communist fold. Though Moscow sup- 
ported Peking in its action on Tibet, the tone of its approval 
was noticeably lukewarm. 

All of which demonstrates that conflict is endemic as much 
within the Communist system as between the totalitarian 
and democratic worlds. If Moscow in Europe and Peking in 
Asia each set out to conquer new worlds, the success of each 
can end only in a head-on collision between both. 

Tibet's tragedy underlines many lessons for Asia and the 
world, revealing at once the strength and weakness of the 
Communist doctrine and system. There can be neither com- 
promise nor coexistence with Communism. Monolithic in 
its structure, it represents the resurrection of a brute force 
which, believing that might is right, would return to the 
laws of the jungle trampling on the weak and the helpless, 
stamping out the smallest spark of individualism, caring 
nothing for personal freedom or human honor, respecting 
neither the dignity of man nor the right of small countries 
to live their own lives. 

Tibet is dead. But if in dying it has taught a lesson that 
will save Asia from the monstrous fate which befell it, Tibet, 
with Asia's awakening to the real character of Communist 
cruelty and tyranny, might yet be revived and live again. 



On September 8th, while in Delhi, I was able to have an in- 
terview with the Dalai Lama and to assess something of his 
personality, outlook, and opinions. I had seen him earlier in 
Mussoorie in May but had not met him or spoken to him. 

His Holiness has an extremely affable and agreeable per- 
sonality. He is, moreover, a perceptive and intelligent young 
man, well informed on certain matters and eager to know 
more on various topics. His manner is friendly, almost infor- 
mal, and he asked me about as many questions as I asked him. 
What struck me most was the sense of loneliness and nostalgia 
which he exuded and which made his conversation in a way 
pathetic and touching. Had I seen much of the world, he 
inquired. I replied that I had seen a fair deal. Had I been 
to China. Yes, twice; once under Kuomintang and again 
under the Communists. 


With the Dalai Lama 

He spoke then of China and of Tibet. When in 1 550 Ae 
Tibetans through El Salvador had taken their case against 
China to the United Nations, India, said His boliness, had 
expressed her belief that the dispute could be settled peace- 
fully and by negotiation. Largely on that assurance the other 
nations had agreed that the matter should not be discussed 
further and that the appeal should be withdrawn. This was 
done. A Sino-Tibetan agreement had subsequently been 
signed in 1951, only to be broken by the Chinese, who had 
later resorted to force. Should not India, asked His Holiness, 
support Tibet's latest appeal to the United Nations in the 
circumstances? I replied that in my opinion India certainly 
should, though our prime minister had already indicated his 
mind on the matter. 

Evidently the possibility of a Sino-Soviet rift, should Mos- 
cow draw nearer to the West, weighs on Tibetan minds, for 
His Holiness asked my opinion on the Khrushchev-Eisen- 
hower meeting. I answered at some length. It was a mistake 
to assume that there were no inner conflicts and contradic- 
tions within the Communist camp. In India only recently we 
had seen the spectacle of the Kerala chief minister, Mr. 
Namboodiripad, conditionally accepting Mr. Nehru's sug- 
gestion for midterm elections, only to be repudiated by the 
National Council of the Communist Party. It was my feel- 
ing, I said, that Russia was not at all anxious that India 
should go Communist so quickly, for otherwise Moscow, 
checkmated in Europe, would be faced with the great land 
mass of India and China backed up by their tremendous 
populations. It followed that if China secured the mastery of 
Asia, and Russia was predominant in Europe, the next 
head-on collision would be between the two of them. 

From the Dalai Lama's animated appearance it was obvious 
that he was interested in that line of argument. I asked him 
what his own views were on it. He shrugged his shoulders, 

222 The Revolt in Tibet 

boyish, strangely wistful smile suddenly lit his face. 

"I don't know/' he said with an air of helplessness. "I've 
never seriously thought about it." Perhaps he was reluctant 
to express his own view, and one could understand that. 

Only on one issue, when I observed that Peking made 
promises only to break them, was he verbally forthright. 

"That," remarked the Dalai Lama, "is the way of the 
Communist Chinese." 

I asked him who he believed would take up Tibet's case 
before the United Nations. He replied somewhat somberly 
that he did not know, but implied, though he did not directly 
say so, that he was consulting "some of the smaller nations." 
Whether he had in mind his legal consultations with Nor- 
way's Trygve Lie, who had declined the brief, or whether 
he had in view some of the smaller Afro-Asian countries it 
was difficult to decipher, and obviously unfair to press and 

Would His Holiness be going to the United Nations him- 

He smiled again but was noncommittal. "I should like to 
go on a world tour," he said in a seeming burst of candor. 
"But always I shall return to India." 

The Dalai Lama finally said he had heard I was writing a 
book on Tibet. The world, he added, should know the truth. 

His Holiness spoke throughout in Tibetan, but it was no- 
ticeable that he could follow some of the simpler, more 
direct, questions in English. Apart from the interpreter the 
only other person present was a junior official of the Indian 
External Affairs Ministry. On coming in I had presented the 
ceremonial white silk scarf, but on leaving, His Holiness 
shook hands warmly. His grip is strong and firm. 

I left him with strangely mixed feelings, for the Dalai 
Lama, while he gives the impression of being acutely un- 
happy over his country's fate (which indeed he is), also con- 

With the Dalai Lama 223 

veys an impression of relief as of one momentari 1 7 *c <jned 
from oppressive burdens. The mixture of ^boyishness and 
maturity, of melancholy combined with an intrinsic gaiety of 
spirit and charm, is also noticeable. 

What has the future in store for him and his country? It is 
doubtful if he will ever return to Tibet and if the Commu- 
nists, as long as they rule China, will ever release their grip 
on his hapless and forlorn land. The Dalai Lama is prob- 
ably doomed to rove our planet without a visa; but the fate 
of his country, accentuated by the barefaced repudiation of 
China's commitments to India on the MacMahon Line, 
stresses a moral. Communist pledges are no better than pie- 
crust made only to be broken. 

September 12, 1959 FRANK MORAES