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Relations With Tibet 

Relations With Tibet 

  • Tibet lies to the north of India where the Himalayan peaks separate it from India.
  • It was ruled by a Buddhist religious aristocracy (the Lamas) who had reduced the local population to serfdom and even slavery.
  • The chief political authority was exercised by the Dalai Lama, who claimed to be the living incarnation of the power of the Buddha.
  • The lamas wanted to isolate Tibet from the rest of the world; however, since the beginning of the 17th century, Tibet had recognized the nominal suzerainty of the Chinese Empire.
  • The Chinese Government also discouraged contacts with India though a limited trade and some pilgrim traffic between India and Tibet existed.
  • The Chinese Empire under the Manchu monarchy entered a period of decline during the 19th century.
  • Gradually, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, and the United States of America penetrated China commercially and politically and established indirect political control over the Manchus.
  • The Chinese people also created a powerful anti-Manchu and anti-imperialist nationalist movement at the end of the 19th century and the Manchus were overthrown ‘in 1911.
  • But the nationalists led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen failed to consolidate their power and China was torn by civil war during the next few years.
  • The result was that, China, since the middle of the 19th century, was in no position to assert even nominal control over Tibet.
  • The Tibetan authorities still acknowledged in theory Chinese over lordship so that other foreign powers would not feel tempted to penetrate Tibet.
  • But Tibet was not able to maintain its complete isolation for long.
  • Both Britain and Russia were keen to promote relations with Tibet.
  • The British policy towards Tibet was governed by both economic and political considerations.
  • Economically, the British wanted to develop lndo-Tibetan trade and to exploit its rich mineral resources.
  • Politically, the British wanted to safeguard the northern frontier of India.
  • But up to the end of the 19th century, the Tibetan authorities blocked all British efforts to penetrate it.
  • At this time, Russian ambitions also turned towards Tibet.
  • Russian influence in Tibet was on the increase, this the British Government would not tolerate.
  • The Government of India, under Load Curzon, a vigorous empire builder, decided to take immediate action to counter Russian moves and to bring Tibet under its system of protected Border States.
  • According to some historians, the Russian danger was not real and was merely used as an excuse by Curzon to intervene in Tibet.
  • In March 1904, Curzon dispatched a military expedition to Lhasa, the Capital of Tibet, under Francis Younghusband.

  • The virtually unarmed Tibetans, who lacked modern weapons, fought back bravely but without success.
  • In August 1904, the expedition reached Lhasa without coming across any Russians on the way.
  • A treaty was signed after prolonged negotiations.
  • Tibet had to pay Rs. 25 lakhs as indemnity; the Chumbi valley was to be occupied by the British for three years; a British trade mission was to be stationed at Gyantse.
  • The British agreed not to interfere in Tibet’s internal affairs.
  • On their part, the Tibetans agreed not to admit the representatives of any foreign power into Tibet.
  • The British achieved very little by the Tibetan expedition.
  • It secured Russia’s withdrawal from Tibet, but at the cost of confirming Chinese suzerainty.

Relations With Tibet  – Relations With Tibet  – Relations With Tibet –  Relations With Tibet – Relations With Tibet

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