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Background Developments and the Political Setting

  • George Ginsburgs
  • Michael Mathos

Abstract

Whereas the actual extent of Chinese control in Tibet varied markedly over the years, depending on the stability of the Central Government, its military power and other political factors, domestic as well as foreign, the thesis has generally been upheld that, in spite of all temporary fluctuations, de jure the status of Tibet was that of a component of the Chinese State, quasi-independent internally, but subject to Chinese suzerainty and represented by Peking in all matters of international diplomacy. True, such a legal formula is itself thoroughly ambiguous, and has led to chronic learned controversy as to its import, the end of which is nowhere in sight.1 It is surely not the place here to review or try to unravel once again all the many technical arguments pro and con the definition advanced above. It is submitted, however, that the following set of propositions may perhaps best identify the constants in the disputed question and describe the conjuncture of events as it appeared in the beginning of 1949, i.e., before the advent of the Chinese Communists to power on the mainland and prior to the point where that prospect became a certainty.

Keywords

Prime Minister Background Development Fourth Rank Tibetan Region Political Setting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. 1.
    For differing points of view on the legal and historical status of Tibet vis-à-vis China, see Tieh-Tseng Li, The Historical Status of Tibet (New York, 1956); idem, “The Legal Position of Tibet,” American Journal of International Law, Vol. 50, No. 2, PP. 394-404 (April, 1956); Charles H. Alexandrowicz-Alexander, “The Legal Position of Tibet,” ibid., Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 265-274 (April, 1954).Google Scholar
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    According to F. Moraes, op. cit., p. 69, the validity of the treaty may also be questioned by virtue of the fact that “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,” claiming that a copy of the document was not submitted to the Dalai Lama until that time and even then under pressure of force and that his approval was “not only obtained under duress but enforced by chicanery.” This is controverted by facts. The Dalai Lama himself admits in his memoirs, p. 88, that he learned of the terms of the agreement in a broadcast over Radio Peking while he was still at Yatung, out of reach of any Chinese and therefore free to reject it at once. He again had an opportunity to do so when he met Chang Ching-Wu alone at Yatung, without fear of reprisal. On neither occasion was the attempt made, so that the charge of duress and chicanery fails. By the time the God-king had returned to Lhasa he was fully familiarized with the contents of the treaty signed in his name and by his behavior had already indicated tacit approval of its provisions.Google Scholar
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    As a distinct mark of the Dalai Lama’s temporal authority he is given the unique title of official of the first rank.Google Scholar
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    With the proviso that in exceptional cases a legal decision might be rendered by the Dalai Lama himself.Google Scholar
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    In 1928, for instance, when the Po tribes in north-east Tibet revolted against Lhasa’s officials, the Central Government sent a punitive expedition to pacify them, and three years later annexed the territory within the regular administrative fabric of Tibet. The local ruler, one of the last of the minor princelings who in the past ruled over the eastern outskirts of Tibet escaped to India where he died. G. N. Roerich, Trails to Inmost Asia (New H aven, 1931), P. 470; J. Hanbury-Tracy, Black River of Tibet (London, 1938), p. 162.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Ginsburgs
    • 1
  • Michael Mathos
    • 2
  1. 1.State University of IowaUSA
  2. 2.Planning Research CorporationUSA

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