Return to Article Details The Historical Status of China’s Tibet (part 2)

The Historical Status of China’s Tibet

Wang Jiawei & Nyima Gyaincain

Chapter III 

Ming Dynasty’s Policy of Enfieffment And Tribute-Related Trade

        The Yuan Dynasty was toppled in 1368, making way for the Ming Dynasty (1368 -1644). The new dynasty continued the effective rule over Tibet, with the emperor maintaining the emperor-minister relationship with administrative and religious leaders in the Tibetan areas.

     Van Praag and Xagabba, however, claim the Ming Dynasty held no interest in Tibet and the Ming emperor regarded Tibet as an independent state to the west and sought only harmony between the Han and Tibetan peoples through a lama-patron relationship.

     Let us closely examine these fallacies.

     In 1369 or the second year after Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty in Nanjing, the emperor sent an imperial edict to Tibet, ordering various tribal leaders to show submission to the Ming Dynasty. The edict says that Zhu Yuanzhang, “who has conquered the whole country with force, has become the emperor of the Ming Dynasty...The edict is issued because Tubo, located in the west, may not have received the news of China’s unification.” (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu, Vol. 42) Also in that year, Emperor Taizu dispatched Xu Yongde, an official from Shaanxi Province, to deliver a second edict to Tibet. This edict “calls on various tribal leaders to recommend ex-Yuan officials to receive new official posts in Nanjing.” (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu, Vol. 79) The fact that the Ming emperor sent edicts to Tibet twice in the second year of the Ming Dynasty, urging with sincerity various Tibetan tribes to submit to the authority of the Ming court, shows that the far-sighted founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty attached great importance to this remote part of the world.

     In the late Yuan Dynasty, the Tibetan areas were part of the hereditary lands of the Mongol Prince Punala, the fifth-generation offspring of Olutri, the seventh son of Kublai Khan. When the Ming emperor’s edicts were sent to the Tibetan areas, Punala went to Nanjing to pay tributes to the Ming court and show his allegiance in 1371, bringing along the seal of authority issued by the Yuan court. The Yuan seal was taken away by the Ming court, but Punala was given an official post. Namgyal Palzangpo, the last acting Imperial Tutor of the Yuan Dynasty, who had withdrawn to live near the Sagya Monastery, upon receipt of the Ming imperial edict that listed ex-Yuan officials, went to Nanjing to show his allegiance in 1373. Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu was so glad that he appointed Namgyal Palzangpo “State Tutor” and bestowed him a jade seal of authority. Namgyal Palzangpo recommended more than 100 ex-Yuan officials in U-Tsang and other Tibetan areas:

     The Ming Dynasty offered all of these former Yuan officials new positions in the Ming government. Following suit, lay and monk leaders in U-Tsang and other Tibetan areas went to pledge allegiance to the Ming Dynasty in Nanjing. They paid tributes and handed in seals of authority issued by the Yuan Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty appointed them new positions and issued them seals of authority. This situation found its way into another imperial edict of Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu to the Tibetan areas:

     “My country is ordered by the Heaven to rule the surrounding areas with kindness...Yuan officials in Dbus and Gtsang and Dokhams, such as those with the Grand Ministry of Education, various Pacification Commissioner’s Offices, Commands, wanhu (10,000-household) offices and qianhu (1,000-household) offices, as recommended by the acting Imperial Tutor Namgyal Palzangpo, came from afar to the court. They were all given official positions with a view to pacifying various tribes...I the sovereign, am pleased with his coming from afar...and made him the State Tutor and bestowed him with a jade seal of authority; and Namgesidain Bayegyainzang and others were appointed officials in Dokhams, and Dbus and Gtsang. They were all given seals of authority. All officials must follow the law of the court and work for peace and stability in their own areas. All monks must urge people to do good things so as to enjoy peace,” (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu, Vol. 79)

     These historical materials show that the Ming Dynasty, through issuing imperial edicts to invite ex-Yuan officials to the court for official positions in the early years of its founding, won submissions from ex-Yuan religious and administrative leaders in the Tibetan areas, thereby incorporating Tibetan areas into the rule of the Ming court. Thus, the Ming court won the power to rule Tibetan areas formerly under the rule of the Yuan Dynasty.

     The Ming Dynasty basically followed the system introduced by the Yuan Dynasty in exercising rule over the Tibetan areas. There were changes only to the names of official posts, with, for example, the “Acting Imperial Tutor” renamed “Buddhist Treasure State Tutor.” Seals of authority issued by the Yuan Dynasty were abandoned and replaced with new seals issued by the Ming court. In terms of methods used to rule Tibet, however, those followed by the Ming Dynasty were different from those followed by the Yuan Dynasty. The changes were made to cope with changes taking place in the Tibetan areas and to the imperial court of the Ming Dynasty.

     The following facts offer some insights into situations with regard of the Tibetan areas.

     During the Yuan Dynasty, of the few sects of Tibetan Buddhism, the emperor cultivated the Sagya Sect. As a result, the Sagya Sect held sway for a prolonged period of time in U-Tsang and Ngari, both religiously and politically. Towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty and in the early years of the Ming Dynasty, the Gagyu Sect rose to take the place of the Sagya Sect in rule over the bulk of areas of U-Tsang. The Gagyu Sect was sub-divided into certain small sects. Although the Sagya Sect was declining in forces, its existence was still a fact to be considered. Before long, the Gelug Sect rose, to form a situation in which various Buddhist sects co-existed in the Tibetan areas. There is a Tibetan saying: “Each place speaks one accent, and each monastery follows its own laws.” Given the situation, the Ming Dynasty refrained from acting like the Yuan Dynasty, which gave special support only to the Sagya Sect. In carrying out policy of pacification, the Ming Dynasty granted various new offices and titles of honor to leaders of various religious sects that ruled their own areas.

     The Ming Dynasty appointed three Princes of Dharma and five lesser princes.

     Prince of Dharma was the highest position among all monk officials. The Great Treasure Prince of Dharma was the leader of the three Princes of Dharma in terms of position. This office was granted to the Living Buddha Curpu Garmaba. In 1406 or the fourth year of the reign of Emperor Yongle, the Living Buddha Curpu Garmaba Dexin Xieba of the Garma Gagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, upon invitation from the Ming Dynasty Emperor Yongle, visited Nanjing. The following year, he was made the Great Treasure Prince of Dharma. This honorary title was formerly bestowed by the Yuan Dynasty court on Sagya Pagba. As the Sagya Sect had been overtaken by the Garma Gagyu Sect in terms of forces, the Ming Dynasty court appointed the Living Buddha Curpu Garmaba as the Great Treasure Prince of Dharma, making him the chief of Tibetan Buddhism at the time. Some disciples of the Living Buddha Curpu Garmaba were also made Grand State Tutors or State Tutors.

     The second Price of Dharma refers to the Great Vehicle Prince of Dharma, bestowed to the Prince of Dharma of the Sagya Sect, which was still powerful at that time. In 1413, the Sagya Sect sent Monk Gunga Zhaxi to Nanjing upon invitation by the emperor. Ming Dynasty Emperor Chengzu appointed him the Great Vehicle Prince of Dharma, with a position second only to the Great Treasure Price of Dharma.

     The third Prince of Dharma refers to the Great Mercy Prince of Dharma. The Ming Dynasty highly valued the role of the Gelug Sect founded by Zongkapa. The Ming Emperor Chenzu sent for Zongkapa. Due to old age and physical weakness, and also because of efforts being made to build the three major monasteries, Zongkapa did not travel to Nanjing. Sagya Yeshes, one of Zongkapa’s disciples, went to Nanjing in 1414 on his behalf. In the following year, Ming Dynasty Emperor Chengzu made Sagya Yeshes the Grand State Tutor. In 1434 or the ninth year of the reign of Ming Emperor Xuande, Sagya Yeshes visited for the second time the capital of the Ming Dynasty, which had moved from Nanjing to Beijing. Ming Dynasty Emperor Xanzong made him the Great Mercy Prince of Dharma.

     All three Princes of Dharma were made hereditary from master to disciple or through reincarnation, free from the necessity to gain further appointment from the Ming court. All three Princess of Dharma set great store by the titles of honor bestowed on them by the Ming Dynasty emperor. For example, the living Buddha Curpu Garmaba always considers himself to be the leader of Tibetan Buddhism traced to the position given to him by the Ming Dynasty emperor. The Living Buddha Curpu Garmaba, who went abroad in 1959, once challenged the position as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism enjoyed by the 14th Dalai Lama, claiming the 5th Dalai Lama had illegally seized the position as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism enjoyed by his predecessor in the early 17th century, and state his determination to resume the position. The 14th Dalai Lama could do almost nothing to retaliate.

     In addition to the three Princes of Dharma, the Ming Dynasty granted the title of Prince to religious and administrative leaders in several Tibetan areas, a position which was lower in rank than a Princes of Dharma but higher than that of Grand State Tutor and State Tutor. Altogether, the Ming emperor appointed five such Princes. The first was the Prince of Persuasion granted in 1406 or the fourth year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle to Zhaba Gyaincain, chief of the Phagmo Drupa Sect: the second was the Promotion Prince of Virtue granted in 1407 or the fifth year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle to Zusibal Gyainzang, a monk in Lingzang (Dengkelingcong), Dokhams; the third was the Guardian Prince of Doctrine granted in 1407 or the fifth year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle to Namge Bazangpo, a monk in Guanjor, Dokhams; the fourth was the Propagation Prince of Doctrine granted in 1413 or the 11th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle to Linzenbal Gyaigyanzang, a monk with the Zhigung Gagyu Sect; and the fifth was the Assistant Prince of Doctrine granted in 1415 or the 13th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle to Namkelisba, a monk with the Sagya Sect.

     These five princes were all given land. Upon their death, their successors had to submit to the Ming Dynasty court seeking a fresh appointment. All five Princes attached great importance to the honor they received from the Ming Dynasty court. In writing official documents, they tended to add “Prince” before their names. Lincang Jigmei, an offspring of the Promotion Prince of Virtue, is a member of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). He cherishes in his home several historical documents in which the Ming Dynasty emperor appointed his predecessor the Promotion Prince of Virtue.

     These clearly show that the Ming Dynasty placed great importance upon rule over Tibet and exercised full sovereignty over Tibet. It is therefore absolutely ridiculous for Xagabba and Van Praag to say that the Ming Dynasty showed no interest in Tibet and regarded Tibet as an “independent state” in the west.

     Let us also take a closer look at changes in the Ming Dynasty court.

     The Ming Dynasty, which toppled the Yuan Dynasty and took control of China, was not as powerful in national military might as the Yuan had been. Although the Ming Dynasty court was harsh enough to punish law-breaking Tibetan officials, it refrained from sending troops to subdue   Tibet or from garrisoning troops in Tibet. However, exploiting the fact that the local forces of Tibet could survive and fare well only with the support of the emperor, the Ming Dynasty court granted official posts and titles of honor to local Tibetan leaders, who vied to pay tribute to the Ming Dynasty court, and granted them handsome rewards. The Ming Dynasty was very successful in expanding influence in the Tibetan areas and in strengthening ties with local forces through these measures.

     Lay and monk leaders in the Tibetan areas controlled by the Ming Dynasty court were required to pay tribute to the Ming Dynasty court within stipulated periods of time. Their tributes included domesticated animals, animal hides. Tibetan wool, medicinal materials, Tibetan incenses, bronze statues and painting scrolls of Buddha, and native produce and arts and crafts. The Ming Dynasty court granted gifts to people sent to pay the tribute. These gifts, which amounted to several times the value of the tributes, included gold, silver, silk, satin, cloth, tea and grain. The move was made as a token of care for the Tibetan areas. Thanks to rich gifts, which benefited the tribute payers, there were increasing numbers of people traveling to the Ming Dynasty court to offer tribute. According to the Ming Dynasty Board of Rites, the number of tribute payers rose from 30 to 40 people between the 1420s and the 1440s to some 300 visitors in the 1450s. This figure rose dramatically to some 2,000 to 3,000 people in the 1460s.

     A situation characteristic of “incessant flow of tribute payers and handsome rewards” took place in the 1457-1464 periods Tribute payers shuttling between the Ming court and their own areas were actually what we would today call trade delegations. This situation forced the Ming Dynasty court to put a limit on the number of tribute payers and the number of tribute-paying times a Tibetan area could make within a given period of time. The special economic contact between the Ming Dynasty court and the lay and monk officials of Tibetan areas under the control of the Ming Dynasty, which took the form of the later paying tribute to the former and the former offering gifts to the later, played an important role in the Ming Dynasty court’s administration over the Tibetan areas.

     In addition, the tea-horse trade between the Han and the Tibetan areas, which had been going on since the Song Dynasty, gained fresh ground during the Ming Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty court set up special organs for unified management over the tea-horse trade in present-day Linxia, Tianshui and Lintan of Gansu, and Ya’an and Songpan of Sichuan. As the government-sponsored tea-horse trading markets failed to cope with the growing Han demand for horses and Tibetan demand for tea, diversified forms of rural fairs rose in total disregard of government control. Going with the flow, the Ming Dynasty court gave special permission to Tibetan officials and civilians to enter into direct trade with the Han business people. The Ming Dynasty court also allowed tribute payers to cash in on their presence in Han areas to transport tea back home. The flourishing tea-horse trade fostered closer relations between the Han and the Tibetans as well as between the Tibetan peoples and other ethnic minorities. In the meantime, it furthered the rule of the Ming Dynasty court over Tibet. This is the “tribute-related trade” policy followed by the Ming Dynasty court.

     Therefore, granting official titles to Tibetan leaders and encouraging tribute-related trade were policies of the Ming Dynasty that differed from those of the Yuan Dynasty. These were also special methods used by the Ming court to rule the Tibetan areas.

     Turning a blind eye to historical facts, Van Praag says the emperors of the Ming Dynasty were satisfied with keeping up friendly ties with the Tibetan rulers and mutual exchanges of diplomatic delegations that were undertaken only to cope with the incessant and often very urgent demand in China for horses. When Van Praag says this, he is making two ridiculous mistakes:

  1. Using “Diplomatic Delegations” to Describe People Sent to Beijing From the Tibetan Areas.

     People with the slightest knowledge of the work know that “diplomatic” can only be used when referring to officials from different countries. Dbus and Gtsang and Dokhams were Tibetan areas subject to rule by the Ming Dynasty. Administrative and religious leaders of these Tibetan areas received official positions from the Ming Dynasty court. As Ming officials, they obeyed the Ming emperor. When they or people they sent went to the Ming capital, they were undertaking domestic affairs, not foreign diplomacy. They were not “diplomatic delegations” at all. If a local Dutch official was sent to visit the Queen in her Amsterdam palace, would Van Praag call this a “diplomatic mission?”

  1. Confusing “Offering Gifts to Tribute Payers” and “Tea-Horse Trade” with “Demanding Horse Corvee.”

     The Ming Dynasty did seek large numbers of horses from the Tibetan areas, but mainly through “tea-horse trade” and “demanding horse corvee.” The “tea-horse trade” refers to trading Han tea for Tibetan horses; “demanding horse corvee” refers to demanding horses as paid corvee. Historical books record that in 1398 Li Jinglong “went to western Tubo to trade tea for horses. He traded some 250,000 kg of tea for 13,518 horses.” (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu, Vol.256) In 1432, Liu Zao, a governor of the Hezhou (Lingxia) and Xining area, reported that “of the 3,296 horses owned by Xining and other areas under the jurisdiction of U, some 2,300horses have been traded and delivered to the army.” (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Xuanzong Vol.97)

     When the religious and administrative leaders of Tibetan areas or people they sent visited the capital of the Ming Dynasty, they brought horses or other articles as tribute. For example, in 1379 when Tibetans visited the Ming capital, their tribute included hats and cotton. (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu, Vol.142, p.4) Tribute paid in 1448 included horses, woolen fabrics and statues of the Buddha. (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Yingzong, Vol.166 and 327) Tribute paid in 1461 included woolen fabrics (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Shengzong. Vol.570) Other tribute paid included Tibetan incense, Tibetan velvet and medicinal materials. When Great Vehicle Prince of Dharma Namkezhashe Gyaincain Bazangpo of the Sagya Sect sent a report to the Ming Dynasty court, he said that he had “paid tribute including cast statues, portraits, Buddhist relics, beast of burden, horses, helmets, woolen fabrics, and   butter.” (Translated Documents in the Western Tubo Museum) This shows that paying tribute had become a system, with tribute including mainly native produce instead of horses alone.

     Van Praag may not have read these historical materials, let alone studies this segment of history and related terms. Still, he comes to the unfounded conclusion that the Tibetan areas sent “diplomatic delegations” to the Ming Dynasty court in response to China’s need for horses. Isn’t this ridiculous?

     In his book, Xagabba devotes lengthy space to stories of how Qamqu Gyaincain of the Pagmo Drupa regime in Tibet gained control of most parts in U-Tsang and “won independence from the hands of the Mongols.” Van Praag bolsters Xagabba’s view by saying: Qamqu Gyaincain seized political power, and he and his successors continued their rule over Tibet; the power they exerted over Tibet came from within the country; in the course of wielding this power, they relied on no external forces.

     Qamqu Gyaincain was one of the 13 wanhu (10,000-household) officials who were given their official position during the Yuan Dynasty. When he won a decisive victory and gained power over the other wanhu officials, he, instead of the others, sent delegations twice to Yuandadu (present-day Beijing) to offer tribute, which included one white lion hide complete with four legs. Upon his request, the emperor bestowed upon him “a hereditary position.” (5th Dalai Lama: Records of Tibetan Kings and Ministers, p.89, translated and annotated by Liu Liqian) Only with this emperor-bestowed position could he maintain his rule over the bulk of the U-Tsang areas.

     In 1357, Yuan Dynasty Emperor Shundi sent an official to Tibet, granting Qamqu Gyaincain the official position of Education Minister. Qamqu Gyaincain accepted this grant, a fact that even Xagabba admits: “The Mongol Khan in Beijing made him Education Minister. From then on, he was referred to as Education Minister Qamqu Gyaincain.” In various Tibetan history books, references to Grand Education Minister Qamqu Gyaincain or Education Minister Qamqu Gyaincain frequently appear. His title as a Tibetan official is seldom mentioned. Qamqu Gyaincain was the Degsi (ruler) of the Pagmo Drupa regime in Tibet and also a Grand Education Minister of China’s Yuan Dynasty. In his eyes, Education Minister, an official post bestowed by the Central Government, was of greater importance than his position as Degsi. Only with this official position bestowed by the Yuan Dynasty emperor, was he able to exercise effective rule over Tibet. This shows that even in the later period of the Yuan Dynasty, the Yuan imperial court and the Pagmo Drupa regime maintained a Central-local government relation. What is more important is that Qamqu Gyaincain wrote in his will: “In the past I received loving care from the emperor in the east. If the emperor continues to care for us, please follow his edicts and the imperial envoy should be well received.” (Grand Education Minister Qamqu Gyaincain: A History of the Nam Family, Tibetan edition, p.428, translated by Zamlha Ngawang and Yu Wanzhi) Obviously, Qamqu Gyaincain was so respectful of the Yuan Dynasty emperor that he had not the slightest intention of seeking independence from the Yuan Dynasty court.

     When Qamqu Gyaincain made his will, four peasant uprisings led by Zhang Shicheng, Ming Yuzhen, Chen Youliang and Zhu Yuanzhang were in upswing. Who was to win was still a question. This situation didn’t shake Qamqug Gyaincain’s loyalty to the Central Government. He yearned for the early arrival of the Central Government envoy. His son followed his will to the letter. In the early days of the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, his son soon won the title of Abhiseca State Tutor from the imperial court. The Pagmo Drupa regime didn’t work to resist the Central Government and didn’t seek to be independent from China. Generally, such local forces often declared independent kingdoms when the various parties at the national level scrambled for domination in a country. When a new central authority was formed, the self-declared king would throw himself under the wing of the new Central Government. This situation, however, is far from the situation in which people strove to separate themselves from the Central Government.

     The Ming Dynasty paid great attention to the Pagmo Drupa regime in Tibet. At this point, the Pagmo Drupa regime was under the control of the second-generation Degsi Jamyang Sagya Gyaincain, a nephew of Qamqu Gyaincain. Although the Ming Dynasty court worked to grant official posts to as many Tibetans as possible, the Pagmo Drupa faction was charged with local administration. In 1372, Pagmo Drupa faction was charged with local administration. In 1372, Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu, Zhu Yuanzhang, sent people into Tibet, granting Jamyang Sagya Gyaincain the official title of Abhiseca State Tutor and giving him the jade seal of authority. The following year saw Jamyang Sagya Gyaincain send people to pay tribute to the Ming court. This fact shows the establishment of emperor-minister relations between the Central Government and the Pagmo Drupa regime. In 1406, Ming Dynasty Emperor Chengzu granted the 5th Degsi Zhaba Gyaincain of the Pagmo Drupa regime the official title of Abhiseca State Tutor Prince of Persuasion, and sent him the jade seal of authority, platinum, imperial edicts, silk and tea. Abhiseca State Tutor Prince of Persuasion was the leading position among the five princes recognized by the Ming Dynasty. In exercising rule over Tibet, the Ming Dynasty court relied mainly on the Pagmo Drupa regime. The Pagmo Drupa regime turned many manorial areas into Zongs (counties), establishing the Zongboin system. The Ming Dynasty granted official titles to various Zonghoin. For example, Namge Sambo (Zonghoin of Liuwu) and Namge Gyaibo (Zongboin of Renbung), both nobles under Zhaba Cyaincain, were made officials under the Dbus and Gtsang Command and granted seals of authority.

     The Pagmo Drupa regime, led by Qamqu Gyaincain and his children, was never independent from the Central Government, whether in the late period of the Yuan Dynasty or during the early period of the Ming Dynasty. It remained a local political power subject to rule   by the Central Government/

     Van Praag and Xagabba leave no stones unturned in their efforts to distort history, saying that while the 3rd Dalai Lama Soinam Gyamco maintained close ties with Althan Khan, cheftain of Mongol Tumet Tribe, his ties with the Chinese emperor became estranged.

     Of course, this is not truth.

     When Althan Khan, the 17th –generation offspring of Genghis Khan, placed himself under the rule of the Ming Dynasty, he was granted the official Ming title of Prince Shunyi in 1571. Four years later, Althan Khan requested the Chinese emperor send Tibetan lamas to lecture on Buddhism in Mongolia. In 1578, Althan Khan invited the Living Buddha Soinam Gyamco of the Gelug Sect to lecture on Buddhism in Qinghai and bestowed upon him the title of “Dalai Lama,” thus beginning the official use of the title “Dalai Lama.” The 3rd Dalai paid tribute to the Ming imperial court through Althan Khan and requested the Ming offer him an official post. He even wrote a letter to Zhang Juzhen, a prime minister of the Ming Dynasty, pleading for the establishment of tribute relationship. The letter read in part: “I pray for the blessing of the emperor by reciting Buddhist scriptures day and night...It is my good desire for peace under the Heaven.” (Zhang Juzhen: Collected Works of Zhang Wenzhong) Later, the MingDynasty court allowed the 3rd Dalai Lama to pay tribute to the imperial court on a regular basis. (This fact shows that the 3rd Dalai enjoyed a ranking at or higher than the State Tutor as, during the Ming Dynasty, those with a ranking lower than State Tutor were not allowed to pay tribute to the imperial court.) The Ming Dynasty court also granted the 3rd Dalai the title of Dorjechang, which means “Holder of the Vajra.” (The Records of Ming Dynasty Emperor Shengzong, Vol.191)

     The above facts show that both the Althan Khan and the 3rd Dalai Lama, who maintained a close relationship, had full respect for the emperor. Both took the initiative to better relations with imperial court and both won official titles from the emperor, becoming subjects of the emperor. Therefore, it is ridiculous to say that an “independent Mongol state” existed and the relations between the 3rd Dalai Lama and the Althan Khan had become estranged.

Chapter IV

The Sovereign-Subject Relationship Between the Qing Dynasty Emperor and the Dalai Lama

     In 1644 Shunzhi, founding father of the Qing Dynasty (1544-1911) entered Beijing and ascended the throne as the emperor. He became another emperor of an ethnic group to rule China.

     The Qing Dynasty exercised more effective rule over Tibet than the previous Ming and the Yuan dynasties. This creates difficulties for Van Praag and Xagabba in tampering with this historical fact. They turn to the “Cho-yon (lama-patron) relationship” between the Dalai Lama and the emperor to bolster their theory of “Tibetan independence.” Van Praag asserts that the relationship between Tibet and the Manchurian Qing emperor was the only one between the Dalai Lama and the emperor; such a relationship does not contain any subordinate content, Xagabba declares: “The world lacks good understanding of the true nature of the lama-patron relationship, such as that between the Sagya lama and Mongol Khan, and between the ensuing Dalai Lama and the Manchurian emperor.”

     Actually, like his Yuan and Ming predecessors, the emperor of the Qing Dynasty maintained patron-lama relations with the grand lamas in Tibet, with the latter subordinate to the former, a relationship which Van Praag and Xagabba decline to recognize.

     During the Qing Dynasty, both the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni of the Gelug Sect ruled over Tibetan Buddhism. The Qing emperor encountered no problem with regard to the master-subject relationship with the Panchen Erdeni. The Panchen Erdeni of various generations and members of the Panchen Kampus Assembly raised no objection to this. The following is an analysis of the master-subject relationship between the emperor and the Dalai Lama.

  1. Emperors Shunzhi and Kangxi With the 5th Dalai Lama

     Shunzhi was the first emperor after the Qing moved its capital to Beijing. The meeting between Emperor Shunzhi and the 5th Dalai Lama in Beijing is a well-known fact. The relationship established between the two should, therefore, he free from any disputes.

     The 5th Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyamco won support from Gushri Khan, chieftain of the Hoshod Mongols in Xinjiang and Qinghai, who believed in the Gelug Sect. Gushri Khan led his troops into Tibet from Qinghai. Following a series of battles, and after plotting with men of the 5th Dalai Lama, Kushri Khan overthrew in 1642 the Sde-srid Tsang-pa regime of the Garma Gagyu Sect in Xigaze, which had ruled U-Tsang for a score of years. The Gelug Sect, having gained a dominant position in Tibetan areas, established the Gandain Phodrang, power organ of the Gelug Sect, a move which shocked the whole of Tibet. Monks with the Garma Gagyu Sect joined hands with remnants of the Sde-srid Tsang-pa regime’s forces to rebel in some places against the Gelug Sect and the Gandain Phodrang. Counter-measures taken by Gushri Khan and the Gandain Phodrang included: First, dispatching troops to suppress the rebellion; second, seeking closer ties with the Zhaibung and Sera monasteries in Lhasa, which had large numbers of monks: third, rebuilding the Potala Palace to deter the enemy: and fourth, seeking support from the Qing Dynasty court which had just won rule over the Central Plains. Emperor Shunzhi, who had just entered Beijing, was busy coping with various Mongolian tribes which had yet to submit to the Qing court. As a result, he found little time to exercise direct rule over border areas such as Tibet. Winning the 5th Lama and Gushri Khan over to the Qing court was obviously favorable for it to achieve eventual real control over the broad masses of Mongolian and Tibetan peoples who believed in the Gelug Sect. Out of his far-sighted strategic consideration, Qing Emperor Shunzhi invited the 5th Dalai Lama to Beijing. And the latter went to pay tribute.

     Toward the end of 1652 or the ninth year of the reign of Emperor Shunzhi, the 5th Dalai Lama reached Beijing, where he was given a rousing welcome by Emperor Shunzhi and court officials. The 5th Dalai Lama stayed in Beijing for two months. The Qing court offered him all convenience, and built the Huangsi Monastery specially for him to live in. Emperor Shunzhi hosted a feast for him in the Hall of Grand Harmony in the Forbidden City. In the spring of 1653, when the 5th Dalai Lama left for Tibet, Emperor Shunzhi gave him handsome gifts, including 550 taels of gold, 12,000 taels of silver the 100 bolts of silk. The empress dowager gave him 100 taels of gold, 1,000 taels of silver and 1,000 bolts of silk. The emperor also granted him an honorific title, plus a golden certificate of appointment and a golden seal of authority. From then on, a system was established for the Dalai Lama of later generations to receive their official post from the imperial court.

     The text of the golden certificate of appointment which Emperor Shunzhi gave to the 5th Dalai Lama read in part: “I was told one who has good luck strives to do things in favor of others while one who suffers from frustration pays more attention to self-cultivation. They do things in a different way. Whether one takes official post or enters monkhood takes the same road. You, the Dalai Lama, are broad-minded and boast boundless beneficence, striving to cultivate both samadhi and mati. Casting away sunya, you concentrate yourself on spreading Buddhist teachings among ignorant populace. So, Buddhism flourishes in the west and enjoys good fame in the east. Emperor Taizong was so glad to know all these that he sent a special envoy to invite you to the court. Reading the mind of the Heaven, you promised to come in 1652. When I came to power upon the will of the Heaven, you did come. Your performance here shows you have attained the realm of prajna. I appreciate your efforts to enlighten people, which should be taken as the steps leading to the top of the mountain and the boat that carries people across the sea. I hereby grant you the golden certificate of appointment and the golden seal of authority, making you the Dalai Lama. Overseer of the Buddhist Faith on Earth Under the Great Benevolent Self-Subsisting Buddha of Western Paradise.” (TheRecords of Qing Dynasty Emperor Shizong, Vol. 74, p.18) This is exactly an imperial edict issued by an emperor to his subject.

     The text of the golden seal of authority which Emperor Shunzhi issued to the 5th Dalai Lama reads: “The Dalai Lama, Overseer of the Buddhist Faith on Earth Under the Great Benevolent Self-Subsisting Buddha of Western Paradise.” (The Records of Qing Emperor Shizong, Vol. 74, p.18)

     One point has to be made clear here: Tibetan monks and manor lords cherished certificates of appointment, seals of authority and honorific titles given them by emperors or imperial courts of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. They held these as authenticating objects of political power. Gaxag government officials had all their statutes and documents stamped with the seals issued by the imperial court to show their authority.

     When the 5th Dalai Lama, who received support from Emperor Shunzhi in the way already described, returned to Tibet, the Gelug Sect and the Gandain Phodrang began to enjoy enlarged power and the 5th Dalai Lama’s role became even more important.

     In 1661, Emperor Shunzhi died and Emperor Kangxi ascended the throne. The new Chinese emperor continued to support the Gelug Sect headed by the Dalai and Panchen lamas. Each year, he sent people to visit the Dalai Lama. The relationship between the imperial court and the local government of Tibet remained as before.

     Understanding the fact that his power could be enlarged and his prestige could be raised solely because of support from the Qing emperors, the 5th Dalai Lama left a very important will to Degsi Sangyai Gyamco, his closest assistant in government affairs, in 1682 just before his death. The will reads in part:

     “Please tell various patrons including Hoshod Mongols that Sanggyai Gyamco and the   Dalai Lama are no different. This will shall be implemented under the supervision of the Buddhist Guardian. According to the document stamped with auspicious prints of hands, which is kept on Potala Palace wall, the power to handle government and religious affairs is bestowed on Sanggyai Gyamco.” The “document” in this will refers to the honorific title which the Qing emperor bestowed on the Dalai Lama and which was written on the wall above the staircase of Deyangxag platform in the Potala Palace: “The emperor grants you the title of the Dalai Lama, Overseer of the Buddhist Faith on Earth Under the Great Benevolent Self-Subsisting Buddha of Western Paradise.” (Qabai Cedain Puncog and Norcham Wugyain:Concise History of Tibet, Tibetan edition, middle volume, p.644)

     The above facts show that the 5th Dalai Lama himself declared his title and power came from the emperor. This also shows the emperor-subject relationship between the emperor and the 5th Dalai Lama.

     In his book, Van Praag mentions nothing of the fact that the emperor granted the 5th Dalai Lama a golden certificate of appointment and a golden seal of authority, nor the will of the 5th Dalai Lama the title given by the emperor which was copied on the wall in Deyangxag of the Potala Palace, and other historical facts. However, he spared no effort to recount comparatively less important stories, such as the emperor going out of town to greet the Dalai Lama, and rising from his throne and moving 20 yards further to meet the Dalai Lama. After quoting William Woodville Rockhill, an American, as saying that the 5th Dalai Lama was given all rituals due to the monarch of any independent state. Van Praag concludes that both the 5th Dalai Lama and Emperor Shunzhi actually regarded each other as monarch of his own land. Xagabba also says that the 5th Dalai Lama and Emperor Shunzhi met and conducted rituals due to leaders of independent states.

     The above data show that the claims of William Woodville Rockhill, Van Praag and Xagabba do not hold water as Emperor Shunzhi greeted the 5th Dalai Lama as an important eminent monk with great bearing on the Mongolian and Tibetan nationalities in the border region subject to rule by the emperor himself, not as the monarch of an independent state.

     The 5th Dalai Lama recorded in his own biography how he was greeted by Emperor Shunzhi: “On the 16th, we left for the imperial palace to meet the emperor. We proceeded further after entering the city wall, and got off the horses at a place where we saw the approaching procession of the emperor. The emperor was more dignified and powerful than the Prince of Turning Wheel and more kind and intelligent than Amitabha. We went further for four shot arrow distance. Then, I dismounted and moved ahead on foot. The emperor rose to his feet from his imperial throne to greet me, grasping my hands in his and asking after me. Then, the emperor mounted his throne which is waist high, and asked me to be seated in a throne which is slightly lower than but close to his throne.” (The 5th Dalai Lama in Beijing of Excerpts of Biography of the 5th Dalai Lama, translated and annotated by Chen Qinying and Ma Lin, and carried in  China Tibetology, issue No. 4 of 1992, p. 49) This constitutes the most important part on greeting rituals. Everyone knows that when kings of two independent states meet, their seats should be parallel without any difference in height. In the Potala Palace fresco of Emperor Shenzhi Meeting the 5th Dalai Lama, the throne for the Qing emperor is higher so that the Dalai Lama looks up to the emperor from a lower place. This shows the two held difference in position. In his book, however, Xagabba only says that the 5th Dalai Lama was seated in a throne to the right of the emperor. He mentions nothing of the relative heights of these thrones. He does so purposely to mislead the public.

     In addition to the 5th Dalai Lama, Gushri Khan also received an official position in Beijing in 1653. Emperor Shunzhi granted him a golden certificate of appointment and a golden seal of authority. The certificate text reads in part: “For the emperor’s great task, the subject must be talked over so that its chieftain will size up the situation and pledge allegiance. The imperial court will show trust and appreciation. You, Gushri Khan of the Hoshod Mongols, respect virtue and are ready to do good things, hence enjoying high prestige in your own area. I, the sovereign, appreciate what you have done. To commend your loyalty and merits, I hereby grant you a certificate of appointment and a seal of authority.” The seal text reads:” Righteous and Wise Gushri Khan.” (The Records of Qing Emperor Shizu, Vol.74, p.19)

     From the certificate and seal texts, one sees that the emperor was talking in a tone used in addressing a subject. This shows the Qing Dynasty treated Gushri Khan as a minority khan with enfeoffed land in China. Gushri Khan was the first to receive such an official title from the Qing emperor among the Mongolian tribes.

     The 5th Dalai Lama had people absolutely faithful to him to serve as Degsi of the Gandain Phodrang regime, while Gushri Khan ruled the U-Tsang area with his military might. Both received official titles from the Qing imperial court. All these combined to lead to the situation in which, with approval and support from the Qing imperial court, Degsi held the highest power in the local government, and Mongolian and Tibetan monk and lay feudal officials exercised joint administration over Tibet.

     Gushri Khan discussed with the 5th Dalai Lama and the Gandain Phodrang regime matters of great importance such as paying tribute to the Qing emperor as a token of allegiance and policies related to rule over Tibet, and often reached agreement as expected. Hence, Gushri Khan, like the 5th Dalai Lama, was a subject of the Qing emperor


(2)  Emperors Kangxi, Yongzhen and Qianlong With the 6th and 7th Dalai Lamas

     The 5th Dalai Lama passed away in 1682 or the 21st year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi. Degsi Sanggyai Gyamco, who held administrative and religious power in Tibet, hid the news from the Qing imperial court solely for the sake of personal position and power. What’s more, he continued to do things in the name of the 5th Dalai Lama. In 1685, Sanggyai Gyamco selected a boy from the Moinba area to be the 6th Dalai Lama Cangyang Gyamco. The 6th Dalai Lama, bored by monotonous life of a Buddhist leader, sought secular pursuits and became known for his unconventional lifestyle.

     Degsi Sanggyai Gyamco secretly collaborated with the Zungar Mongols who rose in rebellion against the Qing imperial court. He did so with a view to fighting the forces of the offspring of Gushri Khan in Tibet. In 1696, Emperor Kangxi was informed of the news that the 5th Dalai Lama had died for years, but Sanggyai Gyamco was still ruling Tibet in his name, and Sanggyai Gyamco even secretly collaborated with the Zungar Mongols. The Qing imperial court questioned Sanggyai Gyamco, and even planned to dispatch troops to summon him. Sanggyai Gyamco confessed the truth in a report. Emperor Kangxi refrained from taking him to task, and allowed the 6th Dalai Lama Cangyang Gyamco to go through the sitting-in-the-bed enthronement ceremony in 1697.

     Lhabzang Khan, offspring of Gushri Khan, arrested and executed Sanggyai Gyamco in 1705 or the 44th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi, and reported the matter to Emperor Kangxi. In the report, Lhabzang Khan stated that Cangyang Gyamco often went out to travel incognito; he was a drunkard and a women hunter in total disregard of rules of Buddhist monasteries; he was the “pseudo-Dalai Lama” installed by Degsi Sanggyai Gyamco. Emperor Kangxi, long indignant at Sanggyai Gyamco’s efforts to hide the 5th Dalai Lama’ death from him and to secretly collaborate with the Zungar Mongols, offered an official title to Lhabzang Khan, plus a golden seal of authority. In the meantime, the emperor ordered the 6th Dalai Lama be brought to Beijing for questioning. In his Tibet: A Political History, Xagabba wrote: “The emperor decided to dismiss the 6th Dalai Lama from office.” The 6th Dalai Lama was brought by Qing troops to Beijing, but died on the way in 1706.

     This historic fact shows that Qing Emperor Kangxi enjoyed paramount power over the 6th Dalai Lama.

     Following the execution of Degsi Sanggyai Gyamco, Zungar Mongols abruptly entered northern Tibet and captured Lhasa. They killed Lhabzang Khan, and made Darzeba, who was loyal to the Zungars, the new Degsi. The Zungar troops burned, killed and ransacked the gold and silver of various large monasteries. This touched off hatred among the Tibetans, who demanded the Qing imperial court send troops to drive the Zungars out of Tibet. Qing troops were sent to Tibet twice, in 1718 and 1720. With the support of Tibetan forces led by Khan-chen-nas and Pho-lha-nas, the Qing troops fought tenaciously and finally drove the Zungars out of Tibet. In the meantime, the Qing imperial court, in response to Tibetan public demand, sent troops to escort the 12-year-old soul boy of the 6th Dalai Lama, as confirmed by the forces led by the Gelug Sect monasteries, to Lhasa from the Tar Monastery in Qinghai Province. All along the way, the Qing troops received rousing welcome from the Tibetans. The sitting-in-the-bed ceremony was held in the Potala Palace for the soul boy to be enthroned as the 7th Dalai Lama Lobsang Gyamco. The Qing emperor granted him the title of “the Dalai Lama, the Propagator of the Buddhist Doctrine to Awaken the Public,” plus a golden seal of authority (Xagabba admits the fact in his book). In 1721 or the 60th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi, the Qing imperial court decided to abolish the most powerful official position of Degsi in the Tibetan government, and replace it with four Galoons to take in charge of government affairs, with Kan-chen-nas serving as the first Galoon. This marked the beginning of the Galoon system, and also shows that the Qing imperial court cultivated and supported the temporal and religious administration of the Gelug Sect headed by the Dalai Lama, and exercised strengthened rule over Tibet. Hoshod Mongols’ rule in Tibet, which lasted more than 70 years and included Zungar Mongols, drew to an end finally in Tibet.

     The golden seal of authority which Emperor Kangxi granted to the 7th Dalai Lama bears inscriptions written in the three languages of Tibetan, Han Chinese and Manchurian. It is one of the most important seals of authority bestowed to various generations of the Dalai Lama by Qing Dynasty emperors. It is treasured by Tibetans as the Grand Golden Seal.

     In 1722, Qing Emperor Kangxi passed away and was succeeded by Emperor Yongzhen. Five years later, the Qing imperial court decided to install two High Commissioners in Lhasa.

     In 1727, in-fighting occurred among the upper ruling class in Tibet. Galoon Nga-phod-pa, Galoon Lum-pa-nas and Pho-lha-nas and Galoon Sbyar-ra-nas waged a joint struggle against the First Galoons Khan-chen-nas and Pho-lha-nas who was in Rear Tibet then. After having killed Khan-chen-nas, Nag-phod-pa and others sent troops in an attempt to kill Pho-lha-nas. The two sides met and fought, throwing Tibet into chaos, Emperor Yongzhen was informed and, in 1728, sent troops into Tibet from Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan. Before the Qing troops reached Lhasa, Pho-lha-nas had already captured Lhasa at the head of the Rear Tibet and Ngari troops in July 1728, house-arresting the three rebel Galoons. After the arrival of the Qing troops, the three rebel Galoons were interrogated and finally executed. The Qing imperial court made Pho-lha-nas, who distinguished himself in suppressing the rebellion, the Bezi Prince and put him in charge of government affairs in Tibet. Later, he was promoted to be Beleg and Prefectural Prince, being bestowed with a seal of authority for rule over U-Tsang. During the 20 years of Pho-lha-nas’ rule over Tibet, the region enjoyed peace, stability and prosperity

     While making efforts to suppress the rebellion, the Qing imperial court made two major decisions: First, given the fact that there were people in the upper ruling class in Tibet who attempted to collaborate with Zungar Mongols in Xinjiang to stage a revolt, the Qing imperial court ordered Batang, Litang and Kangding Tibetan areas, which were close to the Han areas, be put under the jurisdiction of Sichuan; Zhongdian, Wexi and Deqen Tibetan areas (subject to rule by the Tubo Pacification Commandery Office during the Yuan Dynasty, but not part of Dbus-Gtsang) be put under the jurisdiction of Yunnan; Lhaze, Ngamring and Puncogling zongs (counties) in Rear Tibet be put under the Panchen Erdeni. In so doing, the Qing emperor narrowed areas under the rule of the Gandain Phodrang regime. In 1724, when the Qing troops suppressed the rebellion by Norbu Zangdaingyin of the Hoshod Mongols, Tibetan areas in Qinghai formerly under the jurisdiction of the Hoshod Mongols (namely areas under the rule by the Tubo Pacification Commandery Office during the Yuan Dynasty, which did not fall under the jurisdiction of Gbus and Gtsang either) were taken back by the Qing imperial court. As a result, Tibetan areas under the rule by the local government of Tibet were clearly defined (largely the present-day Tibet Autonomous Region, excluding the areas ruled by the Panchen Erdeni). Second, the Zungar Mongols rose against the Qing in Xinjiang on the excuse of the Ngo-phod-pa event, vowing to invade Tibet the second time. To prevent the Zungar Mongols from kidnapping the Young 7th Dalai Lama, the Qing imperial court strengthened protection of the young lama with a view to maintaining the Qing rule over Mongolian and Tibetan areas with the support of the leader of the Gelug Sect. The Qing imperial court decided to move the 7th Dalai Lama to Litang for safety.

     The 7th Dalai Lama left Lhasa eastward in accordance with edict from Qing Emperor Yongzhen, and reached Litang in February 1792. One year later, the 7th Dalai Lama, acting in accordance with the Qing emperor’s edict, moved to settle in the Taining Huiyuan Monastery, where he remained for six years.

     In the face of a military threat from the Qing imperial court, Zungar Mongols sued for peace in 1735. The two sides determined the herding line between the Karka Mongols and the Zungars. With Zungar’s threat to Tibetan areas thus removed. Qing Emperor Yongzhen sent some 500 troops to escort the 7th Dalai Lama from Taining to Lhasa in April 1735, reaching the Potala Palace in July. Emperor Yongzhen died in August 1735, and Emperor Qianlong came to the throne.

     The home-bound 7th Dalai Lama received a rousing welcome from the monks and lay people in Tibet. He henceforth became even more influential religiously. Prince Pho-lha-nas, whose rule over Tibet yielded social and economic development, controlled the government and enjoyed a high prestige among Tibetans. Gradually, contradictions arose between the two in government affairs. In 1746 or the 11th year of the reign of Qing Emperor Qianlong, some monk and lay officials, who threw themselves under the wing of the 7th Dalai Lama, went against the dominant position of Prince Pho-lha-nas. He inquired about the matter, fueling the discontent of the 7th Dalai Lama. Upon learning the news, Qing Emperor Qianlong issued an imperial edict, which reads in part: “I, the sovereign, was told the Dalai Lama and Prince Pho-lha-nas are not in good terms. As both of you are important persons, you should not be at odds”. “Local peace should be maintained so that Pho-lha-nas will not be able to make trouble.” “You should work with one mind for the sake of local peace and stability. I treat you as one. Local instability resulting from your confrontations runs counter to my expectation” (The Records of the Qing Dynasty, Vol. 286, pp.22-28) Emperor Qianlong’s mediation forced Pho-lha-nas to come to terms with the 7th Dalai Lama.

     Pho-lha-nas followed the edict of Emperor Qianlong to the letter, and he had full respect for the emperor. In all of his reports to the emperor, he began with such wording as “Grand Emperor, my master”, “Heavenly Master,” and “Great Master in the East.” This shows he was a faithful subject to the Qing emperor.

Pho-lha-nas died in 1747 or the 12th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong. His second son, Gyurmed Namugyal, succeeded as Prince. In history books, he is mentioned as Prince Gyurmed Namugyal. Prince Gyurmed Namugyal, who set great store by the title bestowed on his father by the Qing emperor, however, was a dictator. He was so arrogant that he maintained tense relations not only with the 7th Dalai Lama, but also with the High Commissioners stationed in Tibet by the Qing imperial court. In 1750, or the 15th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong, High Commissioners Fu Qing and Lhabudain managed to kill Prince Gyurmed Namugyal, but they themselves were murdered by men of the late prince. Lhasa was once again tense and chaotic. The 7th Dalai Lama adopted strong measures to suppress the chaos incited by the men of the late prince, and brought Tibet under his control.

     The Qing imperial court, alerted to the fact that the Prince Gyurmed Namugyal event was the result of noble dictatorship and infighting, decided to let the 7th Dalai Lama alone hold the religious and administrative rule, and also strengthen the position of the High Commissioners. Under them was the Gaxag government, in which the Galoons decided on government affairs collectively. In 1751, Qing Emperor Qianlong approved the 13-article Ordinance for the More Effective Governing of Tibet worked out by Sichuan Viceroy CeLen. He followed his approval with readjustment of the administrative system in Tibet by rescinding the post of Prince and making the 7th Dalai Lama ruler of Tibet and establishing the Gaxag government. The Gaxag government was composed of four Galoons, including one monk and three laymen, under direct leadership of the Dalai Lama and the High Commissioners. Galoons met to handle government affairs collectively. They reported all matters of major concern to the Dalai Lama and the High Commissioners for decision. Important documents were stamped with the seals of the Dalai Lama and the High Commissioners. All Galoons sought appointment from the Qing imperial court. They were all issued with certificates of appointment. All these combine to show the beginning of the system characteristic of temporal and religious administration by the Gelug Sect in Tibet.

     Qing Emperor Qianlong’s approval of the 13-Article Ordinance shows that the Dalai Lama used to enjoy the highest religious position in Tibet in the capacity of “the Overseer of the Buddhist Faith,” instead of the highest political position. The Qing emperor turned, in the capacity of an emperor, the Dalai Lama from a Buddhist leader into a man who was both the highest Buddhist leader and the highest ruler of Tibet.

     Qing Emperor Kangxi once sent a longevity tablet to Tibet, which bears the words “A long life to the emperor” written in Tibetan, Han Chinese, Manchurian and Mongolian languages. In response to Emperor Kangxi’s support, the 7th Dalai Lama enshrined the longevity tablet on the top-floor hall of the Potala Palace. The portrait of Emperor Qianlong which was sent to Tibet later was on the wall behind the tablet. On the first day of the first month each Tibetan year, the 7th Dalai Lama would lead monk and lay officials to pay homage to them. And the Dalai Lama of later generations followed suit, too. This tablet is still well preserved there.

     The 7th Dalai Lama died in the sixth year of his rule over Tibet (i.e. in 1757, or the 22nd year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign in China) at the age of 50.

     During his life, the 7th Dalai Lama experienced the rule by Emperors Kangxi, Yongzhen and Qianlong. In addition to the lama-patron relationship, he maintained with them also the subject-emperor political relationship. He did everything in accordance with the emperor’s edicts. For instance, Emperor Kangxi had him escorted into Tibet for the enthronement and granted him his official position and a seal of authority; Emperor Yongzhen decided to escort him to the Kam area for temporary stay and then escort him back to Tibet; Emperor Qianlong mediated between the 7th Dalai Lama and Pho-lha-nas, and finally made him ruler of Tibet, head of the Gaxag government together with the Qing High Commissioners. He progressed in the work with the direct care and support of the emperor. While in the Taining Huiyuan Monastery, the 7th Dalai Lama said with deep emotion: “I have since young been enjoying the holy and boundless kindness of the emperor, who sent troops to escort me into the Tibetan areas and put me tightly onto the bed for the Dalai Lame.” “With great respect I received the imperial edict. I vow to work hard to propagate the Buddhist faith and wish the emperor a long life.” (The Records of the Qing Dynasty, Vol.69, pp.10-11) When he went back to Tibet again, the 7th Dalai Lama once said during a lecture on Buddhist doctrines: “Although I have not made enough merits on Buddhist promotion, I enjoyed a shield from the wisdom emperors of various generations who advised in an edict that I promote the Yellow Sect and work for the blessing of people belonging to the 13 wanhu (10,000-house) offices. I will pray the three treasures and do everything for Buddhism and the people.” (Living Buddha Canggya Rubi Doje: Biography of the 7th Dalai Lama, Tibetan edition, Vol. 1, p.197). As the 7th Dalai Lama owed much to the Qing emperor, he met his every need for Buddhist activities. For example, in 1744, when Emperor Qianlong was building the Gedain Qenchaling Monastery (present-day Yonghegong Lamasery), the 7th Dalai Lama received an edict from the emperor and, acting in accordance with it, sent four Tibetan eminent monks to serve as abbots of the four Zhacang of the monastery.

     During the period of Emperors Kangxi, Yongzhen and Qianlong and the 6th and 7th Dalai Lamas, the emperors maintained closer relations with Pho-lha-nas, the 7th Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders. The Qing troops and the Tibetan troops fought jointly and defeated the Zungar Mongols who harassed Tibet. The Central Government strengthened its rule over Tibet and gradually legalized the ruling system and methods.

(3)  Emperors Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang and Tongzhi with the 8th-12th Dalai Lamas

     The death of the 7th Dalai Lama left behind a power vacuum. For a time, no one was prestigious enough to rule Tibet. In the beginning, a Hotogtu Living Buddha served as the Prince Regent. In March 1757, Emperor Qianlong issued an edict, appointing Demo Hotogtu Living Buddha Ngawang Jambai Deleg Gyamco to rule Tibet in the place of the Dalai Lama. From then on, there was a Hotogtu Living Buddha to serve as the Prince Regent between the death of a Dalai Lama and the time when a new Dalai Lama becomes old enough to come to power. This became a set system.

     In 1758, or the 23rd year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the reincarnated soul boy of the 7th Dalai Lama was confirmed. In the process of locating this soul boy, Emperor Qianlong ordered State Tutor (then in Tibet) and Inner Mongolian Hotogtu Living Buddha Canggya to determine the soul boy before returning to Beijing. The soul boy was welcomed to Lhasa and a sitting-in-the-bed ceremony was held in 1762 or the 27th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong  for him to be enthroned as the 8th Dalai Lama Jambai Gyamco. Emperor Qianlong sent a special envoy to attend the enthronement ceremony. These historical facts show that the confirmation and enthronement ceremonies were all conducted under the direct care of Emperor Qianlong.

     In 1781 Emperor Qianlong issued an imperial edict allowing the 8th Dalai Lama to rule Tibet. For this purpose, the emperor issued a golden certificate of appointment with the text reading: “Following the precedence of the 7th Dalai Lama, the 8th Dalai Lama is hereby granted the title of the ‘Dalai Lama, Overseer of the Buddhist Faith on Earth Under the Great Benevolent Self Subsisting Buddha of Western Paradise.’ The certificate of appointment is hereby reissued. You should strive to spread Buddhist doctrines for the happiness and luck of the people and our country. Following the precedence of the Dalai Lama of the previous generation, you are charged with the power to handle the Tibetan affairs through consultations with the Galoons before filing a report through the High Commissioners, for the peace of Tibet and the blessings of all living things.” (Tibet Is an Inseparable Part of China: Golden Certificate Granted by Emperor Qianlong to the 8th Dalai Lama. P.219) In 1783, Emperor Qianlong granted a jade certificate of appointment and a jade seal of authority to the 8th Dalai Lama, with the text reading in part: :You, the Dalai Lama, are the legal descendent of Zongkapa… “You, the Dalai Lama, are the legal descendent of Zongkapa…You are hereby granted the jade certificate of appointment and the jade seal of authority, which you may enshrine in the monastery of the Potala (namely, the Potala Palace) to guard the gate to Buddhism for ever. Documents sent for the country’s important ceremonies should be stamped with this seal, with all other reports stamped with original seal. Since you enjoy such favor, you need to redouble your efforts to promote self-cultivation and study and propagate Buddhist classics, and assist me in promoting Buddhism and goodness of the previous generation of the Dalai Lama for the people and also for the long life of our country…”(Records of the Qing Emperor Gaozong, Vol.1186, p.9)

     It is, therefore, very obvious that the 8th Dalai Lama came to the throne by the decision of Emperor Qianlong. In texts of golden and jade certificates of appointment, Emperor Qianlong called on the Dalai Lama to promote Buddhism and work hard for the long life of China. When Emperor Qianlong did so, he was dealing with a subject lama in the capacity of an emperor. The Dalai Lama of later generations and the local government of Tibet cherished these golden and jade certificates of appointment and the jade seal of authority, properly preserving them as the root to their ruling power.

     In their books, Xagabba and Van Praag say nothing of these historical facts.

     In 1788 and 1791, Nepalese (Korga) troops invaded Tibet. Impotent resistance to the 1791 invasion on the part of the local government of Tibet made it possible for the Korgas to easily enter Xigaze, where they ransacked the Tashilhungpo Monastery. The Korgas took large quantities of valuables from the monastery, shocking the whole of Tibet. The 7th Panchen fled from his resident monastery of Tashilhungpo in Xigaze to Lhasa. Qing High Commissioner Baotai panic-stricken, failed to organize forceful resistance. He filed a report to the Qing imperial court in August 1791, proposing to move the 8th Dalai Lama and the 7th Panchen Erdeni to Taining in the Kam area. Lhasa officials and the public became even more panicky, and many were ready to flee. The 8th Dalai Lama opposed Baotai’s proposal, refusing to leave. Emperor Qianlong commended the 8th Dalai Lama and dismissed High Commissioners Baotai and Yamantai from office. In his imperial edict, Emperor Qianlong said: “In his report, Boatai proposed to move the Dalai Lame and the Panchen Erdeni to Taining on the excuse that Tibetan troops were outnumbered by the Korga troops. What a proposal…Fortunately, the Dalai Lama is staunch in mind and refused to obey. It would be something shameful if he listened to Baotai and fled from the Potala. I, the sovereign, am happy to see the Dalai Lama know all these and all abbots and grand lamas under him are resolute to stay and resist, and other monks and lay people have not been scared away. They all deserve to be commended…Baotai and Yamantai, panic-stricken in the face of the Korga invasion, failed to live up to my expectation. Given the situation, Baotai and Yamantai be temporarily dismissed from the office and be made to work hard to redeem their crimes.” (Records of the Qing Emperor Gaozong, Vol.1387, p.2) The attitude of Emperor Qianlong and his decision to dismiss the two High Commissioners from their office were warmly received by the 8th Dalai Lama and the 7th Panchen Erdeni.

     Emperor Qianlong dispatched Fukang’an, a valiant general, to lead Qing troops from Qinghai to Tibet in 1792. Together with the Tibetan troops and with support of people of various nationalities in Sichuan, Qinghai and Tibet, they fought and defeated the Korga invaders. The Qing troops fought their way into Nepal, reaching the suburbs of Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital. The Nepalese king pleaded guilty repeatedly, and with the approval of Emperor Qianlong. Fukang’an stopped his attack. The victory led to peace along the Sino-Nepalese border.

     This war finds its way into the Diary of Galoon Dorin in Tibetan: The Grand Emperor sent troops composed of men of Han, Mongolian, Manchu and Jin nationalities and from Sichuan into Tibet. They moved swiftly and ran at a speed faster than horses. These brave soldiers scared the Nepalese troops. (Qabai Cedain Puncog and Norcham Wugyain: Concise History of Tibet,  Tibetan edition, Vol.2, pp.298-299) This was also mentioned in Xagabba’s book entitled The Political History of the Tibetan Areas. Tibetans living in Gyirong and Nyalam are still telling stories about these happenings. What General Fukang’an inscribed to commend the war on the cliff east of the highway, located north of Zholtang Village in Gyirong County, are still there.

     When Fukang’an and his troops returned victorious from the Sino-Nepalese border to Xigaze, they received a warm welcome from the 7th Panchen Erdeni who had already returned from Lhasa. They met in the Tashilhungpo Monastery. The 7th Panchen Erdeni expressed thanks to General Fukang’an for driving the invading Nepalese troops out of Tibet and recovering the lost land. When General Fukang’an and his troops reached Lhasa, the 8th Dalai Lama made an exception by going more than 10 li (two li equal to one km) west of Lhasa at the head of a deputation of monks to greet them. During his meeting with General Fukang’an, the 8th Dalai Lama thanked the Qing court profusely.

     For this war, the Qing imperial court spent 10.52 million tales of silver or one-fourth of the national tax revenues then. For the defense of Tibet, the Qing imperial court spared no expense

     The Tibetan government’s impotence in the face of the Nepalese invasion revealed problems in various systems, which fueled corruption. Before General Fukang’an was sent into Tibet, he received an imperial edict from Emperor Qianlong, asking him to thoroughly consolidate Tibetan Government affairs and formulate rules and regulations for eternal implementation. Acting in accordance with this imperial edict, General Fukang’an talked to the 8th Dalai Lama and the 7th Panchen Erdeni. The 8th Dalai Lama said: “His Excellency the Grand Emperor is requested to enact laws regarding to U-Tsang affairs. Monks and lay people and I are very thankful and will never disobey him. When rules and regulations have been worked out in the future, I will follow them respectfully together with the High Commissioners and Galoons and the populace. They will certainly be god for Tibet and me as well.” (Ya Hanzhang: Biography of the Dalai Lama, p.43) This shows the 8th Dalai Lama’s respectful attitude toward the emperor.

     In the winter of 1792, General Fukang’an joined officials representing the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni to work out the 29-Article Ordinance for the More Efficient Governing of Tibet, which was officially promulgated in 1793. The local government of Tibet published the Ordinance in a pamphlet as the most important law at that time. When it was officially promulgated, it was the Tibetan Year of the Water Buffalo hence it was called the Document of the Water Buffalo Year. Highlights of the Ordinance are as follows:

(A) The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Erdeni and various Grand Living Buddhas of the Yellow Sect must follow the procedures of “drawing lot from the golden urn” * Under the supervision of the High Commissioners. Only the boy thus chosen will be confirmed as the soul boy. This is aimed at eliminating cheating. (For this purpose, Emperor Qianlong had two golden urns made. One was sent to the Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa for use to determine the soul boy of Grand Living Buddha in Tibet, Qinghai and the Kam areas. The other was sent to the Yonghegong Lamasery in Beijing for use to determine the soul boy of Grand Living Buddha in Inner and Outer Mongolia)

     (B) The High Commissioners are charged with supervising Tibetan affairs. They enjoy a position equal to that of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni and handle government affairs through consultation together with them. Officials below the rank of Galoon and the Living Buddhas are subject to the High Commissioners. Appointment of Galoon and Duiboin calls for approval from the emperor, while the High Commissioners and the Dalai Lama are charged with selecting and appointing other officials. Promoting, awarding or punishing of officials has to be reported to the High Commissioners for approval.

     (C) The entourage of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni used to be drawn from among their relatives in the past. They included an uncle of the Dalai Lama and the father of the Panchen as well as a cousin of the Dalai Lama. Abusing the power in his hand, the cousin of the Dalai Lama bullied others and did many things which do not conform with the law. In the future, when the Dalai and the Panchen are still alive, their relatives are not allowed to be involved in government affairs. This conforms with the will of the monks and lay people. Upon the death of the Dalai and the Panchen, their relatives may be given jobs in accordance with their skills.

     (D) Establishing a regular army of 3,000 men. They include 1,000 to be stationed in Lhasa, 1,000 to be stationed in Xigaze, 500 to be stationed in Gyangze and 500 to be stationed in Tingri. This means an end to the past situation when Tibet had no regular army; whenever there was need, an army had to be mobilized and they had to prepare their own arms and food grain, with the result that the populace was always bothered. Moreover, such an army was ill-trained and of low combat effectiveness.

     (E) Tibet is neighbor of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. In the past, when they came to pay tribute or do business, both sides quarreled because the replies from the Dalai Lama were informal in format. In the future, all foreign affairs have to be handled by the Qing High Commissioners; all documents between these countries and the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni have to be checked by the High Commissioners and replied through consultations between the High Commissioners and the Dalai Lama; all border events have to be handled in accordance with High Commissioners’ instructions; foreign travelers and business people in Tibet must hold passports issued by the High Commissioners; foreign business people doing trade in Tibet must be subject to examination and enter or leave at designated ports and in accordance with stipulations in terms of visiting times and duration.

     (F) All tax items and revenues in Tibet must be subject to examination and arranged by the High Commissioners. In the past, poverty stricken farmers and herders were burdened with exorbitant taxes and ula labor, while manors owned by the Dalai Lama, his relatives, some officials and Living Buddhas held tax or ula labor-free licenses. In the future, all the corvee labor must be apportioned equally. Ula labor must be apportioned exclusively in accordance with documents stamped by the Dalai Lama and High Commissioners.

     (G) Tibet will follow the example of various other provinces to mint gold or silver coins locally in accordance with centrally set proportion and exchange rate of gold and silver in coins.

     (H) With regard to supplies for and management over monasteries, the Living Buddhas and lamas must be paid at the designated time; no one should be paid in advance. All the Living Buddhas and lamas of various monasteries must register with the High Commissioners and the Dalai Lama, who will each hold a name-list. Lamas going out must hold a passport. (Ya Hanzhang: Biography of the Dalai Lama,pp.43-51)

The 29-Article Ordinance for the More Effective Governing of Tibet is a systematic summary of the Central Government rule over Tibet during the early and middle period of the Qing Dynasty. It shows that the Qing Dynasty court had introduced an administrative system for Tibet. Its promulgation is a concentrated expression of the Qing court’s exercise of full power to rule Tibet. Its implementation in Tibet enabled people of Rear Tibet, who suffered from Nepalese invasion, to recuperate. The results were that peasants and herders were less burdened, the problem of corruption among government officials was somewhat eased, and the military forces stationed in the border area were reinforced.

From the 29 –Article Ordinance we see the Qing court restriction on the Dalai Lama in area such as confirmation of the reincarnated soul boy, his position and the involvement of his relatives with government affairs. This once again shows the emperor and the Dalai Lama in both the patron-lama relationship and also the relationship between the emperor and his subject.

     In September 1795, Emperor Qianlong announced that he would abdicate in favor of his 15th son Prince Jiaqing Yongyan in the following year. In the first lunar month of the following year, Emperor Jiaqing duly came to the throne.

     The 8th Dalai Lama died in 1804 or the ninth year of Emperor Jiaqing’s reign. The new emperor ordered Hotogtu Living Buddha Jilong (Gongdeling) to serve as the Prince Regent. Four years later, the son of Headman Dainzin Qujoin of Dengke in the Kam area was confirmed as the reincarnated soul boy of the late 8th Dalai Lama. The boy was taken to Lhasa, where he was enthroned as the 9th Dalai Lama Lungdo Gyamco.

     The soul boy of the late 8th Dalai Lama was confirmed without going through the procedure of “drawing lot from the golden urn.” The Prince Regent joined hands with the four Galoons, representatives of the three major monasteries and the 7th Panchen Erdeni to examine the boy, and found he was really intelligent enough to be the soul boy of the late 8th Dalai Lama. They requested the High Commissioner to file a report with the emperor for exemption from the lot-drawing ceremony. In his report delivered on the 23rd day of the first lunar month of the 13th year of Emperor Jiaqing’s reign (in 1808), the High Commissioner said: “The son of Dainzin Qujoin can say what the 8th Dalai Lama had said and can recite Buddhist scriptures. He is really the reincarnated soul boy of the late 8th Dalai Lama. The Panchen Erdeni and various Hotogtu Living Buddhas wish you, the Grand Emperor, will exempt the method of drawing lot from the golden urn. They will be very grateful if you could exempt him from the lot-drawing ceremony. We, your subject, dare not violate the rule set in the edict of Emperor Gaozong (Qianlong) concerning the lot-drawing system. If the lot-drawing ceremony is held according to the imperial edit, there will be the blessing of Emperor Gaozong and nothing wrong would happen. But I, your subject, am not knowledgeable enough and am not able to seek the heavenly assistance. It is a matter of serious significance if the lot of Dainzin Qujoin’s son is not drawn, and the chosen boy is not trusted by the Tibetans. I dare not make the decision and have to plead with the emperor to approve the son of Dainzin Qujoin to be the reincarnated soul boy of the late 8th Dalai Lama, which would be of great benefits to the Tibetan monks and lay people. In the future, any child who cannot say what the late Dalai Lama said will have to go through the lot-drawing ceremony in accordance with the imperial edict. Modification is needed this time.” When Emperor Jiaqing read the report, he sent people to Tibet to read out his edict that the lot-drawing ceremony would not be required. Gifts the emissary brought to Tibet included hada, statue of the Longevity Buddha, precious stone and beads, and golden bell club. The emperor also sent Prince Du Len and others to Tibet to attend the sitting-in-the-bed ceremony held in the Potala Palace on September 22, 1808. The 9th Dalai Lama was allowed to ride a yellow sedan chair and use the seal of authority given to the late 8th Dalai Lama. The new Dalai Lama was also given a reward of 10,000 taels of silver.

     The 9th Dalai Lama was confirmed without going through the lot-drawing procedure and enthroned with the approve al of the emperor who issued an imperial edict for this purpose. The Panchen Erdeni and various Hotogtu Living Buddhas all knew their decision would be effective only when the decision was reported to the emperor for approval through the High Commissioner. This is why they officially requested the High Commissioner to file a report to the emperor.

     The 9th Dalai Lama died all of a sudden in 1815 at the age of 11. A child was found in Litang in the Kam area to be his reincarnated soul boy. The Prince Regent, Demo Hotogtu Living Buddha and some monk and lay officials with the Tibetan government planed to win the emperor’s approval to exempt the boy from the lot-drawing ceremony just as the emperor did to the 9th Dalai Lama. A report was sent to the emperor through High Commissioner Yu Lin for the exemption. Emperor Jiaqing was dissatisfied with the report and held that the lot-drawing system introduced by the late Emperor Qianlong had to be upheld and no change should be made at will. In his edict to the minister in charge of the Board of Military Affairs in March 1819 (the 24th year of Emperor Jiaqing’s reign), the emperor said: “Yu Lin reported there are monks and lay people in Tibet who plead for confirmation of the soul boy of the late 9th Dalai Lama. The request should not be met. In the past, when a soul boy was confirmed and reported, we accepted grudgingly. But conflicts ensued. Emperor Gaozong, insightful as he was, introduced the system of drawing lot from the golden urn, a system which should be followed for ever. Can the intelligent signs of the child reported by Litang be trustworthy? It is wrong for Yu Lin not to refuse the request sternly. The Litang boy can be a candidate whose name can be placed in the golden urn for lot drawing. When two more are reported, the names of the three should be sealed into the golden urn. Buddhist scriptures are to be recited and the lot drawn before the public in accordance with the set system. This edict be relayed to the Demo Hotogtu Living Buddha; no tampering is allowed. Please make clear that anyone who comes to the court to intercede will be punished.” (The Records of Qing Emperor Renzong, Vol.355, p.16). Upon receipt of the edict from Emperor Jiaqing, the local government of Tibet managed to find two more child candidates. In 1822 (the second year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign), the three soul boy candidates were brought to Lhasa in accordance with the edict from Emperor Daoguang. A lot-drawing ceremony was held in the Jokhang Monastery according to the set rule. The result was that Curchen Gyamco, who was the aforementioned boy from Litang, was confirmed as the 10th Dalai Lama.

     Also following stipulations of the 29-Article Ordinance, three soul boy candidates were found and a lot-drawing ceremony was held to determine the soul boy of the late 10th Dalai Lama in 1842 (the 22nd year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign), and the soul boy of the late 11th Dalai Lama in 1858 (the eighth year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign) who was later confirmed as the 12th Dalai Lama Chenlie Gyamco.

     From the 9th Dalai Lama to the 13th Dalai Lama, when the Qing emperor gave his approval to each confirmed soul boy in the form of an imperial edict, a grand edict-receiving ceremony would be held in Lhasa. At the ceremony, the High Commissioner read out the edict before the public; the Dalai Lama soul boy kowtowed to the east to thank the emperor. This shows the emperor-subject relationship between the Qing emperor and the Dalai Lama. If there was only the patron-lama relationship between the Qing emperor and the Dalai Lama, how could such an eminent monk kowtow to the patron whose Buddhist rank was lower than the former in the Buddhist world?

     The 10th Dalai Lama Curchen Gyamco suddenly died in the Potala Palace in September 1837 (the 17th year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign) at the age of 22. He never came to the throne.

     In 1842 (the 22nd year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign), the sitting-in-the-bed ceremony was held to enthrone the 11th Dalai Lama Kezhol Gyamco. Emperor Daoguang attached great importance to the ceremony and issued two imperial edicts in 1841 on arrangements. The Hotogtu Living Buddha Canggya and the Hotogtu Living Buddha Menbao as well as Deputy Commander Shimen’e of Chengdu were sent to observe the ceremony. The new Dalai Lama was issued a golden certificate of appointment. Some 10,000 taels of silver was earmark to cover the ceremony’s expenses.

     Emperor Daoguang ordered the Hotogtu Living Buddha Razheng to serve as the Prince Regent in 1846 (the 26th year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign) as the 11th Dalai Lama was only nine years old. In 1855 (the fifth year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign), the 11th Dalai Lama received an imperial edict from the emperor to come to the throne in the first lunar month of that year. In less than one year, the 18-year-old 11th Dalai Lama died suddenly in the Potala Palace on December 15, Emperor Xianfeng ordered the Hotogtu Living Buddha Razheng to serve as the Prince Regent.

     In 1860 (the 10th year of Emperor Xiangfeng’s reign), the sitting-in-the-bed ceremony was held to enthrone the 12th Dalai Lama Chenlie Gyamco. Emperor Xianfeng issued two imperial edicts for the ceremony, advising the allocation of 10,000 tales of silver to cover expenses. A special envoy was dispatched to deliver the certificate of appointment, which was read out by the High Commissioner during the ceremony. In 1873 (the 12th year of Emperor Tongzhi’s reign), Emperor Tongzhi ordered the 12th Dalai Lama to begin ruling Tibet. In March 1875 (the first year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign), the 12th Dalai Lama died suddenly in the Potala Palace at the age of 20 and when he was in power only for two years.

     The 9th-12th Dalai Lamas all died at a tender age, inviting suspicion from the Qing imperial court. There was also rumor that they were poisoned. When the High Commissioner went to investigate the rumored “murder case,” no clues were found and the greedy High Commissioner took the advantage to line his pockets.

     (4) Emperors Guangxu and Xuantong With the 13th Dalai Lama 

     After the death of the 12th Dalai Lama, the local government of Tibet organized a search for the reincarnated soul boy of the late master. In 1876 or the second year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu, Lobsang Takai Gyamco, son of Goingya Rinqen, a peasant with Namdain Village in Tabo, southeast of Lhasa, was found to possess the appropriate knowledge to be the soul boy. Two other boys were located, but the Tibetan government leaders found no signs that they might be considered as candidates. The 8th Panchen Erdeni, the Prince Regent, the three major monasteries, the Tashilhungpo Monastery, and all the lay and monk officials with the Gaxag government sent a joint letter to Qing Dynasty High Commissioner Songgui, requesting the Qing emperor approve the confirmation of Lobsang Takai Gyamco as the reincarnation of the 12th Dalai Lama without going through the procedure of drawing lot from the golden urn. The High Commissioner sent a report to Emperor Guangxu in June 1877, stating that only one boy had been confirmed by various parties who requested to exempt from the lot-drawing ceremony. The emperor replied with an imperial edict reading in part:”Norbu Zangta Burke Gyamco [the boy Lobsang Takai Gyamco –ed.], son of Goingya Rinqen, be confirmed as the reincarnate of the Dalai Lama. There is no need to confirm him by drawing lot from the golden urn.” (The Records of Qing Dynasty Emperor Dezong, Vol.52, p.2) Hence, the 13th Dalai Lama was enthroned.

     Thus, the 13th Dalai Lama was the second Dalai Lama confirmed as the reincarnated Living Buddha without the process of drawing lot, a system that was introduced by Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong. The other was the 9th Dalai Lama. Qing Dynasty emperors approved both as Living Buddhas after setting aside the drawing of lots.

     In early November 1877, Lobsang Takai Gyamco, the soul boy, was taken to Lhasa from Tabo. On November 14, a ceremony was held in the Sunlight Hall of the Paradise and Clean Earth Monastery, Caigongtang, in the eastern outskirts of Lhasa, to kowtow to and receive the imperial edict of the emperor, which approved him as the living reincarnation of the 12th Dalai Lama. This was the indispensable ritual established after the 9th Dalai Lama. The High Commissioner stationed in Tibet by the  Qing Dynasty and the Banbai Minister stood in front of the soul boy. The soul boy knelt down facing the imperial edict in the hands of the Qing High Commissioner. The Prince Regent, sutra teachers, and lay and monk official also knelt behind the soul boy, while the Qing High Commissioner read the edict. When the edict was read, the soul boy kowtowed repeatedly to the east as a token of thanks to the Qing emperor. He also presented the two imperial representatives with traditional hada scarves, tea and other gifts. This was followed by grand religious rituals held to celebrate the event. (Chronicles of the 13th Dalai Lama, Vol.11, p.3 Selected Materials of Tibetan History)

     The 8th Panchen gave tonsure to the soul boy of the late 12th Dalai Lama in Caigongtang in January 1878, and gave him the Buddhist name Tubdain Gyamco. The Gaxag government asked the Qing Dynasty High Commissioner to report to the emperor: “Please be so kind as to approve the enthronement of the 13 Dalai Lama at a grand ceremony to be held next year (the Tibetan Year of the Earth Rabbit). And please be so kind as to allow him to use the golden certificate of appointment and the golden seal of authority, as was done before, and allow him to ride the yellow sedan chair.” In the spring of 1879, Emperor Guangxu replied in an imperial edict: “One yellow hada, one statue of Buddha, one holy club and one rosary be awarded to the soul boy of the late Dalai Lama for the enthronement ceremony. Awards also be given to his father Goingya Rinqen.” “The soul boy of the late Dalai Lama be allowed to use the golden seal of authority, ride the yellow sedan chair, and use the yellow horse saddle and yellow whip, plus the yellow cloth gown.” (The Records of Qing Dynasty Emperor Dezong, Vol.90, p.7) On the ninth day of the six month of the same year on the Tibetan calendar, the Qing High Commissioner and the soul boy of the 12th Dalai Lama jointly opened the sealed golden certificate of appointment. Five days later, a sitting-in –the-bed ceremony was held in the Potala Palace for the enthronement of the 13th Dalai Lama. The Manchurian language secretary and Gaxag government officials read loudly the Qing emperor’s edict approving the enthronement. The 13th Dalai Lama received the emperor’s grants from the Qing High Commissioner. Jikyab Kampus and four Chungyia Chenmo secretaries presented hada scarves to the 13th Dalai Lama before unfolding the golden seal of authority and using it to stamp a report to be submitted to the Qing emperor and a hada.

     Following the enthronement ceremony, the Prince Regent sent Beyer Kampus to Beijing, where he reported to the emperor how the soul boy of the 12th Dalai Lama was taken to the Potala Palace and how he was enthroned. (Chronicles of the 13th Dalai Lama, Vol.11, p.6 Selected Materials of Tibetan History)

     Prior to this, the Gaxag government sent a report on May 4 to Qing Emperor Guangxu on matters concerning candidates for sutra teachers of the new Dalai Lama. The emperor replied in an edict on June 23: “Prince Regent Gongdeling Hotogtu Ngawang Bendain Qoigyi Gyaincain serves as the sutra teacher, and Purjor Xazong Lobsang Curchen Qamba Gyamco serves as the assistant sutra teacher. Local Yamen acts in accordance with this edict.” On August 14, the two sutra teachers expressed their thanks to the Qing emperor in a report submitted to the emperor through the Qing High Commissioner. (Chronicles of the 13th Dalai Lama, Vol.11, pp. 6-7 Selected Materials of Tibetan History)

     Like the Dalai Lama of the previous generations, the 13th Dalai Lama was confirmed as the soul boy, enthroned, empowered to unfold and use the seal of authority, and assigned sutra teachers only when he had been granted imperial edicts from the Qing Dynasty emperor expressing his approval. This had become a set system required by the Qing Dynasty court and followed by the local government of Tibet. From this one sees the emperor-minister relations between the Qing emperor and the Dalai Lama, instead of simply patron-lama ties.

     Pinpointing the fact that the late Qing exercised weak rule over Tibet because the central authority was weak, Xagabba and Van Praag make much in their attempt to convince the world that Tibet no longer belonged to the Qing Dynasty.

     The Qing Dynasty ended its heyday following the ascension to the throne of Emperor Jiaqing. In the ensuing period which saw the daily weakening of national strength, the Qing court relaxed, to certain extent, its control over Tibet and other minority areas. During this period of time, however, the Britain Empire was growing in strength. When Great Britain conquered India and seized control of Nepal. Sikkim and Bhutan, it launched an armed invasion into Tibet in 1888, and again in 1904.

     The Qing Dynasty capitulated to the demands of the British invaders and suppressed the Tibetan army and civilians, led by the 13th Dalai Lama, in their struggle against the invaders. As a result, the Tibetan army and civilians suffered from defeat. Following its military victory, the British invaders did their best to cultivate pro-British elements among the Tibetans and sow bad blood between the Han and the Tibetan peoples on the plateau. The British went on to work on the 13th Dalai Lama, inciting him to throw off control by the Qing Dynasty court. The Qing court’s rule over Tibet weakened further. Even as the Qing court’s control over Tibet was undermined, its prestige in the region was declining and its influence on Tibetan life was dwindling, the Central Government’s rule over Tibet continued during this period. Various laws and regulations, enacted by the Qing court for the effective government of Tibet, continued to be promulgated; Qing High Commissioners were sent to Tibet to rule over the region together with the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni’; and the emperor continued to maintain the emperor-minister relationship with the Dalai Lama. This shows that weakened rule over Tibet during the late Qing Dynasty does not mean the end of Qing court rule over the region, and weakened influence over the Tibetans does not mean no influence at all. While there was a degree of quantitative change in Central Government rule over Tibet, there was no quality change at all in the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. Xagabba and Van Praag do their best to confuse the quantitative change with a qualitative change, trying to disguise the former as the later.

     Van Praag even goes so far as to quote Lord Curzon, viceroy of British India, as saying in the late 19th century that the High Commissioner sent to Tibet by the Qing court was “no more than an ambassador.”

     Let us once again scrutinize historical materials. In the 100 years between 1800 and 1899, the Qing court sent some 70 High Commissioners or Banbai Ministers to Tibet, with an official ranking equal to that of viceroy in the other provinces. These officials came under the direct authority of the Central Government. They enjoyed from the very beginning, real power. Following Emperor Qianlong’s promulgation of the 29-Article Ordinance for the More Efficient Governing of Tibet in 1793, Qing High Commissioners enjoyed the following powers: first, administrative power to take charge, together with the Dalai Lama, of the Gaxag government and handle affairs concerning officials below the Galoon level and various Living Buddhas, as well as responsibility for the residency of Tibetans; second, personnel power to sponsor the lot-drawing ceremony, report to the imperial court on matters concerning the reincarnated soul boys of the Dalai Lama, Panchen Erdeni and various major Living Buddhas of the Gelug Sect, and join the Dalai Lama to appoint all Tibetan officials except Galoon and Duiboin officials who had to be appointed by the emperor, third military power to control the number of Tibetan troops to be recruited and sent out, join the Dalai Lama to select and appoint army officers below the Daiboin rank such as Ruboin, Gyaboin, Dingboin, and inspect on an annual basis Tibetans troops stationed in various parts of Tibet; fourth, judiciary power to examine and approve punishment of criminals, and investigate and punish Tibetan and Han officials in Tibet who violated the law; fifth, foreign affairs power to, in accordance with imperial court decisions, handle all affairs with neighboring countries; and sixth, financial power to supervise the minting of money, check tax payments and government budgets, and decide on tax rates or corvee holidays.

     The system of stationing High Commissioners in Tibet indicates the Qing imperial court’s exercise of sovereignty over Tibet. This system lasted until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. Various powers enjoyed by the Qing High Commissioners represent state sovereignty. They are by no means power employed by “Chinese ambassadors in Tibet” as no ambassador in the world enjoys so much power in administrative, personnel, military, judiciary, financial and foreign affairs.

     History is after all history. Facts speak louder than words. Chinese sovereignty over Tibet contains not only the patron-lama relationship between the Qing emperor and the Dalai Lama, but, more importantly, the set relationship between the ruler and the ruled, a fact that no one is in a position to alter.

Chapter V

British Invasion and The Birth of the Myth of “Tibetan Independence”

     The myth of “Tibetan independence,” which evolved during the late 19th century, is actually the product of the imperialist invasion of China, with the British invaders in Tibet as the chief architects. Many Chinese and foreign works have been published to bring light to this segment of history. These include The Source of the So-called ‘Tibetan Independence’ Activities by Yang Gongsu, a famous Chinese Tibetologist, which tells of this period of history in an all-around and systematic way. However, Van Praag and Xagabba go against the current to cover and tamper the fact that the British invaded Tibet and directed these “Tibetan independence” activities. It is therefore of great importance to return black to white.

The third chapter, Tibet in the “Great Game” of The Status of Tibet by Van Praag ventures to tell readers, but without producing any background, that “Tibet became the unwilling object of contention among the three great empires of Asia: Russian, British and the Manchu Empires”. Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What is expounded in the chapter throws the readers into confusion.

In Xagabba’s Tibet: A Political History, a brief introduction is made to the reincarnation of the late 12th Dalai Lama and the enthronement of the 13th Dalai Lama. Suddenly the focus shifts to say that the government of Bangladesh sent people to Xigaze and the British leased Darjeeling from Sikkim. But it says nothing about why the Bangladesh government sent people to Xigaze and why the British leased Darjeeling from Sikkim.

In 1600, the British colonialists set up the East India Company in India for commercial exploitation. In 1757 when Britain defeated Indian Bangladesh, India was reduced to the status of a British colony. In 1849, when Britain conquered the whole of India, India became the political and economic center of the British colonialist system in the east and the strategic base of Britain for British expansion in Asia.

During the period from the 19th to the early 20th centuries, Great Britain was in its heyday. India emerged as “the brightest pearl in the crown of the British Queen” and was also a “food basket” for Britain. Britain held that India had a high role to play in guaranteeing its long-term and maximum economic interests in the South Asian sub-continent. In the light of India’s geographical features and surrounding environment, the British strategists produced a proposition for the establishment of “three buffer zones, two concentric circles and one inner lake” to provide for Indian security. The “three buffer zones” refer to Tibet becoming subject to British management, which would guarantee India was “free from the China threat”; the Indian Ocean Rim, with an aim of bringing “countries along the coasts of the Indian Ocean under British control”; and Afghanistan, which was expected to keep Czarist Russia away from the British holdings. The “two concentric circles” refer to the inner circle of tribal areas in the north-western border of India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, the Assam State and tribal areas in the northeastern border of India, and the outer circle of emirates in the Persian Gulf, Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, and Thailand.

Proceeding from this strategic proposition, Britain must set out northward from India to invade various states in the Himalayan areas before making inroads into Tibet. At this point, Czarist Russia was coveting Xinjiang, attempting to thrust southward into Tibet, Czarist Russia’s invasion of Tibet, however, was not as serious and direct as the British invasion. It relied primarily on political means.

The British and Russian invasions of Tibet were illegal because they infringed upon the territorial integrity of China and undermined China’s unification. The strengthening of Chinese rule over Tibet was legal because it helped maintain state sovereignty and was favorable for national unification. The two are totally different in nature.

It is therefore absolutely wrong for Van Praag to talk about the scramble for Tibet between three empires—Russia, Britain and the Manchurian Empire. It is wrong because it confuses invasions with the invaded and illegal moves with legal moves.

In accordance with its established policy of expanding northward from India, Britain leased Darjeeling from Sikkim in 1835 as the “summer resort” of the East India Company. Henceforth, Britain secured a foothold in the Himalayan areas. In 1846 Britain engulfed the Chamoli-Kashmir area in northwestern India and seized control of Ladakh in Tibet. In 1860, the British attacked Sikkim and placed the king under palace arrest the following year, forcing him to sign the Anglo-Sikkim Treaty, which ceded large tracts of land to British rule. Also in 1860, the British signed a treaty with Nepal, which allowed British control of Nepal in greater depth. In 1864, the British attacked Bhutan and forced the defeated Bhutan government to sign a treaty in 1865, forcibly taking away large tracts of Bhutan’s lands. Using Sikkim as a springboard for invasion of Tibet, the British built roads in Sikkim for a northward march conducted in accordance with its strategy of subjecting Tibet under British administration and freeing India from China threat.

  1. First British Invasion

     In the 1860s, the British invaders in Sikkim started to build roads and bridges leading to Tibet. They also sent recruited vagrants across Rina by the Tibet-Sikkim border to Mount Lungdo to explore paths. When they were spotted, they were stopped by locals. The British then sent people to the area north of Mount Lungdo, building roads and blockhouses. In the face of the imminent British invasion, the Gaxag government, in disregard of the compromising policies adopted by the corrupt Qing court, dispatched troops to Mount Lungdo, where they put up barriers and built blockhouses by which stood statues of Buddhist guardians. The British claimed this constituted a Tibetan invasion of Sikkim and told the Qing court that the Gaxag government of Tibet must withdraw its troops from Mount Lungdo in a given period of time or the British would station troops there too. In the face of the arrogant British, the Qing court which feared border wars, decided to “suffer wrong in pursuit of the overall general interest.” It demanded the Gaxag Government of Tibet withdraw it troops from Mound Lungdo.

     The Gaxag government and the three major monasteries refused to do so by pointing out that Mount Lungdo was Tibetan territory instead of the Sikkim territory. Qing Dynasty High Commissioner Wen Shu saw through the British intentions and supported the Gaxag government in their fight against the British. While sowing bad blood between the Qing court and the Gaxag government, the British did their best to win over the Qing court in a joint political fight against the Tibetans, who stood for resistance against the British. In the meantime, the British massed some 2,000 troops south of slopes of Mount Lungdo, ready to launch an attack northward. On the Tibetan side, two Duiboin generals were sent to lead 900 Tibetan troops, and the militias were mobilized. They were deployed on Mount Lungdo and in its north. Galoon Lhalu Yexei Norbu Wangqu was appointed the chief commander.

     On March 20, 1888 (the seventh day of the second month of the Tibetan calendar), the British troops attacked the Tibetan troops at Mount Lungdo. Tibetan official Doje Renzin and the Tibetan troops and militia rose to resist, killing some 100 British invaders in the first battle. They suffered from heavy losses in the ensuing battles and were forced to retreat to Yadong and Pagri, leaving Mount Lungdo in the control by the British. The Qing court dismissed Wen Shu, the Qing High Commissioner stationed in Tibet, who had supported the Tibetan struggle against the British invasion, and appointed obedient Sheng Tai to take his place as the Banbai Minister. In disregard of obstructions from the Qing court, the 13th Dalai Lama and the Gaxag government of Tibet mobilized some 10,000 Tibetan troops and militiamen and battled the British invaders from June through October, in an attempt to recover Mount Lungdo.

     Following the instructions from the Qing court to the letter, the new High Commissioner stood in the way of the Tibetan troops and militia. This, plus the poor equipment of the Tibetan troops and militiamen led to failure. The British troops crossed the Zheliha mountain pass, and penetrated Rinqengang and Chunpi in Yadong. There, they kidnapped and put under palace arrest the Sikkim king then living in Chunpi. At that time, Sikkim maintained such good ties with Yadong of Tibet that the Sikkim king spent winters in Gangtok, now capital of Sikkim, and summers in Chunpi of Yadong. Accoring to An Outline of Tibet Written by the Japanese scholar Y. Narita, who reached Yadong and Mount Lungdo in the post-war period, stated: “When I passed that place, my servant said pointing at the old battlefield: During the battles two years earlier, dead bodies littered the ground and blood converged into streams. Bones were piled into hills. Alas.” This tells of the causalities suffered by the Tibetans”. (Ya Hanzhang: Biography of the Dalai Lama, p.103)

     As the year 1888 was the Year of Earth Mouse of the Tibetan calendar, the Tibetans refer to these battles as the War of the Earth Mouse Year.

     After the end of the first British invasion of Tibet, the decadent Qing court yearned for peace talks with the British. In the winter of 1888, the Qing court sent Sheng Tai to Yadong to negotiate peace with the British. Under British pressure, Sheng Tai retreated step by step, seeking peace through the sale of his country. He joined British Indian Viceroy P.C. Lansdowne to sign the Anglo-Chinese Convention Relating to Sikkim and Tibetan Calcutta in 1890, which obligated the Qing government to recognize the British government’s protectorate over Sikkim, formerly under the jurisdiction of China’s Tibet.

  1. Second British Invasion

     Upon winning a protectorate over Sikkim from Tibet, the British erected a boundary tablet at the Sikkum-Tibet border. In 1893, the Qing court signed with Britain the Regulations Regarding Trade, Communication, and Pasturage to Be Appended to the Sikkim-Tibet Convention of 1890. According to the new treaty, a trade market was to be established at Yadong. It was open to all British subjects. The British thus gained access to Yadong also for trade purpose. The door to Tibet was finally jarred open for the British, which leads to the economic plunder that is their nature. Like other parts of China, Tibet was gradually reduced to a semi-colonial society.

     The local government of Tibet and the broad masses of the Tibetans were strongly resentful of these unequal treaties. They rose to obstruct the British trade and surveys of the Tibet-Sikkim borders and destroyed the boundary tablet the British had moved north without the consent of the Tibetan government. From 1894 to 1902, Britain repeatedly forced the Qing court to pressure the Tibetan government and the 13th Dalai Lama to implement the unequal treaties. The local government of Tibet and the 13th Dalai Lama, however, refused to be so. Cherishing deep hatred of the British invaders, the 13th Dalai Lama, who came to power in 1895, regretted the weakness of the Qing court in resisting the British invasion. Lured by Czarist Russia’s political stance, he ventured to establish ties with Russia.

     A strange situation surfaced. While the Qing Dynasty court, which had sovereignty over Tibet, failed to see to the implementation of some of its laws and regulations (especially those which proved to be wrong) in Tibet when it was weakening and its influence in Tibet was dwindling, the local government of Tibet, which hated the British invasion, still demanded the British contact the Qing court when it was obliged to deal with the British face-to-face. The result was that the Qing Dynasty court negotiated with the British government and reached an agreement that was detrimental to state and Tibetan interests (such as the 1890 and 1893 treaties), while the local government of Tibet refused to implement these treaties. Having failed to obtain its expected goal through concluding treaties with the Qing Dynasty court, the British decided to bypass the Qing court and deal directly with the local government of Tibet. This marked the beginning of the British plot to tear Tibet from China. For this purpose, Lord Curzon, the British viceroy of India, sent three letters to the 13th Dalai Lama, first in 1899, and then in 1900 and 1901, urging him to observe the 1890 and 1893 treaties. The 13th Dalai Lama refused to accept these letters.

     The British worried about Czarist Russia’s possible intervention in Tibetan affairs. To subdue the Tibetan authorities and rule out the possibility of Russia having a finger in the pie, the British plotted the second armed invasion of Tibet. On May 26, 1902, Barre, a British tax official stationed in Yadong to assist the Qing court in dealing with the British, wrote a letter to An Cheng, the Qing Banbai Minister in Tibet. The letter said “the reasons for the recent Indian government invasion included the fact that the Tibetans refused to implement treaties the British had signed with Sheng Tai, and, as the Qing Dynasty court turned a blind eye to this, some were unwilling go through the Chinese.” Barre relayed the British opinion on the Tibetan issue:

   From these statements one sees clearly that Britain planned to deprive China of the power to rule Tibet and turn Tibet into an independent state just like Korea.

     In July 1903, Britain sent Commander Francis Younghusband and J. Claude White, the British administrative commissioner in Sikkim, to lead about 300 British troops into Gampa Zong of Tibet via northern Sikkim, claiming this force had come to negotiate with the Tibetan authorities.

     Tibetan authorities were indignant about this. The 13 Dalai Lama was staunch in resisting the invading British. And the majority of the Tibetan government officials and lamas with the three major monasteries opposed negotiations with Britain. They strongly demanded the British troops withdraw from Gampa Zong. A small number of Tibetan officials, who had been bought by the British, stood for talks with the British. They included Galoon Xazha Benjor Doje. Angry, the 13th Dalai Lama dismissed four Tibetan officials who stood for talks with British and detained them in Norbu Lingka for interrogation. They were Galoon Xazha Benjor Doje. Galoon Xoikang Cedain Wangqug, Galoon Lama Qamqen Ngawang Baisang and Galoon Zhasa Horkang Soinam Doje. Under the leadership of the 13th Dalai Lama, the local government of Tibet mobilized troops and the militia and sent them to Gampa Zong to fight the invading British.

     The British troops were entrenched in Gampa Zong for months. They conducted espionage activities in the surrounding area. This diverted the attention of the local government of Tibet. Taking advantage of this change, Younghusband retreated suddenly from Gampa Zong to northern Sikkum in October. Soon after this, Britain rushed 3,000 troops to the area north of Mount Lungdo. Led by J. Macdonald and Younghusband, they moved northward. The advance troops led ty Younghusband secretly crossed the Zhelilha mountain pass on December 12, advanced through Rinqengang and Chunpi, captured Pagri on December 21 and occupied Duina on January 4, 1904. The advance troops were followed closely by troops led by J. Macdonald.

     The Tibetan government rushed some 1,000 crack forces, led by Duiboin Generals Ladingse and Namseling, to Duina and Doqen, and mobilized 2,000 more Tibetan troops and numerous militiamen.

     In early March 1904, the British invaders confronted the Tibetan troops in Qoimishango and Gulhu, which are located between Duina and Doqen. The British troops claimed they would advance further so as to be able to directly deal with the Tibetan government, while the Tibetan troops claimed that the meeting would be possible only when the British troops had retreated to Sikkim. They each refused to budge. At this point, the British troops demanded on-the-spot negotiations with the Tibetan troops. The Gaxag government advised the Tibetan troops to enter into negotiations with the British troops and then launch an attack according to their original plan should the talks break down. Thus, Ladingse and Namseling invited the British representative to Qoimishango for negotiations.

     When Younghusband and others came to the negotiation table, the British troops surrounded the Tibetan troops in a tight battle formation. The situation was favorable tactically only for the British troops. When Younghusband and other British military representatives met with Ladingse and Namseling, they noted: “Since we came for peace talks, our troops will remove the bullets from their rifles as a token of our sincerity. But you should put out the fuses of your fire arms.” At the order of Younghusband, the British troops present on the occasion each removed one bullet from their rifles but, immediately, loaded another without the Tibetans becoming aware. The Tibetans were not aware of the danger, simply because they had no rifles and so had no idea how to use them. Thinking the British rifles were empty, the Tibetan troops put out the fuses of their fire arms.

     After the negotiation had gone on for only 15 minutes, one British officer drew his pistol and killed Ladingse, Namseling and other Tibetan representatives. The British troops attacked the Tibetan troops, killing more than 500 in just a few minutes. The surviving Tibetan troops fought hand-to-hand with the British troops. Although they killed some British, they were routed. During the battle, some 1,000 Tibetans were killed, and only 380 won a narrow escape. The springs at Qoimishango ran red with Tibetan blood.

     The British troops continued to advance northward from Qoimishango. All along the way, they set fire to Buddhist monasteries, ransacked the homes of the Tibetans and performed other evil deeds. Tibetan troops, monks and militiamen, totaling some 4,000, exploited the perilous geography, intercepting the invading British troops at the Zaqam Valley between Kangma and Shaogang. On April 9, when some 30 mounted British troops entered the valley, they were ambushed and killed by the Tibetans armed with fire arms, clubs and stones. The British troops rushed forward to fight the Tibetans with rifles, machine guns and cannon. The fighting lasted one day, claiming a loss of 280 British soldiers and 150 Tibetans. The Tibetan troops and militiamen failed to stop the invading British troops.

     The British reached Gyangze on April 11. Younghusband left to garrison Gyanglu and Pala villages at the head of 500 troops, while Macdonald, faced with food shortages brought his troops back to Yadong. This was closely followed by the establishment of British logistics posts in the area between Yadong and Gyangze. In early May, 360 British troops left Gyangze to attack the Tibetan troops in Kari La, in the direction of Nanggarze. Only 130 or more British troops stayed to guard Gyangze. Under the cover of night, more than 1,000 Tibetan troops attacked the British stationed in Pala Village, narrowly failing to kill Younghusband. The British only managed to extricate themselves when other British troops at Kari La came to their rescue. On May 26, further British reinforcement rushed to Gyangze from Yadong, recapturing Pala Village.

     The local government of Tibet managed to amass about 16,000 troops, monks and militia, armed with home made weapons, to reinforce the defenses at Gyangze. Part of the Tibetan army, led by Galoon Yutog, the commander-in-chief of the Tibetan army, was stationed in Yade, Nyemo, as the first defense line; and part of the Tibetan army was deployed in Xigaze and Rinbung, and also in Nanggarze as the second defense line. The Tibetan militia, led by Duiboin Minglingba, set out to attack the British logistic posts via Nanggaze, Ralung and Kamma.

     Younghusband returned to Yadong from Gyangze in early June, where he plotted with Macdohnald to attack Lhasa to force the Tibetan government to surrender. To this end, the British Indian government reinforced them. Macdonald and Younghusband finally set out for Gyangze in late June.

     At this time, the Tibetan militia, led by Duiboin Minglingba, had seized the Nai’nying Monastery located between Gyangze and Shaogang, posing a serious threat to the British logistics posts in the surrounding area. The militia from Gongbo ambushed and killed some 30 British soldiers in the area between Kamma and Shaogang. To ensure the smooth operation of their logistic stations, the British troops left Shaogang and Gyanglu, launching a pincer attack at the Nai’nying Monastery. Tibetan militia braved the British heavy artillery, fighting the invaders tenaciously. Hand-to-hand fighting broke out when the British broke the monastery walls. Ngada Nyima Zhaba and his brother, heads of the Gongbo militia, and Dordobur, a militia from the Kam area, killed a British officer and some 120 of the invaders. But they themselves died a heroic death during the battle, their blood dripping from the upper steps of the monastery.

People of Ngada Nyima Zhaba’s hometown—Joimo Town, Nyingchi County—hold horse racing, archery and other activities on the first day of the 10th month of each Tibetan year (the day of Ngada Nyima Zhaba leaving to fight the British invaders) in memory of the two heroic brothers.

British gunfire caused heavy losses on the part of the Tibetan militiamen, who were forced to withdraw from Nai’nying Monastery. The British ransacked the monastery, taking away all cultural relics and other valuables before burning it down.

The British reinforcements joined forces with the troops formerly stationed in Gyangze. They seized control of the area south of the Nyang Qu River. Prior to their attack on downtown Gyangze, British troops took the Zijing Monastery, northwest of Gyangze, with a view to cutting off Gyangze’s ties with Xigaze. More than 1,000 gilded statues of Buddha, large amounts of satins embroidered with images of Buddha, Gangyur and other Buddhist classics, and gold, silver and bronze objects were looted.

The British then surrounded Gyangze from the east, south and northwest, and cut off water supply to Zongshan Hill in Gyangze in preparation for a concentrated attack on the downtown area.

The 13th Dalai Lama sent Galoon Yutog and some others to negotiate with Younghusband in Gyangze on July 1. The British general demanded the Tibetan troops pull out of Gyangze before July 5, but the demand was rejected. At noon on July 5, the British troops started their attack.

      The British troops made a breach of the Gyangze county castle with heavy gunfire, and organized assauls. The Tibetan troops and militiamen retaliated bravely. They treated the charging British troops with powder guns and stones. When drinking water had been finished, they sneaked out under the cloak of darkness to fetch muddy water from a pit at the foot of the hill. When the pit dried up, they drank their own urine. Even under the most difficult conditions, the Tibetans never wavered. When their powder had run out, they fought with knives, spears and clubs, suffering a heavy toll. Finally, they managed to break the British encirclement in the north and southwest and continued fighting from the Palkor Monastery. A British army reporter named E. Candler wrote later that, in the face of British shrapnel, machine guns and rifles, the Tibetan army and militiamen braved death to fight back with stones. When Gyangze castle was captured, Palkor Monastery also fell. The British occupants took away all the precious relics and Buddhist scriptures, turned the Buddhist halls into dining rooms, and drove nails into the prayer wheels to turn them into food conveyors although the Tibetans considered all of these as holy objects. The battle caused heavy loss to the Tibetan army and militiamen.

With the fall of Gyangze, Galoon Yutog deployed the survivors in Kari La, Nanggarze, Nyangsoi La and Kamba La. On July 14, Macdonald set out from Gyangze to Lhasa at the head of any army of 4,000. On the 17th, they were confronted in Kari La. The British fought and broke the defense line of the 1,000 Tibetans and reached Yamzog Yumco Lake. After this, they met little resistance from the routed Tibetans, and finally entered Lhasa on August 3.

Under the threat from the British and with the pressure from High Commissioner You Tai, the local government of Tibet signed the Treaty of Lhasa with the British on September 7. Under this unequal treaty, (1) Tibet was not allowed to cede any land and mineral resources to any foreign country. This brought Tibet firmly into the British sphere of influence; (2) Tibet had to pay a war indemnity to Britain; (3) Tibet was required to raze all forts and fortifications in area from India to Gyangze and Lhasa; (4) Tibet had to open Yadong, Gyangze and Gartog as commercial ports; (5) Tibet was required to accept the 1890 treaty delineating the boundary between Tibet and Sikkim; and (6) Britain was allowed to station troops in Yadong. Although the Qing imperial court refused to accept the treaty, it was forced to sign the Treaty of Peking with the British in 1906. The Treaty of Peking was drafted on the basis of the Treaty of Lhasa, with the addition that British India personnel had the right to deal with foreign affairs in the three commercial ports in Tibet, erect post offices and postal stations between Yadong and Gyangze, and station troops in Yadon and Gyangze. These additional privileges enjoyed by British India were, in the final analysis, rooted in the 1904 Treaty of Lhasa.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Lhasa, the British troops, who had killed 4,000-5,000 Tibetans and looted and burned down many lamaseries, returned victoriously from Lhasa to India in mid and late September.

In his book entitled Twenty Years in Tibet, David Macdonald recorded what British troops had brought back from Tibetan Lamaseries: In January 1905 I was sent to Calcutta to categorize books and treasures, which others and I gathered in Tibet and were brought back using more than 400 mules. They included Buddhist classics, statues of Buddha, religious works, helmets, weapons, books and ceramics. The bulk of ceramics were sent to specialists for examination. All these treasures were formerly preserved in the India Museum, where I worked, and later in the British Museum, the Indian Museum, the Bodleian Library and the Indian Administrative Library. When I was categorizing them, George Nathaniel Curzon came for visit on several occasions in the capacity of the viceroy of India. He chose a few pieces he favored the most for collection by the Calcutta Victoria Memorial Hall. (Selected Material on the History of Tibet, p.210)

The above is a brief account of Britain’s second invasion of Tibet in 1904. As it took place in the Tibetan Year of Wood Dragon, the Tibetans call it the “War in Wood Dragon Year.”

In his book, The Status of Tibet,Van Praag makes a very brief account of the two British invasions of Tibet in the Tibetan Year of Earth Rat and the Tibetan Year of Wood Dragon respectively. Refraining from using such word as “invasion” or “aggression,” he describes the British troops led by Younghusband as a “delegation,” adding that “this  delegation,” replenished with about 3,000 soldiers and with the support of people twice the size of itself, captured Chumpi Valley (namely Yadong), advanced to Gyangze and finally reached Lhasa on August 3, 1904. All along the way, Van Praag says the British soldiers were forced to fight stubborn, but ineffective attacks by the Tibetan army. When Van Praag says the British troops were forced to fight battles seemingly in a defensive manner, he is turning a blind eye to the facts that the British troops conducted merciless slaughter in Qoimishango, destroying and looting the Nai’nying, Zijing and Palkor monasteries, and conducting looting and raping in Gyangze. His efforts to absolve the British troops from guilt for their crimes in Tibet serve only to show him as a defender of colonialists and imperialists.

With regard to the Treaty of Lhasa, Van Praag says it brought Britain closer than the Qing government to the status of suzerain power over Tibet. Here, Van Praag admits the facts that Britain invaded Tibet and forced the local government to sign the treaty with a view to replacing the Qing court’s role in Tibet and turning Tibet into the spheres of influence of Britain. From this we see what Britain claimed as “Tibetan independence” is actually a call for Tibet to seek independence from China instead of from Britain; and also for Tibet to be attached to Britain and take Britain as the suzerain power. Seeking independence from China instead of Britain was the dual standard of Britain in engaging in “Tibetan independence” then. According to the dual standard, Tibet endeavored to get rid of the motherland while seeking rule by Britain. It became the dual standard for Tibetan separatists to carry out “Tibetan independence” activities. The claim for “Tibetan independence” was, from the very beginning, rooted in the British efforts to turn Tibet into a semi- or full colony. Various privileges enjoyed by Britain, following the signing of the Treaty of Lhasa, to station troops, open trading ports, handle foreign affairs and set up postal offices and stations in Tibet highlight the implementation of the British effort to turn Tibet into one of its semi- or full colonies.

Xagabba describes the war during the Tibetan Year of Wood Dragon in his book entitled Tibet: A Political History. While quoting historical records to make a “Purely objective” description of the war, he does not, however, use “aggression” on “invasion” to describe the British move. He says nothing of the causes that led to border conflicts between the British and Tibetan troops; facts as to how Xazha and some others were bought over by the British; and atrocities of the British troops in Qoimishango and Gyangze, including killing, raping, burning and looting. In addition, he refrains from condemning Britain for forcing the local government of Tibet to sign the unequal Treaty of Lhasa, and also refrains from lauding the heroic anti-aggression struggles waged by Tibetan soldiers and civilians. People who read the book see nothing wrong in Britain’s invasion of Tibet, and nothing correct of Tibetans’ struggle against this invasion. Xagagga manages to detach himself from the reality or take a “neutral” stand in dealing with the British invasion of Tibet. But in doing so, he becomes a loyal supporter of the British invaders.

(3)  British Move to Cultivate Pro-British Forces in Tibet

On July 30, 1904 (the 15th day of the sixth month of Tibetan calendar), four days prior to the British attack at Lhasa, the 13th Dalai Lama hastily appointed Gandain Chiba Lobsang Gyaincain as the Prince Regent, while he left Lhasa secretly together with a small number of his men. The party reached Kulun (Ulan Bator) in Outer Mongolia in November via northern Tibet, Qinghai and Gansu. While away from Lhasa, the 13th Dalai Lama never forgot to carry the seal of authority bestowed on him by the Qing emperor, showing he set great store by this symbol of power.

      After the two aggressive wars, Britain found that Tibet could not be subdued by military force. It changed tactics by cultivating pro-British elements in the upper echelon of the ruling class in Tibet, with a view to controlling Tibet.

      While the 13th Dalai Lama was away, the British did everything possible to win over the 9th Panchen Erdeni. On his way back to India from Lhasa, Younghusband planted O’Connor in Gyangze in the capacity of commercial attaché. O’Connor, who had a good command of Tibetan and was well acquainted with Tibetan areas, was actually left to work on the 9th Panchen Erdeni. In September 1905 (the 31st year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign), O’Connor led some 50 British troops to Xigaze, where he visited the 9th Panchen Erdeni unexpectedly. In a tone which brooked no negotiation, S. O’Connor said that a grand gathering would be held in India that year, and the British crown prince, who would be there, had expressed a desire to meet the 9th Panchen Erdeni. The latter was urged to leave for India before October.

The 9th Panchen Erdeni replied that the High Commissioner would have to file a report with the emperor regarding the proposed visit, as his consent would be necessary. However, S. O’Connor persisted that he had received a letter from India; the 9th Panchen Erdeni should go. Faced with this situation, the 9th Panchen Erdeni and Tibetan government officials in Rear Tibet reported the matter to the High Commissioner You Tai. He replied that the 9th Panchen Erdeni should not go without imperial consent. S. O’Connor warned the 9th Panchen Erdeni that if he refused to go to India, The British would be offended. Reading between lines, one understands this to mean that the British would send troops to invade Xigaze if the 9th Panchen Erdeni refused to go. The latter left for India on October 12. The Qing imperial court advised the High Commissioner right away: “The Indian government, taking advantage of the 13th Lama’s absence, sent people into Tibet to lure the 9th Panchen Erdeni to India. He was made to go there on the excuse of meeting the British crown prince but, as matter of fact, it was their plan to dismiss the 13th Dalai Lama in order to gain control of Tibet”(Selected Materials on the History of Tibet. p.222). The 9th Panchen Erdeni made a stopover in Yadong while on his way to India. According to a Qing official stationed in Bebitang (Jingxi), “S. O’Connor sent cavalrymen to escort him” (Ya Hanzhang: Biography of the Panchen Erdeni, p.212) Zhang Yingtang, the Qing Imperial Commissioner, was then in India on his way to Tibet. He reported to the imperial court: “It was reported that the Indian government is prepared to order the Panchen to ask the British to support Tibetan independence and provide protection for Tibet. If he returns to Tibet to announce that China is not able to administer Tibet, Tibet will have no way out but to declare independence.” (Ya Hanzhang: Biography of the Dalai Lama, p.157). From this one sees the British effort to make the 9th Panchen Erdeni to go to India was closely associated with its attempt for “Tibetan independence.”

When the 9th Panchen Erdeni reached India, the British offered him handsome gifts, but he was unmoved. When he went to visit the British crown prince, S. O’Connor demanded that the 9th Panchen Erdeni kowtow. However, he refused by saying: “I kowtow only to the Grand Emperor.” He greeted the British crown prince by cupping his hands in front of his chest in a traditional way. The Board of Foreign Affairs of the Qing imperial court informed Zhang Yingtang and the British governor in India: “It is acceptable for the Panchen to go to India for the meeting. If he is forced on intervene with Tibetan affairs and made to sign and stamp any documents, all will be as invalid as waste paper.” (Ya Hanzhang: Biograph of the Panchen Erdeni, p.212) As the Qing imperial court held a staunch attitude, and as the 9th Panchen Erdeni refused to obey, the British were obliged to let him return to Xigaze in December. But this was not the end of it. The British continued to make efforts to win over the 9th Panchen Erdeni, but he maintained a perfunctory attitude and made no promises.

The British achieved no major results in winning over the 9th Panchen. They turned instead to buying over people of the 13th Dalai Lama group. At that time, the 13th Dalai Lama was out of Tibet, leaving behind a chaotic government system to handle local affairs. British commercial attaches in Gyangze and Yadong were ordered to have frequent contacts with upper-ruling-class people, offering them gifts. They were given convenience and benefits in trade with the British in Yadong and Gyangze, persuading them to see the British as the source of economic income. All these were aimed at turning them into British agents in Tibet. During this period, the British succeeded in winning over a number of people headed by Xazha Benjor Doje. These people, the earliest pro-British elements in Tibet, played an effective role in British efforts to rope in the 13th Dalai Lama.

When the 13th Dalai Lama reached Outer Mongolia, the Qing imperial court sent an imperial commissioner from Beijing to Kulun to ask after him. The imperial commissioner brought him gifts from Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu. The 13th Dalai Lama accepted these gifts and thanked the empress dowager and the emperor by kowtowing in the direction of Beijing. (Chronicles of the 13th Dalai Lama, Vol. 11, p.81 Selected materials on the History of Tibet) In September 1905, the Qing imperial court urged the 13th Dalai Lama to return to Tibet, and in December, the Gaxag government of Tibet sent people to Kulun on the same mission. The 13th Dalai Lama then left Kulun in April 1906 (the 32nd year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign). He crossed the Mongolian and Gansu border and reached the Tar Monastery in Huangzong County, Qinghai, in September. He stayed in the monastery temporarily. At that time, the Qing imperial court was pressing ahead with its “new government policy” geared to revitalize the nation. Acting in accordance with this policy, the newly appointed High Commissioner Lian Yu and Banbai Minister Zhang Yingtang made preparations for the implementation of the new policy in Tibet. This move called for efforts to stem the British forces from invading Tibet and ensure China’s continued sovereignty over Tibet. However, it had its negative side. Qing Banbai Minister Feng Quan, stationed in Tibet, decided that, in view of the fact the headman of Zhandui (present-day Xinlong County of the Garze Tibetan Nationality Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province) in the Kam area had fought Qing troops for years, the headman system should be transformed by making the position of the headman an appointed one (in the past it had been hereditary). This move touched off strong opposition from the Tibetan upper ruling class in the Kam areas, culminating in the killing of Feng Quan in Batang. The Qing imperial court sent Zhao Erfeng to suppress the revolt. He later was promoted to the post of Commissioner of Sichuan and Yunnan Borderland Affairs. Given the unstable situation in Tibet and the Kam area, the 13th Dalai Lama stayed in the Tar Monastery for one more year on instruction of the Qing imperial court.

During Zhang Yingtang’s stay in Tibet, the 9th Panchen Erdeni requested permission to visit Beijing to report to the emperor on “matters concerning Tibet.” When the Gaxag government of Tibet learned this, it got in touch with Zhang Yingtang pleading permission for the 13th Dalai Lama to travel to Beijing to report on Tibetan affairs. Considering that a Beijing visit by the two Buddhist masters would benefit relations between the local government of Tibet and the imperial court, Zhang submitted a report to Emperor Guangxu in 1907 (the 33rd year of his reign), pleading for permission for the double visit. The imperial court issued an edict in November the same year, announcing an invitation to the 13th Dalai Lama to visit Beijing in two steps: As the first step, he would go from the Tar Monastery to Lanzhou, Xi’an and finally Wutaishan Mountain in Shanxi where he was supposed to worship Buddha; as the second step, he would go from Wutaishan Mountain to Beijing via Hebei. Upon receipt of the imperial edict, the 13th Dalai Lama set out from the Tar Monastery and reached Wutaishan Mountain in January 1908 (the 34 year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign). He stayed in the Buddhist Mountain for over half a year.

The 13th Dalai Lama broadened his vision while away from Tibet. During the period from his stay in the Tar Monastery to his stay in the Wutaishan Mountain, he was ambivalent toward his situation. Firstly, his plan to seek support from Czarist Russia for his return to Tibet failed because the former was defeated in war with Japan; secondly, when the Qing emperor sent people to look after him, offer him gifts and invite him to Beijing, he felt the warmth of the motherland. Given the corruption of the Qing imperial court, however, he lacked confidence in it; thirdly, the signing of the Treaty of Peking between China and Britain in 1906 indicated the Qing imperial court’s basic consent for the contents of the Treaty of Lhasa signed between Tibet and Britain in 1904. This indicated a legal British invasion of Tibet. Under the situation, if the 13th Dalai Lama wanted to return home, he would have to ease tension with Britain. Toward the end of 1907, the 13th Dalai Lama told the Tibetan officials, who went on a special visit to meet him in Xi’an, that pro-British Galoon Xazha Benjor Doje, Caloon Qamqen Ngawang Baisang and Galoon Xoikang Cedain Wangqug be promoted to the posts of Lunqen, a position which was higher than Galoon, to assist the Prince Regent Gandain Chiba in government affairs. Giving promotion to the three pro-British elements indicated that the 13th Dalai Lama wavered in his attitude toward the British invasion.

When the 13th Dalai Lama reached Wutaishan Mountain, Beijing-based diplomatic envoys of the United States, Russia, Japan and Germany visited him. According to the book written by Younghusband, during the 13th Dalai Lama’s stay in Wutaishan Mountain, he sent people to Beijing, bringing a letter to John Jordan, the British minister in China. John Jordan told the visiting Tibetan envoy that there was improvement in the relations between India and Tibet; and that these had been undermined in 1904 entirely due to misunderstanding. The Tibetan envoy explained that the past misunderstanding resulted from people who misled the 13th Dalai Lama so that he failed to have a good understanding of the truth; now the 13th Dalai Lama knew all and would mend fences with India upon return to Tibet (Francis Younghusband {Britain}: India and Tibet, P.288, translated by Sun Xichu). However, when the 13th Dalai Lama went to Beijing for a face-to-face report on his plan to rely on the imperial court to settle pending issues, he made no change in his attitude which was demonstrated by his activities in Beijing.

In accordance with the arrangement made by the Qing imperial court, the 13th Dalai Lama went from Wutaishan Mountain to Beijing on September 7, 1908. He was put up at Huangsi Monastery. The Qing imperial court held a grand ceremony in his honor, and Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Emperor Guangxu met with the Living Buddha repeatedly. They entertained him with feasts and granted him a golden certificate of appointment inscribed with the text: “Loyal and Submissive Great Benevolent Self-Subsisting Buddha of Western Paradise.” He was also given very handsome gifts, and told in explicit terms that the Dalai Lama would continue to hold the power to handle all religious affairs in Tibet and everything should be done in accordance with the will of the Dalai Lama. The Qing imperial court also told him he would receive 10,000 teals of silver from the court every year. The 13th Dalai Lama expressed sincere thanks for all these things. He also presented gifts to Empress Dowager Ci Xi to the latter’s satisfaction. The 13th Dalai Lama and his party stayed in Beijing for over two months. The Qing imperial court earmarked more than 180,000 taels of silver to cover his stay. During this period, both Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Emperor Guangxu died, and Emperor Xuantong came to the throne. The 13th Dalai Lama conducted Buddhist activities for the dead, and also recited Buddhist scriptures for Emperor Xuantong to ascend the throne. (Chronicles of the 13th Dalai Lama, Vol.11, p.108 Selected Materials on the History of Tibet).

The above shows harmonious atmosphere during the 13th Dalai Lama’s stay in Beijing. However, two problems cropped up that deepened the 13th Dalai Lama’s dissatisfaction and disappointment with the Qing imperial court: First were the rituals for him to pay homage to the Empress Dowager and the emperor. The Qing imperial court insisted that the 13th Dalai Lama kneel down to kowtow to Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Emperor Guangxu. The 13th Dalai Lama expressed dissatisfaction, and the Qing imperial court made some compromise. Nonetheless the 13th Dalai Lama was still requested to kneel down and he forced himself to do so. Secondly, the 13th Dalai Lama told Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Emperor Guangxu that many work had been delayed as everything had to be reported to the court through the High Commissioner. But since Tibet was of great importance to the court, there was no need to make reports exclusively through the High Commissioner, and the Dalai Lama himself should have the power to report to the emperor directly; this change would be good for the Han and the Tibetan to jointly defend Tibet. But the Qing imperial court refused consent and insisted that Tibet should continue to report political affairs through the High Commissioner and wait patiently for the results. (Ya Hanzhang: Biography of the Dalai Lama, p.185) The 13th Dalai Lama was disappointed at this decision, increasing his misunderstanding of the imperial court and throwing a wet blanket over his enthusiasm for joint struggle against the British invasion.

     The British didn’t forget to draw the 13th Dalai Lama over to its side even when he was in Beijing. While John Jordan paid a special visit to him, S. O’Connor, the British commercial attaché in Gyangze, and the Prince of Sikkim went together to Beijing to visit him. They were glad to find that it would be hard for the 13th Dalai Lama to go back to Tibet if he failed to win British support, because Czarist Russia was not dependable and the Qing imperial court was weak and incompetent. John Jordan hinted in a threatening tone that the British attitude toward the 13th Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet depended on his attitude toward Britain. To this, the 13th Dalai Lama told the British monarch through John Jordan that it was not his intention to see unhappy events which had occurred in the past, and he sincerely wished to see Tibet and India upholding the spirit of ever-lasting peace and friendship. (Francis Younghusband {Britain}: India and Tibet, p.289, translated by Sun Xichu) This shows the 13th Dalai Lama’s change in attitude toward Britain.

     The 13th Dalai Lama left Beijing for Tibet in November 1908 in a disappointed mood. Lunqen Qamqen Ngawang Baisang made a special trip from Lhasa to Beijing to greet his return. The 13th Dalai Lama sent his men to say good-bye to John Jordan before leaving Beijing, saying that his presence there had led to the restoration of Tibet’s long-standing ties with China and made it possible for him to make explanations to the British government delegation; so long as Tibet was able to stick to the signed agreement in the future. Tibet and India would certainly be able to maintain friendship. The British side held that this attitude constituted the most valuable achievement of the 13th Dalai Lama’s visit to Beijing. (Francis Youndhusband {Britain}: India and Tibet, p.290, translated by Sun Xichu) The above shows that the 13th Dalai Lama was eager to improve ties with Britain, and that the British efforts to win him over had paid off.

     The 13th Dalai Lama reached the Tar Monastery in Qinghai in early 1909 (the first year of Emperor Xuantong’s reign). During this period of time, Qing High Commissioner Lian Yu and some others were working hard to implement the new policy for governing Tibet, a policy which was set forth by Zhang Yingtang. This policy called for efforts to develop economy, improve communications and create newspapers. Although these were good for the Tibetans, they were coupled with efforts to strengthen the role of the High Commissioner which aimed to deprive the Dalai Lama of his power to rule Tibet, and make Tibetan children study Han Chinese. This touched off discontent from among the Tibetans and the upper ruling class. To cope with the situation, Lian Yu asked the Qing Court to send Sichuan troops into Tibet. All these happened when Zhao Erfeng were sending Han officials to rule other Tibetan areas, depriving the power of local headmen and lamaseries and suppressing the Tibetans who rose to say “no” to them.

     While staying there temporarily, he wrote a letter to the Hotogtu Living Buddha Canggya: “The troops of Zhao (Erfeng) destroyed monasteries and killed lamas in the Kam area, rendering locals homeless. Such things are still taking place in the Qamdo area. High Commissioners Zhang (Yingtang) and Lian (Yu) are stubborn and often exaggerate to hoodwink the emperor. They have made several reports demanding organization of an army of some 1,000 men in Sichuan. In order to prevent such an event from creating trouble among the Han and the Tibetan peoples, I. Siloon and the ‘people’s assembly’ once wrote a letter to explain the true situation…They cheated the emperor in the past, and are still telling lies today.” (Chronicles of the 13th Dalai Lama, Vol.11, p110 Selected Materials on the History of Tibet) This shows the 13th Dalai Lama was very much concerned with the situation in the Kam area.

     On the 15th day of the fourth month of Tibetan calendar (1909), the 13th Dalai Lama set out for Tibet from the Tar Monastery, and reached Nagqu in northern Tibet on the third day of the eighth month of Tibetan calendar. At this point, Qing troops led by Zong Ying had left Sichuan for Tibet. They destroyed monasteries and persecuted the Tibetans along the way from Qamdo to Lhasa. The Qing imperial court appointed Zhao Erfeng the High Commissioner and concurrently Commissioner of Sichuan and Yunnan Borderland Affairs. This was meant to exercise unified rule over the Kam and Tibetan areas. Before long, the Qing imperial court planned the establishment of Xikang Province to consolidate achievements in making the position of the headman an appointed not hereditary one. Sichuan troops’ entry into Tibet and the appointment of Zhao Erfeng as High Commissioner combined to add to the suspicion of the 13th Dalai Lama and led to further worsening of relations between the Qing imperial court and the upper ruling class of Tibet. Many Tibetans worried that Zhao Erfeng’s presence in Tibet would lead to the change of the local headman system in U-Tsang (as in the Kam area), as the change was highly like to end not only the power enjoyed by the nobles and monasteries but also the ruling position of the 13th Dalai Lama. The 13th Dalai Lama ordered Lunqen Xazha Benjor Doje to summon Tibetan troops and militiamen for deployment in the Kam area to stem the incoming Sichuan troops. While on the march from Nagqu to Lhasa, the 13th Dalai Lama sent people to contact the British commercial attaché in Gyangze and ask him to send cables to British and Russian ambassadors in Beijing, requesting their respective governments to lodge protests against the Qing imperial court and demand withdrawal of Sichuan troops from Tibet. In the meantime, the British commercial attaché was also requested to cable the Qing imperial court, protesting against its suppression of Tibetans. When the 13th Dalai Lama reached the Painbo Darlung Monastery, which is a three-day-trip distance north of Lhasa, he sent people to deliver his letter to the British ambassador in Beijing via India. In it, he said: “I have a loving feeling for the British Indian government. Now I am close to Lhasa. I have been told of and am deeply worried about the pervasive action of the Chinese army in Tibet. In the future, whenever there is necessity, I yearn for support from the British ambassador. (Francis Younghusband {Britain}: India and Tibet, p.291, translated by Sun Xichu)

     On the sixth day of the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar (in 1909), the 13th Dalai Lama returned to his Purburjoi mediation room in the northern suburb of Lhasa. Xazha, Qamqen and Xoikang went to present hada scarves. The 13th Dalai Lama officially appointed them Lunqen officials in charge of the Tibetan government affairs. The first group of pro-British elements in the upper ruling class of Tibet thus came to power.

     On the ninth day of the 11th month of Tibetan calendar, the 13th Dalai Lama returned to the Potala Palace after a separation of more than five years and to the warm welcome of the broad masses of Tibetan monks and lay people. Qing High Commissioner Lian Yu and other Qing officials in Lhasa went to greet him, but the 13 Dalai Lama cold-shouldered them. High Commissioner Lian Yu was highly indignant and later went to investigate in the Potala Palace on the excuse that the 13th Dalai Lama had smuggled Russian weapons into Tibet. But he found nothing he wanted. Then, he sent people to check the luggage of the 13th Dalai Lama in Nagqu, but they found no weapons. The 13th Dalai Lama adopted retaliatory measures by halting the supply of firewood, food grain, labor and postal services to the High Commissioner. Relations between the two sides went from bad to worse.

     On the 11th day of the 11th month of Tibetan calendar, the 13th Dalai Lama received the “newly-made gold seal of authority” which Xazha and others gave him in the name of all monks and lay people in Tibet. It bore the inscription of “Authorized by the Founder of Buddhism in the Holy Land,” which means Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, had presented the seal of authority to the Dalai Lama, the highest Buddhist leader under Heaven. The move was designed to supersede the gold seal of authority bestowed on the Dalai Lama by the Qing emperor, and constituted an important step of Xazha and some other pro-British elements in the upper ruling class of Tibet toward “Tibetan independence.” Although the move exerted great influence on the 13th Dalai Lama, he still pinned his hope on the Qing imperial court to settle Tibet’s internal problems.

     The Sichuan troops headed by Zong Ying routed Tibetan troops who put up resistance in areas to the west of Qamdo. In February 1910 (the second year of Emperor Xuantong’s reign), they reached Gongbo’gyamda. On February 12, the Sichuan troops entered Lhasa. It was the third day of the first month of Tibetan calendar, and the traditional Grand Summons Ceremony was being held. Lian Yu sent his guards to line up in honor of this ill-disciplined Sichuan army, Lian Yu’s guards, thinking they had support from the Sichuan army, beat government officials and fired at the Tibetan army. One grand lama was killed. Lian Yu’s guards also fired at the Jokhang Monastery and the Potala Palace where the 13 Dalai Lama lived, throwing the whole city into chaos.

The 13th Dalai Lama decided at dusk that same day that Gandain Chiba Living Buddha Cemoinling should serve as the Prince Regent to stay in Lhasa together with the bulk of government officials headed by Galoon Charung Wangqug Gyaibo, while the 13th Dalai Lama himself left Lhasa, where he had only returned two months before. Departing at night, at the head of a small number of government officials including Xazha, Xoikang and Qamqen, he traveled southwest. When Lian Yu heard the news he sent troops who caught up with them at the Gyasang Ferry by the Yarlung Zangbo River west of Quxu. Bodyguards of the 13th Dalai Lama managed to call Tibetan troops from Dasang Zhamdui. They fought the Qing troops at the ferry for two days, killing some and making it possible for the 13th Dalai Lama to leave safely. He and his party reached Yadong via the Yamzhog Sangding Monastery and Pagri, and moved directly to the residence of Macdonald, the British commercial attaché in Yadong. When the Qing troops hurried to Pagri, the 13th Dalai Lama, persuaded and assisted by the British, left Yadong and eventually China in late February 1910, finally reaching Darjeeling via Sikkim.

Although the 13th Dalai Lama left China for India, he did have the intention of going to Beijing to seek a solution. The Qing imperial court, persuaded by reports from High Commissioner Lian Yu in Tibet, removed the honorific title from the 13th Dalai Lama and decided to look for his soul boy replacement. This erroneous decision on the part of the Qing imperial court touched off widespread discontent among Tibetans in Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan and Inner and Outer Mongolia. The 13th Dalai Lama called off his plan to go to Beijing. Before long, Lian Yu sent an official named Lu Changqi to India. There, Lu met with the 13th Dalai Lama, trying to persuade him to return to Tibet. The 13th Dalai Lama told Lu drily: “I came to Darjeeling with the intention of sailing to Beijing. Since my title has been removed, I have no reason to go.” (Ya Hanzhang: Biography of the Panchen Erdeni, pp.218-219)

Finally, the 13th Dalai Lama fell into the hands of the British. The British Indian Foreign Ministry dispatched Charles Bell to visit him at Darjeeling, and invited him to go to Calcutta. The British Indian governor also met with the 13th Dalai Lama, who pleaded for British protection and invited the British to help fight the Qing troops in Tibet.

The British were pleased. But, as Britain and Russia were busy with joint efforts against the newly-rising power of Germany and were restricted by the 1907 Anglo-Russian Treaty which recognized China’s suzerainty over Tibet, Britain could make no promise to the 13th Dalai Lama. Instead, it announced that it would stay away from Tibetan affairs and adopt a neutral attitude. Quietly, however, Britain showed unusual warmth to the 13th Dalai Lama. Firstly, Britain arranged for him to visit various parts of India; then, Britain made arrangement for him to settle in Darjeeling, providing him with free rooms and articles of daily use. Charles Bell, who was a “Tibet hand,” visited him almost every week in the first three or four months; sometimes, he visited the 13th Dalai Lama once a week; often, the 13th Dalai Lama would say with a smile that he had not seen Charles Bell for a long period of time if he failed to visit him. (Charles Bell [Britain]: Biography of the 13th Dalai Lama, p.92, translated by Feng Qiyou) This shows Charles Bell worked very hard to win the 13th Dalai Lama over to the British side. During his stay in Darjeeling, the 13 Dalai Lama established his Gaxag government of Tibet, which, through close contacts with Tibetan officials in Tibet, controlled to certain extent the government affairs there. The presence of the 13th Dalai Lama and the Gaxag government of Tibet in Darjeeling made it convenient for the British to plot “Tibetan independence” which was geared to tearing Tibet away from China and subjecting Tibet to British protection.

Not long after the 13th Dalai Lama had settled down in Darjeeling, the British, under the excuse that the Tibetan situation was precarious, sent troops to Natang south of the Zhelilha mountain pass with a view to protecting the British commercial attaches in Gyangze and Yadong. This move was meant to protect the 13 Dalai Lama from being attacked by the Qing troops in Tibet. The Qing troops, on their own part, adanced to Gyangze, Yadong and Pari to defend the order. Thus, the British and Qing troops confronted each other on the Tibetan-Sikkim border.

The above facts show that the British was absolutely not following a neutral policy of non-intervention. It still worked for “Tibetan independence.” In the beginning, it endeavored to hide its real intention. On the eve of the “Simla Conference,” however, it jumped out into the open to try to turn its intention into the reality.

According to Van Praag, when the 13th Dalai Lama had reached India, he said he had severed all of ties with the Manchurians. This does not conform with reality. When the Qing imperial court said it would change its policy with regard to administration over Tibet, dismiss High Commissioner Zhao Erfeng from office and invite the 13th Dalai Lama to return to Tibet, the 13th Dalai Lama made three proposals: First, restore the title of the Dalai Lama; second, pull the Sichuan army out of Tibet; and third, dismiss Lian Yu from his office. The Qing imperial court refused to accept the second and third proposals, and the talks between both sides ended in failure, and the 13th Dalai Lama refused to go home. In September 1910, Lu Changqi, a Qing official whom Lian Yu sent to greet the 13th Dalai Lama in Darjeeling, forwarded a report stamped by the 13th Dalai Lama to the Qing imperial court (Chronicles of the 13th Dalai Lama, Vol.11, p.120 Selected Materials on the History of Tibet).This shows the 13th Dalai Lama, though in India then, still managed to contact the Qing imperial court. Ideologically, he was not entirely away from the motherland. He was merely working against the wrong policy of the corrupt Qing imperial court in a proper way. He was different from Xazha Benjor Doje who had entirely stood on the British side and advocated “Tibetan independence.”

Following its success in making the 13th Dalai Lama settle down and conduct “Tibetan independence” activities in India, the British began to work on people in the upper ruling class of Tibet by cultivating power-holding pro-British elements such as Xazha Benjor Doje, Dasang Zhamdui and Trimoin Norbe Wanggyai. They, compradors in nature, pushed the 13th Dalai Lama to work against the motherland. And, exploiting the influence of the 13th Dalai Lama among the Tibetans, they themselves worked hard for “Tibetan independence” and let the British control Tibet’s foreign affairs, while they dominated its internal affairs (Charles Bell [Britain]: Biography of the 13th Dalai Lama, p.89, translated by Feng Qiyou) This was what the British dreamed-off and served as the political foundation for the “Simla Convention.”

With regard to the means imperialist powers used in invading China in the late period of the      Qing Dynasty, Mao Zedong summed up like this: (1) The imperialist powers have waged many wars of aggression against China; (2) the imperialist powers have forced China to sign numerous unequal treaties by which they have acquired the right to station land and sea forces; (3) the imperialist powers have gained control of all the important trading ports in China by these unequal treaties; and (4) the imperialist powers have made…the comprador class the main props of their rule in China. (Mao Zedong: The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party, Vol.2, p.305 Selected Works of Mao Zedong) What Mao Zedong said generalizes the means used by imperialist powers in invading China. So far as the British are concerned, it coupled the above means with the creation of the theory of “Tibetan independence”.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Britain coupled its military means to bully China’s Tibet with political efforts to win the hearts of certain people in the upper ruling class, trimming them into pro-British elements for its own use, and creating the theory of “Tibetan independence” geared to tear Tibet away from China. The Qing imperial court struggled to cope with “Tibetan independence” activities when its own ruling position was precarious. The theory of “Tibetan independence” also added problems to the government of the ensuing Republic of China (1912-49). This is the historical fact which Britain can in no way hide.

The This article is part of the publication The Historical Status of China’s Tibet by Wang Jiawei and Nyima Gyaincain published by the China Intercontinental Press. Permission has been granted by the Embassy of the PRC to reprint these articles here.

* “Drawing lot from the golden urn” refers to the system introduced by Emperor Qianlong for Lamasery to determine the reincarnate of the late Living Buddhas. For the incarnation of a late Living Buddha, several candidates will be located. One of them will be determined as the soul boy of the said late Living Buddha through the lot-drawing method. Biography of the 12th Dalai Lama records how the lot-drawing method was followed to determine the soul boy of the 11th Dalai Lama from among three candidates: In the early days of the first month of Tibetan Year of the Earth Horse, the golden urn was carried out of the Jokhang Monastery to the Potala Palace. It was enshrined in front of the portrait of Emperor Qianlong for 11 days. On the 13th day, Prince Regent living Buddha Razheng and High Commissioner came. The secretary of the High Commissioner wrote the names of the three candidates in Manchurian language on one side of three slips; Zongye Qenbo wrote the names of the three candidates in Tibetan language on the other side of the three slips. The Prince Regent and the High Commissioner checked the names on the slips. The High Commissioner kowtowed to the portrait of Emperor Qianlong before putting the three slips into the golden urn. This was followed by recitation of Buddhist scriptures. The High Commissioner kowtowed in the portrait of Emperor Qianlong again. The golden urn was then shaken. With no cheating possible, one of the three slips was fished out of the golden urn. The Prince Regent and the High Commissioner scrutinized the name on the slip and confirmed the chosen boy as the 12th Dalai Lama. (For details, please read p.485, Vol.2 of Concise History of Tibet in Tibetan by Qabai Cedain Puncog and Norcham Wugyain)