893.24/1386: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State

835. Department’s 592, July 3, 10 p.m. Inquiry by Embassy discloses that the Tibetan authorities have agreed to the passage through Tibet of non-military supplies for China. The term “non-military” will not be strictly interpreted. Technical details have not yet been worked out. Transit through Tibet is practicable by pack animal trains making one trip a year but the amount that can be transported (maximum estimates place it at 3000 tons annually) renders the project of minor importance as a supply route to China. The round trip requires 6 months and about half of the year travel is impracticable.

The Chinese have abandoned whatever plans they may have had for constructing a motor road and for stationing troops in Tibet, the former because the road would have no early value to the war effort due to the time required for construction and the latter because Tibetan opposition would certainly be encountered.

The Chinese plan to station technicians along the route to facilitate transportation. The Tibetan authorities are being assured that these technicians will not engage in any political activities; that they will be instructed to confine themselves to the matter of supervising transport. The Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs states that this is as far as the Chinese Government is prepared to go in response the British suggestion mentioned in the reference telegram. The Vice Minister said there was no occasion for giving assurances regarding “autonomy”; that Tibet was considered a part of the Republic of China; but that China had no intention of altering the situation whereby internal administration in Tibet is in fact autonomous.