Memorandum by the Counselor of Embassy in China (Vincent) to the Ambassador in China (Gauss)7

In my recent conversation with Dr. T. F. Tsiang, Director of the Political Affairs Department of the Executive Yuan, the question of transportation of materials for China via Tibet was briefly touched upon.

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Dr. Tsiang told me in confidence that the matter had been discussed that morning at the weekly meeting of the Executive Yuan. He said that there seemed to be general agreement to eliminate from the transport project political considerations and factors. With this idea in mind it had apparently been decided to accede to the Tibetan request that no materials of war (munitions et cetera) be shipped in transit through Tibet from India to China. Dr. Tsiang said that, considering the annual capacity of the route, which he placed at 1,000 tons, the amount of direct war materials that could be brought in would be unimportant and that it would be just as well to utilize this route to transport medical supplies, gasoline, and other materials essential to the prosecution of the war. He explained that his figure of 1,000 tons a year was lower than the original estimate of 3,000 tons but that investigation had revealed that the previous figure had been much too high. (In a conversation with Mr. Richardson, an Englishman attached to the Indian Agent-General in Chungking, who is familiar with transport conditions in India, I was told that maximum annual capacity for transit materials would probably not exceed 700 tons.)

Dr. Tsiang recommended that, in order to overcome Tibetan fears that the transit of materials would be used as an excuse for Chinese political penetration, a commercial company be organized to handle transport and that Tibetans and Indians as well as Chinese participate in the company. He indicated that his recommendation was favorably received by the Executive Yuan. It was preferable, he thought, to the British proposal that a joint Anglo-Chinese-Tibetan commission be organized to handle transport.

Dr. Tsiang was interested in telling me of remarks Dr. Kung8 had made at the Executive Yuan meeting in regard to Tibet. Tsiang said that, at a recent committee meeting in regard to transit of supplies through Tibet, he had made the remark, in regard to Tibetan political status, that it was about time that Chinese relations with Tibet were put on a realistic footing and that Tibet be recognized for what it was—a “self-governing dominion”. At the Executive Yuan meeting, Dr. Kung had taken up the same theme. He had gone back into the classic period of Chinese history and ended with reference to the teachings of Dr. Sun Yat-sen to support his recommendation (identical with that of Dr. Tsiang) that Tibet be considered and treated in the Chinese political system as a self-governing dominion.

John Carter Vincent
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in his despatch No. 555, July 30; received September 1.
  2. H. H. Kung, Chinese Minister of Finance.