893.24/1593: Telegram

The Chargé in India ( Merrell ) to the Secretary of State

344. I was informed by Weightman, Joint Secretary External Affairs, in strictest confidence this morning that the announcement regarding a route through Tibet reported in my 340, May 14 was made at this time in order that China might not attempt to justify any aggression against Tibet by saying that all possibility of transport from India across Tibet was denied China. British Government had endeavored last August to persuade Tibetan authorities to open such a route and latter had said they would do so only if a tripartite agreement between Tibet, China and India were reached. Chinese Government had declined to consider such an agreement on ground that Tibet is considered a part of China. As a result of the announcement, Weightman states, [that?] Generalissimo recently made of his intention of retaking all lost territory including Tibet and of a report heard through “a leak” to effect that [he?] ordered governors of Sikang, Yunnan and Chinghai to send troops to Tibetan border (only the last mentioned complying), British through their Mission at Lhasa successfully prevailed upon the Tibetans to agree to consent to the use of a route under the conditions mentioned in my telegram 340.

Weightman believes that Embassy in Chungking has been informed of information obtained through the leak and that British Ambassador in Washington15 has discussed matter with Department.

I have just received a letter from Tolstoy dated Sog, Tibet, April 17 in which he says that he had heard night before that Tibetan and Chinese troops are advancing toward each other and that Chinese troops had received their orders from Central Government. He also had heard a rumor from a Tibetan officer that Chinese had asked Government to invade Tibet and had been refused. Weightman states that no such request was received.

Tolstoy has apparently informed British at Lhasa that he is reporting on situation in a telegram which is presumably one Mission is relaying to Victor under today’s date. Weightman requests that substance of this telegram be retransmitted here in one of Mission’s codes or conveyed to British Embassy in Washington.

Repeated to Chungking.

  1. Viscount Halifax.