893.00/11–2149: Telegram

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

1437. A Tibetan representative, Surkhang Depon, who visited US ’48 with Tibetan Trade Mission, called at Embassy 19th to deliver [Page 1081]letter addressed Secretary by Foreign Bureau at Lhasa. Letter dated November 4, and, according Depon, brought by special fast courier. Substance as follows:

Chinese Communist troops have invaded Lanchow, Chinghai and Sinkiang, all on Tibetan border, and therefore Tibetan Government has written Mao Tse-tung18 asking him respect Tibet’s territorial integrity.
In event Mao ignores Tibetan letter and takes aggressive attitude sending his troops toward Tibet, “then Government of Tibet will be obliged to defend her own country by all possible means. Therefore the Government of Tibet would earnestly desire to request every possible help from your Government”.
Tibetan Government would be grateful if Secretary would consider extensive aid in regards civil and military requirements and send a favorable reply at earliest possible opportunity. (Aid required is not further defined.)

Copy of letter dated November 2 addressed to Mao Tse-tung, “Chairman of the Chinese Communist Government, Peiping” was enclosed. This letter states Tibet independent from earliest times, that its political administration had never been taken over by foreign country and that Tibet defended her territories from foreign invasion. As Chinghai and Sinkiang are situated on Tibetan border, “we would like to have an assurance that no Chinese troops would cross the Tibetan frontier from the Sino-Tibetan border, or any such military action. Therefore please issue strict orders to those civil and military officers stationed on the Sino-Tibetan border in accordance with the above request, and kindly have an early reply so that we can be assured. As regards those Tibetan territories annexed as part of Chinese territory some years back, the Government of Tibet would desire to open negotiations after the settlement of the Chinese civil war”. Texts both letters being pouched.19

In delivering letter addressed to Secretary, Depon said matter most urgent and he is leaving representative named D. Bhakta at Delhi to receive Secretary’s reply. Embassy told Depon must expect delay several weeks before any response from Washington could arrive here.

Depon made no mention of similar letters to other governments but member UK office told us that it has received copy Richardson’s monthly report for September to GoI. This report mentioned Tibetan Government had decided appeal to UK, US and GoI for aid against Communists and also to reactivate certain military units.

UK Acting High Commissioner mentioned in informal conversation 16th his office endeavoring assess importance Tibet from standpoint long-term strategy and other considerations. He fears, however, prevailing [Page 1082]opinion GoI is that Tibet must already be written off. According another UK officer, Pannikar,20 on return from Nanking, told GoI Tibet was wide open from east and any efforts help Tibet would merely involve India in conflict with Chinese Communists. This officer also stated study was being given to possibility of reminding GoI it is heir of British policy of preserving integrity Tibet and of proposing UK furnish GoI arms and equipment for latter to give to Tibet. He pointed out, however, this would have to be accompanied by UK guarantee of support in case of complications with Chinese Communists and might therefore be of interest to US.

We believe UK office correct in its evaluation GoI attitude. Several weeks ago San Jevi, Director of Intelligence, told me that at interdepartmental meeting held to discuss Tibet it was decided most GoI could do was send moderate supply small arms plus a few officers to instruct Tibetans how to use them. According San Jevi, it was further agreed GoI could not afford become involved in any military adventures in Tibet.

In my next talk with Bajpai21 I plan ask him significance Nehru reference to Chinese suzerainty over Tibet (Embtel 1427, November 1722) in his press conference Delhi November 16.

  1. Chairman of the “Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China” and of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
  2. Despatch No. 1002, November 22, and enclosures, not printed.
  3. K. M. Panikkar, Indian Ambassador to China.
  4. Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, Secretary General of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations.
  5. Not printed.