893.00 Tibet/12–1549: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

1558. Because of following considerations, we are becoming increasingly doubtful that it would be advisable for US to send official mission to Tibet next spring (paragraph 6, Embtel 1523, December 8):

In summer 1949 visit would have appeared as gesture of interest in Tibet. Since then, events have moved rapidly and situation is much altered. Official visit in spring might appear to USSR and GoI as first move towards recognition Tibetan independence or as evidence desire obtain foothold Tibet. In any event, it might cause Communists expedite execution their program for conquest Tibet.
In spite any declarations we might make, official visit might mislead Tibetans into believing we prepared aid them resist incursion Chinese Communist troops. We doubt US, UK or GoI would attempt meet force with force and there seems little doubt conquest Tibet is within Chinese Communist capabilities if they wish make effort.
It would be unfair for US take any action which might encourage them to resist because of mistaken idea of help from US.
In view GoI’s probable early recognition Chinese Communist Government and their probable adoption negative policy toward Tibet as described paragraph 2 of reference telegram, GoI would probably not view sympathetically despatch US mission to Lhasa and would possibly withhold its cooperation. We should, of course, weigh carefully adverse effects of sending mission on our relations here against results which we might obtain in Lhasa. Furthermore, we have to recall that, in last analysis, we can communicate with Tibet now only via India, and similarly that Tibet can only communicate with non-Communist world via India.
Despatch US mission to Tibet would present Communists as well as other elements in South Asia critical our policy with propaganda opportunity which they would exploit fully.

Consequently Embassy feels that, unless we contemplate adopt stiffer policy than in past re Chinese Communists, we should not make any definite plans just now for despatch of mission to Tibet despite opportunity which it would give of making contacts with higher Tibetan officials and gaining first hand information regarding country about which we know little. Embassy will attempt follow closely evolution GoI and UK policy towards Tibet and will make recommendations to Department at later date if situation should be so altered as to make it advantageous from overall point of view for despatch of some sort of mission to Tibet. We shall take into consideration at that time possible advisability either of sending a covert mission or perhaps attempting obtain permission for non-official make trip with idea his obtaining information of value to US Government.

Department’s reaction to foregoing would be much appreciated.

Sent Department 1558; Department pass London, Moscow.