No. 26
Memorandum by the Acting Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs (Perkins) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Allison)

top secret


  • Tibet—Information Received from Tak Tser, Brother of the Dalai Lama.

CA, China Section G–2, and CIA have recently exchanged opinions concerning the significance of press reports, originating in India, alleging that (1) Tibetan hostility toward occupying Chinese Communist forces is increasing rapidly, and (2) an armed clash occurred recently in Lhasa between Tibetan demonstrators and Chinese Communist military security guards. The consensus of opinion may be summarized as follows:

There are between 10,000 and 15,000 Chinese Communist troops in Tibet, of whom about 5,000 are encamped in or near Lhasa.
There is an acute food shortage in Tibet, caused by the presence of unnecessarily large Chinese Communist security forces. This shortage is aggravated by the heavy concentration of Communist forces in the few major Tibetan cities (Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyangtse) and along the main caravan routes leading to India and Nepal.
Most Tibetans have moved fairly rapidly in the last six months from an initial phase of individual passive acceptance of the Chinese Communist occupation to a phase of group public demonstrations and covert molestation. Although the Dalai Lama and his immediate clerical and lay advisers publicly have accepted Chinese Communist control, there seems to be in operation a cleverly conceived covert plan to encourage hostility toward the Chinese forces and toward those lay ministers who appear to be collaborating most closely with the Chinese.
From the standpoint of US interests, developments in Tibet are moving in the right direction and are producing a desirable effect upon the Government of India.

… The report, received May 13, conveyed the following information, based on communications recently received by Tak Tser.

Tak Tser has no doubt that the Dalai Lama is developing the long-range plan allegedly agreed on prior to Tak Tser’s departure [Page 52]from Tibet: i.e. the Dalai Lama is quietly organizing resistance to the Chinese Communists while appearing to cooperate with them.
Tibetans in Lhasa, encouraged by the monks, recently have sworn secret new oaths of allegiance to the Dalai Lama and to the three leading monasteries and, simultaneously, have renounced their allegiance to the present lay Cabinet and affirmed undying opposition to the Chinese.
The Panchen Lama1 secretly has indicated his intention to defect from the Communists while appearing to serve as their puppet, and to make common cause with the Dalai Lama in organizing a resistance movement.

While evaluation of available information is extremely difficult, CA perceives no reason why Tak Tser’s report should not be accepted as “probably true”. Since CA believes that (1) the Chinese Communists in Tibet are doing an excellent job of creating their own troubles, (2) developments in Tibet are producing the desired effect on the Government of India, and (3) Tak Tser is on firm ground in believing that a public expression of US interest in Tibet would, at this time, have an undesirable effect on both the Government of India and on the incipient Tibetan resistance movement, CA recommends that the Department continue to avoid public statements concerning Tibet and refrain from any attempts at this time to communicate with persons in Tibet who are believed to be taking their first steps toward organizing an anti-Communist resistance movement.2

  1. The Panchen Lama, or Lama of the Tashilhunpo Monastery at Shigatse, was traditionally second only to the Dalai Lama in spiritual importance. The Seventh (or Tenth) Panchen Lama had recently traveled to Tibet from Peking, arriving in Lhasa on Apr. 28; prior to that, neither he nor his predecessor had lived in Tibet since 1923.
  2. A handwritten notation in the margin of the source text, next to CA’s recommendation, reads: “I agree. J [ohn] A [llison].”