343. Memorandum of Conversation1
Washington, December 6, 1968.
- Call on Mr. Rostow by Mr. Gyalo Thondup, Brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
- Mr. Eugene V. Rostow, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
- Mr. Gyalo Thondup
- Mr. Reynold A. Riemer-M
- Mrs. Kathleen C. Dougall, EA/ACA
- Mr. Thondup stated that he had been instructed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to express His Holiness' gratitude to the United States Government for its assistance to Tibetan refugees—specifically the surplus food and the monetary assistance. Mr. Rostow replied that we appreciate this message deeply, and that Mr. Thondup can assure His Holiness that we will not forget the plight of the Tibetans.
- Mr. Thondup said he had another matter to take up. He said it would be very essential and useful if India would take the initiative in the United Nations on a resolution concerning Tibet. He said he has been trying to convince India that it is in its own interest, as well as in the interest of the people of Tibet, to do this. The Indians, he said, are afraid of the Chinese Communists. His Holiness, he said, feels that US indirect encouragement to India to take the initiative on a resolution would be helpful and His Holiness asks the advice and help of the United States on this subject. Mr. Thondup said that the Tibetan people still want to fight the Chinese Communists and that Tibet, “a small nation,” is very dependent on large nations to keep the issue alive. Whatever the United States can do would help a small people's struggle for independence.
- Mr. Rostow said that he had talked about Tibetan matters with a high ranking member of the Indian Foreign Office in New Delhi earlier this year. He said that he will ask the views of the Indian Ambassador here in regard to a UN resolution but that India has its own policy and may not respond to suggestions.
- Mr. Thondup said that he is afraid of the Soviet Union's position on a UN resolution, also. In 1959 the Soviet Union was bitterly opposed to the resolution and has voted against such resolutions all along, but since last year he thinks the Soviet Union has shown a slight change. He [Page 744]has had private meetings with Soviet officials and was told that “Tibet and Sinkiang are not the interest of India but of the Soviet Union.”
- In response to the fear expressed by Mr. Thondup as to the effect on Tibet of an accommodation the United States might make with the Chinese Communists, Mr. Rostow stated that we seek to bring the Chinese Communists into the family of nations but that we would not make any accommodation with the Chinese Communists at the expense of Tibet.
- Mr. Thondup stated that there are nearly 900 Tibetan students in Europe and that a visit of His Holiness to Europe is being planned. American friends, he said, always ask why he does not come to the United States. Mr. Thondup said he did not know the reaction of the United States to a private visit of His Holiness to this country. Mr. Rostow said he would have to inquire and added that this would be a matter for the new Administration. Mr. Thondup commented that His Holiness is not an ordinary visitor and would have to make a courtesy call on the President. He expressed his gratitude to Mr. Rostow for inquiring on this subject.
- Mr. Thondup commented at some length on events in Tibet. He said the situation now is “quite quiet" since the establishment of the Revolutionary Committee for Tibet in September. Two rival organizations are fighting each other and pressing Tibetans to join. The Tibetans, however, are taking a neutral position. There are many killings of Chinese by other Chinese. The Cultural Revolution has affected many military leaders in Tibet. Many have been dismissed; many are new. There is new leadership among the military and in the Party. The Chinese have purged all Tibetan collaborators. Some were killed, some were imprisoned, and some were tortured and released. The elderly people hate the Chinese, and the younger people are now bitter because all important posts are occupied by Chinese, not Tibetans. The Tibetans want to fight, but this is a very wrong position. Events of 1959 are an example. It is only suicide to fight the Chinese.
- Mr. Thondup said the Chinese system in Tibet is a complete failure. The six million (sic) people in Tibet are not convinced the Chinese are doing anything for them. It is very hard for the Chinese to get used to the altitude and the type of food available in Tibet. There are food shortages because of the difficulty of bringing food long distances to Tibet. The Chinese bring in military and other supplies instead. The Chinese troops do not want to stay in Tibet
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 19 TIBET. Confidential. Drafted by Dougall.↩