(4) Around the Gansu Delegation's Entry Into Tibet

In May 1919, Britain, on the excuse that the one-year ceasefire agreement had expired, urged the Chinese government to negotiate with the British on matters concerning the re-delineation of the boundary between "Tibet and China," and flagrantly proposed that the large tracts of land in Xikang occupied by the Tibetan army in 1918 and parts of southern Qinghai be turned over to Tibet.

At that time, China was experiencing the May 4 Movement, with Chinese patriots, composed mainly of the Chinese students, raising such resounding slogans as "Winning national interests in foreign affairs and punishing traitors." Under the pressure of national opinion, the government of the Republic of China decided not to re-negotiate with the British for the time being.

The government, on September 5, made public all matters concerning the British negotiations with the Tibetan government concerning Tibet after the "Simla Conference." People from all walks of life throughout the country rose in indignation to protest the British move to tear Tibet from China and intervene in China's internal affairs. The Sichuan provincial parliament adopted a motion that pointed out: "Since Tibet is part of Chinese territory, there is no boundary between China and Tibet. Agreeing to re-delineate the boundary means giving Tibet tacit consent to divorce itself from China....[We should] do our best to refuse the British intervention in delineating a boundary at the Sichuan border." (Selected Materials on the History of Tibet, p.310) Chinese students in Japan sent cables back home. One stated: "This matter concerns the life and death of our country, so we should not make concessions lightly. We must avoid numerous troubles in the future." (Selected Materials on the History of Tibet, p.311) With the strong opposition of the people nationwide, the British plot failed.

Next, the government ordered the Gansu army to send a delegation into Tibet. Acting in accordance with this order, Li Zonglian, Zhu Xiu and others arrived in Lhasa in December, where they met with the 13th Dalai Lama. This marked the first time the Central Government of China had sent emissaries into Tibet in spite of the British obstruction in the eight years following the Revolution of 1911. Zhu Xiu and others delivered gifts and a letter from Zhang Guangjian, the commanding general of the Gansu army, to the 13th Dalai Lama. During their stay in Lhasa, Zhu and Li worked patiently and asked the 13th Dalai Lama to send people to Beijing to take part in formal negotiations. They also met with Gaxag government officials, representatives of the three major monasteries and ordinary people. Gratifying results were scored in four months. In April 1920, "Zhu Xiu and others left Tibet for Gansu. On the eve of their departure, the 13th Dalai Lama threw a feast in their honor and said it was not his original intention to be pro-British. He had done so because the Qing imperial commissioner went to the extreme. He said he was glad to have the delegation in Tibet and that he hoped the Chinese president would send a fully empowered delegate to Lhasa to settle the issue. He went on to say he was fully in support of the Chinese nation and sought harmony between the five nationalities. He said the ÔSimla Conference" draft treaty may be revised." (Selected Materials on the History of Tibet, pp.464-465) The 13th Dalai Lama asked Zhu Xiu and others to forward gifts to Zhang Guangjian and to deliver an official letter written in Chinese and Tibetan.

Before the delegation's departure, the 13th Dalai Lama sent Garboin Lobsang Gendain to Huangyuan in Qinghai to present gifts. In his letter to Zhang, the 13th Dalai Lama said: "Thank you for sending envoys here from afar to bring me a letter and perform grand rituals. In the face of these, I feel ashamed....If there is any confidential document, please inform Lobsang Gendain." (Tibet Is an Inseparable Part of China, p.466)

From this one sees the government of the Republic of China and the 13th Dalai Lama had somewhat improved their relations. Even Charles Bell admited this is the only event to have taken place since 1910 when the Chinese army forced the 13th Dalai Lama to lead an exile life, and also an expression of the collapsing relations between Britain and Tibet. (Charles Bell [Britain]: Biography of the 13th Dalai Lama, p.207, translated by Feng Qiyou)

When Zhu Xiu and others returned to the hinterland, there was a war between the Hebei and Anhui factions of the Northern Warlord. The Nationalist Government had no time to ask after the Tibetan issue. As a result, the relations between the Central Government and the local government of Tibet failed to be further improved.

In order to discourage the local government of Tibet from improving relations with the government of the Republic of China and prevent the 13th Dalai Lama from getting closer to the motherland, Britain sent Charles Bell, the British political officer in charge of Sikkim, and others to Lhasa in 1920. Charles Bell arrived with more than 20 horseloads of weapons. He also promised to give Tibet 5,000 advanced rifles on the excuse that "Tibet needs to maintain her independence," which, he added, "depends on the expansion and improvement of its army." (Charles Bell [Britain]: Biography of the 13th Dalai Lama, p.245, translated by Feng Qiyou) At this point, Tibet was preparing to expand its army to include 17,000 men in accordance with the British scheme. Arms expansion called for financial input. Charles Bell suggested the 13th Dalai Lama increase tax collections from monasteries and nobles.

When the proposal was revealed to the public, many voices arose in opposition. In the spring of 1921, more than 20,000 lamas from the three major monasteries in Lhasa, who were attending the Grand Summons Ceremony, demanded the punishment of traitors and expulsion of the Westerners. The 13th Dalai Lama felt ill at ease with the situation, but Charles Bell said: "You have an army of 6,000," which is "strong enough to calm down the few large monasteries." (Charles Bell [Britain]: Biography of the 13th Dalai Lama, p.271, translated by Feng Qiyou) This persuaded the 13th Dalai Lama to suppress the lamas through military force. Some 3,000 Tibetan troops were sent to surround the Zhaibung Monastery, disarming some 5,000 lamas who were preparing an attack on Lhasa with a view to driving the Westerners out of Tibet. This failed to calm public unrest. The walls surrounding the residence of Charles Bell were often covered with posters urging him to leave Tibet or forfeit his life. This frightened Charles Bell. The 13th Dalai Lama told him that, given the deep hatred on the part of the Tibetans, he would have to leave right away. Otherwise, he could no longer perform his duty of protecting him. (Selected Materials on the History of Tibet, p.318) Charles Bell fled to India in October. As a result, the British plan for Tibet to expand its army with funds raised from increased taxation failed.

Tibetan opposition to Britain gained momentum, which found expression in Charles Bell's expulsion from Tibet. According to reports made by Zhu Xiu and Li Zhonglian, the Tibetan political forces split into the "old" and "new" factions. The "old" faction was composed of chief abbot and lamas from the three major monasteries in Lhasa, who accounted for 70-80 percent of the total. People of this faction yearned for harmonious relations with the motherland. The "new" faction was led by the four Galoon officials, making up 20-30 percent of the total. Among the members of this faction, there were some who were resolutely pro-British. Many of them were wavering elements under the sway of wild British ambitions.

During this period, the British were assisting pro-British Galoon Charong Dasang Zhamdui to organize a police force aimed at tighter control of the Tibetans. With the approval of the Gaxag government, the Lhasa Police was formed in 1923. Britain sent Soinam Laiden, a Sikkim Bengali police chief, to Lhasa to take charge of the training as the head of the Lhasa Police. The new police force behaved arrogantly, offending the locals. They organized two demonstrations in front of the residence of Soinam Laiden and knelt down before the 13th Dalai Lama, pleading him to dispel this man. As a result, Soinam Laiden left Tibet for India. All the police officers were dismissed and 50 policemen were chosen to be put under the leadership of the Lhasa mayor. The British concocted police system in Tibet was thus aborted.