(5) The 13th Dalai Lama Awakens

Although Charles Bell and Soinam Laiden had been dispelled from Tibet by the Tibetans, the British demanded to send more representatives into Tibet. The Dalai Lama rejected this suggestion on the excuse that "Tibetans who are not enlightened may cast suspicion about this and take actions against this." The British, suffering repeated frustrations, planned to support Charong Dasang Zhamdui in a bid to take over the Gaxag government. The purpose was to put pressure on the 13th Dalai Lama and bring Tibet under British control.

Charong was a Galoon official of the Gaxag government and concurrently the commander-in- -chief of the Tibetan army. Restricted by the 13th Dalai Lama and lamas in the upper echelons of the ruling class in Tibet, he found it difficult to follow the instructions of the British. To rectify this, he cultivated a cadre of young, pro-British army officers. They formed a secret organization and conducted activities in its name. In the 11th month of the Tibetan calender during 1923, when the Tibetan officials met to discuss financial issues resulting from the arms expansion, including salaries for the army officers, no military representatives were invited to the meeting. Extremely unsatisfied with this, Charong and his men wrote a letter to the Gaxag government, demanding permission for military representatives to attend all future meetings on Tibetan affairs. Charong and his young military officers plotted a coup with the intent of forcibly introducing a Britain-style political system. Their plot was reported to the 13th Dalai Lama. Closely following this, several young military officers broke into the main hall in the Jokhang Monastery, where monks and lay officials gathered for meeting. They questioned the monks and officials as to why there were no military representatives in attendance. People present on that occasion were indignant at their behavior and decided to summon lamas from the Zhaibung and Sera monasteries to serve as guards for the monks and officials. Charong gathered his troops to confront the lamas. Seeing through the plot of the pro-British elements, the 13th Dalai Lama dismissed the officers from their military posts and later removed Charong from his post as commander-in-chief of the Tibetan army. Charong, however, remained a Galoon official.

These events impressed upon the Dalai Lama the imminent possibility of Britain poking its nose into the internal affairs of Tibet and also the threat to his ruling position. To stop the British before it was too late, he closed the British schools in Gyangze and banned Tibetan officials and civilians from wearing Western suits. As a token of his resolution, he ordered the dismantling of a Western-style villa put up by the British for him in Norbu Lingka. All these efforts were made25e.jpg (24496 bytes) along with his endeavor to strengthen Tibet's ties with the Central Government. For this purpose, he sent Gongjor Zhongnyi to serve as the kampus of the Yonghegong Lamasery in Beijing in the place of Lobsang Ceting, a position equal to the representative of the 13th Dalai Lama and the Gaxag government in Beijing. This move marked a turning point, as the Dalai Lama switched from seeking British help to strengthening ties with the motherland.

The change in attitude found its way into Charles Bell's biography of the Dalai Lama: By 1925, the Dalai Lama had become increasingly staunch in bypassing the British to contact the Chinese directly....Charong, an old friend of Britain and the former commander-in-chief, was always pro-British. Now he had lost the bulk of his power and was soon to be dismissed from office. In 1926, the British school in Gyangze was closed....Russian newspapers took pleasure in this, reporting that the British influence in Tibet has gone bust. Undoubtedly, Britain has greatly lost its influence. (Charles Bell [Britain]: Biography of the 13th Dalai Lama, pp.365-366, translated by Feng Qiyou)

In his book, Xagabba mentions nothing about Charong and other pro-British elements plotting to destabilize Tibet or the 13th Dalai Lama smashing this plot and later seeking closer ties with the motherland. He knows Charong very well, and, when talking about Charong's removal from his office, says purposely: "It was reported that the Dalai Lama became estranged with him." Van Praag devotes no space to this in his book, only briefly mentions at one point that Tibet began to implement a policy independent of its two neighbors, who had established equal diplomatic relations with it. They refuse to print the truth because they know the wave for "Tibetan independence" died along with Charong's dismissal from office in 1924.

China suffered from a poor national situation during the government of the Republic of China. During this segment of history, Britain repeatedly tried to interfere in the affairs of China's Tibet. Mistakes made by the Qing imperial court in dealing with Tibet led to widening estrangement between the Han and the Tibetans. These situations gave Britain an excuse to support the Tibetan separatists, which led to the rise of the "Tibetan independence" campaign. The government of the Republic of China, with the support of the Chinese people, the Tibetans included, withstood troubles resulting from these events and managed to build close ties between Tibet and the rest of China. The 13th Dalai Lama himself also rose from the traps set up by the British and awakened to the true situation. He thus moved to strengthen ties with the motherland.