(6) Gongjor Zhongnyi and the Tibet Office in Nanjing

The Northern Expedition (1926-27), following the First United Front between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China, led to the defeat of the Northern Warlords (1912-27). On April 18, 1927, the Kuomintang led by Chiang Kai-shek founded the Nationalist Government in Nanjing. On this basis, he managed to bring the whole of China under his control.

The Nationalist Government, immediately after its founding, placed great emphasis on the Tibet issue. The first article of the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China for the Period of Political Tutelage stated in explicit terms: "The territory of the Republic of China includes various provinces as well as Mongolia and Tibet." In 1928, the Nationalist Government set up the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan affairs, which operated under the Executive Yuan.

In the winter of 1928, the 13th Dalai Lama instructed Kampus Lobsang Basang, whom the Dalai Lama had stationed at Wutai Mountain in Shanxi, to visit Chiang Kai-shek and report to him on the Tibetan situation. In January 1929, Chiang Kai-shek sent a reply to the 13th Dalai Lama: "Tibetans are an ethnic group within the Chinese nation. The government is urging the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs to investigate the actual situation so as to invest in the construction of the region. I deeply appreciate your sending Lobsang Basang in the capacity of your representative to Nanjing to let me know your kind determination to work with the [Kuomintang] Party and government....U-Tsang is surrounded by strong neighbors and has long been oppressed by the imperialists. Fortunately, Your Holiness is deeply conscious of the righteousness of the cause and have turned your heart towards the motherland. We should make concerted efforts to build up the country and resist foreign bullying. It will therefore not be hard for us to create a China owned by the people, governed by the people and enjoyed by the people. China will then secure a foothold in the world and be able to assist the weak and small nations to join others for the common prosperity, thus fulfilling the Buddha's wish to save all the souls in the world." (Tibet Is an Inseparable Part of China, pp.485-486) These contacts show the government of Tibet began to work towards improving official ties with the Nationalist Government in Nanjing.

The 9th Panchen Erdeni, who fled to China's hinterland in 1923 because of conflicts with the 13th Dalai Lama, took the lead in sending people to congratulate Chiang Kai-shek on the founding of the Nationalist Government in Nanjing. With the approval of the Nanjing government, the Panchen Office was set up in Nanjing on January 20, 1929.

The actions of the 9th Panchen had a great impact on Lhasa. The 13th Dalai Lama sent Gongjor Zhongnyi, kampus of the Yonghegong Lamasery in Beijing, and others to visit the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs in August 1929. During the visit, Gongjor Zhongnyi said that (1) the 13th Dalai Lama had no intention of collaborating with the British, and he contacted the British mainly because Tibet borders on British India and therefore must deal with the British; and (2) it was also wrong to say the 13th Dalai Lama hated the Han, because he had sent representatives to the hinterland in the sixth, ninth and 13th year of the Republic of China to declare his support for Chinese-Tibetan harmony.

Chiang Kai-shek received Gongjor Zhongnyi in Nanjing on September 10, 1929. Gongjor told Chiang that the Dalai Lama was not pro-British and would not go against the Central Government, a statement which won appreciation from Chiang. Gongjor also said that the 13th Dalai Lama was loyal to the Central Government; Tibet's military and diplomatic affairs may be handled by the Central Government in the future; the Central Government may station officials in Tibet, but the Tibetans should enjoy full autonomy; the Simla draft treaty contained propositions made by the local government of Tibet; in the future, the 13th Dalai Lama may issue a statement to the effect that the related issues be settled by the Central Government. Chiang Kai-shek received Gongjor Zhongnyi once again on September 13. During the meeting, Chiang told Gongjor that the Nationalist Government decided to send him back to Tibet in the capacity of the Central Government commissioner, bringing with himself a certificate of appointment issued by the Nationalist Government and Chiang Kai-shek's letter to the 13th Dalai Lama. Gongjor Zhongnyi entered Tibet via India in December the same year.

On February 16, 1930, Gongjor zhongnyi and his party arrived in Lhasa. The 13th Dalai ordered all officials with the Gaxag government, at the head of Tibetan troops, to welcome them in the western suburbs of Lhasa. The 13th Dalai Lama was very glad to received the letter, plus gifts, from Chiang. He rose to his feet and performed due rites to accept the document forwarded by Gongjor Zhongnyi as a token of respect for the Nationalist Government.

Prior to this, Liu Manqing entered Tibet in response to an order from the Nationalist Government. Born in Lhasa, Liu, a Tibetan, was well versed in Tibetan writing. She served as an official with the Nationalist Government. She entered Tibet via Xikang and arrived in Lhasa in early February 1930. On March 28, the Dalai Lama received her.

This period of time featured wars between new warlords in the hinterland. They included wars between Chiang Kai-shek and Feng Yuxiang from October to November 1929 and between Guangdong and Guangxi armies from October 1929 to February 1930. The wars damaged the prestige of the Nationalist Government among the Tibetans and exerted an adverse impact on the 13th Dalai Lama, who was considering mending fences with the Central Government. They also gave a new excuse to the pro-British elements in the upper echelons of the ruling class in Tibet. Hence, these wars between new warlords damaged relations between Tibet and the motherland. In spite of all this, the relations between the local government of Tibet and the Central Government improved to a certain degree.

On May 5, 1930, the 13th Dalai Lama received Liu Manqing once again, and said: "My greatest wish is for real peace and the unification of China....With regard to the Xikang incident, please ask the government not to send cruel soldiers to suppress our people. It is better to have a clear-headed official to take over the affairs. I am ready to withdraw my troops at any time. Since this is all Chinese territory, why distinguish between you and us? ...It is not worthwhile to see brothers at odds." He also said: "The British truly intend to tempt me, but I know that our sovereignty must not be lost. Nature and customs are not compatible. So, when they came, we managed to cope with them and didn't venture to give them any rights. So long as China can consolidate itself, it should not be difficult to solve the Kam and Tibet problem." (Liu Manqing: A Mission to Xikang and Tibet, pp.118-20)

Obviously the 13th Dalai Lama had seen through the British charade during the years of contact with them. The activities of the 9th Panchen Erdeni in the inland also had an impact on him. He was also pushed forward by the broad masses of monks and lay people, especially the patriotic movements staged by lamas from the three major monasteries in Lhasa. Stark reality forced him to have second thoughts about the future of Tibet. This is why he decided to inform the Central Government of his attitude toward the British and the Central Government, facts which demonstrate that he began to give up the non-patriotic attitude he held during the late Qing Dynasty and the early days of the Republic of China.

In August 1930, Gongjor Zhongnyi returned to Nanjing from Tibet and was officially appointed as the resident representative of Tibet in Nanjing. With the consent of the Nationalist Government, Tibet opened offices in Nanjing, Beiping (present-day Beijing) and Xikang. This put an end to the abnormal relations between Tibet and the motherland that had lasted for close to 20 years. The local government of Tibet and the Central Government finally resumed normal contacts.