A Page From History
There was a time when Tibet ruled China
By Arabinda Ghose
The Tibetans had never accepted Chinese suzerainty, and remained a sovereign nation forcibly under occupation and control by the Chinese. In fact Tibet had once occupied China and sacked its capital too. The time, therefore, has come to tell the people of India as also the world, that China must grant full sovereignty to Tibet and leave the Tibetans to their own fate.
It is most disconcerting for any Indian to watch the Government of India reacting in an abject manner to the objections by China to the visit by our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh visiting Arunachal Pradesh as if this country is a client state of China.
Instead of quoting the Constitution of India for asserting that this State is an inalienable part of India, as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee did in Kolkata recently, the country wants this Government to tell China to shut up and vacate their occupation of Tibet,
What is more, it is time for India and the democratic world to demand that Tibet be given back her sovereignty because the "fact " of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, which this country had gullibly swallowed during the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Chinese had exercised control over Tibet by fraudulent and even murderous means, as will be revealed in the following paragraphs quoting reliable authorities. In fact Tibet had once occupied China and sacked its capital too.
We have in our hands two or three very reliable sources to support our views-one is a book by Nepalese scholar-politician Balchandra Sharma referring to cultural influence of Nepal over China, the second is the book Chronology and History of Nepal from 600 BC to 880 AD by Dr Kashi Prasad Jaiswal and lastly, Lhasa Vols I and II by Perceval Landon, Special Correspondent of the Times, London, who had accompanied the 1903-04 British expedition to Lhasa led by Sir Francis Younghusband.
We will briefly take up the writings of these three authors.
Shri Sharma who was a leading light of the Nepali Congress in the 1950s and the 1960s, had led a cultural delegation to China in the 1960s when he saw the remnants of the several architects built by a Nepalese sculpture-builder Arniko, spelt Aniko in Chinese. One of them is a monastery near Bejing, still standing. One may remind readers that the Kathmnadu-Kodari Highway which takes one to Lhasa and built by the Chinese in 1964-67, is called the Arniko Rajmarga. in Nepal.
One will find on page 79 of the book Chronology and History of Nepal from 600 BC to 880 AD the following lines: "The T’ang History, gives the contemporary history of Tibet, which had been translated by Dr S.W. Bushel, physician to the British Legation in Peking, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society,1880 p.433ff. According to it, Strong-stand-Gampo (Chinese Ch/it-sung-lungtsan) died in 650 and was succeeded by his grandson aged 8,whose son Chi’nu Shsilung was killed in this expedition against Nepal and was succeeded by a minor son aged 7 in 703 A.D. It was no until 755-756 (two successions later) that the Tibetan King once more rose in military greatness by attacking China and taking its capital in 736 A.D."
So it is the T’ang history that says that a Tibetan King had actually attacked China and taken its capital. We have more evidence in the two books by Perceval Landon who incidentally, had authored a book on the ancient history of Nepal too by discovering a "vamsavali" (genealogy).
Landon’s Vol.1 has this to say about the Tibet-China relationship, abridged for want of space: "This history is not one of great interest and may be chiefly dismissed as one of continued hostility with China, but on hostility on equal terms. That the result of these border skirmishes was by no means as uniformly satisfactory to China as one may imagine from her version of the events, is clear but about the 640 A.D, the King of Tibet, Srong-tsan-Gambo, succeeded in obtaining the hands of a princess of the imperial house of the Tang against the will of the emperor and after some years of fighting.....
Strong-tsan-gambo’s grandson, Ti-strong-de-stand, resumed hostilities with China and in 763 actually sacked the capital Changam or Hsia-Fu....."
Vol II has more details of how the Chinese had controlled Tibet. One recalls that this distinguished journalist had accompanied the Francis Younghusband mission of the British to Lhasa in 1903-04. Referring to this, in Chapter I of the Vol II, Landon says :..."Before taking up again the story of the Expedition, I propose to sketch the internal affairs of Lhasa for the last few years with somewhat greater detail than before.
The key to the situation in Tibet, which was now becoming desperate, is to be found in the deliberate and steady determination of the Tibetans to do away with Chinese suzerainty. This is a policy of long standing. Thirty-five years ago, the spirit of independence was already abroad in Tibet, and there was a recognized progressive party, headed by no less a dignitary than the treasurer of the Gaden monastery. Under the old regime, as is well known, a consistent policy of regency, made possible only by the equally systematic assassination of each successive young Grand Lama before he reached the age of eighteen ,resulted in a continual regency ,and therefore, also a continued opportunity for the assertion and reassertion of the Chinese suzerainty, for no regent could be appointed without the sanction of the Chinese emperor."
The very election of the Dalai Lama himself was theoretically subject to the approval of Peking, but this prerogative was seldom or never, exercised. In other parts of the his dominions the Chinese emperor made undoubted use of his rights, Without going into more details at this stage, we would like to quote Landon once again here: "China had been of no use to them in their dispute with India (prior to the Younghusband expedition) and to have the "reincarnated" the Dalai Lama at that moment meant a repetition of the usual opportunity for the exertion of Chinese influence which would have peculiarly inappropriate and even disastrous. He was, therefore, allowed the survive maturity, but only as a religious pontiff, the temporary power remaining in the hands of the regent. But as soon as the Treaty was signed, the last vestige of Chinese influence in Tibet was thrown off by a coup d’etat, in 1805 (The Treaty was with Russia, if one is not mistaken)."
These references show clearly that the Tibetans had never accepted Chinese suzerainty, and remained a sovereign nation forcibly under occupation and control by the Chinese. The time, therefore, has come to tell the people of India as also the world, that China must grant full sovereignty to Tibet and leave the Tibetans to their own fate.
(The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)