Travels of a Consular Officer in Eastern - Eric Teichman

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Transcript of Travels of a Consular Officer in Eastern - Eric Teichman

TRAVELS OF A CONSULAR OFFICER IN EASTERN TIBET

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESSC. F.:

CLAY, ManagerE.C. 4

LONDON FETTER LANE,

NEW YORK THE MACMILLAN:

CO.

BOMBAY CALCUTTA I MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd. MADRAS j TORONTO THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. TOKYO MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA1: :

ALL RIGHTS KESEKVED

^TRAVELS OF A CONSULAR OFFICER IN EASTERN TIBETTOGETHER WITH A HISTORY OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN TIBET AND INDIABY

CHINA,

ERIC TEICHMAN, CLE.,

B.A. (Cantab.)

OF HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S CONSULAR SERVICE IN CHINA AUTHOR OF TRA VELS OF A CONSULAR OFFICER IN N.W. CHINA

WITH ORIGINAL MAPS OF EASTERN TIBET AND PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY THE AUTHOR

CAMBRIDGEAT THE UNIVERSITY1922PRESS

DEDICATED TO

MY

WIFE

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN

PREFACEThe writer has followed thehistory of Sino-Tibetan relations

from the Chinese side with close attention for many years, and also chanced to find himself stationed in Western China when hostilities broke out between Chinese and Tibetans on the border in 1918. The affairs of China being at that time in great disorder, and the authority of the Peking Government not extending as far as the Western frontier province ofdevolved upon him, in accordance with Great Britain's policy of promoting peace between China and Tibet, to offer his services as mediator between the local frontier leaders on both sides, with a view to the restoration of peace on the border pending a final settlement of the boundary question by negotiation with the Central Government of China when the latter should once more be in a position to deal with Tibetan frontier affairs. The long and arduous journeys through remote and largely unknown regions of Eastern Tibet necessitated by these frontier peace negotiations appeared to be of sufficient interest to warrant their being recorded in this book. For some people, including the writer, there are few pleasures, sports, or pastimes to compare with the interest and excitement of

Szechuan,

it

through and surveying, however inadequately, remote regions hitherto unmapped and unexplored. Every untrodden trail invites the traveller into the unknown, every mountain range demands to be crossed to see what lies on the other side, and every unmapped river asks to be followed up to its unknown source.travelling

the account of these journeys is prefixed an historical introduction, recording briefly the history of the Tibetan question, in other words, the story of the relations of Tibet with India and China, her neighbours on the south and north, from early days down to the end of the year 1918^. TheIn case this historical introduction should appear somewhat patchy and it should be explained that its various parts were largely compiled on the spot at the time of the events narrated. Thus Part II, dealing with events of 1906-10, including the Dalai Lama's visit to Peking, was originally compiled while the writer was in Peking during those years. The greaterdisjointed,^

To

vi

PREFACE

questions at issue are comparatively simple to state, if they are not easy of solution. Tibet seeks, if not complete independence, autonomy and freedom from interference in her internal affairs on the part of China, India, or any other Power, and would extend her boundaries to embrace all those parts of High Asia inhabited by peoples of Tibetan race. The Tibetans base their claim to manage their own affairs without Chinese interference on the history of their country as an autonomous State from the earliest days, and further argue that on the disappearance of their nominal overlords, the Manchu Emperors, at the time of the Chinese revolution in 191 1, they became, either entirely independent, or equal partners in the new Commonwealth with the Chinese themselves and other constituent elements of the former Manchu Empire. India, having learned by experience that satisfactory relations and friendly intercourse can only be maintained with her northern neighbour by direct dealings with a responsible Tibetan Government, without the intervention of any Chinese Authority, supports the Tibetan demand for internal autonomy, while fully recognising the status of Tibet as an integral, though self-governing, portion of the Chinese Commonwealth of Nations; and, while indifferent to the exact location of the Sino-Tibetan frontier, she seeks to promote a friendly settlement of the boundary dispute, on terms acceptable to both parties, in the interests of her transfrontier trade and the peace of her long north-eastern border.

between China and Tibet must inevitably reand unrest on the Indian border and in the Native States of Nepal and Bhutan. India has not, and never

For

hostilities

sult in turmoil

has had, any designs against the territorial or administrative integrity of Tibet, and the Tibetans have for many years past shown their appreciation of this fact by their openly

expressed desire for closer and more friendly relations with their southern neighbour.portion of Parts III and IV, including the story of Chao Erh-feng's campaigns in Eastern Tibet and the collapse of Chinese power in Kam at the time of the Chinese revolution of 191 1, was written from first hand information when the writer (who was in Chengtu at the time of Chao Erh-feng's murder) was stationed in Western China during the years 191 1-12. Part V, including the account of the resumption of hostilities between China and Tibet in 1918, was written on the spot immediately after the events narrated.

PREFACE

vii

China, suspicious of India's motives, and ever mindful of the fate of Korea, while recognising in principle the justice of the Tibetan demand for autonomy, seeks as far as possible to assert herself in Tibet, and to restrict the boundaries ofthe Dalai Lama's dominions by incorporating in China Proper many frontier districts inhabited by peoples of Tibetan race. As a result China is to-day disliked and mistrusted in Tibet.

The Chinese at times profess to resent the interference of India in Tibetan affairs but perhaps they overlook the fact that Indian territory marches with Tibet in the south and west as Chinese territory does in the north and east and that India cannot therefore be entirely indifferent to the fate of Tibet and to disorders in that country, and must concern herself with the maintenance of satisfactory relations with;

;

her northern neighbour. It having been found impossible to reconcile the conflicting boundary claims of China and Tibet at the tripartite conference held in India in 19 14, the Tibetan question dragged on unsettled through the years of the Great War, when no one had the leisure to attend to Tibetan affairs. Then, shortly before the termination of the Great War, came the resumption of active hostilities on the Sino-Tibetan frontier, and the restoration of peace on the border at the end of 19 18.

During these years, however, new obstacles to a definite settlement had arisen, namely, the disunited state of China and the lack of control exercised by the Peking Government over the Western Provinces and the Tibetan frontier. Since this book and its historical introduction were compiled at the end of the year 19 18 down to the time of writing, there have been no material developments in the situation; that is to say, peace has reigned on the border, but, whileTibet has continued to maintain her complete de facto independence from all Chinese control, a definite settlement of the Tibetan boundary question and of the status of Tibet as an autonomous portion of the Chinese Commonwealth awaits the cessation of internal strife in China. In the meantime, however, while a definite settlement restoring normal relations between China and Tibet continues to be delayed, Tibet drifts further and further from the orbit of her nominalsuzerain.

viii

PREFACE

China having recognised the principle of Tibetan autonomy under Chinese suzerainty, it is mainly the question of the boundary between China and autonomous Tibet which hasproved so difficult of solution. In the summer of 1919 the Chinese Government did, indeed, offer to settle the boundary question on apparently equitable terms, which amounted to a reversion to the old historical frontier between China and Tibet as delimited by the Manchu Emperors nearly twoas

centuries ago. Before, however. Great Britain, in her character middleman, could press the Tibetan Government to accept this settlement, the Chinese withdrew their offer on the ground that, with their country still torn by internal dis-

civil wars, the time was inopportune for finally the Tibetan question, which particularly condetermining cerned the western frontier provinces of Szechuan and Yunnan, then, as now, independent of Central Government

sensions and

control.

For some reason or other, whenever the settlement of the Tibetan question comes up for discussion, individuals of a certain class who have presumably their own reasons for desiring to abuse Great Britain, seize the opportunity to accuse her in the most fantastic terms of aggressive designs in Tibet and of so-called "demands" made on the Chinese Government in connection with a settlement of the Tibetan question.It was a press campaign of this nature which was largely responsible for the eleventh hour refusal of the Chinese Government to proceed with their offer of a settlement in 19 1 9. What actually passed in the negotiations of that year is recounted in the following statement issued by Renter's Agency in the press of China on December 2nd, 1919:

As the result of the Government to settlein alast

Government to the Chinese which has remained state of suspense during the War, the Chines