I hope he [McMahon] will get his rug in the long run, though the discussions have been complicated by the Tibetans having a rug of their own which they also try to sell exorbitantly.
Lord Crewe to Lord Hardinge, May 1914
On 16 March 1912 Yuan Shih Kai became president of a new Chinese Republican government in Peking, ushering in a period of closer co-operation between China and the western powers and increasing the personal power of Sir John Jordan in Peking who, since February 1911 had been doyen of the foreign legations in Peking and who was already known to the new president. 1
Jordan and his colleagues had welcomed Yuan's presidency as a means of easing existing Anglo-Chinese tensions in general, believing that his influence might bring about greater opportunities for talks with China on a number of issues, including the status of Tibet. This initial optimism soon proved unfounded, for the change to Republican government had little effect on China's main Asian policy, which had serious implications for Tibet. Yuan continued to hold onto territories in Mongolia, Sinkiang and Tibet acquired under the Manchu, but the forward policy in Tibet - and more particularly the plan to create Sikang - had not been a Manchu initiative, the main driving force behind this having come from the provincial government of Sichuan. Yuan had many supporters in Sichuan who had been prepared to defy the Manchu in order to implement this policy and who were now anxious to see it carried out when he became president. The resulting dramatic changes in policy, which at first appeared to British eyes to be an unexpected departure, were in reality merely extensions of policies already begun in Sichuan in the dying days of the Manchu dynasty. 2
New Republican policy was most obviously reflected in the 'Five Races Decree' of May 1912. This decree was portrayed as an attempt to enhance the status of peoples, previously regarded under the Manchu as subject races of China, by declaring them Chinese citizens. As one of the five races covered by the decree Tibetans now had the right to some