The British Empire & Tibet 1900 - 1922

By Wendy Palace | Go to book overview

Conclusion

The Younghusband expedition had a profound and long-term effect on Tibet and Britain, exposing Tibet to Chinese invasion and international scrutiny and acting as a catalyst for change in British Tibetan policy. Reluctantly sanctioned by the British Foreign Office in the hope of finally settling trade disputes on the Indian frontier with Tibet, it had quickly gathered momentum following China's refusal to accept the Lhasa Convention, disrupting Anglo-Chinese relations as China began to claim Tibet as part of the Chinese Empire.

There was a sad inevitability about the quadrilateral conflict that developed within the British Foreign Service over the Tibetan question between 1904 and 1922. The 'problem' of Tibet tested the resources of all four branches of the Service during this time because each had a different view of the situation. For the Foreign Office in London Tibet was but a small part of its wider Asian policy which aimed at countering Russian interest there and which relied upon the maintenance of harmonious relations with China in the interests of commercial profit. During Sir Edward Grey's long tenure as Foreign Secretary, the Far Eastern Department of the Foreign Office was given great flexibility in its dealings with China, and his protection also ensured that the British legation in Peking was allowed more freedom to contribute to Tibetan policy than would normally have been the case. As British minister in Peking between 1906 and 1920, Sir John Jordan exercised great influence in decisions involving Tibet, both inside the British Service and within the Chinese Foreign Office. His friendship with Yuan Shih Kai and other leading Chinese diplomats, and his appointment as doyen in 1911, enabled the Tibetan issue to be discussed much more frequently and more directly than would otherwise have been the case. In addition, the peculiar circumstances created by world war in 1914 gave him a unique opportunity to conduct his own forward policy in East Tibet, although his negative attitude towards the Japanese during this time also helped to hasten his retirement, especially after Lord Curzon became Foreign Secretary in 1919.

The problem which Tibet presented for India was quite different. For the Indian government control over Tibet was primarily related to the

-143-

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The British Empire & Tibet 1900 - 1922
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Figures xi
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • 1 - The Younghusband Invasion, 1900-1904 1
  • 2 - Masterly Inactivity 15
  • 3 - Beyond the Frontier 36
  • 4 - Delicate Work 53
  • 5 - Revolution, Invasion and Independence 73
  • 6 - The Simla Conference and the Bipartite Settlement, 1912-1914 92
  • 7 - The China Service and East Tibet, 1914-1918 106
  • 8 - Lhasa Unveiled 126
  • Conclusion 143
  • Notes 150
  • Select Bibliography 180
  • Index 188
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