Why did Nehru give Tibet to China

Invasion of Tibet: The polite attack


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In September 1950 the time had come. China's People's Liberation Army had completed its preparations. The new road to the Tibetan border on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River was ready and the troops had had six months of intensive training behind them. They were prepared for battles in the high mountains, for high-speed marches. Tibet's troops were to be encircled in rapid advances.

The decisive man on the spot was Deng Xiaoping, later de facto successor to Mao Tse-tung, at the time political commissioner of the military region Southwest. He only wanted to use force sparingly. Instead, as many Tibetans as possible should be won over to the new regime. Proclamations promised "guarantee of religious freedom, respect for customs and traditions and protection of monasteries and temples". The soldiers received instruction in Tibetan religion, culture and language. They were tirelessly told not to take a needle from the masses.

There had not yet been any direct negotiations between Beijing and Lhasa. But the Tibetans knew from the radio that China's troops wanted to "liberate" Tibet in 1950. On September 16, a delegation led by Shakabpa Wangchuk Deden, a fourth-degree official, met with the new Chinese ambassador, Yuan Chung-hsien, in Delhi. Shakabpa tried to make Beijing's husband understand that a liberation of Tibet from imperialism was completely unnecessary, because there were no imperialist influences. I am glad to hear that, Yuan replied. However, three points were not up for negotiation: Tibet was to be regarded as part of China, China was responsible for Tibet's defense, and all connections to foreign countries would be regulated by the People's Republic. Yuan said that if the Tibetans did not accept these three points, war would be inevitable.



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Shakabpa had no illusions. In conversations with foreign diplomats and politicians, he had asked several times whether Tibet could hope for outside help. The Indian attitude was particularly important. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru told the Tibetans to negotiate. If they insist on their independence, however, it would be "very difficult to reach an agreement". Obviously, Nehru, who was already angry that Tibet had recently made territorial demands on his country, did not want to strain India's relationship with China. In the end, Shakabpa urged his own government in Lhasa to be flexible. But the ruling monks and secular nobles could not come to a decision. On September 28th, Shakabpa was ordered to try to stop the Chinese. An absurdly helpless directive.

On October 7th, the People's Liberation Army crossed the Yangtze in three places. The weak Tibetan troops were taken by surprise and were only able to offer sporadic resistance. Ngabö Ngawang Jigme, the local provincial governor, sought instructions from Lhasa. But there was no answer. The top officials were at the picnic and were not allowed to be disturbed.

Ngabö decided to withdraw from the provincial capital Tschamdo. But as Robert Ford, an English radio specialist in the Tibetan service, observed: "Panic broke out in the city. People were running in all directions, trying to take what they could carry." Meanwhile, Tibet's troops were in bad shape: "The Tibetan army was not prepared for a retreat. When the soldiers went to the front, they had taken their families with them. The fighters accompanied women and children, as well as half households, piled on yaks or mules. You saw tents, pots and pans, carpets, butter dishes, bundles of clothes, and you saw babies on their mothers' backs. A fantastic sight. "

On October 19, Ngabö signed the surrender of his troops. The Tibetans had to listen to speeches about socialism and the unity of the motherland, but were given money and food and were allowed to go home. Indeed, China's soldiers showed exemplary discipline.