British Expedition To Tibet - Entry To Lhasa

Entry To Lhasa

Younghusband now assumed command of the mission, as the road had been cleared successfully. He took on his procession to Lhasa nearly 2,000 soldiers, all those not required to protect the road back to Sikkim. Crossing several obviously fortified ambush points without incident and recrossing the Garo Pass, the force arrived in Lhasa on 3 August 1904 to discover that the thirteenth Dalai Lama had fled to Urga, the capital of Outer Mongolia. For this, the Chinese government stripped him of his titles and had their amban post notices around Lhasa that the Dalai Lama had been deposed, and that the amban was now in charge. However, Tibetans tore down the notices, and Tibetan officials ignored the amban. The amban escorted the British into the city with his personal guard, but informed them that he had no authority to negotiate with them. The Tibetans told them that only the absent Dalai Lama had authority to sign any accord. But Younghusband intimidated the regent, Ganden Tri Rinpoche, and any other local officials he could gather together as an ad hoc government, to sign a treaty drafted unilaterally by himself, known subsequently as the Anglo-Tibetan Agreement of 1904. It allowed the British to trade in Yadong, Gyantse, and Gartok; called for Tibet to pay a large indemnity (500,000 pounds; subsequently this sum was reduced), ceding the Chumbi Valley to Britain until it was paid; formally recognized the Sikkim-Tibet border; and declared that Tibet would have no relations with any other foreign powers (converting Tibet into a British protectorate). The regent commented that "When one has known the scorpion (meaning China) the frog (meaning Britain) is divine".

The amban publicly repudiated the treaty, and Britain later announced that it still accepted Chinese claims of authority over Tibet. Acting Viceroy Lord Ampthill reduced the indemnity by two thirds and considerably eased the terms in other ways as well. The provisions of this 1904 treaty were revised in the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1906 signed between Britain and China. The British, for a fee from the Qing court, also agreed "not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet", while China engaged "not to permit any other foreign state to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet".

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