|Creator:||India Office Library and Records.|
|Title:||British Intelligence on China and Tibet.|
|Abstract:||British intelligence files on China and Tibet.|
|Languages:||Language of materials: English, some Chinese, and with only a few items in other (also local) languages.|
|Extent:||576 microfiches; 303 files on 43,200 pages.|
|Ordernumber:||CIT-1 - CIT-8|
British Library, Oriental & India Office Collections (OIOC).
All the files and related confidential print reproduced form part of the papers of the Political & Secret Department in the India Office Records. The files comprise a wide variety of papers received from the Government of India Foreign Department and other sources in India, and from the Foreign Office in London, together with India Office-generated minuting, comment and replies.
The files and associated confidential print which accumulated at the India Office in London during the first half of the twentieth century provide a unique primary source for the historical background to the nature of China’s present position in Tibet.
Much of the value of this collection lies in the way it shows how the three players on the British side, the Government of India, the India Office and the Foreign Office, grappled with different imperatives. The view from the British Embassy in Peking and later from wartime Chungking was frequently at odds with that from Delhi or the India Office. Over decades the British side juggled with the self-imposed conundrum that recognition of Chinese ‘suzerainty’ should be conditional upon China’s recognition of Tibetan ‘autonomy’, while avoiding precise definitions of either concept. Meanwhile Tibet went its own way in a semi-independent limbo, subject to varying degrees of British intervention and support channelled through Government of India officials at Gyantse and Gartok, in Sikkim, or latterly in its Lhasa Mission.
The collection begins with Lord Curzon’s ‘forward policy’ of 1903-04, designed to create a Tibetan buffer state against Russian influence – significantly, all this material was printed-up by the Foreign Office. Then follow negotiations to keep Russia at a distance, and the return of the 13th Dalai Lama from China to Tibet.
There is extensive coverage of Tibet’s break with China after the 1911 Revolution, the subsequent Simla Conference of 1912, and the delimitation of Tibet’s borders.
A fascinating group of files offers minute detail on an attempt to turn four young Tibetans into a vanguard of ‘modernisers’ through the medium of an English public school education, and a further large group records the way in which access to Tibet was closely controlled by the British.
Tibet’s internal affairs and British encouragement of de facto semi-independence through the 1920s and 1930s lead to a renewed concern for Chinese Nationalist claims during World War II. Particularly interesting from this period are the files on the discovery of the 14th (the present) Dalai Lama in 1937-39. The collection ends with the complete reversal following the Independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 and the Communist victory in China.
This collection is organized into eight series. All items have been arranged chronologically.
Selected Search Terms
|Great Britain -- Colonies -- Asia.|
|Tibet (China) -- History -- Sources.|
An integrated EAD finding aid is also available:
All the files and related confidential print reproduced form part of the papers of the Political & Secret Department in the India Office Records. Incoming papers passed through the departmental registry, where they were placed on a file numbered in an annual sequence before being passed to the department’s officers. As a result of a regular programme of ‘weeding’ and merger the files in the present collection were eventually archived in one of three groups: Political & Secret Separate (or Subject) Files (L/P&S/10); Political & Secret Annual Files (L/P&S/11); Political External Collections (L/P&S/12). The department also maintained a separate series of memoranda prepared by India Office, Foreign Office or Government of India officials (L/P&S/18), and had its own reference library of secret/confidential print and official publications (L/P&S/20).
In 1982 the Foreign & Commonwealth Office transferred the administration of the India Office Library & Records to the British Library, where it now forms one part of the Library’s Oriental & India Office Collections. In 2003, the OIOC was integrated into the British Library's Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections.
BL, India Office Record: followed by the relevant file number, not the fiche number.