Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."
<-Back to WTN Archives Ken Knaus' statement at House Hearing on Tibet
Tibetan Flag

World Tibet Network News

Sunday, March 21, 1999

1. Ken Knaus' statement at House Hearing on Tibet

Statement of John Kenneth Knaus Associate, Fairbank Center, Harvard
University, at the House International Relations Hearing on Tibet on
March 11, 1999.

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my testimony is based on the
seven years that I spent as a CIA operations officer working with the
leaders and members of the Tibetan resistance from 1958 to 1965 and the
research that I have done in writing a history of the US relationship
with Tibet from 1942 to 1974 which is being published next month under
the title "Orphans of the Cold War."

It is appropriate on the fortieth anniversary of the Tibetan Revolt to
take note of the basis for the extraordinary interest that the American
people and their government have taken in this remote country. By March
10, 1959 the US Government had been involved in the affairs of Tibet for
almost a decade. This relationship, which was to continue through 1974,
carried commitments some of which were fulfilled and others from which
our government walked away. The motivation for our involvement was
mixed, and its legacy was one of both good will and disappointment. The
accomplishments were similarly varied, ranging from dismal to those that
had lasting value. The consequences of these actions taken over a period
of twenty-five years a quarter of a century ago are s till with us

Prior to 1949, the US Government had taken only occasional and passing
interest in Tibet. Since 1913 its Chinese suzerain had exercised no
authority there, and the Tibetans had been managing their own affairs in
splendid isolation under the benign eye of its friendly British India
neighbor. Now a new and aggressive power was taking over in Beijing,
capable of exercising full military and political control of an area it
intended to reclaim as its own. Washington was forced to take a new
inventory of what its policy concerning Tibet should be. Weighing the
threat of contributing to the further dismemberment of China and the
enormous logistical and political problems involved in providing
effective support to the Tibetans against a genuine desire to help a
staunchly anti-Communist country, the State Department temporized. It
thereby avoided the domestic dilemma of appearing to be hastening the
demise of the Nationalists' hold over mainland China when the Truman
administration and especially Secretary of State Acheson were already
under attack for "losing China." In New Delhi, closer to the scene,
the embassy was more concerned about the threat of a Communist occupied
Tibet. It warned that "if we make no effort to demonstrate a friendly
interest in Tibet until a Communist-dominated regime consolidates its
hold on China, the impression will be created among the Tibetans that we
were moved only by a desire to contain Communism and not to develop
cordial relations with the Tibetan people." The Embassy was right.
Almost fifty years later both the Dalai Lama and his elder brother told
me that they felt the United States had used the Tibet as a pawn in the
Cold War and they still resented it. While the Tibetans' disillusionment
is understandable, the record of American commitment and fulfillment of
its pledges concerning Tibet is more complex.

Within weeks after Mao Zedong and his forces proclaimed their victory in
Beijing, his military forces began moving troops into the Chinese
provinces along the upper Yangtze valley where more than one half of the
ethnic Tibetan population lives. On January 7, 1950 General Liu Bocheng
announced that the Chinese Communist Army, having crushed resistance in
these areas would now "liberate our compatriots in Tibet. 'At that
time Mao was in Moscow engaged in the prolonged negotiations with
Stalin. Secretary Acheson made one unsuccessful effort to coax Mao away
from cementing an alliance with his Russian counterpart, but a new
awesome dimension had entered into the Cold War.

Tibet was to assume new significance in US policy planning. Washington
had discouraged the Tibetans from sending missions to Washington when
the Chinese first announced their plans to "liberate "Tibet. But by
June 1950, only a fortnight before the outbreak of the Korean War the
State Department called in representatives of the British Embassy to
discuss a proposal to " encourage and support Tibetan resistance to
Communist control. "The Department acknowledged that the Chinese
Communists had the military strength to capture Tibet but noted that the
terrain favored guerrilla resistance. The plan was to have the Indians
supply Tibetan guerrillas in secret, and have the British persuade their
former wards to do so. The British declined to participate. Whatever the
US might want to do about Tibet, it would have to do it alone. Its
wartime ally no longer had the heart for endeavors affecting areas that
were now only remembrances of an empire past. Two weeks after the North
Korean invasion, Washington informed the Tibetans, who had come to New
Delhi to solicit US aid to meet the pending Chinese invasion across the
Yangtze, that the US was ready to assist in the procurement and
financing of such military assistance -- if they obtained the Indian
government's cooperation. The Tibetan negotiators had first to overcome
the reluctance of some of their own government officials who were still
hoping to buy time through negotiations and then persuade the Indians
who were equally reluctant to alienate the Chinese. This diplomatic
shadow boxing became academic when the Chinese troops announced on
October 25 1950 that their troops were "advancing toward Tibet."

The defense of Tibet was pitifully unequal but mercifully short. By
early November the Chinese had established their presence on the other
side of the frontier established by their Manchu predecessors in 1727.
They then paused and outlined their terms of surrender.

At the same time as Mao' s forces crossed the Yangtze into Tibet, his
troops were pouring across the Yalu into North Korea, and the situation
there had become grim. The prospect of World War III seemed real. The
Dalai Lama appealed to the United Nations, but found no support there.
The UN members were quite ready to accept the assurances of the Indian
ambassador that Beijing was prepared to negotiate a peaceful settlement
of the Tibet situation. Disappointed, the Dalai Lama fled to a monastery
in southern Tibet a few miles from the Indian border, while he sent
negotiators to Beijing to work out the best possible deal to stave off
the occupation of his capital.

Despite this bleak background, Washington had decided by January 1951
that it was time to take more active measures concerning Tibet,
unilaterally if necessary, lest it " go by default, particularly in
view of the UN action re Korea and also the need for checking Chi Commie
advances where feasible. "The State Department informed its Ambassador
in India, Loy Henderson that "every feasible effort should be made to
hinder the Commie occupation "of Tibet and ensure that Tibet's case
receive a hearing at the UN. It also pledged that the US government "
still stands ready to extend some material assistance if appropriate
means can be found for the expression of Tibetan resistance to
aggression. This doughty statement of policy had been preceded a week
earlier by a declaration to the British that the " United States, which
was one of the early supporters of the principle of self-determination
of peoples, believes that the Tibetan people had the same inherent right
as any other to have the determining voice in its political destiny.

It went on the make the surprisingly sweeping judgment that "should
developments warrant, consideration could be given to recognition of
Tibet as an independent state." This was the background to a period of
intense activity by the US government undertaken in the spring of 1951
and carried out that summer to convince the Dalai Lama that he should
leave Tibet and seek asylum. Washington's objectives were both pragmatic
and ideological. A few years ago Dean Rusk, who was in charge of US
policy in the Far East in 1951, said that the Tibetans qualified under
the Truman Doctrine of providing support to "free peoples resisting
attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. 'The
Tibetan leader could provide a powerful symbol as a victim of Communist
aggression and rallying point to his fellow Buddhists in Asia. This
might cause the Chinese to back off from their plans to proceed with the
occupation of Tibet. Above all, he said, it was US policy to block the
Chinese Communist expansion wherever possible.

When the terms of the occupation agreement that the Dalai Lama's
negotiators were forced to accept in May 1951 became known, the US
embassy in India, fully backed by Washington, undertook a campaign to
persuade the Dalai Lama to renounce the agreement and seek asylum
abroad. Members of the Dalai Lama' s official and personal family
shuttled across the border from the Indian border towns of Darjeeling
and Kalimpong carrying a series of US proposals to the young Tibetan
ruler. These offers fell into three categories.

The first concerned the official position of the Dalai Lama and the
legal status of Tibet with the consequences this would have for any
appeals made to the United Nations. The second provided guarantees for
the maintenance and political support of the Dalai Lama and his
entourage while they remained in exile. The third was a pledge of
support for the resistance hedged by what limitations Indian policy
might impose.

These guarantees, while they were not cashed in at that time and were
subsequently redefined, were to provide the substance of the
relationship between the Tibetans and the US government for the
following two decades.

The pledges concerning the status of the Dalai Lama and Tibet were
variously expressed. In late spring of 1951 the US Ambassador in India,
Loy Henderson, had sent word to the Dalai Lama that under no
circumstance should he return to Lhasa, "until changes in the world
situation would make it difficult 'for the Chinese Communists to take
over Tibet. In the meantime he promised the Tibetan ruler that he could
be "certain of finding a place of refuge in one of the friendly
countries, including the United States, in the Western Hemisphere. "In
June, Henderson assured one of the Dalai Lama's officials that, while
the US government recognized Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, the Dalai
Lama would be received in the United States as a " great religious
leader and as leader of an autonomous state. "The following month the
State Department reaffirmed to the Dalai Lama's brother that "the US
government believes Tibet should not be compelled by duress to accept
violation of its autonomy and the Tibetan people should enjoy the rights
of self-determination commensurate with the autonomy Tibet has had for
many years. "Furthermore, "the US will therefore indicate publicly its
understanding of the position of the Dalai Lama as head of autonomous
Tibet, and will endeavor to persuade other nations to take no action
adverse to the position of the Dalai Lama as head of an autonomous
Tibet. "US support was contingent upon the Dalai Lama leaving Tibet,
disavowing the agreement his negotiators had been coerced into signing,
and continuing his opposition to Communist aggression. Implicit in the
understanding was US support for his return to Tibet " at the earliest
practical moment as head of an autonomous non-Communist country.
"Further pledges along these lines were made that summer, but none was
put in writing until Henderson at the shrewd Tibetans' insistence signed
a letter spelling out that "an essential p art of our cooperation would
be a public announcement by the United States that it supports the
position of Your Holiness as head of an autonomous Tibet and would
support your return to Tibet at the earliest practicable moment as head
of an autonomous and non-Communist country."

George Patterson, the man who acted as interpreter in transmitting these
messages, warned the American negotiators that the Tibetan language at
that time made no distinction between the concepts of autonomy,
self-determination and independence and terms like suzerainty and
sovereignty were not in the Tibetan lexicon. The Tibetans may very well
have heard what they wanted to hear, and their American interlocutors
may well have been inexact in transmitting what was a still undefined US

The Dalai Lama Returns to Tibet While the Ambassador' s signed promises
were not delivered until after the Dalai Lama had returned to Lhasa, he
had received these multiple oral assurances regarding his reception
abroad in exile and accompanying promises of material support before he
decided to return to Lhasa. Even after the Tibetan ruler was on his way
back to his capital the Americans had sent further proposals, including
one Wild West scheme involving Heinrich Harrer who would sweep across
the border on a rescue mission to bring him to Bhutan. But the young man
was determined to make an effort to find an accommodation with the
Chinese that would preserve some form of the unique way of life that
identified Tibet. For the next five years US relations with the Tibetans
were put on hold. By mutual consent the US government would make no
statements nor take any actions that would make it more difficult for
the Dalai Lama to work out a modus vivendi with his new overlords. The
Dalai Lama soon realized that his role was to be limited to that of a
figurehead, but he would give it a try. In 1954 he went to Beijing where
he was received with great ceremony and assured by Mao that the
occupation agreement would be implemented only at a pace acceptable to
the Tibetans. On his way back to Lhasa he found, however, that the
Chinese had begun a concerted effort to impose their full control and
Communist practices on his people, particularly in the Kham and Amdo
(ethnic Tibetan) areas of the border provinces. Their efforts to
confiscate weapons, the most highly prized possessions of the Khampas,
produced open discontent and sabotage. They then turned to taxation,
confiscation of large private and monastic properties, and to public
humiliations and executions, with the monasteries as particular targets
for attack. This began to evoke strong local protests. Khampa and Amdowa
clan leaders briefed the Dalai Lama' s chief of staff on their plans to
resist the Chinese by force when he passed through the region as part of
the official party escorting the Dalai Lama back to Lhasa. The young man
was returning to a country on the verge of active rebellion which
presented him as a Buddhist ruler, with moral dilemmas from then on.

By the summer of 1956 local spontaneous uprisings were occurring
throughout the Tibetan regions of the four Chinese border provinces and
spreading across the Yangtze. The Chinese brought in reinforcements and
increased their air and ground operations against their unruly Khampa
subjects in a punitive campaign, culminating in the aerial bombing and
destruction of the ancient monastery of Litang, built in 1580 and home
to 5,000 monks with an arsenal of ancient rifles. This was to become
the most frequently cited incident that caused the ordinary people, the
monks and leaders of Kham to make common cause with the other clans in
eastern Tibet. In Lhasa, the Dalai Lama was faced with an impossible
quandary. His political authority had been reduced to that of a
figurehead preventing him from blocking the Chinese policies and actions
that were provoking these insurrections. But as the supreme religious
authority of his people he was unable to condone the violent response
these actions were evoking.

An invitation to visit India to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the
birth of Buddha in the autumn of 1956 seemed to offer a way out of this
impossible situation. He would ask Nehru for asylum and carry on his
fight for his country' s integrity from abroad. However, his host, who
was also entertaining the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai at that time, was
quite unwilling to offer such hospitality. The Tibetan ruler again felt
he had little choice but to return to his occupied capital with vague
promises that the Chines e would delay their plans for reforms in Tibet.

US Support to the Resistance His two brothers argued strongly that the
Dalai Lama not return, but accept the renewed offers of the Americans to
support him in asylum abroad and continue the fight from there. While
the Dalai Lama was unsuccessfully negotiating with Nehru for asylum, t
hey had begun negotiations with the CIA for assistance to the growing
resistance movement which was spreading westward from its original sites
in eastern Tibet. For some months, Gyalo Thondup, the brother who lived
in Darjeeling had been receiving emissaries from local leaders asking
him to obtain the arms from abroad that they needed to continue their
insurgency against the Chinese. He had been running a low key
underground intelligence collection effort centered in Lhasa since he
had fled from there in 1952. His objective was to inform the Indians and
other friendly governments and the international press about Chinese
occupation policies in Tibet. Now he was being asked to take on a more
active role. He felt he had little choice. As the Dalai Lama' s brother,
he had the prestige and contacts that the backwoods guerrilla leaders
lacked. The Indians were interested only in supporting intelligence
activities in Tibet, but representatives of the Chinese Nationalist
government had showed up on Thondup 's doorstep in 1952, offering to
back paramilitary operations in Tibet. Thondup decided that allying
himself with the Nationalists would only validate Beijing's claims that
the resistance movement was a foreign creation. In any event, he knew
the Nationalists would turn to Washington for whatever assistance they
might provide to the Tibetans, and he might just as well go to them
directly to avoid the political baggage that would come from t he Taiwan
connection. He therefore decided to approach the Americans to ask them
to fulfill the commitments they had made five years earlier. A
self-initiated resistance movement was now in action, and the Americans
were ready to test it.

The Dalai Lama again wrestled with the dilemma of where he could best
serve --by returning to Lhasa, counting on Zhou' s promises to delay the
reforms that were stirring his people to rebellion or by exerting
pressure from abroad. Gyalo Thondup had kept him informed of the US
pledges of political support without spelling out the specific
arrangements he had made with the CIA to train a pilot group of six men
who would be sent back to confirm whether the resistance movements being
organized in eastern Tibet warranted the arms they were requesting. The
two brothers ended up going their separate ways, the Dalai Lama again
returning to Lhasa to try to head off what he feared would be a tragedy
while his two brothers sought support to prevent what they believed
would otherwise be a massacre.

The six men selected for training by CIA were already on their way to
Saipan. Their mission was to return to Tibet to provide first hand and
timely reports by radio of what were unconfirmed and dated reports of
active resistance activities. They were not being sent back to foment
insurgency, nor to raise false expectations. The bitter lessons and
recollections of Hungary were very much alive. The men were, however,
qualified to instruct the local leaders in the use of modern weapons and
in the tactics of guerrilla warfare if they found that the situation on
the ground warranted the full support that the CIA was prepared to give.

In September 1957 the first team of two men were dropped onto dunes
formed by the receding floodwaters of the T sangpo (upper Brahmaputra)
River approximately sixty miles south of Lhasa. Their mission was to
make their way to Lhasa and attempt to obtain a request from the Dalai
Lama for the assistance that the US was willing to provide to the
resistance. [his unrealistic request for an endorsement of the use of
arms from a man whose whole identity is defined by opposition to
violence was made at the insistence of the US State Department. It was
made twice, but never given. The State Department nevertheless agreed
that the CIA should proceed with the arms drops, since its intelligence
reports confirmed that the Tibetans were carrying out active resistance
efforts on their own. The second team dropped that autumn was sent to
establish contact with the resistance groups then operating in the team
leader's home area near Litang in Chinese province of Sichuan. The
contact was made, and two of the men were killed in a battle with the
Chinese. The leader escaped and made his way to the resistance
headquarters then being set up in central Tibet five hundred miles away
by his Uncle Gompo Tashi. It was then the summer of 1958, and by this
time Gompo Tashi, a wealthy trader from the Kham area had pounded
together a national movement from the various local groups that had been
migrating toward central Tibet as they were driven by the Chinese from
their home areas in the east. This was no easy task, as these local
leaders were similar to Scottish clans, jealous of their local
prerogatives, distrustful of their neighboring tribesmen, hostile to
authority from what had been absentee Chinese officials and suspicious
of their fellow Tibetan authorities in Lhasa. Gompo had accomplished
what centuries of suspicions of authority and disdain for the emerging
merchant chiefs like him h ad prevented. By that summer he had amassed a
sizable force claiming 5,000 volunteers which had attained effective
control over the area south of Lhasa to the Indian border. The CIA was
in contact with Gompo through Gyalo Thondup, and it was to his group
that the first two drops of arms were made, the first in July 1958 and
the second in February 1959. the two drops contained 403 Lee Enfield
rifles, 60 hand grenades, 20 machine guns, and 26,000 rounds of
ammunition. These were the first installments of deliveries that were
foreclosed when the Chinese overran this area following the Dalai Lama's
escape to India the following March.

The Dalai Lama's decision to flee Lhasa in March 1959 was his own, and
the planning and execution were carried out solely b y his advisors. The
first team dropped into Tibet by CIA established contact with his escape
party on the second day of their flight, and this was the first the CIA
was aware of his departure. From then on, CIA was able to brief
President Eisenhower on hi s daily progress to India. The Dalai Lama's
request for asylum and the Indian Prime Minister's ready response were
transmitted over this World War II agent transmitter by the two CIA
trained agents cranking their hand generator. Soon after the Dalai
Lama reached India, the Chinese moved sizable forces into the area
formerly held by the guerrillas south of Lhasa and effectively
eradicated the resistance forces in this area, forcing them into India.
Gompo Tashi had brought with him information about the men he had
recruited and left behind to conduct guerrilla operations in the
territory northeast of his now overrun headquarters in Tibet. He advised
that the local resistance forces could conduct ambushes along the
Sichuan-Lhasa highway and disrupt traffic al on g this major supply
route for the Chinese army. Gyalo Thondup was informed by his
underground that similar resistance pockets were holding out along the
other principal Chinese supply route, the highway northwest of Lhasa to
Qinghai. But both needed help from Washington. The policy makers were
receptive --diplomatic support for Tibet at the UN would be hollow if
the resistance folded -- and the CIA was ready and eager to support the
guerrillas. By then the training camp established to train these
guerrillas at Camp Hale, Colorado had been in operation for over a year
and trained men were ready to take on new missions. (Some Tibetans were
trained at this site from 1958 to 1964.)

Between September 1959 and the spring of 1961 eight more teams of men
were dropped to sites ranging from northeast of Lhasa to the Markham
area on the East Side of the Yangtze. They were accompanied by some 35
flights carrying an average of 35,000 pounds of arms, ammunition,
medicine, medicine, food and, by request, mimeograph machines and
propaganda booklets written by the team members. The achievement of
dropping men, arms and equipment into the middle of a hostile, isolated
and physically forbidding area was a brilliant technical and logistical
success. But from an operational point of view these missions were a
failure. The concept was that the Tibetans would disperse and fight in
small guerrilla bands and live off the countryside. In practice, they
fought as they had for generations, accompanied by dependents and herds.
The prospects of supplies from those great warehouses in the sky
encouraged groups to band together, making them easy prey to the Chinese
air and ground attack capabilities which had been seriously
underestimated. The US had fulfilled one of the three major commitments
it had made to the Tibetans, but the concept of sustaining a large-scale
guerrilla movement by air had proven a painful failure. While these
operations were being carried out in eastern Tibet, a parallel operation
was carried out in western Tibet. In mid-1960 Gompo Tashi asserted that
several thousand of his resistance army then working on road gangs in
India and Sikkim were ready to return to the fight. He proposed that
they regroup to operate inside Tibet opposite the Mustang kingdom of
Nepal. The concept was that they would move secretly in increments of
300 men to Mustang from where they would establish guerrilla bases
across the border inside Tibet. The key elements in the plan were that
each increment would move only after the proceeding one had established
itself in a secure area where they could be supplied by air and that
this all be carried out with utmost secrecy. In practice, when the word
got out, some 3,000 men moved with full newspaper coverage of this
event. This began what was to be a 14-year problem. The men organized
themselves into military units and carried out a series of raids along
the Lhasa-Xinkiang highway. In the early 1 960s these were effective.
One produced an unprecedented intelligence haul of highly classified and
sensitive Chinese documents. But the guerrillas were unable to establish
bases inside Tibet, and by the mid 60s the Chinese had begun to bring in
greater forces which made these operations too costly. Politically their
presence in Nepal was always a potential problem. The Mustang veterans
were a valuable capability without a mission. After the Chinese-Indian
border war in 1962, the Indians came to value this US supplied force as
a complement to their border defense, and it was consequently
maintained. But by 1969, the Indians had built their own Special
Frontier Force and the Mustang group had outlived its operational
utility. The Tibetan leaders were given notice that it was to be
disbanded and the by then aging guerilla as were to be resettled. This
was finally accomplished with considerable distress in 1974. The
Tibetans believed that they had become casualties of the new Nixon
policy toward China, but the reasons were operational, rather than

Political Support for the Dalai Lama.

When the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959, his representatives reminded the
US government of the commitments it had made in 1951 and reaffirmed in
1956 when Washington, for its own reasons, was urging him to seek asylum
abroad. While the operative circumstances had changed, the US was
generally prepared to honor its earlier pledges.

It immediately began efforts to line up sponsors for bringing the Tibet
case before the UN. Working behind the scenes to avoid the charge that
this was a US Cold War initiative, three appropriate sponsors were
recruited. The Irish, who had a history of religious persecution, the
Malaysians, who, had fought their own battle against Communist
insurgents, and the Thais as fellow Buddhists took up the cudgels. The
State Department went full press to enlist support from allies
throughout the world. (Surprisingly, our closest allies, both the
British and the French, backed away on legalistic grounds.) And the
services of one of America 's most distinguished international lawyers,
Ernest A. Gross, were retained to represent the Tibetans, a mission he
took on and performed for the next 20 years. The result was a resolution
passed on October 21, 1959 deploring that the "fundamental human rights
and freedoms of the people of Tibet have been denied them. "While the
Tibetans wanted a resolution supporting their independence, there were
too many questions concerning Tibet's international legal status to get
such a resolution passed. But Washington had delivered what it could.

On February 29 1960 Secretary Herter publicly released a letter he had
sent to the Dalai Lama pledging US support for the application of the
principle of self-determination to the people of Tibet who "should have
the determining voice in their own political destiny. "Herter thereby
fulfilled another of the pledges made nine years earlier. Heritor's
pledge was the basis for what was to be the high-water mark in the
Tibetans ' claim for international recognition. On December 20, 1961 the
UN General Assembly, with 56 yeas (including the previously recalcitrant
British), 11 nays and 29 abstentions, renewed "its call for the
cessation of practices which deprive the Tibetan people of their
fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to
self-determination. 'The new Kennedy administration had delivered on the
pledges it and its predecessors had made.

International Representation

The pledges made by earlier US administrations to provide funds for the
maintenance of the Dalai Lama and his staff were reaffirmed in 1959 and
continued for the following 15 years. Supplementary funds were also
provided so that he might open representational offices in New York,
London and Geneva. The US government, while never able to grant the
recognition of his government-in-exile that the Dalai Lama sought, was
able to give him the means to establish his cause abroad. A small cadre
of young Tibetans was trained at Cornell University to supplement the
limited number of English speaking Tibetans with some knowledge of world
affairs that had accompanied the Dalai Lama into exile. Funds were
provided to establish a museum of the Tibetan art the refugees had
brought with them when they fled Tibet. These examples of a threatened
culture became the nucleus of a collection now displayed in Tibet House
in New Delhi.

The funds for these activities were all terminated in 1974. It is common
wisdom that this was done in response to requests made by the Chinese to
President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger. Kissinger denies any recollection
that the Chinese made any such request, and his staff officers who sat
in on the 1972 talks in Beijing, former Assistant Secretary Winston Lord
and Ambassador John Holdridge, also deny that the US support of the
Dalai Lama came up in these conversations. Although Tibet may not have
been on the table in the Beijing talks, the era of official US support
for the Tibetan cause was over. US policy had come full circle from the
days in the early fifties when encouraging Tibetan resistance was part
of an overall effort described by Dean Rusk as "doing anything we could
to get in the way of the Chinese Communists." Two decades later
Kissinger would assure President Nixon that " in plain terms we have
become tacit allies" with Mao. The roles of the participants in the Cold
War had so shifted that Kissinger reported to his chief". We are now in
the extraordinary situation that, with the exception of the United
Kingdom, the People's Republic of China might well be closest to us in
its global perceptions." There was no role for Tibet in this new

The US government had lived up to its commitments, some in full and
others in part, for almost two decades. That is a long time in foreign
relations programs and policies, and this has left a lasting legacy,
even though it is less than perfect. Fortunately after the US government
left the Tibetans on their own, they went on to establish their cause in
the conscience of the world. Nor has it been forgotten in Washington.
This hearing today is proof of that. We may hope that this legacy may be
finally harvested if the hopes for a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and
the new Chinese leadership raised by Presidents Jiang and Clinton in
Beijing last summer are finally realized.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Ken Knaus' statement at House Hearing on Tibet
  2. Group calls China two-faced over Tibetan tour (ABC)
  3. Film displays Tibet's hardship and beauty

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank