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How Stalin helped Mao in Tibet

delhi Updated: Jul 07, 2008 02:03 IST
PP Wangchuk

Mao Zedong: “I would like to note that the air regiment that you sent to China was very helpful. Let me thank you Comrade Stalin, for the help, and ask you to allow it to stay a little longer so it could help transport provisions to troops… currently preparing for an attack on Tibet”.

Joseph Stalin: “It’s good that you are preparing the attack. The Tibetans need to be subdued”.

These are excerpts from a new book by Claude Arpi, Tibet: the Lost Frontier. The book, just released by Lancer Publishers, goes into the details of what Arpi, a scholar on Tibet, calls the ‘fateful year, 1950, bringing out unknown facts on what went wrong with Tibet, and how the world remained a silent spectator to Tibet’s capture by China.

The world still believes Beijing’s version of the events of 1950 that the negotiations between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese were not progressing, and the PLA had no other alternative but to ‘liberate’ the ‘Roof of the World’, writes Arpi. But the quotations (in the beginning of this report) of the transcript of a conversation between Mao and Stalin, which took place on January 22, 1950, in Moscow, give the lie to Chinese claims.

Arpi writes that Chinese forces had no idea about the degree of resistance by the Tibetans. Therefore, the so-called negotiations were just a ploy to gain time to get the PLA’s Second Army to be ready for the onslaught, says Arpi, who has written several books on Tibet.

Arpi also quotes an interesting note of Jawaharlal Nehru written on November 18, 1950. After admitting that “Tibet’s autonomy can obviously not be anything like the autonomy, verging on independence, which it has enjoyed during the last 40 years or so”, Nehru assumed that “from the very nature of Tibetan geography, terrain and climate, a large measure of autonomy is almost inevitable.”