Author: Ram Manohar
The first recorded official relations with China and Tibet occurred
near the middle of the seventh century. By the eighteenth century,
Nepalese adventurism in Tibet led to Chinese intervention in favor of
Tibet. The resultant Sino-Nepalese Treaty of 1792 provided for tribute-
bearing missions from Nepal to China every five years as a symbol of
Chinese political and cultural supremacy in the region.
It is to be remarked as singular, that Tibet is never once referred to
by the Chinese officers. The affair is treated as one concerning China
and its tributary Nepal and none other.
In the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16, China refused Nepal’s requests
for military assistance and, by default, surrendered its dominant
position in Nepal to the growing British influence. However, it
appeared to be expedient for Nepal to retain the fiction of a
tributary relationship with China in order to balance China against
Nepal invaded Tibet in 1854. Hostilities were quickly terminated when
China intervened, and the Treaty of Thapathali was concluded in March
1856. The treaty recognized the special status of China, and Nepal
agreed to assist Tibet in the event of foreign aggression.
Relations between Nepal and China and Tibet continued without critical
incident until 1904, when British India sent an armed expedition to
Tibet and Nepal rejected Tibet’s request for aid to avoid risking its
good relations with Britain. Beginning in 1908, Nepal stopped paying
tribute to China.
By 1910, apprehensive of British activity in Tibet, China had
reasserted its claim to sovereign rights in Tibet and feudatory
missions from Nepal. In 1912 Nepal warned the Chinese representative
at Lhasa that Nepal would help Tibet attain independent status as long
as it was consistent with British interests. Nepal broke relations
with China when the Tibetans, taking advantage of the Chinese
revolution of 1911, drove the Chinese out.
When the Chinese communists invaded Tibet in 1950, Nepal’s relations
with China began to undergo drastic changes. Although annual Tibetan
tribute missions appeared regularly in Nepal as late as 1953, Beijing
had started to ignore the provisions of the 1856 treaty by curtailing
the privileges and rights it accorded to Nepalese traders, by imposing
restrictions on Nepalese pilgrims, and by stopping the Tibetan
The break between Kathmandu and Beijing continued until 1955, when
relations were reestablished with China. The two countries established
resident ambassadors in their respective capitals in July 1960.
In 1956 the Treaty of Thapathali was replaced by a new treaty under
which Nepal recognized China’s sovereignty over Tibet and agreed to
surrender all privileges and rights granted by the old treaty. In 1962
Nepal withdrew its ambassador from Tibet and substituted a consul
general. An agreement on locating and demarcating the Nepal-Tibet
boundary was signed in March 1960. Within a month, another Treaty of
Peace and Friendship was signed in Kathmandu.
At the end of this Write-up, some of the questions opens-up
– Is Gorkha’s Nepal main culprit behind Tibet current misery?
– What determine the sovereignty of a place; War (army) superiority or
compulsive tributary or Foreign will or common people wish?
– As some kathmandu based “Purest self-professed Nationalist” dreams
of Great-Gurkha Empire, will that encompass current land from Tibet
– Is Gorkha’s Nepal going to be next on China’s map similar to Tibet