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The Sedan Chair vs the Steamboat: The Sichuan Route and the Maritime Route in the making of modern Sino-Tibetan relations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2021

HUASHA ZHANG
Affiliation:
Yonsei University Email: huashazhang@aol.com
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This article tells the intertwined tales of two historical routes that testify to the extensive geographical distance and profound political connections between Tibet and China throughout the modern era. In much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Sichuan Route operated as the transportation artery upon which the Qing empire depended to maintain authority in Kham and Tibet. It was also the site of a rite of passage for frontier functionaries and a meeting ground between imperial agents and the indigenous population. Despite its destruction after the implosion of the Qing in 1911, the histories and memories of the Sichuan Route continued to influence decision-makers in both China and Tibet in the following decades. The Maritime Route, which emerged in the late nineteenth century with the proliferation of steam transportation in Asia, revolutionized the way in which Tibet connected to China and the rest of the world. It also competed with the Sichuan Route and encouraged the Qing to reconfigure its presence in its non-Chinese territories in the southwest. After the empire fell, political tensions continued to evolve around the Maritime Route, which functioned simultaneously as the reluctant choice of Chinese emissaries and a strategic tool that the Lhasa government wielded to curtail China's influence. Through an exploration of the Sichuan Route and the Maritime Route on the levels of experience and representation, this article sketches the two routes’ troubled interconnections with each other and with every twist and turn in Sino-Tibetan relations from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

I would like to express my gratitude to Peter C. Perdue and C. Patterson Giersch for their invaluable suggestions and to the three anonymous referees of MAS for their constructive comments. I also thank Martin Fromm, Lei Lin, Elizabeth Reynolds, and Lan Wu for holding the 2018 Association for Asian Studies New England Regional Conference panel ‘China's Margins: Rethinking “Frontiers” in Late Imperial and Modern Chinese History’, at which an earlier version of this article was presented. This research received financial support from the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University and the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University.

References

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2 This region includes the Central Tibet (Ü-Tsang), Amdo, and Kham areas. On the map of the People's Republic of China (PRC hereafter), this region includes both the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR hereafter) and Qinghai Province, and expands into adjacent areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan.

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41 Zhang Q., ‘Lu Zang daoli zuixin kao’. For a discussion of the development of Qing officials’ Tibet-related travel literature, see Wang, China's last imperial frontier, pp. 21–26. For Qing men's writings on the borderlands in general, see Perdue, China marches west, pp. 413–429.

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48 Relyea, ‘Gazing at the Tibetan pleateau’, Chapter 4.

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62 Academia Sinica Institute of Modern History Archives (comp.), Xizang dang [Tibet archives] (Taipei: Academia Sinica, Institute of Modern History), folder ‘Zhongying yu Zangfan jiezhang [The military conflict between Zhongying and Tibetan barbarians]’ (02-16-009-04), esp. file nos. -048, -083, -092. (JSXZ hereafter.)

63 Wang, China's last imperial frontier, pp. 195–196.

64 Qin, ‘Qingmo Chuan Zang diqu jianshe dianbao tongxun zhi yanjiu’.

65 H. Zhang, ‘Orphans of the empire’.

66 Wang, China's last imperial frontier, p. 246; Huang Musong, ‘Huang Musong fengshi ru Zang cefeng bing zhiji Dalai dashi baogaoshu [The Huang Musong delegation to Tibet to offer condolences and grant posthumous titles to the late Dalai Lama: a report]’ [1935], in Huang Musong Wu Zhongxin Zhao Shouyu Dai Chuanxian fengshi banli Zangshi baogaoshu [Huang Musong, Wu Zhongxin, Zhao Shouyu, Dai Chuanxian: reports of emissaries sent to handle Tibetan affairs], (comps) Zhongguo di'er lishi dang'anguan and Zhongguo Zangxue yanjiu zhongxin (Beijing: Zhongguo Zangxue chubanshe, 1993), p. 13. (HWZD hereafter.)

67 Zhu L., Minguo zhengfu de Xizang zhuanshi, 1912–1949, p. 27.

68 See folder ‘Ying zhengfu yunsong Xizang Hua bing chujing an [The case of the British government sending Tibet's Chinese soldiers cross the border] (03-28-002-01)’, in JSXZ.

69 See folder ‘Liu Yin nanmin huiguo an [The case of retrieving refugees roaming in India] (03-28-002-02)’, in JSXZ.

70 Sun Ke, ‘Xu [Preface]’[1931], in Liu Manqing, Kang Zang yaozheng [A diplomatic mission to Kham and Tibet] (Nanjing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1933), p. i.

71 Tan Yunshan, ‘Zhizi Kang Zang jiufen jin jiu cici kaocha suoji tiaochen guanjian shuduan [Suggestions regarding the Kham-Tibet conflict based on recent investigations]’ [1931], in Zhongguo di'er lishi dang'an guan suocun Xizang he Zangshi dang'an huibian [Tibet-related archival documents in China's Second Historical Archive], (comps) Zhongguo di'er lishi dang'anguan and Zhongguo Zangxue yanjiu zhongxin (Beijing: Zhongguo Zangxue chubanshe, 2009–2016), Vol. 13, p. 446. (EDZS hereafter.)

72 Liu, Kang Zang yaozheng; H. Zhang, ‘Our kind of Tibetans: the political life and times of Liu Manqing’, PhD thesis, Yale University, 2019.

73 Yun Yun, ‘Liu Manqing shi Zang [Liu Manqing's mission to Tibet]’, Tie bao, 19 October 1930.

74 H. Zhang, ‘Our kind of Tibetans’.

75 Bulag, ‘Going imperial’.

76 Bka' shag, ‘Xizang zhujing banshichu wei Huang Musong zhuanshi li Zang suicong wuqing congjian shi zhi Meng Zang weiyuanhui daidian [The Tibetan government Nanjing office forwarding the Kashag's telegram regarding Huang Musong's mission to Tibet: please reduce the size of the team]’ [1934], in Shisanshi Dalai yuanji zhiji he Shisishi Dalai zuochuang dang'an xuanbian [Selected documents regarding the passing of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the enthronement of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama], (comps) Zhongguo di'er lishi dang'anguan and Zhongguo Zangxue yanjiu zhongxin (Beijing: Zhongguo Zangxue chubanshe 1991), pp. 47–48. (YJZC hereafter.) Huang, ‘Huang Musong fengshi ru Zang cefeng bing zhiji Dalai dashi baogaoshu’, p. 8.

77 Lin, Tibet and nationalist China's frontier, pp. 71–72; C. McGranahan, ‘Empire and the status of Tibet: British, Chinese, and Tibetan negotiations, 1913–1934’, in History of Tibet III, (ed.) A. McKay (London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003), p. 283.

78 For the ROC's decision to ‘go imperial’ in Tibetan and Mongolian regions and its related actions, see Bulag, ‘Going imperial’.

79 Changzhu, Gao, Xizang gaikuang [The situation of Tibet in brief] (Taipei: Mingxing yinshuguan, 1953)Google Scholar.

80 Huang Musong, ‘Shi Zang jicheng [Travel logs of my mission to Tibet]’ [1935], in Shi Zang jicheng, Xizang jiyao, Lasa jianwenji: sanzhong hekan [Records on mission to Tibet, A brief account regarding Tibet, and What I saw and heard in Lhasa: three documents], (comp.) Xizang shehui kexueyuan (Beijing: Quanguo tushuguan wenxian suowei fuzhi zhongxin, 1991), p. 256.

81 Sreg shing blo bzang don grub, ‘Go min tang gi 'thus mi hong mu'o sung tA la'i bcu gsum pa'i dgongs rdzogs mchod sprin spro 'bul du yong ba'i gnas tshul thor bu [Regarding the Guomindang delegate Huang Musong presenting offerings to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama] [1985]’, in Bod kyi lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad gzhi'i rgyu cha bdams bsgrigs [Sources on the culture and history of Tibet], (comp.) Bod rang skyong ljong srid gros lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad gzhi'i rgyu cha u yon lhan khang (Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1982–2012), Vol. 2, pp. 74–75. (BKR hereafter.)

82 Huang, ‘Shi Zang jicheng’, p. 132.

83 Liu Manqing, ‘Xizang Jixing (jiu) [A record of my journey to Tibet (No. 9)]’, Dagong bao, 5 March 1940.

84 Huang, ‘Shi Zang jicheng’, pp. 309–310.

85 Huang, ‘Huang Musong fengshi ru Zang cefeng bing zhiji Dalai dashi baogaoshu’, pp. 35–39.

86 Huang, ‘Shi Zang jicheng’, p. 379.

87 See Wu Zhongxin's assessment of the Huang mission in Wu Zhongxin, ‘Wu Zhongxin fengshi ru Zang zhuchi dishisishi Dalai Lama zuochuang dianli baogao [Wu Zhongxin's report on presiding [over the] enthronement ceremony of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama]’ [1940], in HWZD, pp. 129–131.

88 Huang, ‘Huang Musong fengshi ru Zang cefeng bing zhiji Dalai dashi baogaoshu’, pp. 13, 29.

89 Lin, Tibet and nationalist China's frontier, p. 73.

90 Anonymous, ‘Huang Musong zhuanshi zhiji Dalai zhi jingguo [Special Delegate Huang Musong expressed condolence regarding (the passing of the Thirteenth] Dalai Lama: a record of the process]’, Zhongyang zhoubao, vol. 347, 1935, pp. 14–15.

91 Yiding, ‘Huang Musong woxuan Kang Zang heyi ji [Huang Musong mediated in the Kham-Tibet peace talk]’, Shanghai bao, 3 October 1934.

92 Huang, ‘Huang Musong fengshi ru Zang cefeng bing zhiji Dalai dashi baogaoshu’, p. 11.

93 Ibid., p. 88.

94 Some argue that Huang chose the route partly because the Nanjing government wished to inspect these warlord-controlled regions (Lin, Tibet and nationalist China's frontier, p. 75) and survey the geographical conditions of Kham (Zhu L., Minguo zhengfu de Xizang zhuanshi, 1912–1949, p. 170). However, Huang's telegraphic communication and official report to Nanjing show that neither he nor the Chinese government had much interest in these objectives.

95 Huang, ‘Huang Musong fengshi ru Zang cefeng bing zhiji Dalai dashi baogaoshu’, p. 43.

96 Zhu L., Minguo zhengfu de Xizang zhuanshi, 1912–1949, pp. 237–247.

97 Wu Zhongxin, ‘Wu Zhongxin wei chouni banli lingtong ru Zang banfa shi zhi Jiang Jieshi daidian [Wu Zhongxin's letter to Chiang Kai-shek regarding the means by which the reincarnated child should enter Tibet]’[1939], in EDZS, Vol. 49, pp. 162–165.

98 Bka' shag, ‘Gaxia wei qingwu duodai suixing renyuan ru Zang shi zhi Wu Zhongxin dian [The Kashag's telegram to Wu Zhongxin: please do not bring excessive staff]’ [1939], in YJZC, pp. 233–234.

99 Chiang Kai-shek, ‘Jiang Jieshi wei ru Zang luxian bing Qinghai lingtong fu Zang shi zhi Wu Zhongxin daidian [Chiang Kai-shek's letter to Wu Zhongxin regarding the route the delegation should take to enter Tibet and issues regarding the reincarnated child's journey to Tibet]’ [1939], in EDZS, Vol. 49, pp. 57–59.

100 Wu Z., ‘Wu Zhongxin wei chouni banli lingtong ru Zang banfa shi zhi Jiang Jieshi daidian’, pp. 162–165; Wu Zhongxin, ‘Ru Zang riji [Journals during my mission to Tibet]’, in HWZD, pp. 203–317, 209.

101 Wu Z. ‘Wu Zhongxin fengshi ru Zang zhuchi dishisishi Dalai Lama zuochuang dianli baogao’, pp. 121–202, 135.

102 Wu Z., ‘Ru Zang riji’, p. 210.

103 Wu Z., ‘Wu Zhongxin fengshi ru Zang zhuchi dishisishi Dalai Lama zuochuang dadian chuchai gongzuo riji’, p. 328.

104 An overland advance party of ten, whose mission was to purchase and transport gift tea for the ceremony, was allowed after Wu promised to take the Maritime Route and bring a skeleton crew.

105 Zhu Shaoyi, Lasa jianwen ji [What I saw and heard in Lhasa] (Beijing: Quanguo tushuguan wenxian suowei zhongxin, [1947] 2004); Xing Suzhi, Xueyu qiufa ji [Beseeching dharma in the land of snows] (Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 2003); Bshad sgra rim bzhi dga' ldan dpal 'byor, ‘Go min tang gi 'thus tshab 'u krung shin tA la'i bcu bzhi pa'i khri 'don mdzad skor yong ba'i skor gyi gnas tshul dum bu zhig [A brief account regarding the Guomindang representative Wu Zhongxin, who came to the enthronement of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama]’ [1985], in BKR, Vol. 2, pp. 84–85.

106 Wu Zhongxin, ‘Wu Zhongxin wei niju ru Zang renwu yu zuzhi ji jingfei yijian shi zhi Xingzheng yuan zhecheng [Wu Zhongxin's suggestions regarding the objectives, organzation, and funding of the mission to Tibet]’ [1939], in YJZC, p. 220.

107 In early twentieth-century Lhasa, two tassels on a horse marked high officials of the fourth rank and above.

108 T: Pon po chib la dog po gnyis g.yog po gcig kyang mi ’dug. The song is reconstructed from Wu's Chinese transliteration of Tibetan phonetics (Wu Z., ‘Ru Zang riji’, p. 293; see also Zhu S., Lasa jianwen ji, pp. 38–43).

109 Wu Z., ‘Ru Zang riji’, p. 292.

110 Ibid., p. 306.

111 Wu Z., ‘Wu Zhongxin fengshi ru Zang zhuchi dishisishi Dalai Lama zuochuang dianli baogao’, p. 132.

112 Shakya, The dragon in the land of snows, p. 184.

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The Sedan Chair vs the Steamboat: The Sichuan Route and the Maritime Route in the making of modern Sino-Tibetan relations
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The Sedan Chair vs the Steamboat: The Sichuan Route and the Maritime Route in the making of modern Sino-Tibetan relations
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The Sedan Chair vs the Steamboat: The Sichuan Route and the Maritime Route in the making of modern Sino-Tibetan relations
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