CIA activities in Tibet after China’s communist revolution

The possibility of weakening China’s influence has been an integral part of American foreign policy since the late 1940s, when China left Washington’s control following the communist revolution.

The 1949 communist takeover of China was described in Washington as “the loss of China.” China’s revolution was lamented by US politicians as a major blow to US power as China has long been a Western ally.

Shortly thereafter, the Harry Truman administration (1945–53) was heavily criticized for allowing China to enter communist rule, and made a concerted attempt to undermine America’s new rival. Between 1949 and 1951, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) increased the number of operatives engaged in covert operations involving China tenfold. The CIA’s budget for operations against China amounted to 20 times his amount spent in 1953 to overthrow the Western-backed Iranian regime of Mohammad Mossadegh.

READ MORE: Op-ed: China could boost Kharistan movement as India uses Tibetan soldiers in border dispute

better understand the problem

Scanning maps of East Asia, US government strategists inevitably gravitated toward Tibet in southwestern China as a region of great importance. Internationally recognized as lying within China’s borders, Tibet is the highest continent in the world, with an average elevation of over 4,300 meters above sea level. Tibet’s area of ​​1.2 million square kilometers is more than twice the size of France’s. But that doubles to 2.5 million square kilometers when you factor in much of the surrounding Tibetan Plateau, which is largely uninhabited by humans.

In modern history, Tibet was effectively under Chinese rule during the Chinese Manchu-led Qing dynasty for nearly two centuries (1720-1912). After the Qing Dynasty fell in 1912, Thupten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama, declared Tibet’s de facto independence in early 1913.

In the fall of 1950, Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong and his entourage considered Tibet to be China’s historical territory and dispatched 40,000 troops to crush Tibetan independence forces and integrate Tibet into Chinese territory. Did. Authority. The Chinese government went a long way to achieve its ambitions in Tibet through military force during the Battle of Chamdo (October 6-24, 1950), leading to a decisive Chinese victory in eastern Tibet. brought. The Tibetan fighters were greatly outnumbered, with about 3,000 of them surrendering to the Chinese forces.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (now the Dalai Lama), stressed that unlike several previous times, Chinese soldiers did not attack Tibetan civilians in Chamdo this time, saying they were “very disciplined.” There is,” he said, “and distributed some money.” ” to the locals.

Read more: China’s Program in Tibet: Mao’s Legacy

Tibet was formally reunited or annexed to China, only seven months later in May 1951.

Beijing’s military strike in Tibet was immediately condemned by China’s neighbor India as “deplorable” and “not for China or peace”. This position was supported by India’s allies, the United States and Great Britain. However, the Western-backed Chinese leader, the anti-communist Chiang Kai-shek, has previously expressed his desire to restore Tibet to Chinese rule. On December 20, 1941, Chiang Kai-shek wrote in his diary that Tibet, like other regions such as Xinjiang and Outer Mongolia, should be claimed by China after World War II. In 1942, Chiang Kai-shek made plans to return Taiwan and Manchuria to China.

Meanwhile, in the late 1950s, the U.S. Congress deemed Tibet to be a Chinese-occupied territory and self-determined. “It wasn’t until Washington cut diplomatic ties with Beijing that sympathy for the Tibetans began to emerge at the State Department.” It was around this time, starting in the early 1950s, that the Dalai Lama began receiving some funding from his CIA. The Dalai Lama actually said he may have been CIA-funded since the late 1940s, and even after that he was in contact with CIA agents operating in Tibet.

In 1956, when anti-Beijing rebellion broke out in the eastern Tibetan regions of Amdo and Kham, the CIA became involved in supporting the rebellion. trained 250 to 300 Tibetan rebels in the United States at Camp Hale. Built for the US military in 1942, Camp Hale trained and organized Tibetan rebels under the supervision of CIA officer Bruce Walker.

After training at Camp Hale was completed, the Tibetans were transferred by CIA and US Air Force planes to a secret base for operations against China in the mountain resort of Aspen, Colorado. Once the aircraft was positioned over the Aspen facility, the Tibetans jumped down and deployed their parachutes. The CIA also trained Tibetan fighters in Tibetan areas. Scholar and Tibetan expert Melvin Goldstein writes: [Tibetan] By 1957, it began arming and training Tibetan guerrilla forces. In May 1957, with the help of the CIA, a Tibetan rebel group with its own fighting force was created.

Americans already trusted that the Dalai Lama’s older brother, Gallo Thondup, was still alive today, just like his brother. became a source of information. For example, the CIA learned in his 1952 from Tondap that he had 10,000 to 15,000 Chinese troops stationed in Tibet. The CIA has assured Thondup that it will help secure Tibet’s independence from China. In return, Thongdup agreed to help the Americans prepare guerrilla forces in Tibet to fight Mao’s soldiers.

A September 1952 CIA intelligence report acknowledged serious difficulties in successfully supporting the Tibetan resistance to the forces of the Chinese military (People’s Liberation Army). The CIA he deployed and organized Operation ST Circus in 1959. This was a covert plot against Chinese influence in Tibet using guerrilla warfare and was led by the brothers of the Dalai Lama. The ST Circus turned into a fiasco as the riots were comfortably overcome by Beijing’s forces, resulting in thousands of deaths.

Read more: Chinese Communist Party leadership restructuring

Through this covert war in Tibet, the CIA was assisted by Indian and Nepalese intelligence agencies. The latter country is also an ally of the United States and shares a long border with Tibet. CIA training camps were set up in India and Nepal. The Indian capital, New Delhi, was home to a joint CIA-Indian command center. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, hundreds of Tibetans were flown to US military bases on Guam and Okinawa, where they were trained as guerrilla fighters. The militants then returned to Tibet and escaped from the plane with parachutes. The CIA provided airdrops to Tibetan rebels, including mortars, grenades, weapons, medical supplies, and food.

The Tibetan uprising that broke out in Tibet’s capital Lhasa in March 1959 was supported by the United States and India. It was an escalation of the Kam and Amdo rebellion fostered by Dwight Eisenhower’s administration in Washington (1953-61). His 1959 uprising, which lasted two weeks, was yet another of his bloody and permanent failures. The Beijing army smashed this with an iron fist, and in late March 1959, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Lhasa with tens of thousands of his supporters into northern India. The US government cautiously supported the new Tibetan government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration, established in April 1959.

As time went on, the Dalai Lama continued to be subsidized with CIA funds.

In 1964 alone, he received $180,000 in CIA funding. His $180,000 in 1964 is now worth about $1.7 million. In the same year, 1964, the CIA gave him $500,000 (today he is $4.7 million) to train his Tibetan guerrillas in Nepal, and $400,000 (today he is $3.8 million) to 1964 was spent training other Tibetans at Camp Hale, Colorado. $185,000 for transportation of Tibetans at Camp Hale airlifted to India.

According to documents released by the US State Department in August 1998, from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, the Dalai Lama actually received $180,000 annually for assistance during that period. Aides to the Dalai Lama denied that the spiritual leader ever pocketed the cash himself. Rama later said, “The motivation for the CIA’s assistance was purely political.”

Beginning in the summer of 1959, a Tibetan guerrilla force known as the Chushi Gangdruk Volunteer Guard received weapons and training from the CIA. The group operated from the Himalayas in Nepal, from where troops advanced to ambush unsuspecting Chinese forces and sabotage supply lines. At various times, the rebels were aided by his CIA-contracted mercenaries and his CIA planes roaming overhead.

Read more: 1965: The Right War at the Wrong Time

Way forward

By the mid-1960s, the Chushi Ganduk army had about 2,000 ethnic Kampa fighters from the Kham region of eastern Tibet now commanded by CIA officers. His Nawang Galtsen, one of his Tibetan fighters, recalled: But the Americans have taught us. I learned camouflage, spy photography, guns and radio control. We played table tennis on Sunday. ”

In Camp Hale’s game room was a portrait of Eisenhower, with the signature of the President of the United States signed “From Eisenhower to Fellow Tibetans.” Nawang said that at Camp Hale he was taught how to destroy the bridge by a CIA instructor. The rebels were paid directly by the Americans to attack Chinese government facilities, infrastructure and machinery in Tibet. If the raids are successful, the CIA will pay more to the rebels.

According to American author Joe Bajant, the CIA’s last drop of arms on Tibetan forces took place in May 1965. By then, the attention of the US government under President Lyndon Johnson (1963–69) had shifted increasingly to America’s Vietnam War. His CIA officer Roger McCarthy, who was once in charge of the Tibet program, said: [CIA] Tibet is considered one of the best operations ever carried out…but that is a very sad comment when you look at the end result. If we consider what we have done to Tibet as the best we can do, we have failed miserably. ”

The CIA continued to work with the Tibetan guerrillas until 1974, when relations between the United States and China began to improve. It was also in 1974 that his CIA funding for the Dalai Lama suddenly stopped.

Shane Quinn has been a regular contributor to Global Research for almost two years and has written for the US media outlets People’s World and Mint Press News, the UK’s Morning Star and Venezuela’s Orinoco Tribune. is posted. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Her Village Her Space.

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