Losing face : the British foreign service and the question of Tibet 1904-1922
This thesis deals with the evolution and conduct of British policy towards Tibet from the Young husband Expedition in 1904 (in itself the most extreme example of the 'forward policy' on India's frontiers in this period) to the Washington Conference of 1922 (which called for a more subtle approach to the definition and defence of essential British interests). It examines the interaction, in a complex quadrilatereal relationship, of the four branches of the British foreign service primarily involved in Tibetan policy: the Foreign Office and the India Office in London, the Viceroy and the Government of India, and the China service based in Peking. It seeks to elucidate the ways in which British policy-making sought to accommodate the interests of India with the imperatives of policy towards other major powers, notably Russia, China and Japan. Considerable emphasis Is placed upon the problems and contributions of those charged with the implementation of policy 'on the spot', and the ways in which their ability to act independently (as Younghusband had done in 1904) was eroded by the increasing control of their activities by the growing official bureaucracies in London, in a world made smaller by the extension of the rapid growth of communications. Finally, the effects of the new international climate after the First World War are evaluated in terms of their Impact upon Britain's Tibetan policy. Since this thesis is primarily about the evolution of policy making within the British foreign service, it is based largely on British primary sources, both official and private, and upon the extensive memoir literature produced by the participants. It does not purport to represent or anaylse in detail the views of the Tibetans themselves or seek to pass judgement upon the impact of great-power politics upon their aspirations, though the radical differences in their values and priorities will be apparent.