Monday, 8 September 2008

The Old Peace Treaty between Tibet and China at Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

A regular reader (if any) of this blog would have known by now that I am very pro Tibet. I am an avid fan of Dalai Lama, and – despite His Holiness’s willingness for possible (or impossible?) autonomy with China – I am still pro Free Tibet. Yet, I do not hate China or the Chinese. I have many Chinese friends, and I am an avid watcher of Chinese/Mandarin/Kantonese movies or DVDs. It’s just… Tibet is more than a political issue to me. To me, it is a spiritual issue. Like Indonesia, Tibet is one of the last citadels for glorious ancient civilisations, and thus deserves a respectful treatment of an independent nation, free to shape its own future without anyone’s interference.

Sadly, it is not what is happening nowadays. Nowadays, my dearest Dalai Lama lives in exile, and he has to fight for the Tibetans from outside Tibet. That did not stop him from writing great books, including Freedom in Exile (1990), which is basically his excellently written autobiography. And from this book, I shall quote several paragraphs of an old peace treaty between Tibet and China in 821-822 AD. The original inscription can be found (if not yet destroyed) at the entrance of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. I quote the translation verbatim from Freedom in Exile (pp 42-43):


The Great King of Tibet, the Miraculous Divine Lord, and the Great King of China, the Chinese Ruler Hwang-ti, being in the relationship of nephew and uncle, have conferred together for the alliance of their kingdoms. They have made and ratified a great agreement. Gods and men all know it and bear witness so that it may never be changed; and an account of the agreement has been engraved on this stone pillar to inform future ages and generations.

The Miraculous Divine Lord Trisong Dretsen and the Chinese Emperor Wen-Wu the filial and virtuous, nephew and uncle, seeking in their far-reaching wisdom to prevent all causes of harm to the welfare of their countries now or in the future, have extended their benevolence impartially over all. With the single desire of acting for the peace and benefit of all their subjects they have agreed on the high purpose of ensuring lasting good; and they have made this great treaty in order to fulfil their decision to restore the former ancient friendship and mutual regard and the old relationship of friendly neighbourliness.

Tibet and China shall abide by the frontiers of which they are now in occupation. All to the east is the country of Great China; and all to the west is, without question, the country of Great Tibet. Henceforth on neither side shall there be waging of war nor seizing of territory. If any person incurs suspicion he shall be arrested; his business shall be inquired into and he shall be escorted back.

Now that the two kingdoms have been allied by this great treaty it is necessary that messengers should once again be sent by the old route to maintain communications and carry the exchange of friendly messages regarding the harmonious relations between the nephew and uncle. According to the old custom, horses shall be changed at the foot of the Chiang Chun pass, the frontier between Tibet and China. At the Sui-yung barrier the Chinese shall meet Tibetan envoys and provide them with all facilities from there onwards. At Ch’ing-shui the Tibetans shall meet Chinese envoys and provide all facilities. On both sides they shall be treated with customary honour and respect in conformity with the friendly relations between nephew and uncle.

Between the two countries no smoke nor dust shall be seen. There shall be no sudden alarms and they very word ‘enemy’ shall not be spoken. Even the frontier guards shall have no anxiety nor fear and shall enjoy land and bed at their ease. All shall live in peace and share the blessing of happiness for ten thousand years. The fame of this shall extend to all places reached by the sun and the moon.

This solemn agreement has established a great epoch when Tibetans shall be happy in the land of Tibet, and Chinese in the land of China. So that it may never be changed, the Three Precious Jewels of Religion, the Assembly of Saints, the Sun and Moon, Planets and Stars have been invoked as witnesses. An oath has been taken with solemn words and with the sacrifice of animals; and the agreement has been ratified.

If the parties do not act in accordance with this agreement or if they violate it, whichever it be, Tibet or China, nothing that the other party may do by way of retaliation shall be considered a breach of the treaty on their part.

The Kings and Ministers of Tibet and China have taken the prescribed oath to this effect and the agreement has been written in detail. The two Kings have affixed their seals. The Ministers specially empowered to execute the agreement have inscribed their signatures and copies have been deposited in the royal records of each party.


O Great China, where is your heart? O Great Sage Lao Tze, do you see what your children have done to their peaceful neighbour Tibet? This is not what you want, Great Sage, so please come down to Earth and help us set the things right. It is true that in 763 AD Tibet captured China’s capital, but since then, the Tibetans have walked the spiritual path. If the Tibetans can do that, why can’t China?

China, my dear friend, where is your heart? Do you not hear, feel, see the subterranean dragons writhing in pain? Do you not feel the Heaven crying? Do you not feel Mother Earth’s sorrow to see her children – both Chinese and Tibetans – in pain?

China, find your heart… before it’s too late.

Pic 1: the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, from Wikipedia

Pic 2: Jokhang Temple, from

Pic 3: Great Sage Lao Tze (6th century BC), from

1 comment:

Austentation said...

Hello Icha! I'm trying to get in touch with you regarding one of your articles on the Becoming Jane Fansite. Please get it touch with me when you have a moment--


Laura Boyle
The Jane Austen Centre, Bath