Treaty of friendship and alliance between the Government of Mongolia and Tibet

Treaty of friendship and alliance between the Government of Mongolia and Tibet

The treaty

A Treaty of friendship and alliance between the Government of Mongolia and Tibet was signed on February 2,[1] 1913, at Urga (now Ulaanbaatar). However, there have been doubts about the authority of the Tibetan signatories to conclude such a treaty, and therefore about whether it constitutes a valid contract.[2]

Occasionally, the mere existence of the treaty has been put into doubt, but its text in Mongolian language has been published by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in 1982,[3] and in 2007 an original copy in Tibetan language and script surfaced from Mongolian archives.[4]

Treaty's signing and validity

After the collapse of the Qing Empire in 1911, both Tibet and Mongolia declared their formal independence under theocratic heads of states, and both had had no success in gaining official recognition from the Republic of China. In the treaty signed on January 11, 1913, Mongolia and Tibet declared mutual recognition and allegiance. Both sides declared mutual relationships based on the "Yellow religion" (Gelug sect of Buddhism), obliged to provide aid each other against "internal and external enemies", declared free trade etc.(see [5] for facsimile of Mongolian and Tibetan originals and for comments to text). The Mongolian representatives signing the treaty were foreign minister Da Lama Ravdan and commander-in-chief Manlaibaatar Damdinsüren. The Tibetan representatives who signed this document were Dalai Lama's representative Agvan Dorjiev, a Buryat, i.e. subject of Russia, and Tibetan officials in Mongolia: Ngawang Choizin, Yeshe Gyatso and Gendun Kalsang. There existed some doubts to the validity of this treaty: the 13th Dalai Lama denied that he had authorized Dorjiev to negotiate political issues. It was supposed more important that neither the cleric nor the Tibetan government appeared to have ever ratified the treaty.[6] Nevertheless such ratification in that time monarchic Mongolia and Tibet was not necessary.[5]

The Russian government maintained that, as a Russian subject, Dorjiev could not possibly act in a diplomatic capacity on behalf of the Dalai Lama.[7] Nevertheless, before signing the treaty, Dorjiev met in Mongolia I. Ya. Korostovets, Russian plenipotentiary in Urga, and told him that Tibet wants to come in treaties with Mongolia and Russia. Korostovets, having mentioned that "Khlakha (Outer Mongoloia) had just declared its independence, recognized by Russia", had no objections against conclusion of treaty between Mongolia and Tibet, but he was against a treaty of Tibet with Russia [8]

According to the 14th Dalai Lama, this treaty was signed under the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama.[9]

There are data that the treaty signed by Russia with Mongolia in 1912 (i.e. before signing the treaty with Tibet) meant international recognition of Mongolia as a state which was not required a sanction from a third side; as a result, the treaty between Tibet and Mongolia is considered as de jure recognition of Tibet as a state.[5]

In any case, the independence of both Tibet and Mongolia continued not to be recognized by most other powers, which continued to recognize at least the suzerainty of the Republic of China over these areas. Even Russia and the UK were more comfortable with formally recognizing China's suzerainty and keeping an ambivalent position towards Mongolia and Tibet's independence. In addition, there was a concern among the Western powers (again particularly Russia and UK) that recognizing Tibetan or Mongolian independence would allow those areas to come under the other power's influence, respectively, a situation which all concerned believed to be worse than a situation in which those areas were nominally under the control of a weak China.


News of the treaty aroused considerable suspicion amongst the British negotiators at the Simla Convention, who feared that Russia might use the treaty to gain influence on Tibetan matters.[6] While China ultimately did not sign the Simla Convention,[10][11] a similar treaty, the tripartite Treaty of Kyakhta, was signed by Mongolia, the Republic of China and Russia on 25 May 1915.[12] The agreement affirmed Mongolia's complete autonomy in internal matters and Russian privileges in Mongolia, at the same time formally recognized China's suzerainty over the country.[13]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Udo B. Barkmann, Geschichte der Mongolei, Bonn 1999, p.119-122,380f
  2. ^ Smith, Warren, "Tibetan Nation", p186:"The validity is often questioned, mainly on grounds of the authority of Dorjiev to negotiate on behalf of Tibet...the fact that Dorjief was a Russian citizen while ethnically Tibetan somewhat compromises his role; the treaty had some advantages to Russia in that it could be interpreted as extending Russia's protectorate over Mongolia to encompass Tibet."
  3. ^ Udo B. Barkmann, Geschichte der Mongolei, Bonn 1999, p. 380f
  4. ^ Phurbu Thinley (2008-11-12). "Tibet - Mongolia Treaty of 1913, a proof of Tibet’s independence: Interview with Prof. Elliot Sperling". Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  5. ^ a b c Kuzmin, S.L. The Treaty of 1913 between Mongolia and Tibet: new data. - Oriens (Moscow, Russian Academy of Sciences), no 4, 2011, pp. 122—128
  6. ^ a b Bell, Charles, Tibet Past and Present, 1924, pp 150f, 228f, 304f.
  7. ^ UK Foreign Office Archive: FO 371/1608;
  8. ^ [Korostovets, I.Ya. Девять месяцев в Монголии. Дневник русского уполномоченного в Монголии. Август 1912 — май 1913 гг. (Nine months in Mongolia. A diary of Russian plenipotentiary in Mongolia. August 1912 - May 1913.) Ulaanbaatar, Admon publisher, 2011, p. 198]
  9. ^ Dalai Lama, My Land and My People, New York, 1962, "In 1913 the Tibetan Government entered into a treaty with the Government of Mongolia. This entreaty was entered into under the authority of the Dalai Lama. By this treaty Tibet and Mongolia declare that they recognized each other as independent countries"
  10. ^ Treaty text of the Simla Convention of 1914
  11. ^ The Chinese government initialed but refused to ratify the Agreement. See Goldstein, Melvyn C., A History of Modern Tibet, p75 for details
  12. ^ Mongolia - Modern Mongolia, 1911-84, Country Studies US
  13. ^ Treaty text quoted from B. L. Putnam Weale, The Fight For The Republic In China

See also

External links

  • English translation of the Treaty from Tibetan

Further reading

  • Mehra, Parshotam (1969). "The Mongol–Tibetan Treaty of January 11, 1913". Journal of Asian History 3 (1): 1–22.