Military Wiki
Sino-Tibetan War
LocationQinghai, Xikang, Tibet
Result Republic of China victory
Taiwan Republic of China Tibet Tibetan Army
Commanders and leaders

Taiwan Chiang Kai-shek
Taiwan Ma Fuxiang
Taiwan Ma Lin (warlord)
Taiwan Ma Bufang
Taiwan Ma Biao
Taiwan Liu Wenhui
Taiwan Ma Xiao

Taiwan Ma Zhanhai
Tibet 13th Dalai Lama

Republic of China Army Flag.svg National Revolutionary Army composed of
Several thousand Chinese muslim soldiers of the Qinghai Army (9th Division (Kokonor))

Several thousand Han Chinese soldiers of the Sichuan army
Tibetan troops
Casualties and losses
Heavy casualties

The Sino-Tibetan War began in 1930 when the Tibetan army under the 13th Dalai Lama invaded Xikang and Yushudisambiguation needed in Qinghai in a dispute over monasteries. Ma clique warlord Ma Bufang secretly sent a telegram to Sichuan warlord Liu Wenhui and the leader of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, suggesting a joint attack on the Tibetan forces. Their armies rapidly overwhelmed and defeated the Tibetan army.


The roots of the conflict lay in the disputed border between Tibetan government territory and the territory of the Republic of China, with the Tibetan government in principle claiming areas inhabited by Tibetans in neighboring Chinese provinces (Qinghai, Sichuan) which were in fact ruled by Chinese warlords loosely aligned with the Republic; in the tense relationship between the 13th Dalai Lama and the 9th Panchen Lama, which led to the latter's exile in Chinese-controlled territory; and in the complexities of power politics among local Tibetan dignitaries, both religious and secular. The proximate cause was that the chieftain of Beri, a Tibetan area beyond the Tibetan government's control, seized the properties of the incarnate lama of Nyarong Monastery, who sought support from nearby Dhargyä Monastery. The chieftain of Beri was reportedly incited by supporters of the 9th Panchen Lama. When the Nyarong Lama and monks from Dhargyä Monastery regained control of Nyarong Monastery in June 1930, the chieftain of Beri responded by requesting help from local Chinese warlord Liu Wenhui, the governor of Sichuan. Liu's forces quickly took control of the area. The Dhargyä monks in turn requested the aid of the Tibetan government, whose forces entered Beri and drove Liu Wenhui's army out.[2]

Kuomintang Muslim official Tang Kesan was sent to negotiate for an end to the fighting. Ma Xiao was a Muslim brigade commander in Liu Wenhui's army.[3] Muslim Gen. Ma Fuxiang, as head of the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, sent a telegraph to Tang Kesan ordering him to breach the agreement with Tibet, because he was concerned that political rivals in Nanjing were using the incident.[4]

Over the next few years the Tibetans repeatedly attacked Liu Wenhui's forces, but were defeated several times. In 1932 Tibet made the decision to expand the war into Qinghai against Ma Bufang, the reasons for which have speculated upon by many historians.[5]

Qinghai–Tibet War

When the ceasefire negotiated by Tang failed Tibet expanded the war in 1932, attempting to capture parts of southern Qinghai province following a dispute in Yushu, Qinghai, over a monastery. Ma Bufang and Liu saw this as an opportunity to retake Xikang for China.[6] Under Gen. Ma the 9th Division (Kokonor)--composed entirely of Muslim troops—prepared for an offensive against the Tibetans (Kokonor is another name for Qinghai).[7][8] The army of Ma Bufang vanquished the Tibetan armies and recaptured several counties in Xikang province. Shiqu, Dengke and other counties were retaken from the Tibetans.[3][9][10] The Tibetans were pushed back to the other side of the Jinsha River.[11][12] The Qinghai army recaptured counties that had fallen into the hands of the Tibetan army since 1919. Ma and Liu warned Tibetan officials not to cross the Jinsha River again.[13] Ma Bufang defeated the Tibetans at Dan Chokorgon. Several Tibetan generals surrendered, and were subsequently demoted by the Dalai Lama.[14] By August the Tibetans had lost so much territory to Liu Wenhui and Ma Bufang's forces that the Dalai Lama telegraphed the British government of India for assistance. British pressure led Nanjing to declare a ceasefire.[15] Separate truces were signed by Ma and Liu with the Tibetans in 1933, ending the fighting.[16][17][18][19]

The Chinese government and Ma Bufang accused the British of supplying weapons and arms to the Tibetans throughout the war. There was, in fact, a sound basis for that accusation: in addition to persistent diplomatic efforts encouraging both parties to refrain from hostilities and make a comprehensive settlement, the British government—and, later, India—provided some military training and small quantities of arms and ammunition to Tibet throughout the 1912-1950 period of de facto Tibetan independence.[20]

See also


  1. Andreas Gruschke (2004). The Cultural Monuments of Tibet's Outer Provinces: The Qinghai part of Kham. White Lotus Press. p. 124. ISBN 974-480-061-5. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  2. Goldstein, Melvyn C.; Gelek Rimpoche. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07590-0. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hanzhang Ya, Ya Hanzhang (1991). The Biographies of the Dalai Lamas. Foreign Languages Press. pp. 442. ISBN 0-8351-2266-2. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  4. Oriental Society of Australia (2000). The Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia, Volumes 31-34. Oriental Society of Australia. p. 34. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. Alastair Lamb (1989). Tibet, China & India, 1914-1950: A History of Imperial Diplomacy. Roxford Books. p. 221. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  6. Frederick Roelker Wulsin, Joseph Fletcher, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, National Geographic Society (U.S.), Peabody Museum of Salem (1979). Mary Ellen Alonso. ed. China's inner Asian frontier: photographs of the Wulsin expedition to northwest China in 1923 : from the archives of the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, and the National Geographic Society (illustrated ed.). The Museum : distributed by Harvard University Press. p. 49. ISBN 0-674-11968-1. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  7. The China weekly review, Volume 61. Millard Publishing House. 1932. p. 185.,+the+situation+is+growing+critical+in+the+Yushu+are&dq=He+has+also+established+contact+with+the+newly+organized+9th+Division+(Kokonor)+for+a+joint+drive+on+the+Tibetan+invaders.+According+to+a+Sining+message,+the+situation+is+growing+critical+in+the+Yushu+are. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  8. The China Monthly Review, Volume 61. FJ.W. Powell. 1932. p. 185. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  9. Jiawei Wang, Nimajianzan (1997). The Historical Status of China's Tibet. 五洲传播出版社. p. 150. ISBN 7-80113-304-8. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  10. B. R. Deepak (2005). India & China, 1904-2004: a Century of Peace and Conflict. Manak Publications. p. 82. ISBN 81-7827-112-5. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  11. International Association for Tibetan Studies. Seminar, Lawrence Epstein (2002). Khams pa Jistories: Visions of People, Place and Authority : PIATS 2000, Tibetan Studies, Proceedings of the 9th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000. BRILL. p. 66. ISBN 90-04-12423-3. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  12. Gray Tuttle (2005). Tibetan Buddhists in the Making of modern China. Columbia University Press. p. 172. ISBN 0-231-13446-0. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  13. Xiaoyuan Liu (2004). Frontier Passages: Ethnopolitics and the Rise of Chinese Communism, 1921-1945. Stanford University Press. p. 89. ISBN 0-8047-4960-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  14. K. Dhondup (1986). The Water-Bird and Other Years: A History of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and After. Rangwang Publishers. p. 60. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  15. Richardson, Hugh E. (1984). Tibet and Its History. 2nd Edition, pp. 134-136. Shambhala Publications, Boston. ISBN 0-87773-376-7 (pbk).
  16. Oriental Society of Australia (2000). The Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia, Volumes 31-34. Oriental Society of Australia. pp. 35, 37. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  17. Michael Gervers, Wayne Schlepp, Joint Centre for Asia Pacific Studies (1998). Historical Themes and Current Change in Central and Inner Asia: Papers Presented at the Central and Inner Asian Seminar, University of Toronto, April 25–26, 1997, Volume 1997. Joint Centre for Asia Pacific Studies. pp. 195. ISBN 1-895296-34-X. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  18. Wars and Conflicts Between Tibet and China
  19. Andreas Gruschke (2004). The Cultural Monuments of Tibet's Outer Provinces: The Qinghai Part of Kham. White Lotus Press. p. 32. ISBN 974-480-061-5. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  20. Richardson, Hugh E. (1984) [1962]. Tibet & Its History (Second, Revised and Updated ed.). Shambhala. p. 116 to 124, 134 to 138, 146 and 147, 178 and 179. ISBN 0-87773-292-2. 

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