THE SINO-TIBETAN TREATY, 821/823 A.D.

Translated from the inscription on the west face of the stone pillar at Lhasa

The great king of Tibet, the Divine Manifestation, the b Tsan-po and the great king of China, the Chinese ruler Hwang Te, Nephew and Uncle, having consulted about the alliance of their dominions have made a great treaty and ratified the agreement. In order that it may never be changed, so that it may be celebrated in every age and every generation the terms of the agreement have been inscribed on a stone pillar.

The Divine Manifestation, the bTsan-po, Khri gTsug-Ide-brtsan himself and the Chinese Ruler, B’un B”u, He’u Tig Hwang Te, their majesties the Nephew and the Uncle, through the great profundity of their minds know whatsoever is good and ill for present and future alike. With great compassion, making no distinction between outer and inner in sheltering all with kindness, they have agreed in their counsel on a great purpose of lasting good–the single thought of causing happiness for the whole population–and have renewed the respectful courtesies of their old friendship. Having consulted to consolidate still further the measure of neighborly contentment they have made a great treaty. Both Tibet and China shall keep the country and frontiers of which they are now in possession. The whole region to the east of that being the country of Great Tibet, from either side of that frontier there shall be no warfare, no hostile invasions, and no seizure of territory. If there be any suspicious person, he shall be arrested and an investigation made and, having been suitably provided for, he shall be sent back. Now that the dominions are allied and a great treaty of peace has been made in this way, since it is necessary also to continue the communication of pleasant messages between Nephew and Uncle, envoys setting out from either side shall follow the old established route. According to former custom their horses shall be changed at Tsang Kun Yog, which is between Tibet and China. Beyond sTse Zhung Cheg, where Chinese territory is met, the Chinese shall provide all facilities; westwards, beyond Tseng Shu Hywan, where Tibetan territory is met, the Tibetans shall provide all facilities. According to the close and friendly relationship between Nephew and Uncle the customary courtesy and respect shall be practiced. Between the two countries no smoke or dust shall appear. Not even a word of sudden alarm or of enmity shall be spoken and, from those who guard the frontier upwards, all shall live at ease without suspicion or fear, their land being their land and their bed their bed. Dwelling in peace they shall win the blessing of happiness for ten thousand generations. The sound of praise shall extend to every place reached by the sun and moon. And in order that this agreement establishing a great era when Tibetans shall be happy in Tibet and Chinese shall be happy in China shall never be changed, the Three Jewels, the body of saints, the sun and moon, planets and stars have been invoked as witnesses; its purport has been expounded in solemn words; the oath has been sworn with the sacrifice of animals; and the agreement has been solemnized.

If the parties do not act in accordance with this agreement or if it is violated, whether it be Tibet or China that is first guilty of an offense against it, whatever stratagem or deceit is used in retaliation shall not be considered a breach of the agreement. Thus the rulers and ministers of both Tibet and China declared and swore the oath; and the text having been written in detail it was sealed with the seals of both great kings. It was inscribed with the signatures of those ministers who took part in the agreement and the text of the agreement was deposited in the archives of each party.

Notes 1. Source: H.E. Richardson, “The Sino-Tibetan Treaty Inscription of A.D. 821/23 at Lhasa,” JRAS 2 (1978), pp.153_154. Reprinted by permission. Other translations of the Tibetan and Chinese texts can be found in L/P&S/10/343, “Proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of the Tibet Conference at Delhi on 12 January 1914,” Incl. 2, “Tibetan Statement on Limits of Tibet,” Docs 1 to 7. Reproduced from M. C. van Walt van Praag’s Status of Tibet: History, Rights and Prospects in International Law. With permission of the author.