Shimla Convention and McMahon line

After the Anglo-Burma war, when Assam became a part of the British, the British had a lot of conflicts with the tribes because of tea plantation activities.

Resolve these conflicts, the British decided to resolve this issue by creating an inner-line and outer-line permit system. As per the system, the British would carry out trade within the region of inner-line areas while outer-line areas will remain out of bounds for the British and would be for tribals.

In 1911, a British officer Noel Williamson happened to cross the banks of river Dihang and entered into the area occupied by the Abor tribe. This led the Abor tribe to hit back at Williamson and the Abors massacred the entire team. The British decided to retaliate and with a larger objective in mind, the British crossed over into outer-line areas and decided to forestall the Chinese presence and conclude the boundary with China. 

Anglo abor war 1911

                 Anglo abor war 1911

The Williamson episode let the British to resolve the boundary issue with China. What also motivated the British to resolve the bounty issue once and for all is the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911-12. The collapse of Qing dynasties also led to a mutiny in Tibet and Tibetans revolted against the Ambans. This led to the collapse of the Ambans and Dalai Lama returned back to Lhasa in 1912. 

The British now got the right opportunity to keep the Chinese and Russian route of Tibet and make both a truly autonomous buffer state point the right opportunity came because of 

  1. Easy access to outer-line areas due to Williamson episode,
  2.  The fall of the Qing dynasty led to a weak Central government in Peking, 
  3.  the Ambans got crushed due to a mutiny in Tibet.

The British played their cards. In 1912, the British minister in Peking short of a letter to Peking, He asserted that China is interfering in Tibet and this is a violation of Lhasa convention 1906. He asserted that Chinese suzerainty is recognized by the British (over Tibet) but that does not entitle the Chinese to interfere in Tibet. He asserted that China has violated the Lhasa convention so should now come for fresh negotiation.

All this was just a game played by the British. Their ultimate aim was to take advantage of a weak Chinese Central government and convince China to go for a fresh round of negotiations. The Chinese agreed to it and decided to go for talks. It is in this context that on 23 May 1913, the British invited China, Dalai Lama for 3-party talks and decided to hold a conference on 13 October 1913 in Shimla point the British Foreign Secretary Sir Arthur Henry McMahon as the chairman of the conference.

Simla Convention


In 1913, the Simla Conference began. The British were represented by McMahan, China by their representative Ivan Chen and the Tibetan representative was Lonchen Shatra. The moment the conference vegan, China protest unveiled the British plan. Tibet has been given an equal status but to no avail.

Boundaries of Tibet in 1914
                  Boundaries of Tibet in 1914

The McMahon plan was:

  1. India will get Tawang region.
  2. Tibet will be divided into outer Tibet (Red line) and inner Tibet (Blue line).
  3. Outer Tibet to have a boundary with India and our have a with India and outer Tibet to have Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan delegation led by Lanchen Shatra urged the British to keep Tibetan states in red-line area as they were and also if Tso Karpo and Tsari Sarpa (two sacred agreed to i Tibet became autonomous. Ivan Chen refused to accept the division of Tibet. China did not Sien this Shimla Convention. The British concluded the Shimla convention 1914 bilaterally with Lanchen Shatra. The British did not publish the Shimla Convention of 1914 till 1937. This was done to ensure Russia does not become angry with the British for not engaging with Russia over birth. The British published a similar convention in 1937 and now use the McMahon Line to show the border.


The Shimla Convention and maintained Tawang cannot be a part of India as it is a part of South but the British however continued to assert that McMahon Line would be the boundary in the East according to the Chinese. Thus, neither the boundary in the Western Sector could be fixed and nor the boundary in East could be fixed that was mutually acceptable to both British and China. The fixing and re-fixing of the boundaries that happened during British times were done to suit their interests. Aksai Chin was shown as a part of China in Johnson Line, but it is rejected the same point the McCartney McDonald Line which in 1899 showed Aksai Chin within China but most of the pre-partition maps of British marked Aksai Chin as undefined territory. The British maintained that the Eastern boundary is the MacMohan Line and left the Western and Middle sectors undefined.

The disputed area over indo china border
        The disputed area over indo china border

Post a Comment

If you have any doubt comment me.

Previous Post Next Post